Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Found Objects

Found this here. Think of it as a Halloween Treat.

John Calvin and Thomas Hobbes by *spacecoyote on deviantART

Artist's Comments

Few historians know of the heartwarming friendship between French Reformation theologian John Calvin and English political philosopher Thomas Hobbes, the latter of whom may or may not have been real, considering he was not even born yet.


So, the Halloween Decision: 2007 is complete. It was "Hannah Montana." Pony got a looooooong blonde wig and some big jewelry to wear with her denim jacket and jeans. A touch of eyeshadow, and hey voila! Hannah Montana!

Bunny sketched the shape of Montana on two large pieces of posterboard, then we went to Michaels and bought letter stickers and cowboy themed stickers, which she affixed. It was (of course) this morning when we realized she had put them on the wrong side, so Montana is backwards.

So, good thing it says "Montana," in LARGE RED LETTERS right on the front, isn't it?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

History Geeks: The Next Generation

The Evil Household spent some time in San Francisco with the Fabulous Babe, Suefunky. We were discussing our interest in doing some world traveling. Europe for example.

Me: Well, I'd go back to London anytime, but it would be cool to go in 2009, because that's the. . .

Pony: (interrupting) . . .500th anniversary of the reign of. . .

Bunny: (joining in). . .Henry the Eighth!

Suefunky: (complex facial expression, combining confusion--why would anybody even know that fact?--with pity--why do these people know this fact, and why do they care?!?) Wha. . . ?!?!

Coincidence? You Decide!

Looking at my Blogger Dashboard, I see that my last post was post number 666! And it prominently features a picture of Delores Umbridge! You decide!

"You Decide" has become a feature in our household. It's a great all purpose anecdote ending, and what is blogging but anecdotes on the internet? So, as my pre-Halloween treat for you all, I am giving you the secrets of the "You Decide" conclusion.

Step 1: Embark on a rambling story about last night's dream, or something that happened today.

Step 2: Like all stories, yours will be stronger is it contains some form of conflict.

Step 3: Clearly delineate the two sides of the conflict. There must be ONLY TWO SIDES, otherwise, the model becomes unwieldy and loses its impact.

Step 4: Upon concluding your story, arrange the two choices of the conflict in a dichotomy, preferably one which advances your position, or derides the opposing position. The more exaggerated you can make this the better.

Step 5: "You Decide!"

Let's see this game play in action, shall we? We go to John Madden to point out with his telestrator just how the pieces come together. We'll use a real example from the Dinner Table Conversation Bowl.

Mr. Sweetie and I toured the Queen Mary: a lovely cruise ship with its heyday in the 1930s. Like everybody, there HAD to be a "ghost tour." So, we went around to the various sites on the boat and read the "ghostly stories" which happened there. And they were hopelessly lame! [JM: Here we see the opening opposition: I'm predicting we are going to have the pro-ghost forces against the skeptics. Let's watch this develop.] One person said he was standing in the hallway, when he felt a tap on his shoulder. When he looked that way, there was nobody there! [JM: Here is the set up of the ghostly offense!]

So, as we are standing there reading this plaque, Mr. Sweetie reaches around my shoulders and taps the shoulder on the other side from where he is standing! And there was nobody there! [JM: WOW! The rarely seen Deductive Defense! Notice the clever way the actual conflict is not just open contradiction! There's a little audience investment in decoding this play! Well done!]

One story was that a passenger heard a knock on his door, but when he opened it, there was no one there! I mean, have you ever heard of anybody, ever, who answered a knock on the door but there was no one there? [JM: You can see the defensive player here setting up the finish of the play. Wait for it. . .]

Was it a ghost? Or ding dong ditch? You decide!
[JM: Goooooooooooooooal!!!!]

Monday, October 29, 2007

Geekdom + Dorkitude = ?

So I'm catching up on the most recent Layer Tennis, and I notice something. We are invited to provide our own commentary to the match:

Wanna Play?

The Layer Tennis Forums are open[.]

I actually think this Layer Tennis thing is pretty cool, but here's where the geekitude comes in.

When did the plural of "forum" become "forums?"

Back in law school, I did a lot of work on the First Amendment, specifically freedom of speech. One of the things that has to be decided at least once every generation is whether something qualifies as "a public forum"--is it a place where people congregate? Is it a place that is perceived as a public area? The big examples are a private shopping mall and a wholly owned company town--they look like the traditional "city squares" of olden days, but they are private property. Do property rights mean that First Amendment rights are not applicable?

What did not have to be decided was the proper plural of forum. It is "fora." When speaking of more than one public forum, one says "public fora." This is Latin, which may be a dead language, but lawyers still use its remains. This is how Latin is properly pluralized.

Enter the internet. And boy does it become the biggest of all public fora to date. Conversational exchanges on the internet increasingly happen in specific areas designated "the forum" which is a wonderful thing. The plural, however, has become "forums."

Which is kind of too bad, because it means it will always sound wrong to me, and so I'm stuck being the Grammar Schoolmarm from Hell

Guess Who Guessing Game

We're going to play a game today. I'll give you some clues, and you see if you can guess who I'm thinking of! Ready? Here we go!!

Clue #1
Guess who. . .didn't take her cell phone out of her jeans pocket at airport security and got wanded for it?

Clue #2
Guess who stuffed her cell phone into the pocket of one of her carry on bags, without noticing where it was or if it was closed?

Clue #3
Guess who discovered her phone was lost, and looked in ALL the luggage (even the checked bags) to find it?

Clue #4
Guess who figures her cell phone fell out of her bag while under the seat in front of her and was either not found or pocketed?

Clue #5
Guess who made a claim under her replacement insurance policy and got the claim approved this morning!

Clue #6
Guess who found her phone at noon today?

I am such a dork.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Halloween Angst

So--what is the date today? Sunday, October 28th.

And when is Halloween? Wednesday, October 31st.

And what time do you need a costume? 8 a.m.

So when are you going to decide on a costume?

The problem is that the standards are so high. Not mine! Hell no. It's the Pony, mostly. She wants to be something that nobody else will be, something that is different from any Halloween costume ever in the history of the world, something that she can do as a "group" with her sister. Last year, as you may recall, she went as a deserted island. One of her friends came as a "tourist" in a bad Hawaiian shirt with tan lines (sunburn lines?) around where the sunglasses went. They won the middle school costume contest in the "group" category.

So, plenty of ideas--not any that anyone would get, mind you. At first, they wanted to be Nac Mac Feegles--the 6 inch tall red-haired, blue tattooed pictsies from Terry Pratchett books. I love the Feegles, and I can see why that would be a fun thing to be for Halloween--all the running around and yelling "Crivens!"

But who would get that?

OR! How about Death and his butler, Albert--also from Terry Pratchett books. Not just any Death, mind you--Death when he felt compelled to serve as a short order cook, perhaps, or when he had to take over the the Hogfather (the Pratchett version of Santa Claus). Does a skeleton in an apron and a spatula mean anything to you? How about to a bunch of middle schoolers?

Mr. Sweetie leapt into the breach, and forced the girlies to stay at the dinner table until they finally decided what to be. The winner?

Hannah Montana. Pony wants to wear a "Hello my name is. . ." tag, and Bunny will wear a tagboard sign cut into the shape of Montana--while wearing cowboy boots, shirt and hat. Kind of a pun, and not too hard. We'll see how it comes out!.

FreeFall--The Web Comic.

I recently discovered this web comic, and have been working my way through the extensive archives.

Although in the "newer" world of internet-only publishing, FreeFall operates like the classic comics--three panels, a joke in each one, a plot line that advances microscopically each installment.

The set up is oddly simple, and simultaneously complicated: Sam Starfall, the main character, is a a squid-like, tentacled extra-terrestrial, living on a planet human beings are terraforming. He is a scam artist, whose great ambition is to be a starship captain. His cohort is a robot who has a better sense of ethics than Sam does. They have managed to acquire an engineer, who is a genetically combined human/wolf, named Florence. She is bright, competent, ethical, loyal--everything that Sam is not.

The simple line drawings contrast with the complicated science that forms the substance of the series. Yet, even with punch lines depending on such semi-arcane concepts as "Turing tests" and "Fermi's Paradox," there are still plenty of classic comic staples as well. Such as this one.

The last panel is all you need. "In operating system terms," asks the robot,"would you say the legal system is equivalent to DOS or Windows?"
Florence replies "Slow. Buggy. Uses up all allocated resources and still needs more. Windows. Definitely Windows."

Don't you love the fact that the existence of technology gives us more ways to bash lawyers?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Cartoon Fashion Trends

Sometimes you stumble across the oddest things on the internet. I don't know where this was referenced, or why I bothered to look it up, but here it is:

In all its glory:

Naruto Uzumaki.

I know! I'm not into manga, or anime either, but for some reason, I stumbled across this character, and he totally grabbed my eyeballs and wouldn't let them go. I think it must be the incredible fashion sense he's obviously styling.

I'm really not a fan of the capri look on men. I'm just old fashioned like that. Manpris are not macho or attractive.

But, wait! you say. What if I pair them with peep-toe combat boots? Isn't that a look that just screams "I'm the biggest, baddest ninja around, and I'm going to beat you to a pulp!"

Umm. No. What it does say is "I would beat you to a pulp, but I just came from the salon, and my pedicure is still wet. But just wait! Once my nail polish is dry, I'm going to beat you to a pulp!"

Why peep-toe combat boots? Is Andre Leon Talley trying to be a stylist again?

According to the Wikipedia entry on Naruto, he is referred to as "Number One Loudest, Unpredictable, Hyperactive Knuckleheaded Ninja of Konoha." Knuckleheaded---ooooooh. That explains the boots.

Don't Give Up Africa

This was recorded about two years ago, and I've only heard about it in the last few days. Which is a terrible terrible travesty, because this is such a marvelous piece. I guess this is what happens since I don't watch Oprah, because they performed this live on the show too. But this is worth listening to over and over again.

I can't find it to download from iTunes, from Keep a Child Alive, or anything, so here's this YouTube video for you to enjoy, and think about Africa as you approach the holiday season--Keep a Child Alive and Red are efforts that allow you to do good as you shop. Watching this video makes it feel absolutely vital.


So, Bunny has been home sick for the last two days. Today, I think I got it as well. I think. I mean, either I am sick, or someone has boiled my bones like spaghetti, and if I were to throw myself against a wall, I think I would stick.

What is it about being sick that feels like a moral failing, anyway? I ain't got time to be sick! I'll be sick when I'm dead! Real Moms don't bleed! Something like that.

But, lordy, I have all the signs. I can't stay awake. My bone marrow aches. Nothing seems interesting. Food looks awful. I have terrible songs stuck in my head--today it's "Dancing Queen" by ABBA, which is not only horrible, but it is humiliating how many of the words I know--and I can't get rid of them.

One of the interesting things about depression, actually, is how much it mimics being sick. Can't get out of bed, can't think straight, feel overwhelmed and tired, nothing is interesting enough to spend energy to do. . .

Except the kids don't bring depression viruses home from school, so we're writing this one off as illness.

Two Gold Stars!

Yes, I am just that boring, that I am awarding myself two gold stars for Friday. The first one is because I remembered that Thursday meant that the next day was Friday, when the garbage collectors come, so I hustled out all the extra bags of garbage that have been waiting patiently to be taken out.

The second gold star comes from also remembering that Friday means recycling, and I got THREE WEEKS worth of recycling out before the trucks came by!

Then I went back to bed.

Friday, October 26, 2007

NaBloPoMo--The Beginning

Why, yes, it does seem that I am posting every day. Sometimes more than once? It's not just that I have a lot to say--it's warm up for NaBloPoMo!

In fact, if you are a blogger, STOP! RIGHT NOW. Now go to the NaBloPoMo website and sign up. All you have to do is post once a day. That's all. But at least as much fun as the posting is the Randomizer. Just click, and you get taken to one of the bloggers who has vowed to post daily. It's like finding a brand new best friend!

So, I checked out the Randomizer today, and on my second click, found S'wonderfully Ordinary, who has this fun meme up on her blog. So, because everyone needs a game, here is your chance to find all your Secret Identities.

The Name Game

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car),
Callie Odyssey
2.YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fave ice cream flavor, favorite cookie),
Chunky Monkey Sugar
3. YOUR “FLY Guy/Girl” NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name),
4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal),
Purple Bermondsey
5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born),
Jane Harvey
6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first),
RosCat (Ooooh--I kind of like that one)
7. SUPERHERO NAME: (”The” + 2nd favorite color, favorite drink),
The Mauve Mojito (okay, my real favorite drink is Diet Pepsi, but that just doesn't work at all!)
8. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers),
James Eber
9. STRIPPER NAME: ( the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy),
White Linen Sees
10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother’s & father’s middle names ),
Carol Charles
11. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter),
Berg Berkeley
12. SPY NAME/BOND GIRL: (your favorite season/holiday, flower).
May Rose
13. CARTOON NAME: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”)
Strawberry Yoga Pantsie
14. HIPPY NAME: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree),
PopTart Sugar Maple
15. YOUR ROCKSTAR TOUR NAME: (”The” + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour”),
The Jewelry Wind Tour

Play along! Then let me know in the comments so I can learn your secret identity!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Freshman Dorm Redux

Having a boat is reminding me of being a freshman in college again, living in the dorm. No, it's not because someone is always emitting a technicolor repeat of Friday night's dinner on Saturday morning. No, it's not because you gain a minimum of 15 pounds. And especially no, it's not because you sit around and marvel at the deep philosophical insights in rock lyrics.

It's because you move a lot of stuff.

You might remember the first year you lived in a dorm room, and you may have arrived with the idea that you had thought of everything you would need. Stereo? check. LP record collection? check. Hand-me-down television set, probably black and white? check. Cute matching bedspread and pillow, with matching set for the new roommate? check. Posters of favorite bands for walls? check!

Within a couple of week, however, you found you needed more stuff. A small refrigerator for the room, and glasses for the daiquiris you froze in the small refrigerator. A bowl for holding the daiquiris until they froze. An air popping machine for those no cal snacks to offset the daiquiris. A laundry basket for hauling laundry down to the basement of coin operated machines. A holder to collect quarters for the coin operated machines. Milk cartons to hold the LPs and the course books. Etc. etc.

By the end of the year, you suddenly realized you had to vacate the room and take all that stuff back home. And suddenly, you realized that it wouldn't all fit into the car, because it was at least twice as much as you had packed at the beginning of the year.

A boat can be sort of like that. It goes in the water in early summer, and you realize you need some more stuff. Dishwashing soap and a toilet brush and pillows for the overnights and apple juice and bread for breakfast and wine for the guests who come cruising and a change of clothes for when the weather is suddenly very hot. . .

Suddenly, it is almost Halloween and you have to pull the boat out of the water so it doesn't freeze in there and you start to pull out the stuff that can't stay out all winter. . .and it's a lot more than you remember ever bringing in the first place.

So, you run down and pull out the wine, and some more wine, and oh! look! a bottle of rum. I didn't know we had rum down here, and soda water and another soda water and another soda water and oh! look! more rum!! and regular Coke but no Diet Coke because nobody drinks regular Coke anymore when they can have beer, and another bottle of red wine and some more white wine, and. . .hey, this is some good stuff!. . .an unopened bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream (I thought we finished this? We did, that's a new one we got after we finished it). . .and some bleach and dog food from when the dog came cruising and hey! More rum! And some pillows and whose clothes are these in this drawer? and hand soap--does hand soap freeze?--and some more soda water and an old bottle of sangria. Can you pour sangria down the drain if the drain goes straight into the river?

And you have to go back at least three times, because there is no way it all fits into the car, and at least you don't have to pack it all into a suitcase to fly home like you did in college.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Stuff You Still Didn't Know

Dooce recommended this link to Stuff You Didn't Know.

Sadly, I didn't know I was such a geek (although, to be honest, I suspected it) until I read through this list and realized two of them were wrong.

“Underground” is the only word in the English language that
begins and ends with the letters “und.”

"Underfund." 'Nuff said.

The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar
tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.

Actually, my dad was in the army in Germany after WWII, and he and the guys used to stick their mugs into the microwave dish to rewarm the coffee. What they didn't do was to foresee the commercial and personal usefulness of the information, so they didn't invent a consumer good. However, I think it's fair to say that the #1 use of all microwave ovens these days is to rewarm the cold coffee, so "invention" status should go elsewhere.

And this I knew before I read any of the comments!

Banned By The Geneva Convention

I was in a commercial establishment recently--yesterday? The day before? Time is hard to track now--ANYWAY, this particular establishment was playing some "retro" music. At least, I assume they would call it "retro;" I would call it "the unredeemable dreck of the tone deaf 70s" myself. But that probably wouldn't make a good sales pitch.

We heard much of the worst of that decade before New Wave and Punk hit our shores. Yes, there was some Atlanta Rhythm Section crooning "I Am So Into You." Yes, there was some 10 CCs asserting "I'm not in love." Anita Ward screeched the disco imperative to "Ring My Bell." The Bee Gees warbled something in three part harmony. (Do you think there might have been come connection between the extremely tight pants they wore and their singing in a register that only dogs can hear? It couldn't just be a coincidence, could it?)

But the worst--the ultimate worst--the most painfully bad regurgitation of that nauseating decade was

"Do The Hustle."

Count yourself lucky if you have never heard this abominable cross between Ray Coniff singers and the Boston Pops. This overproduced piece of coprolite has insinuated itself into the synapses of my brain, and it keeps coming back like a bad curry.

"Ooooooo, oooo ooo ooo oooooo <whispered> Do it!"
Ooooooo, oooo ooo ooo oooooo <whispered> Do the hustle!"

And the strings swirl around behind the singers like water flushing down the toilet, culminating in a cheesy little flute non-melody: "Do do do do do-da-do do do, Do da do-da do-da-da do doot!" And every so often, that eerie whisper "Do the hustle!" Lather, rinse, repeat and repeat and repeat. . .

I hope you realize what a sacrifice I am making of my mental health to bring you this entry. This "song" has gotten lodged in my brain, and suddenly asserts itself. Oh man, bad disco flashback man. And I can't get rid of it. Lying in bed, trying to fall asleep, and the damn flute starts is perky piping and I can't stop it. Driving along, listening to an audiobook, and suddenly Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn are stepping aside for a lush string disco arrangement.

I'm starting to feel like John Candy from "Volunteers," where he place a Peace Corps volunteer in Asia who has been captured and brainwashed by the evil military bad guy. "Sleep? Who needs sleep? We can sleep when the revolution is over! I'm Tom Tuttle from Tacoma Washington! Fight, fight, fight for Washington State!"

This Is A New One

So, I'm sitting at my desk in the kitchen, doing computer stuff, and I hear a little squeak. Just one, very little. If I hear it again, then I'll check.

There is another one, a few minutes later. What the heck is the deal with that? I look over, and Bermondsey is sitting in the doorway between the kitchen and the dining room. Door to porch, I would understand. Whimpering at some thing on the counter that he thinks should be in his stomach--sure, I understand that. But just sitting there? Perfectly upright and composed?

I walk over toward him to see if there is something wrong, and he dances away. It's too early for a walk, he can't mean that, can he?

He hops up a couple of steps, and I realize that I am apparently cramping his style. It's nap time, and he wants me upstairs so he can sleep on my bed.

Who is training whom, that's what I wonder.

Okay, This Is Depressing.

I heard from a friend of ours that a documentary exists of suicides off the Golden Gate Bridge. Not that that is a depressing subject or anything.

"What did you do on your vacation last weekend?"
"We walked across the Golden Gate Bridge."
"Oh, did you know that there is an average of one suicide every three weeks of the Golden Gate Bridge? There was this guy who trained a camera on it for about six months, 24/7. He claimed he was trying to capture 'the play of light' or something, but what he really wanted to catch were the suicides. Did you know that something like 98% of suicides are facing away from the city?"
"That's odd. You have to cross traffic to get to the other side. It takes extra determination to do that."
"Well, it's like they are turning their backs on the world, and facing the abyss."

That is almost too poetic for me: too metaphorical for a depressed and suicidal mind. There has got to be something more basic--like thinking they are less likely to be seen and stopped, or something. Less likely to meet another person who would try to talk them out of it, maybe.

But, maybe I am wrong. Maybe the only way to do something as potentially fatal and tragic as that means you have to embrace the abyss.

Just so you don't change your mind partway down.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


The girlies and I are walking down the hotel hallway in San Francisco. The girlies are doing something silly together.

"You know, you two are just not being loud and disruptive enough. You are going to have to work on that."

"Okay, we will!"

"Sarcasm is wasted on the young."

"Do you regret your lost youth, Mama? Do you wish you were like us?"

"Yeah, my lost youth. I know I put is somewhere special so I wouldn't lose it. It will turn up."

Status Level Orange?

We flew this past weekend. Everywhere we went, if there was a "Terror Threat Status" level sign, it said "Orange."

It is always "orange." It is never not "orange." How can you take these threats seriously as a civilian if they are always "orange?" Orange means they confiscate my lip gloss, and make me take off my flip flops, in case I have a bomb in either one of them. Yeah, I'm planning on hijacking this plane with my mascara wand--it could put somebody's eye out, you know! So, I've gotten kind of cynical about airport security.

The weekend, however, I got stopped! I went through the security checkpoint, and it actually beeped at me! That NEVER happens! Whoops--turns out I hadn't taken my cell phone out of my pocket. That was dumb of me. So cell phone goes into the little bucket and I walk through again. And it beeps again! Suddenly, I'm a security risk. I am herded (carefully, so they don't actually touch me and detonate me, I guess) behind a little stantion while the TSA agent calls for "Female security" on the walkie-talkie. The female agent arrives, and you should think Mama Morton, in a terrible navy polyester uniform.

I am not allowed to retrieve my cell phone, even though some one has picked it up from the conveyor belt and handed it to me. "You may not have any contact with that" they scold me. Okay then! This has never happened to me before, I don't know the protocols, okay?

I am herded (again, with the no-touching-she-might-explode) over to where there are three chairs behind a reinforced glass wall. Another man is being wanded, so I am allowed to ask for a privacy screen. I don't think I need one, do I? Apparently, they only ASK the questions, they will not ANSWER them.

"Sit down." I sit. "Lift up one foot." I lift up my foot. My foot and lower leg check out. "Lift your other foot." I hesitate before putting the first one down--is this supposed to be like Simon Says and you can only do what they tell you to do? She didn't say I could put my first foot down. The second leg checks out okay. "Stand up. Face this way. Arms straight out at your sides. Palms up." Why palms up? I'm not going to ask, obviously, but I do wonder.\

The agent starts the wand at the top of my head, on the left side. Down my head and neck, over my shoulder, out my right arm, back under my arm, and beeeeeeeeep!

"Do you have any idea why you are beeping there?"

Hell, I don't know. Why would I set off an alarm? "Um. The underwire in my bra?"

"I'm going to reset and wand again. If it beeps again I'm going to pat you down."

Yes, it beeps again. And again just below my hip. Why am I beeping? Maybe rivets in my jeans? Why would a security wand go off on jeans rivets? How sensitive is this thing? My underwire doesn't set it off on the right side, but the plastic slides on the straps do, on both sides, plus more rivets.

I am starting to get confused. Is this serious? Why am I suddenly beep-worthy? To such a degree? Could I have touched something? Is my perspiration particularly metallic? What the heck is the deal here?

I get patted down in a couple of places, but there are no unexplainable bumps that are not clearly just me. They let me go, and I'm still no wiser about why I set anything off.

Because everyone knows that fundamentalist Islamic terrorists are now booby-trapping (you should excuse the pun) underwire bras, and if we tell people that underwire bras are now setting off security alarms THAT MEANS THE TERRORISTS HAVE WON!

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Times They Are A-Changin'--For The Better

When my grandfather Eber married his wife, Gertrude Lamb, they kept it a secret for a couple of years, so she could keep her job as a schoolteacher. Apparently, there was something unwholesome about the presence of a married woman in a classroom, even into the 20th Century.

When I was in junior high, my social studies teacher disappeared in the middle of the year. I had no idea why--being dangerously naive. The more savvy kids in the class whispered "She had to leave because she was pregnant." There was never any official announcement, or anything. She was, in fact, married--single motherhood just DID NOT happen back in those days--but she never told us she was going on leave, and the substitute teacher for the rest of the year never mentioned it either.

So, in only 50 years, more or less, we moved from the unenlightened barring of married women from the classroom to the only slightly less unenlightened silence about married women and babies.

Pony came home today and said that she had a shared advisory (like homeroom) with another class, and both their teachers brought in chocolate croissants--a huge treat. "And we didn't just bring them in for no reason," said one.

"It's not because you are rich?" asked a student.

Oh, yeah--those teacher salaries are well known for being lavish. Pony looked at me with such a sparkle in her eyes and such joy on her face and said "They are both having babies!"

I think life is getting better, don't you?

Golden Gate Bridge--Isn't Shiny!

Who knew?

Actually, I did know that the Golden Gate Bridge wasn't actually a "golden" colored gate-type bridge quite some time ago. I do know that this bridge spans the entrance to the San Francisco Bay, and the entrance itself has long been known as the "Golden Gate." The Golden Gate Bridge is just the bridge that crosses the Golden Gate.

But I still wish it were sparkly.

One of the last things we did before leaving SF last weekend was to walk across the GGBridge, something we had never done before. It took us almost an hour to walk across one way, but that was because we had to keep stopping and taking pictures. The girlies got VERY tired of having to pose and smile. Mostly for their daddy, which is unusual, since he's usually taking art shots, and I'm the one snapping holiday pics and snapshots of the kids.

Anyway, we started on the SF side, which quickly carries you over a Civil War era fort, that was placed to protect San Francisco from Confederate attack. A second fort was also built on Alcatraz Island, which later became the infamous prison. This picture was taken by sticking my lens through the fence and trying to point down as much as possible. You can see the round gun mounts around the fort. What you can't see is that it is three stories tall, with a large central parade ground. As a certified History Geek, I would have loved to spend about 3 hours crawling around it. We just didn't have time on this trip.

Here we have Mr. Sweetie and the kidlets walking along in front of me. I was most surprised to find that the mesh fence covering the side of the bridge above the fort did NOT continue all the way across the bridge. Given the allegedly romantic allure of committing suicide by jumping from this bridge in particular, I had expected to see a lot more fencing and other dissuasions. Instead, there were four separate Crisis Hotline emergency phones placed across the span. Each had signs warning that jumping from the bridge would be "fatal and tragic," while offering help and hope from counselors on the phones.

Bunny didn't understand what "crisis counseling" was--it does sort of sound like a quick course in How To Have A Crisis. For Dummies!

This is my one "artistic" shot--looking up one of the towers from the very base. I actually am quite fond of this picture--a combination of vertigo and infinity, wrapped up in a man-made artifact. It's almost Zen.

There. Now I hope that cleansed the bile out of your mouth after that last post. It's like a Blogger Altoid.

You are welcome.

Prolife Propaganda--Warning: Offensive Content Included!

Anyone will tell you that I am contrarian. Drop me in a pool full of liberals, and I get defensively conservative. In a privileged, conservative environment, and I'm suddenly Che bloody Guevera and willing to pick out who goes up against the wall first, once the revolution comes.

Sometimes, it feels like being hit on the knee at the doctor's office, and my foot swings. In the end, I tend to settle somewhere left of center, but I can sure get hardcore when something pushes my buttons.

And Prolife Across America does that to me with their billboards. You see a few of them around in the Cities, where they are often quickly defaced. Head outside of the metropolitan areas, however, and they grow like weeds--they are all over the place. The one that has just totally pushed me into the "Abortion on demand: no restrictions" camp is this one:

I absolutely hate this ad, because it exploits a slippery slope without acknowledging that there is any difference between a just fertilized egg and a full term infant. In fact, the "babies" on the billboard are probably at least6-8 months old, as they are holding their own heads up, they are sitting up without assistance, and they seem to have control over their arms and hands.

When I first saw this billboard, last summer, the first thing that popped into my head was an alternative billboard. Picture Captions

Sure, it's offensive, but if you aren't going to make any distinctions between embryos, fetuses, newborns and infants, why stop there? Why not address the possible futures of these zygotes? "Embryos are just tiny clumps of cells with a significant chance of dying from cancer!" "Embryos are just tiny drunk drivers who will kill or injure another person in their lifetime!" "Embryos are just tiny divorced parents, who will make life miserable for their own children!" or "Embryos are just tiny children who will stuff you into a nursing home in order to get control of your assets and then ignore you until you die!"

I mean, in the interests of fairness, shouldn't all different sides of the story be presented?

Yes, it's tasteless and crude of me, but they just make me so angry. There are many many reasons women find themselves faced with the possibility of an abortion, and it's probably not because they didn't know that pregnancy might lead to children. It's a hard enough decision for a woman to make without having to be preached to from billboards in such an insulting way.

Okay. Rant over. Persiflage to continue in future posts.

Shiny Things!

Okay, a little out of focus, but that's what I get for taking pictures without my reading glasses.

These are the funky cool earrings we got for Pony for her birthday down at Fisherman's Wharf. That's right--within hearing distance of the sea lions, there is a nifty little earring store that sells stuff unlike any I have seen before. The best part of these earrings?

We managed to fool Mr. Sweetie into thinking we had triple pierced her ears.

I got these ear spirals made from niobium, plus the black opal dangles for the ends. Bunny bought a pair of "ear fancys" for her non-pierced ears. Add in some ear cuffs, and boy, did we have a splendid day of shopping!


So, we bought some new art yesterday.

This is a picture called "Jester." It's a photo of the card of the actual serigraph that we bought, by John August Swanson. You cannot believe the beautiful blues of this picture, even if you go to the website. The night sky is absolutely luminous, and around the edges (which you can't see in my grainy photo, but can see on the website) the outer edge of the picture is surrounded by dozens of tiny circus figure constellations.

The other picture we bought was Tales of Hoffman. It is so vivid that I didn't bother getting the card, because it failed to preserve the bright color and the sharp images.

I love this kind of art; the jewel colors, the stylized figures. So imagine my delight when Mr. Sweetie was the one who felt we had to own some of this art.

Now we are in good company--three Smithsonian museums, the Victoria and Albert, and even the Vatican Museums all own Swansons.

It's worth checking out the website, and marvelling at the works themselves, as well as the laborious and amazing process it takes to print these serigraphs.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

San Francisco In The Fall

I know! You are just dying to see all my pictures from our trip to San Francisco. But we only got back last night! Oh well, you are such good friends, that I'll show you some. Since you insist.

We stayed at a very nice hotel in Walnut Creek, just across the street from the BART and one mile from Suefunky's house. When you walk in your hotel room, you are greeted with this artistic still life.

The room is all dark, but for this one spotlight. Chi chi, no?

The bed was big and fluffy--and they will thoughtfully sell any of the pieces of the bedding that you like. I'd recommend ordering it from their marketing materials, rather than stealing the used ones from the room.

They had high speed internet, but it was not wireless, so I actually had to sit at a desk to surf! Positively antediluvian!

Because this hotel was attached to a health club (which is it's big marketing idea), there was bottled water in the bathroom, but no mini bar, no refrigerator, no honor bar $15 Hershey bars.
Which was kind of too bad, since there also wasn't any Diet Coke to feed my habit.

Then I found this present. It was on a shelf behind two artfully arranged 2 pound hand weights--which I also recommend against taking from the room, and they make the luggage that much heavier to carry.

What could it be? Something to make up for the lack of life-giving, soul comforting carbonated beverages, perhaps. Maybe some Mrs. Field's cookies, or perhaps a basket of walnuts--we were in Walnut Creek, mind you! I was very curious!

Fortunately, the rest of the trip was better than that.

A Sobering Thought

So, I am cleaning out my closet, in conjunction with the switch from Summer to Winter wardrobe. Unusually, for me, I am also taking on the stuff that is piled up on the closet shelves. It has all come out and been piled on the bed.

Take everything out, only put what is important back.

Among useful bags from DisneyWorld, and extra sets of sheets, and a collection of trinkets to be delivered by the Tooth Fairy, are the baby things.

Two little cellophane boxes, one with the christening bonnet, and one with the satin baby shoes. The bonnet has stitches that can be unpicked, turning it into a handkerchief to be carried at a wedding. I bought those for Pony, who was baptized January 30, 1994. Pony just turned 14.

Do they go back in? Well, why not? Heck--she's probably halfway to getting married anyway.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Love Of Language

I am reading Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love (more complete reviews can be found on my other blog), and she tells a story about Italy that is so beautiful that I want it to be true.

According to Gilbert's report, European languages mostly developed out of a mish mash of Latinate dialects, which cohered into the languages we know because the dialects of the strongest cities came to dominate. This French is really a form of Medieval Parisian, Portuguese was the dialect of Lisbon, etc.

However, Italian developed differently; which is not really a surprise. Italy did not coalesce into a county until comparatively recently (1861, according to Gilbert) and until then it was a competitive amalgam of warring city-states, each with their own dialect. At some point in the 16th century (can you say "Renaissance?"), a number of "leading intellectuals" (my term) decided Italy needed a common language, and so they met to find the most beautiful dialect available. And they choice the Italian of Dante.

Dante's Divine Comedy was written in 1321, as a reaction to the stultifying use of Latin. He sought to use a language that was available to more than the scholars and elite. More to the point, I think, is that is it poetry. It was archaic at the time it was selected as the official Italian tongue, and it was written to charm the ear and the inner eye.

No wonder, according to Gilbert, it is the most beautiful language in the world.

Reporting From The Road

It's MEA weekend, and school is out until Monday, so the girlies and I flew out to San Francisco to visit the Fabulous Babe Suefunky. Mr. Sweetie is in Texas until Friday, when he will join us for a birthday dinner in Chinatown for Pony, who will be 14 !?!

We arrived at our hotel at 1:15 a.m. California time, and since I had a Diet Coke with caffeine on the plane, I'm still wide awake. Here are some impressions from the road:
  1. Sun Country is a happier airline than NorthWest, but their new gimmick is that they give you cheeseburgers, while NWA gives you nothing. Due to poor time management on my part, we didn't get dinner before we left, so cheeseburgers it was! And Pony quickly recognized that these weren't the usual cheeseburgers, but something foreign. Reasonably, she wanted to know what she was eating. I asked, and it turns out it is "soy AND beef." Now really, what is the point of that? Other than some misplaced sense of nostalgia for the school lunches of my youth, who eats soy AND beef anymore? Why not just make them soy? Lots of people don't eat beef, but would eat soy. It's not like keeping (or adding?) the beef in makes it taste like beef anyway. Minnesota is a big soy producing state--we don't benefit very much economically from the inclusion of the beef.
  2. Black luggage is still very In. A very smart woman in front of us at the check in line had run about 15 rows of duct tape across the front of her black bag and wrote her name and address on it in huge letters--no mistaking that bag on the carousel!
  3. Oddly enough, on our flight, a very close second to black luggage was red. Lots and lots of red bags. Green was the next most popular. Tapestry is still a distinct minority, so my luggage is easy to spot.
  4. The 2 year old girl at the gate reminded me viscerally of when Pony was that age--there was a strong physical resemblance, and this little girl was clearly an only child (at least, for right now). How odd to look at this little person scooting around, and then look over at my Pony who is taller than I am and very much nothing like she was at 2. It's an odd experience, and makes it feel like perhaps time is not an arrow that only goes one way.
  5. It is a great luxury to have a town car waiting to pick you up, especially when the flight lands at 11:50 and the train takes an hour to where you are headed.
  6. It is tempting to order a stretch limo, instead of a town car--and you could even get a motorcycle police escort too! Make up some little flags of a pretend country, and you too can feel like royalty!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

In Which We See I Am Easily Amused

I can't help it, but my kids just crack me up. You will doubtless not find this as funny as I did--even the girls don't understand why I lost it with this exchange. But trust me--I literally clapped my hand over my mouth and just shook.

The girls were discussing the lack of realism in one of the Harry Potter movies: apparently, Harry sustained a major injury on the inside of his forearm, but entire scenes later still hadn't started to bleed.

Pony: "It's like, 'Why aren't you bleeding yet?' and Harry says 'I have lazy blood!'" I'm serious, its this huge cut down his arm, and you can die from a cut like that.

Bunny: If you poke your artery here (pointing to her neck, in the vicinity of the carotid artery) you can die.

Pony: And if you poke right behind your ear (demonstrating on her sister) you can't die, but it can really hurt!

And that's where I lost it. I mean, I was channeling some "Girl Interrupted" drama, where Angelina Jolie hold a pen to her neck and threatens suicide--we were having a conversation about how you could kill someone (or yourself) really quickly, but then it suddenly turned into a poking contest. And Pony managed to keep her tone of voice perfectly in character, as if she were imparting esoteric and dangerous information. Information of the type that secret agents need, to avoid capture and torture, for example, or information that could cause grievous bodily harm if not kept secret.

Shouldn't Bunny have come back and said something like "Yeah, and if you blow a raspberry on someone's stomach, it really tickles!"

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

They're At It Again!

Bunny and Pony are having dinner together in the dining room. You can tell they are having a good time, because the volume is turned up to "raucous."

That's the thing with these girls: they get so engaged in their stories and interactions that the punchlines of their jokes tend to get VERY LOUD. It's hard to listen to, because the actual words they are saying get lost in the VERY LOUD VOICES.

But tonight, it couldn't be a sweeter sound: because Pony has been sick for at least the last four days, lying in bed and looking like a pale imitation of herself. She's been in to the nurse practitioner, on antibiotics for 48 hours, and not getting better. This afternoon, she hit a skid, and felt absolutely terrible--and looked it too.

And then, about an hour after that, she started to feel better. You can look in her eyes and the spark that is Pony is there again! By dinner time, she was feeling well enough to be silly with her sister, and that was the very best sound I've heard for several days.

Me (to Bunny): It is so good to hear your sister laughing again, it makes my little heart go pitty-pat.

Bunny: You mean your Evil heart?

Me: Yes, my wrinkled, cold, hard heart, that lies like a dried-up peach pit in my chest. That one.

Bunny: It grew three sizes today!

My children--they know me too well.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day--Obligatory Post

Today has been declared (by whom? Don't know.) Blog Action Day, in which all right thinking bloggers are to blog something about the environment. Being the kind of person who always follows all the rules, here is mine.

I drive a minivan. This is no surprise, because I'm a mom. Moms drive minivans. It's a terrible cliche, and we all go through the "just because I'm a mom doesn't mean I'm going to change" rebellion where we swear we will never drive a minivan. Then reality hits. We need minivans, because we need to cart kids and friends and pets and equipment and luggage and groceries, and it becomes clear that we need a minivan.

So, back when my second kidlet was born, it became clear we were going to need something bigger than the Acura we had at the time. Because as soon as we wanted to take our family, plus one--we couldn't. So, after conscientiously driving a bunch of the minivans and SUVs available at the time, I bought the car I had fallen in love with at first sight: a Honda Odyssey.

Mind you, this was back in the day, and the baby is now in middle school. I still have my 1998 Odyssey, and I still love it. That year was the last year that the Odyssey was built on the Accord platform--it had four car doors instead of sliding van doors, it was still a compact, and was essentially a tall station wagon rather than a minivan. The next year, it was wholly redesigned and made bigger, which it continues to be.

So, I am driving a 10 year old car. Mr. Sweetie thinks it's about time I replaced it, but I still love it. Periodically, however, I wonder if it would be environmentally better for me to replace it. So, I go out and look at the auto sites.

Of course, I start with the Odyssey, because I have loved my Hondas. And I keep finding that there is no point in buying a newer Odyssey for several reasons:
  1. Even after 10 years, the current Odysseys don't get any better gas mileage than mine does;
  2. I don't really want to drive a bigger vehicle, and the current Odysseys are a whole lot bigger than mine;
  3. None of the current Odyssey colors is even remotely interesting, while mine is "Blackberry"--meaning it looks black at first glance, but is really a deep purple.
This is not even taking into account the environmental costs of trashing a perfectly good vehicle in order to replace it--the impact of mining for component metals, or the pollution caused by each portion of manufacturing. Sure, I don't have leather seats, room for eight, built-in DVD players, or satellite linked navigation and rear cameras--but mine still suits me.

But, what about other options. What about the hybrid cars? I love the potential of hybrid cars--Kelley Blue Book rates the Toyota Prius at 60 mpg city/51 highway--which is better than twice what I get. But I don't think I could get by with only four people in my car any more. Not for a few more years, anyway.

So, there are the new hybrid SUVs: is that the answer? Some of them get 32+ mpg. But I don't like Fords, I don't think I'm in the market for a Lexus. . .

How do you know when it is time to replace an old vehicle? How can you really ever assess the environmental impact of driving an old car versus manufacturing a new one?

I'm almost tempted to call Click and Clack and ask. "Yes, well, I have a 10 year old Odyssey, and the front seat cup holder is broken, but still holds drinks; the change drawer won't close, but other than that. . ."

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Yeah! I Am A Winner

As I was composing my posts yesterday, Mr. Sweetie was in the next room. A small room, with an adjacent wall. I was writing on the desktop computer, and the desk is pushed up against that adjoining wall. I had just published my post when Mr. Sweetie cam over to me.

And declared me the winner of the noisiest keyboarding contest. I didn't even know there was such a contest! And I'm the winner!

The Award Ceremony went something like this:

Oh my God are you loud! You make the desk shake! It's rat at tat tat tat tatatatatat ttaat. Pause. Pause. Pause. rattle-rattle rattle rattle rattle. Backspace. Backspace. Backspace. Pause. Rat a rat a rat a tat tat tat tat tat. It's like being in the middle of an AK-47 firing range. There is only one person I know who is even nearly as loud as you are, and we made him move into a different office to keep the noise level down!

Yes, it's hard to be a winner, sometimes, but it's a grueling training routine that guarantees success!

Weather Report

If you go to the grocery store first thing:

On a rainy;


Sunday morning;

Without eating anything beforehand;

You will come home with donuts.

Some things just happen.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Was It In The Last Place You Looked?

The keys. They have haunted me. Pony suggested doing what a friend of ours did when she lost a ring that was important to her--she went to a hypnotist who told her where it was.

I had stopped looking. I was waiting for. . .something, I don't know what. Lightning to strike, or something. And it happened!

No. Not lightning.

I found the keys. Apparently, I had hung them on the hook on the door to the front hall closet, where I always store my keys. Somehow, they had come off the hook.

Before you point out this was a logical place to look, I have to say I DID look! I took all the coats and boots and everything out of that closet to see if they had fallen in there--I looked all the way down to the floor!

But they weren't on the floor. No. They had caught on the dog's leash, on the hook part that fastens to his collar. When I picked up the leash to take him for a walk this evening, it was so heavy that it felt like his whole collection of canine bling was on it.

So. If ANYONE other than ME EVER walked the dog, they would have found my keys before I had to pay the locksmith all that money to get me into my own studio.

Hey. At least the dog loves me best.

Disaster Averted!

Well, the keys are still missing, but I was able to get a locksmith down to the studio, and it didn't take him very long to open the lock. He was also able to make me two new keys, which should mean that I don't lock myself out again.

I will have to talk to the building managers about getting a new key to the building, and one to my mailbox. By the time I get all those replaced, don't you think it will be likely that I will find the original set?

Plus, thanks to some really cool and lovely friends, I sold enough stuff to almost pay for the locksmith! Which totally makes it worth it!

I'm still a dork, but at least I don't have to refresh the Sharpie sign on my forehead.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Oops!. . .I Did It Again

It is currently 8:27 p.m. And I am looking for my keys. Again. "Oops" doesn't even begin to cover it.

I have my house keys. I have my car keys. What I don't have are the keys to my studio (which are on a separate key ring). Where I am supposed to have an Open House tomorrow.

I mean. . .where can they be? I was just there yesterday. I know they aren't in the studio, because I have to lock the door from the outside. I have a tactile memory of walking along, running my fingers along the key fob. I have recently taken extra care to put those keys in my purse, so I don't end up standing in the hallway looking for the keys. Again.

You know, maybe I had just better put an RFID implant or something into EVERYTHING I OWN, because this is getting ridiculous.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Why I Am A Danger To Myself

So I've been having these weird bruises showing up on my arms, but I don't remember hitting anything, and they don't even hurt. On the other hand (or arm--ha ha) I have this pain in my left shoulder and on the inside joint of my left wrist, and I don't know why.

The wrist has been particularly painful this week. It hurts when I pull the seatbelt across myself, and it's made wearing a watch nearly impossible. In fact, I thought maybe it was my watch--the one I've been wearing recently is a cute enameled one from Chicos, but it has been leaving behind green marks on my skin.

So, I took the watch off, and have been hoping that this pain would heal. It hasn't, particularly. Could it be carpel tunnel? Well, that seems unlikely, since it's not the hand I mouse with, and my other hand is just fine.

It is a puzzlement. But I think I may have solved it.

I went to the kidlets' volleyball games last night, and we parent cheer everything. We cheer for good serves, we cheer for good volleys, we cheer for good hustles. We do a lot of cheering. And at some point during the evening, I realized my wrist hurt more than it had earlier.

Turns out, when I clap my hands (which I do a lot of during these games--it goes with the cheering) I slam the thumb of my right hand onto the wrist bone of my left hand. If I can just learn a different way to clap, I might actually cure this.

Let's check. Yup. "Dork" is still there on my forehead from yesterday. Except I think it's "kroD" because I wrote it while looking in the mirror.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Perils Of Autumn

It's cold here. Straight into late autumn after a long weekend of humid June weather. It's most confusing--I had some of the right clothes for this new climate available, but only summer shoes. You know--the kind that don't go with socks. I actually borrowed a pair from Pony, since I don't have time today to replace the summer wardrobe and find the fall shoes.

Because today was going to be Big Day At The Studio. Mr. Sweetie was off on a business trip (wheels up at 6:30--gruesome, isn't it?) so I had to take the girls to school. Which meant that I had to be up and dressed and mobile by 7:30. What a great opportunity to get down to the studio and get a full day in! This was going to be great!


Isn't there always an "except?"

Except that when I got there, I didn't have my office keys. I keep them on a separate keyring from my car and house keys, so I don't look like the janitor all the time. And they weren't in the place I keep them in my purse. So there I am, standing outside my studio door, rooting around in my purse, pulling everything out, rooting around in my bag, my pockets. . .they aren't here! They aren't anywhere!

Uh oh. Because I also don't know where my iPod is. I usually bring it inside the house with me, ever since my cute mini got stolen. Usually. Did I manage to leave the iPod and my keys in the car and have them stolen? Surely I'd have some sign of someone going through my stuff. Right?

So, I had to walk the three blocks back to where I parked my car and came home. No windows were broken. . .nothing seemed to be missing from my glove compartments. . .the car was locked, so it would have been forced, and no sign of that. . .

I get inside and scan all the surfaces where things like keys and iPods get set. Not in the entryway, not on the dining room table, not on the counters in the kitchen, or by the computer. Oh dear. This is going to require some looking. So, since it's warm enough, I take off my zippered sweatshirt and hang it on the back of a chair. It swings awkwardly, as the keys in the pocket have their own momentum.


The office keys AND the iPod were in the pocket of the jacket I wore yesterday.

That's the trouble with these rapid weather changes--all those skills you need (e.g., emptying your coat pockets every day) just don't come back fast enough.

Yup. I'm writing "I'm a dork" on my forehead right now.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Leading A Double Life

I happened to catch Letterman last night--extended guest, George Clooney.

Let's just take a moment, okay?


Boyfriend is lookin' fine, I must say. He remains clever, charming, funny, self-effacing, handsome. . .


Anyway--Letterman managed to find some old footage of Clooney pre-ER, back from 1989--a seven episode run of an ABC series called Sunset Beat. Clooney characterized it as "undercover agent by day, rock star by night. That series just sells itself, doesn't it?"

And I must say, I was fascinated. Just how do you have a double life like that anyway? Undercover agent by day, sure, I can buy it, but rock star by night? Doesn't that just give you away in your day job?

I mean, can you imagine, say Mick Jagger being able to go incognito anywhere? David Bowie? Bruce Springsteen? It just doesn't work! To say nothing about the overtime you'd have to pull to do both jobs at once.

(In the interest of not totally being an old rock geezer, I'll mention. . .Pete Wentz? Pete Doherty? Kid Rock?)

There is probably only one man who could truly combine those kind of professions:

That's right. Buckaroo Bonzai.

Something At The Bottom Of The Garden

Something is going on that I can't explain. There are dozens and dozens of LBJ (Little Brown Jobber) birds picking through the grass in my back yard. If I had spread grass seed, I'd guess that's what it was--but no. No such winterizing/gardening responsibility by me this year!

I just looked up, and where there had been a blue jay--a blue jay! Sharing?!? When does THAT ever happen--there is something with a bright flash of red on its neck. I'm peering through the screen, trying to decide what it is. A mourning dove? Is it that big? No, not really that big, and the beak seems a bit long, but it is bigger than the blue jay had been. . .

Suddenly, it lifts its wings and sails off to cling to the side of a tree. Ahh! That explains it--a woodpecker.

I don't understand what is so tasty in my yard that even the woodpecker in on the ground, though. Ornithologist I am not!

Mr. Sweetie Reports

After rigorous testing, Mr. Sweetie reports that chocolate brownies and Scotch go very well together.

Corrections Page--Me, Me, Meme

After sleeping on it, I felt I needed to correct my previous answer.

3. My favorite quote from a book (mention the title) is. . .

From Terry Pratchett's The Truth (I think, plus I'm paraphrasing, so this probably doesn't even count!)

They say there are two kinds of people in the world: those who see the glass as half empty, and those who see the glass as half full. But there is another kind of person: the kind who says "Excuse me. Excuse me! Is this my glass? I don't think so. My glass was larger. And it had more in it!"

Anyone reading this? Consider yourself tagged.

Monday, October 08, 2007

This Is Ridiculous--The Weather Report

So, a little over a week ago, Mr. Sweetie and I were cruising down the Mississippi in the fabulous Lady Cliff. And you could see autumn was stretching its muscles to really hit town. The trees along the banks of the river had started changing color slightly. The colors etched the evening shadows--above the shde from the opposite shore, the trees were starting to edge yellow, copper, red--not the true flaming colors of fall, but their harbingers. Below the shade line, the trees stayed resolutely green.

The promise of autumn was not filled the following week--we had rain, rain, and more rain. As though all the rain we didn't get during the summer was now being dumped at once. Then--

It was summer again.

Not Indian summer (do we still call it that?), not the gold-tinged last warmth of the departing season. No. We got full bore sticky, buggy, humid and hot summer. In Minnesota. In October.

We are not used to this. We are used to winter dropping in early, unannounced, not even calling ahead to say "I'm in the driveway! Can I come in?" Heavy wet snow, falling from the sky already slush, piling on garden plants and bowing trees--that's the kind of weather we expect from October.

Minnesota is not a place where we wear shorts and flip flops in October. But it was 86 degrees! It was too hot for October. And the humidity! What was up with that? We turned on the window air conditioners again for the last couple of nights just to be able to sleep.

This morning, Mr. Sweetie came up and turned off the a/c. "It's 55 degrees--you might not need this now."

Me, Me, Me, Meme + Books

I blog. I read blogs. I steal things from blogs because nobody tags me for anything. So, here I am, pretending that 50 Books has tagged me with this book related meme-thing. (Her answers are funnier than mine, so just go ahead and click on the link--you'll be glad you did.)

1. Hardcover or paperback, and why?

Paperback, because you can buy so many more of them for the same price.

2. If I were to own a book shop I would call it…

Bentley & Bermondsey's--two great dogs who would really have liked each other if they'd ever been alive at the same time.

3. My favorite quote from a book (mention the title) is…

Today, it's this from Terry Pratchett's Wintersmith: "I will take you back, but there will be, and I cannot emphasize this enough, no singing."

4. The author (alive or deceased) I would love to have lunch with would be…

I actually know some authors, and have had--well, maybe not lunch, exactly, but dessert, or drinks and hors d'oeuvres kind of things. I met F. Scott Fitzgerald's former secretary and his granddaughter. I've had to sneak Kurt Vonnegut out the back of a building to escape his fans (the man smoked worse than a chimney--I'm not certain he actually was able to metabolize oxygen!). I've interviewed, hired, introduced, and met socially several excellent writers. And the sad reality is that they are just people--and the ones that are the most fun to be with are the ones that are the most like my other friends. They are just people I like. So, I guess I'd pick someone who was charming and funny--P.G. Wodehouse, perhaps, or Jasper Fforde.

5. If I was going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except for the SAS survival guide, it would be…

I never answer this question right. If I was stuck on a deserted island, I'd want to bring a Target. Maybe even a SuperTarget. Although, to be honest, their books section usually sucks. I've thought that the Bible might be decent, since the good stuff is in all those books that you never read. But given my current spiritual crisis, I'd have to pick something else. Maybe an anthology of Agatha Christie books, since by the time you've read a few of them, you've already forgotten what happened in the first ones. Plus, you can read them like eating potato chips--one is not enough.

6. I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that…

. . .combines audio with a regular book, so that when I have to stop reading to drive somewhere, or make dinner, or any of those things my unreasonable family seems to need, I could just switch over to audio and have the book read to me. But then when I can pick up the book again, it automatically goes to where the audio part left off. Either that, or just get full service household staff so I don't have to set the damn book down.

7. The smell of an old book reminds me of…

. . .going into my grandparents' basement and finding dozens of books from my dad's adolescence--dozens of books that nobody reads any more. Sad, dead books that even though I feel bad for those books, even I won't read them.

8. If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title), it would be…

. . .Oh, hell, since I'm addicted to Terry Pratchett, I guess I'd want to be Susan Sto Helit--Death's granddaughter, especially in Hogfather or Soul Music.

9. The most overestimated book of all time is…

. . .I'd have to say Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I love the first chapter, and simply cannot read any farther into the thing.

10. I hate it when a book…

. . .is a waste of the time it took to read it. Those are precious hours I won't get back to read other books!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

NaBloPoMo--The Registration

So I've officially joined at NaBloPoMo--I'm member #912! It's harsh, though, as the first thing that came up once I'd registered was this daunting and damning phrase:

Cate Ross has no friends on this social network.

It's like being back in junior high and walking into the cafeteria. Where can I sit? Where should I sit? Why can't I just go back into the classroom and eat at my desk?

You Say I'm Spoiled As If It's A Bad Thing

Mr. Sweetie and I celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary this past weekend. Yes, I was 5 when we got married.

Anyway. Mr. Sweetie spirited me away to the historic river town of Red Wing. We spent the night in an 1877 bed & breakfast, and we spent Saturday driving down the river visiting studios and galleries in the artistic small towns on the Wisconsin side of the river.

We ate in very nice restaurants, we spend lovely time together, we went to a concert by the Boys of the Lough. We were gone for about 30 hours, went only about an hour away from home, and it felt like we'd been gone for a week.

See, even when I was 5, I knew the right man to marry!

Fun With Image Chef

Once again, thanks to Fussy, I have a new web widget to play with: Image Chef. With this, I can make my own signs, badges, greetings, etc.--like the fuzzy Bad Dog to the right. My current favorites are these blog-themed ones.

It works, don't you think? And if you stare at it long enough, you become hypnotized and fall completely into my control! Bwah ha ha ha ha ha!

Or this one:

Whaddaya think? Should either of these become permanent sidebar items?

Friday, October 05, 2007

NaBloPoMo 2007--The Return

Yup, bless her Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, Fussy is doing it again. Next month is (Inter)National Blog Posting Month, aka NaBloPoMo, where the challenge is to post every day of the month. I'm going to go for it again. The new link is here.

Hence, the extremely cute new image on the sidebar. Just there, over on the right.

I have a thing for small and fuzzy dogs.

Monday, October 01, 2007

More on Sleep

I promise I'll be brief.

I've now spent 3 nights with the new mask on the CRAP machine. And it might be working. I was even able to sleep on my stomach!

Sure, it doesn't sound like much, but remember? When you were pregnant? (All non-pregnant people are excused from this exercise.) And as the baby started getting bigger, and you still tried to sleep on your stomach, but there was the hard bump that you just couldn't get comfortable around? And as the third trimester hit, you could only sleep on your side, and mostly only the left side at that? And then remember after the baby was born, and you rolled over the first night onto your stomach?

Like that. Pure, decadent, heavenly bliss.

Asian Stuff

As per last post: new switchplate ordered!

Next up: wallpaper border and bedding. I have some cool ideas, and need to get Pony's input.

Check out this really cool wallpaper border!

1 Rm Gdn Vu

We all know that a teenager's room is a disaster area--it's a comic convention. Which doesn't mean it's funny.

Pony's room had gotten unmanageable. I couldn't get in to get the laundry hamper. I couldn't get in to deliver clean laundry. Pony couldn't find anything to wear on Sunday. I went in to help her and twisted my ankle! It was time for action.

So, while the rest of the Evils were at church, I took on the project.

Realize that we have a small (but charming!) house. It's a late 19th century farmhouse within the city limits--back then, this was countryside. Mr. Sweetie and I bought the house back when it was just the two of us and two little dogs. We had absolutely no plans to have children.

Then we had children.

Which was fine and wonderful and all the positive and negative things parenting is. But suddenly the guest bedroom was going to be for a permanent guest.

Back in the early 90s, my decorating style was all about Laura Ashley/Victorian. Lots of pink, frankly. The guest room was painted a pale yellow (Benjamin Moore "Pearly Gates" IIRC), with a floral wallpaper border from Laura Ashley. We put the family heirloom three-quarter bed (handmade cherry four-poster) in there, with a blue and white quilt. The dresser is also "antique"--possibly from the 1940s. It was terrifically charming. After the crib went into the Bunny's room, all the dark wood antiques went back in. And Pony, being little, had no say.

As time passed, things accumulated. I added some inexpensive white storage from Target--drawers, shelves, etc., to hold books, art projects, science presentations. The baby art remained on the walls as well--a lovely print of sheep and lambs in blues and greys; a Morrisot growth chart; a classic Pooh picture. Again, none of it Pony's choice.

So yesterday, I started moving things. Out. Out of her room. I thought I might just tidy up, get her started, but I quickly realized what you must realize by now: a kid almost in high school doesn't really want to keep all this stuff. But, she also probably doesn't want to be the one to decide to get rid of it. A sentimental dilemma. So I made part of the decision for her, and just took everything out.

Everything off the walls.

Everything on the shelves.

All the shelves.

All the stuff that was displayed, or stacked, or tucked into corners---all of it out.

I left the bed and the dresser. After all, she did need a place to sleep.

And when she came home and saw the newly naked room--she was really excited and happy! Because she had never even imagined her room being such a blank slate. A couple of times during the day she announced "I'm going up into my empty room."

It didn't take her long to decide--she wanted to make her room Asian. I think she may want to keep the bed and the dresser, but everything else is not going back in. She's not ready to part with it all yet--that's what a basement is for, I guess. It is, however, a major step for the kid who never wanted anything to change.

First item of business? I think maybe we will change the Peter Rabbit light switch.