Friday, October 31, 2008

Lovin' The Weather

Today Fall is trying hard to imagine winter. The sky alternates
between steel gray clouds and blazing sun that slices them through
and floods my yard with light. The intensity of the changes pulses an
energy that no summer heat or gentle spring day, not even the violent
winds and rain of winter can bring. This weather galvanizes
inspiration and sends my mind flying with the leaves that swirl past
the doorstep. Winter makes me hide. Summer makes me lazy. Spring has
possibilities. Fall is sheer bliss!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Countdown to Election Day

Less than a week remains before the awful ritual we call a national
election is over. I'm not the only citizen who will be relieved to go
back to ads for gas guzzlers, fatty snacks, and anti-aging potions
instead of seeing a nightly barrage of ads for candidates who fall
into those same categories. We've seen months of "make myself look
right by making the other guy look wrong" and we hope it will end
once the ballots are in.

Here is my prediction: Regardless of who wins the presidency, the
opposing party will begin slamming the winner before the election
results are official. There won't be a millisecond or a slight hint
of the two major parties working together to repair the economic
problems we have, or resurrecting the US as a trustworthy and
respectable nation. There won't be a moment of a "let's wait and see"
attitude. Fangs and claws will immediately turn upon the leader of
the pack and the slavering will begin. This isn't a government we
elect. It is a pack of hungry cannibals thirsting for blood and each
has a "them or us" mentality.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Habits

I just had my hair cut and discovered myself reaching to flip my hair
over my collar as I put on my jacket to leave the house. Of course
there was no hair there to flip. And that has me noticing other
little mindless habits. The bathroom light I automatically switch on
as I enter the room - though there is plenty of light during the day
without it - is a good example. A odd one too, since at night I
seldom turn the light on. There is a small nightlight in the room
and, well I DO know where everything is! Bet you can think of a few
needless but habitual things you do without thinking!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Ticklish Subject

My husband recently re-read this article from Scientific American and
has been sputtering ever since:

"Why Can't a Person Tickle Himself?
Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, a research fellow at the Institute of
Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, explains:

The answer lies at the back of the brain in an area called the
cerebellum, which is involved in monitoring movements. Our studies at
University College London have shown that the cerebellum can predict
sensations when your own movement causes them but not when someone
else does. When you try to tickle yourself, the cerebellum predicts
the sensation and this prediction is used to cancel the response of
other brain areas to the tickle."

"Hah!" Says my hubbie, who is so ticklish he has trouble washing his
own feet in the shower. When I asked him why I don't hear laughing
coming from the bathroom he explains, "My feet keep jumping away from
my hand when I try to get near them!" Yup, he's tickling himself.
Take THAT scientists!

(Should I tell him about the online source that suggests that
schizophrenics may be able to tickle themselves?)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dreading the Haunting Hour

The spook hour at my house right now is about 8:45 in the morning,
just as the sun crests the hills east of the house. That selfsame sun
shines through my living room windows and illuminates a haunted
mansion's worth of spiderwebs that are otherwise invisible. Single
strands, far finer than a human hair, stretch amazing distances from
piano to couch, from chair to coffee table, and throughout the
branches of the potted plant in a corner. The spiderling* that made
them must be equally as tiny though obviously an overachiever, since
even on rare occasions when the room is exceedingly dusted and
vacuumed the next morning the strands are back sparkling in the
sunlight. I am normally at my computer in another room during the
optimal minutes for web-viewing of the arachnid variety. It pays to
avoid seeing what only an army of vigilant maids could hope to keep
demolished.

In counterpoint to the distinct one-liners throughout the room are
the determined effort of the spiders resident in the lower corners of
the windows. These are maniac spinners who seem committed to ending
the penetration of light. The webs are chaotic, multi-dimentional
mazes, more limited in scope but nevertheless excessive. If the guys
above are Jerry Seinfeld the window comics are Robin Williams.

* I hope it is one amazingly hyperactive spider and not preliminary
scouts for a future sudden invasion.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A letter to the Candidates

Dear Political Candidates:

I have completed my ballot and put it into the mail. Please leave me
alone.

I'm tired of hearing pie-in-the-sky promises, vitriolic attacks, and
canned sound-bites. I don't want to think any more about the amount
of money you've spent buying a chance at elected office. Do you know
how much you and you opponent(s) sound the same? And have you a clue
that the sameness makes me aware of how much you are bending the
truth? Lower taxes and raise services? Mom, apple dumplings, and flag?

Oh, I realize that stuff is aimed at the folks who watch Survivor and
All-American Full-Body-Contact Kick'em Silly Wrestle-Mania but it
leaks this direction and upsets my digestion. When you get to Gold
Beach, or Salem, or Washington D.C., you will either get a swift
education on getting diddley done, or renew acquaintance with it as
an old pal. I will be here at home trying to hold my gorge as the
party who is out begins attacking the party who is in 30 seconds
after the election results are in.

And for you one or two who really hope to accomplish some good and do
some work: my apologies for this message. I'm skeptical but retain a
shred, albeit small, of hope. Good luck.

Me.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

An "Oh Duh!" Morning

For two months, maybe more, I've been trying to find or remember what
I did with a certain book - Randy Pausch's: The Last Lecture. I
bought and read it after seeing him on 60 Minutes and my intention
was to share it with a number of people in my life who would benefit
by and enjoy it. Somewhere after the first two readers the book
disappeared along with any clue I had to its whereabouts. Usually I'm
pretty on top of things I loan or intend to share, so where, oh
where, did Randy's book go?

Well, since I meant to send it to folks as far as Alaska and
California, I queried the people I'd meant to send it to and nobody
had received it. That wasn't surprising since I had no memory of
actually mailing it, but then I had no memory of lending it locally,
giving it away, shelving it, or... can we say CLUELESS?

It could be age, or being retired, or maybe just a new I'll-get-
around-to-it attitude. Keeping track of such things used to be at the
top of my accomplishment list but lately? The blank space in the
brain sometimes echoes pretty loudly.

So this morning, after I pay bills and balance the checkbook, I sit
at my (non-computer) desk to straighten and file the accumulation of
stuff gathered there. You know what is coming, don't you? Instead of
simply moving stack one from its accustomed place to another I
actually look through the pile and DUH! there is The Last Lecture.
Where it has been since...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Explode or Implode?

Feeling very at odds with the world this morning. Not sure why except
for the fact that I've loaded myself up with "gottas" and "shoulds"
and whenever I do that I get depressed and pissy. It may be time to
lower my head and do one thing at a time but I'm resistant to being a
good girl and would rather sit down on the floor and have a hissy fit
or tantrum - but that only works when you have someone else, a parent
or authority figure, to stand in front and hold your breath until you
turn blue. I'm in a "did it to yourself" mode so I only have Me for
an appropriate audience... and Me is unimpressed. This is really a
problem. Much as on one level it is all amusing, on the emotional
level I'm quite lost at knowing how to blow it off. I keep breathing
through it. Deep breaths of air and trying hard to unclench and let
it loose. It would be nice for it to flow away gently like a leaf on
a small rippling stream. Right now the inner ugly feels more like St.
Helens or at least ready to give way like a major pyroclastic flow.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Spousal Comment

So he comes into the room and notices the sample package a friend
brought. "Taster's Choice Coffee?" he observes? "That did better on
the shelves than Baster's Choice Turkey and Paster's Choice Glue."
I'm still chuckling.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Another Earworm

The problem with person-to-person earworm infection is that it is
impossible to know when one is about to be infected. The germ
carrier, usually my husband, will sidle past and drop a tune (this
morning it was The Merry-go-round Broke Down) then scuttle off with a
fiendish giggle.

So I'm now wandering around with the end of an old Warner Brothers
cartoon playing inside my brain.

Oh, I'll get him back. I wait until we are both in the car so he
can't escape then announce "You know what song is playing in my
head?" He gets infected... but I tend to be more susceptible and he
will immediately retort: "I've got---" and my brain flips the record
to the new tune which repeats and repeats and, "Waaaaaaahhhhhhh!"

Monday, October 6, 2008

Prepared?

I finally took the initiative and purchased emergency survival kits
for my husband and myself - both for car and for home. It is
something we should have had on hand for many years... we came from
earthquake country, after all! But like most of the people I know we
thought about it on occasion and achieved diddley-squat. Nothing of
any magnitude has ever happened to us and surely nothing will, right?

Lately my youthful innocence and naiveté has given way to another,
perhaps equally optimistic, attitude. "If I prepare," it goes, "then
nothing dire will happen." In light of the possibility of terrorism,
earthquake, tsunami, and forest-fire neither seems in touch with
reality but the second makes more sense. Not being a survivalist, nor
filled with a do-it-myself enthusiasm, I opted for pre-planned kits
available online. We now have a 2-person/3-day survival kit in a
backpack in the car and a larger longer-term kit in a 5 gallon bucket
in the house. I'll add a few items like extra clothes and copies of
important papers to them.

The cost and time it took to order was minimal. It is something that
should have been done long ago. We've been lucky never to need such
things and I hope out luck continues. But if it doesn't...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The season is Fall!

My husband and I braved the rain and drove from the coast to Eugene
yesterday. The fall colors of the trees made the highway along the
Siuslaw River even prettier than usual. As an ex-Californian one of
the things I looked forward to when we made the move northward was
seeing the seasons change. In coastal mid-CA the major difference we
saw between summer and winter was a bit more dampness. In summer I
would sweat. In winter, if we were lucky, we'd have what we thought
was rain.

Ah, Oregon. Where we live there are real seasons - without getting
too extreme about it. Winter is wet, I mean WET with a capital Dubya-
Eeee-Teeee. Sometimes a bit of snow but generally and sensibly not
enough to be much of a bother. Spring is gloriously green. Our
evergreen forests keep green around all the time but spring unfolds
the intense green of new leaves on the alders and all the bare
branches of winter fill out and scream GROWING NOW! Summer is mild,
not sweaty hot and with enough changes in sky, sea, and land to keep
it interesting. Fall? Well, fall is sublime and along the rivers even
more than sublime. The bigleaf maples turn brilliant yellow and are
stunning against the backdrop of rocks and fir trees. The hillsides
and creeksides are punctuated by bursts or orange and red as the vine
maples blaze with their cooler weather change. The rivers reflect and
double the beauty. On a sunny day it is heart-achingly gorgeous and
even on a darker rain-dampened day the color light up the eyes and
fill the soul.

If you are lucky enough to live up here, take the time to lift your
eyes and thrill to the Oregon autumn splendor.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

>
Yesterday a good friend emailed me the following question:

> When did our country change from wanting our leaders to be
> outstanding to be mediocre at best? I heard Bush brag that his
> grades were C's and McCain brag that he graduated 4th from the
> bottom. I listen to Palin talk like an "Okie" and wink her way to
> American votes. What the hell happened???
> ~ B

My reply:

I think it started back in the Nixon era and has been growing - a
reaction to "elitist college educated liberals" that has been
exploited by the right. This is the "common man" syndrome (also the
good old boy phenomenon) and is supposed to prove that folks like
Bush and McCain are just like the rest of us yokels... and therefore
honest upstanding citizens. Ignore the income, ignore the fact that
uneducated does not equal honest nor upstanding. Apparently the
belief is that John Q. Public really is, no - not lacking a college
degree, stupid. If the politician shambles a bit and acts like a
grade-school hick at convenient times he'll get the red-necked vote.

Gee, I live in a rural setting and lack a 4 year college degree, own
some sheep and a vegetable garden. I'm dadgum insulted that these
guys equate that with dumb!
~M.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The word is: Nuclear

Okay, I admit I didn't listen to the vice-presidential debate last
night. I was completely politicked-out well before the one-on-one
punching matches. My husband, who is of heartier stock and sounder
stomach, did watch and tells me Sarah Palin can't pronounce NUCLEAR
any better than His Bushiness. My spirit quails.

Please Ma'am, if you are planning to be that close to the Big Red
Button, could you learn to pronounce NUCLEAR correctly? It is not, as
our current leader seems to think, "homey" to say noo-kyoo-lur. It is
lazy. When we are young metathesis can have its way with our tongues.
A toddler saying "pasketti" is cute. As adults we can cherish
regionalisms but still manage to learn to speak past them.

The word is NUCLEAR, (noo-klee-er), and means: pertaining to or
involving atomic weapons/energy. Say it carefully Sarah: noo-klee-er.
NOO-KLEE-ER! Show me that a woman can learn what Dubya couldn't manage.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I've been shot!

The hubbie and I were close to being first in line yesterday as the
first flu shots of the season were offered in our area. He'd
suggested we get them last fall and I hemmed and hawed and finally
declined. Flu, at least the week (or more) long headache and cough
variety, has never been a problem for my hearty and more youthful
system. Wrong choice. Instead of my usual 24 hour stomach woes I got
the entire package plus pneumonia. Miserable doesn't begin to
describe the symptoms or my general attitude. When that same husband
came home Monday afternoon with news that flu shots would soon be
available I was an enthusiastic volunteer. My fingers have now
assumed the crossed position as the weather turns to cold and wet and
the germs rev up for another run on the human population.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mantis moment

I'm standing in the front yard chatting with my neighbor yesterday
afternoon as some large insect flies past. "It's a praying mantis,"
she shouts and turns to see where it is headed. Plucking it from the
myrtle tree beside our deck she brings it to show me. "Do these
things bite?" I ask as I bend to admire the exquisite three inch tall
bug, whereupon said mantis gives a leap and ends up clinging to my
face at the nose/mouth area. I freeze. Whenever bee, wasp, or unknown
many-legged creature is on approach I flee but if sat upon I assume
the guise of harmless tree. In this case a harmless tree with a much
startled, somewhat panicky expression. My pal handled it well but I
can imagine she was torn between laughter and desire to rescue both
me and the poor offending mantis. The mantis has chosen to crawl
upward and, thankfully is no longer directly below my nostrils but
clinging to the front of my glasses. Showing good sense as my friend
reaches to remove it, it takes wing and leaves the excitement for a
new resting place in one of the alders in the nearby field. And I can
resume breathing and laugh at the incident, wishing there'd been a
camera at hand.