Sunday, November 30, 2008

December is here - almost.

Tomorrow is December. Whoa, wait! DECEMBER?

Didn't December used to be a whole month away from Thanksgiving?
Christmas was forever away. A forever of waiting and imagining and
anticipating? A forever of school days until a forever of vacation?
And Christmas took forever to arrive? What happened?

Now December is the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday announces it
with a horn blast. Only four weeks until Christmas! Only four weeks
to plan, shop, decorate, send cards, buy gifts, wrap gifts, mail
gifts, bake cookies, bake gingerbread, and summon up the spirits of
Currier, Ives, and Christmases past.

I've simplified, simplified, and simplified but somehow the
approaching holiday still seems intimidating. Thus the growl that
arose deep in my throat when the spousal unit cheerily announced
"Christmas Music" yesterday and attempted to fill the house with
holiday tunes. I hereby promise to try and develop some seasonal
cheer. But not for another couple of weeks!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving

I'm struggling a bit with thanksgiving this year. The mental scale
was put in action and the Glad For side was set up against the
Unhappy About with calibration still in process. It weighs Friends
against Disease. Retirement against Recession. Peace Here versus War
There. Plenty on our plates balanced against Hunger and Need elsewhere.

That scale was so much easier when I was young and my world was small
and personal. Age has enlarged the world I see and made it global.
The balance gets more and more precarious. Aids. Cancer. Climate
change. Pollution. Greedy corporations. Militant anger. How do I find
some way to place those in the equation and hope to see a positive
balance?

Perhaps I'm trying to make apples equal atoms. The personal good in
my life is plentiful and I can be thankful for that. The global scale
is the one in trouble and dips sadly on the negative side. I pray
that balance is not already tipping the scale to ruin.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How soon?

I've noticed the fuel price has dipped below the $2/gallon price at
our local gas station. As I mused on the extraordinary phenomenon the
number of RVs, SUVs, ATVs and other big-ass gas-guzzlers passing by
brought a pained smile to my face. How soon will all the folks who
hit panic at the price of fuel approaching the $5/gallon mark forget?
Ummm, I'm guessing they are already poised to begin the spiral of big
vehicles wasting fuel - again.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Quiz

This is a message on Facebook. Hey Dude! Someone here thinks you're dumber!

Heaven?

In a conversation yesterday the VGF (very good friend) that lives
with me mentioned that he did not believe he'd go to heaven, that
"invisible theme park in the sky" as he called it. That got me to
thinking that despite my not believing in such a place either, it
would be just my luck to go to that place anyway. With my deep fear
and loathing of thrill rides heaven would be hell.

And as a postscript as I saved this blog to my hard disk I got the above!

(Why can't I figure out how to put the picture AFTER the words in Blogger?)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Facebook

I recently joined Facebook and, as is true of everything in life,
have found it an educational experience. Since it was created as a
social networking site the idea is to communicate with friends. But
communication for the original age group utilizing Facebook:
teenagers, has a lot to do with letting each other know what each
other is doing. On Facebook this is accomplished by providing the
user with a message box that begins "(Your Name) is.........." and a
space to fill in the activity in which you are currently engaged.
This is where my continual self-examination gets going.

Telling the absolute truth would mean each and every entry would be:
"Martha is writing in Facebook" since that is actually what is going on.

So do I write what I just did? What I'm about to do? Or perhaps what
I'm observing, thinking about, or what I'm feeling. Oh dear,
psychological self-analysis ala Facebook! My solution seems to have
been that I bop around from one of these to another but I also am
noticing what I often want to write. Whoops! I almost typed an
example of that here. Blogs can be much the same sort of self-
revealing and self-indulgent places. Public angst. Yup, been there,
done that, probably will do again.

Sorry world. And thanks for the couch.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Love My Mac

It is staggering to realize how many ways I have of avoiding.
Avoiding work. Avoiding projects that intimidate me... writing and
relping both. When it comes to time wasting I'm a pro. Maybe it runs
in the family. I can remember my grandmother sitting at her kitchen
table playing endless games of solitaire. She taught me to shuffle
cards when I was quite young and we would sit side-by-side and play.

I no longer shuffle and deal real cards. My solitaire games are on
the computer. So is Puzzle Pirates, Facebook, email, and general
internet browsing. I mainline 1's and 0's, addicted to the binary,
plugged in to my Mac for a good portion of every day. Living in the
country is bliss except for the lack of a high speed connect to my
habit.

Anyway, the way I get to my chores and projects is through promising
myself a fix - computer time for doing the work, "inspiration
time" (how's that for rationalization!) between sessions of relping
or writing. And now I'd best leave my keyboard to go do something
useful.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Recently I wrote about my refrigerator, that cool closet containing a
copious compendium of condiments, jars judiciously juxtaposed
demanding disposal or disbursement. Last night while preparing proper
partner provender mania materialized, my marinate, mash, mix, and
mince muse assumed authority and the casserole cooking got greatly
garnished with gangrenous goo.

Spouse supped and survived. Refrigerator rests ready for future food-
flummoxing.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Septic Refrigerator

I have been given to understand that some homemakers keep a pristine
environment where dust fears to settle, shoe carried debris drops off
before entering the portals and, most unbelievable, the refrigerator
is neatly stacked with fresh produce and delightfully wrapped goodies
held no longer than the previous five days. This is NOT my home and
the refrigerator is today's example.

There are mysterious items contained in plastic containers that may
have been stashed away during the Roosevelt administration. There are
garden gleanings whose ancestry is no longer discernible. Residing on
the door shelves are a variety of small bottles that hold remnants of
odd condiments. Here and there are sticky residues that escaped the
occasional swipe of a sponge. There is a carton of antique yogurt.
Some dark substance sits sullenly in a clear jar and I'm beginning to
suspect it of sentient life.

There are worse refrigerators. I recall one that spit containers and
desiccated citrus fruit whenever the door opened. And another loaded
with Tupperware choked with green-furred alien life forms. No, mine
isn't quite in contention for biological/toxic waste removal. I shall
soon shudder and surrender to the inevitable, setting upon it with
bleach, hot water, and elbow grease. Or maybe I should wait? Perhaps
some amazing pharmaceutical is steeping in there!

Friday, November 14, 2008

I've always had a love for words and the way they can be sculpted to
create stories and verse. I've yearned to write but lacked discipline
and confidence. A writer's ego has to carry her past insufficient
inspiration and paucity of praise. A couple of years ago structure
in the form of a writers group appeared and I began scribbling. The
group has been my classroom experience, my mirror, my goad, and
occasionally my cheering squad. The best people in the world, they
understand the needs and frustrations of writing. They offer
encouragement well girdled in genuine criticism.
I doubt there is a novel in my future, but I have birthed a couple of
decent short stories and have recently found myself reviving an
archived love of, and desire to write, poetry.

Oh embarrassment! Poetry? I might be able to say I am a writer,
though generally that comes out a strangled "aspiring writer" as my
ego falters, stumbles, and expires. But how can I claim to write
poetry and keep a straight face? Maybe in another decade or two...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Remember Aunt Tillie?

Aunt Tillie likes sonnets. She like villanelles even better. She
doesn't care for haiku. And she isn't into poetry at all. She's more
the skiing type.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sometimes I get angry enough to do physical harm and the story today
about the Supreme Court removal of restrictions on Navy sonar use
along the Pacific coast has me that angry - and beyond. Can I please
take those jurists and confine them in a small room with a heavy
metal band for the next two months? Please?

The Bush administration argued that there is little evidence of harm
to marine life from the sonar exercises. These are the same guys who
denied global warming despite overwhelming scientific evidence. Chief
Justice Roberts says, "The most serious possible injury would be harm
to an unknown number of the marine mammals..." Well, that certainly
couldn't matter, could it? The court did not deal with the merits of
the claims put forward by environmental groups by the way. Those were
brushed aside.

My husband suggests perhaps they should test the sonar somewhere
whales are already extinct or nobody cares- like the coast of Japan.
I'm thinking it should be tested on the brains and heart of certain
members of the Supreme Court AND our (thankfully) lame duck
president. Not much there to be harmed I'd guess.

The fact that one's battle scars are often from self-inflicted wounds
makes them ache all the more. There are no memories of honor in
battle to numb the pain. Even though the effort was your best you
can't always make the injuries worthwhile.

Does time heal? Sometimes it only serves to allow for festering.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

No Broken Bones


I totally LOVE my Monday mornings. For several hours each week I am immersed in writers: the long published, the recently published, and the hoping to be published. It is an exciting playground of mind and emotion that brings me more alive and enriches my life immensely.


That said, the rest of this entry is advertisement for a recently published work by one of our group of scribblers. NO BROKEN BONES is a true story and a must-read for any person who might have to deal with the world of social services and the maze of ethnic bureaucracy, on either side of the paperwork. It is avaiable through Amazon.com or through Gail Morellen's website.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Velcro

I've probably mentioned this before in my blog but Velcro simply had
to have been invented by someone who owned sheep. Currently there is
grazing,in the field viewable from my front window, a walking
blackberry bramble. This bark-brown sheep is amply decorated with
leaves and trails a string of vine that threatens to lasso it in
place. If it is attempting a disguise, maybe there is a wolf in
sheep's clothing lurking nearby, it has achieved complete camouflage.

So some clever shepherd noticed the blackberry/sheep phenomenon and
made money creating Velcro. I bet he also invented those flexible
saws if he had blackberries!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Recipe? What recipe?

Perhaps I am like a lot of home cooks in seldom using a recipe to
make dinner. Recipes are wonderful and cookbooks are a joy to peruse
for inspiration, but the day to day cooking is independent of recipe
beyond "That is the way (insert relative's name here) did it".
Spaghetti? Pot Roast? Mac and Cheese? Well, okay, that last DOES come
from a box but most night's meals are assembled ala eyeball and dump
measuring.

This leads to occasional disasters and brings me back to meatloaf. In
a rush to get dinner in the oven the other evening the proportions
certain ingredients were, um, revised. Drastically. It wasn't
intentional. The top fell off the Poultry Seasoning jar and the
Worcestershire Sauce had evaporated a bit and was more like syrup.
Both were enthusiastically plonked into the mixing bowl with a
muttered "Oops!" and a shrug of the shoulders. Other components were
added, potatoes were cuddled next to the finished loaf and all popped
into the oven to bake.

The Oops! should have been louder. The spouse doused his serving with
ketchup and I followed mine with a Tums chaser. Maybe a recipe
wouldn't have helped this particular culinary misadventure but a bit
less gusto from the cook in future is indicated.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Birdsong

There is a flock of red-winged blackbirds in my front yard singing
their KA-REEEEEEEE and bringing a cheery note to the drab, gray
morning of rain. I'm so happy to see them and have them stop and tank
up with seed at the feeder on their way south. I missed them when we
moved here from California. Down there they were a constant
background sound any time we got to the city fringes.

The initial years here brought new bird noises but no red-wings. A
few years ago they began showing up here, moving through primarily in
spring and fall. They arrive in a bunch and speckle the staff of
power lines above the driveway like moveable notes creating their
music visually as well as audibly. Is it the same flock there now as
yesterday - pausing for a day or two on the journey? Or is this
another in a series of avian klezmer performers? Either way, I'm
thrilled at the concert.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Consumers: Don't Report!


I have a subscription to Consumer Reports magazine and when each issue arrives the first page read is the "Selling It" page of goofs, glitches, and gotchas. When my husband encountered the above webpage on the Dish Network site we thought it was worth sending to CR. We looked on the Selling It page and there was no mention of how to make a submission. I turned inside the magazine front cover and found a boxed list of HOW TO REACH US info containing this: To send submissions for Selling It, go to ConsumerReports.org/crsellingit.

Hubbie had been browsing the Consumer Reports website trying to figure out where to send submissions and was pleased to have this information since negotiating the website was proving to be frustrating. Aha! Now he could upload the nonsensical webpage from Dish! Well, not exactly. At the crsellingit page you are informed that uploaded submissions aren't accepted and you get an address to which they must be mailed.

So, I'm thinking Consumer Reports should get their own blurb in their magazine gotcha page. For sending magazine readers to the internet to discover what should have been said in print in the first place!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Oh Good Grief!

I was having a pretty good day until my husband wandered into the
room and casually mentioned that president-elect Obama is forty-seven
years old. I was in high school when he was born. Oh no! I am now of
an age where the nation's president is younger than I am - by more
than a decade!

(Sound of long pitiful wail fading off into disconsolate sobbing....)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election coverage

Listening to the network election coverage last night was a hoot - in
a painful sense. "With two percent of precincts reporting we
predict...." Various pundits kept talking, and talking, and talking
real data sans data, though that hardly even slowed their lips. I
kept expecting somebody to yell "Dewey is elected!"

In the next national election couldn't we duct tape all those
television mouths closed until the final polling site closes?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Magical Thinking

I confess to being guilty of Magical Thinking. It is something we
probably all do in some form. It goes like this:

If I follow the formula something will/will not happen.

In other words:

If I am good, if I behave myself, crayon within the lines, pay my
taxes, take out the garbage, go to work, diet, exercise, say "Thank
you", balance my checkbook, stop for pedestrians, vacuum, dust,
attend church on Sunday, obey my parents, sign on the dotted line,

I will go to heaven, have pot roast for dinner, win the lottery, have
friends, my children will be safe, I will not get cancer, fall off
the roof, or have a tornado sweep away my house.

It doesn't work but we do it anyway.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Good Old Country Life

One of the facets of living in the country that is NOT enjoyable is
the sounds of gunshots. Those aren't exactly pleasant in the city
either. My daughter and her family lived in Oakland, California for
several years and gunshots at night accompanied afterwards by
circling helicopters was an unhappy but not un-normal weekend event.

In my present out-in-the-boonies incarnation the gunshots can come at
any part of the day. We have a neighbor that my husband calls Mr. ATF
for his simultaneous enjoyment of alcohol, tobacco and firearms. Mr.
ATF got an early snootful today and treated the surrounding territory
to a series of Boom! and Bang! that lifted me out of my chair and
sent the livestock running. He apparently favors a variety of
weapons. Some sound like the smack of a distant hammer and others
wham and reverb like cannonfire.

The mixture of spirits and bullets causes me concern and if I was
skinnier and younger I'd probably be hiding out under my bed.
Instead, being old, fat, and ornery I walked out to the front porch
and let fly with some less than lady-like language. I have powerful
lungs. The shooting ceased - for the time being. With luck old ATF
will spend the rest of the day in alcoholic stasis, for his sake
neither burning his place down or blowing himself up. I will try very
hard not to wish for either.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A few words about words

A friend subscribed me to several health, nutrition and self healing
newsletters that are full of suggestions for exercises and foods that
are good for you. Maybe. They seem to arrive in the snail mail around
the same time and today I noticed a preponderance of specific
language. On second thought "specific" isn't the word at all.

May. Might. Could. So many of the articles use wiggle words. Suggest.
Indicate. Those are a couple more. I'm not against those words but
wary of them. My mind automatically inserts a not after each one. May
not. Might not. Could not. Too many folks seem to ignore the wiggle
and dash off to do, or overdo, whatever health hint is offered. They
read "such and such herb may reduce the effects of aging" and hear
"such and such herb DOES STOP AGING". They leap on a speeding train
and later on when the same or another publication wiggles the
opposite direction those train riders scream about being misled. Add
the not and be skeptical.

The above advice goes for news stories and advertisements as well.
When the Talking Head on the evening news says "So and so may have
committed such and such" add the not. And if the product "Could last
a lifetime" add another not.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sinuses? Bah!

The joy of an autumn sinus infection has descended upon me -
headache, congestion, and drainage more suited to debris from a
concrete factory. The headache started yesterday morning and is
resisting attempts to pry its cold crampy fingers from around my
skull. I'm fairly good at taking care of myself when I'm ailing. My
childhood as a latch-key kid, father away in the Navy and mother at
work all day, gave me plenty of opportunity to learn how to comfort
Me. So today is declared a SICK DAY. It is hot tea, vitamin C, warm
fuzzy blanket, big comfy chair, favorite old movies on the DVD
player, and naps.