Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Last Year's Resolution...

At the beginning of last year I set myself the goal of reading 6 books a month during 2013. I completed #72 a week ago and am reading #73: For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. It was a struggle. I don’t read as fast as I once did and my attention span is limited.


Unless I get in front of my computer.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wrapping Season


I used to be a holiday gift-wrapping expert. My packages were carefully boxed and neatly wrapped. Breakables snuggled securely in bubble-wrap and tissue. Boxes were chosen to fit each item. Paper was measured and cut, securely taped - the corners mitered and precise. Each box had ribbons and bows to match. It was a chore I labored at and cherished.

No longer. In the past 44 years I’ve learned to approach gift wrapping in the manner of Himself, a rather “Git ‘er done!” style. He employs no hoopla or fuss. Well, unless the whimsey of the moment attacks him. There was once a large box with a short electric cord emerging from one corner. Unwrapped it yielded a small wrapped gift plus the cord disappearing into another wrapped box. That one yielded, you guessed it, a small wrapped gift and the cord, longer now, disappearing into another wrapped box. Several layers further on the cord was revealed as part of a hand-made colored light cube. A gift I still have. Way fun to un-wrap and Genius!

But back to the situation I face. My enthusiasm for wrapping has evaporated along with my talent for doing it neatly. It disappeared in the mist of years of watching presents gleefully shredded. Wrapping is just the barrier to get through to find the Good Stuff. Why fuss? And so my technique these days is “cover it up and slap on a label”. No worries about corners or edges. I mix and mis-match papers, sometimes several patterns on the same gift. Must use up all those little extra pieces, you know! Ribbons? They just slow the process of wrapping and un. Fancy tags? Bits and bobs? Hah! Slice and dice a bit of left-over scraps for a label and stick it on with a bit of tape. TAPE! Ah, the precious gift of tape! It repairs torn places and holds together the creative papering as well as ensuring a label stays somewhere visible.

I look back on my early wrapping days with some nostalgia but no urge to recreate them. All is well, My gifts for this holiday are done with a happy flourish. 


I wish you the joys of Wrapping Season!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Service You Can’t Get in the Big City by Guest Writer

 
Service You Can’t Get in the Big City
by Himself

Yesterday I had to venture the 13 miles north to Bandon to run an errand. Normally, If I make an offer of fast-food lunch to Spousal Unit, she’s happy to come along on these trips, and yesterday was no exception. But that has little to do with this story.

After my errand, we stopped at Dairy Queen. I got a Flamethrower burger and a pumpkin pie Blizzard; she got a big salad. But that has little to do with this story.

The only other customer in the DQ at that hour was our regular UPS driver. I’ve seen him in there before in the middle of the day. I surmise that DQ must be one of his frequent lunch break choices. I nodded hello to him. But that has little to do with this story.

I got our to-go order and headed back to the car. There was a mixup with the salad dressing, and I had to go back in the DQ. But that has little to do with this story.

When we were about to leave the parking lot of the DQ, UPS Guy was just leaving too, but he called out to me that there may be a package for us. Do we want it now? I say sure, why not?He backed up and parked next to us, and rummaged around in the back of his truck for a minute. When he emerged, he had TWO packages for us: One was for home delivery, the other was for delivery via our post office. He delivered both packages to the back seat of our car. That’s service you can’t get in the big city. And that’s what this story is about.


Friday, December 6, 2013

December Morning

Midway through a December morning. It is raining out. The rain is predicted to turn to snow tonight and temperatures to end up in the low 20’s. Husband is still asleep. Kitty is asleep, again. She keeps asking to go outside - where she gazed mournfully at the rain and waits for me to let her back inside. She takes a short nap and repeats the process hoping the result will be different. Himself merely snuggles deeper under the comforter. The sky will be dark at his mid-day and he can ignore the weather.


Me? At the computer, of course!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Gremlins?

Where do the tiny rocks in my slippers come from?

I’m a barefoot girl in the warm months but for half the year here in the Oregon chill I wear big woolly slippers - the kind with thick rubberized soles on the bottom and fluffy lamb fuzz that wraps around my ankle. At least once a week I tuck my bare feet into them, take a step, and Ouch! It is princess and the pea time. An immense boulder, okay, a minuscule pebble that merely feels huge and boulder-like, has appeared inside.

The rock wasn’t there earlier so what happened? Space dust? Inter-dimensional travel? Invisible jolly jokers?

Dark magic must be afoot. Or at least underfoot.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Creams & Potions

Isn’t it amazing how much we humans need stuff to slather on our skin? We women soften, moisturize, and soothe. We remove spots, erase wrinkles, and soften rough places. We clear, firm, and lubricate as we apply the magical elixirs of youth and beauty. Nights and mornings have become times to smear and daub. 

There are concoctions that cost $50 an ounce. There are mixtures that can be whipped up in a home blender. 

Men laugh indulgently at the antics of women but sneak off to blot the gray from their hair and puzzle over the efficacy of a face-lifting cream.


Staying young looking is the name of the game. Too bad there isn’t as much time and money spent becoming wise.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

It isn’t just me. Is it?

As I’ve gotten older the strength in my hands has diminished a bit. Arthritis does take a toll. But not so much that I should find it utterly impossible to open a container of salad dressing. Or remove the top from a 1 liter soda bottle. Or turn the lid of a jar  -  you name it! What are they doing? Welding the metal to the glass and making the sodas impermeable to drinkage? (I know it isn’t a word but these days…)

I’ve watched folks much younger than I am struggle with these things. It isn’t just me and my almost seven decades old hands. The various tools for aiding the process, I have a variety, work sometimes. The other times I either weep or swear LOUDLY and himself comes to the rescue. He struggles with it but doesn’t yell quite as loud.

I’m having fantasies of the executives of companies selling these containers, along with the mad scientists dreaming those immoveable objects into reality, hungry and stuck in a food filled room where they are unable to open a single jar or bottle.


(Gleeful laughter inserted here)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Catalogs

With everything becoming an online experience catalogs arriving in the mail will soon be a thing of the past. I will miss them.

Remember the days when autumn meant an influx of paper wish-books? Each day would bring a new selection of shop-at-home opportunities: Cookware, clothing, music, gift items of every description. I always had a stack at hand for the odd few moments when there was not enough time to read a chapter in my current book. Paging through a catalog was a chance to be a millionaire, at least for a little while. I’d happily fantasize, selecting surprise gifts for family and friends, things I could not afford but that I knew would delight.

Not that many catalogs arrive any more. Like everybody else when I want an item I head to my computer and shop online. It is easier and faster and allows many, many more choices. But it isn’t quite as much fun and, unhappily for my budget, encourages much more impulse buying.

Yesterday I returned to the good old days though. The Acorn catalog arrived and I settled down for a a pleasant wish-a-thon. That catalog is filled with DVD collections of shows from PBS and BBC. In my imagination I filled my video shelves with The Mikado by the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company and series like Inspector Lewis, Miss Marple, and New Tricks. I “bought” gifts for friends and various art and knick-knacks for everybody. Sigh.

My credit cards and checkbook still intact, I reluctantly consign the catalog to a recycle bin. Temptation has been resisted. For now.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween


The past several days the evening news has contained stories about the police gearing up for Halloween and how that night has become one of the more dangerous times for drunk driving accidents. And I know I’ve gotten old when I hear those stories and react with “WHAT?”

When I was a kid Halloween was for  children. Costumes were fun. Getting candy was great. Jack O Lanterns had scary faces. Parents accompanied their tots around the neighborhood and a fine time was recalled over indigestion the following day. No kid over the age of twelve went Trick or Treating or would put on a costume and the few that did were recognized as “Being up to no good”.

Something slipped in the universe. A generation of kids forgot to grow up and continues to celebrate Halloween. No worries. It is silly fun to wear a mask and consume extra calories. But when the scary homemade costume turns into X-rated skimpiness and the candy turns into drugs and alcohol  and that leads to record numbers of highway accidents something has gone awry.


Please enjoy your Halloween, but do it safely, okay?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Who??

I’ve seen a bunch of email and Facebook humor going around with suggestions about various ways to “deal with” the recalcitrant members of congress that have recently so angered the folks in this country.

I have to ask myself, “Who elected these guys in the first place?”

And I’ll remind my fellow citizens that WE DID.

So who exactly is to blame for the bottlenecks - past and future - that have been so irksome?

WE ARE.

And who exactly can do something about dealing with those members of congress?

WE CAN.


The next time your senator or congress-critter is up for election remember and vote accordingly. You only have yourself to blame.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

And Have I Mentioned...?



Whatever happened to my memory? Is it my age, or tides. or some vast universal conspiracy concocted by our alien overlords? I used to be able to remember times and dates of appointments, dozens of birthdays and holidays, shopping lists and phone, social security and license plate numbers plus the mailing addresses for all my friends. No notes required.

No longer does my brain retain all this information. Now I substitute notes, lists, and memos. My world is littered with reminders. My computer desktop is littered with "stickies" with appointment dates and quotes I'd like to recall. The real desk has lists of various rules of online games I play and lines of poetry I thought of that I might finish creating - one day. I have push-pinned notes on a cork board and notes held to the refrigerator with magnets and when opened my purse spews forth a myriad of notes I carried to remember market items and things to talk to the doctor about. And the things needed from the hardware store. And ideas for gifts if I see something just right in a store somewhere. Those things I may purchase and tuck away for that future gift and forget I bought it or where I put it.

That information is on another list. I don't know where that one got to.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

???


It isn't one of the major questions facing humankind but…

Why is it that when my cat bangs on the screen door to request entrance to the house, and I go to open the door for her, she moves from the place where it opens to the hinge side and then has to reverse direction to actually and go around the side she WAS on to actually get in the house?

Okay, you're right. I know the answer: Because - she is a CAT!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Shoes


Will somebody please explain to me what is going on with the styles in women's shoes? Even knowing that fashion designers display the extremes in their attempts to garner press and reputation, and that women's clothing choices have swung wildly in the past, I cannot fathom what would make a woman want to wear these:


My example is a "moderate" one from the pictures that came up after I Googled shoes. But can you imagine what things like these do to leg muscles? And the enormous sole takes any allurement from the high heel and leaves the shoe resembling a combat boot. In my opinion it is butt ugly.

Maybe the idea is theatre costume and S & M couture brought to the masses? 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Cup of... ?


Have you noticed how often the coffee and soda carried around by characters in television shows are obviously EMPTY?
On Castle, Richard shows up in the squad room with two huge cardboard cups of coffee from the local Starbuck clone and swings them forward without a single slosh or dribble. Apparently the coffee they drink is weightless since the cups have all heft of a balloon.

On NCIS Gibbs hands Abby her humongous mega-caffeine drink with nary a sign of inertia or clink of an ice cube. They pour coffee into a paper cup for somebody and the dark liquid in the pot becomes invisible in the cup. The only time you see Gibbs' coffee is when someone spills it.

Can't the prop folks find a way to fake it? Fill those lidded containers with resin so the weight is there and lifting the container looks reasonably real. Do the same with the soda cup and add a couple of beads for the sound of ice cubes. Or let the Foley guys add a bit of reality.

Or at least teach the actors how to carry and raise a cup as if something besides air was inside.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pills


Getting sick requires a university degree in reading labels and deciphering prescriptions. For those of us not genetically blessed to reach our 90's running marathons, swimming 5 miles a day, or biking across the country, the increasing decrease of our bodies plus a variety of germs and viruses equals pills. Pills, pills, and more pills.

I'm not a great fan of running to the doctor so over the past decade I've added a variety of supplements to my morning regimen. Vitamin C. Fish Oil. MSM. Calcium for my aging bones. A few more recommended by medical professionals and friends have joined those. I confess that I consume a small fistful every morning.

Note that I said "every morning." Once a day in the A of M. Easy to figure out, right? Pharmaceutical companies don't recognize the structure that brings to pill consumption. They've created once a day pills. Three times a day pills. Four times a day pills. Pills to be consumed before meals, with meals, or at least an hour before OR after meals. Pills where you must not consume alcohol, or dairy products. Pills with a full page of warnings and restrictions. And pills that come with their own complicated schedule that changes daily: Day One take 2 before breakfast, one at lunch, one at dinner, 2 at bedtime - Day Two take one before breakfast, one at lunch, one at dinner, 2 at bedtime - Day Three take one before break fast (but don't do what you did the day before!), etc.

Due to some health issues a recent trip to my physician resulted in me listening to him describe what pills I was to be prescribed and when and how to take them. When my eyes started rolling around in my head and I gasped out a request for clarification ("I take these two days, then stop them and take those others for a week, then start back on the first ones but only…") my doctor reconsidered and simplified the orders. Even simplified I'm not sure my college education prepared me for getting through the next week without error.

The medication dilemma is bad enough for the mature, presumably mentally alert adult. It is frightening to consider what some aging patients face. More physical problems. More than one doctor. Likely less communication between those medical professionals. Possibly less ability to understand the varied consumption of, and interactions between, the medications they take. If old age doesn't get them the complications of trying to cope with it may.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

NO is the hardest word…


The most difficult word in the English language is NO. It is a word I choke on. It screams out and echoes loudly in my head but when it approaches my lips I gasp, my teeth clench, and I face an abyss.

If I say no:
I'm being selfish.
I won't be liked.
Asking for anything myself will not be okay.
I am a bad person.

It has taken me 66 years to let that word out and every time is a struggle. When it is said it is even harder not to accompany it with curlicues of explanation, justification, and apology.

In my sixth decade I can say NO. But only seldom. Afterwards I cower and wait for annihilation. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

There goes the Sun...


I may have mentioned before… okay, I'm getting to the age where I've mentioned EVERYTHING before… that I am Solar-Powered. I wake when the sun comes up and am ready for bed as the sun dips below the western horizon. As you'd expect, this makes my days longer in summer and shorter in winter. When Himself and I left the mid-point of coastal California the solar effect became more pronounced. Summer days are longer farther north and winter days are shorter. There are now times in December and January where I'm a bit like a hibernating bear. I crawl blearily from my bed well past 8 AM and am ready to return by 5PM as darkness descends.

Already this year the sleeping spell is trying to take hold. The daylight hours are shrinking.

If only I was more like Himself who is totally powered by Peanut Butter.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

It Never Rains...

But It Pours.
That is the rule for the weather and for the events in my life.

When Himself and I retired I chose to become a hermit-in-training. We have a wonderful rural home, slightly run-down just as I am, and I burrowed down intending to disappear and never poke my head beyond the gate.

But the world comes a'knockin'.

 I gave up the hair shirt and quit navel-gazing to begin staring at the world through the modern equivalent of a crystal ball - my computer - and discovered that it stared back.

Is there a moral here? Maybe it is the ever useful adage: Watch what you ask for.

(And No, I'm not supplying details on this one. Just a small squeak of warning.)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

No Knees is Good Knees?


Arthritic problems happen with my knees too. They either want to lock in place or resist straightening and instead each time I begin to walk they play a game of tag with the nearby nerve. I twist and yelp until those two reach a consensus that allows me to walk. The knees are a chronic pain. No. Knee replacement is not an option I consider.

There is also the occasional severe inflammation of a joint. This can happen anywhere in the body, though hip, spine and foot have seemed to produce the most pain and resultant yodeling. Thank goodness we live in the boonies. If we lived in a town the neighbors would think himself was committing murder at our place. He isn't. And hasn't. At least yet.

Actually he is beginning to understand the joys (gag!) of painful joints. My tough guy is getting older right along with me and though he is less noisy about it he has started to feel it. Are there yodeling duets in our future?



(Getting old sucks. The alternative isn't so great either.)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fingertips, Part 1




There is a poster I've seen somewhere with a picture of an athletic and vigorous senior and the caption: Old Age Isn't For Sissies.

You better believe it. But for some of us getting old isn't so much a case of entering our Golden Years as it is recognizing that we are caught in the Rust Belt. We aren't the ones out enjoying ourselves by climbing Everest or entering marathons. We're the ones whose bodies embraced decrepitude. Maybe we were careless when younger and are reaping the physical results or maybe we just didn't get dealt a winning hand in the genetic anti-aging poker tournament. Either way we begin to fall apart.

Once I was over the hill and sliding down the other side my hinges began to dominate every activity. It started with a hint of arthritis in a finger. Then two, then three joints succumbed to aching, pain, and eventually visual change. I have an index finger with large knobs at the end joint and a middle finger that takes a sudden leftward turn near the end. Make a fist with either hand  and the knuckles tend to lock and refuse to move unless coaxed. Sometimes they simply ignore commands/requests/begging and remain straight. Try to open that tube of Arnica with old clothespin fingers!

Arthritis in the hands is the only thing I've found that makes washing dishes a pleasurable activity. Soaking hands in hot water is so pleasurable the government must be considering outlawing it. The moral police must have already declared it a sin.



(Getting old sucks. The alternative isn't so great either.)

Saturday, July 13, 2013


"When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kind of dogmas or goals, it's always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt."
-Robert M. Pirsig, author and philosopher (b. 1928)

Yes indeed! The louder the voice and the more fervent the believer, the more dedicated they are to making everyone else believe as they do, the less confidence they have in that underlying belief. When you truly know a thing in your heart there is no need to bolster yourself making others agree with you. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Safe and Sane?


Himself and I have no plans for the Fourth of July holiday beyond staying home and hoping no idiot sparks a grass fire with "safe and sane" fireworks. I hate the fact that such stuff is legal - especially in a year where the fire potential is so high. We've already seen one story on the news of a guy blowing two fingers off his hand. I start muttering as soon as I see the first fireworks stand go up locally and wonder why they are for sale.

The folks lighting those home explosions are too often the very ones who shouldn't be allowed any. They get boozed up so aren't careful even if they know how to be. As for really understanding the reason for the celebration? "Gimme another beer 'n whoopee for the 'Ndependence thingie!"





Yes, I have an attitude.

So we'll be at home watching fireworks safely on TV and I may watch the movie "1776" like I do many years. I've been singing the song "My name is Richard Henry Lee, Virginia is my home!" in my head as an earworm for several days now. Maybe watching the film will get it out of my system? (I should BE so lucky... snort!)

Sanitized history. Safe from the tossed firecrackers. Sane? Well, you can't have everything!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The End is Near. Again.


I am so weary of the hysterical outcries predicting the end of civilization from every possible direction... from climate (ice melting, fires, catastrophic storms) to political intrigue (drone surveillance, government spying) to big business (GMO's, bank scandals) to drugs (marijuana growing, Meth labs) to lack of money for police, prisons, education, health care... etc.

Perhaps it seems worse because of the online community and the immediacy of information. Or maybe it is simply the hyperbole involved - though I doubt the folks expressing themselves see it as any form of exaggeration. They are intent on grabbing the attention of people to their particular cause and so each one screams louder then the one before, and waves her arms more wildly, and gnashes his teeth with greater vigor.

The issues are real. They are important. But the overall effect is rather like being surrounded by hundreds of Chicken Little clones screaming that the sky is falling. Instead of being galvanized to action I'm stunned, overwhelmed, and numbed.

Monday, July 1, 2013

KA-CHOO!


Don'tcha just l…l…love … ah-choo! allergy season? Every morning I ah….ah…..ah….. Choo! sit at my desk  ah….ah…..ah….. Choo! and attempt to set world records for ah….ah…..ah….. Choo! sneezing. Drinking my coffee becomes ah….ah…..ah….. Choo! an event liable to produce explosive wall pat ah….ah…..ah….. Choo! terns or a ah….ah…..ah….. Choo! dripping computer screen. ah….ah…..ah….. Choo! Eyes water. Sinuses clog. It is a laugh ah….ah…..ah….. Choo! riot. If it was only spring I wouldn't m…m…. ah….ah…..ah….. Choo! mind so m…m….ah….ah…..ah….. Choo! much. But I ah….ah…..ah….. Choo! do this all year roy…rou… ah….ah…..ah….. Choo! round.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Undressing the Dressing?


We eat a lot of salad at my house these days. I make my own oil & vinegar dressing some of the time, happily adding garlic and herbs to create various mixtures. Himself prefers a creamy dressing on his salad, Ranch or Bleu Cheese or some other flavor, and I like those too, so we often purchase whatever variety tempts us from the store shelf.

Amazing stuff, those bought dressings. The goop that plops out of the bottle is thick enough to stand up and walk around. It thuds into the bowl, sits there in a blob, and adamantly refuses to flow over the greens, coat the cucumbers or swathe the tomatoes. It is viscous enough to mortar bricks. It would take half a bottle to thoroughly coat a salad.

Do you do what I do? A goodly dribble of Balsamic vinegar thins out the initial glob that burps forth from the container. The bottle then gets topped off with cold water, thoroughly shaken, and tucked onto the refrigerator shelf to await the next salad. Often the dressing is thick enough for several such treatments. Tasty? Yes! And the calorie burden gets lower each time around. That may not be important to you, but it sure is to me. It is also nice that this method thins the dressing so that more gets used before the remains stubbornly refuse to exit the bottle.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

That's Amore!


Another earworm morning. This one burrowed it's way from deep back in my head since the song probably hasn't reached my ears in honorable auditory fashion for decades.

That's Amore by Dean Martin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDZKdz_OTAU

Remember Dean Martin? His television show was a weekly Must-See for me in the late 1960s to early 1970s. I was never sure if his alcohol-sloshed persona was real or put-on.

So I woke up this morning with the song going around and around in my head, as ear worms do and when I got to the line about pasta fazool I decided to find out what it is: pasta with beans otherwise known as pasta e fagioli.

You can find a recipe for it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasta_e_fagioli

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Chewing Gum


"Flogging is far too lenient a punishment for 'people' who spit their gum out on the street." - Himself

I'll bet you can picture the situation. Walking across a paved asphalt parking lot on a warm day. Not noticing the wad of gum and Splat! there it is attached to the bottom of your shoe. Each further step allows the sticky mass to adhere tiny sand grains and pebbles to the growing mess. If you are lucky you notice and scrape. Too often you don't react until you stick to a carpet or floor.

My mother disapproved of gum. She claimed that all who indulged in its use resembled cows in a pasture chewing their cuds. Despite her disapproval, or maybe because of it, I persisted in putting my pennies in the gum dispensers at the grocery store. Remember the joy of turning the knob and grabbing wildly for the little green and red balls that propelled themselves out the shoot headed for the floor?

Facing the reality of my chewing habit Mom then taught the correct disposal of the chaw once the flavor was gone and no new additions were available to add to its girth. If the chew was bubble gum from the market I was to save the wrapper and use it to receive the used gum. If no wrapper was available a tissue or any torn scrap of paper could be used to encase the offensive glob. It could then be tossed into the trash with confidence that it would not glue itself to the bottom of the can to remain in perpetuity. Or until some poor bloke had to scrape it out. 

I seldom chew gum these days but when I do I abide by Mom's rules. And when I encounter discarded gum in the wild, on sidewalk or street, I am hard pressed not to envision the offending careless disposer of same confined forever to a Medieval torture chamber.

But for those who still chew: Teresa Brewer- Chewing Gum Song

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Indy


We don't run out to recreate on a holiday weekend since being retired means we can do that any other day and not have to fight traffic and crowds. Thus we have no plans for the holiday weekend although Himself has already programmed the TV for hours of Indy race coverage. We aren't racing fans but the Indy is an institution. As Himself says "It feels un-American not to watch."

I will likely fire the race with one eye, choosing to either snooze or read in-between crashes and commercials featuring busty, semi-clad girl-children shaking their booty for the testosterone laden race fans.

Oooh! Do I sound like an rasty old poop? You betcha! How about a few muscle-bound fellas in Speedos waving their assets for the ladies who watch racing? 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I'm Fluffy!


My life at this time of the year is  dominated by cat hair. Every piece of clothing I own is festooned with cat hair. The furniture in my house is coated with it. My meals are spiced with it. It wafts in clouds wherever I go.  To tell the truth it is like this all year long but especially in the spring when kitty divests herself of her winter coat. The shed hair wafts through the household, sticks to everything, and gathers into piles in the corners.

If you are owned by a cat you know what I mean. Cat hair is the decorative item attached to your life. That little black dress? That white sweater? Those jeans, socks, slippers, and even your underwear are dotted with cast off fur. Interesting stuff, by the way. The guard hairs are long and variously colored along their length while the undercoat consists of multiple wavy strands gathered into a bunch at the base. I've had plenty of chance to study it as it floats around my eyes and drifts into my nose and mouth.

Remember that kid from the Peanuts cartoons who always walked around in a dusty cloud? That's me and the cloud is pale yellow feline fuzz.


This isn't a complaint. I love my cat and happily put up with the felinity which translates to following her imperious demands and bowing to her refusal to do anything or go anywhere not of her choosing. Cat people are subjects. We obey.

And we wear the signs of our servitude… like a hair shirt.

Friday, May 10, 2013

When Good Authors Go Bad


What is it about books written in a series? The first couple often start out with wonderful promise but gradually the plotting seems to wither and leave a hastily sketched outline filled in with drivel. If the writer is competent the language and grammar will remain but the storyline looks pressed out with a cookie cutter, quickly baked, and never quite done.

I'm one of those readers who will get entranced with characters and absorbed into their world, start at number one and work my way through volume by volume. I will wait expectantly for the next in a series, ready to spend time with people who seem like friends. It is a great letdown when the creator of those books succumbs to "gotta publish" pressure and starts taking short-cuts.

I've probably written about this before but here I am again struggling to decide whether to continue reading a mystery series I started earlier this year. It held up well through the first nine books, faltered at ten, and stumbled badly at eleven. The writing stayed good but the plot suddenly took on the aspect of a one-hour television crime show: introduce all the characters then go trotting doggedly after one, only to drag out the earliest met and least explored as the culprit. Very dismaying.

So, one more chance for this author. Today number twelve in the list will get broached and my hope is that the last one was a temporary lapse.

(Names have been avoided to protect the guilty!)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Think deeper, Deep Thinker.



It was suggested to me, in the not so distant past, that blogging is not writing. At least not REAL writing. Real writing wasn't defined at the time but I inferred that it had to be in a form that the speaker of that opinion accepted and understood: fiction, biography, memoir, preferably somewhat extended, and this above all, on paper. Since I was publicly sharing a blogpost at the time and not inclined to argue the point I chose silence and crept away chastened. I seem to have been licking the wound I received by the remark ever since.

I wonder if the speaker would re-consider. Members of the writing group I sometimes attend blog, have published electronically, or write very short humorous pieces. Some have published on paper, others not at all. Every one of them considers what they do to be writing.

So what defines "writing"? My dictionary defines it as marking coherent words on paper and composing text. That seems dated in the electronic world we now inhabit. Paper… does this mean that in the computer and the webby world many of us now haunt writing will no longer exist? Or are both the definition and the speaker above failing to keep up? Is the crux of the definition "on paper" or is it "composing text"?

I think what was meant in the original remark was that blogging was too ephemeral for that person. It doesn't provide a lasting platform. It is too fleeting. But writing has always been about the exchange of ideas and writers have, like all artists, been the movers and the consciences of civilization. Blogging certainly can be about sharing ideas and nudging at society. Yes, it can also be banal and boring. So can books on paper. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013



A friend recently sent me photos of her ducklings enjoying their first outdoor swim. The photos reminded me of geese we used to have. They totally enjoyed enjoyed their kiddie pool baths. I'd clean the tub and fill it with sparkling clear water. They'd climb in, probably completely dismayed by the unusual invisible wetness, and immediately set out to remedy the situation, leaning over the edge, filling their bills with mud, and dabbling away. I can only assume there was a goosey sigh of relief as clear water gave way to brown poopy muck. Obviously my idea of what constitutes a pleasant swim was radically opposed to theirs.

And ducklings in their little pan agree!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Letter to Dish Network



Dear Sirs:

For quite some time our house has received Dish Network satellite television. We'd used other services but settled on Dish as providing the services we wanted. One of those services was the choice to pay our bill a full year at a time. It was an advantage to both of us. You locked us into staying with Dish for the entire year and we didn't have the monthly hassle of staring at the high cost of television. Win-win.

Now you inform us that we can no longer pay for our service a year at a time. We must subscribe on a month-to-month basis and be billed accordingly. Well, Bully for you!

Despite my husband's assurances that you couldn't be so mean, I know that your tiny corporate minds are already poised to increment up the costs of service. Isn't it irksome enough that we have receive a zillion channels we have no interest in just to get the few we actually watch?

However, be that as it may I thought I'd thank you anyway. You see, subscribing month-to-month also means that I see (and wince) each month as the bill arrives. It means instead of ignoring the cost for an entire year I review and re-evaluate each month: Do I really need this much television or can I drop to a cheaper tier? It means I am tempted twelve times more often to switch to your competition.

Thank you Dish Network for the frequently recurring opportunity to be an ex-Dish Network customer.

Oh, and by the way… pay the postage and send those bills monthly by mail, okay?


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Feline Mystery


An Exceedingly Small Mystery of Life:

Why does my cat sit by the hinge side of the door waiting to come inside when she knows perfectly well that the open part will appear at the opposite end?

She does this all the time. Even those times she IS sitting at the other end from the hinge she will walk to the hinge end before returning to enter the door.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ravenous Amazon?


Amazon just acquired Goodreads. It is nothing new. A company grows and has cash to spare and buys another company. Then there is more cash so it gobbles more companies and turns into a mega-corporation that slithers over the landscape absorbing everything in its path. Banks do it. Oil companies and food companies and soda companies do it. Amazon has been doing it. Google… well let's just assume that Google will own just about everything it has touched.

Getting big and being successful isn't necessarily a bad thing. It can lower prices and extend availability of products. More often though it has seemed to destroy variety, limit choices, and result in price fixing and control. Big companies get filled with small minds and small minds aren't creative. They become fixated on self-preservation. Those are the minds that buy up anything even remotely resembling competition - only to pluck it apart and destroy it. Or use it for the purposes of the parent animal.

Will that happen to Goodreads? Should a company that sells books oversee a site that critiques them? If you think YES then you may also think that Amazon does not filter the responses posted to its customer response lists. Notice how often the positive 5+ reviews are first and foremost on the page. Subtle, but…

I'm made uneasy by this acquisition. I recall not so long ago when Google gobbled a company hosting an online game I played. They wanted some other fragment of the company and despite the avid players of this game and the wonderfully benign, creative nature of it (nobody exploded or maimed!) Google killed it. The mega-bucks corp could have left the game alone but, unlike the bash 'em and slash 'em games, it didn't generate enough moolah.

I'm an Amazon customer and will probably continue to be. But just as my enthusiasm for Google faded, replaced by an uneasiness and growing sense of distrust, I expect the same sense to take root about Amazon.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


This is the sight we see from our front window at this time of year. It is accompanied by the traditional Gooble! Gobble! Gobble! as one or another Tom turkey does his lest to woo the local ladies. You can see how very impressed the hens are, totally ignoring him and more interested in finding a stray seed from our bird feeder.

I wish the photo was clearer but as soon as we go out the door the Tom deflates, gives up his strutting and posturing, assuming an innocent air of being just one of the gals. He probably thinks that makes him less a target for any drooling local hunter!

Monday, March 18, 2013


The daffodils continue to bloom... and besides the feral "double-center" variety we have some almost-white and some with dark centers, plus the plain old single tube type. Though how such glorious flowers could ever be plain is a good question. Everywhere I look from my house they are flowering.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Earth Hour is coming up. Every year I turn off all the lights, eschew the TV, sit for an hour and consider the wellness of this planet. I encourage my friends to do it as well.

Every year I am disappointed in how many either "forget" or have an excuse as to why they can't join. Political affiliations, spiritual choices, make no difference that I can see. A moment to be grateful that this miracle of a planet is our home is not much to offer.

* If you can't do it March 23rd at 8:30pm with so many of us, pick another hour.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Sunshine!

Sunshine can be elusive at this time of the year here on the Oregon coast. Thank goodness nature has given us a way to capture it and keep it within view. This picture of the field within view of my front door was taken yesterday.
There are smaller groupings of daffodils everywhere I look around the house. The joy of spring captured in a flower!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Don't try to out stubborn a cat!



Maybe that should be out-smart. Those furry little beasts can be very smart. Take our Flickie for example. This morning as I surfaced from sleep, Flickie perched over me in her usual "sleep on Mama" position, I stroked her in the normal way and my fingers felt an additional appendage. Flickie had an unwelcome passenger of Spring: a tick.

Fast forward to later that same morning. Himself is now awake and Flickie has come back inside the house after her morning jaunt around her realm. Her vassals determine to remove the tick… assuming we can lay hand upon Her Royal Felinity. She has no intention of allowing this. Since kittenhood she has shunned being held or picked up during the day having observed that it often results in trips in the car (shudder!) to the veterinarian (double shudder!) and thence to pokes, prods, and needles (Oh dear god!).

So the game is afoot. Himself tries the direct approach. He wanders around the house after her pleading "Kitty? Kitty?" as she strolls forth, always out of reach. He changes to a shiftier method, opening the door to allow her to go back outside hoping to trap her beside the screen door. This worked for a while but she learned to dodge his grabbing hands and hide under the couch.

Mama resorts to an old stand-by. I recline in a favorite night-time chair or feign an early nap on the bed in hope that Flickie will be lured into joining me. This also once worked but like the screen door scenario it is no longer effective. She enters the room, even allows me to stroke her fur, but it well aware of how close I need to be to make a successful grab and subdue.

We've been through all this already today. She isn't food oriented so won't come for tasty treats. Next step? I'm considering blow guns and paralyzing darts! 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Another Day


What happened to those mornings when I rolled out of bed full of energy and ready to tackle the new day? I miss those bright-eyed dawns where, like my grandchildren, I wanted to run and jump, to climb mountains and dig ditches, just for the sheer joy of moving.

Oh, I was never, within my memory, an athlete like my grandson. I was always happier reading a book. But there was a time when I relished planting roses or taking a long walk to watch birds or even getting down on my hands and knees to scrub a floor. There was enthusiasm for the chores of my life and each day was a happy adventure.

That was then. Now the day begins with a catalogue of what hurts and what doesn't work right. Waking is a chore where I open my eyes with a hint of regret. Another day? Whoop-de-doo. Accomplishing small chores is the sum of my day. I pull a weed from the pot of lavender by the front door, wash the dishes, maybe dust a shelf and all the while the aches and pains keep me company. Yes, it could be a lot worse but it is bad enough. Slow disintegration isn't much fun. The advantage over a quick decline may be that one gets to experience it more.

It is obvious that I get depressed and depression is something one is not supposed to do. Or share. Nobody wants to hear it.  Even the person feeling it often doesn't want to hear it! Get over it! Things could be worse! It is like when I was a kid and was told "Eat those vegetables! Children are starving in Africa!" as if somehow doing something here was going to help somebody there. As if the person here has no right to feel what they feel because there are others who have it worse.

And I listened. And I ate my vegetables. And I listen now and do my best to not feel. 

At least my feelings will do their roller-coaster things and zoom up again. At least I have that.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Daffy!



I am crazy nuts over the prospect of Spring. It is probably the Oregon coastal winter, which tends to be extremely dreary, that causes the intensity of excitement engendered by a warming sun and blue sky. In the middle of winter begins the search for the first signs of the coming warmth: tough little spikes of grey-green pushing up through the grass. Our daffodils!

We don't have the neatly-planted, well-tamed rows of bulbs favored by enthusiastic gardeners. Our daffodils are tough little survivors, feral bulbs escaped from once-tended beds. They've reverted to a double-throated variety and now shove their way past roots and rocks, muscling through thick turf and last season's dead grasses. They reach for what small bit of sun is here and bloom despite wind, rain and hail.

Daffodils of any kind are lovely, from the delicate miniatures to enormous bells of white with orange or peach colored cups… but I favor our tough individuals rushing the seasons and promising winter's end.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Sweets


I got into a discussion with an online acquaintance recently about treats we recalled from our childhoods. He was noting the possible reintroduction of the Twinkie - one of my husband's favorite youthful sweets. I replied to his post with mention of my personal choice from long ago: The Seven Up candy bar.

In my middle grade school years we lived in a neighborhood where school and store were close-by. Up until that time I'd been in the countryside where a bus took me to school and no store was within walking distance. What a world-opening experience it was to have only two blocks to go to delve into the world of comic books, cheap toys, and candy!

I was a solitary kid and probably a bit stranger than the Mickey Mouse and Superman crowd. I spent my money on Classic Comics. And where the other kids bought Double Bubble, Hershey's, and the ubiquitous Twinkies, I saved my nickels for Seven Up.

Seven Up… it was a candy store in one bar. It had cherry, caramel, coconut, jelly, maple, fudge, and Brazil nut centers all stuck together in one bar covered with chocolate. I would carefully parcel it out to myself happily feeling that I had scored seven pieces of candy while other kids had only one. My sweet tooth was happy and though my waistline paid a price I had the comfort food my life craved, no longer manufactured or I'd surely be indulging on occasion!



How about you? Was there a chosen candy in your childhood? Ho-ho's? Banana Dreams? Turkish Taffy? Junior Mints?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Why is it that one tends to find errors AFTER a post? Himself points out that Ms. Etherton's first name is spelled "Ginney"... which I should have known since I was looking at my Kindle as I wrote. Would just change the post but it has already been shared elsewhere so instead I will offer apologies and admit I am my own worst editor!


Noted NorthWet author Ginny Etherton appeared at a local event recently to sign autographs for the latest in her series of books featuring golf caddie Lainey Tidwell. I've read both of her books: Looping for Love, and Looping in Limbo - and enjoyed them a lot. Ginny sure knows how to describe the ambiance of the area in which I live!

Since I have both books on my Kindle I brought it with me to have Ginny sign it. That is the trouble with non-dead-tree books. They aren't very easy to autograph. But Ms. Etherton is a sport and with a smile affixed her moniker to the Kindle. I wonder if she is the first author to sign one?


Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I've been reading comments for posted material on Google+ and I'm beginning to think that we are transitioning into a world where most people will be unable to express themselves with much more than "lol", "hahaha" or the unpronounceable ;^). If this is the only comment your brain can muster… why bother? It is like like seeing a dog that sniffs a lamppost and needs to leave its mark.

I know typing anything cogent with two thumbs on a miniature keypad is difficult but if you can't do better than "hahaha" perhaps you should remain silent.