Thursday, October 25, 2007
Now that that's out of the way...
The vacation is going well, I made all my flights, though I did have to do an 11 minute connection in Newark from one terminal to another when the first plane came in late. Made it as they were closing the door on the second plane. Then, of course, we sat on the tarmac for 40 minutes. That's air travel.
My parents are looking good and it's wonderful to see them after so long. (Even if they do have slower than slugs computers and slower than a glacier internet connection.) I love this area and would truly like to move back here some day if only I could convince the Engineer.
The rain has been following me around. It rained in DC for the first time in 34 days when I was there visiting GuiGrl and meeting Cicada. It rained in Charlotte for the first time in ages when I got there and it rained all the way on the drive out here to the western edge of the state. North Carolina has been in the worst drought in living memory, but I brought the rain.
For some reason, however, this rain magic does not seem to work when I'm on my home turf - or, in the case of Utah, my home desert.
Ah well, I'm happy with bringing rain and friendship to the people I visit.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Coming east reenforces how much I miss the lush greenery of this side of the country. There are green areas in Utah, but they aren't the same -- the feeling is different. I can hardly wait to get to the Blue Ridge Mountains. To see the living green mountains rising up all around me, to feel the soft, moist air and hear the gurgle and splash of water, is to be home.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
The Engineer has gone on a pickling craze. He likes the Runge pickles so much that he wants me to try pickling everything, especially all of those green cherry tomatoes.
I did the last few Armenian cucumbers last night, so I guess if any of the little tomatoes are still firm when I get home from my trip, I'll give them a try.
But tomorrow I fly south-east, (Warm!) Until the first of November, this blog will lie quiescent.
Bye for now. See you in a couple of weeks.
Monday, October 15, 2007
From: "FONDATION DE FRANCE"
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2007 23:10:14 +0100
FONDATION DE FRANCE,
P O Box 1010,
Ipswich, I70 1NL
The Fondation De France (FDF) would like to notify you that you have been chosen by the board of trustees as one of the final recipients of a cash Grant/Donation for your own personal, educational, and business development.
The FDF, established 1969 by the Multi-Million group and now supported by the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS), United Nations Organization (UNO) and the European Union (EU) was conceived with the objective of human growth, educational, and community development. In conjunction with the ECOWAS, UNO and the EU, We are giving out a yearly donation of GBP?500,000.00 (five hundred thousand great british pounds sterling only) each to 5 lucky recipients selected globally.
These specific Donations/Grants will be awarded to only five(5) lucky international recipients worldwide, in different categories. Based on the random selection exercise of internet websites and millions of supermarket cash invoices worldwide, you were selected amongst the lucky recipients to receive the award sum of GBP?500,000.00 as Grant/Donation.
HOW TO CLAIM GRANT:
You are required to email your full Names, and contact information directly to the regional secretary, Fondation De France Host Headquarters in Europe.
Request your grant application claims form F5.CONTACT THE SECRETARY FOR MORE INFORMATIONS ON YOUR CLAIMS, Please endeavour to send a copy of this notification to the regional secretary and also quote your qualification number (FDF-021-6647-9163) in all discussions.
Dr. Steven Alkin
FDF Host Headquarters,
Please note that these donations/grants are strictly administered by the EU, ECOWAS, UNO. You are by all means hereby advised to keep this whole information confidential until you have been able to collect your donation.
On behalf of the board kindly accept our warmest congratulations.
Mrs. Angie Randall
Fondation De France
N.B:Any breach of confidentiality on the part of the beneficiary will result in disqualification.Please do not reply to this mailbox. Contact the regional secretary.
If it wasn't suspicious enough from the address to "Undisclosed-recipients", the text I highlighted in red should surely scare anyone with an ounce of savvy away...
http://icanhascheezburger.com/ and http://lolsecretz.blogspot.com/
I sent in a lolcat to "I Can Has Cheezburger ."
They didn't publish it.
Then I sent this to "lolsecretz. "
They didn't publish it.
Fortunately I didn't tell Sachi, so she's not pouting too.
My sibs and I had bright yellow slickers and black rubber boots. We would march through the puddles -- Splash! Splash! Splash! Worms came out of their holes and crawled all over the grass and sidewalks,
We were great worm collectors. We filled the pockets of our slickers to overflowing with long, squirmy, slimy earthworms. If our hands got too gooey, we wiped them in the wet grass then caught more worms.
When our pockets were full we ran home to our back door and yelled for Mom. She would come to the door and admire our oozing wads of worms. She would tell us in a delighted voice how proud she was of us and how wonderful worms were for the garden. "Now go put them in the garden," she would say. We scampered back to the garden and scattered our worms thither and yon. We were firmly convinced that nothing would grow in the garden without our worms.
One magnificently rainy morning, when my brother was in the first grade, he collected both pockets full of fat, juicy earthworms on the way to school. As a third grader, I was more sophisticated and saved my worm collecting efforts for the way home since I knew worms would stiffen up and die if you left them in your pockets all day.
My brother dearly loved his teacher and, when he saw her standing in the hall next to the classroom door, he was inspired. He ran up to her with his freckled face aglow.
"Hold out your hands and close your eyes," he said, "I have a surprise for you!"
She smiled and did as he asked.
My brother dug deep into his two bulging pockets and dredged up the biggest handfuls of wriggling worms that a first grader could manage. He deposited this wonderful gift into his teacher's cupped hands.
It was not what she was expecting.
She flung up her hands and let out a shriek that shattered every eardrum in the school. Worms splattered against the walls, ceiling, floor and not a few students.
She was making frantic panting noises and shaking her hands when she looked down and saw my brother's face. He was devastated. His lower lip was trembling and tears spilled from his eyes.
"But Mommy likes worms," he sobbed.
She bent down and hugged him.
"So do I," she said, "I just need to know when I'm getting a handful.
"Thank you for the present."
All the kids in the hall got to spend the first few minutes of the school day picking worms off the walls and each other. We took them outside and put them into the shrubbery around the school "where they would do the most good."
Now-a-days when it rains, the worms don't come out like they did when I was a kid. Oh, sure, you see a few, but nothing like it used to be. There aren't as many butterflies either. Or frogs and toads.
I miss the creepy crawlies. I wish people would stop polluting the earth, air and water so the bugs, amphibians, snakes and all the little wildlife that so delighted me as a child could come back. We need them to keep our planet and our souls healthy.
P.S. One of the most fun parts about rainy worm days was chasing Cindy Kraschenko. She screamed and danced and dodged better than anyone when we threw worms at her. She deserved it too, she was a snotty, superior kid -- really.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
- The Y chromosome -- Did it June 19, though there's enough material there to write a novel.
- The joyous teenager with the bouncing bosom -- Hmm, that's people watching like last night's blog.
- Rock pockets and carbon monoxide -- Don't remember the carbon monoxide part of this thought.
- Cotton bras and shirt wrinkles Did you ever have one of those "well, duh" epiphanies? --Been there, done that -- March 29
- Eating weird stuff -- March 25th
- Katherine Hepburn & Mae West -- February 7 & 8
- Trying to kill the spouse -- I think I'll save this one for later -- let you wonder just how I tried to off him.
- Loaning books -- A-ha! I've got a limerick for this one.
Success! I knew that list was a good idea. Better get busy thinking up and writing down some more emergency ideas.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
The fascinating thing about watching people is speculating about the untold story. There are undoubtedly perfectly mundane reasons for the things they do, but I'm not cognizant, so I have to make it up.
Grocery store checkout lines can be fascinating. I always look at what the other people are buying. Why was the lady in front of me getting a cart stacked full of Cheerios and Cap'n Crunch -- nothing else, but probably all the Cheerios and Cap'n Crunch that were on the shelf. I suppose it's a better buy than a cart full of Cap'n Crunch and Froot Loops, but why so many boxes of cereal? Who is she feeding it to? Will she come back later for a cart of Sugar Smacks and Corn Chex?
(And as an aside, what the heck is Cap'n Crunch made of anyway? I'm sure it's nothing organic.)
The guy who bought eight bags of marshmallows and a tube of Bengay had me speculating for days. Good thing Homeland Security hasn't instituted the Thought Police yet. I have no terrorist leanings, but I will admit to having a rather warped sense of humor; they would probably arrest me on general principles.
A man was standing at a bus stop the other day wearing an orange vest and holding a stick that was about twelve feet long with a ring on the end of it. He was sweeping the stick through the air, tapping the butt of it on the ground, gesticulating as if he was leading an invisible orchestra. He wasn't part of a surveying team, the stick was too long and there was no second guy peering through the little telescope thingie. Would the bus driver let him board with that long stick? Was he even waiting for a bus? Would some road rage prone driver take offense and get out to wrap the stick around the guy's neck?
I look at tattoos and piercings, at clothing and hair. My feeling is that if someone paints their hair bright pink and has it standing out in spikes all over their head it's because they want to be looked at. Ditto to women in clothes cut down to there and up to here. It's meant to attract eyes. Surely it would disappoint them terribly if no one looked.
Juxtapositions can be imagination titillating too. This is one of my favorites.
How did the angry knights end up in the same field as the oblivious young lovers? Will the lovers realize they're in danger before the knights go medieval on them? The lovers can likely run faster than the guys weighted down with armor, but what if there are more warriors waiting to pounce?
How can I not watch people and ask the ridiculous questions? It's so much fun.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Chapel Hill is going to be hard. One of my favorite, long-time friends lived there, but she died a few months ago. There's going to be a big hole in the heart of my Chapel Hill visit. My biggest regret in not making the trip last year was not getting to see Grace before she died.
Grace and I took each other under our wings when we first met. I was working for a business services company and hired Grace to answer phones during the night shift. She was a widow with MS and couldn't get out to work a regular job. We hit it off at the first meeting.
I never knew how old Grace was, but I do know she was a modern career girl in New York City during World War II and that she married an older man after the war and traveled throughout Europe with him working for "Stars and Stripes." Her stories of those halcyon days were fascinating.
She shared her calm acceptance of what life hands you and her wisdom with me. I brought her produce from my garden, caught her parakeet when it got behind her dryer and pumped up the tires on her wheelchair.
Grace was a trooper. She lived in her own one bedroom condo and was fiercely independent. She greeted any knock at her door or phone call with a cheery, "Hello, hello-oh!" Living in Europe had given her cosmopolitan tastes in food. She introduced me to quite a few new dishes. For many years, she would get on her electric wheelchair and go to the grocery store, bringing her groceries home in the back basket.
The first trip when she got the electric chair was to the drivers' licence bureau. She figured if she was going to drive it on the street, she was going to do it legally. She threw the whole office for a loop, but they consulted the codes and found out that she was indeed eligible to get a licence to drive it. They set up orange traffic cones in the parking lot and had her run the slalom - which she did in grand style. It was the first driver's licence she'd ever had.
Her last trip to the grocery store, one of her wheels hit a soft spot on the shoulder of the road. She tipped over and split her scalp open. Head wounds bleed like they are competing in an Olympic event, so she was soon blood soaked. She lay there pinned under her wheelchair, covered with blood for around a half an hour as cars whizzed by, ignoring her. Being Grace, she never shouted or begged for help, she just waited patiently until a city utility truck stopped. The guys put her in the front seat, pitched the wheelchair in the back and took her to the hospital.
I suspect that the only reason I found out about her misadventure was that the hospital refused to release her unless someone came to picked her up and sign for her and promised to stay with her overnight to watch for signs of a concussion. I was honored to be the person she chose to bail her out of the joint.
After her accident she took the city handicapped transport, but eventually became unable to do that as her condition deteriorated. She lost both breasts to cancer, which made it tough to wheel her inside chair, but she never asked for help.
After I married the Engineer and moved to Utah, I returned to North Carolina every fall and always went to Chapel Hill to see Grace. I would stop at the grocery store and run amuck through the aisles, buying all the nonperishable delicacies that I thought would tickle her fancy, then I'd get some fresh produce and french bread to stock her fridge. Ordering groceries over the phone didn't let her chose the best produce and her tight budget didn't let her get the little frills around the edges that she loved. I hope those groceries and the books on tape I sent her regularly made everyday life a little brighter.
I miss Grace. If I hadn't married the Engineer, I would have asked her to come live with me when she started failing. She would have said no. I know that. She would still have died of a sudden heart attack when her time came. I know I could not have changed that, but regrets linger.
When someone we love dies, it's hard not to keep mourning (heck, my eyes are dribbling as I type this.) It's hard not to keep mourning, but I think it does the person you loved more honor to remember the love and friendship with joy and to be grateful for having had the chance to know them.
Grace, I love you and I miss you and I feel so lucky that our lives intersected.
Monday, October 8, 2007
It's amazing how long an eye fiber can be. Feels gross to pull it out, but more annoying to leave it in. This one was about three and a half inches long. They seem to be more frequent in the winter when I'm wearing wool.
Eye fuzzies make me nuts and I wonder if anyone else has a problem with them. I tried Googling eye fiber, eye fuzzy and fiber in eye. Found lots of stuff about fiber optics, macular degeneration and a band called Tangle Eye. I tried detritus in eye -- boy, are there a lot of bands out there with weird names.
How about a parallel path? Let's look up eye floaters. 826,000 entries for that one. I've had floaters as long as I can remember, so I suspect they were congenital. Being a science fiction reader as a child, I used to fantasize that they were little aliens trying to take over my brain. Which, to me, was more acceptable than the alternative that I had worms in my eyes. I wouldn't tell the adults about them for fear that they would "do" something to me. Which is the same reason I took a razor blade to the only plantar wart I ever had two days before the doctor's appointment. Mom was PO'ed, but it never grew back.
To be honest, I've always found floaters rather entertaining; they were great to play with during those long and boring lectures college kids are often subjected to. I've had them so long, I don't see them unless I'm tired or go looking for them.
Next I searched eye annoyances and found things from examples of extreme ugliness to dust and grit. No long and kinky fibers.
Am I the only one who gets eye fuzzies?
Sunday, October 7, 2007
I am sitting here before my keyboard with my insides all heavy and congested. I don't understand how people can consider other people to be less than human. After watching this documentary, the only explanation I can think of for the way Afghan women are treated is that the men don't think women are human.
Of course this probably strikes me more profoundly because I'm a woman and because I know, pervasively, throughout history, women have been considered an inferior species.
It's not just women; anyone who's different can be conveniently labeled as inferior. It was okay to have black Africans as slaves in colonial America because, after all, they weren't really human. Never mind that white folks could cross breed with them and produce viable offspring. Anyone who's a different religion is suspect at the very least, more likely damned. Gays, no doubt about where they'll be cooking for all eternity. Don't yah know that their raison de'tre is to destroy the heterosexual family. And, hey, if people speak a different language, can't trust 'em, they're probably plotting in their heathen tongue against us.
I read a science fiction story when I was a kid that really left a mark on me. It compared an alien in human society to a green monkey, The story claimed that if you took a monkey from his troop, painted him green, then returned him to his troop, the other monkeys would kill him and tear him limb from limb because he was different. The author claimed that aliens would never be able to live among humans because they would provoke the same reaction from us. Different is bad and frightening and needs to be controlled or killed.
Sometimes I'm ashamed to be human. Especially when I don't feel like I'm doing anything to make it better.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Thursday, October 4, 2007
I leave DC for NC on the 23rd to visit my parents and assorted friends. Rented a car and bought myself a bluetooth headset for my cell phone (I am Borg, I have been assimilated) since I will be driving half way across the state to visit everyone. The dang car rental was only about $60 less than the plane ticket. Ouch! I'll fly home again on November 1st.
The Engineer is not going to like being abandoned for two whole weeks. Usually when I travel on my own, he manages to schedule himself to be out of the country while I'm gone. We'll see what he can come up with this year. Which means I'd better call the kitty sitter and put her on standby. Even if he doesn't go out of town, I may have her come in every few days to clean the litter box. The Engineer does not do litter boxes. He doesn't do any feline bodily byproducts.
I woke up yesterday morning and immediately knew that one of the girls had sinned on the new wool carpeting because of the can of carpet cleaner waiting for me at the site of the indiscretion. It was a hairball. Of course it was right next to the plastic the Engineer has laid to protect the new wool carpet.
Cats have an order of preference when it comes to upchucking:
- Persian rugs
- Wool carpeting
- Shag carpeting
- All other carpeting/rugs
- Clothing or Bedding
- Anything difficult to clean or that stains
- and dead last -- Hard surfaced flooring: tile, linoleum, vinyl, hardwood, etc.
The Cat Code of Conduct
to toss one's crunchies into the litter box or outside in the shrubbery. That simply would not make a proper impression.
Just think, for two whole weeks I won't have to clean up any messes, scoop any poops, cook any meals for the Engineer, wash dishes or clothes or run errands...
Hmmm... Maybe I should make my trip a little longer.
If that doesn't describe interpersonal communications, I don't know what does.
I dearly love the Engineer, but he speaks geek and I speak nerdette. Sometimes, more often than I like to admit, we are not on the same wavelength. I suspect his growing up with an identical twin didn't help matters. He has an expectation that a grunt, a shift of the shoulders and a twitch of the mustache should speak volumes. To the Twin, they do. Makes it difficult to play cards with them because each knows what the other is holding -- and they won't switch partners, they are always a team.
For years I've been trying to convince him that I am merely the Wife, not the Twin, and that I can only glean broad emotions from grunts and twitches, not Russian-novel-length concepts.
He doesn't seem to comprehend me any better. Sometimes he'll ask me to repeat the same thing half a dozen times. Don't know if he honestly doesn't understand what I'm saying or if he hopes that I will change it if he asks me enough times.
Our conversations end, on a regular basis, with me telling him, "It's a good thing you're cute."
A conceptual bypass happened between a friend's lips and my ears the other day. There was a vital piece of information assumed but not known. I ended up blithely trotting down an unintended path that ended with both of us going, "Huh?" at the end. It was one of those "well, duh!" moments for me once the little bit of information was revealed. Should have known it all along, but it never occurred to me.
I love words, as I said yesterday, but it really helps understanding if both parties are using the same dictionary and facing in the same direction.
A rose by any name might smell as sweet, but unless you draw me a picture, I won't know what you're talking about. P.S. I agree with you, Cicada, it's nice to be able to use the full vocabulary and know you'll be understood. That's one of the reasons I like college better than real life. Also agree on phlegmatic, it's been up at the top of my favorite words list many times.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
It's true. I will not hang my head in shame but will proudly proclaim, it's true.
Some of my favorite web sites are Dictionary.com, Urban Dictionary, Visual Thesaurus, World Wide Words. A great blog is WordImperfect. My favorite NPR program is Says You. No secret there, I have links to all of them in the right-hand column. I e-subscribe to Mirriam-Webster's Word of the Day.
I have favorite words, which I must admit change from day to day. There are so many good ones, it's hard to stick with a few.
Monday, October 1, 2007
Kitsu and I rushed down the stairs to see what Sachi had caught. Don't tell the Engineer, but Sachi had her prey in his office. Kitsu leaped into the fray and the prey ran out from behind the sofa.
It was a squirrel! Big game!
"Oh crap, those things bite like heck," I muttered as I went to get a towel.
I'm going to have to keep a close eye on both the cats for the next couple of weeks, because squirrel bites have a nasty tendency to abscess.
The best bet to catch a rodent is to wait until the cats get it cornered then drop a towel over it. I am an old pro at this. I even caught a 'possum using this methodology once, but that's another story for another time.
Sachi ran around one end of the sofa and Kitsu went over the top. The squirrel bolted out the other side and ran into the rec room with all three of us hot on its tail.
I thought I had it in the corner, but tripped over Kitsu and it scuttled into the heap of furniture in the middle of the room. I said some very unladylike things. Both of the cats dove into the heap. All the critters scrambled under the piled furniture as I danced around the periphery with my towel.
Then a stroke of luck, the squirrel ran into a rolled up exercise mat and a cat staked out each end. I moved enough stuff to get at the mat and climbed into the field of combat.
Squashing Sachi's end of the rolled mat, I got a good grip on it then tipped it up with Kitsu's end tight to the floor. I slowly and firmly squashed the bottom end flat, then stood up with my squirrel burrito gripped tightly at both ends. The cats, thinking their prey had escaped, dived under the furniture in search of squirrel blood as I carried the trapped tree rat in its mat up the stairs.
The squirrel was so scared that it didn't start cussing until it was well up a tree and safe from my evil clutches. It was about a half an hour before the cats gave up the basement search.