September 29, 2014

My accomplishment

I had the day off today, and despite the fact that I'm fighting an insidious sinus/ear thing, I managed to FINALLY repair the damn window pane that I broke two years ago with my unruly elbow.
In our old house we have true divided-light 6 over 6 windows wherever the previous  owners didn't replace them with horrible casements. They have the annoying storm/screen track windows attached to the outside (thankfully! brrrrr!), but the inside remains original. Previously, opening the dining room window I managed to somehow put my elbow completely through one of the panes of glass.
We patched it with saran wrap and scotch tape. Yes, we did. We then left it that way for a year.
Last year when we were wandering the aisles at a large home improvement store, I noticed that they had panes of glass. "What size do you think that window is, Honey?" "It's just the one pane. It can't be bigger than 8x10. Get that one and we can cut it down if we need to." A plan.
The flaw: turns out each pane is 9x12. huh.
Today at our local hardware store, they not only sold me a pane of glass, THEY cut it to my exact specifications. (Which the giant home improvement mega-store was unwilling to do.) I brought it home, scraped the remnants of the putty out, bent the points back, inserted the glass (with only the tiniest cut to the side of my finger), re-bent the points to hold it, and caulked the whole thing in.
I am a home improvement DIVA! Now I am in danger of breaking it again just because every time I walk past it, I have to give it a giggly little tap because it isn't thin plastic wrap anymore.

September 26, 2014

Friday Book Blogging

On a Friday!
My favorite of the week was Christopher Fowler's The Invisible Code featuring Bryant and May. This is the fifth time I've tipped Fowler for his Bryant and May series. At this point in time, my concern isn't that I won't love one of the stories, but that the characters will die of old age ending the series.
The stories are excellent, the plots are sufficiently convoluted. But the best thing about them involves the tidbits of London history and folklore peppered throughout.

September 25, 2014


In 1930, Dorothy L. Sayers introduced us to Harriet Vane. She became (instantly) the love interest of Lord Peter Wimsey. What I find remarkable about Sayers  portrayal of her incredibly forward-thinking characters in 1930 is their attitude about sex. For those unfamiliar with the book Strong Poison that introduces Harriet Vane, a brief synopsis: she is being tried for the murder of her lover and Lord Peter rushes to her defense after falling madly in love.
I like that Harriet doesn't fall into his arms just because he works to prove her innocence. In fact, she actively fights her attraction because gratitude is not a good basis for a relationship. Also, Harriet is self-sufficient financially, and independent. She is characterized as having relinquished her views on traditional marriage for the sake of her lover, but once having made that decision refused to waiver from it.
Notable of Wimsey's stance on the issue, at one point when Harriet turns down an offer of marriage with the argument that she has had a lover and therefore (in 1930s parlance) tainted goods, no longer a virgin bride. Peter comes back with, "So have I. Several in fact. It's the sort of thing that could happen to anyone." In 1930. 

85 years later, we're still hung up on that virgin thing. Everytime I see those creepy "pledging my virginity to my father until I marry" pictures from Purity balls, I'm reminded that we are letting others dictate our sexuality.

September 24, 2014

As info.

I am generally not an acquisitive person (except for shoes --I can't have enough shoes), but I want an iPhone 6.
(despite all its "defects" Ha!)

September 23, 2014

Fall weather


Crisp fall day
Crisp autumn leaves
Crisp ripe apple
Crisp baked bread
Crisp* new shirt

Crisp began its etymological life meaning curly. Back in the 1200s, the only thing that was crisp, was a head of hair. Now hair is one thing that's never crisp (unless you have a bad run-in with a curling iron). My favorite use of the word, for a cool bright snappy day, is only about 200 years old.

*Isn't it interesting that the more you type a word, the less "right" it looks?

September 22, 2014

Gold Flower

It's chrysanthemum season!
  • The name "chrysanthemum" is derived from the Greek words chrysos (gold) and anthemon (flower).
  • Yellow or white chrysanthemum flowers of the species C. morifolium are boiled to make a sweet drink in some parts of Asia.
  • Chrysanthemum leaves are steamed or boiled and used as greens.
  • Small chrysanthemums are used in Japan as a sashimi garnish.
  • Pyrethrum (Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium) is economically important as a natural source of insecticide. Pyrethrins attack the nervous systems of all insects, and inhibit female mosquitoes from biting. 
  • Chrysanthemum plants have been shown to reduce indoor air pollution by the NASA Clean Air Study.
  • In some countries of Europe (e.g., France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Poland, Hungary, Croatia), incurve chrysanthemums are symbolic of death and are used only for funerals or on graves.
  • In the United States, the flower is usually regarded as positive and cheerful. 
  • In Australia,the chrysanthemum is sometimes given to mothers for Mother's Day.
  • "Chrysanthemum Gate" is taboo slang meaning "anus" (with sexual connotations).
  •  In China it is one of the four symbolic seasonal flowers.
  • Chrysanthemums were first cultivated in China as a flowering herb as far back as the 15th century BC.

    September 19, 2014

    Friday Book Blogging

    This week's book was ridiculous, profane and hilariously clever. Go get Christopher Moore's The Serpent of Venice featuring Pocket the Fool. Unless you are offended by four-letter words; then stay the f*ck away.

    September 18, 2014

    Peg-leg and eye-patch optional

    Tomorrow is AAARRRRRRRRGH!! Talk Like a Pirate Day.
    Do it, matey or we'll have yer carcass keelhauled! Arrrgh!

    September 17, 2014

    Roman Holiday

    Rome might have changed a little bit in the 265 years since Giovanni Paolo Pannini painted his view of the city.
    View of Rome from Mt Mario, Pannini, 1749

    view of Rome from Monte-Mario, Wikipedia Commons, 2012

    September 16, 2014

    Drawing a blank

    As a blogger (I can't even give myself the title "writer" since my scribbles here constitute all of my output) nothing is more intimidating that a blank box and a deadline.
    I read. A lot. And frankly, even the crappy books are astonishing accomplishments to me. I can write a blog post nearly every week day of the year. Many (most) are fewer than 100 words. Many (most) take me less than an hour to write (once I can grab onto a thought for the day). But none are particularly creative (that's okay; I'm not fishing). But a book. Even a really stupid one, takes imagination and perseverance and abilities beyond my own.
    Still, the feeling of staring at that blank page. I kinda get that.

    September 15, 2014

    Bad parenting

    The same people who post those pseudo-nostalgic "I rode a bike with no helmet and I'm okay" memes all the time, are raising their kids in sanitized, no-fail bubbles. Ask yourself: have you ever called a teacher about the grade your kid got on a test or assignment? Do your kids play in the neighborhood at improvised games with neighbors or only on organized softball leagues at perfectly manicured city parks?
    I am so sick and tired of waiting behind a school bus with flashing red lights while little Miranda climbs out of mommy's (warm, running) SUV to get on the bus. Our world is not so dangerous that your child cannot wait for a school bus with other kids in a bit of rain.
    You do all of us a disservice by implicitly teaching little Jackson that he should be frightened to do things on his own and that he requires your assistance to play, go to school, do his homework, meet friends. You are also bestowing an insane sense of entitlement on him when  you dispute his grades with teachers, have him excused from punishments by intervening with administrators, demand rewards for average accomplishments, all the while posting quaint pictures on Facebook about drinking out of the garden hose and going to the playground with your friends "back in the day."
    Well, back in the day, if you screwed up at school, you got in trouble and daddy didn't get you out of it. (In fact, you likely got in trouble AGAIN at home!) And if you failed a test, mommy didn't call the teacher to get you a better grade. And you waited for the bus with the other kids at the neighborhood stop, even in the rain.

    September 11, 2014

    Dirty mind?

    I have an 8½ pound butt and I will rub it all over, then I'll let it get super hot, nice and slow.

    I'm making pulled pork.

    September 10, 2014

    Get involved

    I sent this letter to my Senators today. You should send one too.
    Vote “yes” on Senate Joint Resolution 19.
    There is nothing more corrosive to our democracy than corporate money purchasing influence. Please remember that you represent me and my neighbors and family. My voice should not be drowned out by the selfish interests of multinational corporations which is exactly what happens when their money buys so much speech at such volume that our government is no longer of the people or for the people. Overturn "Citizens United."
    Thank you.
    Tomorrow the Senate will vote on an Amendment that will nullify the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" ruling which basically changed our country from a representative democracy to an oligarchy. Follow this link to let your Senators know that you want unlimited corporate money OUT of our elections.

    September 9, 2014

    This is gonna piss some people off

    When people thank God (or Jesus) for something good that happened or ask for his intervention in a minor (or major, for that matter) life crisis, don't they stop and think that
    1. God doesn't have time for your shit
    2. If you believe he can help you out of the mess you're in, you have to believe that he put you there in the first place.
    3. If he has the power to bring down your kid's fever as you seem to think, isn't he a bit of a douchebag for allowing all the suffering in the world? What makes you so special? Do those other people deserve to suffer while God takes care of your kid?
    Which brings us back to number one.

    September 8, 2014

    Pilfering rodents.

    I have a small platform feeder (about 4" square) mounted on the bedroom window frame. I keep a broken mug full of nuts in between the window and the screen to refill the feeder. Apparently the evil squirrel-Qaeda operatives in my yard decided that the amount of nuts in the bird feeder was not sufficient to their needs and they broke in to help themselves to the refill.
    Now I need a new screen. I feel violated.

    September 6, 2014

    Almost Friday Book Blogging

    I failed to get this posted in time for a Friday Book Blog, but I do want to recommend this week, the Inspector Ian Rutledge mystery Hunting Shadows by Charles Todd. I love everything by Charles Todd:  all of the troubled Inspector's books and all the ones featuring WWI nurse Bess Crawford who, for my money, is more honestly drawn that her more famous literary twin, Maisie Dobbs (of the Jacqueline Winspear novels).

    (In case you missed it, I really like Charles Todd novels.)

    September 4, 2014

    It was the extra half that put him over the top

    When Punkinhead turned 10 (more years ago than I care to remember) we went to the pound and got a puppy. Nutmeg had not been in the house more than three months before she found a small Punkinhead-sized sock on the floor of a perpetually-messy bedroom (your guess as to whose) and ate it.
    This led to a life-threatening blockage in the puppy's intestine which required emergency surgery. At the time, we assumed that the price of the vet bill would be significantly less than years of therapy for Punkinhead for inadvertently killing her new dog. It seemed remarkable that a sock could cause so much trouble.
    Not nearly as remarkable as this, though:
    [A] 3-year-old Great Dane was miserable and retching when its owners rushed him to a northwest Portland emergency animal hospital.
    [T]he dog had consumed 43 ½ socks. [emphasis added]

    September 3, 2014

    September 2, 2014

    Stay engaged

    Sometimes, in my comfortable orange chair, with my books and my coffee in my cozy cottage on my quiet tree-lined street in my middle-class suburb next to an enormous lake near a well-stocked grocery store it's easy to forget about all the people who are suffering in the world.
    I don't want to think about wars and starvation and droughts, but if we completely disassociate ourselves, we appreciate out abundant good fortune less.