Tuesday, July 17, 2018

On the dubious joy of the Northern Cardinal

Our very first Cardinal arrived yesterday for what appeared to be an extended visit.  Most times we get a fly-over and never see another.
He landed in the trees  outside, and proceeded to sing its little heart out.  After seven solid hours (with what appeared to be much-needed rest breaks) it finally stopped, although now and then until total dark fell, he would fire it up again, in case we missed something.   It's like living next door to an Italian tenor who needs to practice those scales daily, hourly.

I know we'll get used to it soon enough,  it will become part of the background noise.

cheeeer cheeer cheeeer  birdybirdybirdybirdybirdy
cheeeer cheeer cheeeer  birdybirdybirdybirdybirdy
cheeeer cheeer cheeeer  birdybirdybirdybirdybirdy

cheeeer cheeer cheeeer  birdybirdybirdybirdybirdy
cheeeer cheeer cheeeer  birdybirdybirdybirdybirdy
cheeeer cheeer cheeeer  birdybirdybirdybirdybirdy

whoit whoit whoit whoit wicket wicket wicket wicket 

cheeeer cheeer cheeeer  birdybirdybirdybirdybirdy
cheeeer cheeer cheeeer  birdybirdybirdybirdybirdy
cheeeer cheeer cheeeer  birdybirdybirdybirdybirdy

and before you jump all over me, yes it's a beautiful bird, and a true novelty. But I am reminded of the two days we had some years ago when I woke to the sound of a peacock shrieking outside our window.  Turned out he had escaped from a farm down the road that had exotic birds.  The cats were terrified, and hid inside for two days until he finally left, never to return.  I suspect a coyote dined well for a few days on that one, sadly. 

Sunday, July 15, 2018


(comments not mine.  I found this list years ago, time to share it again)

 Cooking instructions on a package of Bacon:
 "Broil slices for 6-7 minutes on each side. No turning necessary"
 (Do they turn themselves over?)

 On packaging for a Rowenta iron:
 "Do not iron clothes on body."
 (But wouldn't this save even more time?)

 On Boot's Children's Cough Medicine:
 "Do not drive a car or operate machinery after taking this
 (We could do a lot to reduce the rate of construction accidents if we
 could just get those 5-year-olds with head-colds off those

 On Nytol Sleep Aid:
 "Warning: May cause drowsiness."
 (One would hope.)

 On most brands of Christmas lights:
"For indoor or outdoor use only."
(As opposed to what?)

 On a Japanese food processor:
 "Not to be used for the other use."
 (I gotta admit, I'm curious.)

On Sainsbury's peanuts:
 "Warning: contains nuts."
 (Talk about a news flash.)

 On a child's Superman costume:
 "Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly."
 (I don't blame the company. I blame parents for this one.)

On a Swedish chain saw:
 "Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands or genitals."
 (Was this happening somewhere? My God!)

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Binge reading

Since last fall I've been trying to cut down on the sheer number of books in this house;  many of them were the 'why not' of yard sales, or library sales, many were experimental in nature or just a poor fit.  And some were old friends, read a few times and remembered fondly.

The only way to find out was to just sit down and read 'em.

It appears I have outgrown some of my oldest books, and while the memory is good, the reading--now--isn't.  Out. Some I've returned to (Calvin Trillin is one ) and realize what a charmer he was.

Binge reading authors, book by book,  can be a valuable exercise,  as it shows progress from first book to last both in the characters and the authors.   Some authors--like Pratchett and Sue Grafton--show an interesting development, stronger story lines, more interesting back stories.  Some just dwindle.  Ray Bradbury and Robert Parker are dwindlers, for very different reasons. Patricia Cornwell burgeons, becoming gorier and angrier with each book.

I try to save a bit of money when filling in a series writer by haunting places that sell used books;  a good way to tell the enduring popularity of an author is by how many of their books are on the shelves.  Sue Grafton is hard to find,  as is Terry Pratchett and Robert Parker, The DaVinci Code and Patricia Cornwell are apparently one-time reads and then given away.  I'm leery of any author who practically owns an entire shelf with his or her work, usually huge, 700 page monstrosities.

In the throes (I just finished "X") of the Sue Grafton  series, I've been reading them in order, steadily.  In doing this, I've seen how her writing has changed, how her style has morphed into something more complex and richer, and noticed that her character's progress is only about a five or six year stretch, with tags to previous books that really don't get in the way of the story line.  But what did disturb me is how little I actually recall about any of them. To be fair, some of these books go back to the late 80s and haven't been read since. But even the most recent leave me with blank spots. Did I even READ this?

I've also discovered along the way, that authors who resort to cute names for their characters, or cute antagonists (i.e. Tommy Tippler or Aggie Eggers) or even cuter animals who write the stories, are not really my thing at all.   It seems as if too much time is expended on an attempt at humor in the middle of what wants to be a solid serious-but-fun read.

On to P.D. James.  =)

Friday, July 6, 2018

how we spent our anniversary (for the curmudgeons out there)

I mowed the grass this morning
later on he went outside and cut some lumber for a kitchen project
while I slopped some paint remover stuff on a painted timber
and removed about half of it

Later in the day we took  the trailer and went to Home
Depot to pick up some wallboard and plywood. 

For our anniversary supper he had the last of the tunafish salad
with chips (we threw caution to the wind) and olives.  I had
an orange. 

No one appeared to scare the bejebus out of us with HAPPY ANNIVERSARY,
and no one invited us to a cookout,  a surprise party, or a seekrit celebration. 

It was a lovely day,  and we may just do it again next  year.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Random thoughts about the perception of Freedom

I think it's as much about what we perceive as it is the reality.   When I was a kid, my dad used to take me swimming. The family rule was, if you can't touch the bottom, you're too far out.  I followed that, knowing if I got in trouble, he couldn't swim out  to save me.  One day a bunch of kids came along, and we were horsing around, but then they got further out than I was "allowed' to go,  and that was the end of that.  My dad said, "why didn't you go with them?  You know how to swim..."  and I had to think that one over carefully.  What the rule REALLY was, but unstated,  "if there's no one else here...". 

That may very well obtain in everything.   Some rules/laws  are silly.  Some rules/laws  have unwritten unspoken codicils.  Some will save your life, some will kill you.

There was a flap recently about a woman who was pulled over on an interstate in the midwest for going too slow in the fast lane.  Her valid argument was, she was going the speed limit.  But she had a trail of 20 cars behind her.  They were following the other law, which was, you cannot pass on the right.  You can be too 'correct' to the detriment of everyone else.

If you think you are in a totalitarian state, and behave that way, then you are, no matter what the reality is.  Many early immigrants came here from truly dreadful places,  and they brought with them the idea that the world is a police state, and they were as terrified here as they were there.   Police were jailers, as far as they were concerned.

Most of us break little rules every day,  sometimes with a resounding crash.  Sometimes we don't even realize what we're doing until the process server shows up.  Or the building inspector. Sometimes we do,  and forge ahead anyway.   That's called flying under the radar.

I'm still fairly cautious about swimming out beyond my depth, well aware that no one will be paddling out to rescue me,  but I also know my own boundaries.  Most of the time.  😈

Tuesday, June 26, 2018



not a scrap left behind
no signatures,
no business ledgers,
no hard-to-decipher hieroglyphic handwriting
not even a social security card
or a birthday card

even all the addresses,
new and abandoned,
were hidden with a careful application
of black magic marker
across each one in the address book

All the negatives
most of the photos--
books, clothing that belonged
to someone else

she must have spent most of her days
in a haze of anger, confusion,
and caution,
wiping out any trace of anyone else
who ever lived—or died—
in that house,

until the only thing that remained
was one old woman
who lost even the memory of herself

Monday, June 25, 2018

Peter Dinklage

Fun to watch, and it makes you think.  =)


Friday, June 15, 2018

Charlie and his big adventure

Today is Charlie's annual show at the vet's.  They send out this really funny suggestion letter telling us we can 'train our cats" to enter a cat carrier on their own.  They never met Charlie, the claustrophobe.
He goes into hysterics at the sight of a carrier, refuses even to sit in cartons with more than four sides, and unlike every cat I've ever known, he gets no joy out of paper bag  boo or scaring the bejabbers out of passing cats by hiding in a box and leaping out at them.

Annnnd later.

Had his shots, the vet cooed all over him, and we came home.

Got back here about 11:00,  Charlie vaulted out of the car and stayed outside, out of range, until just a few minutes ago.  When I saw him in the yard,  he would open his mouth and close it (no sound, just his usual unspoken commentary) a few times, and then turn on his fluffy heels and leave to sulk under the porch.   My husband finally enticed him in but when he saw me (the cat, not the husband) he flattened his ears and left the room.
My husband, ever positive, said, "well, you're the one who took him..."

I've never seen a cat so unforgivingly pissed as this one.

Maybe by tomorrow.

shakes head.  walks away, muttering.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Revenant T13


How does one explain
waking from a deep dreamless sleep
into moonlight with your heart pounding
your right wrist encircled
by  a hand you haven't felt in 50 years?

and  in the morning
you still feel his hand
on the small of your back

as you send  desperate messages  into the air
not even sure what they are beyond  the longing to connect
to touch  to recall
that keeps you rooted to the spot
waiting for the phone to ring


Monday, June 11, 2018

Squirrel Drama

The first I knew of it, I had a cat standing on top of his covered  catbed, staring out the window.  A squirrel was doing that  "angry chicken with a stuck egg" thing they do when they're mad.
I looked out the window too,  and realized I was eye to eye with a large grey squirrel, and my aren't they large when you are nose to nose with them and only a pane of glass between...

He had somehow been chased up the side of the house and come to ground on the second floor windows, unable to get back down--and the roof overhang made it impossible for him to escape that way.
Charlie, the other cat, was outside, peering up expectantly.  Aha, I thought,  guess who...

I went out, grabbed Charlie, and put him inside.  Tried to entice mr. squirrel down with a board that almost reached the front door lintel.  nope.  He was too high up to risk jumping and while he could charge across the clapboards horizontally he wouldn't risk the steady downward plunge.   Trust is not a given with squirrels, they hate everyone.  Like Markie.

Finally I took a heavy cotton sheet and draped it invitingly out the upstairs window, and left it at that.  The cats are by now galloping from window to window, shouting encouragement.  Probably along the lines of, "jump, you four footed rat, you, JUMP".

And sure enough, after about an hour we heard a scrabbly sound and then a hearty thump, and there was Mr. Squirrel, racing across the lawn to the nearest tree...whether he used the sheet as a faux rope, we shall never know.  I like to think he did.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Vengeance is mine, saith the weather gods

Every year I have this little dance I do, about the storm sash/screen door sash and when should I put in the screen?  Seems like a simple question.

Every year if I guess wrong, two days later we are visited by the  mother of all snow storms, or a temperature dtop to below freezing, and I just know after all this time, there is no right time for switching from storm sash to screen.  The weather gods are waiting for this.

April was ungodly, May wasn't much better, so I held off.  Five days ago, on a lovely balmy June day I finally unsealed the back door and put in the screen insert on the entry door.  Nice. Warm wind wafting in,  birds shouting...overnight the temperature went from 75 to 40.  It started to rain, and the wind picked up.  I've had the kitchen stove going ever since.

Today was semi nice, we rounded up a cousin and went for a woods walk, waving hello and goodbye to about three million mosquitoes.  Damp but doable.   My husband keeps believing those god awful 10- day forecasts, which unravel hour by hour from warm and sunny to inclement weather to possible hailstorms and snow...

I love weather but frankly I'd rather read about it than live through it.  =)

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

13 to pick and choose from


Bob Dylan "Not Dark Yet"


Arlo Guthrie "If I Had a Hammer"


Mark Knopfler and Emmy Lou Harris "If This is Goodbye"


Lili, a short animation


Everly Brothers "Why Worry"


J.J.Cale, "Anyway the Wind Blows"


Traveling Wilburys


Paul Williams (Sad Song (with Muppets))


David Gray  "An Eclipse"


Toby Keith "Sundown"


Kingston Trio "Take Her Out Of Pity"


Joan Baez  "Farewell Angelina"


Iron and Wine "Time After Time"

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Fable (for our time too, probably) T13

1. There was a time, long ago, when people finally understood that Death happened.  They didn't necessarily understand what it was, or why it happened, and because this scared them, they began to make up stories about how it was.

2. The story tellers would talk about it around the fire late at night, making it up as they went along, to soothe the fearful.  They would say,  "A great beast came for Harry last night and took him away."
Someone might ask, "Why? Why did he take Harry, and will he be back for us?"  And the story teller, being wise, would ponder this and say, "well, I think the great beast comes for someone when they are old and tired or can't work anymore.  When we get like that, it will be our time too."

3. And they all went away and thought about this.

4.  The stories grew more elaborate, more detailed, as the centuries went by.  People began to see that this Death, this Great Beast, wasn't all that bad. If you got really sick, he took you somewhere and you got better, maybe, and came back as someone else. And they started honoring the dead, to make sure they wanted to come back.  Buried them, to keep the spirits safe and happy.

5. Soon they were finding spirits in everything: sour milk,  two headed calves,  a good crop,  tall daughters and sons.  Rain at the right time, or too much rain. Volcanoes that needed appeasing (there go your tall daughters).  Each culture had it's own.  pixies, gremlins, elves, leprechauns, Sasquatch, the Loch Ness monster, Santa Claus, the tooth fairy.  Hundreds of spirits, hundreds of events.  Lares and Penates, the household gods.   Small shrines kept  well lit to honor someone's memory. And there were the naughty spirits: Pan, the pukelman,  the tricksters, the rabbit, the fox, imps, goblins.

6. Festivals were constructed both to celebrate the harvest, spring, summer, the longest night, the longest day,  the changes in the year's cycles.  Some were in honor of harvest spirits. But along with all of this sterner minded folk were constructing their own festivals, and being lazy, began to take over other cultures celebrations--cleaned up the act, you might say.

7. The spring festival was no longer a bacchanalia, where couples would go off into the woods and celebrate their own rising sap, winter festivals of lights were no longer a time of wonder in the dark, chasing the evil darkness away on the longest night of the year;  easter became a month long descent into terror and grim death, with a resurrection at the end, and bunnies delivering eggs.

8. There were spirits to explain the mysterious--why the milk went sour,  how the frost covered the windows,  how to make pains disappear, what cured, what killed and how to appease all of them.

9. But Death was always just outside the door, and it became part of the fabric. No one really knew what it meant to die, to go still and cold. So they tried to call the spirit back,  they invented souls and angels,  and of course the angels had to have a leader, and gods appeared.  Great, terrifying, flaming gods that rode across the sky in chariots of flame, or arose from the sea to sink ships.

10. People began trying to appease the gods, to stave off disaster and death a bit longer.  When it happened they left offerings,  and when it didn't they prayed harder and left bigger offerings.

11.  The story tellers wrote about miracles, and magic, and winged creatures.  They wrote it all down to be told and retold, tinkered with here and there,  to bring it all up to date.  And somehow, somewhere along the long line,  some of the stories became real to their listeners. They began to imagine what those magical beings really looked like, and sometimes in the dark they would hear voices or cries which alternately soothed or scared the blazes out of them.

12.  Devils appeared in their dreams. And gods, warring with each other.  Thousands of years, thousands of stories and thousands of gods.   They still pray to their own particular god or gods, to cure sickness, to appease the weather spirits, to make the volcano stop.  When it happens, they leave offerings.  When it doesn't, they pray harder. 

13. Not a lot has changed.  💫


Sunday, May 27, 2018

One small wish -- or two

I do wish that people who no longer support a particular blog would, at the very least,  shut off the comments section.   I just chanced across a lovely (but apparently discontinued) blog, and realized there were about a dozen spam messages, most of them ads, or repetitions, or some such.   When I see that it feels like looking at a painting in a museum that someone has spray painted across.

The second part is, if you no longer keep the blog up, delete it.  'Specially the ones with your kids' baby pictures or your little girl's kindergarten play.   Equally  important; the ones that have your
full name and address (what were they THINKING) in the post somewhere, and a picture of  your house-- and family standing proudly by the mailbox. Oh, please.  You can just hear the burglars taking notes.  And the last message being, "well,  we're off to Disneyworld and Aunt Nan's for a month, we'll be back by Halloween!"

We have been invited...

--to one of those informational 'luncheons' to learn about the latest Senior Living Center place, thing.
This one bodes to be a whopper.  They will be discussing Money Management, Investment Procedures, and you are invited to bring along your Personal Estate Planner or Investment Broker...

Considering our particular living style, there would be a strong suggestion of New Clothes for both of us.  And we would have to contact Rent-a-Broker.

Friday, May 25, 2018


from last night

Ordinarily the cats are kept in at night, with outdoor privileges only during daylight    Charlie has discovered that if he leaps up and wraps himself around the door latch and jiggles it, it will swing open and he can 'escape'.   It's a heavy wooden door, but then, Charlie is 14 lbs of determination.


It is nearly 11 PM and I am waiting for him to return from his grounds patrol.  When he comes back in,  the latch will be blocked, and tomorrow I'll be putting a drop hook on the door, something  I should have done the last time he tried this. Sigh.

There does seem to be a bit of a turf war over the cat door, which is clear plastic, so they can see each other through it. Last night I noticed Toby, who has never learned to use it, was whapping away at it.  Turns out Charlie was on the other side, trying to get in. 

 Shakes head. staggers off.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Thirteen Things to drive a burglar crazy

Just for fun, I like to dream up different ways to make a burglar very very nervous...use separately or in combination.

1.  Take two old spoons, and hang them by a string over a nail on the inside of the entry door.  Make sure the spoons can hit each other when the door opens.  They have a reverb that goes on forEVER.

2.  If you're going away for a few days spread a thin coat of marbles on the entryway floor

3.  Tiny bells on every door, way up high

4.  A tape recording of a small dog saying, "wuf" and then a voice upstairs saying, "did you hear something?"

5.  A switch that, when activated after dark, turns on the lights in the room for about 5 seconds, and then turns them out.  Lather, rinse, repeat at varying intervals.

6.  Open the door, close the door behind you, and it locks.  Then you hear the sound of a growly dog padding along...

7.  wind chimes. Everyone LOVES windchimes. Not.  Hang one of the more offensive ones (the kind with a huge reverb) directly on the inside of the door. Any door.

8.  strategically place squeaky toys in front of all the doors.  many many toys.

9. rig up a trip wire that, when hit or crossed, alerts the local police, and  releases a veritable blizzard of small bits of paper...

10. there is always the pail over the door filled with the beverage of your choice...

11.  A trip wire that activates a recording of Black Sabbath.  Loud.  Very very loud.  Neighbors tend to notice stuff like that.

12.  Big damp sponges on the floor. NO one likes to step on big damp Somethings in the dark.  "oh my god, was WAS that...yeeewww"

13. Coat all the doorknobs with vaseline

New Thursday13

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Maple Forest

If you look very closely at this, you can see a LOT of faint brownish reddish leaf pairs, all over the place.  This is what  a future Maple Forest looks like. On my front lawn.  (that's  Charlie, inspecting the lawn)

Two years ago we had the second year of a two year drought, the deep-down kind that no one really paid a lot of attention to, as far as weather pundits were concerned:  rivers dried up, everyone had brown lawns, and even (and most horrifying to me) 100 year old trees were wilting, literally wilting, by July. Very little snow cover, no fall rains, no spring rains.   Last  year was closer to normal, and the old Rock Maple in my front yard recovered, somewhat.  We had fall rains, lotta snow, spring rains. 

We never bothered, for two years, to mow the grass.  It went to seed and the birds loved it.

This year I decided it might be a good idea to start mowing again, since we seem to be having a normal if cold spring.  This is what I found, all over the yard where the maples are.  It's a patch maybe 50ft. by 50ft, and there's another on the other side of the driveway as well. 

I said to my husband, if we had had to go away from here for three or four years,  we would be coming back to a yard literally crammed with three foot high maples...

I think I figured it out.  When a mature tree is stressed, as these were,  they produce early seeds and drop them, Thousands.  It's a way of ensuring that this tree, by golly, will at least have babies.   Last year they sprouted into two-prong seedlings,  and I didnt see 'em because I didn't mow. 
Yesterday I hit this spot and I thought, oookay...what IS this.   It's quite pretty,  until you realize what they will turn into very quickly, lol. 

The big old maple survives, still.  I suspect it will outlast us.  I surely hope so.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Don't misunderstand me but...

I will be eternally grateful when this wedding tomorrow is truly over and the happy couple are safely off to wherever they are going to...

I love that Meghan and Harry thing,  they are adorable, and seem to always be having such a good time in each other's company. The main thing being, they are so far down the list to be future monarch material  they are pretty much off the hook, royal behavior-wise...but I just want it over,  so we can go back to where were.   Wherever that was.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

one is the loneliest number... T13

two step

two cents worth

two by two

two part  harmony

two of a kind

it takes two to tango



two left feet

two timer

goody two shoes

two bit

Tea for Two


Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

I've posted this before,  and now and then
(now, especially) it seems like a good idea
to repost it.  Just because.