Friday, November 30, 2007

I DID IT!! NaBloPoMo

I couldn't get to the "official" NaBloPoMo web page so as too post an official "I did it" image, so the title here will have to do. I posted every day!! for the entire month of November (smug smile). I will admit that not all of them are quality posts, but I did the best I could given what has been going on here. For example, I spent from 1:30 am this morning until 7 am at the Emergency Room of the local hospital with my daughter, who is doing much better now, especially since they did not have to admit her. Still, only about two hours of sleep in the last 24, YAWN.

Today we also took the pups to Petco for a sudsy groom, they now smell (you'll have to take my word on this) like gingerbread instead of...well. They were both tired pups by the time we got them home, here they are sacked out in the kitchen. Ordinarily, me kneeling down to take these would have brought them to tongue waving delight one inch from the camera lens, but today they could hardly muster a sleepy blink:

Maggie, the black and white Newf, is 5 months, and the black one, Raven, is 10 months old. They are best buddies, of course. Raven doesn't show the dirt like Maggie does, but both of them had burrs and tangles and mud ground into their coats, and now their coats feel lush and smooth, well worth the $$. We will give the local car-wash doggy washes a try this winter too, anything to avoid crouching over the bathtub for what feels like hours, and then having to clean the bathroom and wash doggy towels too.

Too tired to think of any other great news today, I won't need a sleepy pill tonight...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The image above is a photo of my dining room windows where all my plants reside. They looked so nice in the sun this morning, I couldn't resist showing them off. Several weeks ago I went through them all, pruning, dead heading, and repotting where needed, and I started using shultz' plant food, and they have just responded so well. There on the extreme right side, I think you can see the Christmas cactus in bloom.

So that's my contribution for today's post, only one more to go this month Hurray! for NaBloPoMo....

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


These are my show and tell for today. The drum/stick/shoes are ceramic, and I dry-brushed them to get this effect. They mostly sit in a cupboard. The big "milk-can" is also ceramic. I created the design on it and stenciled in on with underglazes, then fired, then overglazed in clear. I mostly use this to hold plastic bags for easy access. And the last photo of the plant, I macramed the hanger and the pot holder. It is a very intricate design and it took forever. To keep it white, it must hold an artificial plant, which is good because the cats (mostly) leave this alone, other than batting at the tail. I made a lot of these at one point, but gave them as gifts, and the only reason I have this one is because I gave it to my mom, and so got it back once she died. The other thing I was going to photograph is the log cabin quilt I made, but I must have carefully put it in some safe place, because now I can't find it. It's probably in the attic, but my resolve faltered at the thought of climbing up there, and so here you must use your imagination, and picture a large quilt, blues and grays and reversible.

I have also made things which were temporary, like bread, and cakes, and so forth. I have sewn a fair amount of clothes, mostly for my daughter when she was small, and for myself when I was small(er), and these have gone to that great closet in the sky, somewhere. I knitted one pair of mittens, and almost immediately lost them, oh well. And I knitted a nice baby afghan, but gave it away too, of course. I have made a few things recently on my knitting machine, but they aren't much to look at. And I have made lots and lots of photographs, and some of them published even, but then, eh....

I am having continuing problems posting this, it's either me and Mac, or it's blogger, who apparently didn't like uploading more than one photo at a time, and so before the entire thing crashes, I shall save and publish, hoping for the best...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Almost forgot

This has been one of those days when I pedaled as fast as I could just to stay in place.  When I got to bed, I looked through the newest Newsweek, and a mention of blogging reminded me that I hadn't blogged today, #27 for Na BloPoMo or whatever.  So! Here I am, grasping at straws to fill at least a paragraph or two.
I bought 2 new pairs of shoes today, one is a brown loafer and one is a black clog, so you don't need a photo, they look pretty much like you'd expect.  I went to Petco and while there made an appointment to bring Raven and Magpie in for grooming on Friday.  The groomer asked breed, and then I told her they were puppies, 5 mo. and 10 mo. old.  Some how I don't think it quite penetrated that their combined weight is 175 pounds.....  I will be sure to take photos, I'm even thinking about taking them for a portrait, if we can keep them clean long enough.
Oh, here is a picture of Beans, the youngest of our cats, we've had her 2 years, so she is about 2.5 years old.

She is a small cat, but taking the picture butt-on makes her look bigger. This is taken with the camera on the MacBook, and thus is right-to-left reversed (mirror image), I'm too lazy to get up for the digital camera and then download the photos. My original plan for today was to take photos of "things I have made" but the time is ticking away here so maybe tomorrow. I know, you can hardly wait.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Fountain Pens

This fountain pen is the one that started it all for me.  I had always liked fountain pens.  I even took most of my college notes with one, a rapidograph pen that was (and still is) a colossal pain to use.  But this beauty:  a 14K gold plated Wahl-Eversharp Coronet, circa 1938 is hard to beat.  It's fully restored, working, no engraved name, none of the bakelite insets missing, and is worth around $850.  I bought it at a garage sale, not knowing what it was, exactly, only that it was lovely and I wanted it.  I looked it up on the internet that night.  I've been collecting pens, mostly Parkers, ever since.  I like that I can keep my entire collection in a shoe box. I like thinking about what this pen may have been used for (love letters?  foreclosure notices?) or who it may have belonged to (a banker? an attorney?).  I like holding it and thinking about how  each pen was handmade, and that this one is nearly 80 years old and still lovely.  Where has it been?  To war, to Paris, or just stuck in a drawer?

Oh, how much did I pay?  $9.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

rubik's cube

Remember I mentioned that I am trying to sell a bunch (thousands) of our books before we have to build an addition just for books? Well, one of them I posted a couple of days ago was "the simple Solution to Rubik's cube" and originally sold for $1.95 in 1981, all 64 pages of it. When I listed it, I did a price comparison on it, and to my amazement, the cheapest one sold for $25. I priced mine at $20 and sold it the next day. Isn't that amazing? I know they still make the cubes, but I haven't seen a solution book in a long time, and I guess the cubes are still just a frustrating now as then. Weird.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Today is a home football game, WVU versus Connecticut. What this means to me, though, is that I am essentially a prisoner in my own house. This town, pop. 25,000 full-time residents, +25,000 students, welcomes, to varying degrees, an additional 60,000 people for the game. There is no place to park, no restaurant to eat at, no motel or hotel room within 50 miles. And if you should be so unfortunate as to try to drive in a direction different from the game-day press, you will sit a long time waiting for the nice officer to give you "the wave" that will get you out of automotive purgatory.

The football stadium was built directly next to the university hospital, an example of urban planning that leaves me breathless. If your loved one should be on death's doorstep while a patient at the university hospital, any family members planning an impassioned death bed scenario had better check on the football schedule; no unexpected visitors can park anywhere close to the hospital on game day, and even taxis will be held up at the barricades placed across the driveways to the hospital. After all, it's game day! Those spaces rent out at premium prices to the well-heeled athletic boosters!

Ah well, only one more game to go this year. My favorite local bumper sticker reads "Welcome to Morgantown. Now go home."

Friday, November 23, 2007

This what is left of the old barn, used now just as a windbreak/shelter when they're out in this field.

This is the new barn taken from where the old barn is. Can you see the wee tiny weathervane on top?

This gives a general idea of what the stall side of the barn looks like; three stalls, all open among the sides.

And this is Willie, looking for dinner. The electronic flash was quite exciting.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Whew, Turkey day has come and GONE. We did a pretty fair job at polishing off a lot of food, but I dare say there will be plenty tomorrow. Do you know the definition of an optimist? It's the guy who, the day after Thanksgiving, asks "What's for dinner?"

When I was a kid, the family Thanksgiving meal alternated between our home and my aunt's home. We lived about 6 blocks apart, they had no kids, and my aunt didn't work, so their home always felt like a department store display. You didn't feel like you could kick your shoes off and lie down on the carpet to watch the parade on TV. Our house, on the other hand would undergo this comprehensive scrub and wax before "company" came, and I hated it. I never noticed a lot of difference for all that effort, except the floors which would be waxed. Living in Miami, with all the sand to track in daily, vinyl floors didn't hold their shine for long after waxing. This, of course, was long before the "mop and glo" era. Here I am 45 years later, and I still hate (and don't do) "spring cleaning".

Instead, I subscribe to the little-bit-all-the-time method of housekeeping, where I scrub the sinks in here today, dust in there tomorrow, and so on. it makes me feel a little like that little old guy in park with the spike on the stick, picking up trash. Except he gets more fresh air.

About to run out of MacBook juice, must post now...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


This is the prettiest time of year, with all the fall colors. This was taken in Sept. at nearby Big Bear Lake, when the colors were at their peak. Most of the leaves are down now, but today the air was a cool 60, blue sky and snappy breeze, just perfect. Many days here are overcast, so blue sky is a treasure.

Hope all of you are ready for the big Bird day tomorrow. Pie baking commences here shortly...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Have I mentioned lately that I have cats? Or rather, they have me. There are five currently residing in the house, and they sleep in different rooms at night for reasons too banal and embarrassing to recount here. Suffice it to say that in my bedroom, my nightly companion is Cookie, a black and white female. Cookie was never of the warm fuzzy type; she still isn't, even after these years, and in particular she isn't very cozy with the other cats. Sleeping in my room means she must have a litter box, and in her case, the litter box is an extravagant electric affair costing, oh, about the annual income for a family of four in Cambodia. She is very possessive about her box, and will defend it vigorously from any encroachment. So I will admit to a certain gleeful temptation. Once in while I will lure one of the other cats downstairs and into the bathroom, to see if they will attempt to approach the Sacred Throne Box. And if they do, Cookie will materialize directly in front of them, POOF! like magic and wave her paws in their faces until retreat is called. What is funny is that outside of her room, Cookie is, well, a wuss. The slightest confrontation sends her fleeing to her sanctuary.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I have been pounding away on my computer today, trying to get even more books up on to sell. I am making headway, but slowly. I sell books everyday (so far) and have made some small amount of money, but as of tonight I only have 400 books listed, which doesn't even get all the ones in my bedroom. And let's not talk about the attic, where boxes of books have languished for the entire 27 years we have lived here, boxes that have never been unpacked. AND all the ones shoved up there over the years since. After I get them all in, I'm going to add up all that we have spent (that I can document) on books over the 37 years we have been married. I'm sure the words "Hawaiian cruise" will fit in there somewhere.

Windows. I watched an episode of "How its Made" today on windows. It showed a type of window being made that I have never seen. It wasn't a double hung, and it wasn't a slider, but instead it had panes of glass that cranked out along a vertical side. Reminded me of French Doors, one side opening, but using a handle. Weird. But then, in my birth home, our windows were jalousie (spelling?). That is, a whole tier of 4 inch deep slats of glass that could be cranked to open, sort of like louvers, or shut, when the slats overlapped. Even the doors had jalousie windows in them. I would guess they don't make those anymore, even in Florida, because the wind really whistled through them, even without hurricanes. We didn't have window shades either, but "venetian blinds" which is now just blinds, except ours had slats made of metal and were 4 inches in thickness, not the mini size you find now. And of course the house was cinder block, with aluminum storm shutters, and a cement tile roof. No garage, just a carport. So hmmm, windows are not the same, even nationally.

Anyway, I had made these great plans for getting things done today, like brush the dogs and clean at least one stall today, but instead I did errands. They take far too long to get done, don't you think? Even combining several destinations, you can count on having to backtrack at least once. And so little to show for all that time...

Time to turn in for tonight. Hope the thunderstorms miss us all tonight.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

How Tacky

Today I got all the horse stuff out of the U-store place, and put it in the new, completed Tack Room of  The Barn.


The barn has electricity, and its own electric meter. I can't quite figure out how the meter reader will get in to see it, given that the horses and/or the dogs will be loose in that area, but I guess we'll find out.

It has water plumbed into the frost-free hydrant in the main barn, and into the big sink in the tack room. The tack room, additionally, has HOT water. Hot damn!

There is an area just under the water hydrant where the cement has been jackhammered out. We will not comment further on this.

The horses are obviously pleased with their new quarters, and with being able to see each other all the time.  It has made them very easy to handle, feed, etc. without all the hysterical screaming of  "She's gone!!! The wild bears have eaten her!!! Run for your life!!!" all of which got really really old when the missing horse was tied just past their line of sight.

The dogs, who now are near enough matched in size that they won't do any major damage to each other as they chase, attack, maul, drag, etc. each other, are enjoying sleeping in the barn on their big cozy blankets on top of the hay, and we enjoy having them not bark or whine all night long in the garage or crate.  The outdoor cats have now re-staked their claim on the garage, which is heated and has a kitty door they can use, now that the dogs are not poking their noses through it all the time.
The very first thing I put in the tack room was a mini-fridge and a six-pack of coke.

I used to be so compulsive about my horse care.  When I only had one, he was brushed every day, feet picked out, stall cleaned.  My first horse was a palomino (gold with white mane and tail--think Trigger) and I kept him show ring clean all the time.  People at the stables would laugh at me when I washed his mane and then used a blow-dryer.  I kept his ears, bridle path , and fetlocks all trimmed, and body clipped him in the winter.  Cheez, it was as bad as washing your car tires after each drive.  Now my three beasts are frizzy wild ponies by comparison, but I'm sure they're just as pleased not to be fussed over.  They still, of course, get their feet done, yearly shots, wormed every two months, and so on.   

[When we lived in San Fran, I boarded my horse at Golden Gate Park, and I felt pressured to keep him beautiful.  He was often photographed when we rode, or just when I had him in hand.  In fact, somewhere I have a clipping from the San Francisco Chronicle where he made the front page:  after a wind storm blew part of the barn down on top of him, he was unhurt, but trapped in a tiny area with his head held down to his knees.   The fire department had to free him with acetylene torches (one poor guy had to wrap a fire blanket around his butt to shield him), but thank god for calm quarter horses, after all that he only had scratches.  I guess that was my 15 minutes of horsey fame.... It nearly gave me a coronary, of course...]

The final cost of the barn was double the amount we planned to pay, and the whole project took three times as long.  We have far more sweat equity in this than expected, too.  We couldn't have done it all without #1 son help, and even so the DH worked his butt off, even when we hired a handyman to help.  DH only fell off the ladder backwards once (!) and only got shocked on the light switch once.   The son only lost one nail, when he smacked his thumb with a two pound sledge hammer.  The handyman only stepped through the tack room ceiling once.   And everyone in our family agrees--never again. 

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Today the 17th

Today would be my parents' 62nd wedding anniversary. Mom died in 1999, and Dad in 2002, but we did have a really good time for their 50th anniversary. Just for past times and with a little sadness, here is what appeared in the local newspaper back in 1995:

Albert and Zelma Delore Shaw of Stonewood Forest celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Nov. 17, with a dinner hosted by their family. They were married on Nov. 17, 1945, in Silver Spring, MD, by the Rev. John F. McClelland.

Zelma Delore is the daughter of the late Ernest I. and Nina Knight of Gassaway and is a retired head cashier for Food Fair Stores, Inc. of Miami.

Albert is the son of the late Floyd Ellsworth Shaw and Edith Moler Dixon. He is a retired transmitter engineer for WPBT Channel 2 in Miami.

They have two daughters and sons-in-law:_____ and ____ ____ of Babson Park, FL and ____ and _______ ________ of Morgantown; and two grandchildren: _____ and _____ _____ of Morgantown.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad...

Friday, November 16, 2007


When I get headaches, I have to distinguish between a sinus headache and a migraine. I have this great med for migraines, I can't recall the name..Max something. Anyway, it only works on migraines; and it works fast - in 2-3 minutes - if you take it at the first sign of the migraine. If you wait, it may work but slowly; or it may not work at all. So, you'd think I would pop one at the first hint of either headache, right? It won't hurt if it's a sinus headache, it just wouldn't help. BUT -- and here's the catch -- the pills are $25 EACH. I get 9 in a prescription, and it costs $238. So, when I start in with the pain, I always try Excedrin first, maybe with an antihstamine. If that doesn't do, then I wait a while, and finally grudgingly take a Max pill. That's what I did last night, and although it took like 15-20 minutes, it did the trick. You can only take 2 maximum in a 24 hour period because it is a vasoconstrictor, and the risk is that one's blood prssure may shoot up and cause you to blow a gasket, or whatever. I've never taken but one in 24 hours because I'M TOO CHEAP. An then there is this head game involved; if I take the med at the first pain, and it goes away, who's to say that maybe it would have gone away anyway and saved me $25? Sigh. And I think, come ON, how could this tiny thing cost anything near $25 to produce? I understand about drug companies having to get enough money from a good product to pay for all the ones that didn't pan out, and to have money enough to keep doing research. I worked in research labs for 30 years, and I know first hand how expensive a lab can be, and how long it takes to get meaningful results. But one pill for $25? If they knew it was going to actually cost nearly this when in development, don't you think they would have pulled the plug on such an expensive line of research?

Anyway, that's my rant at the drug companies. I make it a point to collect as many free drug rep goodies as I can, pens and mugs and clocks and tape dispensers and anything else. I've paid for it all, one way or the other.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


If I'd done this post when I first thought of it, I'd be in bed by now. But, nooooo, let's wait until we feel really sh**ty and THEN try to make coherent sentences that don't go on and on, and all the while we're thinking about oblivion via a pharmeceutical remedy, and trying to remember what the real subject of this post was supposed to be, and if it was such a good subject why I can't remember it now, and look here I've gone on and on and what was the topic here, stop me please, good night!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I've done this blogging thing for just over three years, and I admit that as time goes by, I am ambivalent about it, why I started it in the first place, why I continue. I have a lot of things I used to do for fun: photography, horses, ceramics and pottery, needlework, genealogy to name a few. I've run hot and cold on all of them over the years, never giving any of them up completely. I think this blog started on a whim. Are you familar with the signs of depression? One of them is "Loss of interest in normal daily activities. You lose interest in or pleasure from activities that you used to enjoy." to quote directly. And I found that fitted me too well, it was a major factor in my depression, that I would look at things that used to make me enthusiastic, and think, "can't be bothered". When I began to feel better/worse/better I wanted to distract myself with something new, and although keeping a journal was always a sometime thing, I started to think that maybe an online journal of sorts would do. Much like with photography, when I'd get a really good image, look at it, and then it would go in a box. Then I began taking photo classes, with the opportunity to show what I had done to others, to have them comment on it, it was far more satisfying. I've heard that that is the difference between a talented amateur and a true artist -- an artist would create even if no one ever saw their work. So that puts me in the amateur rank for sure. All of my life I have searched for "pats" ; when my kids were small we called them warm fuzzies, you know, at-a-girls. Sometimes I would volunteer to do really difficult and time consuming work, just for the kudos after it was done. Petty, isn't it? As time goes by, and I understand more of what motivates me to do the things I do, I'm finding that my feet of clay go 'way past the knee....

When I originally set up this blog, I put the category as "humor" but rapidly realized I wasn't anywhere near funny enough to pull that off, and changed it to "personal journal". And initially I told no one at all about it. I was surprised when a site counter told me that people were actually reading it (for at least 30 seconds, thanks to blog explosion), but I've found that thinking I would gain an "explosion" of traffic was a trifle optomistic on my part. And so I told my husband, my best friend, and my therapist how to find my site. I'm not sure any of them actually made any more than a token effort to read here, and I (mostly) don't mind. So what about now, when I can read back over my "compositions" and make the dispassionate assessment that I'm a pretty poor writer? Do I continue? I'm still thinking about it.

But meanwhile, I've still got half of November to go for NaMoBloPo....

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Day 13 -- Insomnia

My mom died in 1999, after a long illness. Thinking back, the last couple of years of her life, one of her main complaints was about insomnia. She would get up at night for hours, and fall asleep in her chair in the daytime. The only time she seemed to sleep well was after she was at my house for the day, which I attributed to exhaustion from all the commotion here. My sympathies for her, though, were not very compelling, because I had never had a problem with getting to sleep; on the contrary, it was getting up that was the problem.

Little did I know.

I am now a master at insomnia and the treatment for it. And I have time to relate all of this to you because I can't sleep.

My problems started out pretty much the time my mom died. I went to my doctor, and said I couldn't get to sleep, couldn't stay asleep, and didn't get any benefit from what sleep I did get. So, over these last 7 years, here's what I have taken (NOT all at the same time, thank you!)


Additionally, I have made my bedroom a quiet relaxing place, I use the bed strictly for horizontal things ;-> and not TV, Etc. My room is cool, and dark.
I take calcium at night, because it seems to make me drowsy and keep me from having restless legs. I don't nap during the day. I meditate at night before I get in bed. I don't use alcohol at all, and caffeine only before noon, and some days not at all. I don't smoke. I try to keep a regular schedule, at least for going to bed. I don't exercise or eat a big meal just before bed. You see? I've tried it all.

Last night I got 3 hours of sleep. I am being treated for long term major depression, and while everyone agrees insomnia is connected to depression, no one can say whether it is a cause or a result of depression.

Reading back over this now, I can see that it is deadly dull to read. So if you've made it this far, I think I can safely assume that you too are an insomniac, yes? all together now...ZZZZZzzzzzzzzz.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Passwords - 12th post this month!

I hate passwords. I especially hate to change them. When I worked, we were required to change passwords every 90 days or be locked out of our accounts. They had to be at least 8 characters long and have three out of the following four items:
1. Lower case letters
2. Upper case letters
3. Numbers
4. Symbols (!$%~)*&

Not too difficult, right?

And then they upped the ante.

New passwords had to contain all FOUR of the above categories.

So I did what everyone else did; i wrote it down. And because a co-worker may well need to access files on my computer when I was not there, I had to put the written-down password where it could be found.

Like pasted to the side of the computer on a post-it.

I think that is the real reason that post-its were invented.

Now that I no longer have that cross to bear, I am occasionally prompted at various sites (like the bank) to change passwords, so I have a total of three passwords that mean something to me, so I can remember them. And this means that on any site, I have three tries to get the password, and three passwords which I use, so see how it works out?

And now they're upped the ante.

Now I have to use a new password that HASN'T BEEN USED on that account before.

I've floundered around for months trying to make passwords I can remember. Sometimes I can't even remember them long enough to write them down, so I've learned to write them down FIRST and then use them. And finally I have hit on a theme. No, I won't tell you my theme. But I'll give an example.

Everyone knows you shouldn't use the word "password" or "123456" or the names of your children, and so forth, and anyway, they generally don't have all of the four (or even three) types of characters.

So one theme would be dates. For example, a password I put in today could be "Nov12*007" And everytime I had to change it, I'd use the same format, but pick a different date: not a birthdate, but some date I'd know: my parents' anniversary, the date of the SanFrancisco quake, the date the team won their last game. That's a theme.

Another theme could just be keystrokes. You see how the keys on the four rows of your keyboard line up? So how about a password of xdr54esz? See how those are a pattern?

Anyway, that's my 2 cents worth on passwords.

(But just to be safe, I write it down too.)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Roundabout Way

When my daughter and I were in Delaware last month, we encountered a traffic situation I had never seen before. They whimsically call this a "roundabout". Here's what the Delaware department of transportation says about them:

A roadway "Roundabout" is a circular intersection that moves traffic counterclockwise around a central island. Often confused with traditional "traffic circles", roundabouts differ in that they feature traffic calming qualities that encourage drivers to reduce their speed through the intersection. The design of a roundabout also reduces the need for direct left turns, which are the major reason for intersection crashes, thereby increasing the overall safety aspect of the intersection.

And this is what I have to say about them:


There we are, navigating in a strange place at night, and the sign above appears, followed immediately by another sign:

It was one of these, I swear. Anyway, it said, "Traffic in roundabout has right-of-way" . Only, by the time you see this sign, you're already in the roundabout, so??? Anyway, the first time through one friendly Delawarian tooted her horn and gave us a wave (three fingered) so I guess we did it wrong. As if one doesn't already have to have eyes on swivel brackets to look for pedestians, cyclists, pets, AND a roadsign to get where you're going, they put this in to simplify an intersection?

So to all the flatlanders out there, good luck with that. And thank god they'll never put one hereabouts. The folks in this town haven't even mastered 4-way stops yet.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

My closet

It has been brought to my attention (ahem) that perhaps I have, to a certain extent, over several years of course, gotten a litttle carried away in the clothing department.
To bare all, see photo below:

This closet is eleven feet deep.
This is supposed to be a walk-in closet, but it's more of a sidle-in closet, and being a touch claustrophobic, I have to wedge the door open while I'm in there.

BUT in my defense, I would like to document, once and for all, all the clothing I >DON'T< own.

I have nothing that has sequins or glittery bits. Nothing with "faux fur".

No jeans that are "low rise" that leave a little poochy bit visible at the top (are you listening, ladies?).

No sweat pants except the ones I paint in.

There are a few dresses, and none of them are low-cut, spagetti strapped, or slinky.

No wool sweaters (itchy).

No 'holiday' outfits - no Christmas sweaters, halloween sweatshirts, Easter bunny designs.

No capris, ankle-beaters, high-water pants, or pedal pushers (do they still call them that? I doubt it.)

No cargo pants (I carry lots of "cargo" already!)

No polyester elastic waisted slacks (Please! I'm not THAT old!)

No shirt or jacket that ends at or above the waist (If I have to tug it down, a la an officer on "Second Generation" I don't want it).

No horizontal stripes.

No paisley, tie-dyed, rude logo shirts (been there, done that.)

No tank tops and no sleeveless shirts of any kind.

No leggings. I don't think they even make them in my size, and just as well.

No chiffon, pierced, or see- through shirts (there's nothing in there I want to share).

No "house dresses" (shudder).

What I >DO< have:

Lots of silk shirts. Two pairs of silk slacks, used exclusively for going to the doctor for weigh-in purposes.

A lot of suede jackets, skirts, and slacks. (Never worn at weigh-ins).

About 50 pairs of jeans, in every conceivable ( mostly dark ) color.

A lot of T-shirts, most not fit to be seen in public, unless I'm running out to buy paint.

A lot of sweaters (they're still packed up).

A lot of long sleeved shirts, to cover the scars. Most are in solid colors, or at most a subtle design.

Two (?) pairs of shorts, since I look so great in them, both coming and going.

Two pairs of custom made leather chaps (don't look at me like that! I used to show my horses in Western classes, where they are "de rigour").

I reluctantly confess to one Winnie-the-Pooh and Tigger shirt. The one with Mickey Mouse is a sleep shirt.

Five or 6 winter coats, in various degrees of warmth.

Oh yeah, one mink coat. I don't know what possessed me. In my defense, I bought it on ebay and it is at least 50 years old. I've only worn it once, and that was to the grocery store (don't ask).

So really, with just a little more space I'd be set. Say, that back left corner where male clothing hangs....

Friday, November 09, 2007

Nov 09, day nine of NaMoBloPo

One of these days I have to take the time to work out what Na Mo Blo Po means, so I can at least get it in the right order.
This Friday has been an interesting day. The good news is that the power company came and installed the new pole for the electricity for the barn. The bad news is that they don't run the line; they're just the "pole guys". So we're back to waiting for actual lights, and my doesn't it get dark early? Hate it.

One of the inside cats escaped and it took three of us about an hour to catch him. This is the cat who, 8 years ago, showed up following one of the neighbor children on his trick-or-treating rounds. He (the kid) was wearing a costume with all sorts of dangly bits (mummy? ghost?), and this young grey cat was trying to catch them. After the boy got his candy, he started on down the steps, but the cat scampered off into the leaves, playing at who knows what, and I called out , Wait, don't forget your kitten! The kid said something like, oh yeah, that's the cat who...(mumble mumble) and off they went. I thought I saw the cat head in the opposite direction. Out of sight out of mind. During a lull in the flow of candy, I thought I heard the cat again, in the leaves below the porch. I called, Kitty kitty? quite tentatively, and along came a trick or treater saying, here's your kitty, I've got him! and I hastily said No, no that's OK, put him down, he belongs to the neighbors. I lost sight of him then, and thought, great. When all was done, I went back inside the house and as part of my recitation of the kids and costumes, I mentioned the cat. Big mistake! Husband and both kids went outside calling kitty kitty, but when they came back inside empty handed, I thought, Whew. Dodged that bullet. Now it is the next morning. I go out to feed the horses, and as I go through the garage (which had been securely shut, I thought, all the night before), there on the driver's seat of my Miata is the same grey cat, looking out the window all bright eyed and bushy tailed, saying, where's breakfast? So of course nothing would do but the cat be fed, a bed made in the garage, etc. The next day was a school day, and I very firmly told the kids (these are high school kids, not tots!) that immediately after school they must take the cat door to door inthe neighborhood and find out who he belongs to. I told them there was probably some tearful child anxiously looking for him, worrying because he disappeared on Halloween and who knows what awful thing might have befallen him? I was quite eloquent on the distress of this mythical child owner. So after school, they went (they SAID) to "Everyone" and no one claimed him, and couldn't we keep him (big soulful stare). And I (of course) said yes, thereby adding number five to the house.

Anyway, he occasionally does run out the door, but always he stops and I can hear him saying, Whoa, wait a minute, let's think about this a bit, it seems kinda cold out here and is that a dog I see? And no food bowls handy? Maybe I'll let them catch me...

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Growing up

In my birth family, I was the second of two daughters. My sister, 4 years older than me, was a sickly child from the start. She had severe scoliosis, that's curvature of the spine, so severe that one shoulder was higher than the other, one leg shorter, and it compromised pulmonary function because her ribs actually pressed into the area of one lung. In addition, she had a bad heart, and my parents were apparently told that she wouldn't live to adolescence. As a result, they spoiled her, and I guess, as a parent myself, I can now somewhat understand that. She was born in 1947, after all, and although she had spinal fusion to correct the curvature, and bone splicing done to lenghthen her leg, she didn't and couldn't have a normal childhood, being bedfast for long lenths of time. For grades 1-4 she had a private tutor that came to the house. That would have been when I was 2 to 6 years old, and her tutor, bless her, had "worksheets" and "lessons" for me too, undoubtably to keep me out of her hair. As a result, I started first grade at age 5, already knowing much of how to read, write, spell, add, and so forth. My sister did attend public school from grade 5 on, but as I later learned, she was also rated as "retarded" although my folks would never say so and my mother especially would get furious if anyone implied that my sister wasn't "normal". Anyway, this is all background to the real point I wanted to make.

Do you know of families who have several children, and one of them is special needs? If so, and if this is a family you interact with, spare some effort and interest for the siblings of that 'special' child. Time and again I have seen parents, so caught up in their responsibilites for one child, that the more self-sufficient kids are, well, taken for granted. The parents may be a little too impatient if one of those children has a problem, a little too preoccupied to praise them, a little too uninvolved in activities with those whose needs are less. I wasn't jealous of the attention my sister got, but I grew up to be far more shy and socially backward than other kids. I was 'marginalized', in the background, on the fringes, of any activity where my sister was present, which included pretty much everything.

I guess the reason this came up for me now, is that a young friend is having her second child and I was invited to her baby shower. I will be sure to bring an additional small gift for her son, now 4, because it is hard for kids to see loads of gifts coming into the house, but not for them. One of the other women invited has a son with cerebral palsy, and although he is an amiable and energetic boy, I will ask after his older brother too, to find out how he is doing. It is awkward for me, I want to tell mothers like her about how it was for me, but maybe it's best not. Things have changed a lot in 50 years, and support for a special needs child must include counseling and support for the siblings, in this day and time. Doesn't it? Surely it does, right?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Then there was that time....

I was thinking over what I posted here yesterday, about odd coincidences, and thought of another, trivial but I thought amusing.

I was working late at my job one night, and I took a break to get a drink. I went down the deserted corridor to the pair of vending machines at the end, one for Pepsi products and one for Coke. I've been a devoted Coke consumer for many many years, and as soon as Diet Coke came out (after that awful Tab stuff) it was my first choice. So I put the money in Coke machine, pressed 'Diet Coke'. The machine made that "ker-chunk" noise, but NO COKE came out. I tried thumping, another button, etc., but nada. Then as I stood there thinking, "That was my last dollar", the machine NEXT to mine, the Pepsi machine, went "ker-chunk" and out dropped a diet Pepsi. There was no one on the entire floor but me, and I never touched the other machine. I cautiously looked around to check for hidden TV cameras, but nothing, so I said "thanks" to the gods of junk food and happily trotted back to work with my drink.

I had reason to go today past that same hall and location, although I'm sure the machines are not the same ones. For old times' sake, I put a dollar in the Coke machine, and guess what? I got TWO diet Cokes. So it all evened out....

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

October Times

Do any of you read the "Somewhere on the Masthead" blog of Magazine Man? The link is over there >>>> in my side bar if you're interested. He writes one of my favorite blogs, and over the years has had numerous posts of "October moments" that have happened to him, things which are a little strange or inexplicable, starting from the time when he was around 12 or so and lived in a genuinely haunted house. He spins a good yarn too, so he leaves it up to you to decide how much is fact and how much fiction (the man is a writer, after all).

I've never had any ghostly or creepy things happen to me, but reading his tales made me remember a couple of odd events. Not ghostly exciting, but not coincidence either. For instance, when we lived in San Francisco, I was on my way home after work one day, idlely thinking about dinner that night and so on, my sister was visiting. Suddenly, for no reason I thought of jury duty. I immediately believed I would be summoned for jury duty. When I got home, my sister said to me, right off, Guess what you got in the mail today? And I answered, "Jury duty, right?" And she nearly fell over, because of course I was right. My husband had gotten home before me, and opened the mail, so he and my sister both knew, and I wondered whose thought I picked up on? (I did go for jury duty and was on several cases, but that's another story.)

Also, one time my husband flew (somewhere, I can't remember) on business, this is also when we lived in SF. He traveled a lot in those days, and he didn't like to leave the car at the airport while he was gone, so I usually took him to the SF airport and dropped him off, and when he got home he would call me to come get him. He always had a late night return flight scheduled, but usually tried to finish up business sooner so he could get an earlier flight home. I'd never know just when, or which airline he would be coming in on, it would depend on what he could get, and so I'd just wait until he got to SF and called me to come pick him up. This one trip I remember he had been gone about a week, and was due home that night. I got home about 5 pm and figured I should hear from him soon. And then it suddenly struck me that I hadn't actually had anyone call me all the time he had been gone, and it dawned on me that if the phone wasn't working, he'd be stuck at the airport. He could get a cab of course, but even back then (the 70s) cab fare in or out of the SF Airport was notoriously hideously expensive. When I checked the phone I had a dial tone, and so I called the operator, and asked her to call me back so I could be sure the phone worked, all the while thinking I was getting a little carried away. I hung up, and waited, and no phone rang. When I did pick it up, the operator was on the line, and she said it rang and rang before I answered, but I never heard a thing, so the phone HAD gone out (they came and fixed it the next day). But what to do about going to the airport? I called and asked them to page, in case he had already gotten in, but no one answered the page. So I got in the car and drove to the airport, no even knowing which terminal to go to -- even in those days SFX was a nightmare to get in and out of. I parked, and walked into one of the terminals, trying to figure out how I would locate N when he did arrive, however many hours in the future that might be. I went into the Delta terminal (why? I dunno), turned right toward the gates, and coming around the corner was my husband, luggage in hand, we actually bumped into each other, he'd just arrived and was on his way to call me. I don't know who was more surprised. I mean to say, out of the thousands of people at the airport, different terminals, not knowing which airline, I couldn't even remember where he was flying FROM, to have him be virtually the first person I saw, seconds after I got there? Isn't that -- odd?

Anyway, I have always enjoyed puzzles, crosswords or others.

Monday, November 05, 2007

I will not mention the Barn

I see no barn.

One of the things I resolved to do after I retired was to go through all the books in the house and get them listed on to sell. It will surely take me quite a while to get them all entered in the database, but I started yesterday, after doing a quick troll around the bedroom. Just from there, 200+ books. I guess we probably have 2000 or more books, about half and half paperback and hardbound. They're squirreled away in every conceivable nook and cranny, lining the halls, in the attic. And at some point I thought WHY? Why do the four of us keep all the old books even when they are edging us out of our own house? Oh sure, there are favorites we read over and over, but honestly, I can't remember ever reading some of them, although I surely did. And we shared them with others, of course. I guess since I read about one book every day or so, I does add up, and we've been in this house 27 years this month. Anyway, lots of mystery, science fiction, fantasy, military history, humor, and on and on will be posted there, I'll put a link here as soon as I figure out how to do that.

The puppies are growing and growing. We took Maggie, who just turned 5 months old, to get her last shots, and she gained 13 pounds since last month and now weighs 56. Raven, the black Newfy, is now 10 months old and I would guess is 90 pounds or so. When they get to chasing each other in the yard, I must be sure I'm not in their path, because bumping into me knocks me over, as you might expect. But they are so sweet, and now that the awful housetraining is over, not much work. Maggie is still not good on going down stairs, but for now that isn't a problem since they go in and out at ground level. They both need a good brushing, rolling around in the yard has them full of tiny burrs. I may take them to be groomed, since they need baths too...

Part of this past weekend I spent dyeing. No, not my hair (Grey? who me?)but my underwear. Anymore I hate to buy bras - does anyone like that? - and what gets me is that even though the bra is totally intact, not stretched out, it will eventually look so bad you'd hate to have an accident and have anyone see! They seem to pick up color from jeans or whatever, and get dingy and discolored no matter how I bleach or treat them in the wash. Folks used to routinely dye things at home, but at least here I had to look high and low to find fabric dye, and didn't get much choice of color either. But I picked royal blue, and all the undies came out lovely, if not their original colors. It reminded me of tye-die days in the 60s, god it made a mess. And either the fabric content wasn't right, or the dye wasn't, because after all that work they faded really fast and had to be washed all by themselves. We didn't have a washer at home for most of my childhood, and never did get a dryer, so washing clothes was a fairly big undertaking, getting the right change, going to the laundromat, or hanging things out on the line and hoping you didn't forget them overnight or in the rain. Now my daughter thinks nothing of doing a load with a single shirt. And yes, I know, not energy wise. But as long as I'm not doing it...
I suppose those tie-dyed shirts are made in China now, and they don't worry about the toxic dyes, either for them or for us...

Sunday, November 04, 2007


Tonight the post here will be mercifully short.

If you've been following along, we have been relentlessly making progress on the new barn for our three spoiled horses since JULY.

The first thing we did after the exterior was finished was run the water lines--in late July.

The last thing we did yesterday was paint the cement floor of the tack room.

Tonight, in the house, we heard the water running..running..running...and we didn't have any water in the house turned on.

Ran to the barn to see water shooting like a geyser OUT of the cement floor where the frost free hydrant is connected.


The water has been turned on down there for 10 weeks!

Whatever broke is somewhere UNDER THE FINISHED BARN.

Drugs. Need drugs.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


WAIT!! I know this looks really rude, but truly I'm not giving you all the bird. I'm just showing you the BIG blood blister I have on the tip of my middle finger, proof of my unswerving devotion to the care of my equine family. Yes, I actually, for the first time in years, cleaned the three horse stalls all by myself! Not that it doesn't get done, but my strong handsome son has done all the shoveling since that fateful day back when he was 15 or so and asked his dad, within my hearing and while I was ankle deep in horse pucky, if there was something he could do to earn some money? I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. He had a firm grip on that pitchfork before he'd finished the question. He's 26 now and has been shoveling ever since. He also is staunch in his resolve to never have horses of his own, because they're "too much work". Imagine that! Anyway, what with all the recent barn building, the horses haven't been in their stalls much through this summer, but now we are back in the swing of things, and they spend days out and nights in, and thus, dirty stalls. I have been conscientiously picking the stalls out daily, partly because it's a new barn, and partly because we didn't have any sawdust/wood shavings bedding material to spare. So today I had planned on just tidying up the stalls, but we finally got bedding delivered and so I went ahead and stripped the stalls completely. The middle finger thing is a result of using a big shovel to scoop up the bedding. As I lifted the shovel, I put my hand at the juncture of the scoop part and the handle on the shovel; and at that moment, the tiny looseness in the fit between the two parts pinched my finger. Jeez that hurt! The entire tip of my finger is numb, and everyone here is telling me to poke a needle in the blister. My response? Uh, no? As it is at least it can't get infected, and it will doubtless break on its own. And isn't it cool that I get a legitimate reason to show everyone the bird??

Hereafter, gloves. And check out that manicure, huh?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Will try to post every day for November

I think doing this is going to be harder than I think, but what the hey. So far today my major accomplishment has been a trip to Wally World for dog food and bread. Guess which one costs more? It is a beautiful fall day here in WV, right now the sky has that golden tone which makes the fall foliage pop. I grew up in Miami FL, the land of perpetual sunshine and skin cancer, and never saw changing seasons until I left home in 1968. A good bit of time was spent in San Francisco, where the seasons are reversed, brown and dry in the spring, green and flowered in the fall. In between is fog season. I could always spot the tourists in downtown SF, they were the ones shivering on the corners in shorts while they waited for the cable car. Because after all, doesn't California = sunshine? But I'll take fog any day over eggs-frying-on-the-sidewalk weather.

You see? It's day two of NaBloPoMo and already I'm reduced to talking about the weather. Please bear with me, I promise to jump-start my brain before tomorrow.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Last night was trick-or-treating here (you probably already knew that, huh?) and every single year since my kids got too old to go themselves (or when they hit 6 feet tall, whichever happened first) I have been In Charge of the Handing Out of the Candy. But last night I was in the middle of an intense part of the horror/thriller book I am reading (appropriate for the night, yes?) by Peter Straub called Mr. X. If you're not familiar with Straub, you will perhaps get my drift when I tell you that he and Stephen King co-wrote one or more books. Anyway, I wanted my DH to take over the candy duty. You'd have thought I'd asked him to go buy Tampax. He's all "Me? Me? But you always do it..." to which I replied only with a raised eyebrow. So the hour arrives, and he puts TWO chairs outside on the porch and wheedles me into lending moral support. Like maybe he'll do it WRONG, hand out a gummy bear to a kid with braces, I don't know. He actually stood BEHIND me and reached over me to drop the candy in the sticky little bags. When I pointed this out, he said he was "cold". But one little tyke noticed a difference this year. He looks at the proffered goody, squints suspiciously at the DH and proclaims loudly "SHE always gave us a HANDFUL of candy". I quickly pointed out these were bigger bars, so only one to a customer, and he nodded but looked skeptical. Alas, now our house is no longer rated "prime" in goody status. The shame.

When my kids were small, pre-pre-school, I convinced them that trick or treating was for Big Kids. (Later, when they got older, I planned to tell them it was only for Little Kids and thus avoid the whole deal). This was an easy sell in the beginning, since we lived at the end of a rural lane with no houses in sight and few kids of any age, thus no trick or treaters. Alas, when they began going to the sitter every day, her son let the (black) cat out of the bag by describing all the loot to be had for the asking, and so for several years they made the neighborhood rounds with him. The kid had a system, I'll give him that; all the meandering streets and cul de sacs he had mapped in his head so as to get the maximum number of houses in the 60 minutes allotted. I went with them, but was hopelessly turned around after the first street. My only real contribution to the effort was to tell my kids that if they forgot to say "Thank you" then *I* got the candy. They never forgot, tho it was a near thing a time or two.

Eventually, the sitter's boy, who was short and wiry, continued making the rounds even tho he was 13 or 14, he looked much younger, but my son, at 10 or 11, was closing in on 6 feet tall pretty fast. I told them that many people resent the big kids getting candy that should go to youngsters, and did they really want to go begging, or was it just getting the candy? And they said, Duh? So I said I'd buy the candy and they could save me from the months long quandry of figuring out What I Want To Be This Year, and then making same. That year, a good time was had by all.

And really, this year was OK too, all in all. Sixty seven treaters, the final tally.