Sunday, December 30, 2007


When I was 10 or 11, the big Christmas gift that all the kids were getting that year was a transistor radio. Up until that time, radios were big, not as big as a breadbox, but almost, and had to be plugged in. But with the invention of the transistor and reliable batteries, pocket sized radios hit the market with a bang. There was, from my point of view, only one drawback.

They were expensive.

No, I can't remember the actual price, which would seem trivial by now, but that scarcely matters. They were expensive enough that I knew I couldn't ask for one. Because of my parents and their problems, I had learned as a toddler to 'read' the moods of adults, and I knew how my mom, who was the keeper of the purse strings, felt when she couldn't afford something I wanted, and so I stopped asking. Added to that is my sister, 4 years physically older but much younger all her life, who would automatically ask for the same thing, even if she didn't really want it. She wanted what I had, maybe to prove she was loved.... but at any rate, two radios were out of the question. And really, I didn't mind. I mostly chose things that were in the Green Stamp catalog, because my folks always saved them, and the stuff in the catalog were pretty cool, even if I had no idea what you did with some of them. Like, what did one need sleeping bags for? I never went camping and never knew anyone who did. I figured a camper would roll up in a blanket, like in the cowboy shows. And all the fishing stuff was a mystery; we used a cane pole with string and a hook tied on, and an earthworm for bait, and we only fished in little creeks and ponds. At any rate, my Christmases were filled with Green Stamp joy.

Anyway, remembering the small things I did get at Christmas, I marvel that it never occurred to me that we were poor. All my school friends could have been better off financially, but I never picked up on that. Not even when I played in the house across the street, which had an entire ROOM just as a playroom, with every conceivable doll, toy and game available. That was, for instance, the only time I "played Barbies" -- with Susie's dolls, not mine. I never, in fact, had a doll at all. And never missed one.

Anyway, I hope that all of you got just the right things for Christmas and that all your memories will be fond ones too!

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Sigh. I got an *extra* gift this year for Christmas. It seems to be the latest thing in a rotavirus, and boy howdy it sure is, ah, potent. Every time I tried to lie down in bed last night, I ended up dashing for the powder room OUT OF MY WAY!!! I was forced to prop myself up in bed and doze, feeling nothing but nausea all night. The pharmacist said today that it is "everywhere" in town. Misery *does* love company.

There were more book orders to send out today, I had gone almost a week with no orders at all. Guess everyone was busy with holiday shopping, etc. I received 4 new books as a gift, but two of them I already have. They are by Jim Butcher, and part of the Dresden Files. If you are familiar with the SciFi channel, it was a miniseries earlier this year, and it piqued my interest in the books. So tomorrow I'll return them to B&N and pick out something else, I think I'll concentrate on the books on the lower two shelves, it is so awkward to creep along the row on my knees, and there is always the fear that I won't make it back up again! But it will be unplumbed "depths" so hopefully I'll find *something*. One of the drawbacks of being a voracious reader is that I have read so many of the books already. Typically, I read one book a day, or in two days. I recently read a statistic that said that 57% of Americans have not read ONE book in the last YEAR!! Incredible. Guess they spend a lot of time at the boob tube instead, whereas I watch very little on TV. When N used to travel out of town for a week or more, back when the kids were 7/8, I would go to the connection for the cable outside and unscrew the coaxial cable. I told the kids that the cable was broken... then the day N was due back, I'd re-connect it. One time #1 son said, "I know. You forgot to pay the cable bill!" They were real vocal when N got home, telling how horribly they suffered with no TV. The peace and quiet were heavenly.

Sleepy. Bye.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas

In general I hate Christmas songs, It makes my ears bleed to hear them beginning in October, it's a bit like Chinese water torture. That said, this rendition of Drummer Boy by Bing Crosby and David Bowie makes me go all soupy. If you like, watch below. And if it doesn't at least give you a little glow, you are made of sterner stuff than I, Gunga Din.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Near catastrophe

Today I was tidying up the desktop PC, you know, emptying the trash, dusting in the corners. I re-formatted the "old" hard drive... this computer was bought last year, and my previous computer had an 80 G hard drive that had tons of photos, documents, etc. on it, and I couldn't think of any good way to transfer them en mass. So we had the Geek guys put the old hard drive into the new computer, which thus has a C: drive (new) with a partitioned D: drive for system backup/restore, and now also a K: drive (old). Now I wanted to wipe the old drive so that I can use it for file backups, and the simplest way was to reformat. No problem doing that. Then I updated Spy Sweeper to the newest version, and after that it needed to be restarted. When it restarted it only got to the boot screen and showed a message, "Failure of hard drive is imminent! Back up files and replace drive!" Not a good thing. But I realized the "failing" drive was the 80 G old drive, that it was apparently trying to install the operating system from a blank drive. But, knowing that it had made the K: drive a "master" instead of a "slave", and putting it right was two different things. I sweated for an hour until I finally got to the screen that identifies hardware, and moved the 80 G from position one to position two. Then, at last, it would boot. What I wonder is, has the computer been booting from K: all along, but since the OS was on it too, from the original computer, it worked fine? I dunno. As long as it works now, I'll go with the flow...

I just love M$Windows, don't you? I should note, the re-formatting has to be done from the (ta da!) MS-DOS command prompt screen. I felt fortunate to remember how to do that, because for sure nothing on Windows tells you how. I remember when, with our first computer, a 286-16, **everything** was done in MS-DOS (no windows back then), and to get games to run you had to mess with extended and expanded memory, with LOADHIGH commands in your config.sys file or the autoexec.bat file, that would preserve the (imagine!) 256K low memory for use. I'm amazed they ever actually sold computers that were so cumbersome and user-unfriendly. Of course, all PCs still run MS-DOS, but Windows is "laid over" it so that its functioning is transparent to the user. Gone, but not gone. Sort of like a toothache.

Oh wait, our first computer was a TI-99 (Texas Instruments, who have gone back to making calculators these days). It cost $100 and ran programs that were on cassette tapes that you stuck in the back. Basically, you put a blank tape in, typed in your program and saved it to the tape. Whee. I think it's still up in the attic somewhere, maybe it will be collectible some day....

Friday, December 21, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like....

Christmas. In my deepest heart, I know that were it left up to me, I'd skip the whole thing. My whole family is tough to buy gifts for, since we largely buy anything we want at the time we want it. And as we all get older, we want less, too. I mean, how many wrist watches do you need? Two, tops. And purses, can you use more than one at a time? (No, but that doesn't stop me from getting more and more.....) And at some point, women stop being gifted personally and become their house. On one memorable Christmas, I received >>3<< vacuum cleaners. Do you think that implied anything about my housekeeping ability? And how many husbands do you think would be thrilled to receive a set of dishes?

Anyway, I've made a credible attempt at getting things that will please the recipient, even if it leaves me less thrilled. Like what? you say? Two words:

Gift Cards.

And they're easy to wrap too.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Traveling Salesman

The traveling salesman was visiting the farmer when suddenly he sees this pig with a wooden leg running by the barn. So he asks the farmer, "What's with the pig with the wooden leg?" And the farmer says, "That's not just any pig! That there pig saw my son fall down the well, and he came and got me and led me to the well. He saved my son's LIFE!" And the salesman says, "Yeah, but what's with the wooden leg?" And the farmer says, "And that's not all! One day a stranger in the woods was trying to rape my daughter, and that pig got me to follow him, and I saved my daughter and shot the rapist!" And the salesman says, "Wow, that's some story! So what's the wooden leg about?" And the farmer says, "Mister, when you've got a special pig, the way this pig is special, you don't eat him all at once!"


It is 6 am here and I still haven't managed to get to sleep tonight. I took a sleeping pill, and two Xanax, and still don't even feel drowsy. That will probably happen around 8:30 this morning, leaving me a zombie the rest of the day. I know no one out there gives a hoot about my insomnia but I'm compelled to complain about it. Maybe someone will have a sure-fire cure? Yeah, right.

My christmas shopping remains in limbo, in that I've decided what to get but can't find them. I also can't seem to resist buying stuff for myself, making me feel guilty, but damn! Have you seen the sales going on? I bought a $78 pair of Ralph Lauren slacks for $13. Not even eBay does better, and I get to try them on. I can't imagine what the after-Christmas sales will be like -- will they pay us to take the stuff off their hands? Clearly bad news for retailers this year.

Saturday marked the one year anniversary of my last day of work. I gotta say, I don't miss it, although I would like to hear the latest gossip from work. I called a couple to times to ask or answer various questions, and always they would say, "We'll have to get together for lunch some Friday--we'll call you when everybody can make it." Of course it never happens, and what's more, I asked to be contacted when the other "old-timer" retired so I could come to his party, and no one called then either. I sent flowers to the funeral of one of the main office guys, and never got an acknowledgement from the family -- is that passe now? And I feel, not quite hurt, but, but not good either. All the comments before I left about how they couldn't get along without me...guess I wasn't so irreplacable after all. N says, out of sight, out of mind. I did pop in one day about a week after I left, no one was in, but my entire office, including the computer and the furniture had been replaced. They even got rid of my chair. So...I took it with me, from where it was sitting in the hall with the "surplus--take me" sign on it. I ordered that chair special because of the lumbar support...

I think I'm just feeling down today. The holidays are always a tough time, too many painful ghosts, and no sign of christmas cheer. We went to Gassaway last Friday to put the holiday decorations on the graves, it was cold and spitting snow, no one else was there, the wind whipped away anything you set on the ground. I'm ambivalent about doing it anyway, really we do it because my aunt and uncle appreciate it, as they decorate the rest of the family graves, but it's a melancholy task at best. Traffic on I-79 was atrocious coming home, even for a weekday, and that makes me an anxious passenger.

Oh hell, no one wants to listen to this whiny drivel. Move along, nothing to see here...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sunday blues

Thanks to all who pitched in on the messages to the FCC about the re-assignment of the toll free suicide hotlines, the last I checked they had received 345 comments on that proposal. Not all of them were in support of leaving the numbers with the Kristin Brooks Hope Center, but most were. Over the years, I've circulated petitions, written my congressmen, even gone to the state capitol to pitch to the state reps face-to-face. But I gotta tell you, none of it has done a damn bit of good. The idea that we have a representative government of the people seems to be a little idealized (duh), as some people obviously carry more impact than any member of John Q Public. Oh wait, I lied...I did sign a petition recently to change the state motto back to the traditional "Wild Wonderful West Virginia" instead of the one currently placed on the signs as you cross into WV that say "Open for Business". It always made me think, "Oh, and closed for vacation?" which is absurd since WV has depended heavily on those who come here for the skiing, white water rafting, camping, etc. for many years. Anyway, much to my surprise, it worked, and the slogan has been changed back. One for the little guy....

This has been a yicky day, cold (24 degrees), windy (30 mph gusts) and snowing (3 inches). I was restless all day, but with no good reason to go out in the weather. So I cleaned the kitchen (ick) and did the laundry (yawn) and bought stuff online (but nothing really fun). It is now the time to turn in, which is good since I've lost track of whatever it was I was going post here....

Monday, December 10, 2007

1-800-SUICIDE Hotline

Once again our wonderful federal government is preparing to meddle and take control of something that has been handled privately just fine. The Kristin Brooks Hope Center has operated several toll-free suicide hotlines for people in crisis. They operate largely by trained volunteers, and there are links on a huge number of web sites that direct people to these phone lines. Just as an example, you may be familiar with the Post Secret blog (the Link for there is on the right side under links---------> ) , a site which gets hundreds of thousands hits every day. Now the feds want to re-assign these toll free numbers to SAMHSA, a fed program, and I ask, why? Calls to suicide hotlines are, by their very nature, likely to contain information of a personal nature, and do we really need Big Brother, with their ability to wiretap and eavesdrop on citizens without warrants, listening in when people are in crisis? I think not. Below is the email I received from KBHC on this, feel free to contact the FCC at (link just below in large type) and file your own comment on this. I am also deeply suspicious of the FCC's motive in doing this during the holiday season, and in having such a short public comment period, and I wonder who stands to gain by having Uncle Sam try to take this function over by bootstrapping on the reputation of a private charitable group of proven effectiveness?

And if you wanted to donate to KBHC, they can always use help in paying their telephone bills too.

The links probably will not work, but go to
for the proceeding number, enter 07-271
fill in the form, and enter a brief comment at the bottom, then "submit". You should get an acknowledgment reply, with a number.

E-mail received today:

Dear Friends of the Hopeline,

We thank you for your support of our organization and 1-800-SUICIDE over the last few years.

We need your help ... again. This time in addition to financial support what we really need today is a letter of support.

The feds (SAMHSA) are moving to try to take permanent control of 3 of our hotlines using the timing of the holiday season hoping no one will be around to file a response. They filed the day before Thanksgiving and gave our attorneys no notice of the filing. Not very cricket of them.

We are asking our supporters to file comments with the FCC before they grant permanent assignment of 1-800-SUICIDE to the SAMHSA. If you could file a comment in support of us and ask any of your friends and colleagues to stand up for us it would make a difference. We need your public support more than ever. If we shine a bright enough light on them they will not be able to hide from the truth.

It is important to note that our organization operates 13 national suicide hotlines and while 1-800-SUICIDE is our largest program we will continue to prevent suicide among our veterans with our 1-877-VET2VET, new moms suffering post partum depression with 1-800-PPD-MOMS, teens with our 877-YOUTHLINE as well as many other targeted populations with 10 other specialty hotlines. We are not in danger of being shut down but we are about to lose our primary outreach of help and hope. Either way we will continue our life saving work. (see for a complete list)

I hope you and your family have a great holiday. All we want for the Holidays is the return of the control of our numbers.

Suggested minimal language...

We urge the FCC to grant the Kristin Brooks Hope Center Application for Review and return the toll free hotline numbers to KBHC promptly. If necessary to accomplish that, we support a temporary extension of the 12 month temporary re-assignment.

But please feel free to add or write your own comments about why it is important that 1-800-SUICIDE remain non government owned and controlled.

To file comments CLICK HERE
Type in 07-271 for the proceeding (docket) number.

To read what others have written CLICK HERE

The postings just began today and the window closes on the 12th of December. It is a very brief window for public comment. This is so unfair. Last year when they did this we ran a campaign that generated over 800 letters written and filed. They do not want a repeat of that and are counting on us having no show of strength in support from people who care. So please help us today. It will make a difference. Your financial support in the past has helped us survive to this point. We hope you will continue to support us in the future.

Best always,

Reese Butler -

President and Founder
Kristin Brooks Hope Center
National Hopeline Network 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
Administrative Office:
615 7th Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
202-536-3206 fax

Click to go to the Save 1-800-SUICIDE site and read more details

Friday, December 07, 2007

Feed Me

Sigh. I think I have successfully added RSS feed to this site, and over there>>>> is a "Subscribe " place, not very elegant looking, but as far as I can tell it works.

And that is about all I have accomplished today, other than bringing Cookie (cat) home after her "procedure". For details of this, look at the last post. Anyway, she now has a pink bald spot on her bum, and her new nickname is "Baboon Butt" (snicker). #1 son says she is "Butt ugly" now. Poor baby.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Small rant.

You know how, when you have a lousy night because of a: sick kid/barking dog/crack house raid next door, and then you go to work in the morning, and at some point throw it out as a conversational topic? And after a few minutes, you get that out of your system and move on? Well. I don't work anymore. And I had a lousy night last night. So I'm going to grumble here.

If you sleep like a log, never have insomnia, you might want to move on to the next blog now, you know?

Are they gone? Good. Weirdos.

Last night I had a lousy night. I woke up at 2 am, after going to sleep around 11 pm, and right away I have a headache. What works best for me (as long as it isn't migraine) is Excedrin, which works well because it has caffeine, which I don't really need at two am. But I get up (brrrr) and take some, hoping. This wakes me up a little more.

So I start reviewing stuff in my mind, you know, laying there, fussing over some problem from the day, and I find myself mentally composing a: letter to the editor/blog entry/ransom note, knowing full well that: a) I won't remember all these carefully polished sentences and b) I won't even remember the topic of them. I have wasted hundreds of hours mentally composing brilliant scathing retorts for that time when she said.... when at the time I sat there dumbfounded and I *should* have said... Knowing that the next time the same thing happens I won't have a snappy comeback then either....

And then there was the cat. Because I was obviously awake, she comes over to get a little ear rubbing time, which is fine. Then she settles down next to my pillow and proceeds to take a bath. Lick, lick, lick. I look over at her, and there she is, licking her butt (we call it the "Pablo Casal playing the Cello" pose), hind leg raised high, lick lick... Blech! I give her a little poke and she stops. I start to relax, relax, drifting,,,and she starts up again, lick lick, very moistly, you know?

I can't just throw her out of the room, because if she's with them, the upstairs cats will begin relay races on the hardwood floors just over my bedroom, they sound like ponies on parade up there (remember that Carl Sandburg poem, where he writes about fog moving in on little cat feet? Obviously HE never had cats). I don't know why, but I know from bitter experience that they will make enough noise to keep *everyone* awake all night.

I know she won't quit if she isn't distracted, so I get my little tube of dried Cosmic Catnip and sprinkle a little down by the foot of the bed. WHOO. That gets her attention. Now she's rubbing her face in it, rolling in it, snuffling it up and sneezing, etc. and soon she's...well...mellow. Now I really start to feel sleepy, close, close....

And then I hear her on the floor, biting and riiiipppping at the carpet. Apparently we have tracked in some delightful bit of stinky-ness. This will never do, she has been known to tear a whole patch of carpet into loose threads doing this, so I get up and try to cover that bit of floor with a box, or a throw rug, or whatever I can find. It has to be large enough to cover a fair bit of the floor, because I'm not sure of the precise spot that is so enthralling. Disgusted with me, she retreats to the easy chair.

By now I am wide awake. Every 20 minutes or so I steal a peek at the clock, to see how long I've got until the alarm... maybe I should go ahead and shower now... just give up.... and finally feel so drowsy and warm and the cat is quiet, and and and the alarm goes off.

Sigh. Turns out, when I check her this morning, the cat has, in fact, a nasty raw spot on her bum, infected/ inflammed or maybe abscessed, and so I take her to the vet, who diagnoses an infected anal gland, poor thing....

BUT!! He will keep her overnight so he can treat it after sedating her and THEREFORE

No cat in here tonight!

Hope all of you sleep well too!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

My ABEbooks Storefront

  • The Four Readers' Storefront

    To see my Storefront, and search for a title, clink on link above.
    I mostly have science fiction, fantasy, mystery, suspense, and I'm adding more every day.

    Update:  as of May 25th, 2013, the Four Readers store at ABEbooks has been permanently closed.  Thanks for your purchases.
    To see all the books currently available from me, click on link below
  • Inventory of Four Readers
  • Sunday, December 02, 2007

    Sunday sunday

    Ah, a nice rainy relaxing day. We have dinner in the Crock pot, and no need to go anywhere. The dogs are sacked out again, and take up nearly the entire living room floor. I'll go add books to my ABEbooks account. I got the NaBloPoMo badge over there>>>>and did it without crashing my entire template. I'd like to change the looks of this blog, but frankly I don't know how to do that without losing everything, so best to leave everything alone. I even slept fairly well last night, so all in all this is shaping up to be a Good Day. Hope you and yours are fine as well, and staying out of the mad rush at the malls.

    And I won't even THINK about the fiasco that was the WVU vs Pitt game yesterday.....

    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.

    TA DA!!

    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.

    Sunday, October 28, 2007

    A pink Dyson?

    Now all I'll need is someone to use it.

    UPDATE: I didn't win. Now it's back tp scrubbing on hands and knees with a brush and a bucket....(sob). As if.

    Pink Dyson Vaccuum Giveaway by the Domestic Diva

    Click on the above link to get your chance to win the pink Dyson, too.

    Saturday, October 20, 2007

    OK so far

    I really did have another post half written, which my computer ate. Really.

    Anyway, times have moved on. The barn now has concrete flooring in the aisle and in front of the barn, and Monday starts the construction of the tack room inside so I can get all the horse stuff out of storage and back where I can actually find things again. In theory. While all of the above work has been done, I and daughter have gone and returned from the beach, vis., Rehoboth beach in Delaware. I had never been to Del. before, but had heard good things about the place and I am pleased to say they are all correct. It is by far the closest beach to here, being exactly east of here in a straight line, which of course the highways do not do. Not to worry, because even though the GPS was DOA for the entire trip, the printed directions from Yahoo travel worked fine. Don't you love how, if you enter your home address as the "starting point" that the directions include which way to turn out of your driveway, down to the corner, turn R toward...etc. Like they couldn't say, starting at where you get on the interstate....

    So here is an actual photo which was taken by an utter stranger who offered to do so after seeing me taking a photo of daughter. Didn't she do a good job? Let's hear it for friendly people!!

    If you click on the photo it will (I think) make it great big, so you will be able to see every inch of our pasty white skin which is currently more red than white. We ate a ton of great food, and walked miles and miles, and beachcombed and shopped 'til we dropped. There were no problems driving, everyone there was friendly and nice, I spent a lot of money and had a good time. Now back at home, things on arrival were a little bit of a shock, the day was rainy and grey and quite cool. We wanted to talk about the beach, but husband and son wanted to talk about the work on the barn, so we did, at the same time, making for a confusing conversation.

    Now today is leaf raking and gutter cleaning and hay moving and other household chores, so onward, ever onward...

    Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    A little Humor

    Here is a photo I found on the internet, sorry I lost the place so I could give credit. It didn't have a name, I call it ButtLite.

    Sunday, September 09, 2007

    Gettin' better all the time...


    I hate posting when I'm depressed, I know the post will read like 'whine whine whine' and most readers will go "Next!". But trying to be glib and funny and entertaining when I am really down makes me feel so phony to myself. You know, 'smile when your heart is aching, smile even though it's breaking" and so on.

    Don't you hate it when you have an internet friend? or at least a contact, maybe from their blog, or a yahoo group, and you're back and forth like neighbors over the fence, until one day, they're gone. Their email address bounces. The blog is gone. You can't help but feel worried (did they die? Have a horrible tragedy in the family? Lose their job?) and YOU WILL NEVER KNOW. And you begin to think, maybe they weren't even who you thought they were, maybe they were some pimply faced teenager yucking it up at your expense until they got tired of it all and moved on. Maybe they only dropped you, you whiner, cause the gloom factor was 10+ and just reading your posts made them want to slit their wrists. You'll never know this either, but you'll wonder about it, late at night. Indeed you will.

    Saturday, August 25, 2007

    Down time

    I feel quite thoroughly overwhelmed. Between the costs of the new barn, the sweat equity, the new puppy getting sick, I'm done. I don't have the energy to do vacuuming, or grocery shopping, or, some days, get dressed. I hate it all. I wish we'd never started this. I wish someone would come by with a horse trailer and take all three horses away. I never want to smell puppy poop again. I never want to go to the vet again. I can't cope.

    Friday, August 10, 2007


    This is the completed EXTERIOR of the barn, taken from the back deck, with the pool at the very bottom. I took it using Photo Booth, where I sorta aim the Mac screen at the view (which I can't see) and hope for the best. It's a good thing the barn doesn't move around...The interior, alas, is one big cavernous space with a dirt floor.

    And here is the new Landseer Newfoundland puppy, 2 months old, 14 pounds, her name is Magpie (or Maggie) to match her big sister Raven.

    And to round it all up, here is Raven, 7 months old, 80 pounds.

    We have let them have only limited visitations (hence the gate) because Raven is so rambunctious, she tends to bowl the little one over. And over. And step on her, in all the excitement. Once Maggie has gotten a little more size on her, they'll be a better match. Probably a month. Maggie's dad weighs 175 lb., her mom 140. I have never seen such huge dogs.

    Meanwhile, the rest of the work on the inside of the barn is going very slowly. We rented a ditch witch to dig trenches for moving the water line from the old barn to the new location, and to dig trenches for drains from the floor sink and tack room out to the creek. I see where the word "witch" comes in. The worst of it is, even though we dug at 90 degrees across the the ground where the water line lies, we didn't cut the line. The only conclusion is that we didn't dig deep enough. In trying to go over the trench again with the digger, the front wheel dropped INTO in the ditch (during a tornado watch no less). And there it sat until the equipment rental guy came and winched it out this morning. Cost? $470 dollars for about 4 actual digging hours. And we still can't find the *%!# water line. Today the DH called a handyman guy to come look at what needs to be done, and I desperately hope he will come and agree to take it on, for something less than our entire life savings. At the rate we're going, it will be next summer before the horses have an indoor home. And the farrier comes Monday, and I am willing to bet we won't be able to catch all three beasts. Last time we tried to separate them, DH got kicked. I lay awake nights thinking of how awful things are, so that the next day I can feel tired AND depressed, the gift that keeps on giving....