Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thirty!! WooHoo!

Here we are at last, the end of this year's NaBloPoMo. I can't tell you what that stands for, because I have to look it up and then I always immediately forget. Anyway, I almost forgot to post today, I was so pleased at having gotten through the entire month, I almost forgot today! So here I sit, with gloves on (hand lotion) and actually having gone to bed and then to have to get up and do this. Glad I made it before midnight.

I have purposely not read all my usual blogs, or surfed blogs much, because so many of them are so good it makes me feel completely inadequate. Still, I remind myself that I do this blogging for my own reasons, and competing with other bloggers isn't one of them. And when I plan to do a post on some subject, I invariably wander off into some byway, because that's the way my brain works. After a 30 year career in lab work, I can multitask like a champ, but sticking to one line of thought isn't my strong point.

I took the Miata out today for a little drive, I wasn't sure after weeks of sitting in the garage, if it would even start, but it did, reluctantly. I drove around our neighborhood, and even though the rain was blowing horizontally today, I was happy to see so many Christmas decorations up, it made the places look quite festive. One nearby house has been sitting abandoned for months, no one seems to know why, but today I saw a truck in the carport, and the lawn has had all the fallen limbs picked up, so maybe it will be for sale soon. I saw another home, off my usual route, that is huge, has a separate 4 car garage, a golf cart, and a stretch limo in the drive. How did I miss that being built?

Well, thanks for reading along, and hope everyone has a happy holiday season.


Bumper Sticker for today: "People are more violently opposed to fur than leather because it's easier to harass rich women than motorcycle gangs."

Saturday, November 29, 2008


You learn some interesting things when you do genealogy. That is what makes it interesting, really, not just names and dates, but the stories of the people. I am lucky that my families settled in WV in early times (early 1800s) or even pre-Revolutionary War, and so interesting stories are often found in area history books.

I found that all the time I was looking for the antecedents of my grandfather Floyd, I was laboring under the belief that his last name came from his father (naturally enough). But old grandad was an illegitimate son, and the family I was following were that of his step-father and not his father, and thus his last name was his mother's maiden name. When she was 20 and single, she was working as a servant in the home of a young couple with 3 or 4 children, two or three farms down from he father's home. The only other male in the household was a 14 year old boy, so I am guessing that her 30-something boss was the father of Floyd. Guess I'll never know, since that grandfather died before I was born, and my grandmother (Nana) flat refused to talk about him. Dad hunted him up once, after the war, but he was cool and not interested in my dad's life (Floyd had remarried, but no kids). Nana was a flapper in the 20s from a wealthy Washington D.C. family. Her father owned a ranch in Pasadena, and another house in Florida. My dad was born just 5 months or so after Nana married, and I imagine her father was Not Pleased. He cut her off from any inheritance (her mother died early and her father remarried; her stepmother inherited the lot) and Nana went to work for the IRS, and retired to Florida on a very small pension. I have all her things now, and they are a mixture of very poor quality (souvenir stuff) and very good (sterling flatware, sterling baby cup, beautiful wooden box). When she divorced Floyd, when Dad was 1 year old, Nana went through everything and destroyed any photo, letter, whatever, of Floyd's. She even had Dad's first name changed to that of her father, apparently because Floyd had picked the original name. It was pretty uncommon in those days, to divorce. Nana did remarry, and had a daughter when dad was about 8 years old, but the little girl died before she was 5 and Nana divorced that husband at about the same time. Unlucky in love, I guess. My mother asked Nana what the cause of death was for Dad's half-sister, and Nana said "malnutrition" which broke Mom's heart to hear. I still haven't found a death certificate.

Nana's father

Bumper sticker of the day: "Men are from earth and women are from earth. Get over it."

Friday, November 28, 2008


For the first time ever, I went shopping on Black Friday. Really just dipped my toe in it: I went to one store, Bed, Bath & Beyond. If what I saw is representative, the merchants are in big trouble. At the shopping center, I parked 4 spaces from the front of the store; in fact I had my choice of two spaces, and when I left the space next to me was still vacant. There was a guy at the front door handing out 20% off certificates (I saved $58). The aisles were somewhat crowded, but they usually are because the aisles are so narrow. I had only one person in front of me when I reached the checkout lane. Passing another mall on the way home, from the interstate I could see just the usual traffic in and out of the mall, but I can remember years when the traffic was at a standstill, backed up clear onto the interstate exit. So no, it doesn't look like a good year at the register. Oh, and I got what I had seen at the store several weeks ago, which is nearly unheard of, and the reason I went today, not really expecting it would still be there.

Bumper sticker for today: "An erection is not considered personal growth."

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Man, I ate too much. But it was all so good. Now the dishes are all done (last load in dishwasher), the leftovers in the 'fridge, ready for tomorrow's dinner. (You know what the definition of an optimist is? It's the guy who, the day after Thanksgiving asks, what's for dinner?) And dessert is calling my name but I'm not in just yet. I even got a little housework done, so the main areas look pretty tidy. Maybe a little more done tomorrow, no promises.

I should point out that all this cooking was done in a toaster oven, microwave, and an automatic roaster oven, because Monday our gas oven blew up. NOW we know what that gas smell is!! Anyway, not much to any one's surprise, a repairman cannot come until next week, and probably the news will not be good. At least there are lots of sales going on for major appliances right now, in case we have to replace the damned thing. The one we have is a Jenn-Air, and they are supposed to last forever, right? Big bucks, you know? Grrrr. The oven has been misbehaving for weeks, taking forever to begin heating up when we turn it on. But the timing, with Thanksgiving the same week, smacks of diabolical. And laying out major money for an appliance is just as bad as laying out big bucks for, say, plumbing. No fun to be had there, you just want it to work.

We didn't watch the Macy's parade today. I love parades, but the only one we watch is the Rose parade, because it is covered by HGTV, that's Homes and Gardens, because the others on commercial TV are SOO annoying. It isn't just the commercial interruptions, although they are pretty bad. But I want to see the entire parade, bands, clowns, mounted units, not just the floats for 3.2 seconds. The rest of the on-air time is full of wannabe actors and actresses smiling their gleaming laminated teeth at the camera and plugging away for their shows, while in the background you can hear a band coming... and going. All for talking heads of people I don't even recognize, for shows no one has ever heard of. I think if Public Television could broadcast the parades, without commercial breaks, that would be heavenly. Until then, we'll pass.

Bumper sticker of the day: "Forget world peace. Visualize driving without a cell phone in your ear."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Not only is this the 26th post for this month, but the 255th post since I began in Oct. 2004. And how many "hits"? We won't go into that just now (ahem).

Have you noticed, how as this month drags slooooowly past, that my posts are getting more and more trivial? And shorter, too. Well, that's because I have more or less completely used up all the topics I thought would last me an entire month, and there is still a week to go. Sigh.

Ordinarily, the night before Thanksgiving I would be in a total tailspin, cooking, planning, cleaning, ironing the tablecloths, and on and on. There would be several last-minute runs to the store, and I would go to bed and get no sleep because my brain would still be fizzing away.

But that was back 10 or 15 years ago, when a typical Thanksgiving dinner was for as many as 18 people. Sadly, now there are the 4 of us, and my aunt and uncle 90 miles south of us (but they cannot manage a drive of such distance now, and then stairs inside). All the rest are, well, dead. It's startling when I look back at those occasions, and realize that in 10 years they would all be gone. I should have savored the company more and worried less about the cat fuzz on the carpet, about getting a big meal finally served, and sitting down too tired to eat. Everyone else will be done in, oh, say 20 minutes, but although I can postpone the dishes, there are still all the leftovers to be put away. I missed a lot of good conversation back then. Dammit.

So enjoy all your company tomorrow, or just settle down with a turkey frozen dinner and a good book. Sometimes the only intelligent conversations I can find are with myself.


Bumper sticker for the day: "For every action there is an equal and opposite criticism."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The photos below are of my room, taken in Nov., mostly to show that while there are a lot of things there, I don't live in total chaos. Most of the time.

The left side of the room
The right side of the room
Together these two photos together show half the room only, but the other half is boring.

The big black thing in the far left of the top photo, leaning against the wall, is the fireplace surround taken from my grandad's farm house. It is awaiting some repair and cleaning up, but meanwhile it is under cover. We have the mirror that goes in the mantle. It's sort of neat to think of looking into the same mirror that my greatgrandparents did. There is another mantle, smaller, and for some reason someone painted it pink. Pink?

Bumper sticker for the day: "I haven't been the same since that house fell on my sister!"


Monday, November 24, 2008


It's that time of year again.

Tree trimming.

No, not the Christmas type.

The Asplundh type of tree trimming.

Sort of like this.

Several years ago Asplundh, who has the contract for line clearing from Allegheny Power, came by and asked me if they could "trim" our maple trees along the road. I said, What for? And they said to protect the lines if the trees fell down in a storm. Well, I have seen their trim jobs along the road, where they top the entire tree to keep it under the power lines, and I said, no thanks. I went out and looked to review where the trees are, and sure enough, the power lines are on the other side of the road from our trees. I couldn't see where our trees could even touch the lines, unless the Jolly Green Giant came along and uprooted the trees, then used them to whack on the power lines.

A few days later an Asplundh supervisor was back, quoting right-of-way clauses in our deed. I told him he was mistaken, and then showed him the recorded deed certified copy, and it doesn't mention Allegheny or Mon Power as it was known then. It only grant US the right-of-way to get to our property, which at that time was just beyond the end of the existing road. Later, they built houses past us and did include giving the water and power companies the right to maintain the lines. But not our deed. Sorry!

And the guy went away, and no one touched our maples.

But every year they are back, like a bad cold, and every year we have to go through the same rigmarole, because it is never the same crew.

I just wish I understood why they want to cut the tops off of trees on the opposite side of the road from the line posts.

Or even better, I wish we could get them to flag our address with a "don't waste your time here" note.

Bumper sticker: " The sooner you give up, the more time you'll have to catch up."

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Free Stock Photos

(Yawn) I'm really ready to crash tonight, so this will be a short post.

When I was in high school (yeah class of '68) I took a typing course, because everyone who planned to go to college was strongly advised to learn to type because you would be typing essays, etc. My girlfriend also took typing, but her class got to use electric typewriters, while mine used manual typewriters, much like the one above. You had to hit the keys quite briskly to connect to the paper, and even so, letters would range from light to very dark, depending. I managed to pass the course, but in the last 40 years, I have never broken myself of the bad habit of looking at my fingers while I type. Like, maybe the 'w' has moved to some other key? I dunno. I once bought a copy of "Mario teaches typing" and to my utter shame couldn't even progress with that. I even taped over the letters on the keyboard, resulting in some very strange words and a lot of frustration.

When my kids were in high school (late 90s), they were required to take "keyboarding", essentially typing, with the little quirks of the keyboard thrown in. My son still uses two fingers to type, and does so faster than I have ever typed at my best. Now there are no keyboarding classes, because (I guess) they figure if you haven't learned to use a keyboard by high school, you are such a Luddite that there isn't any point in wasting time on it now.

You can still find manual typewriters at flea markets and such, usually for no more than $2 or so. My daughter bought one just to fool around with; the ribbon is pretty faint, but readable. She has used it a time or two to fill in forms. She has expressed amazement, though, that at one time, that was all there was for typing. So archaic!

Bumper sticker for the day: Headline: "Eveready Bunny arrested; charged with battery!" (groan)

Saturday, November 22, 2008


View Larger Map
Update: do you see a big blank white rectangle above? Yeah, me too. I swear this was working earlier... You can see the house if you click on Larger Map, then click on the thumbnail of the street view to make it bigger. In theory.

I figured out how to put up a picture from Google maps (street view) which is so incredible. The house above in North Miami is the house where I grew up. Not much curb appeal, huh? My parents bought it new in 1952; I haven't seen it since 1971, my parents sold it and moved to Fort Lauderdale in 1975, I think. It looked much nicer when we lived there, because Mom was a fiend about the landscaping. The trellis visible near the front door is either our original one or a replica. The awnings are different, and we fenced the back yard but not the front. Mom had lovely croton shrubs under the windows in front, and a big gardenia shrub in a tub near the trellis. These Google maps are so amazing, before this I had only looked at the roof satellite photos, but this time I selected "street view" and there I was "looking" at the house across the street. I rotated 180 degrees, and there was our house. Neat.

Bumper Sticker for today: "Change is inevitable, except from vending machines."

Friday, November 21, 2008


Blog Pictures |

I have never roller bladed. It seems I have this habit of throwing out my hands when I fall, and I've broken my left wrist twice, the first time while on ice skates. I was in the public rink at the time, with only one other skater on the ice. We were both practicing skating backwards, and we collided. I heard my wrist snap when I hit the ice, a Coley fracture.

Anyway, I have never been brave enough to try rollerblading, as I get more inflexible and less foolhardy. However, I have roller skated. When I was in elementary school, all the girls took roller skating lessons a the local rink. I've tried to find an image of what skates looked like then, but I'll have to describe them. They had 4 wheels made of hard plastic, one on each corner of the skate. In the front, set at an upward angle, was a big rubber eraser-looking thing. What you did, when you wanted to stop, was to tip your skate up in the heel and let the rubber bumper touch the wooden floor and slow you down. The stopper-thing would wear down over time, but could be replaced. You did all this on a wooden floor, they played music, etc. etc.

We were too poor to afford anything like this, so we skated on the sidewalks on our street. I was just looking at our old house in North Miami on Google maps, from the street view, and if I ever figure out how to save a view I'll post it. But it reminded me of the concrete sidewalks that ran in front of every house for blocks and blocks. To skate on these, the wheels were steel, no toe bumper, so we usually stopped by crashing into something. Unlike "real" skates, there was no shoe attached. You instead clamped the skate to your own shoes and tightened it up with a skate key (I've got a brand new pair of roller skates, you've got a brand new key...) There was a tether strap that went around your ankle, which was useful because the skates flew off all the time. No parent in their right mind in these modern times would let kids skate on public sidewalks on such dangerous contraptions, but of course we never thought of any of that. We didn't have seat belts either. When Mom drove, she had an ingrained habit of throwing out her right arm whenever she had to stop suddenly, that was meant to keep the kid in the front seat from going through the windshield. But I digress.

Skating was a lot more work than bicycle riding, what with the high amount of friction between steel wheels and cement that never let you get up to speed. Also turning was pretty much stop-and-walk until you got lined up in the new direction. But for a change of pace, skating was fun.

Oh yeah, no one ever heard of helmets either, and I sported skinned knees and forehead lumps much of the time in summer. I don't have a photos of that either.

Bumper Sticker for today: "The older you get, the better you realize you were."

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Eons ago I owned the most comfortable boots I've ever found. They were called Wellingtons, but I bought mine in a shop south of San Francisco, down the peninsula, near a racetrack. They said all the horse trainers wore them because they were so comfortable. They were black, shortish, made of thin soft calfskin so they felt broken in from the start. All I can find now are Wellingtons with those big old rubber lugged soles, the kind that wouldn't bend if you're stuck in a mud puddle, they'd just get sucked right off. So what I'm asking is if anybody knows where I might find these, or what the name of the store might be (if it even exists after all these years). Don't tell me Zappos, I've been all over their site already.

So no, the boot at the top looks nothing like the ones I am looking for. This one looks a little like the ones my son tracks home in every day. Oh how I regret not having the builder put a mud room by the garage door. My house would stay 90% cleaner. It helped a lot when they paved the road out front, so the dust was gone. But I can't ask him to stand in sock feet outside on the porch, I mean really. Inside is a bench to sit on, and a boot tray to hold them, but the landing there looks awful, it's ceramic tile (because the carpet was ruined within 2 years), and the mud ends up in the grout lines, where I scrub them out with a heavy-duty sort of toothbrush thing. X-( Complain complain.

Bumper sticker for the day: "When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane and driving against traffic."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


OK, here's a little lighter story.

One of our cats, Mac, will eat anything. It doesn't always stay down, but he eats it. Lima beans are a favorite, but with this problem. He will eat: jellybeans, honeydew melon, grapes, corn, bread, etc. The only thing he won't eat are pickles and sauerkraut. A refined palate, yes?

I was clearing out the computer room not too long ago, where in addition to the computer organizer, there was this huge desk. At the back of the knee hole I'd put a box, and under one set of drawers that didn't go clear to the floor, I had slid a plastic organizer. When I got down on hands and knees, groping around for anything that might have fallen back there, I touched something that was hard and light, but weird shaped. Pulling it out into the light, I found a well-gnawed pizza crust. Not only that, but there was also a dessicated ear of corn, complete with the little stick things in one end. Now I knew why I had an odd number of the corn holder thingies. And it didn't take too much guess work to figure out who hid back there to munch on his purloined snacks. What got me, though, was, How long had they been back there? And where else would I find his leftovers? That particular hidey-hole is no more though, because after emptying the desk, we took an axe and gave (at least) 40 whacks. It was one of those self-assembly desks, put together in the room, and there was no way it was coming out intact. We replaced it with a cabinet and now there is far more room in there to work. The desk always ended up totally covered in papers, etc., so the top was useless. And of course underneath....


Bumper Sticker: "Of course I can do it! The question is, Do I want to??"

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Here's another story about my Grandpa, one my mother told me. Her school class was going on a picnic and parents needed to sign a permission slip. She asked her dad if she could go and "of course" he said no. She went anyway, and probably would have gotten away with it, but somehow she burned her hand. She had to hide it, and it got infected, and of course she got punished. Not like today when you ground a kid. He used a belt.

When it came time to go to high school, the three sisters had to go live in town with their grandmother, because it was too far to do a daily commute from the farm to the high school in the horse and buggy. Every Saturday he would come pick them up for the weekend at the farm, and they would all be homesick "to see Mother". Sometimes he came; sometimes he didn't. No telephones, so they never knew which weekend the weather would be too bad, or he would be busy with some chore. They would stand in front of their grandmother's house, waiting and waiting, and I understand got disappointed pretty often. I wondered why he wouldn't want extra hands at the farm for work there, but then I realized most of the work, garden, canning, butchering, etc., was done in the summer when they were home. During the school year it was just a long boring trip in the wagon.

I only saw him mad a time or two, when we were there on vacation, and I remember he could cuss up a storm. I didn't even know what the words meant, but Mom would herd us kids away til he cooled off. He had a big hearty laugh, and a wonderful singing voice in church. It was only recently I found out he abused the girls. I though it was only me.

Bumper sticker for today: "If you're born again, do you have two belly buttons?"

Monday, November 17, 2008


This would have been my parents' 63rd wedding anniversary today. Sometimes I can still hear Mom's voice, when i am half awake/asleep. But of course it's well known I'm nuts.

The little photo above is of crown vetch, a local ground cover that grows like weeds and chokes out all the stuff below it, then blooms for a long time in the spring. Right now the place is covered by snow, so a little reminder of spring looks pretty good to me now.

Bumper Sticker for today: (this one is actually on my car) "Welcome to West Virginia! Frankly we don't give a damn how you did it where you come from."

Sunday, November 16, 2008


I'm halfway done with NaBloPoMo this year! Yeah! Quiet here today, just hearing the wind chimes out in the birch tree.

Sundays were different when I was a kid. We went to Sunday school at 10 am, then church at 11 and then home for lunch. That usually involved grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, or at least that's what I remember. Then it was change into junky clothes and go work on the lawn. It always needed something, like a miniature Golden Gate Bridge where the painting never stops. Yard work is year-round in Florida, and my mother was a fanatic about the yard. I hated it, the sweat, the blisters, the bugs that bit and itched, the knowledge that the same things would have to be done over. And over. Mom looked into putting down Zoysia grass, it supposedly never needs cutting once established, but also it seems it was intolerant of any use, walking, sitting, anything, so we never changed from the usual Bermuda grass. That type has long broad blades, somewhat serrated on the edges. One of our cats ate some and a single blade became stuck in his throat. He sneezed continuously for hours, until we took him to the vet, who had to sedate him to extract the single blade of grass he had sneezed up into his nasal passage. We had a humongous bill, and the cat never went outside again. Bermuda grass is a runner grass, putting out a runner that roots and grows, and so on. thus it tries to grow across cement or stone paths or flower borders, and it must be edged each time it is mowed. I thought of it as Zombie grass, blindly grasping for more! more! to eat up. here we have a weed lawn, and cut or uncut it looks like hell. An that suits me just fine, I did my time on the Lawn Torture Brigade, it's the weeds' turn now to flourish so my final karmic score, vis a vis greenery will be net zero. That's a good aim, yes?

Bumper Sticker for today: " My dog can lick your honor student."

Saturday, November 15, 2008


It is cold and windy here, with more to come, but it's hard to justify complaining when I see what LA north is going through. November is usually spring in California, with its mixed-up seasons, when the temperatures finally break and the rains come. LA residents aren't used to 100 degree temps, especially when the mayor advises power conservation. They are all in my thoughts tonight.

My day has been so exciting (not) as I overcome the mountain of laundry and get it all done. Blink! Almost all done. I feel like issuing an ultimatum, stating that anyone who drops laundry down the chute before tomorrow will get it back shredded. And crosscut too. It would be so nice to have even one night when I don't have to wait to go to bed until the current load is in the dryer. I remember when my grandmother used a wringer washer to do laundry. It had two tubs on wheels, with a mangle in between. (A mangle being rollers to squeeze the water out)(and bad news indeed to be mangled-- it essentially mean squeezed and broken up). Anyway, the way it worked was, you filled both tubs with hot water (heated on the stove most likely) and in one of them you put soap powder (store bought) or shaved bits off a big block of lye soap (homemade). You put all the underclothes in the soapy water and churned at it. I seem to remember her washer had an electric motor to turn the mangle and to stir the clothes, but I'm not sure. You then mangled the under things into the other tub, rinsed, and then mangled them fairly dry to hang on the clothes line. Then you washed the next most dirty things, shirts, aprons, dresses and so forth. You washed the really grubby stuff like overalls and dungarees last. When the rinse tub became too soapy to rinse much, well, that tub became the wash tub with a little more soap and hot water, and you drained the original wash tub and filled it up with clean water to become the rinse tub. Back and forth you'd go, with trips to the laundry line in between. If it was winter, or inclement weather, Grandma still did the washing on the back porch, but hung the clothes to dry on lines strung in the unfinished bedroom above the dining room. And when I say unfinished, I mean it had no floor, just exposed beams with loose boards over it, and a few bare light bulbs strung on wire and one window to see by. I hated going in there, I was sure I'd put my foot through the dining room ceiling or maybe fall all the way through and then there would hell to pay, because my grandfather was an unforgiving man. So all in all, you wore your clothes several days, stinky or not, and they had to be made of good stout material. But you didn't have many changes of clothes, maybe only three sets in poorer families, two for everyday to switch off when one was dirty, and a Sunday best (which wasn't all that best, since all of it was hand-me-downs unless you were the oldest).

My aunt told me about their shoes. They only had one pair apiece. Before school would start, Grandpa would go to town and buy 5 pairs of shoes, come home, and give one pair to each child. But he just guessed at the size, take it or leave it, and one year my aunt said the shoes were too small. But there was no returning, she just had to wear the shoes from last year. It struck me as odd, given what a tightwad Grandpa was, that he wouldn't bring the kids to town to have them try on the shoes to be sure he got his money's worth. But then I thought, maybe Grandpa wouldn't want the kids along -- with wife -- because maybe he had other "business" to see to that he wouldn't want disclosed.

All this happened here in West Virginia, about 90 miles south of where we live now, a modern small city with a university and medical school, research, all of that, and just miles from this bitty little town where the black population is zero. But more about that in another post.

Bumper Sticker for today: "Eve was framed"

Friday, November 14, 2008


I hope it's not this computer, but a simple overload between the 4 computers currently sharing this cable connection to the comcast server. Please.

Our first computer was a 286-16 which the guy who helped us put it together (from individual components, no less) called "blazingly fast". When modems became available, our first one was a 2400; then a 9600; and eventually a 56K modem, where the speed growth stopped. So I remember when pages with, say, something wild like graphics, would load, pixel by pixel, and I would watch with awe while it made something out of nothing at all.

Now if I have to wait so much as 3 or 4 seconds, I'm champing at the bit, wondering what is taking so long. And I am certain that the day will come when this ridiculous boot up crap that takes minutes to load so you can do something, will be a thing of the past. Soon. Please.

And don't you hate the sadist who wrote the code that has your computer out of the clear blue (oh not that) say "the software update you have downloaded requires a restart of your computer. Do you want to do it now (recommended)? In an hour? In 24 hours?" And I want to say, do this at 3:45 am when NOBODY IS USING the computer, bonehead!!

Sadism. It has to be.

I mostly use an Apple MacBook, and have come to have a deep and spiritual (nearly) appreciation for the geniuses at Apple. I wish to god that IBM had stuck with cash registers like it was ordained to do, and left programming to those who know how to write code that doesn't crash twice in every session. And then ask you "OK?" when it ISN'T OK. But typing on a laptop while it is balanced on my-- well, whatever, while I am lying down, is difficult, so I use this HP desktop crap to blog on, and for Adobe Photoshop which I got before the Mac, and for Family Tree Maker, which doesn't come in a Mac version, grrrr. And me with over 3000 names in my genealogy database. I did partition my MAC drive, with Parallels, to run Windows apps as well as Mac ones, but I don't entirely trust it with 15 years of research, you know what I mean?

So anyway, I'm having a low threshold of frustration tonight, so I'm off to take some more medication. Whee. Hope all of you are doing better.

Bumper Sticker for today: "Witches parking. All other will be toad."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Well, no, this isn't my photo. It's one of the ones that comes with Windows XP, I think. BUT I have stood in this exact spot and taken this exact angle of the Golden Gate Bridge myself, and if I ever manage to get my photos organized, there will be actual proof.

We lived in SF from 1973 to 1980, when we moved here. I really loved living there, the weather (barring a little fog) was great all year round, there were a million things to do, and we had a nice place, close, to live. The problems? Well, along with a million things to do were a million people trying to do them too. We left before the story of AIDS broke, which I understand devastated much of the cultural and artistic aspects of city life. We were told when we lived there, that World War II ruined the city, when all the servicemen saw how great the place was, and came back with their families after the war was over. I mean, if you compare SF with LA, is there any comparison? I was stunned by the cost of housing (and it's 10x higher now), the cost of boarding my horse, and the overall rudeness of the people there. I guess if you tick off a customer, it's no big deal, since in a couple of minutes another customer will arrive and buy whatever, no questions asked. It was like everyone enjoyed telling you "no", no matter how trivial whatever you wanted. And the traffic was unbelievable. Any hour, any day, 6 or 8 lanes in each direction, wall-to-wall cars. I was back there in 2000, and had to drive from SF to Danville, and if it weren't for the master designers of CA's signage on freeways, I'd probably still be there, a dessicated corpse languishing in some forgotten side road. I know I wasn't in the car 10 minutes before someone flipped me the bird. So friendly, those CA folks.

Bumper Sticker for today: "I'm diagonally parked in a parallel universe."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Once I took a writing workshop, and the teacher had writing exercises for us to do that banished that deadening of creativity brought on by a grim determination to simply write. One of the exercises was to write two pages of apologies. My reaction was "EEEEKKK!" but it turned out OK. Here is what I remember of what I wrote.

I'm sorry I cut that driver off when we both headed for the same parking spot from opposite directions. My justification was that I really needed to get to my meeting on time, but what did I know of the other driver's equally urgent need?

I'm sorry that I didn't speak up for the little geeky guy in drafting class, the one with the thick thick glasses. I know it was as bad as verbally abusing him myself. I hope he grew up to be a gazillionaire in the boom, and got out in time.

I'm sorry I worried so much about how shy I was, that I never looked around to see other shy people and reach out to them. We would both have enjoyed the gathering that way.

I'm sorry for all those times I used my sarcastic wit to put other people down, never thinking of how it would hurt once it (inevitably) got back to them. I was trying to funny, not cruel, but that's the way it turned out.

I'm sorry I never told certain people how much they meant to me, either as a teacher, a friend, or co-worker. It just always made me too self-conscious, thinking how meaningless MY little compliment would sound. Now they're gone, and I am left with only regrets.

I'm sorry I never had the sister that I wanted and needed, someone to share the burden of helping our elderly parents, instead of adding to their problems. I never felt I could express how selfish and mean-spirited she was without starting a fight that would put our parents in the middle. I'm not sorry she's gone.

I apologize to the pastor's daughter, the one who tried to counsel me not to marry the man I married anyway. I wasn't very polite to her, and she called me only at my mom's urging. This year we celebrate 39 years together, and I wish I could tell her so.

And this isn't two pages, but I apologize to both of my faithful readers for my shortcomings.

Bumper sticker: "Lord, help me be the person my psychiatrist medicates me to be."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

Of course, it used to be called Armistice Day, back when. My family has always served in the military: Mom in the Navy as a Pharmacist's Mate, Dad in the Army in the Quartermaster's Corps, Aunt Nina in the Navy, husband Norm and his brother and his father all in the Air Force during the Vietnam war. Norm's brother is now disabled, from Agent Orange, and wounded by shrapnel. Norm's Dad was air-flighted home after a heart attack in 'Nam. He had already retired from the Air Force after one stint in Vietnam, but a critical shortage of airplane mechanics had them call him back the second time. He died of metastasized skin cancer, Parkinson's disease, and was blind from macular degeneration, all of which were most likely a result of serving in the Air Force, all the toxic solvents, as well as the Agent Orange thing.

So that's two generations pretty fully represented in the military. Time was, when juvenile delinquents were given a choice between jail time or joining the Army, many chose the Army. Of course the Army didn't appreciate being the dumping ground for all sorts of anti-social misfits, sociopathic or psycopathic or whatever. And now there would be some sort of law against compromising their civil rights in such a fashion. Me, I don't have an opinion one way or the other, but it was a fairly successful alternative for immature 'wild' boys who left the service with a different slant on things. Except for Vietnam, where they tended to come home with a drug habit, malaria, PTSD, and in pieces or a box. The year I graduated from high school is the year the draft was done by lottery based on your birth date. Boys born Jan 24th, 1951 like me, were, I think, second in the draft, so a good many enlisted or traveled to Canada. Either way you sliced it, a hard hard road. Bless them all.

I know there is a certain man hereabouts who pretends to be a Vietnam vet "in intelligence", and I'm sure he isn't the only one. If real veterans find out, they can be really nasty to the pretenders, I've heard. Funny (not ha ha) when you think how the returning Vietnam vets were treated when they came home, that now the ones who didn't even share the ordeal pretend to be what they never were.

So a big thank you to all who served, either in combat or support roles, either during a war or in peace, for doing whatever you could to keep us all safe. And if you, the civilian, have never really been cognizant of the roles they played, a short visit to Arlington Cemetery on a quiet sunny day will give you something to contemplate.


Monday, November 10, 2008


Until lately, I've always had a very good memory. Almost eidetic, I could remember who stood where in a conversation, and what was said, nearly word-for-word. This is one reason it annoys me when Norm sums up a 45 minute phone conversation with his sister in 3 sentences, and then later (days later) tells me, "Didn't I tell you about... ".

Anyway, my memory now is shot to hell. I and my therapist think it occurs because I'm dissociated at the time. I've bought things I don't recognize. I've told people information that would better be kept private. Just last week I mailed Norm's sister a card, with "something" inside it, but damned if I can remember what. We had just seen her in Gassaway (she lives in Kentucky) so did she ask me for something? A photo? I don't remember hunting up a photo out of my multi-generational boxes. What else? Genealogy information? I am too embarrassed to ask her, hoping it will come to me.

When I worked, near the end I was training my replacement, who had worked at the Med Center for 25 years, but always for the same person. I had worked there 25 years, for 6 different researchers in 3 different departments. We would go to a lab, and I would say, oh, this used to be Dr. Smith's lab. And she would say "huh? Who?" and it always surprised me. You know you've worked in a place too long (or lived in a neighborhood too long) when you call places by the names of people who long ago moved on.

I have always, though, been bad at remembering names after an introduction. In the horse or dog world, I would remember the horses'(or dogs') names forever, but the owners? Zip. Go figure.

Even more perplexing is when people that I see on a daily basis call me by the wrong name. One lady I corrected 'Virginia" to the correct "Marilyn" said offhandedly, oh, I knew it was one of those states. One faculty member who called me "Joyce" all the time we worked together I never did correct. What would be the point? I always reacted to being called my sister's name, after all.

But the worst thing is when your loved ones forget who you are. My FIL, toward the end, thought I was my mother, and I felt sad, but I let it slide. He didn't recognize his grandchildren, and once asked why his daddy didn't come to visit him. My own father, placed in the same nursing home in which my mother had died some years before, put up a real fuss about wanting to see her. Finally convinced she was dead, he demanded to know why I never told him. I described the funeral, the pastor, the graveside service where one of the deacons sang "Amazing Grace". the dinner at the church afterward, NONE of which he remembered. Near the end, he forgot where he was, who I was, and why he was there. It was anguishing, even though I knew it was very common.

Please, don't let me go like that, tarnishing every ones' memories of what a funny, smart, generous, irreverent person I really am.

Today's bumper sticker: "I'm marching to a different accordion."

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Is it just Me?

I've been having trouble today with the blogger web site, just getting into the member area so I can surf. It keeps just sitting there, while the green bar at the bottom gets about two blocks and freezes. Don't you hate that? Shouldn't it say something like, I'm stuck here, could you please rescue me? then a button that says "OK". That would make the whole "OK" thing more bearable, to have the button actually do something worthwhile. So many times when it pops up, I shout "NO!! It is NOT OK!!" but it doesn't help, and annoys my family. Not as much as it does me when it drops me in the middle of Word with only half my file saved.

If you are a reader of Dooce, the original Mother of Blogdom, granted her by being the first person to be fired for what she wrote in her blog, just skip this part. Her post Dooce where she talks about her daughter wanting her dad to dress up as the prince to escort her trick-or-treating while she dressed as the princess tickled me. I once heard an interview with one of the illustrators of Sleeping Beauty who said that drawing the scenes with the prince were the very worst work he ever had to do for Disney. I think he used the word "odious". I must admit, the prince did seem insipid, while the witch was bold and dramatic. As a kid, I was never a big fan of Disney, and preferred Looney Toons (Tunes?) cartoons any day. I've been pleased with the new computer generated animations you see now. For a few years there, the original cell-by-cell artists were retired, and it was thought to be too time consuming and thus too expensive to train artists that technique, so they did that lame-o stuff where they stuck up a crude character and moved the background behind him. Very crude. I still think some of the anime` stuff is crude, and gods know the story lines are hopeless. Yet they remain very popular in the States. Weird.

Today has been yet another laundry day, it is so pervasive I'm surprised all of you can't smell the soap suds and fabric softener rising out of your keyboards. I pointed out to the Handyman Husband that the rack on which I hang shirts and stuff just beside the dryer, has two supports in imminent danger of collapse, just as one of the bars in our closet did a few months ago, but so far no remedial action taken. Who would think that clothes on hangers are so heavy? Moving mine from rack to closet takes several trips, and hanging them on the upper bar in the closet ranks up there with pull-ups, I'm sure. Pinches my fingers too.

Speaking of fingers, do you think the photo of my hands below is trite and boring? I'd like to point out that somewhere in blogdom is a page that shows "My toothbrush", which looks like any toothbrush, and the counter reads hundreds of thousands. I'd link you to it, but I can't find it; instead there are pages and pages of where people actually write about brushing their teeth, can you imagine? Makes reading about what they had for lunch absolutely riveting by comparison.

Have I bored you utterly? Probably your 30 seconds are long gone if you made it to here, so you are dismissed for today. I'll try to think of something challenging to write about tomorrow.

Today's bumper sticker: "God was my co-pilot but we crashed in the mountains and I had to eat him." (Apologies to all the religious wing nuts.)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Handy (wo)man

It's an overcast windy cold day here, and both husband and I are feeling rather poorly. I suspect we have merely caught a cold, but it sure does take the starch out of the sails. I've been trying to get my hands in better condition, so today I did a hot wax immersion thing followed by gloves that massage and heat, and my hands look great! For a while anyway. The thing is, you have to take your rings off, because being metal, they conduct heat rather too well from the hot wax. I could barely get mine off, which means they won't be going back on, either. For some reason, a ring I can't remove irks me, like a hangnail, and I can't bear to slide it on once it's off. Most of my rings are oversized, and in fact, my wedding band falls off in the shower, clang! So I can't risk it going down the sink drain, and have left it off as well. (Have you ever had to remove the sink trap to retrieve something, and seen all the yuck in there? Were you tempted to leave whatever it was that went down?) Anyway, ringless for a while.


Today's Bumper Sticker: "This is just a STUPID BUMPERSTICKER but you're still squinting to read it."

Friday, November 07, 2008

Letting it slide

Food in Lab

This is the sort of thing I looked for when I audited labs at the WVU Health Science center for OSHA and safety code violations. Do you watch NCIS? Do you remember seeing Abby, the lab tech, always has a big cup of soda/slurpee whatever that she drinks in the lab? And that Dr. Mallard sometimes is eating his lunch in the MORGUE (Ewww...)? These two violations alone would close a lab, lose Abby her job, or at the very least mean a fine and/or a visit from OSHA, if reported to them. It really is a BAD idea to eat or drink in a lab; labs have usually been in use for decades, with dozens of workers spattering who knows what where. Once you touch some chemicals, all that stands between you and death is not putting your finger in your mouth. Some chemicals will penetrate directly through unbroken skin and kill you long before help can be gotten; I used to routinely use such a chemical, called DFP, which is a protease inhibitor. I was very very careful with it, more even than with isotopes.

Anyway, I am very tired tonight, so this is a post only in so far as NaBloPoMo goes, so I don't miss a day. If it's boring, move along, nothing to see here...

Bumper sticker: "It's as bad as you think and they're out to get you."

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Moving along

I recently ran across a web site which posted "found" photos in an effort to re-unite them with their owner. At the time, I was just curious, and read the notes on successful postings, but I didn't bookmark it, and when I tried to find it, I couldn't. So here is my story:

I bought my Sony dsc 5 mpxl camera from a pawn shop here in WV. It had a memory card, but showed "no photos" other than the ones I took at the shop. But I knew the memory card should hold more space, and yet it gave me "full" when I tried to put more than 2 or 3 photos on it. So I did a download to my computer, and all was clear. The memory card held some 150 photos taken in San Francisco (we used to live there) in Nov. 2006, and featured mainly two men who were sight-seeing. I have no idea who they are, but for the sake of serendipity, here is a sample photo:

Look familiar to anyone?

New bumper sticker: I may be slow, but I'm ahead of YOU.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Tick-tock part two

As you may remember from This Post , I recently bought a wind-up chiming wall clock on ebay. It arrived in less than pristine condition, so I sent it off to the local clockman, and after a few days, got it back. He told us a bit about the clock, that it dated to around 1900, was made in Japan for export to the USA, and that prices for these clocks has not gone up like those from, say, Germany, although in some cases they are the same mechanism inside. I've never pretended to understand any part of the antique market, and I knew when I bought it, that this clock was a small unpretentious specimen. What I wanted it to do, was run. Thus the clockman, and $85 later we have a functional clock.

Except it wasn't. Functional, that is. We tried three different places to hang it, since few if any of our walls are truly plumb, and used all manner of shims to make sure the clock was level in three dimensions. But alas, it failed in the fourth dimension, and thus a call to the clockman again. He had it for a day or two, and then called us to come get it. When we asked what was wrong with it, he asked, "What side of the road do the Japanese drive on?" and Norm said, well, like the English, they drive on the left. Clockman, he say the clock will work now that it has been wound. We had tested the winding CLOCKWISE like any sane person would do, and it was tight and we opted not to force it. However, it actually winds COUNTERCLOCKWISE, which would have been a nice thing to point out when he was giving us the history of the thing. It is now hung satisfactorily on the wall, and every Sunday night I wind it, along with the chimes (which do wind clockwise, go figure), and everyone is happy. If somewhat embarrassed.

Bumper sticker for today: "Not always right but never in doubt."

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day

AT last election day has arrived. I am so sick of hearing all the rhetoric I could scream. Of course now, we'll have to listen to post-election analysis of what went right/wrong and what this will mean for the country, etc., etc., ad nauseum.

I kind of like the new voting machines we have, electronic but with a paper copy generated at the same time that you can read to verify for yourself. I remember the first time I voted, in 1972, it was those huge old mechanical machines, you stepped inside these musty old grey curtains and pulled a lever, and the curtains closed and the ballot choices were revealed. For each selection you flipped a little lever, like a flapper, and when you were all done, you hauled on this big 'ole handle again, the curtains opened, the votes tallied in the innards of the machine, and it was ready for the next voter. The only refinement this year from last, is that instead of touching the screen with your finger, they give you a little rubber gizmo that reminded me instantly of an ear syringe, used to touch the screen more accurately. I can imagine the finger active screen being a real problem, especially in our area, between crippling arthritis and industrial accidents making hands less than fully functional.

The ladies who do all the work at the voting place must have the patience of Job, repeating the directions over and over. We had to wait about 20 minutes to vote, unheard of in our little precinct, so the turn out must be huge state-wide. It always makes me feel more content when there is a good turnout, thinking of all those people exercising a choice that few people in the world have the luxury of doing. I wouldn't want it to be compulsory to vote, though, like it is in Australia, having all these voters just going through the motions without ever even getting informed about who they were voting for or against.

I sure was sorry, though, to hear abour Obama's grandmother passing today, win or lose I'm sure she would want to share it all with Barack.

Bumper sticker for today: " I'll procrastinate tomorrow."

Monday, November 03, 2008

Cleaning up

Just about this time a year ago, the three stall barn with tack room and workshop was finally finished. We had stored all the tack gear in a u-store-it place because we dismantled the old barn and tack room to re-use a good bit of the wood in it. I had fully intended to clean everything, either while it was at the storage place, or as I put it away in the new tack room. Such a dreamer! It all just got sorted a bit and then shelved. The saddles all got a new saddle stand that held three saddles, one on top of the other, free-standing, but that was it. Imagine how I felt when I took the saddle covers off (those I did wash), and saw this:



The second photo is, as you can see, the other side of the saddle, as it was only half clean at this point. It took ages. And this is the easy saddle; the other Western one is carved, not smooth leather, and every inch has to be cleaned with a toothbrush and leather cleaner, before oiling it. And it is sterling silver trimmed, and a lot of the the trim is in the form of lacing, which means being careful to not get silver polish down in the holes where you can't reach to polish it out. You'll notice I haven't put up a photo of that one. I'm still debating whether cleaning the silver is even worth the effort; no showing any more for me.

Anyway, the third saddle is a Wintec English all-purpose saddle, made of something sort of like neoprene, and you can clean it by (can you believe it?) hosing it off. Not that I have ever actually done that; it, of course, was not dirty after storage anyway.

Saddles are just intrinsically lovely, don't you think? All handmade, a dying art in the USA, good for virtually forever with care, so much skill and centuries of refinement in the structure. Not much that's made by hand like this anymore in our use-it-then-discard society.

Bumper sticker: "Come the Rapture, can I have your car?"

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Kitten update

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, we made a poorly thought-out trip to the local animal control shelter (aka the pound) and came home with two kittens, one a very small black? dark brown? female, and a mixed Siamese female. But I kept having thoughts of another cat there, and I kept calling to see if anyone had adopted her, or if she was nearing her "expiration" date. Monday I, against even my own better sense, went to the shelter and brought her home. We call her Dottie, because other than a grey smudge between her ears, she is an all-white cat with polka dots.

BC is on the top

Mellow is in the middle

This is Dottie on the bottom. Don't those ears look like satellite antenna?

So today's Bumper sticker is a button instead: "I smile because I have absolutely no idea what I am doing"

(Such a friendly clerk today at the store. Clueless, but friendly).

Saturday, November 01, 2008

it's November already!

So I'm lying here in bed, noodling on about the stitchery I'm doing, and suddenly it hits me! November! And that means, as all you NaBloPoMo followers know, that means I need to post every day for the month of November. I tried to come up with a list of topics beforehand, so I could just pick one, but they all sounded so trite or were about subjects that I knew nothing about ( which is a topic in and of itself). So I decided to write about football. I only attended one of my high school football games, at the Orange Bowl. As I recall, all our games were played at the Orange Bowl, the local schools were so huge (our school had 4000 students). The only thing I remember about the game is shouting "first and ten let's do it again!" without the slightest idea what that meant. The other main impression was seeing the dolphin jumping out of it's pool near the scoreboard. I never saw the Miami Dolphins play, but we did go to the Orange Bowl game once after I was married. It was Notre Dame and Alabama, and we rooted for Notre Dame (the quarterback was Joe Montana, I think) and we were seated in a sea of red, and not very popular, especially with the kids seated behind us. I swore then and there I'd never attend another game, the benches were excruciatingly painful and dumb me had no idea that the 15 minutes per quarter would take 45 minutes or an hour to play. Each. And I never have gone After all these years watching (reluctantly) on TV, I really can't understand why anyone would bother to go, you can see so much better on TV, it doesn't cost you the GNP of some small countries to attend, you're warm, comfortable, don't have to stand in line to use the bathroom, can make your own snacks instead of patronizing the local roach on wheels, and best of all, when the game is over, your only responsibility is to hit "off" on the remote, and not fight traffic for three hours getting home again.

But then, i don't understand NASCAR either, all those cars going round and round and round; wouldn't you think they should have pop-up targets or something to liven things up a bit? I can see a race like Le Mans, but Nascar?

Anyway, I've stretched my limited wit around something I know nothing about, so tomorrow it will be onward, onward, to a new topic.

New bumper sticker: Buckle Up! It makes it harder for the aliens to suck you out of your car.