Saturday, October 14, 2006

926 Nephew

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Update on my nephew in Orlando: He "popped a wheelie" on his motorcycle (whether it was on purpose or not is unknown), and went over backward, striking the back of his head on the pavement. Then apparently the front of the motorcycle hit his face. His girlfriend was following him in a car, so he got 911 assistance immediately. His skull is fractured, and his brain is swelling. He apparently wasn't moving too fast at the time, so he has no other injuries. The doctors are not encouraging, but that may just be preparing the family for the worst.

Naturally, being me, I asked my sister whether they had opened his skull to relieve pressure, what medications he was on, and so on. Naturally, being her, my sister didn't know.

On a different front, I have changed the comment processing so that I have to approve comments before they are posted, so if you leave a comment, you won't see it for a while. Don't worry - it will eventually appear. I did this because someone from my past has contacted me through a comment on an archived entry, and she's not sure I am who she thinks I am (I am!), so she didn't leave contact information. Naturally, I don't want to leave specifics as to my name or other identifying info in a comment either. So - If I have to approve comments before they are posted, she can give me her email address in a comment, I won't post the comment, and then we can get more specific outside the public eye.

Friday, October 13, 2006

925 Positive Vibes Requested

Friday, October 13, 2006

Please send positive thoughts in the direction of Orlando, Florida. My brother's son, the fireman, had a motorcycle accident last night and is in a coma. I have no other details at this time.

924 Things I've done...

Yeah, these things are silly, but I feel like I have to do them anyway just to "see what I get". Sorta like opening the prize package in the cracker jacks box - you know it's junk, but you have to see it anyway. And then compare it to what your buddy got.

Meme lifted from True. Items in bold are things that I've done. I took it a step farther by "explaining" some.
  1. Bought everyone in the bar a drink.
  2. Swam with wild dolphins
  3. Climbed a mountain. I think climbing Red Rock before there was a trail should count.
  4. Took a Ferrari for a test drive
  5. Rode in an airplane.
  6. Been inside the Great Pyramid.
  7. Held a tarantula.
  8. Took a candlelit bath with someone. I suspect the questions means a romantic episode. But I'm counting the time our electricity was out for almost two weeks, and we had to heat snow on a camp stove to bathe. You bet Jay and I shared a candlelit bath!
  9. Said “I love you’ and meant it.
  10. Hugged a tree.
  11. Bungee jumped.
  12. Visited Paris.
  13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.
  14. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise.
  15. Saw the Northern Lights.
  16. Went to a huge sports game.
  17. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa. Nope. But I've been to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and I've climbed to the top of the Washington Monument.
  18. Grew and ate your own vegetables.
  19. Touched an iceberg. ...But I've touched a glacier. That's the mother of icebergs....
  20. Slept under the stars.
  21. Changed a baby’s diaper.
  22. Took a trip in a hot air balloon.
  23. Watched a meteor shower.
  24. Got drunk on champagne.
  25. Gave more than you can afford to charity.
  26. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope.
  27. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment.
  28. Had a food fight.
  29. Bet on a winning horse.
  30. Asked out a stranger.
  31. Had a snowball fight.
  32. Screamed as loudly as you possibly could.
  33. Held a lamb.
  34. Saw a total eclipse.
  35. Rode a roller coaster.
  36. Hit a home run.
  37. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking.
  38. Adopted an accent for an entire day.
  39. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment.
  40. Had two hard drives for your computer.
  41. Visited all 50 states.
  42. Took care of someone who was drunk.
  43. Had amazing friends.
  44. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country.
  45. Watched wild whales.
  46. Stole a sign.
  47. Backpacked in Europe.
  48. Took a roadtrip.
  49. Went rock climbing. Not the kind with the ropes and stuff.
  50. Midnight walk on the beach. ... and the sand fleas ate us alive!
  51. Went sky diving.
  52. Visited Ireland. Wales, but not Ireland. Tsk. I guess Ireland just has a better tourist board.
  53. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love.
  54. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them.
  55. Had a stranger ask you to dance.
  56. Visited Japan. This is a sore point. I was promised a trip to Japan if I accepted the last internal transfer. They renegued.
  57. Milked a cow.
  58. Alphabetized your CDs.
  59. Pretended to be a superhero.
  60. Sang karaoke.
  61. Lounged around in bed all day.
  62. Went scuba diving.
  63. Kissed in the rain.
  64. Kissed on a first date. Not if I considered it a "first date".
  65. Played in the mud.
  66. Played in the rain. When I was teaching high school math my students used to laugh at my sailing paper boats in the gutters during summer showers.
  67. Went to a drive-in theater.
  68. Visited the Great Wall of China.
  69. Started a business.
  70. Fell in love and not had your heart broken.
  71. Toured ancient sites.
  72. Took a martial arts class.
  73. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight.
  74. Got married.
  75. Been in a movie.
  76. Crashed a party.
  77. Got divorced.
  78. Went without food for 5 days.
  79. Made cookies from scratch.
  80. Won first prize in a costume contest.
  81. Won first prize in a limbo contest.
  82. Rode a gondola in Venice.
  83. Got a tattoo.
  84. Rafted the Snake River.
  85. Was on television news programs as an “expert”.
  86. Got flowers for no reason.
  87. Performed on stage. Amateur.
  88. Have been to Las Vegas.
  89. Recorded music.
  90. Ate alligator.
  91. Had a one-night stand.
  92. Bought a house.
  93. Have been in a combat zone.
  94. Buried one/both of your parents.
  95. Looked out onto the Atlantic Ocean.
  96. Looked out onto the Pacific Ocean.
  97. Have been on a cruise ship.
  98. Spoke more than one language fluently.
  99. Performed in Rocky Horror.
  100. Raised children.
  101. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour.
  102. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over.
  103. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge.
  104. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking. Doesn't everyone sing along with Miss American Pie? People in the next car recognize it even if they can't hear it, and they join in!
  105. Had plastic surgery. Removal of a wen on my nose, and reduction of hooded eyelids. It must have been plastic surgery, 'cause insurance wouldn't pay for it.
  106. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived.
  107. Thanked God that He got you home safely.
  108. Lost over 100 pounds. Not all at once. Does it count if I lost the same ten pounds ten times?
  109. Held someone while they were having a flashback.
  110. Piloted an airplane.
  111. Petted a stingray.
  112. Broke someone’s heart.
  113. Helped an animal give birth.
  114. Won money on a T.V. game show.
  115. Broke a bone. My own, and someone else's.
  116. Went on an African photo safari.
  117. Bailed a friend out of jail.
  118. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced. They pierced four holes on my belly when they removed my gall bladder. Does that count?
  119. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol.
  120. Ate mushrooms that were gathered in the wild.
  121. Rode a horse.
  122. Had major surgery.
  123. Had a snake as a pet.
  124. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours.
  125. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states.
  126. Rode a mechanical bull
  127. Visited all 7 continents.
  128. Took a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days.
  129. Had a specific prayer answered.
  130. Ate kangaroo meat.
  131. Ate sushi.
  132. Had your picture in the newspaper.
  133. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about.
  134. Went back to school.
  135. Parasailed.
  136. Ate fried green tomatoes. I missed them this summer, because unless you grow them yourself, it's almost impossible to find green tomatoes.
  137. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey.
  138. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
  139. Skipped all your school reunions.
  140. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language.
  141. Was elected to public office.
  142. Wrote your own computer language. Not quite. I wrote a compiler.
  143. Had a true spiritual experience.
  144. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream.
  145. Had to put someone you love into hospice care.
  146. Built your own PC from parts.
  147. Changed a tire.
  148. Skinny dipped.
  149. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you.
  150. Have been friends with someone longer than 30 years.
  151. Dyed your hair.
  152. Have been a DJ.
  153. Shaved your head.
  154. Traveled to a tropical island.
  155. Caused a car accident.
  156. Faced a fear.
  157. Saved someone’s life.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

923 Ah, Youth

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I found this photo today. It's me in 1994. I was 50 years old. I'm surprised at how much I've aged in only twelve years. Now I'm starting to think "facelift" again. (No, that's thinking about again. Not having again. I've never had a facelift, although I did have excess eyelid tissue removed in about 1991 or so.)

I'm annoyed with the Blogger technical folks. There's a "search" field up there in the header. If you put "Daughter" in that field, and click on "Search This Blog", you get only the latest three posts! Even if I use advanced search and specify a wide range of dates, I get only the latest three.

Considering that I use this blog as my external memory, this is a big problem. I want to be able to look for the history of complaints about the van, for example. Or the days I put in volunteer time. Or whatever. (Luckily, I copy entries to a script file, and I can search there, but it's still annoying.)

"Help" natters about feeds. It will return results only since you've been providing feeds. I do provide an RSS feed (otherwise Bloglines wouldn't find me), and have since the beginning, so that's not the problem. Also, it used to work! It used to return a full list of hits, all the way to the beginning.

I sent an email to, and got back canned responses (two, to my one email) advising me to read the "Help". Apparently they didn't even read my email, wherein I said I am doing everything Help says I should, and have since the beginning.

So - anyone reading this who also uses Blogger - does search work for you on your blog? I've tried it on several, and I consistently get only three hits (well, except once when I searched one blog for the word "not", and got four hits. You KNOW there were more than that!) Maybe the magic number is not three entries, but one month? But then if it is a time limit, why do they offer an unlimited time span in the advanced search, and then ignore it?

Any suggestions?

Anyone willing to pick up the gauntlet and fight it out with the Google/Blogger folks?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

922 Where Are the Snakes?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I saw a road-killed snake yesterday, curled up in the center of my lane. It looked like a large blacksnake. That's when I realized that's the first wild snake I've seen in years.

Where are all the snakes?

It occurs to me that I haven't seen a snake in my front yard in three or four years. Used to be that there were always garter snakes around. I'd see them in the flower bed near the front door when I went out to the car, or in the back yard when I went to the basement door. Always slithering away from the mower when I cut the grass. Of course, I haven't done the mowing myself in five years, but I DO still walk around on the grass....

I'd often see a snake in the woods when I walked (having grown up on a mountain with rattlesnakes and copperheads galore, I tend to be very conscious of the places snakes like, movements in the leaves, the smell of them (copperheads smell like cucumbers, a large rattler has a musky tangy smell, possibly the urine, or the musk they lay for marking trails...)). I'd usually see at least one or two snakes, large or small, run over somewhere on the roads every month, spring through fall. In the spring, there'd be shed snakeskins under the bushes, and I'd drape them over tree branches. Birds collected them to weave into their nests.

Not lately.

Turtles are missing, too.

I used to often see turtles crossing the roads in the spring, when they'd be looking for mates and for places to lay eggs. It used to be so common that I carried a snowshovel in my car so I could help big snappers across before they got hit. You'd see a lot of squashed turtles on the road.

One time, a few years ago, right out here where my street meets the highway, I saw a turtle crossing in the middle of my lane. A big female box turtle. I pulled over, and was running back down the road to move her across, when a car came from the other direction, and the S.O.B. actually crossed the center line to hit her. I was furious. When I realized he was trying to hit her on purpose, I actually wished she'd have a very hard shell and flip his car. Then I wished I had a gun. Then I cried. I intensely dislike people like that. Someone should run THEM down.

Anyway, I haven't seen a turtle on the road, live or dead, in a long time. I've been to ponds where painted turtles live, and they're still there, but they seem to be fewer. And smaller.

Where have they all gone?

Secondary question - if the snakes are scarce, why aren't there more crickets and mice? Ten years ago we fought a constant battle in this house against mice and crickets, and in the yard against moles. We appreciated the assistance of the garter snakes and the blacksnakes in our war. (Jay had seriously suggested catching a blacksnake and setting it loose in the basement, but dropped the idea when I pointed out that the snake would knock down all the insulation in the basement ceiling. Otherwise I sorta liked the idea, too.)

We've got fewer mice and crickets. I had only one cricket in the house this year.

So which disappeared first - the prey or the hunter?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

921 First Week

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Every year I am grateful when the first week of October passes with no personal disasters. Jay's back gave out completely in the first week of October. His head-on automobile accident was in the first week of October. Notice that he was being sued for that accident (three million!) came in the first week of the next October. His first seizure. The MRI that showed his first relapse. The first signs of loss of his left side. The start of the final infection. Every year, the first week of October, something awful happened. Yeah, awful things happened other times, too, but there was always something really bad the first week in October.

Since he's been gone, there have been five more Octobers. A few of them have had minor disasters (like last October, the beginning of the end with Roman, I just didn't know it at the time), but nothing I couldn't recover from. No total disasters.

That's good. Sigh of relief.

I don't know how long it will be before I can consider the first week of October as just another week.

Monday, October 09, 2006

920 Too Many Words

Monday, October 9, 2006

My back was giving me trouble again today, causing some intense stomach cramps, so I didn't do much of anything except read and nap. I've got to stop falling asleep on my stomach at night. If I fall asleep reading in bed, it bends my back the wrong way.


I read a lot of blogs (I use, so it's easy), and one thing that impresses me is how some people can say so much in so few words. Paint entire pictures in one sentence.

I can't do that. I'm too wordy. Maybe I should cut, weed, trim, before hitting "post".

That's if I want to write well. I'm not sure that's what I want, though.

I write the way I speak, and yeah, I do tend to be a bit wordy when speaking. I don't talk much, I tend to be too quiet, but when I do talk, well, Daughter often rolls her eyes.

So I thought about that a while. Why so wordy?

Because I don't like to be misunderstood.

I want people to fully understand what I'm saying.

Many times in the past I've gotten into big trouble when someone misquoted me, or attributed untrue motives to me.

When other writers paint pictures in one sentence, I bring my own beliefs and prejudices to the interpretation. The picture is generated by my mind, not really by theirs. It may or may not look anything like what they meant to convey.

Artists don't seem to mind this - that people may bring different understandings.

I guess I'm not an artist. I'd rather be boring and understood than exciting and misunderstood.

So there.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

919 Touring Houses

Sunday, October 8, 2006

Today I toured these buildings:

Photos and text are from the brochure provided to the tour participants by Hudson River Heritage.

I discovered that the Coykendall Coach House is the home of the Coach House Players, the local amateur theater group. In 1970, I joined the group, worked on scenery for a play, and then Ex#1 informed me we were moving to St. Louis. I never even got to see that play. I've been thinking about rejoining, so today I did! I mentioned that I wanted to paint scenery, hammer nails, sew costumes, and learn lighting. The guy I talked to was very happy to hear that. Most people who join want to be on stage. I don't.

The one I wanted to see most was the Cordts Mansion. It's a lot bigger than it looks in the photo - it extends quite a bit back from the front. Back in about 1994 or 1995, two young men had purchased it, planning to open a B&B. It was in very bad shape then - peeling wallpaper and paint, dangerous staircase, so on. But they were enthusiastic about its potential, and had made a good start on the ground floor. It had been included on a Victorian house tour Jay and I went on then.

So I was looking forward to see what had been done with it.

I don't know what the young men accomplished. I heard that it had in fact been a B&B for a short time. There are several parlors, and something like ten large bedrooms. The current owner had purchased it in 2001, and has done a lot of interior decorating.

The owner is apparently fabulously wealthy, owns plantations and homes all over, spends only a few weeks a year in this house. He has furnished the house with antiques, mostly Renaissance Revival, a lot of heavy baroque, some Chinese. Many huge pieces. There was even a full-sized copy of David (with fig leaf). Most of it is pretty fantastic, but the overall effect is overwhelmingly excessive. It wasn't one or two spectacular pieces in a room with more subdued supporting pieces - everything was spectacular. Just too much too much. Several of the bedrooms have a color scheme, but a bit overdone. The rose bedroom, for example, is too much pink. Everywhere, everything. The only thing in the room that wasn't some shade of rose was a beige lamp, which stuck out like a sore thumb. The blue bedroom was downright depressing.

A lesson in decorating.

The Griffiths Thompson House was the most beautiful inside. Again it was full of antiques, but more livable pieces, lighter, warmer, cosier.

In most of the houses, the owners were not there. Instead, there were Heritage docents. Two of the houses did have owners present, and I had to giggle. You know Mrs. Bucket of Keeping Up Appearances? Heh heh. Never heard so much syncophantic name-dropping and boot-licking in my life. I think some people went home dreaming of being invited to tea at the manor house.