Saturday, May 05, 2007

1232 Moroccan

Friday, May 5, 2007

[Later edit - corrected spelling, added dancer's links.]

Lots of calls and paperwork today. Was forced to tell BOA that Jay was no longer living. Didn't tell them exactly how long I've been using credit cards still in his name. Heck, I'm making the payments, aren't I?

Moroccan dinner and belly dancers at Rive Gauche in uptown Kingston. FirstWoman and me. Dancers were Ayleeza and Barushka, both of whom I like. Julian on drums.

Got home late. Still have to hem a dress, and pack for tomorrow's trip to Rakkasah Spring Caravan tomorrow. Spending Sunday with The Man.


Friday, May 04, 2007

1231 Books

Friday, May 4, 2007

Got this off Roba's blog, who got it from Forsoothsayer’s blog, who got it from CairoGal.

Instructions: Look at the list of books below.
*Bold the ones you’ve read
*Italicize the ones you want to read
*Leave the ones that you aren’t interested in alone.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees(Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie(Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (George Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True(Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Bible (well, most of it)
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolsoy)
64. Interview With A Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Helen Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth(Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Hey! You left out Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance!

Just because a book is in bold doesn't mean I remember anything about it. It does mean there's probably a copy of the book in the house somewhere.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

1230 What Am I?

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Every once in a while someone will ask what religion I am.

I guess I'm technically not Christian, although a Puritan rearing tends to stick with you a while. Roman, when asked, would answer, "Well, I'm Jewish. She's ... uh ... something else." When I have to fill out a form in, say, a hospital or something, I check "none", because I don't want anyone in a collar visiting me. (They do anyway.) Or I'll write in "Pagan" just for the reaction it gets.

It's not that I have no beliefs - I do, and they are very strong. They just don't seem to fit any organized school. It's all mine, born of personal experience and revelation, and I believe it's as close to truth as I can get. It doesn't have a name. It's simple. Any other system of belief out there that does have a name seems to attempt to get too detailed, tries to explain everything, tries to make people feel good, tries to make it easy, and ends up too human.

Some things from named systems do fit into my system, such as
  • The integration of Naturalistic Pantheism
  • The philosophy of Spinoza
  • The ethics of Taoism
  • The cycles and striving for enlightenment of Buddhism
  • The reverence and care of Zoroastrianism
  • The belief in the power of belief in Wicca
  • The "God within", or "Inner Light", of the Quakers
But in each of those philosophies or disciplines, there is much that I don't accept, especially as pertains to the definition of "God", or the origins of good and evil, or the purpose of life, so I can't call myself an adherent of any. "Adherent", by the way, the very concept of "adhering to", is anathema to me anyway.

I suppose I've written about this topic before. I didn't go back and look. It might be different from what I've said before, but that's not evidence of conflict, only growth. And that's ok. That's me. That's what's supposed to happen.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

1229 The Three Mensaketeers


I'm never happy with photos of me. "They" say that you should thrust your head forward at the camera, to thin your face and make your neck look longer and smoother. Point a camera at me, and I pull my head back and tuck my chin. Bleck.

1228 Misery at the Museum

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

I went to the museum today. I'm getting busier, so I wanted to get as much done with membership today as I possibly could, so maybe I wouldn't have to go in again next week.

No such luck.

Thirty-three renewals had come in in April, so I had to send out thirty-three membership packets (and each of the eight-ish different levels get different packet contents). Also, I'd need to send out the reminders to those who need to renew in May. I figured it would take about four hours to do both, if nothing went wrong.

The data base went wrong. I could "find" last month's renewals, the count came to 33, but when I tried to print the address labels, the count shot to 133. That list was full of duplicates and bogus records. I spent an hour trying various combinations of requests, and gave up.

So then I decided to just do the reminders for May. That count came to 52! Fifty-two address labels to print and stick on envelopes, 52 copies of the "time to renew" letter, 52 copies of the membership form, 52 labels to print and stick on forms, 52 envelopes to stuff, 52 stamps to stick on, 52 flaps to lick and seal. Ack! Three hours!

So, I still have to do the renewals from last month, and now it looks like I'm going to have 50+ renewal checks and new members to process in June!

When I accepted this job and did the processing for February and March with the prior volunteer, we had all of 18 memberships in February, and 20 in March. It didn't look like that big a job.

Mother is not happy. Now I know why the previous volunteer wanted to get the job turned over to me before spring.

Russ is going to look at the data base and see if he can figure out what's wrong.

And I'm going to have to go in before the middle of next week to try again. The folks who sent in their checks in April will be very unhappy if they don't have their membership cards before the Shad Festival, but, well, I tried.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

1227 WiFi Witchery

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Somehow I ended up still potting around the house at 5 am "last night". No problem. An advantage of retirement is that you can sleep in any time you want.

...Unless RSVP (Retired and Seniors' Volunteer Program) has your phone number.

They called at 10 am, need people to work at a children's day at the library in June. I said ok.

Then, on my way back to bed, that overnighted check arrived.

By then I was wide awake. Sigh.

I met Roman for an early dinner before his class, at a restaurant across the street from Ulster CCC. He suggested that I bring my laptop, because the classrooms have WiFi, and we could transfer the photos quickly (we both have dialup at home). I told him my WiFi hasn't worked for the past few weeks, but he said bring it anyway, maybe he could figure it out.

After dinner we went to his classroom, and the danged thing connected right up. No problem. It didn't work in the village up the road that has village-wide free WiFI, it didn't work in Piper's office, and it didn't work in Office Max, but it worked tonight at UCCC, when there was someone available to help me?

I don't understand.

When his class started I moved to the lounge and watched all the online videos I can't watch at home and downloaded some heavy-duty stuff. He visited during the mid-evening class break to make sure everything was still working, and then I left.

Ok, now I have to test this. On the way home, I went to that village with the free WiFi. Hardware found the signal, but "cannot establish a connection to the internet". Same problem as before.


I'll take it with me to NJ this weekend. If it doesn't work in the hotel, I'll scream.

1226 Wean the Brat!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Montel is on (I like him - he's a nice guy - not bad to look at, either) and the topic is different theories of child raising.

There's a woman on who is a breast feeding bigot. "We're mammals, like cows and cats, that's what we're designed to do" etc. Fine. I agree. However, she breastfeeds until the child decides to stop, like four years or more. That's where she and I part ways.

Even a cow or a cat is smart enough to wean the babies as soon as they can handle adult food. I remember Suzy and her kittens. The five kittens, almost as big as she was by then, would gang up on her, chase her down, and hold her down to nurse. So Suzy started jumping up on the kitchen counter where the kittens couldn't get to her. I felt sorry for her, and let her stay there.

Baby mammals will nurse forever if you let them. It's an adult responsibility to wean them to adult food when it's appropriate.

That woman isn't as smart as my cat.

(I nursed Daughter for 10 months. She fought weaning tooth and nail, but I did my duty and switched her to carrots.)

1225 Up and Down Monday

Monday, April 30, 2007

Yeah, ok, it's after 2 am on Tuesday, but I'm reporting Monday.

I was awakened by a call from Piper this morning. He (get this!) wanted to know how the date went last Wednesday. Duh? Well, he's been through the whole Roman mess and the online dating fiasco with me, so the idea of someone I actually want to see again must be fascinating to him. I have to be careful not to give him the guy's name, or he'll have him investigated. (He did that once before, and I could have killed him.)

We didn't talk business, so later I remembered that he had called to have a check cut for me, and I haven't received it yet, ten days later, so I stopped in his office to ask him to put a stop on it and have another issued. It will be overnighted to me. We talked for a while, then I went to the bank to deposit some checks, and found that my balance had dropped dangerously low. Thank goodness for overnight delivery!

Some minor shopping, and then a search for a ph balancer. Male readers, please skip the next paragraph.

Because I eat a lot of yogurt, and because my estrogen is low, my ph is off. Normally it isn't a problem, in fact it's good. I haven't had so much as a yeast infection in more than 20 years. But close proximity to testosterone wreaks havoc. A year ago I found a balancing cream that works wonders. Today I went to three pharmacies, and nobody had it. I couldn't even find a space on the shelf where it should have been. I was afraid they'd stopped making it. The pharmacists didn't know what I was talking about. I freaked. Sorta like Seinfeld's Elaine when they stopped making the sponge. Made for a bad mood.

Then I went to dinner with Angie, Zig, and Roman at a new Indian restaurant, Kismat, near Vassar, in Poughkeepsie. Today was Roman's last day at his day job. He has retired. (He'll still teach some evening classes.) I gave him a sentimental card and a gift.

Anyway, driving to Pok, I had got caught in a traffic jam caused by an accident, and had to use a route that took me through the city. Then, walking down the street looking for the restaurant, I twisted my right ankle - the one with the messed up nerves. I worry about injuring that ankle because I can't feel the real pain, the pain where an injury is, so I can keep walking on it and really mess it up. All during dinner I had periodic bolts of lightening shooting up my leg.

That didn't help the mood.

Roman was parked right outside the restaurant, and I was parked on a side street, so I walked him to his car, then set off for my own. He passed me and then stopped at the corner to offer me a ride to my car. There were people, Vassar students, standing on the corner waiting to cross. When I got to Roman's car, I opened the passenger door and said "Fifty dollars. A thousand for 'round the world."

I refused his offer of a ride, waved vaguely, "My car's just there", and he left. Actually, it was a block and a half down, and I'd forgotten about my ankle. The one I have to use on the accelerator.

That didn't help the mood, either.

Going through East Park on the way home, I noticed a huge new pharmacy, and on a hunch, I stopped in. They had it! I'd have liked to pull an Elaine, but I got smacked by short expiration dates, so I bought only two boxes.

Mood went up a jot.

When I got home, I remembered that I had forgotten to remind Roman that I wanted copies of the pictures he took Saturday, so I called him. We had a nice chat, during which I mentioned that I'd received the "Mommy Letter" for the Washington gathering, and the file was in a format I couldn't open, so he said to send it to him and he'd translate it. Which he did, within minutes. We also decided to meet for dinner before his class tomorrow.

Mood went up a bit more.

Then The Man called. He was driving to Virginia, for a meeting tomorrow. We talked for more than an hour. He's going to meet me at Rakkasah Spring Caravan next Sunday.

Mood shot up.

No more pain in the leg - there's only slight swelling below the ankle bone.

I'm happy.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

1224 Blink?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

At Spring Plowing.

I was walking toward the barns, and two rather nice-looking gray-haired men were walking away from the barns. As we approached on the road, the one on the left was looking at me, straight into my eyes. As we neared, he gave me a big smile. I smiled back. What the heck. He was pretty. And then I gave him a slow blink just as we passed.

Overheard from behind me:
"Did you see that?"
"See what?"
"She blinked at me."
"She winked at you?"
"No, she blinked at me!"
"She blinked? What does that mean?"
"I'm not sure...."

They had stopped. I kept walking.

Yeah, ok, I flirt. I just ain't got no followthrough.


1223 Yeah, Nature Recovers

Sunday, April 29, 2007

I've been reading and hearing a lot lately about bees disappearing. I was reminded again when I walked out the door this morning and passed the rhododendron. At this time of year the bush usually sounds like a woodworking factory, all the buzzing of bees in the blossoms. It was buzzing this morning, but at low volume. I counted. Only seven bees. There should be fifty times that.

So, yeah, there's something going on.

I'd been hearing for a long time about a parasite that was killing off hives, but there's a new theory, a complication, that's worse. Some are blaming people who grow genetically modified or patented crops, who don't want "wild" bees spreading random pollen through their crops, so they are using pesticide to specifically target bees. They don't feel guilty about it because they are merely protecting their crops.

No one raindrop ever feels responsible for the flood.

At one extreme are the doom-and-gloom people who say that if the bees die, we die. No more fruits and vegetables. In the middle are the people who shrug and say, oh, well, there's still grains. This morning on NPR I heard the other extreme, the cycle theory, that bee populations naturally fall periodically, that records from the 19th century show that farmers were worried about bees disappearing. They called it "the disappearing disease". And therefore there's nothing to worry about.

The "natural cycle" theory is also used by people who want to shrug off global warming. "Nature will correct. Nature will recover. She always has and she always will."

Uh, yeah. But do they forget that Nature doesn't much care about us as a species? That sometimes, even left on her own, her recoveries are cataclysmic? She'll go on, the Earth will go on, but possibly in a quite different mix. We are not that important to Nature. Given the almost overwhelming success of pathogens, I'm not sure we're all that important to God, either. Don't forget they're His creations, too. Maybe His favored pets. Maybe we're pet food, and we don't realize it. Gotta keep the "herd" (us) contented.

Well, that's not where I was headed. Where was I - oh, yeah, Nature recovering from cycles that disturb us.

We have to remember that in the past, human influence on Nature didn't tip any balances. She did her thing without interference. That's the way she was set up. Things got to a certain point, and swoop! they came around again to balance. Nothing in the past several thousand years (when was that last ice age?) has gone beyond a tipping point.

Human influence and interference can quite possibly push Nature past a tipping point too quickly for her to react, to recover naturally.

And THEN we die.

1222 Spring Plowing

Sunday, April 29, 2007

I went to Spring Plowing today, for the first time in several years. I was so looking forward to it, and I was so disappointed. I had invited some people to go with me, but none could make it ("Spring Plowing? Uh, no, I gotta clean out my closets...").

The last time I went it was so much fun, and so beautiful. There were at least five ox teams, six or more mule teams, and more than ten or twelve draft horse teams. They ranged from a team of six glorious long-maned flash-tailed high-prancing Friesians in glossy brass-mounted harness, driven by a proud young man, to a plodding flop-eared mixed-breed in dull cracked and mended leather, with a sour old farmer.

The old men are the ones to watch, especially if they have a mule; in the competitions, they stomp the fancies into the ground every time. It's wonderful to watch an old animal work. They know exactly what they're doing. One year a farmer started an old mule out on a furrow, then walked away, and the mule plowed a perfect straight furrow all by himself.

Today, I knew it was going to be different. From the road I could see only five trailers.

There was one pair of oxen, just standing around to be petted. Maybe two mule pairs, and maybe four teams of draft horses. No competitions, just demonstrations, I guess. I stayed two hours, ate a hot dog, took a few photos, and then a cold wind came up and I left.

I wonder what happened? Why was it so different? I may have to wait for the county fair for my draft beasty fix.


Lesson for the day:

"Ox" (plural "oxen") refers to any bovine that's trained for working. It has nothing to do with breed, gender, or breeding capability. Bettcha didn't know that.