Saturday, November 24, 2007

1568 The only kind of tags I like are on new clothes.

Saturday, November 25, 2007

The ever popular "Seven Random and or Weird Things About Me" meme. I was tagged by The Queen.

The Rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. Share seven random things about yourself
3. Tag seven random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs
4. Let each person know they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs

Ok, Rule #1 - done.
Rule #2 - really difficult. I get the impression it's supposed to be stuff that's not already somewhere in the blog, and, uh, I can't think of much of anything I haven't already said. I even did that "Gazillion Things You don't Know About Me " a while ago (and which I can't find now - Blogger search doesn't seem to go back past the first of this year). Also, what does "random" mean in this context? I'm a mathematician and computer programmer, so I figure if it comes out of my head, it isn't random.

Enough complaining. Try, at least.

Seven Random Things About Me (that I don't think I've said yet):

1. I never shave anywhere unless I think it's gonna be seen or touched, and even then there's limits (I've been known to strike deals with doctors on delivery tables). Ain't no way anybody is going to get anywhere near me with hot wax!

2. Daughter says I always embarrass her somehow when we go shopping together. (One time she tried to embarrass me by picking up a thong, in front of two clerks and several other shoppers, and saying "Here, Mom, you should try these." I got her back. "Nope. Won't work. There's no place to stick the Poise pad." All the other women cracked up. Daughter crawled under the counter.)

3. I don't have a favorite color. If you ask me what my favorite color is, I'll tell you what I like today, but tomorrow will be different. That makes home decorating difficult.

4. I have an extremely high libido, which doesn't get nearly enough exercise, because I also have high standards. And morals. Or something. At least I hope that's why not.... Hmmm. Maybe it has something to do with #1.

5. I find it very difficult to throw anything out. Might need it sometime, you know?

6. I like messy food. I much prefer eating with my hands to using utensils. When I cook a steak for myself at home, alone, I pick it up in my hands, whole, and tear off chunks with my teeth. I might even growl a little. Sometimes in restaurants I forget, and growl a little at my dinner companion.

7. I've had my hair professionally cut exactly three times in my adult life (last time was in 1975), and each time I swore "Never again!"

Well, I did it. Seven random "so what"s.

Hey! I've got another one! I've never played "Truth or Dare"!

Rule #3 and 4 are about tagging others. I don't want to, so I won't. If you want to volunteer, have at it. I dare you.

1567 Are You Offering?

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

1566 Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Daughter and SIL are hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, first one in their new home, but for a variety of reasons they're doing it tomorrow, not today. So today, it's me, Jasper, and Miss Thunderfoot. Tomorrow morning I head to central NJ.

When I got up this morning, I opened the refrigerator for my usual yogurt breakfast, and discovered I'm out of yogurt. Hmmmm. What to eat? I've got all kinds of cold cereals, eggs, grits, several types of oatmeal, bread and jelly, scones, hash browns, and even some frozen breakfast "dinners". But I still felt deprived because I didn't have my yogurt. Pout pout.

Then I realized how spoiled I am.

Today, people all over this overfed, over-commercialized, self-satisfied country will be consuming individually enough food to feed an entire family throughout most of the rest of the world, and giving thanks for the ability to do so. Even in this country, there will be people who will go hungry today.

I was in my twenties through the hippie era, Woodstock, Viet Nam anti-war marches, sit-ins, all the turmoil, and I was not a part of any of it. I was busy learning how to be a corporate clone. Now, as I get older, I'm getting more stubborn and rebellious. (Little symbolic rebellions - don't want to draw attention....) I decided that in solidarity with those less fortunate, I'll fast today.

Big deal. I often don't eat for a day or so, but I do it by choice (well, not actually choice - I forget to eat, but the fact that I don't feel hungry says something). Others feel hunger but have no choice.

So, I'm thankful that it is a choice. I'm thankful for my friends, for the fact that my Daughter counts me among her friends, for my long-distance lover, for having two guys on the back burner who would like to be lovers (pretty damn good for a little old lady!), for an economy that allows me a life of leisure, and a slew of other harder-to-pin-down advantages.

But at the moment, I'm thankful that the grocery store will be open tomorrow, and I can buy yogurt.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

1565 The Ghost

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

In the previous post I mentioned seeing a ghost at that fantasy B&B.

The driveway leading to the hotel wound through bits of woods and stone-walled fields. The second day of our stay, Daughter and I had gone to visit a nearby ancient burial chamber (I think it was this one -

On the way back to the B&B, while coming up the drive, I saw a woman ahead, in a field to our right. As we got closer, I saw her crossing a stile in the rock wall. I slowed the car, and she crossed the road in front of us, and went into the field on the left, through another stile.

She was an older woman, very small and slight in build, wearing a gray-brown tweed walking suit consisting of a jacket and long A-line skirt, a brown knit tam-shaped hat, and boots. White hair, and the lightest fairest skin I have ever seen. As she passed in front of the car, she turned and looked straight at me and smiled. Her eyes were the most beautiful I've ever seen. After 20 years I still remember them. They were blue, light blue, mesmerizing blue, the blue of flowers and skies, and I couldn't look away from them until she turned away.

Her beauty fascinated me, so when we got to the hotel, I asked the locals at the desk who she could be. It was a small village. People tend to know everyone, but no one had any idea who she might be. I mentioned that she had come through a stile, and that got a frown - "there are no stiles in those walls. Not any more, anyway."

Later, Daughter and I went into town for dinner, and on the way down the drive, I looked for the stile. There was none. I turned around and went back to look again. No stiles. Daughter asked why I was retracing the drive, and I said I was looking for the stile.
"What stile?"
"The stile that woman came through when we came back from the chamber."
"What woman?"
Daughter had seen no woman.
There was no stile.

Either I'd seen a ghost, or I'd experienced a fold in time.

I still remember the eyes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

1564 Trip Photos 4 (of 4)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

And now, the pièce de résistance, our B&B on the Isle of Anglesey, Wales.

All together now -


That was certainly my reaction when we came around the bend in the long tree-lined drive and saw it.

It looked inside exactly as one would expect from the exterior. Huge curved staircases, carved dark paneling, fireplaces, crystal chandeliers, palms in Chinese pots. Our room had a high four-poster bed with canopy and velvet and lace drapery all around for me, and they had set up a smaller bed for Daughter, WITH a "princess" half-canopy. In the mornings, there was a discreet knock on the door, and a maid came in with a huge English breakfast, which was served in bed. That was the "wakeup call".

Our hotel in Kensington had been nice but tiny - five rooms total in a converted white marble townhouse. Then there was the boat, and then on our wanders from Hadrian's Wall to Roman ruins to castles in Wales we'd had no reservations, had simply knocked on doors of private homes with B&B signs out front. This was a reservation, made by our travel agent before we'd left the US, and it was listed as a B&B, so ... it was a shock.

This is where I saw the ghost.

That's for another post.

1563 Trip Photos 3

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

More photos from our narrowboat adventure on the Grand Union Canal, England, 1988.

Daughter operating a lock. Note the "treads" on the ground to the left of her feet. They're for traction in pushing the gates open. This particular lock had quite a drop.

Pleasant scenery along the way. If it had been getting dark, and we had tied up there, we probably would have been invited in for tea.

This was a frequent scene at the locks. It's a good thing that Daughter (in red) was not afraid of large curious beasts.

After turning the boat in, we rented a car and wandered around England, headed in the general direction of The Isle of Anglesey, in the northwestern part of Wales. My ancesters had been slate and coal miners, so we visited a slate mine. Also a wool mill, several parks, a zoo (where I overheard a child ask her mother "Is that a bald eagle?" and the mother replied, "Yes. Never understood what the Americans saw in it." "It" was a vulture!), and every dolmen and castle ruin along the way.

I fell wildly madly in love with thatched roofs. Some of them are true works of art.

Traveling through Snowdonia National Park. The sheep are everywhere, and loud. Stereophonic sheep. At one point we attempted to climb a hill to look at the heather, but although it looks like grass, it's more like a wet sponge out there.

Snowdonia. I didn't lighten the photos up because that's the way it really was. Clouds were low and constant. It felt like you could wring water out of the air. The sogginess of the turf was due to mist, fog, clouds perpetually condensing on the mountains. Some of it ran down in little streams, but mostly it was a constant seep down through the turf.

A road sign.

In one of the castle ruins.

1562 Smile

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Man always makes me laugh. I hope he doesn't mind my writing this, but I want to preserve the him-isms. I just hope I can do them justice.

We were on the phone today, and I was telling him that I had decided to no longer keep giving a certain friend second chances, that the last time she pulled this stunt I'd decided the next time was the end, and she has blown it now.

He said, "She ran into your tomato."
And he told me the tomato story.

His little brother came home from school one day and told their mother that the teacher was going to throw something at them. "What's she going to throw at you?"
"Yeah. She said that if we didn't settle down, she was going to throw an old tomato at us."
"An old tomato?"
(An ultimatum.)
The image of her running into my tomato is just too funny.

One day when he was talking about a tense situation at work, he said he had to "get his ducks in a bag." A friend of his had used the phrase once, and it amused him so much, he adopted it in lieu of "ducks in a line". The mental image of the lumpy bag is funny, but even funnier is the quacking sounds coming from the bag. Next time I have to get my ducks in a row, I'll put them in a bag.

"How's your cold?"
"Lots better. I'm just a pony."
"A pony?"
"Yeah, you know, pony. A little horse."

Friends like this are valuable.

Later: I just realized he and I are starting to speak in code. "Perhaps I was a pony, so my friend didn't hear me well, and that's why she ignored my old tomato and didn't get her ducks in the bag."

Makes sense to us....

Monday, November 19, 2007

1561 Trip Photos 2

Sunday, November 19, 2007

A narrow section of the Grand Union Canal. Under a bridge. Bridges were sneaky. We'd head for the dead center of the span, and STILL manage to hit or scrape the side.

Coming up on a town. Bigger towns excited us, because we might be able to do some laundry, buy food, and mail some postcards. But ONLY if we could cash some travelers' checks.

This was pre-ATM days. We had taken travelers' checks, and then discovered they were very inconvenient, because no one in the smaller villages would take them, because "the bank came" only one day a week, and if a shop cashed a travelers' check for us, and had to give us too much change, then there wasn't enough cash left in the village for the village to operate until the bank came again. Wow.

Over and over we kept missing the bank visits. At one point, we had a small fortune in useless travelers' checks, and we were counting coins and eating cheap, trying to stretch out what little cash we had.

Going through a lock. Daughter on the right. Locks were easy and fun. Boats tended to "pile up" at the locks, waiting to go through, and everybody helped everybody else.

One thing that bugged me - if anyone jumped line, went out of turn, it was a 100% certainty it was American tourists. For some reason, most of the people we met, local and other visitors, concluded that we were Canadian (later we were pegged as Welsh), and after exposure to other loud and rude American tourists, we let them believe it.

1560 Trip Photos

Monday, November 19, 2007

I've been putting a selection of old photos on Flickr. Last night and this morning I scanned and uploaded some pictures from a trip to England and Wales that Daughter and I took in the summer of 1988 (or 1987, I forget...). I think maybe I'll start including more photos in entries. Here's the first:
Daughter and I spent the first week in London. The above photo was taken from a Thames tour boat, as we passed under the bridge.

Our B&B was in Kensington, where there are beautiful houses, ponds, and gardens.
I'm not certain, but I think the above may have been at Kensington Palace. That's Daughter, at 11 or 12. I'm under orders not to put her face in this blog, but no one would recognize her from this shot, so I think I'm safe. Besides, hey, I'm the Mommy!

The next week, we rented a canal boat, a "narrowboat", and spent somewhere between 10 days and two weeks, I forget, on the Grand Union (no relationship to the grocery store) Canal. This was the interior of our boat, the Naiad, looking from the front toward the back:
The table dropped down to make a double bed, and to the right in the back you can see two bunks. There was a gas stove-top and oven, an electric refrigerator, electric heater, a sink, and a bathroom with shower. Except that the rear bunks were a bit damp (so we used the double bed) it was quite comfortable, but a LOT of work.

You could moor at night anywhere you wanted along the canal. Just pull over and pound in stakes. We soon learned to avoid spending the night near sheep. Man, those things are LOUD, and they keep it up all night.

We had to clean out the screws every morning. You'd open a hatch in the back deck, and reach way down in there, into cold dark muddy water, and feel around for fishing line and weeds wrapped around the axle and screws, and that was the absolute worst job, because you couldn't see what was there, the weeds were squishy and could have any kind of beasty living in it, and the fishing line could include hooks. But it had to be done.

We had to keep an eye on the fuel and water, because the places you could refill (DIY!) were few and far between. And the motor had to run for a certain amount of time to fully charge the battery, or we wouldn't have lights or heat at night, which meant that even if it was pouring rain, you had to be out there at the tiller and controls.

The stern of our boat, moored. Cows are a lot quieter than sheep. That red bar just above the first "A" in Naiad is the tiller, and those are stool seats on either side. The boat is only 7 feet wide, and very long, and learning to steer the thing is an adventure. The canals are wide in some places, and narrow in others, and turning around is a horror.

There are a lot of locks, but the locks were easy and fun. However, there are also a lot of bigger hills, and therefore tunnels. Tunnels were scary. They were perfectly round, concrete, 15 feet in diameter, and half that is water, so a taller person standing on deck had to duck to avoid bumping his head. We were extremely conscious of all that earth above us. They were coal-mine dark. If the tunnel was short and straight, so you could see the light at the end of the tunnel, and if no other narrowboats were coming from the other direction, then it wasn't so bad. But at least one tunnel we went through was over two miles, with a curve in the middle, so you couldn't see the end. AND, in that tunnel we met up with several other boats. Sound is magnified and echos, and that adds to the weirdness. The tunnels are 15 feet wide. The boats are 7 feet wide. Do the math.

That's where you learn what "light at the end of the tunnel" really means.

We cooked breakfast, but stopped for lunch and dinner at taverns on the canal (where I developed a taste for hard cider - nothing like what you get in the states!). Several times we managed to catch festivals, Morris dancers, and other friendly narrowboaters. There are people who live on the boats year-round, and still a few people who make a living transporting goods on the canals.

More canal photos later.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

1559 Weird Standing

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I'm weird. Yeah, I know that. Perhaps my biggest weirdness is that I often don't understand why people think something I do or think is weird. Everything I do or say seems perfectly reasonable to me. I think it's weird that they think it's weird.

Some people think the way I stand is weird.

If I'm going to be standing anywhere for more than a few seconds, I "assume the position". I put all my weight on one leg, with that foot turned slightly outward, weight toward the ball of the foot. The other foot is slightly to the front of the weight-bearing foot, and at a 90-degree angle to it. Knee on the free leg is bent, so there's a slight hip tilt.

Try it. It's very comfortable. I can stand like that for hours, with occasional side-to-side swaps.

I guess it does look a little weird, but if everybody stood that way, it wouldn't be weird at all.

Over the years I've had many many women, always women, never men, tell me that I shouldn't stand that way.
"Why not?"
"It looks bad."
"How does it look bad? Does it make my hip look big?"
"No. It just looks bad."
"No, just bad."
"How do you mean bad? Ugly?"
"No. I dunno. Just bad."

Well, a dating body language article I read yesterday said that if a woman stands with her ankles crossed talking to a man, she's sexually unavailable (I think she's liable to fall over), and if she stands with her legs apart, she's sexually receptive to him.

Is that what was "bad"?

I'm not sending any message. It's just the absolutely most comfortable stance. Well, second most comfortable. The first most comfy draws way too much attention, and I can't do it at all in public.

Man, those women should have seen the way I stood in high school and college, when nobody was looking, anyway, until I started wearing high heels all the time and it was no longer feasible , and eventually I fell out of the habit. If you have to stand, this is the closest thing to not standing.

Again, all weight on one leg. The flat of the free foot is pressed against the inside of the standing leg, at or above knee level. There's a kind of bulge at the top side of the knee that the sole of the foot fits over perfectly. You see those really tall skinny African guys with all the cows (Watusi?) standing that way when they're out watching the herds. Again, it's very comfortable. If you do it right, it feels like sitting. Try it at first with bare feet.

I suspect that both of those stances involve less strain on the muscles of the hips and lower back than a standard stance.

I have had since adolescence a weak lower back and some hip problems.

So it's not weird, and not sending any availability messages. It's just comfortable and easy.

So there.