Wednesday, December 31, 2008
First, an interesting little fact I came across today, a statistic from the Congressional Budget Office, released in December 2007: From 2003 to 2005, the increase in income for the top one percent exceeded the total income of the bottom 20 percent.
Yeah, I'm aware that the average income of the bottom 20% is pretty durn low, and I don't know if that's the bottom 20% period, or the bottom 20% of those who file taxes, although I suspect it's the latter because otherwise the CBO wouldn't have the numbers. But whatever, it's still a pretty wow statement. And those top 1% folks get all kinds of tax CUTS, because they "create jobs".
Um, something's not working as planned. Unless it was that top 1% who did the planning, that is.
Oh, wait, oh yeah....
It seems to be the custom for bloggers to sum up the past year in the last post of the year.
I have nothing to sum up. Here I am. It's one year and 10 months since I met The Man. When I'm not with him, I find him extremely frustrating. I don't see this actually going anywhere, and if I want a full time companion I'm wasting time on him. He's a Type-A, nowhere near slowing down, let alone retiring, and things will go on exactly as they have, indefinitely. He's also nerdy enough that the threat of losing me would be a temporary distraction until he found a work project to bury himself in. When I haven't seen him in a while I can clearly see all of that, to the point where I had several times decided, absolutely, definitely, to break it off with him.
And then I DO see him and I fall in love all over again. There's just something about him. I fell in love more than 30 times in the past year. That's pretty heady business. Addictive.
And that was pretty much the year. I feel like I've been hanging on a hook on the door. I have done nothing else, learned nothing else, gone nowhere else, accomplished nothing else, and I don't know if I can change that, or even if I want to.
Well, youse guys have a good start to whatever you want to make of 2009. Me, I'm going to hang here a bit longer and think about it.
Later: It's two minutes into the new year. The Man is in Ohio, working. We swapped short emails.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Daughter has located lard (see previous post) and I have found currants. We're set.
There's no lard in the stores around here. It's ridiculous. I can't even find full-fat yogurt! It seems like all the stores here are determined to make you healthy, whether you like it or not. Everything (except the cookie aisle) is low fat and sugar free! Even the low-fat yogurt is being edged out by fat-free yogurt. Yuck. I want the real thing.
It's not how much fat is in the food, folks, it's how much of the food you eat! And how much exercise you get. My Gramma ate high fat high cholesterol foods (one of her favorites was stuffed veal heart with blood gravy), and root vegetables but very little green leafy stuff, and she was physically and mentally active into her mid-nineties. She ate what would now be considered a terrible diet. But the only time she sat was to eat. She walked everywhere. And sometimes she walked when she didn't have a where.
That was the days of no air conditioning, when everyone sat on front porches in the afternoons and evenings. Gramma would walk the North Scranton neighborhood, waving and visiting. It was the days of trolley cars into the city, when you walked to the stops, and from the stops to the stores, and carried your purchases home on your lap. Your car, if you had one, was parked in a distant garage, from which you fetched it for infrequent long-distance trips. From this, one would assume that people who live in large cities and have no need for cars would be healthy - but they breathe that air! Not the same at all. Back when, Scranton air was decent, even though home heating was anthracite coal-fired. I don't know why, but the air was clean and clear.
I have two recipes I love that call for suet. Good luck with that. One is for a bird cake that wants suet, chunky peanut butter, seeds, and other good stuff. My backyard birds love it. But there's no suet in the local stores, except in ready-made bird cakes, and the village butcher, where you could get all kinds of interesting stuff like marrow and fresh blood for gravy, is no more. The other recipe is for a real Indian (as in Native American) pudding, that calls for coarse ground yellow corn meal, suet, fruit juices, and several kinds of berries and nuts, steamed in a bag. It's wonderful, but I gave up on that one so long ago I'm not sure I can find the recipe again.
The Welsh cookies absolutely require currants. Raisins won't do.
Currants were almost impossible to find in the late '70s and through the '80s. Some government group had discovered long ago that black currant plants harbored blister rust that was killing white pines, and there was another outbreak then, so to protect the pines, most commercial black currant plants had been killed. You could still get white or red currants, but they weren't the same. No flavor. Currants are back, but some states still ban them, and I understand that even where they are allowed you still can't plant currants within X yards of any white pine stands.
The Man is now somewhere in Ohio, doing Something Important for a Large Financial Corporation at their headquarters. His services are so unique that they have agreed to his condition that they fly him to North Carolina for a one-day visit to his parents over New Year's Eve. I don't know how long he'll be away, but what he's doing is high visibility. He's approaching 50, and hopes this will turn into a permanent position. He's tired of fighting fires. That's what they've promised him, but I don't trust any company promises unless I see them in writing, from someone in a position to make that promise.
(The Company had a line on everything they put out having to do with benefits: "...may be changed at any time for any reason". They promised me a trip to Japan if I joined the legal department. Didn't happen. They promised lifelong free medical insurance to those of us who took the buyout retirement. Didn't happen. They promised cost of living increases to the retirement checks. I haven't seen one in the ten years I've been getting the checks, and I suspect there has been significant inflation in that time. My widow's check from Social Security has had three raises over the same period. So much for promises.)
I was unsuccessful in convincing The Man to list a conjugal visit as another requirement. I guess he thought I was joking. I'm not. I am bereft. Maybe Welsh cookies will take away the pain.
Monday, December 29, 2008
I've spent much of the day reading internet posts on the current Israeli military (re)action, on both sides of the issue, all kinds of opinions. For a personal viewpoint, read what Lisa R has to say.
The rest of the day I was trying to whip some order into the den/computer room. There's still a lot of stuff here left from Jay. Cables, I don't know what they go to. Disks, I don't know what's on them. Boxes, I don't know what's in them. I figure if I haven't needed whatever they are by now, I can throw them out.
In one of the boxes I found an old sport watch. I remember Jay wearing it. The band broke and he wasn't able to replace it, so he bought a new watch. That was in probably 1996 or so. The sport watch had been in the box since then, I guess, and I was surprised to find it still running, twelve years later, AND it had the correct date and time! It was like having a living piece of Jay.
I started pressing buttons on the side to find out what they did, and it died in my hands.
That was sad.
I also did an internet search for Welsh cookies. (Not really cookies, technically they're griddle cakes.) I've got a sudden powerful hunger for them. There used to be two or three places you could get them, including the Vermont catalog, but it seems like no one has them now. I have Gramma's recipe, but it's a lot of work for just me and I'm unlikely to make them. I was amused to read some stranger's post bragging that they had acquired "the best" recipe "from a church in North Scranton", and I whooped. That's Gramma's church! And yeah, they're the best. The cookies were the church fundraiser, and all the women were sworn on the Bible to keep the recipe secret.
Anyway, I mentioned it to Daughter, and she suddenly has the craving, too, so we're going to make them together, next Monday. In the meantime, we're both searching for black currants and lard. Yeah, lard. No trying to get fancy with butter or shortening. If we make one batch every few years, they'd better be made RIGHT!
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Kate is also unhappy that Pushing Daisies won't be back after this season. (See the "won't be back" link for a synopsis of the show premise.) I'm happy to know that someone else liked it!
I can't say the show is great. The stories are thin and repetitious, the music and narration can be annoying, but visually it satisfied something deep within me.
The colors are bright, saturated, and visually interesting. It's circles within circles. The pies, the windows in the pie shop, the gate at the sisters' house, the huge hats, bowls, even Olive's name, face, "frontage", and hair - it's all circles. Sometimes I ignore the story and just look for more circles.
The stories may be thin, but the characters are fun. I mean, how can a show with Kristin Chenoweth and a nutsy Swoosie Kurtz in a jeweled eye patch not be entertaining?
Even though it was nominated for twelve Emmys the first season, ABC seemed to have forgotten about it. The second season (after a hiatus caused by the writers' strike) got no advertising, was moved around from evening to evening so I kept losing it, and consequently the viewers weren't there. It almost looked like someone said "Let's kill it."
Kristin Chenowith has been turning up on talk shows - her agent's selling her hard - and I've noticed that when they talk about everything she's done and been in, they never mention "Pushing Daisies".
Sad. I am reminded of "Picket Fences". Another good show that died of neglect.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Well, in the previous post I confessed to a bad clothes shopping habit. I linked to a haori site so folks could see what haoris are. Bad decision.
Because then I shopped.
I bought some. If you look quickly, you can still see them. I bought:
Silky Cream HAORI with Twinkling Damask Maple Leaves
Artistic Watercolor Diamonds HAORI in Rainbow Hues
Chic Black HAORI with Stunning Midnight Chrysanthemums, and
Ethereal Pink HAORI with Glowing Arabesque Designs.
[Update 1/5/09 - Oops, you missed it. The links now take you to a main catalog page.]
Yeah, I have a problem. Especially for things like this. The fabrics are beautiful, and every stitch in the garment is by hand - no machine stitching. I appreciate.
As usual, I won't tag anyone. And, as usual, I got verbose. The original of this is on Jackie's Town USA, if you'd care to repeat it.
I have too much, probably about 30 closet-bar feet, packed solid. I think I'm still searching for something that looks good on me. I buy almost all of my clothes online, from two or three shops whose sizing I'm familiar with. They consider me a good enough customer that they send me coupons, and offer me 50-75% off, at the rate of once a month, which encourages my bad behavior.
I never show my legs. It's all pants or ankle-length skirts. I love fabrics that flow and flutter when I move.
I like ethnic things that others might consider costumes, and sometimes wear saris in the summer (even to the grocery store), salwar-kameez in the winter, and haori (kimono jackets) in the spring and fall.
When Jay first got sick, many of our usual activities and entertainments were curtailed. About the same time, we visited a friend whose mother had bequeathed her a collection of antique furniture. To my surprise, my huge scientist husband fell in love with delicate Victorian settees. We were living with a mix from prior marriages (heck, he still had COLLEGE crap!) and disliked each other's stuff, and just 2 miles down the road was one of the best auction houses in the valley, so we started going to auctions.
My house is now furnished with antiques, most from the 1880s. The prices we paid for almost all of it were amazing! In almost all cases, we paid half of what we would have paid for less-well-made modern stuff.
The dining room set is an 1880's carved mahogany Berkey & Gay acorn design table, six chairs, and three cases, and a Moroccan brass-bound chest. (Less than $2000 for the whole lot.)
The living room has an Eastlake inspired settee with two chairs, and an 1860's cameo-back carved sofa. I've been searching for some matching marble-topped side tables, but they always exceed my budget at auction, so I settled for some very nice reproductions. There's a little leather-topped oak desk, and a huge chest that Jay accidentally bought ($10), and the center table is ceramic and marble inlaid in a starburst pattern. There's a heavy carved mahogany Chinese 4-panel screen.
My bedroom furniture is still in boxes in the garage, but when I get the bedroom cleared enough to move it in, I'll have several antique Chinese lacquered chests, and a gorgeous enclosed marriage bed (this type of bed, but a bit different in design. Mine has more interestingly carved panels). There's also a long Victorian sofa with lines I love, I find it very relaxing.
The guest bedroom has a 1920's vanity with a 5-foot diameter round mirror (free in exchange for some paint stripping I did for a friend), 1920's Jenny Lind twin beds I bought from a friend in St. Louis ($75 for the pair!), and a gorgeous 2-panel Japanese screen with embroidered silk panels.
There are some tall Chinese vases, a lot of old Morrocan silvered brass vases and ewers, and several small Tibetan cabinets scattered around.
I love all of it, and it's all one of the reasons I can't move. It's all huge and heavy, and there's nothing I'm ready to give up yet.
I'm not big on sugary stuff. Given a choice, I prefer oily & salty to sweet. Which I guess is good, because I'm insulin resistant now. The occasional chocolate craving is best satisfied with Lindt truffles.
I live in a rural area, and like it. In my 30's I spent a lot of time in Chicago, and it's nice to visit, but there's no way I'd care to live there, or in any other city.
A lot of water, hot tea, and iced tea. In alcohol I prefer the sweet liquors, like Grand Marnier, Amaretto, Bailey's Irish Creme, and so on. I almost never drink more than one. I rarely drink anything carbonated.
Super eclectic. World music. Folk and bluegrass. Oldies. Classical. "New Age". I appreciate talent. I don't like noise, screaming, bad voices.
7. TV series
I don't have cable and don't want it, so my choices are limited, and that's good. Favorites right now are The Big Bang Theory, Boston Legal (it's over, sob), Pushing Daisies (to be canceled, sob), The Amazing Race, House (makes me angry, but I like the hunt), and Survivor.
Don't go to movies much. If I have to name the latest favorite it would be "Once Were Warriors", but for very personal reasons.
I like flaky stuff. I rarely eat pie crust.
For me it's a powerful laxative. I rarely drink brewed coffee. No matter how well made, it always tastes bitter to me. I'll drink instant, but only with sugar-free French vanilla Coffee-Mate, and only if I have a bathroom available.
That's it. Welcome to my world.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Daughter and I have a rather strained relationship sometimes. I don't know how to describe it. She seems to get angry with me for no reason. At least, no reason that I can see.
Lately we've been working through some stuff - like one item every time I see her. She remembers things so very differently from my memory of the same incident. So many times she misinterpreted something I'd said or done long long ago, something that somehow became significant to her, and which she had misunderstood mainly because she was too young to understand, or she overheard me say something to another adult and she didn't understand the words or the situation, and she put her own spin on it.
Yesterday I was complaining that I'd never much cared for the idea of Santa Claus, that it makes Christmas all about getting stuff. She got annoyed and asked how I could say that, how come I insisted that she had to believe in Santa when she was a kid, and that I got really mad when she came home from school one day and informed me that she knew there was no Santa, that it was all me. She said that I was mad at her for not believing in Santa. So how can I say I never liked the idea of Santa?
I had no idea what she was talking about, I didn't remember that at all. I asked her how the conversation went. Is it possible that I wasn't angry about what you said, but how you said it?
She thought about it. She remembered that she was angry that I had lied to her, allowed her to believe a lie. She was angry that I had made her look foolish to the other kids because they knew the truth and she didn't. It turns out that that day, she didn't simply say, like, "Hey Mom. Guess what? There's no Santa." What actually happened was that she came home from school thoroughly pissed, and burst through the door accusing me of lying to her for years, "and what else have you lied to me about", are you even really my mother, and so on.
So my reaction was NOT to her not believing in Santa, I was reacting to her attack on me.
I told her I didn't purposely lie to her, that it's a dilemma when you live in a culture that pushes Santa, and if you tell your kid, your kid will snottily tell other younger kids, and you'll end up with all the neighborhood parents pissed at you, so you kinda have to let the kids find out themselves, which they do, pretty much all at once as an age group. I said that what I was most likely to have said was "Yes, Santa isn't a real person, but the idea of Santa is real, inside each of us."
And she said, yeah, come to think of it, I did say that.
So, her interpretation of what happened was quite different from mine. She had stored it as "Mom was angry because I didn't believe in Santa", expanded to "Mom is angry because I don't believe her lies." Actually I was angry because she accused me of lying and wouldn't accept that I didn't do it on purpose to make her look foolish, and wouldn't listen to any explanations. As far as I was concerned, Santa wasn't even the issue.
It's funny how many things there are like that. Many of them, if she stopped to look carefully at them, she'd see them in a new light. But the memories are stored in 4-year-old or 6-year-old terms, not 33-year-old terms, so until she dredges them up and rewrites them based on new adult information, they continue to influence her as if she were 4 or 6.
The hardest memories to rewrite are the ones stored before language, before there were words to describe them. Those are the ones that continue to influence our reactions for the rest of our lives. We may be aware that there's something unreasonable going on in there, but we don't know what it is, because it isn't in words. We reason in words, but we react without words. And even when we reason, it's built on a foundation of no words, something we can't describe, and therefore can't easily change.
Back in the late '60s, early '70s, one of my favorite people at The Company was a manager in the development area, named Bob Black. The name suited him. He was probably late 40s, well over 6 feet tall, and huge - shaped like the letter "D". Those were the days when men wore suits to work, and his were always black. He had black hair, and a full long thick black beard that covered the knot in his tie.
We often sat at the same table at lunch. I adored him. He was intelligent and pleasant, and sometimes downright sweet.
One day at lunch, a few days before Christmas, he showed up at the table with a salad, instead of his usual tray loaded with goodies. When asked, he blushed and said that it was brought home to him that it was time to lose weight.
The day before, he'd been shopping with his wife, and had misplaced her. He was standing in a store aisle, craning to look over the racks to locate her, when he felt a series of tugs on his suit jacket, and became aware of a small voice somewhere in the vicinity of his knee. He looked down, and there was a little girl, maybe four years old, with a grip on his jacket, and an adoring look on her face, beaming up at him,
and she was saying, "...and a doll house, and a paint set, and roller skates, and...."
Monday, December 22, 2008
The days are running together. I'm having trouble remembering when was snow, and when I cleared the driveway. All I know for sure is that I'm out of gas for the snowthrower, and there's a few inches of snow out there now, and sleet predicted sometime soon, so I'd better get in gear and get more gas and get those few inches cleared before it gets sleeted on.
I hate winter.
Yesterday, Sunday, I woke to snow. Coming down thickly. There was about 5 inches on the driveway when I cleared it, and 3 or more in the offing. But I had to clear it anyway because I planned to drive to New Jersey. At noon, the snow was still falling, and our street hadn't been plowed yet. It occurred to me that if I didn't leave soon, I may not be able to get out at all. Who knows when the county would get around to our street. (Yesterday's blog post, by the way, was written Saturday and stacked for auto-post yesterday. I knew I wouldn't have time to post otherwise.)
So I left.
Mine were the only tracks in the deep snow in the street.
The drive south was miserable. Snow snow snow. Even on the NYS Thruway, I didn't get over 45 until I was almost in New Jersey. I went through the toll booths at the end, and POW! there was no snow. The skies, which had been solid white, were suddenly clear blue. The sun was so bright I went "snow blind", and couldn't see anything on the dashboard or the GPS. They were solid black.
I got to the hotel at 2:45. The Man had already settled in and gone back to his office. I didn't call him to let him know I'd arrived until after a 2-hour long soak in a hot tub. I ached.
So he and I had dinner and watched football and stuff, and then this morning I drove to Daughter's and we went shopping. She'd done almost none of her Christmas shopping. (Yeah, she's my daughter.)
I got home about 10:30 this evening.
Since it had been snowing when I left Sunday, and since the road hadn't been plowed yet, I expected to find a plowdrift across the end of the driveway, and who knows how much snow on the drive. I hoped that the plowdrift might be small enough that I could just bull through it, and maybe even make it up the driveway. Absolute worst scenario would be a huge plowdrift. Then I'd have to park on the street, hike up to the porch for the shovel, and shovel out enough space to get the car off the street (no parking allowed on roads in the winter), and then carry all my bags and packages up to the house. I really hoped I wouldn't have to do that.
When I turned into my street, I was immediately discouraged. The plowdrifts lining the street were up to my car windows. Oh Good Grief - worse than I thought possible. I'm too tired to shovel that tonight. What on earth am I going to do with my car?
Then I rounded the last curve, and actually literally stopped dead in the road.
Someone had cleared the plowdrift at the end of my driveway! I don't know who or how, but it was completely open. No one knew I was away, let alone that I'd be returning late tonight.
There was a few inches of snow on the drive, but with no plowdrift to hinder her, the Aerio was able to scoot right on up.
Who cleared it? Elves?
Sunday, December 21, 2008
The Company sent me to Dale Carnegie Seminars. One of the sessions was on how to remember people's names. You make a picture in your head, based on some physical characteristic of that person and tied somehow to their name.
I can't do it. I can make the picture, and when I see the person again, I remember the picture - so far so good - but I can't make that jump from the picture to the name. I always screw that up somehow, usually in an embarrassing manner.
An example: There's a very pretty village upriver. Wide tree-lined streets, big old Victorian houses set back with deep lawns and wraparound porches, a friendly looking business section. It looks like a great place to raise kids. The name is Kinderhook. For some reason I can't remember that name. So I made the mental picture - a girl and a boy (kinder, it being a good place for kids), she holding a Bo-Peep shepherd's crook (hook), and he holding a fishing pole (hook). Kinder Hook. Perfect.
So whenever I want to mention that village, I see the boy and girl with crook and pole. And I think, "Kids? Children? Shepherd? Fish? Summer vacation? Bo-Peep and Huckleberry Finn? What the heck was I thinking?"
Maybe if I changed it to a picture of Peter Pan's Captain Hook burning the village down (kindling?). But that's going to make me call it Red Hook (another local village), not Kinderhook.
There's a secret method, and I'm just not getting it.
TV weather has radar. They're proud of it, even show the rotating scopes. I'm sitting here in the den looking at the weather report. There's no green showing within miles of my house, meaning that we are clear, the snow clouds have moved north.
I turn and look out the window, and it's still coming down thickly with no signs of stopping.
I don't understand.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I saw a print ad for a cell phone service, offering "unlimited double minutes for life". I'm still trying to figure out what that means.
The folks across the street had a trailer, and every time they backed the trailer out of the driveway, they bashed my mailbox (and not once offered to fix it). Well, this summer they sold the house and moved. I was relieved. Maybe the new folks would be more careful.
My mailbox is now so bent the door won't stay closed. I am furious! A few days ago the guy across the street was backing his SUV out just as I was getting home, so I drove up my drive very slowly, and watched out the rearview mirror. Even aware I was right there, he missed the mailbox by about two inches.
I don't understand. It's a two lane street! A full two lanes! But when they back out, they don't start the turn until the FRONT of the car passes the end of their driveway, so the back corner of the vehicle is aimed straight for my mailbox.
Yesterday I cleared a long swath of town-plow-dumped snow from in front of the mailbox so I could get today's mail. Imagine my joy to discover this morning that whoever had cleared the driveway across the street dumped several plow-loads of snow RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY MAILBOX!!!! They shot up the driveway, across the street, and pushed it right up against my mailbox.
They had a tree down in the ice storm, so the dumped snow was full of stout branches. I couldn't use the snowthrower. I SHOVELED it!
I am so very very angry, and I don't know what to do about it.
I caught "Jane and the Dragon" again this morning. I love that show. Even if the stories are a bit thin and predictable, the art is perfect. I love the way Jane's hair moves, the expressiveness of the faces, and the way it all looks like it was colored with Crayola crayons. (The link is to the Wikipedia entry, which is itself interesting reading.)
Here's a 7:26 sample (the dragon is sick, and Jane and Gunthar go on a quest for a medicinal plant):
If you liked that, here's a whole (23:17) episode:
(You might have to pause it to let it load.)
I love it!
Friday, December 19, 2008
It's funny how things seem to happen in threes.
(1.) I was reading something this afternoon that Daughter had written for me a few years ago for Mother's Day:
A Note to Mother
Your creation. A spin-through of life, sparkling and opalescent the ether of all at once through time, the unseen represented by our present and our past and our future
Your gift. Knitting an afghan of caught slivers, first polishing the shards of insight to a safe warm dust, the yarn a maternal arachnid thread
My gratitude. A celebration of your existence and how it has shaped mine*Copyright Daughter, all rights reserved*
(2.) One of the segments of "Dateline NBC" tonight is titled something having to do with a spider. They had a spider crawling up the screen. It made me shiver.
(3.) It took me three hours to clear the driveway, and then I was leaning out the door between the laundry room and the garage, pushing buttons to close the overhead doors, when Miss Thunderfoot slipped past me. I dove for her and caught her as she was about to disappear between boxes, and we both came up covered in spiderwebs. It was only later that discovered that I had brown spider egg-cases all over me. Ack! Brown Recluse spider egg-cases are brown. All I need is to have poisonous spiders hatching in the warmth of the house, in my bedroom! Ack ack ack! I picked them off with tissue and flushed them. I hope I got them all.
That's three. That's the end, right? RIGHT!?
I was awakened this morning by a phone call. I let the machine take it. The message was kind of cute. It went something like this [my thoughts in brackets]:
"Hi. This is Fed Ex. I have a package for 'MyName' [it's a tiny camera battery I had ordered from Radio Shack], but there's a car blocking your driveway. [My car. I took precautions against snow last night.] Um, the package is too light to leave out, it might blow away. [It will probably fit in the newspaper tube...] Wait a minute (creaking sound), the car is open. I'm gonna leave the package on the driver's seat. I hope it's ok [well, yeah, that's exactly why I leave the car unlocked when I leave it blocking the driveway. The UPS guys already know that]. It has your name on it, so whoever owns the car will give it to you, I hope."
Poor guy. He sounded really confused and worried. I used to put a sign in the car window saying "Leave packages in car", but a mere inch of snow makes that superfluous. At the time he called there was no snow yet, so maybe I should have done it anyway.
The snow started at about 12:30. It is now 2:30 pm, and we have 4 or 5 inches, and it's coming down fast. 10 to 16 inches are predicted (and we usually get the higher number or more), so I plan a first pass clearing at about 8 inches. We'll see if the snowthrower performs.
I'm well stocked with all the necessaries, my fuel oil gauge is wonky but even if I run out of oil I have electric backup heat, the car's at the end of the drive so I can get out, and I have some phone numbers of people who plow. As long as the electricity stays on, I'm not going to fuss.
I was getting too many magazines, and found time (or interest) to read few. So over the past two years I've been letting subscriptions lapse. This month I became aware of an unintended consequence - no calendars! I actually had to go out and buy a 2009 calendar, the first calendar I've bought in decades. (The best free ones always came from the wildlife groups.)
Which reminds me - one of Jay's sisters used to send me a wall calendar every year for Christmas. Yeah, a calendar. Anyone who isn't marking up calendar pages long before December 25th doesn't need a calendar. And the free ones from the subscriptions were nicer. (BTW, I always sent Jay's sisters jewelery from the Smithsonian catalog.)
I always seem to get lousy gifts. Ex#2 was the worst. He'd stop at the grocery store on the way home on my birthday or Christmas Eve, and then hand me an unwrapped nylon spatula as a gift. I'm not kidding. And then there was the one 8-oz skein of red polyester yarn. One. Also unwrapped. Because, as he explained, he knew I liked to knit.
One year he actually had a long flattish wrapped box under the Christmas tree. I was so excited. I was sure it was the grandmother clock I had pointed out to him. When I shook the box, there was a metallic rattle, just like a pendulum might make. He grinned and said he was sure I'd like it. Christmas morning I opened the box, and found an electric space heater.
The next weekend we were going to visit his parents, who lived in a drafty cold farm house, where I suffered from chilblains when we visited in the winter, so he got the space heater so I wouldn't be so cold there. Frankly, I'd rather not go at all, but that wasn't an option. I was even more pissed when he insisted that we leave it with his parents when the weekend was over, "They need it more than we do". And I was triply pissed when on our next visit, the heater was gone. His mother had given it away. Chilblains again.
Jay was better with gifts, he wanted to do it right, but it was obviously such a strain for him that I suggested that perhaps he could just take me shopping and let me pick a few things out, "you write down the information", and then he could go back and get any one of them, and it would be perfect, and a surprise.
I'm to the point now where I don't want gifts at all. I don't have room for anything else! I ask for a hand and foot massage from Daughter, and his famous peanut butter cookies from Hercules, and that's all I want.
I've told The Man that I don't want gifts on occasions that would appear to call for gifts. I'd rather have impromptu "gee, she'd like that" stuff out of nowhere for no reason.
It means more that way. More from the heart than because the calendar says "now you must".
I'd like to do away with Christmas gifts altogether. Think about how it would change the celebration if Santa voluntarily retired.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
By now everyone has seen the clips of G.W. dodging the shoes. What struck me was his quick reflexes and accurate estimation of where the shoes were going to pass.
You know, if that happened to me, I'd have been hit. I'd see the shoes coming, but my reaction would be more like "that can't be real", and by the time I decided it was real, it would have been too late.
I do that a lot. I see something coming, all kinds of things, and I don't accept that it's real, or that someone could actually do what they're doing, and I get blasted. I wonder why.
Why does every rechargeable device need to have a different charger cord, and a different USB cord? I noticed today that I have nine different cords in the kitchen and den, and many of them are similar enough that it's possible to pack the wrong cord for the weekend.
So today I put little paper tags enclosed in cellophane tape on all of them.
I feel so virtuous. So organized.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
[This made the rounds of Mensa local group newsletters a decade or so ago. I found it by accident this afternoon.]
27 Reasons to Have a Pet Mensan
by Georg3 Smil3y
1. You can take it to parties and win at Trivial Pursuit.
2. It can explain Saturday morning cartoons to you.
3. It makes a great doorstop.
4. It will never be depressed or sulk, unless it feels like it.
5. If you have bad taste, it has bad jokes.
6. If you have good taste, it can be muzzled.
7. It can always find a party on Friday nights.
8. If you've done something naughty, it will always be interested.
9. It won't drink your liquor — unless you're not looking.
10. It won't shed if you shave it regularly.
11. It can insult bullies for you in an intellectual manner.
12. It can get the intellectual snot beat out of it by bullies.
13. It will answer to its name if you give it a yummy.
14. It can put all your personal records onto a floppy disk — then erase it.
15. It is clean, unless there's something dirty around.
16. It can sit, roll over, and play dead (once again, a yummy is required).
17. It knows more sleazy places than a two-dollar hooker.
18. It will always do what you want it to, unless it doesn't want to do it.
19. It can gossip for hours on end about people present, with a twinkle in its eye.
20. With enough yummies, it may be possible to train it not to tell puns. (Note: complex tricks such as this may require several boxes of yummies.)
21. It can draw a map on a cocktail napkin that can have you lost in less than five minutes.
22. If you spill your drink, it can lap it right up.
23. It can find a use for a Ginsu steak knife besides slicing open beer cans.
24. It can draw intelligent stick figures on your wall with crayons.
25. It's easy to amuse — just give it a problem with no answer and leave it alone.
26. It can do your taxes — maybe not right, but it can do them.27. It can help you write nasty letters to people and editors using big words.
Well, for once we got exactly what was predicted. I've got three inches of slightly fluffy slush out there. It's important to clear it, because there are no warm days coming, in fact more snow is in the offing, and three inches of frozen solid slush will be a bit inconvenient. Especially if the fuel oil truck can't make it up. Stuff like that.
So I pulled out the snowthrower. The one that was very expensively rebuilt a few short weeks ago. It balked at starting. I had to wait a bit once after I flooded it, but then it got going and sounded fine.
Throwing slush is not fun. It throws it, well, plops it, right next to the cleared path, so you have to plop the same stuff multiple times, a few feet every path, until you get it off the drive. So it takes a while, but the snowthrower had always been able to handle it as long as I kept filling the gas tank.
Not this time. As soon as it hit the snow, it said
Sigh. I guess I'll be parking at the end of the driveway for a while. I guess I'm lucky that the two trees by the end of the drive have already fallen.
I was going through some old emails, and found something I had read in late October, but it hadn't made it to here.
It was a letter to the editor from a woman who wanted to do away with daylight savings time, because it causes droughts. It's that extra hour of sun we get from daylight saving time. All that extra sun bakes the earth and evaporates the clouds.
She might have something there. Note that we get warmer in the spring, and colder in the fall, when DST starts and ends. Simple cause and effect, you know!
I had mentioned it to The Man in an email. His response:
"I agree 100%. There's also the shoe thing. I was buying larger shoes each year from the time I was 15 until I was 22. I stopped then, and now my feet stopped getting bigger. Don't know why I didn't think of that sooner. I still buy my underwear bigger each year...."
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
My cell phone battery won't hold a charge. It says "fully charged" within 5 minutes of my plugging it in, and then it holds the charge about a half hour.
Gee, where have I heard that before? Seems like everybody lately has the same problem. I went to my provider's storefront today, and one of the clerks turned to the other and said, "Another battery problem? A lot of those lately. This is the fifth today!"
I was eligible for a new phone anyway, so I traded it in. It turned out that the problem was not with the battery, but with the place where you plug into to charge it, and they discovered that only by accident when they tried to transfer the memory to the new phone and the transfer machine kept complaining about a faulty connection. When I had attempted to charge it, it wasn't making a good connection, so it thought it was fully charged, but it wasn't.
Oh well. I don't care. I have a working one now, and it's smaller than the other.
Oddness - a few of the blogs I follow have, one by one, gone private, "invitation only". Some I have never commented on, so they don't know I exist. Others do know I exist, but I'm not going to ask for permission. They know where I am if they want me. If not, I assume they have their reasons. (Gee, if I were a guy, I'd probably never ask a girl for a date, either.)
So far my blog has managed to escape trolls. Lately, Google and other search engines have rediscovered me. I may have to do something about that. The trouble is, once a troll has found you, simply planting bushes to hide the door from search engines isn't sufficient. You have to lock the door, or move to a different neighborhood, or put up with the troll.
We're supposed to get snow tonight - 1 to 3 inches. Yeah, sure. In the past we've always got at least twice the highest number. That's not as bad as what they're saying for tomorrow. "Winter mix". That's snow, sleet, ice, rain. On top of snow, that means heavy slush that the snowthrower can't handle, that freezes into several inches of lumpy bumpy ice that can't be plowed without damaging the driveway.
Oh joy. I hate winter.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Something odd happened at the hotel Sunday morning. I saw someone I hadn't seen 40 years, and I hid from him.
I'm sure I'd written about what happened with him before, and spent some time searching for the post so I could link to it, but I can't find it. So I'll run through the short version.
It was early 1969. I was 24, and in a testing department with The Company. I had hands-on test time on third shift.
There was a developmentally disabled young man on the cleaning crew. He was very proud of working at The Company, and every morning when people arrived, he'd be in the main lobby vacuuming. He wanted to greet "his coworkers". Everybody who came in nodded and said hello, and he was so proud. Everybody thought he was sweet.
Well, forty years later I guess I can say he was sweet. Just a little misguided, which makes me feel guilty. I think nowadays I'd handle what happened differently, but at that time in my life I couldn't have done anything different.
What happened was that one night, about 2 am, after I'd left the machine floor, when there was no one else in the office area, he exposed himself to me.
And he was "working it."
It was so startling and unexpected, and so incredibly huge, that at first glance I thought he was holding a piece of vacuum hose.
On reflection, I suspect that he had often been told that what he had was pretty impressive, and that the ladies would be all over him, and I suspect that he was trying to impress me with the best thing he had to offer.
But back then, given recent events, it scared me. I ran to my office and locked the door, and sat there crying and trembling for an hour. I was afraid to try to leave and go home, because I might have to pass him. And I'd see him every night of the project. I couldn't face that. I wanted an escort out of the building, and I didn't want to come back while he was there.
Finally I called a manager on the machine floor, and told him what had happened. The young man admitted it, and his employment at The Company was terminated.
They told me to take the next three days off, which I did. The remainder of the test cycle was given to another. I spent the three days at home shaking and crying. I was sure it was all my fault, that I had somehow misled him to think it was ok. As usual, I took all the blame.
My first day back, my second-line manager came to my office. What he said messed me up worse than what had happened.
He told me that it was an unfortunate incident, but that of all the women in the building, they were all glad that it was me.
"Because most of these women would be completely freaked out. They'd make a big deal of it. It won't bother you so much. You'd take it in stride."
I thought about that a moment, about what it implied. That somehow stuff like this was my lot. That I was different from other women, and not in a nice way. It hurt. It confirmed that there was something wrong about me. That the wolves were right.
I tried. I said, "Actually, it did freak me out, a lot." I considered telling him how I felt, but the look of disbelief on his face dissuaded me. I was still in that mode where I gave people what they expected of me.
He asked how, and I gave him the answer I knew he wanted, "I'd never seen anything so big in my life. It was scary."
That probably made for some good stories among management.
A few weeks later, there was a big company awards luncheon, at the Holiday Inn. When we arrived, there he was, sweeping the parking lot, grinning and happily greeting all his old "coworkers".
I didn't get out of the car. I turned around and went back to the office.
Guess who I saw sweeping the Holiday Inn parking lot yesterday morning? It's forty years later, but I'd know that big hooked nose anywhere.
I didn't leave the room until I was sure he was no longer outside.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
I don't understand why anyone is surprised or shocked about all these CEOs getting tens and hundreds of millions of dollars in salaries and bonuses, and acting like they deserve it. Thirty years or so ago was when it all started, when executive salaries started growing exponentially. People were shocked then, and asked if it made any sense.
Now we have companies employing 100,000 people, and executives of those companies each pulling from the profits their salaries and bonuses equal to 10,000 times the average salary of the workers - and then telling the workers that raises will be low this year because the company isn't as profitable as they'd hoped. Yeah. After your raids, there's nothing left over.
The CEO of one company is on the board of other companies, whose CEOs are on other boards - and they award compensation to each other in a big circle. Dividing up the pies. There's something very wrong with that.
Why are people acting like it's news? Why are people just now seeing how unfair it is? Like they hadn't been talking about it and shaking their heads over it for the past thirty years?
Big annoyance in a local village. The town (which in NY is a subdivision of a county, not a municipality - municipalities are cities, villages, and hamlets, several of which may be within a town) contracted with the state to widen the road through the village this past summer and put in street lights and sidewalks. The village residents didn't want the improvements because they didn't want the village or the residents to be responsible for maintenance, including snow removal. Many town hall meetings later, the town agreed to put into the contract that "The town of xxxx will maintain or cause to be maintained the sidewalks constructed ... including control of snow and ice."
So the residents and businesses were satisfied, and the sidewalks were installed.
Well, imagine the surprise when the residents and businesses were notified that, with winter coming, each homeowner and business is responsible for litter, leaf, snow, and ice removal on the sidewalks bordering their property, and will be fined $250 for each instance when ice or snow is not removed within 24 hours of accumulation.
Much screaming. The town points to the "or cause to be maintained" in the contract. By imposing a fine, they are causing them to be maintained. So there. What's yer problem?
That part I sort of expected as soon as I read the contract wording. The other part has my head ringing. The town says they can't do it because snow removed next to a major roadway is considered contaminated and if the town removed the sidewalk snow, too, they would have to transport it to a special site for disposal, and that would cost the town an additional $18,500 they don't have. Um, so the residents are supposed to ... what? ... with the snow they remove?
The sidewalks will be full of snow from the road thrown onto the sidewalks by the town plows. If a snowthrower is then used on the sidewalks, one is not allowed to throw it onto the road. So the residents will be throwing it onto their lawns.
Great. Define "contaminated" for me? It's contaminated if plowed by the town, but not contaminated if plowed by individuals?
Too much heat. Too many trucks.
The heat in the hotel room is one of those under-window units. Set at 65, with the fan on automatic, it runs constantly and throws heat constantly. I roasted. Set at 64, it runs constantly, and throws chilled air. I froze. Sigh.
As much as I appreciated the visiting electric company crews and their huge trucks:
...I did not appreciate them at 5:30 this morning when they started leaving. They didn't leave quietly. Imagine thirty trucks warming up right outside your window, while the crews are having breakfast. I vibrated.
(My new camera does have a night setting, but at 6 am I was incapable of finding it.)
It's a little after 7, and they have all left, all together with much backing-up beeping. I imagine they'll be convoying up to the Albany area, where I understand there are still thousands of dark cold streets.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Yesterday, when I woke to a cold dark house and trees down all around, I knew that the first thing I had to do was go to the grocery store and buy water. Then, of course, I found the trees down on my driveway. I heard a chain saw off to the left, followed the sound, and found a neighbor clearing a path through his fallen trees so that Central Hudson could get through to restring his wires (which were lying on the ground across the road). I asked him if he'd help me if he had a moment, so I helped drag branches, and he cut my barrier.
By the time I got to the grocery store, every gallon of water was gone except for one lonely bottle of "nursery water" (What?! Distilled water fortified with flouride?! What?!) at four times the cost of ordinary water. I bought it. A gal's gotta flush toilets, you know. With super water if necessary.
Then I went to the pharmacy, but they had no power, so I went back to the grocery store, but by then their power had mysteriously disappeared, and then I noticed Piper's car was outside his office, so I stopped in there. He had to leave to meet his generator service man (snicker! He's been bragging about that generator, and then the first time it was needed, it didn't start), so he gave me an office key, told me to keep it forever in case I needed it. I stayed until 8 pm (with two trips back to the house during the afternoon), and then when I went home I crawled right into bed and slept for 13 hours - except for brief awakenings to snuggle deeper into the covers.
When I awoke this morning it was 52 degrees F in the house. The cats were funny. They know how to complain about food or water - you point at the dish and yowl and shake your tail - but how do you complain about cold? It was obvious that they were unhappy, and also obvious they were frustrated about the inability to explain their complaint to me.
So I headed out again, to Piper's office to play with the laptop and wait for power. The Man has personal and business accounts with Marriott, and he suggested that he make a reservation for me for tonight. At 2:30 I called my house, but the machine didn't pick up, so I knew I was still without power, so I called the Marriott to check availability, and they had no rooms available. Not surprising - it's the closest hotel to "the bridge to the dark side" of the river. So I made a reservation at the Holiday Inn. Besides, the Holiday Inn would allow me to bring the cats.
At 3:30 I realized that if I was going to pack a bag for the night, if I didn't go home soon I'd be packing and cat catching in the dark, so I went home.
Good signs - the tree that had been leaning on the wires was gone. When I got out of the car I could hear the rushing sound in the chimney that meant my heat was on. I had power! It was still only 53 degrees in the house, and the temperature rose by 4 degrees in my first 15 minutes in the house, so it couldn't have been on for long before I got home.
I briefly considered canceling the hotel, until I turned the water on. Because the pump had been off so long, water backflowed through the filter, and now the water is muddy. I need a bath. I need to wash my hair. To the left is an actual photo of what's coming out of my faucets. Pure mud. It has the same color and opacity as chocolate milk. It won't run clear until I let the kitchen faucet run full blast for several hours.
You know, that water is probably why my hair is pale blond instead of white. If I washed in real water, it probably would be white.
So --- kitties are home, and I am here at the Holiday Inn. I had room service fried chicken and a wonderful spinach salad, and in a few minutes I'll have a nice soak.
I can see the back parking lot from my window, and it's full of Con Edison cherry-picker trucks. I can see 14 just from here. They must have come up from the city to help out. Thanks, guys!
Later - It's now 10:45 pm, and there are 23 Con Ed cherry-pickers in the back lot, and more coming in. Wow!
Later still - Midnight, and a contingent of Central Jersey Power and Light trucks has arrived, maybe 10 more. This hotel is running a special rate this weekend. Most local rooms are $150-$200 a night, but it's $90 this weekend here, so I guess that's why all the crews are here. Or maybe all the crews are why it's $90. Don't know, don't care, it works for me.
I witnessed an interesting discussion at the desk when I checked in. A woman discovered that she was paying $135, and everybody else in the bar was paying $90. The desk clerk patiently explained to her that she had requested the AAA discounted rate, which was $135, a discount off the regular $150. That's what she requested, and that's what she got. The $90 is a special, but she didn't ask for that. I was amused because the clerk didn't seem to understand what her problem was. Like, "You asked for the AAA rate, you got the AAA rate, what's your problem?"
Friday, December 12, 2008
We had an ice storm last night. All evening the electricity had been bouncing, so I gave up and went to bed at 11:30 pm. At about 11:45 the electricity gave up for good. All night long I could hear trees and branches falling. Thuds, bangs, crashes.
Usually when there's a winter storm predicted, I move my car to the bottom of the driveway to be sure I can get out. Last night I didn't. I didn't feel like walking back up the drive (350 feet) in icy rain.
It's a good thing I didn't. This photo shows precisely where I would have parked. Those trees don't look big, but they're black locust - very heavy wood.
The next one is the little apple tree next to the garage. It's been uprooted. It did hit the garage, but as far as I can see there was no damage - maybe a dent in the rain gutter at most. Poor little apple.
This is the side yard that I'd just got cleared and leveled and seeded this year. I've been rather proud of how nice it looked. Now it's covered in half-trees and large branches. Note the two trees leaning in the background. They'll go over with the next wind.
The back yard. That's a huge tree that uprooted. Several behind it will topple with the next wind.
There's lots more. I've got about ten trees completely down, and probably six or eight more that broke somewhere in the middle and will have to be taken down.
The village got electricity this afternoon (it's a bit intermittent, but the "on" periods are getting longer), but my street (a few miles out of the village) may not get it back for a while. We had a lot of trees down on lines. The crews opened the street to traffic this morning, cleared it of fallen trees, but that was all they did. There's one very tall tree leaning at an angle across the street, uprooted and resting the top branches on the electric wires. I've gone under it five times so far today, and it has scared me every time.
At least two of my trees and one large branch had fallen into the road. The road crews cut them up and then pushed the debris onto my yard. It's all a mess. I cleared a path to the mailbox so I could get delivery, but the rest will have to wait.
Everyone on my street was pretty lucky. A huge 3' diameter tree fell in the yard across the street, and just missed both the house and the vehicles. Down the street a bit, one of those 150-year-old monsters went down - the root ball is half their yard - and again it missed the house and vehicles.
I'm sitting in Piper's office typing this. My cell phone, camera, and laptop all had low batteries, so he gave me a key so I could come in, charge batteries, and use the bathroom. I figure when I leave here and go home, I'll just crawl into bed. No light, no heat, no water. Bah.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
This is the necklace I bought; the photo is from the seller's description:
This is what I received, after four week's delay, and stories of being out of state for a family emergency (is she unaware that I can use her feedback to see that during the time she was "away", she was still selling things, mailing things, and other buyers were getting their items?):
(The metal is the same - old silver. She used daylight, I used a flash. It's just that I received a lot less metal than I was sold.) I've asked her to locate and send the other four rings, and if she can't I want to return the necklace for a refund.
So, do I have a right to complain?
I am very angry with PayPal. I've got a problem with an eBay seller, and when she did not reply to my emails (after taking four weeks to send me the item, she sent an inferior version), I got her eBay contact info, and then discovered that her phone has been disconnected. I am left with no recourse but to file a PayPal dispute.
You have to fill out a description of the problem in a little text window on PayPal, which should include the history of attempts to resolve the problem.
Well, I don't type all that fast, and I don't compose all that quickly. I went over and over my note, changing, clarifying, and refining details, and then I hit "send"...
... and was informed that since I'd been on so long with "no activity", PayPal had logged me off. All my hard work was lost.
Are they really incapable of detecting that I was entering text all that time? No! They knew! I know they knew because the running count of "characters left" keeps decreasing as I type. They KNOW I'm typing! I'm so angry that they ARBITRARILY kicked me off without saving my text.
Piss me off.
(Yeah, next time I'll type it all up offline, and then copy it into their stupid little window. And you know what pisses me off even more? I had this same problem last year, and I wrote to them about it, and they said I was right, and they'd fix it, so it hadn't occurred to me that it would still be a problem. Liars.)
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Guy on Proactiv commercial: "... I put it on at night...and when I wake up in the morning you don't have acne."
Wow! That stuff really works! He woke up this morning, and sure enough, I didn't have acne!
I've mentioned before how there are so many towns around here that aren't pronounced the way they're spelled, like Valatie is not pronounced VAL-a-tee, it's va-LAY-sha. There's a jewelry store upriver named Castiglione Jewelers. I used to date a guy from Naples, and according to his rules for pronouncing Italian, that should be cast-TIG-leo-nee. It sure looks like an Italian name. They pronounce it CAST-a-line. I don't get it.
Yeah, it's your name and you can pronounce it any way you want, but it seems like a town or a store should stick to the phonetic so people can FIND it! Recognize the name when they see or hear it.
I've enjoyed Boston Legal so much. I'm sorry it's all over. Last night, Alan and Denny decided to get married. (You have to know the show to fully appreciate that. Denny is in the early stages of Alzheimer's. Alan is like a son to him, but unlike a blood son, he cannot do a lot of things for Denny that might need doing. Yeah, there's wills and proxies and powers of attorney, but that won't allow you to sleep on a cot in a hospital room with him like spousehood would. Not to mention estate taxes. So for various legal and social reasons, they decide to marry. In Massachusetts they can, so why not?)
However, a gay rights group objects. Alan and Denny are both flaming heterosexuals, and the gay rights group objects because they are "making a mockery of the institution", and of course they end up in court:
"We love each other."
"But- you're both heterosexual!"
"Are you saying we can't get married because we don't intend to have sex?"
(They ignored the fact that lack of sexual intent is grounds for annulment, so yeah, it does seem like sex is a requirement in marriage.)
Anyway, they did get married. Perfect whacko ending, in true Boston Legal tradition.
Monday, December 08, 2008
Suppose you live in a small town in the boonies, where there's little actual money and a lot of bartering of sheep. Suppose you go into debt to your neighbor, for a new roof, say, and he's hassling you for payment, 10 sheep. But your sheep haven't been reproducing well, and you don't have 10 sheep you can spare.
Suppose I am very rich, live in the huge mansion on the hill, with a large flock of sheep. You come to me for help, and I say, "No problem", and I sit down at my desk and write a slip of paper saying that I will take care of your debt, that this piece of paper represents 10 sheep. (Or maybe I write 10 slips of paper worth one sheep each.) Note that I don't actually give you 10 sheep. The paper just says it's good for 10 sheep.
You take the paper to your neighbor, and he is satisfied. He takes the paper to his grocer, and the grocer is happy to take the paper in exchange for bread and milk, because, after all, he can look up the hill and see the sheep in question browsing in my fields. I'm still shearing the sheep and keeping the wool, but that's ok. He can redeem this slip for a sheep when he needs it.
Unfortunately, your neighbor also still owes for the materials he used for your roof, and having bought the groceries and being out of spare sheep (his also are not reproducing well), he comes to me and asks for help. I sit down and write some slips of paper that say, "Don't worry, I'll cover for 10 sheep." Note that if anyone actually redeems the paper for sheep, you and your neighbor would have to replace the sheep.
There's been a general infertility problem. Nobody's sheep are reproducing well. That's called "recession". The sheep are depressed or something. Pretty soon, there are little slips of paper all over town. If everybody redeems the paper for sheep, then everybody owes me sheep, which they don't have. And they are starting to look up the hill and realize that there are more little slips of paper out there than I have sheep. A lot more. I've covered for more sheep than I have. But it doesn't bother me, because - hey, I still have the sheep! I'm doing fine.
Eventually it dawns on people that if they brought this paper to me to collect the sheep, for each one-sheep slip, they might get a third of a sheep, not a whole sheep, because there aren't enough sheep. So they start asking for three times as many slips when one sheep is owed. And it also dawns on them that if they do try to collect sheep for those pieces of paper, I'm going to start calling in the loans at the rate of one sheep per paper, and nobody can afford that, because, well, the sheep aren't reproducing.
And that's inflation.
You know that $800 billion the big house on the hill handed out? There are no sheep. The government (well, actually, the federal reserve, which is NOT a government entity, it's a private enterprise, and the taxpayers are in debt to them, but that's another story) simply sat down at their desks and wrote up 800 billion slips of paper redeemable for sheep no one has.
The only way to fix it is to get the sheep reproducing. We need to make more things of value, export more sheep. Get off our duffs and start creating sheep. But the banks have most of the rams, and the rams are suddenly more valuable, so they're not renting them out for stud at fees we can afford, so we are forced to eat our sheep, and with fewer sheep we are firing shepherds, and with fewer shepherds we can't take care of our sheep as well (they are notorious for difficult births even when we have access to a ram), so it spirals down.
And we all go into a depression.
Moral of the story - Elect shepherds who can count. And invest in farms that have their own rams.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
I went to a bazaar in Woodstock yesterday. The Gypsy was vending - but her stuff, although beautiful, is too expensive for a bazaar. People are looking for trinkets, Christmas gifts, not $200 dresses.
While there, I got another Tarot reading. This one was really good. She asked what my question was, and I was stumped, so I said I wasn’t worried about money, or home, or job. Maybe Daughter or romance. Ok, let’s do romance.
I hesitated briefly about writing this up, but it's so good I can't resist. The Man is aware I have a blog, but he says he doesn't read it because he doesn't want to read about himself and about "us". He also doesn't read, period, if he can avoid it, so I do believe he won't read this. But if he does, that might be good, too. He will laugh at me for the Tarot part, I'll lose "intelligence points", but what the hell. He thinks fantasy football is important. So there!
So, back to Tarot. We did the handle, shuffle, and layout bit. The woman was amazing. I had told her absolutely nothing about myself or anything going on with me. She tapped the card toward the center, and said “That represents you. [Right side up pretty lady.] You are very easy to get along with in a relationship. You are caring and cooperative, forgiving, and very willing to compromise.”
She tapped an upsidedown card below the “me” card. “This represents a past relationship. There’s some kind of negative influence, a hangover, that’s causing a problem with a current relationship, or will cause a problem in the near future.” [Wow. The Man’s problem with Jay’s illness? His attitude is that I don't accept the inevitability of death, and fight a useless battle. He has connected that to my comment to him that he seems to have a death wish. There is no connection, but there has been a lot of unjust death in his life and it can't help but color his thinking. It's a serious problem at the moment. That blocking hand is definitely up.]
She tapped the lower right card, upsidedown. “This represents how you feel in your current or near future relationship. There’s a problem. You want to give. Love and caring. Intimacy. That’s your nature. He is or will be resistant, not accepting. He has or will put up a barrier. [She held her hand up in a “stop” gesture.] There is frustration in that you can’t be yourself, your caring self. You need to love completely, to give, to care for, and he won‘t let you.”
She tapped the center right card. “This is a man. He is very near you now. You know him now. You are involved with him now, or will be soon. He’s related to the blocking card down here [tapping the previous card]. He is younger. Much younger.” She looked up at me and said, “You would prefer an older man, yes?” I shrugged and said yes. She went back to the card and said, “Well, he’s into athletic pursuits, but [frowning] not active. He’s very different from you, in many ways. But he’s [blushing] very! [emphasized] good at … uh … the things of the boudoir, you know? That‘s what will keep you with him, keep you coming back, even though he frustrates you.”
At this point I laughed and admitted that yes, there is a current man, much younger, and yes, she has described him perfectly, and the blocking part, and the part about the previous relationship also fit.
She moved to the top center card. It was a beautiful woman walking toward a four-columned floral canopy. It was upsidedown. She said that this card represents the future of the relationship, and that this card was the best card to have in this position. Its simply being there was a good sign, even though it was upsidedown. “It does not indicate marriage. You would be content to live together without marriage? [Reluctant nod and shrug from me.] It means that a very good, a wonderful, long term relationship is possible, but the expression card down here [lower right] is blocking it. You must turn that [the blocking card] card over. It will require manipulation, and you’re not very good at that. You have to fix that. You are a monkey. [I was born in the Chinese year of the monkey. Wow.] You can do tricks. You have to get him to let down the barrier. If you can fix that, then this card will turn around. If you can‘t, then you will remain frustrated. You will go back and forth, back and forth, unresolved.”
There were two or three other cards, but they either reinforced the others, or had little meaning to me.
Damn. That’s about the best description of our relationship I have ever heard. I couldn’t do better myself. I’ve GOT to turn that blocking card around, and I don’t know how.
Now, as to Tarot. I am fully aware that a good reader reads your expressions and body language. I'm also aware that, like horoscopes, one reads into what is said, and if it's general enough, anyone can apply it to almost any situation.
I found this reading interesting because it did seem so very specific to right now - some things that are going on that I haven't mentioned here. I did a little exercise last night, where I took what "the cards said" (including some things I didn't mention in this writeup) and attempted to apply it to other periods in my life, other relationships, and the closest fit, that I could say "Yeah, that sounds right", was the early years with Ex#2, over 30 years ago - except that Ex#2 was a few weeks older than I, and there was NO sex, let alone "very good". But the rest fit. And I never did get the block turned.
Interesting. I know I have to turn that block, and not because of what the cards say. I know it. I see it. But I don't know how.
I am reminded of my youngest sister's dog, a 2-year old Chow. He was very suspicious, snarled at me when I got too close to him, got up and moved away. The first time I met him, Sister had to leave the house, and I was a little concerned about being left alone with him. Sister said not to worry about him. "He's a total chicken", and wouldn't come anywhere near me. When they first got him as a pup, her mature tomcat had terrorized him unmercifully "until we put a stop to that".
She left, was gone about 20 minutes. When she came home, she was amazed to find the dog leaning against my leg, tongue lolling happily as I scratched his ears. For the next three days, he was glued to my side. He gave every sign of worshiping me. He even gave up his own bed and slept in my room.
How did I manage that?
I was left alone with the animals. I was in the kitchen when I heard a cat snarl and a yelp from the living room. I looked, and the cat was sitting in the middle of the room, and the dog was cowering in a corner. A few minutes later, I was sitting on the couch reading, when I saw the cat crouched, tail flicking, creeping, with an obviously evil intent, toward the dog sleeping in the corner. I got up quietly, and crept toward the cat. The next three things all happened at once - the dog woke up and saw the cat about to attack, the cat went into the leap crouch, and I yelled "NO!" and smacked the cat halfway across the room.
Instant doggy trust, faith, and love. I am The Great Doggie Protector!
I wish I could do something like that with The Man. It won't be so simple, I suspect.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Saturday already? I'm pretty out of it, mentally.
The good news is that the friend that I was worried about doesn't have what he feared (colon cancer). What the tests showed is unlikely to kill him (sciatica - no pain but it stopped peristalsis), but if he doesn't take care of himself it could be pretty uncomfortable. And he doesn't exactly have a history of taking care of himself. He seems to think that the immune system is a myth, and just because he can operate on three hours sleep a night it's ok to do so, and he doesn't eat right and never drinks water, and doesn't exercise, and doesn't pay any attention to what his body is trying to tell him, and yeah, that all bugs me. So, anyway, I'm not going to worry about it any more. It's all his. Pain is ok. Dying's not.
Actually, I'm trying to convince me to stop worrying, but, well, I'm not sure I believe him. Nerve problem in the lower back was what I had suggested to him could be the problem. I'm suspicious. He's not the most truthful person I've ever met.
Friday, December 05, 2008
There's something in the news today that I'd love to comment on, but I can't. At bottom of the article is this note:
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.Note that it doesn't say that I can't copy their sentences. It says I can't even "rewrite" any of "the information".
That means I can't mention any facts, or even that such-and-such happened, even if I give credit as to where I read it. Apparently AP thinks they own the names of the people involved, the where/what/when/who, indeed the entire incident.
Duh? Isn't that going just a little too far?
I propose that we ALL write to AP and insist on written permission before we discuss each item of the daily news around the watercooler (that's "broadcasting", you know). Let's overwhelm them.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
I got nuttin' today. Brain is frizzed. Instead, I'll send you to The Eggcorn Database. Fun browsing.
For a very long time now, since I moved the blog and turned off searchability for the first few months, I've been invisible to search engines. It takes a while to work your way back up in the search lists, and that was fine. I don't want to be found. Fine, except that I sort of missed seeing the very strange search combinations that got people here.
Well, Google sent someone in England here yesterday. The search args were "was raped by red dawg me bartender". Leaves one wondering what they were really looking for.
And I thought it was finally safe to talk about Deputy Dawg....
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
On November 21 I mentioned making the health plan selections for next year. What I didn't mention was that I had to do it by telephone, with no information as to what local doctors were in or out of network. One was supposed to log on to the website, where one would be able to explore details. This one tried, and this one screwed it up and got locked out.
They wanted my SS#, and insisted that I had a pin. I swear I've never been to this site before, so I tried three likely passwords, and they didn't work. So the system then asked me a "security question", namely, what was my first pet's name. (How would they know - I've never been here before!) I hate that question, because sometimes I'm sure my first grade kitten's name was Missy and other times I'm sure it was Misty. So sometimes I use my first dog, but that's not good because there are several ways to spell his name. It's not like he had a driver's license! So whenever they offer that question at setup, I ALWAYS request a different one, so that's another reason I'm sure I'd never been to this site.
I really think they were jerking my chain.
Anyway, after I failed the pet name three times, they threw me out and locked me out forever. I wonder how many other people got locked out.
Yesterday I got a letter from The Company telling me to log onto the site and verify my choices. I'm still locked out. They didn't even bother trying the pin diversion again. So I called technical support and got a new pin, and verified my choices.
And this time I was finally able to get some info on what providers are in network. The good news is that my current GP is.
The bad news is that practically no one else is.
I have a "choice" of one dentist, 17 miles away across the river, who ominously does not have the "accepting new patients" mark next to his name, and, should I need it, one oncologist, who is also not accepting new patients. Several opthamologists and dermatologists, though (all across the river). I guess I can get that mole looked at, but it better not be bad.
When Jay was sick, the insurance folks were so good to us. Even helpful and accommodating. I'm afraid those days are long over.
I've been trying to get to bed earlier, and up earlier lately. My bedtime tends to slip, and it had got to where I was going to sleep about 4 or 5 am and then not waking until 11 or noon. That means I had about 5 hours of daylight every day, and I thought that might be contributing to my malaise.
So I pulled an all-nighter one night last week to guarantee being tired, went to bed the next day at 11 pm, got up at 7ish, and that seemed to work. I kept it up for a few days, and was beginning to like it.
I blew it last night. I got to sleep around 3 am, and got up at 9 this morning. And I awoke feeling awful.
Several friends and acquaintances have been laid off within the past few weeks. Old friend NJ had surgery for colon cancer, and by her choice has dropped out of sight, none of us know how she's doing. And one particularly dear friend may be seriously ill (scheduled for tests today, it doesn't look rosy, and he has no health insurance). So there's a lot of depressing stuff going around.
And the new car for Daughter (her car is 10 years old) isn't going to happen in this economy. Not to mention my new car. (Sob. I so wanted a new, my-first-choice car. I've driven ultra-cheap new or used cars all my life, practical stuff, and before they take the keys away from me, just once, I want a fun sexy car.)
And the medical plan stuff. And, and, and....
So anyway, there's plenty of things to worry about.
When I woke this morning I felt awful. My stomach felt so queasy I reviewed what I'd eaten last night. It had that "this is not good" feeling, which quickly grew into a "death is imminent" feeling. I was very aware of my mortality. I was frightened. I thought of all the things that could be wrong with me. I looked around the house and thought "I'm not ready." I felt like something disastrous was going to happen.
It lasted about an hour. I'm still a little shaken.
I don't like it. I think there are people who have that feeling often. I guess I ought to clean and organize the house and files, though, just in case.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Cats are pretty smart. They can figure things out and plan attacks, how to find the good spots and avoid the bad. They don't usually learn "behaviors", like sitting on command or shaking hands, but that's because unlike dogs, they see no compelling reason to do so.
One of my previous cats figured out how to open all kinds of doors, She used to open the back door to let the dog out, and open it again to let him in (well, maybe that part wasn't so smart). If she got hungry, she'd open the refrigerator and check out what was on the shelves. You'd open the door to get an apple or something, and she'd be sitting there inside (well, maybe that part wasn't so smart).
My current felines know that Mommy feeds them when she gets up in the morning, midday, and before she goes to bed. They know the morning and night food is dry, which Mommy pours from a crinkly bag. They know the food is always put in a particular dish - a black one in the kitchen for Thunder and a white one in the pantry for Jasper, always the same dishes - and they know they are not to touch the contents of the other's dish. It's a very ritualized process.
So, howcum, when it's morning or evening, and I pour dry food from a crinkly bag into the black dish in the kitchen and the white dish in the pantry, howcum if it's a new flavor,
I don't understand.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Well, I bit the bullet and upgraded to Blogger's new template format. I'd been putting it off for months because I was afraid I'd lose the links and gadgets over there on the right. I think I figured it out.
There are a few things I'd like to change. I'm not too thrilled with the dark blue background, for one, but the dohickey for changing colors doesn't seem to allow a choice on that, and if I pick a different basic template now, I'd have to do all the links and gadgets all over again. I think. I'm not too sure. And the text area seems narrower than the old format. Not sure how I feel about that.
Well. It's done for now.
Later - Tried another template, got rid of that dark blue. The pinks still aren't muted enough, but if I can get the code for the colors I want elsewhere I now know where to plug them in. Eventually.
In an earlier post, I used the phrase "like wolves can sniff out rabbits" to refer to men who victimize women. That kicked off a thought.
Prior to Germaine Greer, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem (whom a lot of people thought I looked like back then) and all the rest, men who sexually preyed on women were called "wolves". Like the new secretary at work would be advised to avoid talking with George, the salesman, because "He's a wolf." That was the term back then, and it most definitely was not a term of respect.
Women used the word "wolf". Men mostly didn't. One man would rarely refer to another as a wolf.
Nowadays, the term seems to be "player" (I guess, I confess I'm not up on the current terminology).
There are two big differences between now and then, the '60s. "Player" implies more of an equality between the player and playee than "wolf" does. It implies that women do have more power than they used to have. That's good. Second, although men back then didn't refer to another as a wolf, they now will call another man a player - and the sad part is that there's an element of envy and respect when they do. That's very sad.
I get annoyed when young women refer to themselves or each other as "chicks". It's easy to figure out why it bothers me.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
It's a Polaroid photo, so it's more faded and battered than age would justify.
I had left the town where I'd started teaching in the summer of 1967, when Ex#1 got out of the army and we moved to Lansdale, Pa. In 1969 I came back to visit Jean. That's a wig I'm wearing. They were very popular then. That's not a wig she's wearing.
(Read 2134, Part 1 and 2136, Part 2 first.)
In 1966 it was next to impossible to make a rape charge stick without witnesses ((unless the guy was black, the only human less believable than a woman, nice period in our history)). In most states, if the guy was white, a woman needed a minimum of two witnesses. Even if she had witnesses, her demeanor, clothing, makeup, and sexual history were pertinent to the case, even though the man's were not. The second wave of feminists got us a lot more than almost equal pay, folks. The only way we were more free then than many of the world's currently "oppressed" women is that we didn't have the burka.
In those days, "date rape" didn't exist. There was no such thing. If she knew the guy, and was with him willingly, then it wasn't rape. She obviously led him on, she wanted it or she wouldn't have been with him, and if she yelled rape after, it's just because she's mad at him. All rapes were violent by definition, and by strangers, and if the woman wasn't badly injured, then it was all her fault because she didn't fight hard enough. After all, we all know "a man can't run with his pants around his ankles." She would get no sympathy from anyone. This is absolutely true. Women didn't report rape because they'd be torn to shreds if they did.
As the deputy had pointed out, the desk clerks would testify that I went to the room with him willingly. I didn't need to think about that. It was just the way it was. I had bruises. No broken bones, no cuts, no bullets. A few chunks of hair missing. End of story. Stand up and move on.
I had completely forgotten about Jean. Didn't think of her until Saturday morning, when I realized I needed to talk with someone. I needed support and sympathy. I also needed to apologize for leaving her in the lurch.
As it turned out, she had arrived at the hotel only a few minutes after I'd left the bar. Believe it or not, before she even sat down, her brother showed up, and she left with him. She thought I was late, so she'd left a note with the bartender (who denied I'd been there), to tell me she'd found a ride. She asked me why I was late.
I said, "Well, Deputy So-and-so ....", and I got only that far when she laughed, "Oh, Deputy Dawg! Yeah, I can see why he'd slow you down. Every woman in town gets hassled by him if she's alone in a car at night. The SOB tries to get sex services in exchange for dropping bogus charges. Everybody knows about him. He stopped So-and-so just the other night, and when he made her get out of the car and grabbed her breasts, she kicked him in the crotch. I don't know why he thinks he can get away with it. Well, it's ok. I got home. Sorry it was a problem for you."
I was stunned. I didn't tell her what happened. How stupid I had been.
So it really was all my fault?
I crashed and burned. "They" were right. This was the proof. I was stupid. I couldn't do anything right, and others could tell that just by looking at me. That's how he knew he could get away with it. That's why whoever had called him to the hotel knew that, too. It was all my fault. There's something very wrong with me, and everyone can see it.
I lost me for the next fifteen years.
The first ten years were very bad. I was raped (technically) more times than I care to count, and it didn't take physical violence to do it. I thought it was pretty much my lot in life. Like that was my role, to be the victim. Somebody has to do it. What's weird is that there are men who make it a habit to victimize women, and those men can unerringly identify women who can be used - the naive or needy women who need only a few kind words to turn their heads, and then are easily coerced. Like wolves can sniff out rabbits. They know exactly the right words to say, precisely how to defuse her feeble defenses.
What you need to understand is that I, my mother, and my siblings were all regularly brutally beaten by my father, told how stupid and useless we were, how everything that happened to us was our own fault, and we deserved it. I'd been beaten to unconsciousness many times. My next younger brother and I tried to get help - police, teachers, doctors - and we were always told "just don't make him mad". Which was a way of telling us that it was our own fault. Note that "domestic violence" wasn't known then - the term didn't even exist as a concept. The prevailing social attitude was that a man had a right to beat his wife and children to "keep them in line", and in fact even had a responsibility to do so. If a man didn't beat his family, it was because they were well behaved.
In high school, outside of the home, I had a pretty good life. I had good friends, and dated some nice boys, and none of them ever acted even remotely like my father. In 1966, in that small town, where I was liked, and appreciated, and successful, I thought maybe I was not stupid, not useless, that maybe I did deserve a good life. Maybe I could really do it. Maybe my father was wrong.
And then the deputy, the symbol of town authority, took that silly dream away from me. Over the next decade I met many men like him. Most were more subtle. They'd tell me they liked me. I'd think they liked me. They didn't. They just wanted to get me alone, just once. And then they'd say, I heard it over and over so it must have been true, right?, "You wanted it. You know you wanted it. You can't walk around looking like that and not want it."
I looked and smelled like rabbit.
I spent much of my adult life afraid of men. I was deathly afraid of angering men. I acted, behaved, became whatever seemed to elicit approval from men. I lost myself.
I was 37 years old before I figured out that it wasn't me, that I was neither bad nor stupid and never have been, that the problem was all in them, they were the bad people, and yes I was wrong to believe them, but that's the only way I was wrong.
The real me, the me I am inside, is pretty darn ok.
Since that realization, no man has coerced me, physically or mentally, into doing anything I myself didn't choose to do. I have been lied to by men, and misled, and taken advantage of, but that's different, because there was a grudging acknowledgment of equality in there. That's human, not rabbit, so that's ok.