Sunday, December 18, 2011

Reasons it may be spring

It was beautiful today. I didn't even wear a coat to church, just a light sweater. We saw people riding bikes, people in shirtsleeves, kids in shorts. The sun warmed up the car so much that we turned off the heater and cracked the window.

Katie, bless her heart, picked up a flea or two somewhere. God knows how - she never goes outside, so either one attached itself to one of us, or it wiggled in through a less-than-tight window. We didn't actually see a flea, but rather "flea dirt" - which is the nice term for "blood-tinged flea poo". The vet gave her a pill, and dosed her with some goop, and we are trying to clean any place where we thing dormant pre-fleas may be hiding, which means "every square inch of your house, including curtains, closets, and under the bed." Yay.

Would some pretty music be nice about now? Yes, it would. Here are Alison Krauss, Yo-Yo Ma, and "The Wexford Carol".

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I always wanted it, too

Singer Etta James is terminally ill with leukemia. Her doctor and her caretaker have asked for her fans to pray for her.

Godspeed, Miss James. This is one of my favorite songs ever.

Friday, December 16, 2011


 T had a meeting at a coffee shop this morning, so I took my sadly-neglected sketch book for entertainment. I've seen a couple of things recently about drawing with your non-dominant hand, and decided to give it a go with an old and ornate chair in the shop.


It is a modified contour drawing. In a contour drawing, you look at the subject, not the paper, and draw with a continuous line. I glanced at the paper occasionally to make sure I was close to the right spot, and allowed myself to move the pen to different places sometimes.

We have Sirius XM in the car, and one of the classical music stations goes all Christmas-y in December. It's good stuff, too - not a Bieber or a Mariah in sight. Yesterday, they played John Rutter's Shepherd's Pipe Carol, which is a song I always look forward to hearing. I love how happy and lilting it is. I would join any choir I knew was going to sing this.

The song may be unfamiliar to you, so here is a link to the lyrics.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Not Scrooges after all

T and I haven't put up a Christmas tree for years. We have one, but it is too big for our living room, and we just never got around to replacing it. But this year, we found a nice, and smaller, tree at Target, and after church today, T said, "Let's go get a tree."

It came pre-strung with lights, but just white ones. T wanted colored lights, so we added a strand of those, and now it is extremely well-lit. It took us three trips to three different Targets to get it displayed just right, and we are quite proud of our ingenuity in making a table from plastic storage boxes and a gold tablecloth.

To celebrate our decorating prowess, please enjoy Miss Angela Lansbury singing one of her hits.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

December already?

I must have blinked and missed November. Now, all of a sudden, I need to start making tracks on getting T a Christmas present or two.

We bought an exercise bike recently, which required rearranging some of the basement. I put the spinning wheel up on a table to save floor space, and also to lessen the temptation for Katie to mess with it. I may need to rethink this strategy.

Since I took the picture a few minutes ago, she has actually fallen asleep right there, even though she is just inches from a soft, warm chair.

It's pledge time at our public TV station, and tonight I flipped on the TV to see Peter Noone doing Herman's Hermits' hits. When I was 11, a neighbor boy asked me if I would marry him when we were 14. I agreed, and decided that this would be Our Song. Sadly, my family moved away less than a year later, and that was the end of the romance. I still like the song, though.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Do-over Done

Last month, I posted a picture of some wool that I had spun very shortly after I learned how to spin. I decided to try respinning it into something more usable. Today, I finished plying it, and gave it a nice, hot bath to get it cleaner than it had been.

Mystery black wool

There's not a lot of it, maybe about 50 yards, so it's probably destined to be a stripe on something.

I have reached new lows in dental emergencies. About a week and a half ago, I broke some dental work while eating a cracker. Seriously, a cracker. I finally got in to see the dentist Wednesday, and he set me up with a temporary crown, since it will be a couple of weeks before the real one will be ready. Anyway, today I was eating soup - SOUP - and the crown popped off. Of course, the dentist is closed on Saturday. T took me to Walgreens, where we found a number of DIY tooth repair items. I managed to spackle the crown back into place, but I'm eating VERY gingerly.

Who better for today's musical selection than Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem? This is my absolute favorite song of theirs, largely because of Animal's contribution.


Friday, November 11, 2011

My Soldiers

I am the daughter of a World War II era soldier.


I am the sister of a Vietnam era soldier.


I am also the great-great grandaughter of a Civil War soldier, the granddaughter of a World War I era soldier,  and the cousin of a Gulf War soldier.

To all who have served, I salute you.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

I owe it to mom

As promised, we had snow, and I have to say it was a very unsatisfactory snow experience. It snowed overnight, so I didn't get to see it falling. By the time I woke up, it was a slushy mess, not pretty at all. We got the aggravation without the prettiness. What a rip-off.

T and I both had the day off, which was good, and we both had dental appointments, which was annoying, but not too bad. I broke a crown last week, and today was part one of getting it repaired. I'll be glad to have that done.

As we were driving back and forth to the dentist, we saw that Noodles & Company is finally open at the mall, so we went there for dinner. We discovered it in Indiana when we visited my family, and had been looking forward to them arriving in Iowa.

Tonight, I took a wild notion to bake some oatmeal cookies. I haven't baked oatmeal cookies in ages, but they are Terry's favorite cookie. He used to get them at The Bookstore Whose Name We No Longer Speak, and they had cranberries in them, as well as raisins, so I put cranberries in mine.

I read something today that was giving advice about how to learn to cook. It talked about reading recipes, understanding the "flow" of the preparation, making sure you have all of the ingredients, and so on. It occurred to me as I was mixing up the cookie dough that, even though it's not a regular activity for me, it was easy to pick up again because my mom started teaching me how to cook when I was a young child.

And later, I was crocheting, and I had the same realization. To the uninitiated, a crochet pattern must look like hieroglyphics. Because it's something I learned young, though, it doesn't take me long to figure out a pattern, even if I've gone years without thinking about crochet. Again, this is something I learned from my mom. Most of the things she taught me to do, I still know how to do, even if I do them irregularly. That's a nice legacy, don't you think?

It's autumn, and the moon is almost full, so what better time to end the day with Mr. Van Morrison?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Good morning!

No, really it's evening - a rainy, chilly evening, with the promise of snow overnight.

I gave this post its title because the peppy song I posted yesterday reminded me of my hands down, all-time favorite wake up song. Years ago, when I was living in a dumpy little apartment, I had an old portable radio that I kept in the bathroom, and I listened to it while I got ready for work. It was tuned to KIOA, the local oldies station. I was young enough then that they played music older than me. (Now they consider "Oldies" to be songs from when I was in college, and even later. I mean, really!)

I worked some pretty early hours back then, too. Sometimes I needed a little extra inspiration to get going in the morning. This song was the best. It starts out sort of mellow, sort of like a folk song crossed with lite jazz. Each verse swings a little more than the one before, building up to The Big Finish (tm). Even if I was still half asleep when the song started, by the end I was singing into my hairbrush microphone, working out my choreography, and tossing in some jazz hands for good measure.

This video doesn't give you any of that, but it is the recorded version I know best. Anyway, I don't really want to see it performed. I have my own vision of what it SHOULD look like.

Look out, old Macky is BACK!

Monday, November 07, 2011


So I made it through October and posted almost every day. Blogging is a habit now, right?

Ah, no. As frequently happens when I participate in month-long challenges, by the end of the month, I am OVER whatever the activity was. That's why I quit doing NaNoWriMo. It makes me hate writing.

I did finally get my gingerbread last week. We had one blustery day, and I baked. Perhaps I should have waited. It's raining now, and possibly turning to snow tomorrow. I have cookie supplies on hand, just in case I feel the need to bake again.

In honor of my DTAUC friends on the NaNo forums, I am crocheting a doily. I'm also still working on re-spinning the black wool that I got in my spinning class a few years ago. The singles are done, and I am plying it. What I'm really eager for is the post-spinning wash. This was raw fleece, and even though I had washed it, it was still fairly greasy. I probably need to soak it more aggressively, which sounds like an oxymoron. I think it needs a longer soak in hotter water to nudge more of the lanolin out.

I haven't quite adjusted to the time change yet. If you are like me, maybe this song will give you a pick-me-up when you need it.

Monday, October 31, 2011

And the winner is...

I don't know. Nothing has jumped out as The Thing I Must Do In November, and I'm okay with that. I do need to work on last year's sweater, though, and the other one that is completely knitted, and just needs to be seamed up.

Tomorrow is supposed to be sandal-warm here, but confidence is high that Wednesday might be gingerbread day.

Today's video clip: Ray Price and Willie Nelson. I stood in line once get Willie's autograph, back in his tax trouble days. Not only did I get the autograph, he got up from the table and posed for a picture with me, and then walked over and shook my dad's hand. That's the thing that left the biggest impression with me, that he made an extra effort to be nice to my dad.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

As usual

Staying up too late, trying to post before midnight.

October is not quite over, but I think I can declare NaBloWriMo a success. I've only missed posting one day, and that was an accident. Now, as with NaNoWriMo, I won't claim that you got high quality every day, but you got something. I like to think that even when I just posted a video, it may have revealed a little bit about me.

As November approaches, there are more "do something crazy this month" options. There's NaKniSweMo, where you knit a sweater in a month. I tried that last year, and still have a half-finished sweater that I haven't touched in eleven months. Maybe I should knit the OTHER half of the sweater next month.

Or there is NaNoJouMo, where you work on an art journal every day. That one appeals because 1) there are daily prompts, and 2) you can use words and pictures, in any proportion you see fit.

Then there is the 30-Day Creativity Project, which just wants you to do something creative every day. Even fewer rules! I'm liking it already.

Here's what I WISH I could do. But, patience, grasshopper.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

What a crock

At the grocery store a couple of days ago, we found packages of fresh vegetables for making beef stew. I thought it was brilliant, because it irks me to have to buy, say, a bunch of celery when I only need a couple of stalks.

So today, I decided to make beef stew in the crock pot. I worked today, and wasn't able to start cooking until afternoon. Setting the crockpot on high should have given it plenty of time to cook, but after three and a half hours, the vegetables were still very crunchy. We ended up turning the crockpot to low and going out for Mexican food. By the time we got back home, it was simmering nicely.  We'll have to stew for Sunday dinner.  It will probably be better the second day, anyway.

I'm wondering now, though, if that crock pot going wimpy, since low seemed to cook hotter than high. It's probably about 15 years old.

Yesterday, I installed an old copy of Dragon NaturallySpeaking on the desktop.  I'm trying it out tonight as I write this post. Talking to the computer is not as natural as I thought it was going to be. Even with simple text, I have to stop fairly frequently to make corrections or look up commands. I also don't seem to have a good sense of what the words look like when I'm not actually writing them. That may be something to get used to in time.

After yesterday's melancholy song, today's selection is plumb full up with the confidence of young love. This is the aria from La fille du regiment that earned Pavarotti the nickname "King of the High Cs". Here is is performed by Juan Diego Florez, and he pops out those nine, count 'em, nine Cs like there is nothing to it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Wating for gingerbread

It's almost November, and I'm still waiting for gingerbread weather.

Gingerbread weather is the first really blustery day of mid-fall. It chilly enough that you need a proper jacket, and maybe even a scarf. It's probably cloudy, maybe even drizzly, and the wind cuts right through you. When I was a kid, the first occurrence of such weather was my mom's excuse to make gingerbread. Even after I was grown and long gone from home, she and I would still report to each other when it was gingerbread weather.

I keep thinking it will be any day now, but so far, no. It's getting cooler, but otherwise rather sunny and pleasant. I'm ready for it, though.

This should be the point where I give you my mother's recipe for gingerbread, so here it is.

Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cake and Cookie Mix

Yep, mom was a dandy cook, but her gingerbread cake came straight from a box. What's more, she always topped it with fake whipped cream. At first it was Dream Whip. (Mixing the Dream Whip was my task in the gingerbread experience.) Then, when Cool Whip hit the market, she switched to that.

In memory of my mother, I also have a box of gingerbread mix in my pantry. I draw the line at the Cool Whip, though.

Now, I just need the right day.

I don't have a cheery video today. Late October is the time to share this beautiful, wistful song, performed here by the fabulous Rosemary Clooney.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

When is a biscuit not a biscuit?

A couple of days ago, faithful reader Bernie blogged about biscuits, and illustrated the post with a lovely picture... of canned biscuits.

It's clear that B is not from the American South. Canned biscuits, also known as tube biscuits or those damn storebought biscuits are considered by many to be a Yankee-sponsored attack on Southern gentlefolk.

Which is not to say I've never had them. My dad was always happy to cook his baby daughter a cholesterol-stuffed array of pigmeats for breakfast, but he drew the line at scratch biscuits, so I've had my share of ersatz biscuits. Cooked 'em, too, but if I need biscuits, I usually use Bisquick, which I consider to be slightly less of a travesty. Plus, you can make Impossible Pies with it. Who could be against that? (And Bernie--Bisquick pot pies. I'm just saying.)

In the south, canned biscuits are often called "whomp" or "whop" biscuits. This term is a legacy of the late comedian Jerry Clower, who lamented the sad sound of biscuit tubes being whomped on a counter to pop them open, and the contents being foisted off onto families as biscuits.

I couldn't find a clip of Jerry talking about biscuits, but I did find an audio clip about Tater Ledbetter and his moped. I remember listening to it with my parents, and them giggling themselves silly. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I'm just so proud to be here!

In my distraction yesterday, I failed to note that it was the 99th birthday of the late Sarah Ophelia Colley Cannon.She's been gone for 15 years now, but you remember Cousin Minnie Pearl, don't you?

What the heck, let's watch another! I like this one because she has a different costume, and different body language to go with it. Her country bumpkin simplicity often disguised the fact that she was a smart woman and a skillful performer.

The phrase, "They don't make 'em like that anymore," is sometimes overused, but in this case, I think it is the absolute truth.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Can't blog. Reading.

I stopped by Target this afternoon to pick up a few things. While there, I saw Shatner Rules by, who else, William Shatner. I glanced at a few pages, and thought it seemed more readable than his recent memoir, Up Till Now.

So I bought it, and I'm reading it, and I'm loving it. If I didn't have to go to work tomorrow, I would stay up way too late reading it. At this point, I have only stayed up slightly too late, and I need to stick to that.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Penultimate day of summer

Today was a lovely summer day. I know this because they have finally turned the heat on at work, last week when it was chilly, and it was a tad bit stifling in the office today. The leaves have mostly turned, but they haven't all fallen yet. When I crossed the river this afternoon, the trees on the banks were all covered with golden leaves. Tomorrow is also supposed to be warm. And then Wednesday, not so much.

I love autumn and spring for the anticipation they bring. One day you can be wearing shorts and sandals, while unpacking your turtlenecks and mittens. It's sort of like leading a double life.

Today's musical selection: I have no earthly idea what made me think of this. I think I may have seen something about Nairobi on Yahoo News. Anyway, even at my advanced age, I am too young to have seen The Ernie Kovacs Show when it was on the air. I did sing this song in high school choir, and years later, discovered Ernie on public television. I give you The Nairobi Trio, with Solfeggio.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

More shops, no drops

Our weekend festival of shopping continued today, but we went separate directions. T really didn't want to wait while I shopped for clothes, and I did not especially need to go to Bass Pro. I would not rule out the possibility of me taking a spin through Amazon before bedtime, either.

Today's happy video has embedding turned off, so instead there is just a link:
Singing In The Rain

Gene Kelly is my imaginary boyfriend, just so you know.

My friend Sand asked me today, "What's the deal with the videos?" The first one, "Enjoy Yourself, It's Later Than You Think", is one I can sort of play on the ukulele. It isn't heard much anymore, but its message is still timely. I thought I would do my bit to resurrect it.

I don't remember why I picked "Get Happy", but c'mon - get happy! What's not to like? Judy was already entering her period of unreliability when she made "Summer Stock", but she sure kicked it in this number.

We have Sirius/XM in the car, and I listen to the Broadway station when I am driving. They played Irene Ryan's version of "Just No Time At All", which I assume is also underappreciated, since I can't find it on the internet. When you watched the clip, did you sing along when instructed? I hope you did. It's a bouncy chorus that is fun to sing.

And so on.

I love a good torch song as much as anyone [who knows what a torch song is nowadays], but a happy song has an amazing ability to lift me up. Maybe one of them will lift you up, too.

Anyway, isn't it a bit more entertaining than hearing that I bought a sweater today?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Shop 'til you drop

T and I had accumulated a long list of things that we needed around the house, so today we shopped. He has been want to replace the kitchen floor, so we got some new tiles. I wanted something to tidy up The Studio, and got a wet/dry Swiffer. Winter's coming, and I needed socks. He needed something from Scheels. I needed something from Ulta. It went like this all afternoon.

The only thing we could not find was a piece of heavy canvas. The camper tent needs patched in a couple of spots, and we thought canvas and fabric glue would do the trick. Have you ever been to Joanne's on Saturday afternoon? It's a madhouse, and as far as we could tell, every employee was either at the cutting counter or the cash register, both of which had long lines. Want to ask someone a question without waiting fifteen minutes? Not a chance. We're going to continue considering our options. Mail order? Nylon instead of canvas? Duct tape?

Since it is Saturday, here's a special Saturday song from my favorite group ever.

Friday, October 21, 2011


I was on vacation today, and it is T's day off, so it really felt like we were playing hooky. We drank our morning coffee together. We got haircuts. We went to sporting goods stores. We went to Barnes and Noble, twice. Pretty exciting stuff.

For today's musical selection, I tried to find Kay Armen singing "Hallelujah" from Hit The Deck. (No, not the Leonard Cohen song of the same name, which is sort of a downer once you get past the first verse.) Once again, teh intrawebz failed me. During the search, though, I learned that Ms. Armen passed away earlier this month, at age 95. I also found this video of her performing a few years ago. If she sounds this good in her 90s, you can imagine how good she was 55 years ago. It's not in the title, but at 5:40 she sings "Time After Time", which is one of my favorite love songs. RIP.

What I COULD find on video was Kermit.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Do-over by chaimann
Do-over, a photo by chaimann on Flickr.
I was looking through my handspun yarn this afternoon, and found this little ball of black wool. I got the fiber when I learned to spin, about four years ago, and it is clearly beginner spinning. It's thick and thin, mostly thick, and it would be really tough to find something I could make with it as is.

I thought the black fiber was pretty, though, so I decided to see if I could re-spin it into something usable.

It's been a little dicey, since it has been spun for a few years and is sort of "set". But by going slow, and taking my time unspinning the former yarn, I'm getting a nice fine single.

Continuing this week's uplifting musical selections, I give you Miss Martha Raye:

This role was originated by Irene Ryan, but I could not find her Broadway recording on the internet. Yes, sometimes the internet fails. But this one is pretty good, and I actually remember seeing this performance, on PBS I imagine, back in the day.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Get Happy!

This morning, I read this article about how to be happier. If reading an article is too onerous for you, you might enjoy the Cliff's Notes version.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It's later than you think

At least, it's later than I thought, meaning, it's bedtime. In lieu of inflicting more of my babblings on you, allow me to present this song which sums up my worldview pretty well.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Twine-ing around

This weekend, I brought home some work from the office to proofread. It was a new procedure, and I was checking to see if the logic made sense. After identifying several hiccups, I thought it might be easier to make a flow chart or some other sort of diagram to help me see the problems.

I tried handwriting one, and didn't like it. I looked at some flow chart software, and it was way more complicated than I needed. Then I remembered what the boss said when she asked me to look at it: "Try out all of the options. Choose your own adventure."

Some time ago, I read something on the web about software that would help you organize a Choose Your Own Adventure story. A bit of Googling later, and I had a copy of Twine.

It was, quite simply, exactly what I needed, and really simple to use. The program opens with one window open. You type your text in that window, then use some simple wiki-style formatting to create links for your options. (Twine is based on TiddlyWiki, which I have also played around with a little bit.) The link opens a new window, and you type more text, and create more links. Lather, rinse, repeat. When you are done, you can export a document for proofreading, or an .html file for playing the actual adventure.

It didn't take me long to map the entire project, and see where the goofy parts were. Even better, it was fun. The way the boxes popped up and linked together was very satisfying. The only problem I found was that the .html export didn't work for me, but since I didn't need it, that was not a problem.

My internal clock can't help thinking about writing things in mid-October, and it tells me, "Something like this would make NaNoWriMo more fun. It had a word counter, you know."

I may need to remove the batteries from that clock for the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Astro quilt by chaimann
Astro quilt, a photo by chaimann on Flickr.
This is part of the quilt that I won at the star party. (Thank you, Okie-Tex!)

It's huge. It could easily be a bedspread on our queen-size bed, It won't be, though. Even before we got home, I told T that it would have to stay out of the reach of she with the thick fur and sharp claws.

If you look carefully in the upper corners, you will see flamingos. Flamingos are the unofficial mascot of the star party, and there is one embroidered on each corner of the quilt.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ghost strip mall

Ghost strip mall by chaimann
Ghost strip mall, a photo by chaimann on Flickr.
When we were on vacation, we decided to drive up to the Three Corners marker, where Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Colorado meet.

It might have been a good idea to take the regional map with us. As it was, when the paved road ended, and branched into two dirt roads, we chose the road on the right, which turned out NOT to be the road to Three Corners.

We drove for awhile, until we were convinced that we were already in Colorado, and we were nowhere near the marker.

Being lost allowed us to see this unexplained feature, though. It looked new, not run down or abandoned, but we did not see any signs suggesting it had been or would be Something. And it was really remote. The nearest town was maybe 15 miles away, and that town has about 20 people.

T and I are usually pretty good at making up stories about weird stuff we see, but this one has us stumped.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Oh, no, no, no, NaNo

When we were on vacation, I put the spinning wheel up on a table and covered it with a garbage bag, so it would not present to much of a temptation for Katie (who managed to behave badly, just the same, but at least not on the spinning wheel.)

Now that my new desk is put together, and the old desk is gone, I once again have room to the use the wheel, so I finally unwrapped it today and did some spinning. I am almost done now with the First Bag of Fiber I Don't Love. I purposely bought fiber that wasn't special to me, so I could practice and learn and screw up without feeling bad. When I finish the singles, I'm going to try N-plying them, and I am fully prepared for it to end up unusable, or close to it.

I also put some new batteries in my Neo. I don't think I'd used it for a couple of years, at least. It still had a couple of files on it, so I offloaded them onto my computer. One was a scene from the last NaNoWriMo I completed, 2008 I think, and I have no idea what the other one was. I read them both, and... they were not bad.

They weren't "not bad" enough that I'm ready to cave and do NaNo this year. I'm a slow typist, and it just kills me to spend that much time churning out unusable crap, and, as T rightly points out, I'm a mess by the end of November.

They did make me wish, though, that I was one of those people who has story ideas gnawing at them all the time, because I can do pretty serviceable work, as long as it is at my own pace.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sometimes I am a little slow

I probably saw Blazing Saddles dozens of times over thirty-some years. I know most of the dialogue backwards and forwards. Still, it was only recently that I realized that a "hearty" handshake might also be a "hardy" handshake.

A Laurel and Hardy Handshake. Ohhh. Got it.

In other news, after I went to the dentist a couple of days ago, I rewarded myself with a quick spin through World Market. There, I was delighted to find that Vosges has added Mo's Dark Bar to their lineup. A few years ago, I reviewed Mo's Bacon Bar for the Piker Press, so I felt I had a journalistic responsibility to try one.

It was pretty good. It's been awhile since I had an original Mo's, so I'm not positive, but I think it worked a bit better with the milk chocolate, and I don't recommend milk chocolate lightly.

I also see that Vosges has an entire category of bacon-chocolate delights. Wow.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Despite my best intentions, I failed at the "blog every day in October" thing. I had an idea for a post last night, and then completely spaced off taking the ten minutes to write it. Oh, well.

That post was going to be a quicky, pointing out that one of my vacation photos is the Peek of the Week at the Piker Press. That is probably my cue to start uploading some more photos, since the editor is fond of nature pix, and I have them in spades.

Yesterday, I was reminded that NaNoWriMo will be upon us in a couple of weeks. Last year, I successfully avoided participating. This year, I even avoided remembering that they push the reset button on the web site in early October. I believe that means my recovery is on track.

I still like to check out their technology forum to see what's new for writers. This year, one of the sponsors is Yarny, a cloud-based writing app, which looks sort of cool. I have a love/hate relationship with the cloud, though. Ninety percent of the time, I think cluttering up the internet with my natterings is stupid, or selfish, or risky. The rest of the time, I'm completely dazzled by the idea of having my stuff available to me, no matter where I am. I mean, I have three computers of my own, plus access to some others. If you were writing something, wouldn't it be great to have access to the latest version, no matter which computer I was using?

(Full disclosure: I do have a Dropbox account, which I use infrequently, but happily. If you would like an account of your own, you can use this link and we'll both get an extra spiff on storage space.)

Then I remember that on my last vacation, we were a forty minute drive from the nearest wi-fi hotspot. If you aren't at home, there are still a lot of places that don't have wi-fi, and then where are you with your cloud-based novel? Taking notes on a napkin with a pen, that's where, and saving your typing to a flash drive.

That's right. We've come to the point where using a flash drive makes you a luddite.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Just another manic Monday

...Wish it were Sunday.

Went to work early, did the usual stuff, and some extra stuff. Came home, fixed dinner. Watched some TV with T (War of 1812 on PBS). And that's about it. Maybe I will be more thoughtful tomorrow.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Wooly green cheese

Spunky Eclectic Lunar by chaimann
Spunky Eclectic Lunar, a photo by chaimann on Flickr.
For Christmas, T got me a Galaxy fiber sampler from Spunky Eclectic. It has twelve one-ounce bundles of fiber, each dyed to represent a different solar system object. When I am jonesing for a small spinning project, these little bits are perfect. The one pictured is called Lunar. It's hard to photograph it so that it shows all of the shades of green - lime, kelly, teal. It's really pretty, if you like green, and I do.

Today, we had lunch at the new French bistro in town, Tartine. It's in a strip mall, a location previously inhabited by a barbecue joint. They did a nice job of classing it up with paint and new chairs. You still order at the counter, and get your own drinks, but they serve your meal on china, with real metal flatware and cloth napkins.

I liked my quiche just fine. It was a nice, thick slice, which I don't see very often, and it had a crust that was actually tasty. T said his panini was okay, but a bit on the bland side. I'm looking forward to trying it again, maybe at breakfast, when pain au chocolat will let me give it the ultimate thumbs up or down.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

I have a new desk!

Desk accessory by chaimann
Desk accessory, a photo by chaimann on Flickr.
...but the same old desk accessory.

We bought the desk before vacation, but didn't assemble it until now. While we were away, Katie left a small deposit on the box. No doubt that gave her a sense of ownership.

Friday, October 07, 2011


Why is it that dental issues invariably crop up AFTER the dentist's office is closed for the weekend? At least it's just intermittently painful. Once I broke a tooth, in my sleep, on Thanksgiving. Have you ever tried to find a dentist working on a long holiday weekend?

In other news, L’Shanah Tovah.

And so, to bed.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Ya big sissy

As I mentioned a few days ago, I am a big fan of Halls Naturals cough drops, especially the ones with a real drop of honey in the center. They are tasty and soothing.They are sort of hard to find, though, so when I saw them at Hy-Vee the other day, I snapped them up.

What they don't tell you on the bag is that they have "improved" the packaging. Each drop now comes wrapped in a paper printed with one or more bits of encouragement. A PEP TALK IN EVERY DROP (tm), they call it.

  • Flex your "can do" muscle.
  • Seize the day.
  • Dust off and get up.
  • Push on!
  • Don't give up on yourself.
  • Let's hear your battle cry.
  • Put a little strut in it.
  • Put your game face on.
  • Be unstoppable.
  • Power through!
  • Be unstoppable.
  • Go for it.
  • Hi-five yourself.

Really, Halls, all I need from you is a mentholated candy that will stop a coughing fit. I'll deal with my own positive attitude when I can breathe and speak, so just take your little wrappers and "Hi-five" yourself. I'm going to bed early

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Gym Suits: A remembrance

Yesterday, since T and I were both still off work, we did our grocery shopping in the afternoon. On the way home, we drove past a group of high school girls in t-shirts and baggy shorts walking together - the track team, I'm guessing.

Seeing all of these girls in their sort-of matching gear gave me a flashback to  my teenage years, and the dreaded Gym Suit. If you are too young to remember gym suits, or if your school was more enlightened in the 50s through 70s, then God bless you, and I hope you are truly thankful.

For the rest of us, gym class meant changing into a "ladylike" one-piece romper. It was cotton, I think. Surely they wouldn't have inflicted polyester on us, would they? Ours had a culotte style of skirt, although I understand some actually had bloomer legs, which is the only thing that could have made it more hideous. The top closed with snaps, I believe, and had a tasteful and impractical notched collar.

I can't recall how long we had to wear these contraptions. It may have just been in junior high, but I definitely remember thinking, "They want us to wear WHAT?!" when I first heard about them.

Our ensuing discussion about gym dredged up another clothing memory. One of the high schools I went to had a pool, and one of the phys ed modules was swimming. So of course you had to bring a swimsuit for that, right?

Wrong! The school provided you with a swimsuit. Flimsy, black one-piece suits with no structure and no support, if you know what I mean. I guess if there was any positive aspect to them, it was that they made you want to stay in the water, where it was hard to see how unflattering the suit was.

What about you? Did you ever have to wear a uniform for phys ed class? Sound off in the comments.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Day 4: Taking the easy way out

Our hostess at NaBloWriMo graciously provides us with a prompt each day which we may use, or not, as we see fit. Since today is the last vacation day, and also the day when my cold had me sort of groggy and unsteady, it seems like a good day to let someone else give me a topic.

Today's prompt:  What advice would you give your fifteen-year-old self?
  1. Don't try to figure everything out yourself. Let grown-ups give you some advice.
  2. Take more science and math classes, and maybe business. Yeah, I know you love music and writing and languages, but science and business are where the jobs will be when you grow up. And you can't imagine what will happen with computers in the next few years.
  3. I know studying is not as fun as hanging with your friends, but it will pay off in the long run. Study as hard as you can.
  4. Don't be so quick to judge people. There may be a very good reason why they are the way they are.
  5. You won't believe how soon your parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles will be gone. Talk to them, and write down the stories they tell you.
  6. Start saving as much money as you can. When a company called Microsoft starts selling stock, buy all you can afford.
  7. Learn everything you can about managing your money. Budgets are boring, but always having money available is fantastic.
  8. It's okay to say, "I made a mistake."
  9. Don't be a prude. You can be sensible without being a stick in the mud.
  10. But that boyfriend who wants you to go a little farther than you feel right about? Go ahead and be a prude about that. You won't regret it.

Monday, October 03, 2011

NaBloWriMo Day 3 (and 2, and 1)

See how I've been posting here several days in a row? That's because I signed up for NaBloWriMo. The goal is to post to your blog every day in October. If you want to take a crack at it, you can still sign up until the 6th.

We are home after two days driving. Let me tell you, after we spent several hours yesterday driving across northern Oklahoma, the Flint Hills of Kansas looked utterly beautiful today. Autumn is creeping into the upper Midwest, and I hope to get out a take a few pictures for y'all before all of the leaves fall.

Since I'm still tired from all the travel, I'll just answer a few questions someone has asked, or maybe ones I made up myself.

Why do you blog?
I believe I started the blog because I wanted to post a comment to a blog that limited comments to other bloggers, or something like that. One of my first posts is about how I really didn't want a blog. But once I had it, more often that not, it ended up being the letter I would have written to my parents if they were alive. If anyone else wants to read it, that's cool, too.

What is your blog about?
Nothing in particular, and anything that strikes my fancy. I like making, or trying to make, all sorts of things, so often the blog will be about something I've made. Or not. Full disclosure: I'm not above posting pictures of my cat in lieu of actual content.

What do you mean, "fiber wrangler"?
I knit and crochet. I am moderately proficient with a drop spindle. I got a spinning wheel a few weeks ago, and am trying to get my wheel skills up to snuff.

How's your cold?
I've had worse. I'm still sucking on cough drops, and I need to refresh my stock on The Good Ones, Halls Natural Peach With Honey Center.

What else are you doing right now?
I'm watching Prohibition on PBS. I started watching the first episode at the hotel last night, when they were talking about famous Kansas resident, Carrie Nation.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Heading back to civilization

The star party is over, and we set off for home this morning. FYI, after a week in the wilds of Cimarron County, the drive across northern Oklahoma is dreary. How dreary? T hates Wal-Mart as a rule, but he was excited to stop at Wal-mart in Alva, just so he could look at something besides straight roads, red dirt, and tumbleweeds. But I exaggerate. He also saw some dust devils.

We stopped there so I could get some flowers to take to my parents' grave this afternoon, and some cold medicine. Yep, I managed to catch myself a cold. Most people would settle for a souvenir shot glass or something, but not me. I have souvenir Mucinex and saline spray.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Way Out West

We spent the past week in western Oklahoma. FAR western Oklahoma- Cimarron County, the western-most county in the Panhandle to be exact, and in the western half of the county, at that.

My parents were both Oklahoma natives, so as a child, I spent a fair amount of time traveling to Oklahoma to visit relatives, and those experiences are a story for another day. Suffice it to say,  I thought I knew Oklahoma, and I wasn't particularly impressed.

In recent years, as T and I have had occasion to travel across the state for one reason or another, I have been interested to note how well the Oklahoma tourism people are promoting the state's many natural and cultural features. A trip across I-44 a few years ago had me thinking, "I'd like to visit THIS place some time."

No one ever told me about Cimarron County, though. It's high, high plains on the eastern half, and the gateway to New Mexico on the western half, with rocky hills and mesas. We are camped at Black Mesa State Park, which is smack on the dividing line. We came in on the southeastern entrance, which was mostly flat and straight. When we leave through the northwestern gate, we see one mesa after another. It's really beautiful.

And remote.The locals have cell phone service, but it does not support roaming from any other services. We have to drive about fifteen miles before we start picking up a signal from the county seat. It feels a little strange to be this far removed from phone service, to say nothing of wi-fi, but we've adjusted.

We came here for the Okie-Tex Star Party, which is held a few miles from the New Mexico state line. Most days, we have taken a little side trip to see some of the surrounding country. T was born in the southwest, and he says the landscape reminds him of his early years in New Mexico.

Today , we walked the little nature trail in the park, and kept hiking up to the high, rocky bluff. Up there, T saw this spider on the path. It went on about its business while we took our photos.

Brother Spider

And now, a public service announcement on behalf of the good people of Cimarron County, who have been lovely hosts to us. Apparently, the governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin, has never visited Cimarron County. The local newspaper runs her picture on the front page, asking, "Have you seen lthis woman?"

Governor Fallin, you really need to visit Cimarron County. It's beautiful and peaceful, and the residents have a fantastic spirit. Every year, the good people of the county welcome astronomers from all over the country to enjoy Oklahoma's beautiful dark skies and warm hospitality. If you cannot figure out how to shake some hands, and make a speech about the grandeur of the earth below and heavens above in your state's most remote gateway, then you do not deserve to be a politician.

It would also be nice if you could get one of your tourism people to come take a look at the sign at Black Mesa, the highest point in the state. The front of the sign was very informative, but the plastic covering the back side was so yellowed that the information was completely unreadable. Maybe YOU don't care about the condition of your state parks, but some of us do.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Serendipity, I guess

The last time I posted pictures here, I complained to myself (the one person in the world who always LOVES hearing me complain) about my stupid, ancient Blogger template, which was so narrow that the pictures flopped over into the sidebar. Then I went and looked at the other templates, but only saw the same old narrow ones that have always been there.

Then I looked at Customizing, and apparently, I inadvertently updated myself to a different template. When I posted yesterday, I realized that the template was different, and more important, W I D E. Yeah!

Of course, updating the template also messes with sidebar customizations. No offense to those who used to be there and now are not. I'm still fiddling around with the look I want, and there is no point customizing anything until that is settled.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bad night for astronomy

I didn't take many pictures at the Iowa Star Party this year, but one I did take ended up as Peek of the Week over at the Piker Press.

It was flippin' hot before the thunderstorm blew through, and quite lovely after, albeit a bit moony, so T got some observing in. Mostly, it was just a good chance to sit around and not do too awfully much.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sketchy McSketcherson

Some pictures by chaimann
Some pictures, a photo by chaimann on Flickr.
My friend Sand and I were just talking about doodling and scribbling and playing with art. I told her I would post some of my scribblings, and here they are.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Pictures in my head

We went to Whiterock Conservancy last weekend for the Iowa Star Party. The big event of the weekend is the Saturday picnic dinner on a lawn overlooking a river,  followed by an educational presentation in an old barn.

After dinner, our host, Liz, came around handing out scissors. "Go down to the garden and cut some flowers, and then bring them back up to the house, and we'll put them in Mason jars." I agreed, reluctantly, as I am not much of a flower person, but Liz can be persuasive.

There is a cutting garden down by the river, full of flowers I could not name. I was still a little hesitant, but Liz assured me that we were not cutting flowers for anything particular, just dead-heading them so they would bloom more. I interpreted that as, "Heck, yes, cut the pretty ones." So I did.

Even though I couldn't put a name to most of the flowers, I know good colors when I see them. This garden was at least as big as my house, and a riot of color - sunny yellow, warm gold, peach, pink, deep red, and an occasional pop of purple. Some blooms were as big as my fist, some were little bulbs no larger than my thumb, and some were tall spikes.

Back at the house, we got a beginner's course in flower arranging. Strip the lower leaves so they are not in the water, and don't forget to dress (hide) the rim. Some people made symmetrical clusters of matched flowers. Others just jammed a bunch into the water. I was somewhere in between, not too fussy, but willing to fiddle around a little bit to get a nice balance.

Since I was actually doing something, I left my camera with T. I suspect that by not looking for a way to record the moment, I was actually able to enjoy the moment more. But dang, I wish you could see all of those flowers, and experience the delight of picking the best ones for your own little bouquet.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New to the Girl Cave

Katie checks it out by chaimann
Katie checks it out, a photo by chaimann on Flickr.
Last weekend, I bought a spinning wheel. I've been spinning on spindles for a few years now, so I knew I liked the process. I had already been thinking about finding a wheel, and then an unexpected windfall showed up, and... What do you know? My half of the windfall was just a few dollars less than the price of a Schacht Ladybug, which was high on my list of "well-regarded wheels that I can afford and which are carried at the nearest fiber shop". So, I picked up my friend Sue for enabling support, and we went shopping.

The first couple of days with the wheel were really frustrating. It's a machine, after all, with quite a few moving parts that affect how it performs. That first day, if it didn't pull hunks of unspun fiber right out of my hands, then it twisted it into a kinked mess. I bugged people on Ravelry, looked at books, and Googled problems I didn't know how to describe. Every day, I tweaked things and tried again. Today, I finally got something approaching the kind of yarn I know I can make on a spindle.

Today was also the first day that Katie decided to come closer and check out the wheel. Surely that is a good omen.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Four houses

Four houses by chaimann
Four houses, a photo by chaimann on Flickr.
My friends Alex and Lillian have been doing art projects together. They'll pick a photo of an art object, and then they will both reproduce it.

Recently, Lillian picked a photo of a really cool building, and I couldn't resist taking a crack at it myself.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I made yarn

Uranus and Saturn by chaimann
Uranus and Saturn, a photo by chaimann on Flickr.
Again this year, most of my artsy-craftsy activity in July was devoted to the Tour de Fleece. The challenge is pretty simple - spin every day that the Tour de France is riding.

I worked on several ongoing spinning projects, but these two were new fiber, started and (mostly) finished during the Tour. The fiber was a Christmas gift from T, part of Spunky Eclectic's Galaxy Series, twelve different colorways based on solar system objects. These are Uranus (top) and Saturn (bottom).

I like the way they came out, and I'm feeling quite pleased with myself for making something I actually want to knit with.

Monday, May 16, 2011

EDM 102 & 103

EDM 102 & 103 by chaimann
EDM 102 & 103, a photo by chaimann on Flickr.
My friend Bernie (quite and artist in his own right) asked for more drawings, and I am happy to oblige.

Forget that old chestnut about "not able to draw a straight line." I am clearly incapable of drawing a circle, to say nothing of three concentric circles. And I'm okay with that. Lots of things are "wrong" in the pedometer picture, but in the end, it is a pretty good representation.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Every Day in May

EDM 101 by chaimann
EDM 101, a photo by chaimann on Flickr.
I found out yesterday, the 14th, about the Every Day in May art challenge. Yeah, I'm two weeks behind, but we'll never know until we try, will we?

I drew five things today. This was the first.

Sunday, May 01, 2011


Multnomah, a photo by chaimann on Flickr.
I started this little shawl so I would have something simple to knit on the airplane while en route to a wedding last October. I finished during the wee hours Friday, while watching the Will and Kate nuptials.

Yes, I watched the Royal Wedding, from the time the important people started arriving, until the newlyweds left the balcony. I love a good show, and I had to work during Charles and Diana's wedding, so I deserved to see this one.

The shawl pattern is called Multnomah. It took one skein of sock yarn, and it is dead simple if you can count to 18. I did fine with the 18s, but had a little hiccup counting to 4 that caused me a bit of ripping back. No harm done,

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter 1965

Ready for Easter by chaimann
Ready for Easter, a photo by chaimann on Flickr.
It may have been raining this day. Our Easter finery pictures usually were taken outside, facing into the sun, and invariably involved me squinting.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Caves Project

Girl Cave by chaimann
Girl Cave, a photo by chaimann on Flickr.
Phase One of the Man Cave/Studio project is complete. The major furniture and equipment has been moved to the new locations. I am computing from my new digs in the basement - not at 100%, but getting by. T still has some network issues to straighten out.

There is still a lot of work to be done. The entire wall to the left, extending back beyond where I am standing, is piled with boxes. It's moderately well organized as clutter goes. Except for a few boxes that T packed when I wasn't looking, I know where everything is. I also have a general idea of which boxes of stuff need to be attacked first, and which have the highest potential to be leaving the house.

But look! Even with lots of stuff, there is floor space! We never had floor space before! Seeing that empty floor every time I walk into the basement is my encouragement to keep chipping away at it.

The best part is, I managed to snag one of the easy chairs, so Katie still has her favorite place to sit when she comes to visit.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Random acts of sprucing up

Slowly but surely, I am cleaning up the basement. We've hauled away some ratty old furniture, thrown away some stuff, and donated some stuff to charity. Today, I put a lot of the remaining stuff in neat rows, which will have to suffice as "order" for the time being. I set aside more things for a Goodwill run, and bagged up more garbage.

The ultimate goal is to make the main room of the basement my creative space, a studio. Really, I just wanted a place where I could set up a sewing machine, but you know how it goes - you clean one little area, then the area next to it looks bad, so you clean it, too.

To celebrate my industriousness, I sat down in a patio chair and did a little spinning. No photos - I've taken dozens of photos of the Pepto Pink fleece, and they all look about the same. But I didn't want to be picture-free, so please enjoy this artist's rendering of "Spindle, Laden with Fiber".

While I was working in the basement, our neighbor and her friend, unbeknownst to me, were doing yard work on our shared border. Suffice it to say, there is now a huge trailer in our back yard for yard debris, and tomorrow's agenda includes chainsaws, heavy ropes, and a dash of Round Up. When it is over, the sideways lilac should be upright again, and the grapevine and volunteer sycamores should be dead.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Katie at rest

100_2683 by chaimann
100_2683 a photo by chaimann on Flickr.
I took off my sweater and folded it up. Before I could put it away, someone adopted it. You can't see it, but she is also lying on the iPod earbuds. I'm flattered that she wanted to be near me, but she always finds the most inconvenient way possible to do it.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Happy Birthday(s)!

PD_0244 by chaimann
PD_0244 a photo by chaimann on Flickr.
i can always remember when I started this blog, because it was on my brother's birthday. Tomorrow, he and the blog will both be six years farther along the path than when I started.

Like this picture, the blog has no discernible fashion sense, and I don't see it developing one any time soon. I've always said that the blog is basically stuff I would have told my parents if they were still alive. If a few people wander by and read, that's cool, too.

Once a year, though, it's also a chance to tell my big brother that he's still awesome and memorable, no matter how he is dressed.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Kobo-Kindle smackdown

Kindle v. Kobo
Originally uploaded by chaimann
Last month, I finally broke down and got an e-reader. I wasn't absolutely desperate for one, but the situation aligned itself so that I could get one at a reasonable price.

I've heard numerous reader-types say, "Oh, I wouldn't like that - I love real books too much!" To them, I can say that my little Kobo has not replaced printed books in my heart, at all. If anything, I have been reading more. I still have a couple of books going at home, but I also have a some on the Kobo for when I am out.

This picture is T's Kindle and my Kobo, side by side. It was the illustration for my review in the Piker Press.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Life is serious

Originally uploaded by chaimann
Some days you've just gotta play.

(watercolor and ink on paper, ATC size)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

Kansas Day

Originally uploaded by chaimann
January 29, 2011, is the 150th anniversary of Kansas statehood.

In 1961, when Kansas celebrated its centennial, Pratt had a parade, and mom made sure my brother and I were decked out in our frontier finest. I know she made my dress, and a matching dress for herself. I wouldn't be surprised if she made Phil's vest, too.

Happy Sesquicentennial, Kansas!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A poem for the season

Recent conversations with a couple of football-loving girlfriends reminded me of this little ditty. I composed it when I was in junior high, back when the frozen north ruled the NFL - sort of like this year. What could have been more old school than seeing the Packers, Bears, Steelers, and Jets vying for the Super Bowl this year? I always got a vicious little thrill, seeing southern teams play up north, in falling snow, or in single-digit temps. Namby pambies. You should try living up north ALL THE TIME.
Ahem. Anyway, this is the only thing I ever wrote that I can recite in its entirety. If you would like to enjoy it for yourself, sing it to the tune of Jingle Bells.

Football games! Football games!
Frolics in the snow
Sitting on a frozen bench
It's just thirteen belo-ow
Pass received? Pass received?
We will never know
For the guy who made the catch
Is buried in the snow!
Dashing through snow
A wishbone T in play--  
There's faith though we're behind 
Nineteen to three today
Our team just can' t fit in
The place where we now play
You see, we are from Florida
And playing in Green Bay!
(repeat chorus with gusto)

(Disclaimers: Yes, I know nineteen is an uncommon score, and I know Miami didn't run the wishbone, and they certainly didn't run it across divisions against the Packers. But it's a poem, dammit, and these words scanned, and that's the important thing.)
(P.S. Go Steelers!)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My life, circa 1970

70s shirt
Originally uploaded by chaimann
I was cleaning the basement today, and found this, which my mother hung onto until she went into the nursing home. I can't imagine why. It certainly doesn't have the same sentimental value as my baby shoes, my toy telephone, and my first 4-H sewing project, all of which she also saved.

Even after all this time, there is nothing on here I would remove. I especially like the name patch. On an olive shirt, it makes it look like I am the brake repairman... of LOVE.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wordy McWordson

My Nano pal, Holly, contributed the word list to Creative Copy Challenge this week. Then she dared me to take that challenge, and write a story using all ten words. Really, go look at that list. Note that they refer to it as the hardest list ever. How many of those words could you use with confidence? Anyway, Holly dared me by name, on Facebook. What could I do?

I could do this:

It seemed like only yesterday when Agathe had taken Heinrich under her aegis, tasking him with a panoptic study of the nature of life, and of death. Townspeople whispered about their peculiar relationship – her, a widow of a certain age, and him, a young university student who had barely a wisp of a beard. It was easy to assume that the boy had provided Agathe with certain “services” in exchange for an education. That he had long since finished his formal schooling, and continued to live in her magnificent home, further convinced some, and vaguely baffled others.

She watched from the hallway as he worked, and recalled the shy student who had come to her door one evening nine autumns ago, inquiring about lodging as several canids howled in the nearby woods. His shabby clothes had made it clear that he possessed no wealth. Heinrich had roomed there for several weeks before he had admitted that he suffered from taphephobia, the same condition that had plagued Agathe’s beloved Wilhelm. At that moment, she decided to open her entire home to him, including the laboratory and the library. He had heard rumors of her late husband’s experiments, and when he saw the long-dormant rooms, full of dusty journals and test tubes and a large Tesla coil, Heinrich’s face lit up with such verve that Agathe knew she would allow him to stay indefinitely. It was an eleemosynary gesture, of course, but she delighted in the fecund spirit that filled house while he was at work.

Heinrich stood facing a device that appeared to be a small wood stove with semaphore arms attached to either side. After adjusting several pieces, he looked up and saw his patroness in the doorway. “I think it’s ready,” he said. “Would you like to be the first to try it out?”

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Originally uploaded by chaimann
Some time in the last week, our finch socks were knocked to the ground. I blame the deer, especially since every new snowfall is accompanied by hoof prints across the back yards, showing the itinerary of their grand tour.

The finches are skittish about eating that close to the ground, but the juncos love it. A few minutes after I took this picture, there were half a dozen of them pecking away at the nyjer seed.

More snow is in the forecast. I need to get a new sock for the finches - and figure out how to keep the deer away from it.