Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Ho, Ho. Ho.... aha hahahahaha

“Though you are far from us we hold you close in our hearts, and you’re in our thoughts and prayers. Have a blessed day in the Lord as you reflect upon the grace and love of God manifested in Jesus Christ.” So says my brother in an e-card. Amen and Amen.

Had it been just a little bit colder Christmas day, we would have had lots and lots of lovely snow. It would have made a very good day almost perfect day. This year we did put up a tree (we have not always done so). Saturday morning R went into the back field and cut down a cedar. Don't worry (dad was worried,, "you CUT DOWN a tree???), they multiply like rabbits and they need to be thinned to make room for the pine trees that are starting to establish themselves. He decorated it on Saturday evening while I prepared food for the church Christmas dinner. It was quite fun. N, his fiance (RC), and her ex-huband (T) showed up in the midst of the events and it was quite lively. I invited T to come to dinner on Monday with N and RC. Yes, it is rather odd they the three of them are close friends, still, but....

And they all came on Christmas day in the afternoon for dinner. Although T has family in the area, he didn’t want to spend the day with them because they treat him badly. He's loud, and friendly, and not quite in touch with reality, and it's hard to get him to stop talking once he gets going. He makes me laugh, though. It was a good day, different, at any rate. The combination of the three of them with their assorted mental problems could make interesting case studies for a psychiatry journal. And I don’t mean that in a mean, nasty way either, it’s just the way things are. It was hard to keep a straight face sometimes – one doesn’t want to be cruel and laugh at people instead of with them.

We exchanged some gifts, and played some cards. I found, much to my surprise, that RC likes to play Kings in the Corner. My brother-in-law’s mother taught our family this game, and I had no idea anybody else even played it. They all left after a couple of hours, and I’d have to say it went well.

And then I got to talk on the telephone with various family members celebrating with my parents in Gardena. I miss them, as always, when a special holiday comes around and we are here and they are there.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Definitive Answer

Occasionally freezer containers make a desperate bid to escape their frozen environs and hurl themselves out of the freezer only to crash on the ground, and occasionally, they crack. This, of course, is fatal once the item inside has thawed. Thus, I saw that a container of soup stock that R pulled from the freezer and brought upstairs for me to do something with had a cracked lid. As soon as the soup stock thawed, I tasted it and pronounced it thoroughly nasty and poured it out. I also took the huge step of throwing away both the container and the cracked lid. This was a major deal for me. I normally do not throw away such items. I always look to find another use for them. When R strolled by and saw the container in the trash, he couldn’t believe it either and queried, somewhat incredulously, “Are you throwing this away?”
“Yeah, I am, the lid is cracked.”
“Oh, okay” he says.
But then I started having second thoughts. Maybe I could still use the container. I often pack small amounts of food in sandwich bags and put them inside a larger bag, so if I happen to need some of that food item, I have a small portion instead a huge chunk. Richard hates the plastic bags in the freezer, and this disabled container would be a perfectly fine to use for that. It wouldn’t matter that the lid was cracked a little. So then I started to dither about it. And I said, “I think I have changed my mind. I think I can find a use for this.” And he said. “No, no, no, let’s just leave it” and I said, “Well, but that’s a waste I could...” and before I could finish the sentence, he fished the container out the trash and stomped on it as hard as he could and it shattered into many pieces, which he then swept up.
“There” he said, “you don’t have to worry about it anymore...” Well, I guess not.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Leader of the Pack...

A situation has developed at the Y with the exercise class I attend that leaves me feeling amazed and sort of in shock, and yet wanting laugh out loud whenever I think about it. For most of my life, I have thought of myself as being a “follower.” I’ve always been content to be in the background, let somebody else be in charge, and be happy to do what I am told. But that has changed in the last few years. I have gotten much more assertive, and now seem to be quite happy to take over if nobody more assertive than me is around. I have also noticed that in meetings when decisions have to be made, I often “control” the meeting because I am usually the only one to offer an opinion and often the group agrees with what I want to do.

Now, to the funny situation in connection with the “active older Americans” exercise group that I attend thrice weekly at the YMCA. This is a picture of the women who mostly attend the exercise class. It was taken about a year ago at a going-away party for the receptionist. The men in the background are also regulars at the Y in the mornings when we exercise, and they were invited too. The class combines weight lifting and stretching with a low-impact aerobics routine on days 1 and 3 and a walking video on day 2 where we march along in place following the leader and the group on the video. On occasion, our leader is not there (that’s the short woman on the left hand side of the picture in the second row), and then Wanda takes over (red arrow) and leads the group with the stretching/weight lifting and the walking video. Only some of us don’t like the video that much, and during one period when our leader was gone for about 2 weeks, I opened my big mouth and said that I would be happy to lead the aerobics routine. So then a subtle struggle for power started between Wanda and me over who was going to lead the group when we do aerobics. This is not an “angry thing” though. I love Wanda to pieces. She is very funny lady, and we’ve had a few hilarious sessions (but I guess you’d have to be there to appreciate it), where everyone did more laughing than exercising as we tried to work it out between us who was going to lead. I think today we finally got it ironed out, though. She’ll do the stretching, and I’ll do the aerobics.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

We are the pirates who.... don’t go anywhere

To paraphrase the gleeful “We Are The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything” sung by the fruits and vegetables on our Veggie Tales video, who are dressed up as pirates but they don’t actually do any “pirate things,” they just sit around all day. We have been waiting for this day since I quit the job in May. Part of that job was shoveling snow off the sidewalks in front of the building and the loading dock in the rear, and we hated it. We? Well, it was my job but R usually went with me when winter storms dropped snow and ice. Mainly because I needed help with the shoveling, but also because I have had a few scary experiences driving in the snow and ice and I hated having to drive myself there (although I did it many times). And we have been waiting for the first winter storm to arrive so we could get up the morning and look out the window and sing “We are the pirates who don’t have to go anywhere...” Of course this morning R is probably doing more physical labor than if we were at the job because the ice storm that came through last night caused a tree to break and fall across the driveway. He had to get the axe out because the chain saw is not working and chop on it so he could clear it. And he very nearly got brained by a branch that broke off the maple tree just as he was fixing to come in the house.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanks..... giving....

I remember the first Thanksgiving we spent here fairly well. It was a cold, windy, miserable day. My oven was not working so I had to load up the car and camp out in the kitchen of the church we were attending to cook the “oven” part of the meal. I don’t remember for sure what we had though, maybe duck or a chicken. And then carry it all back. But it was fun in a way. There was a sense of adventure, a sense of coping, a sense of accomplishment. Something to do to help take my mind off being miserable away from my parents and my brothers and sister. Now, in recent years I have the added arrow piercing my heart in connection with our son. I know that I am not alone in feeling depressed at the holidays, and for this very reason I suppose there was a segment on the morning news program yesterday about having an “attitude of gratitude.” This morning when I was on the treadmill, R came in to talk about when we were going to have our main meal today. We had already decided not to do a big Thanksgiving dinner because of the fellowship meal at church on Sunday, but still, it IS Thanksgiving. As I was clumping along discussing this with him, he put his arm around my bouncing shoulders and said, “Don’t be depressed” and then began acting silly. He was so sweet, and he made me laugh, and I love him for that. Laughter really is good medicine for the soul.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A truer word....

I recently checked out a book from the library that just happened to be written by an author from this area, about this area. References were very thinly veiled, indeed. West Plains became West Table. The local newspaper, the Quill, became the Scroll. I really didn’t like the story that much, but these lines rang true...

The Ozark’s region... it’s all meadows and hills, trees, and red, rocky dirt. The houses show signs of having been built by different generations with different notions of architecture, but all run together to make single rambling homes where the different wings appear almost to have been built as refutations of previous wings. You start seeing... various vehicles that have rusted so successfully into the landscape as appear to indigenous...

Thursday, October 26, 2006


The Ozarks has its share of trees that do themselves proud when it comes time to dress up for the Fall color show. The drive to the dentist the other morning was quite a visual treat. I can only imagine though what it must be like in some areas of New England where there are large tracts of sugar maple that turn such spectacular colors. There are sugar maples here. People have planted them in their yards and the seeds have spread and they are now growing wild. We discovered, much to our delight, a small forest of sugar maples have sprouted up right where our driveway meets the frontage road. Why they couldn’t have sprouted close to the house – say in our yard – is a bit of a disappointment, but nonetheless, we got a visual treat for a week or so as we walked out to get the mail.

Seeing the tree reminds me of the best birthday present our son ever got me. About 10 years ago or so, he arranged for a friend who owned a plane to take us for a 30 minute plane ride over the countryside. The yellows, browns, golds and red of the various trees in the forest were laid out like a beautiful patchwork quilt. It was so beautiful. It was such an incredibly thoughtful, caring, and generous thing for him to do. It's a very good memory of him to hold on to.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me

Yesterday began fairly early with a phone call from my beloved dad singing “Happy Birthday,” which is a tradition. And Himself had managed to set up a display of Hershey’s kisses in the form of a heart around his birthday card on the table, without me seeing him do it (concentrating too hard on a surgical pathology paper – I’ve been thrown off the deep end of the pool on this one). And there were several sets of dangly earrings to go with it. And then a delightful dinner last night with friends, during which we definitely fell off of the diet wagon and consumed close to 1,000 calories more than we were supposed to. When we arrived back home, the answering machine light was flashing and upon pressing the button, out wafts the voice of my younger brother singing “Happy Birthday” and then right on the heels of that came my sister, also singing “Happy Birthday,” and finally, my long-time friend Mary from Oregon also wishing me best returns on the day (she didn’t sing though). It doesn’t get much better than this. Unless perhaps, the little girl is 3 years old, and gets to go to Aunty’s house, and receives the best present of all: a fishing pole so she can go fishing with her dad (and somewhere in this blog there is a picture of me fishing with a parental unit).

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Ta da dump, ta da dump, ta da dump, dump, dump

We tend to lament what the university has done to the old downtown section of West Plains. Instead of locating the satellite campus on the outskirts of town where it could grow unimpeded, they stuck right down in the older section of town, amongst the old Victorian houses. So as the campus has spread, the old homes have come down -- along with the all the trees that were so beautiful in the fall . It's a shame, but on the other hand, if it weren't for the college we woulldn't have a civic center and a performing arts program and we would not have gotten to hear the orchestra from St Olaf College last night. What a treat for us to get a bit of culture and listen to a top-notch orchestra perform some wonderful music. And with the senior discout, it only cost $5 for the both of us. Amazing. There was a sentimental reason to hear them as well. The youngest son of a family I have known for quite a long time, and with whom I had a fairly close relationship, attends the college and plays the cello with the orchestra. When I first met them, he was just a little kid. My, how time files. They are moving away to Nebraska soon and our face-to-face friendship will be over. At any rate, the first selection performed by orchestra last night was the William Tell Overture, an extremely well-known bit of music. How many times have the “storm,” “call to the dairy cows” and the “calvary charge” been heard in popular culture apart from the music hall. Lots. Warner Bros cartoons, Walt Disney cartoons, commercials, and of course, the Lone Ranger. I can’t imagine that any of the students sitting on the stage last night have ever seen the Lone Ranger, which was off the air as first run episodes long before any of them were born. At any rate, as I sat there listening to this wonderfully performed music, I could feel the stress and strain of a long day at work slowly lifting, and when the “ta da dump” section started, I wanted to shout with joy “Hi-yo Silver, away! (Who was that masked man?).

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Ahhhh.... the passion

Passion flower vines have been growing in our field for some time, I guess. They weren’t here when we first moved in, so I am not sure when they first took hold and began to spread. But at any rate, they’re here now. We didn’t realize they were growing until we took a stroll the other day down the clear-cut area under the power line that runs across the field. Now that summer is at an end, this is about the last flower left and it is fading fast. Even so it is still quite beautiful. Little green pods of passion fruit dangle down from the vine. My cousin in Hawaii does things with passion fruit, makes jelly I think. I can’t imagine how one would go about doing jelly from the little fruit these produce. They are mostly just seeds with a little juice filled jelly. At any rate, the flowers are lovely. And we especially liked the spider. Guess it hangs out there ready to nab unwary insects that come to sample the flower’s nectar.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Thieves in the night...

In some ways I feel like we’ve been dropped into Wild Kingdom this summer. The bucket of birdseed that I had sitting near the back door became infested with “miller moths” – not sure what their correct name is but they leave their worms behind in just about every grain product we have in our house. So R said we had to put the seed bucket outside, with a brick on top. Before too long a mother raccoon with 4 (or maybe 5) babies arrived, proceeded without much trouble, to tip over the bucket and chow down. The seed had bits of peanut in it, which is what I assume was attracting them. R caught them in the act several times – fairly early in the evening too – and he says they were actually eating the seed. The seed is gone now, but I can tell when they have been here because they tip over the water that I put out for the birds. It would be very tempting to put out food for them – they are extremely cute when they are little – but I think that would be very big mistake.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Bat is Back!

Because the slope of the land on which our house is built, the “first floor” of the east side is at the equivalent height of the second story. So my view from the kitchen window is mid-tree level, which is sort of cool sometimes. About half the house sits on top of a walk-in basement and fruit cellar, and R’s office, which is also on the east side and has a door into the dining area, is on top of the garage. We thus have to hike up quite a few steps to come in the house that way, and the stairwell is open to the roof. That wide-open garage door is inviting to certain critters – mostly birds, which have built nests -- and then there’s this little fellow (or gal). This little bat shows up every once in a while, spends a couple of days clinging to the drywall at the top of the stairwell, and then vanishes again until the next time. And then there is a funny story (well, fortunately, I think it is a funny story) to go with this. This last time the bat returned, which was several weeks ago (I’m running behind), I asked R to take a picture of it, which is what is posted here. I finally got around to asking him to transfer the picture to my "hold file" on the network. So he said sure and a few minutes later he called from the other room "the picture is in your hold file under 'old bat’.” Well, there was a picture there all right, but it was a picture of ME (the old bat!).

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

How many men does it take to...

....pick up a dead deer. Yes, unfortunately, we saw one of the big deer lying dead at the shoulder of the road by our house the other morning when we left for the “big city.” The department of transportation is fairly quick about picking up the road kill (of course it isn’t the “road” that kills them, it’s the cars and trucks, duuuh). One would assume that two men and a pick up truck could get the job done. One guy get the front, one guy get the back, and heave her into the truck bed. Yes, it was a big deer, but did it really require a huge front-end loader and a dump truck? We’re talking the giant-sized skip loader here and a full-sized dump truck, both of which had to be driven over from the DOT yard. True, it’s not that far, but still.... Our tax dollars at work.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

I can see clearly now...

Just before we left on our vacation, a contractor hired by the electric co-op came by and told us they would be clearing the right of way under the power line that cuts across our field from the church to our house. They were as good as their word, but my goodness, we were in for a shock when we got back from our trip. When they did this about 5 years ago, they just trimmed the trees and didn't do much else, and within a year you couldn't tell anything had been done. This time it was different—much different. I am very glad that we were gone when they came, because we would have been very upset. They cut a wide swath across the field, but it was more than just cutting down the trees. The 30-foot (?) right-of-way is now bare ground. Course it won't be bare ground for long, because already maybe 1000 mimosa trees have started to sprout, but in any event, we have a clear view of the church and they have a nice view of our propane tank. One of the trees that is now exposed is an apple tree. We never got any apples off of it in the years after noticed it was blooming because we couldn't get to it, and then we forgot about it. The deer knew it was there, and all along have been eating the apples off the ground, but we never saw them. Now, just about every day, we have the pleasure of seeing a doe and her fawn under the tree eating apples; and a couple of days later: a doe and twin fawns.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Charles Chaplin

My father’s mother worked as a seamstress in the wardrobe department for one of the film studios in the Los Angles area. This would likely have been in 1920-1930. My sister took on the task of making copies of important photos that my mom and dad have so that all of the sibs can have them. My mother, I think, is trying to cover her bases -- she doesn't want her children fighting over "stuff." I received my set when we were there on vacation at the end of July. Amongst the photographs that came to my father when his father and mother became late, and copied by my sister, is this candid snapshot of Charles Chaplin. That this is not a professional publicity photo should be obvious. I don’t know how my grandmother came by this picture, whether she took the picture on her own camera (she did have one, because she took pictures of her kids when they were little), or if someone else at the studio took it and gave it to her, but that my grandmother should have had this photo has “blown us away” to speak.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Simple Pleasures

Yesterday at the used bookstore I found a book I have been looking for since last December, when I happened upon it at the bookstore at the airport (in Houston? or was it Dallas?) and began reading a few pages of it while waiting (at umpteen dollars I was only briefly tempted to buy it) for my flight to Los Angeles. It appears to be a brand-new hardback for only $3.00. When I am finished I will donate it to the library so someone else may enjoy it too. He surprised me yesterday by coming in with the brochure from the “Center for the Performing Arts” and pointing out that the Wailin’ Jennys will be in concert there in April. I looked up and said, “Oh, can we....” and before I even finished he showed me a layout of the auditorium and where our seats are located. I am thrilled to the core. They are a wonderful singing group and I can hardly wait until I get to hear them. Clicking on segment 3 at this website will allow you to hear them if your computer is set up correctly. The song is “Long Time Traveler.” And today I figured out the secret, finally, to using liquid hand soap. I usually loose about 90% of each squirt. Now that there is barely 1/4 inch left in the bottom of the bottle, I realize one is not supposed to wet one’s hands before squirting on the soap.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Home again, home again, jiggity jig

Yes, I am back in the saddle again. It was at about this time last Thursday, 6:30ish, that we were into New Mexico with Albuquerque and dinner the next goal. Albuquerque is always so beautiful to see coming over the hills with the setting sun shining on it -- and this time there was a thunderstorm and a beautiful rainbow in the distance to make the picture even lovelier. Having said that, we generalky hate driving in Albuquerque, but I won't go into the difficulty we had getting to the restaurant. We ended up eating in a 1950s-syle sort of diner with a big owl on it, appropriately named "The Owl Cafe. (Go ahead, do a Google search and you will find a picture). It was very noisy from sound echoing off the walls and unpleasantly remined us of the miserable atmosphere at the Circus Circus restaurant we ate at during the "Las Vegas leg" of the trip. The Owl Cafe had some really cool old music on the juke box. I selected two songs for a quarter, but could barely hear either one of them on the speakers. The specialty of the house was a hamburger with green chili sauce. We both ordered it, but I got almost no chili and R’s was drenched with it. Seems to be the story of my life. It happens with depressing frequency that whenever we go out to eat, Richard ends up getting a really good meal but mine ends up being "not quite right."

The trip home was very different than the trip out. Going was fun – Route 400 across Kansas was delightful. I got a “sense of place” for the area in Colorado where my mother grew up on a small ranch. And we saw breathtaking scenery on I 70 leaving Denver – Glenwood Canyon was just beautiful, and the Rocky Mountains were---high!

But the trip home? Exhausting and irritating. About every 20 miles or so on I 40 there was some sort of road construction, and we felt like cattle being shunted through the chutes at the sale barn. It was very frustrating because just as it seemed we were making progress, here came another “reduced speed ahead, fines doubled in construction zone" sign. After our experience in Arizona several years ago getting zapped with a $250 fine in a construction zone (I did get to stand on a corner in Winslow Arizona, though) we take no chances.

I was very surprised that we made it home by 8 pm, but that was because we did not stop for dinner. By this point we were very tired of eating out and we had food in the cooler to eat.And what did we find when we came home? Well, terrible mess in the refrigerator. Before we left, I had unplugged the refrigerator, cleaned it and the freezer thoroughly, and left the doors open. Unfortunately, R shut the doors as he went from room to room around the house with his checklist because they were blocking the door to his office. I forgot to open the doors again before we left. We discussed briefly calling N and having him go in the house and open frig doors, but we decided against it, and that was a big mistake. I suspected the refrigerator would be in bad shape by the time we got back, and I was not disappointed. The insides were covered in mold (mildew?) whatever it was. I had enough bleach to get started, but R had to go to the store to get more. I spent at least an hour recleaning every surface of the refrigerator. I now have a extremely clean refrigerator.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Before the panic sets in...

I awoke this morning to marvelous rain. Rain, rain, glorious rain. We are in a drought here (R will want to argue with me on that point, but it is true). Everything is very droopy and the leaves on the cottonwood are turning yellow and falling to the ground. That tree is definitely a living "rain gauge" of sorts. I don't know when the rain started, but when I went downstairs at 5 a.m. to roll up the window of my car the seat was very wet.
The rain that started off as a slow, steady drizzle periodically became a torrential downpour as the storm moved through the area -- one such time occurred as I was driving from the aerobics class to the post office to get our mail. My wipers could not keep up with the rain. I parked and got out, and by the time I walked across the street and into the building, I was about half soaked. A woman standing in the door with an umbrella said “Well, I guess you don’t care about getting wet!” By the time I left the building and walked back to the car, I was soaked to the skin.
When I got back home, I squelched into the house, washed my hair, and hung my wet clothes on the line we still have stretching across the living room from when we used to dry clothes indoors during the winter when we heated with the wood stove. And then I got on with my day. I gave thanks for every blessed drop of rain that fell.

It is a very fortunate thing that we no longer have the doggy door in the bottom pane of the back door storm door, because had it still been there, we would have had at least two baby raccoons in the house and probably their mother and her other two babies as well. They woke me up at 1:30 am making this funny trilling sort of noise that they use to talk to each other. So I got up and turned on the porch light, and there were they were. A couple of them immediately ran off the porch, but two others were right there at the back door with their noses pressed against the storm door glass. It doesn't bear thinking about what it would have been like chasing wild baby raccoons around the house.

The pile of stuff that we think we need to bring with is us on our vacation is slowly spreading across the floor in Rs office. I think the stuff is breeding, or something. Every time I walk through there I want to giggle. R is standing in there scratching what little hair he has left on his head, wondering about it all. "Boy," he says, "as you get older the stuff you need to keep yourself going tends to increase." Now he is trying to figure out how to take the Certo for his knee pain. Is he going to cart 2-quart bottle of a grape juice across the country?

Time is slip slip slipping into the future. Trying not to panic. I have no clue what I am going to wear on the trip. I’ve gotten too fat for most of my clothes. Well, I’ll figure something out. I usually do.

Monday, June 26, 2006


No, I'm not talking about a cocktail. The tree! We have a small forest of mimosa trees at our place. They are everywhere. In the fall the trees produce many seeds pods, which winter over and then germinate and the trees spring up everywhere. Their lacy leaves they make a wonderful shady canopy. And the blossoms! They attract hummingbirds and butterflies, and they have sweet delicate scent that wafts over the yard when the breeze blows. The mimosas that grow in the front of our place have drawn us into “warfare” with the state and, most recently, the gas company who sent a man down the right of way in a “putt-putt” vehicle spraying herbicide. Two years ago the state sent crew to chop down all the mimosas on its right of way that had sprung up. And two weeks ago the gas company man zapped yet more some of the mimosas that we were pleased to see spring up to help block our place from the highway. Nothing we can do about it, of course, we are doomed to loose.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Shuddup! Shuddup! Shuddup!

And why would two reasonably sane (?) adults leap up and race through house and out one of the two back doors (yes, we have two back doors and no front door, it's a long story) screaming SHUT UP! Well, you might too if you had at chipmunks on both sides of the house “chipping” off and on all day long. And what do I mean by "chipping?" Aha. I'm glad you asked. From a Web site about chipmunks ( "chipmunks frequently call with a high-pitched chip or “chuck” repeated over and over (and over and over and over, emphasis added), at intervals of one or two seconds. This scolding noise is often made by a chipmunk watching an intruder from a safe vantage point. Some scientists think that it may also be the mating call of the female chipmunk." Mating call of the female chipmunk? Oh brother. If this is true, if this noise we are being subjected to sporadically all day long is being made by female chipmunks, well, we may be overrun with chipmunks. Chipmunks are adorable, so we haven’t even considered trying to eliminate them. They might send us to the looney bin though.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Nothing is wasted

In addition to be obsessive about letting nothing go to waste, I am reasonably tolerant of other creatures that wish to share my space. When I was the cleaning lady at the post office, I routinely rescued the pill bugs, katydids, and crickets that found their way inside the building instead of simply stepping on them. And the same is true for my house. As long is the insect isn’t in my food or sucking my blood, I usually leave it alone. I kill roaches, flies, ticks, mosquitoes, and ants. So this morning when I killed a large cockroach that was inside my coffee cup, I did not simply wash it down the sink. No, not me. I gave it to one of the spiders in the bathroom.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Squatter’s rights

The Carolina Wren ( is ubiquitous here and just everybody has “wren nest story.” These wrens don’t build their nests in trees like the other birds. Oh no. They like to make their large piles of leaves and grass in odd places. At our house, among the places they’ve made nests include behind the radiator grill of an old car, between the supports of a small pasta machine left in the barn (cleaning that out was a chore), and in the clothespin bag. A friend had one build a nest inside the engine compartment of his tractor, another had a nest in the pocket of an old overcoat hanging on the porch. The finish work on the garage R built several years ago has ground to a halt—at least work on the last small section of the wall because of a wren nest. That’s OK, there are other things he can do. But they really aren’t happy about him working down there and so he has to endure their angry chatter while the pair of them work hard to take care of their baby (only one of the eggs hatched).

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

On my mother’s knee

During the course of the Mother’s Day sermon on Sunday, the pastor said something along the lines of “do you remember sitting on your mother’s knee while she sang those great old songs of the church, like Jesus Loves Me, This I Know...?” Well no, not exactly, although I imagine Mom probably did sing those songs to me. Actually, my mom wasn’t the singer, it was my dad. And the songs I most remember from when I was a little kid are
Who's that knocking at my door
Who's that knocking at my door
Who's that knocking at my door
Cried the fair young maiden
It’s only me from over the sea,
I’m Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
I’m all lit up like a Christmas tree,
I’m Barnacle Bill the Sailor

Fortunately, that’s about all of the song he ever sang, and for good reason.

And the other one:
It was Friday morning, when we set sail,
We were not far from the land,
When our captain, he spied a mermaid so fair,
With a comb and a glass in her hand.

And the ocean waves do roll, and the stormy winds may blow,
We poor sailors, are skipping at the top,
While the landlubbers lie down below, below, below,
While the landlubbers lie down below.

Then up spoke the captain of our gallant ship,
And a fine old man was he,
He said, "This fishy mermaid has warned me of our doom:
We shall sink to the bottom of the sea!"

Then up spoke the cook of our gallant ship,
And a crazy old butcher was he,
He said, "I care much more for me pots and me pans,
Than I do for the bottom of the sea!"

Then up spoke the parrot of our gallant ship,
And a fine spoken bird was he,
He said, "I'd much rather be flyin' across the sea,
But tonight, shark-bait I will be!"."

Then three times 'round, spun our gallant ship;
And three times 'round spun she,
Three times 'round, spun our gallant ship;
And she sailed to the bottom of the sea.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


We awoke this morning to brilliant sunshine after days and days of rain and overcast skies. It's been too wet to cut the grass and some of the seed heads are nearly shoulder height. On the way home from work, I saw a turkey vulture sitting on a tree branch at the edge of the woods. That was unusual enough, but this bird had its wings extended. It was just sitting there sunning itself. I wanted to climb right up there with it.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Blue Bottle

The Blue Bottle is a haunting little story Ray Bradbury wrote in 1950 (during the classic era in SF) in which roving bands of treasure seekers are scouring the dead cities of a vanished civilization on Mars (yes, yes, I know) looking for treasure, and the fabled Blue Bottle of Mars. The bottle is reputed to “hold anything,” including one’s wildest dreams. Everyone is crazed to find it, except Craig. He’s hunting with Beck, but he’s just along for the ride, and he doesn’t care anything at all about the Blue Bottle. Eventually, though, Beck and Craig do find the Blue Bottle. For Craig, it contains bourbon whisky. And for Beck? Well, I won’t say anything more, wouldn’t want to spoil it for anyone. At any rate, I came by my own blue bottle, which is quite a bit bigger than the one described in the story, in a more mundane way. I rewarded myself for working very hard and bought it. I have a weakness for blue-glazed pottery. The pieces in my small collection (some cups, small plates, a small bowl) made by the former wife of the former dentist for the former coffee shop they opened. Her kiln and her wheel were set up in an upstairs area of the dental office. I cleaned the dentist’s office for a number of years, and when the marriage broke up and the coffee shop was closed, these items ended up in the ofice trash. I fished them out and brought them home and I use them daily. Then, some pieces with that same blue glaze appeared in the display case of a local shop. I bought a hand-lotion dispenser. For several years, the large blue bottle sat in the window, gathering dust. But it is sitting there no longer, because it now is sitting in my kitchen and has been filled with balsamic vinegar. Did I NEED the blue bottle? No, probably not. But I did need it. It is a thing of beauty, and as Doris J Longacre wrote in her book Living More With Less, “Everywhere in the world, people arrange for some beauty... the plainest cooking area behind a hut in Somalia boasts an intricately carved stool or a colorful basket.... across Asia, cooks encourage their fires with attractively woven fans.” My house needs all the beauty it can get.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Mixed messages

A couple of days ago I happened to find myself engaged in a conversation with a man I did not know, but who seemed to know me. “Are you N’s grandparents?” he wanted to know (R had wandered off). "Oh no," I laughed (ha ha as I gritted my mental teeth, do I look THAT old?) “we are his parents.” “Well” he said, “you know I used to work with him at the plant. He seemed like a really nice kid.” So I smiled and nodded and thanked him.

Yes, N did indeed work at the company, which rebuilt engines, about 10 years ago. It was a good job for him, it suited his personality very well, and it was really too bad that he got laid off (the company later went out of business). I think his job was loading a certain engine part into a wire basket to be put in a cleaning machine. Somehow, he got lots of little magnet cubes, which he brought home, and I have a magnet sculpture made out of them on one of my metal kitchen cabinets.

But what was really interesting about this was that earlier that morning, I went to the library to return a cookbook and donate a new book I picked up cheap at a bookstore. I got to talking with the librarian about a rather strange-looking man that can be seen walking around town and who also spends a lot of time at the library. They had a picture of him holding a plaque of some sort. “He’s really sweet and he’s harmless, he’s just not socially adept,” she says. I remarked that I could relate to that, that my son wasn’t very socially adept either. “Well,” she says, “your son really gives me the creeps.” (He goes into the library a lot to use the computers.) Then of course, she realized that was a really awful thing to say to a mother about her kid, so she began to back peddle. "Well," she says, " I'm used to him know and I just take everything he says with a grain of salt."

It was OK though. I understood perfectly well why she said it. When I related the conversation to R, he sort of laughed and said, “sometimes he creeps me out too...” I wonder where that “nice kid” went? Well, actually, the nice kid is still there. N has good qualities and a kind heart, which in fact has landed him in the mess he is in now.

Monday, March 20, 2006

We’re not frugal, we’re downright cheap

One of the downsides to being truly self-employed (that is, no employees working for you) is that there are no employer-provided benefits. No paid vacation. No sick leave. No health insurance. A self-employed person who goes on vacation earns no money for that time. I can afford to take off a week, but if we want to go on a vacation together, then that occupies two weeks. And the lost money adds up. So, we decided it would be a good investment to buy a simple laptop computer so I can take some work with me. I just need it to do word processing, look at PDFs, and connect to the Internet. But then one must have a case to carry the laptop in. We went to Wally World to find a carrying case and the one they had cost $28.88. We didn’t want to pay that much for a carrying case. The next day, I went to the YMCA yard sale and I found a really nice Eddie Bauer soft-sided satchel for $1.50. So I bought it. R said it was the right size, but it needed to be padded. I suggested maybe we could make a bubble-wrap sleeve to put the computer in and then stick that inside the satchel. So, he fiddled with it and came up with a very workable solution. He showed me what he did, and then just sort of shook his head. “We’re incredible,” he says, “this is just nuts – it goes way beyond being frugal.” But, we did save $30

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A small island of culture in a sea of bluegrass

Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate the talent, skill, and hard work of any good musician, even if I don’t particularly like that genre of music (keeping in mind that I do not consider Rap to be music). Bluegrass music is extremely popular in this area. When the Lost River Boys play at the Star Theater on Friday nights for $5 a head, the cars are parked bumper-to-bumper up and down Main Street and for a several-block radius on the side streets. I occasionally enjoy listening to instrumental bluegrass music, it is the singing I can’t stand. At any rate, the choices for live music at a reasonable price are somewhat limited – or at least they used to be limited until the satellite university campus began offering programs sponsored by the Missouri Arts Council. And once in a blue moon, something really special passes through. One such concert took place last night – an ensemble of four wonderfully skilled musicians playing Baroque music on Baroque instruments -- flute, violin, cello, and harpsichord. The harpsichord was amazing. The inside of the lid had a beautiful reproduction of a Dutch landscape, which was a feast for the eyes. The musicians were amazing. These old instruments (or replicas of the old instruments) have a different sound than their modern counterparts. Softer, more mellow. It was just lovely. Baroque music is wonderful stuff. Light, airy, bouncy – makes one feel good just to listen to it. Beats the heck out of “I’m stuck in jail but my pimples are still breaking out.”

Monday, March 13, 2006

Lost and found, redux

Both of us spend increasing amounts of time searching for lost things (I, R says, finally crossed over to geezer-hood the other day when I went in search of my glasses while they were resting firmly on my nose), but another in a string of all-too-frequent searchs yesterday (Sunday) took on an almost surreal quality. For about 45 minutes, I had been sitting in bed next to R reading to him. Then my voice got tired and he got sleepy, so I decided to make a small salad and he flipped the TV. At some point between the bedroom and the kitchen, I lost my reading glasses. Both of us searched and searched for the glasses off and on for the rest of the evening, but they had simply vanished. Although I happen to like this particular pair of readers, it was not a major catastrophe, because I have about six other pairs of readers in different strengths scattered about the house in various and sundry places, and so it was mostly just a simple matter to find another pair and put them on. But it was the principle of the thing. Where the heck were my glasses? R says “Tomorrow morning, go to the Dollar Store and buy another pair, and eventually the ones you lost will turn up.” After one last furtive look around the edge of the bed, we went to bed.

At about 11:30, a storm starts to track through the area: lots of cloud-to-cloud lightening, near-continuous thunder, rain hammering down, hard. Then about midnight, I hear the wail of the tornado siren in town. “Wake up, wake up, the tornado siren just went off.” He was sound asleep, but not any more. So then we’re up stumbling around the house with the police scanner tuned to the National Weather Service listening to the warnings for our county (...tornado warning.... Dopplar radar... severe thunerstorm capable of producing a tornado... potential for baseball-sized hail...) and trying to decide if we should go the basement. We decided to go back to bed (gee, is that really a freight train I am hearing, or is this a tornado on the ground). The storm quickly passed through – we didn’t even loose power and no hail. By 1 a.m. the sky had cleared, the full moon was riding high in the sky, and then the coyotes started howling not too far off and the Spring Peepers throttled up (see previous post).... just another Spring night in the Ozarks.

Oh yeah, this morning when I went to the kitchen to rinse out last night’s coffee cup, I found my glasses at the bottom of a pan of murky water that had been sitting there all night, soaking, to loosen the crust of a dessert I had baked. How in the world did they end up in the pan in the sink? Who knows.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The sound of music...

Winter is mostly silent, at least as far as the animal kingdom is concerned. The singing insects are hibernating and the birds don’t sing. And then suddenly one day, there is the warble of a Carolina wren, or a Chickadee or Titmouse whistling outside the window, and here comes the wolf call of the Cardinal. But the sound we anticipate most is the chorus tuning up at the pond. The frog chorus of Spring Peepers ( Earlier in the week, after it had been fairly warm for a few days, one of us said, “The peepers are sure to be singing tonight.” And sure enough, they were, and have done so for several nights now. As evening draws on they begin, and they continue all night until daylight. It is wonderful to be lulled to sleep by their lullaby. Once upon a time, one of these little gray fellows spent the winter with us in our bathroom, He came in the house twice as summer was drawing to a close, hopping in under the screen door which had an inch gap at the bottom. I found him in the bathroom twice, so we finally let him stay. Our shower is paneled in redwood, with a few knots here and there, and he wedged himself into one of these holes and that’s where he stayed, or else he would be clinging to the shower curtain. I caught him insects while it was still warm enough and fed him with a tweezer. When spring came he got very active and restless, and so I took him out to the pond and let him go.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Waving goodbye

In the early to mid 1990s – and I can’t remember when, exactly, my sister’s husband gave us the car he had been driving before he married her, a 1978 Volvo. It was a stunningly kind and generous thing for him to do. So, we got on the Amtrak and rode the train to Los Angeles, had a wonderful visit with the family, and then drove the car back. It was a harrowing trip. We hit an ice storm in upper New Mexico that extended through most of the Texas panhandle, but the Volvo sailed through it when cars and trucks all around us were sliding off the road. If one can love car, I can honestly say I loved that car. We had never driven anything quite like it before. We happened to know the only other Volvo owner in town, and he told us that the only mechanic that repaired Volvos was 90 miles away. We did some checking around, and that seemed to be accurate. And R drove the 90 miles several times to have minor repairs done. Then the Volvo developed a major brake problem – more than just new brakes -- and it couldn’t be driven safely. It would have to be towed, but money was tight right about then, and we didn’t happen to have the extra $100 (or more) that it would cost to have the car towed. So we parked it until we could figure out what to do, or maybe find a mechanic closer to home. Then disaster. Rats got into the engine compartment, chewed the heck out of the electrical wiring and hoses, and suddenly the Volvo was dead in the water. The last time we drove it off the property was in 1999, and it had been sitting there ever since. Until today. A man showed up and wanted to know if we cared to sell him the car and he would haul it off to the crusher. So we did. After he got it loaded onto his trailer, he pounded on the back door and said “well, wave goodbye to it.” So I did.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Snow falling on cedars

On top of the 4 inches of snow that we woke up to on Saturday morning, came more snow Sunday afternoon. Large clumps of snow began drifting down onto the cedars and pines that surround our house, and because there has been no wind to blow it off, even this morning the snow is still clinging to the branches. It is a lovely sight. Even lovelier is the bright red cardinal against the backdrop of the pure white snow. There's not quite this much snow today -- thank goodness -- if any more falls I will have to shovel the stuff at my job on Tuesday. This picture is from several winters ago. Yesterday before the new snow started to fall, I trudged down the driveway and up to the mailbox on the access road to check for Saturday’s mail and to dump some chicken bones for the vermin to help themselves too (no point in throwing something away that could be recycled). What an interesting story is told in the pristine snow. Here was a rabbit meandering along, and a cat (but not our kitty – she was right behind me, walking in the tire tracks we made on Saturday when we went to town), and a bird, with its tail leaving sweep marks in the snow.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Taking some medicine...

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine; but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Prov 17:22). One of the things I appreciate the most about me and my husband together is our capacity to enjoy a good laugh. Neither of us are goofy, silly people, but we do find things strangely amusing sometimes. The other morning, he asked me “Do you wanna mango by yourself.” I parsed and immediately understood this straightforward question (translation: Do you want to eat an entire mango yourself or should we split one), but something about it struck my funny bone – I guess because mango sounds like tango. My mind immediately leapt to the possibilities of what might be meant by mango by myself. Sure, I’d love to mango by myself. "Would you like to go mangoing today?” Anyway, we got the giggles and then as more possibilities of what mango might mean presented themselves, we laughed even harder. Was it REALLY that funny? Probably not, but thanks to the laughter, both of us were felt buoyant for most of the day and even better, we managed not to talk about our son for almost 3 hours. What a milestone that was!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Slightly off

A few days ago, I took one of those meaningless, silly e-mail tests that make the circuit. This one involved mentally adding pairs of numbers and then answering a totally unrelated question involving a color and a household tool. According to the e-mail, 98% of those who take the test give the same answer. But not me. I got part of the answer “right” but not the other. So I guess that means I’m just slightly out of step with everybody else. Tell me something I didn’t already know...

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Happy birthday..

Our son was born on Feb 12, which is still Abraham Lincoln’s birthday (my OB suggested we name him Abe) although it is no longer celebrated as a separate holiday. When we brought him home from the hospital a few days later, it was 80 degrees. Here, of course, we consider ourselves fortunate if we can venture out on Feb 12 without being bundled from head to toe. The first few years after we moved here, we posed with the cake outdoors – I guess we didn’t have a flash attachment for the camera. The picture on the left was taken in 1983, 2 years after we moved here, when he was 6 years old. And yes, the duck had every intention of flying up and helping herself to birthday cake. They were used to getting scraps from the table and for all she knew, here were some more. A year later, there we were again, with the cake. It is important for me to go back and look at these pictures that were taken during a much happier time in our lives. The good memories of being his mother, and what a sweet, lovely child he was – he was truly adorable -- are very important now. It was very easy to love him them, before things slowly began to go wrong. Oh, sure, we still love him. A kernel of that sweet, lovely little boy still lurks in there somewhere, but parenting him now that he is an adult of 29 is mostly an exercise in exasperation, depression, and frustration. If I didn’t have those good memories, then it truly would be awful

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Giving thanks...

Somewhere in my scattered collection of books is a thin paperback, “Prison to Praise,” which chronicles one man’s journey in faith; specifically, the power that offering praise to God in the midst of all circumstances (ALL circumstances) has to effect a change in those circumstances. I’m going to have to dig it out. Our son is in a headlong rush toward the edge of the cliff, and there isn’t a thing we can do about it. Nothing. Our hands are tied, and all we can do is watch with a helpless, angry feeling as he shows every indication that he is going to make what seems to us to be the second worst mistake of his life (the first worst mistake is his apparent decision to turn is back on God and go his own way). I heard this song by the Newsboys the other morning as I drove to work, and it lifted my spirits. I guess I need to get my mind off the circumstances and focused on God where it belongs.

It's the song of the redeemed
Rising from the African plain
It's the song of the forgiven
Drowning out the Amazon rain
The song of Asian believers
Filled with God's holy fire
It's every tribe, every tongue, every nation
A love song born of a grateful choir

It's all God's children singin'
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns

Let it rise above the fore-winds
Caught up in the heavenly sound
Let praises echo from the towers of cathedrals
To the faithful gathered underground
Of all the songs sung from the dawn of creation
Some were meant to persist
Of all the bells rung from a thousand steeples
None rings truer than this

It's all God's children singin'
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns

And all the powers of darkness
Tremble at what they've just heard
Cause all the powers of darkness
Can't drown out a single word
When all God's children sing out
Glory, Glory Hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns
All God's children sing out
Glory, Glory Hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns
All God's people sing out
Glory, Glory Hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns
Guess I need to start singing... he just walked in the door...

Monday, January 30, 2006

Stocking up...

After the Toothpaste and Shampoo Incidents, I thought that perhaps the almost compulsive bargain-buying behavior R exhibits when he goes hunting for groceries might have been cured, maybe just a little. But after spending most of Sunday afternoon rearranging our out-of-control pantry and getting the foodstuffs organized, I see that I was mistaken. We discovered we have 6 unopened 24-roll packages of toilet paper, plus 16 loose rolls under the bathroom sink. That’s 160 rolls of toilet paper. If we lived 100 miles from civilization, that might not be such a bad thing, but within a 3-mile radius of our house are a Dollar General store, two grocery stores and a Wal-Mart clone, all of which sell toilet paper. Then there are the cans of sauerkraut. Things were so disorganized in there that he thought we were out, but we weren’t. We now have 34 cans of sauerkraut. Yummy. I guess it sounds like I am complaining. I’m not, especially when I think about the husbands that some women live with. I think this is rather funny, and I love him. He has been faithfully walking on the treadmill every day.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Beep Beep

I had always just assumed that the Roadrunner ( was a bird of the desert, so I was very surprised to see one cruising down a residential street in the Corpus Christi neighborhood where my father-in-law lived when we were there on vacation in 1983. And I was even more surprised when R came home from a trip to Town the day before and told me he saw a Roadrunner in the Wal-Mart parking lot (about 30 miles from our house). And one of my co-workers has also seen the bird there. I guess it picks insects out of the grills of the cars. I can’t think how else it survives here during the winter. The irony of course is that I am the fanatic bird watcher. R likes birds OK and finds them interesting, but not to the extent that I do. Conservation says the Roadrunner population is increasing in the next county, and our place is not that far from the county line, so maybe someday I’ll see one in my yard. I’ve seen Coyote at our place, why not Roadrunner (Beep Beep).

Monday, January 23, 2006

A failure to communicate

This peaceful weekend ended on a rather bizarre note. It was peaceful because N, basically is not here. He left the house at 8 a.m. Saturday and did not return until about 9 p.m. Saturday night. He left the house at around 9:00 a.m. Sunday and did not return until 9 p.m. Sunday night. He basically did the same thing the previous weekend. Last Monday, after his marathon weekend with them, he told me that he was going to be “indisposed” to them “next weekend.” Yeah, right. I think we saw less of him this weekend than we did last weekend. So much for being indisposed. But what was bizarre was that when he came home last night, we were sitting on the bed watching TV. The bedroom door open. We heard him come in, and he thumped around the house for about 15 to 20 minutes, and then went to bed without saying a word to us. As this was going on, I whispered to R, with what I assume was incredulity in my voice, “He is not going to speak to us, is he??” R leans over and pats my arm. “Did you expect something different?” So, when I confronted N this morning (in a very nice way, I thought) about why didn’t he come in and say something to us when he got home, his response was “Well, I just wanted to see if you would come and say something to me.” Interesting tactic. Behave in a very antisocial way and then throw the blame onto the other person. Like we were supposed to leap up and go chasing after him to say “Hello?” R says, "I guess we are eternally hopeful that he will change, and we are too stupid to accept that he won’t." I don't know that we're "stupid" exactly, just..... parents.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


When our folks had this picture taken about 43 years ago (give or take a year), I am sure they were wondering what would happen to this cohort of four children, anchored by daughters (we always thought it interesting that there was one girl-boy set each of dark and light hair) as they grew up. What kind of people would they become? What careers would they have? What would they look like as they got older?

and now...

And now those questions have mostly been answered. This is what we look like on the eve of the youngest son’s (on the right) 50th birthday. He is an interesting character. He has a good job with the maintenance department of a major corporation in Southern California. The son on the left is a teacher of mathematics. The little girl (still a baby in her 40s) is a librarian at an elementary school. And then there’s me, the old lady in the back. There’s still some brown in there, but not much.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A Little Fox

Age and accident have taken their toll on the gifts we received when we got married. One of the few wedding presents I have left is the set of really nice stainless steel flatware that my parents gave us. So it is with increasing alarm, anger, and frustration that I see our forks beginning to dwindle. And why is that? N takes a fork with him to work so he can eat his lunch. I am firmly convinced that he fails to bring the fork back with him. He assures me that he is not loosing the forks, but I don’t believe him. It is these “little things” that he does day in and day out that begin to wear on my equilibrium. It is, after all, the little fox that comes in and eats the grapes one by one that ruins the crop. So, this afternoon R and I set off for town -- he to go to the bank, and me to the thrift store to pick up a few forks. The thrift store has a commercial style flatware thingy with four slots. All four are filled with knives. Not a single fork. So then we went to the salvage store. She did have some forks, 25-cents each, but they were the cheap, tacky kind. We bought them, but I have an idea about where I might be able to trade them for some old-fashioned type flatware. We also got some plastic forks. I hope this solves the problem!

Monday, January 16, 2006


So I say to you, seek God and discover Him and make Him a power in your life. Without Him all of our efforts turn to ashes and our sunrises into darkest nights. Without Him, life is a meaningless drama with the decisive scenes missing. But with Him we are able to rise from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope. With Him we are able to rise from the midnight of desperation to the daybreak of joy. St. Augustine was right—we were made for God and we will be restless until we find Him.

Love yourself, if that means rational, healthy, and moral self-interest. You are commanded to do that. That is the length of life. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. You are commanded to do that. That is the breadth of life. But never forget that there is a first and even great commandment. “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and all thy soul and all thy mind.” This is the height of life. And when you do this you live the complete life.

The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr. , Selected by Coretta Scott King. London: Robson Books, 1984; p. 64.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Fitting in...

We had a memorable lunch the other day at the Grapevine Restaurant. We went to town to get a treadmill for R (I have permission to kill him if he is not using it 6 months down the road) and we got hungry and so that's where we stopped. The Grapevine is an elegant little restaurant that's part of a gourmet wine shop in a strip mall (of all places) next to a Dollar General store. The food is expensive for this area, and excellent. The soup of the day was asparagus chowder and it was served in gorgeous hand-painted bowl. Asparagus chowder! Only one other man was in the restaurant besides R, all the rest of the patrons (12 or so?) were elderly, high-society type women. Elegantly dressed with hair perfectly coiffed and colored. The sort of women who are in charge of women's organizations and charitable service groups and have bridge parties. And there we sat, R in his ratty old bib overalls and me in my dark blue "Tigger" T-shirt, looking like we had just wandered in off the farm, which I guess we did, in a way. In any event, we stuck out like a sore thumb. We thought it was rather funny. "You notice anything about the other people in here?" he observed. Yes, I did. Well, "I guess our money is as good as theirs," I was heard to comment. And it was. One of N’s friends commented to him that “Your mom and dad must be doing OK, but they look like they don’t have a pot to piss in.” We just grinned when he told us that. We are doing OK, as a matter fact, as God gives grace for each day!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Rabid researchers...

I work on medical manuscripts. Papers about clinical studies of therapies for various ailments; case reports of unusual illnesses in patients and how the patient was treated (one poor soul in a recent paper died from a massive infection he got after being bitten by his household rabbit; another person died from a parasite he got after being barbed by a catfish); basic research studies (usually involving an animal) to find causes for problems and how to stop it. And buried deep in a complicated manuscript comes this gem...

"The premise.... was rabidly translated into clinical therapeutic...."

Now I've lost it and hysterics are a possibility as I contemplate the mental picture of wild-haired wild-eyed, researchers foaming at the mouth while they chase after hapless patients brandishing syringes dripping with their new drug-combination therapy.