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The Hedgerow I’m Not Bustling

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Department Of I’m So Glad This One Made It Over The Fence

I refer of course to the Guatemalan blue banana squash, which was in our CSA share this week.   [1]

I’m not sure about the name; to moiself it looks more like a model of the Goodyear Blimp that had accidentally been zapped in a food dehydrator.

It’s almost too cute to cut. Methinks it will end up in a curry with some greens, or my fallback method:  when in doubt, roast it and turn it into soup.

 

 

bluebananasquash

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 Department Of Why I Feel I Must Apologize To Someone I’ve Never Met

There is, apparently, a designer with the unfortunate name of Helen Ficolora. I say unfortunate because, through no fault of Helen’s, who is likely proud of the Italian heritage indicated by her surname, the first time People Like Me ® hear her name we are likely to mishear it, and blurt out,  Helen FECAL FLORA? – what kind of name is that !?!

 

 

exclamation chip

You’re right – this picture has nothing to do with this blurb, but do you really want to see what I came up up with to illustrate fecal flora?

 

 

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Speaking Of Designers  [2]

Those with no too much time on their hands attentive attentive readers may remember the post from last month (9-1-17) regarding the t-shirts MH made for our eclipse viewing party:

Our astronomer friend and trip organizer MM posted pictures of the event on his FB page, which caught the eyes of two astronomy fashion bloggers.  [3]

MM contacted MH and let him know that the startorialist astronomers had noticed our group’s groovy shirts, and had asked for more photos and info on how the shirts were made, which they intended to post on one of their upcoming blog posts.

Upcoming is here: http://www.startorialist.com/ . Look for the link in the September archives.

 

 

eclipse

Look – there go our fifteen minutes – make that seconds –  of fame!

 

 

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Department of They’re Too Young to Get the Eleanor Rigby Reference

One route of the several routes I vary during my morning walks takes me through a local park around 7:50 am. At that time I typically see ~ 10-12 students, coming from all compass points, walking through the park, toward their bus stop.  A bus to the high school stops on the street which marks the eastern boundary of the park, at a point where one of the park trails veers off from the sidewalk. It is a prime people-watching opportunity for moiself, , albeit an increasingly disheartening one. Here is what I observed on Monday, which is, unfortunately, becoming par for the course.

I approached the park from the east, walking toward and then past the (unmarked) bus stop, and noted the students walking, from various directions, through the park, toward the street. Except for three gangly-buff, football player-ish looking boys who are standing within four feet of each another on the sidewalk, none of the students come together as a group. One stops under a tree, within 30 or so feet of the stop, and another goes to a picnic bench and several others all pick their own spots, some stopping in the middle of one of the park’s walking paths, within viewing distance of where the bus will pull up to the curb.  I walk past them and turn around to check out the scene…and then walk back the way I came so that I can brazenly look into their faces from about twenty feet away. Their eyes are glazed, and they pay me no mind.

Most of the students are wearing earbuds, and although it is a warm day, several of them have their hoodies pulled over their faces, and all of them – every goddamn one – are looking down at the their cell phones, captivated – read: numbed – by what, I can only guess. No student interacts with another person or with their environment, save to glance up every ten seconds or so toward the street, to see if the bus is approaching.

I remain there, watching for a while. No one watches me in return. None of them are smiling; their faces are devoid of expression. Even the four boys standing by or “with” each other are not talking to each other. And I am overwhelmed by the thought that whatever they are doing, however “social” they (think they) are being through their phone media, no matter what kind of “friend“  they may be interacting with via their tiny screens, they all look so…isolated.  And so incredibly lonely.

 

 

 

allthelonely

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Goodbye, Mr. Christmas

Mr. Christmas has died.

I don’t know if either son K or daughter Belle remember the trip we made to his house. It many years ago, when we were in the Bay Area (specifically Concord, CA) visiting with my younger sister, RAPV, and her family, who were hosting our extended family fore Thanksgiving. The day after Tday RAPV insisted she had something special to show us, and that night we made the pilgrimage to Olive Dr., to see an ordinary house turned into a light spectacle…well, I thought my retinas would go into spasms. [4]

Bruce Mertz, the Concord man known around Contra Costa County as ‘Mr. Christmas’, has died. He was 87.
Mertz owned the home on Olive Dr. in Concord, and for 36-years during Christmastime, he decorated his home with thousands of lights and custom made characters.
A documentary about Mertz was made by filmmaker Nick Palmer in 2014.
(from Claycord News & Talk, 10-11-17)

 

 

 

mrchristmas

 

 

 

 

 

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Department Of Two Sad Stories In A Row – Must Be Time For The Scotsman

 

 

 

 

 

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Department Of I So Would Have Said It If He’d Been Wearing A Led Zeppelin Tee Shirt

Dateline: Last Friday, at the Whole Foods  [5] register. A man standing behind line dropped a paper bag as he was transferring the items in his hand cart to the register belt. I don’t know what was in the bag – but something made a loud, crackling sound when the bag hit the floor, and I turned to see if anything had broken or if the man needed assistance. As the man bent down to retrieve the bag he looked up, an expression of agitation on his face…and it just came to me in a flash.

I almost said to him, “You seem alarmed; is there a bustle in your hedgerow?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you know the simple pleasure of contemplating an oddly-shaped winter squash;
May you hold in your heart, for just a moment, all the lonely people;
May you realize that the bustle in your hedgerow is just a spring clean for the May Queen;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Our CSA is La Finquita del Bujo, or “Little Farm of the Owl,” in the scenic farmlands north of Hillsboro.

[2] Even if you weren’t, we can pretend.

[3] The blog’s motto: Where science meets fashion and scientists get fabulous!

[4] Mr. Christmas had a donation box attached to the (light-bedecked, of course) fence around his yard – I can only imagine his electric bill.

[5] Brought to you by Amazon ®

The Very Specific Felony I’m Not Committing

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Department Of Weekend Updates

Inquiring minds want to know  [1] –  and several have asked me about – the situation with the ‘hood.

 

 

enquiringjpg

 

 

No, no no no –inquiring minds. Not the other kind.

Yet again, I digress.

I refer to my neighborhood’s dilemma, mentioned in the September 15 edition of this space, wherein moiself detailed how, without warning or notification,  [2]  a drug and alcohol treatment business moved into our residential cul-de-sac.  [3]  Here’s where things stand, as of this week.  [4]

We the Neighbors ® participated in a mass emailing and phone contact campaign, from each concerned household and individual, to the head of our city’s planning Department, who is supposedly in charge of Such Things ®.  The responses (as per those of us who have received and compared them) seem to be identical [5]:  a form email – from the City’s Public Affairs Manager (not the Planner, to whom we addressed our concerns). The message used 518 words to thank us for our concern, regurgitate arcane zoning info, and inform us that

“… recovering addicts are considered a protected class
pursuant to federal housing law.”

My seven word summation of the communiqué:  Hey neighborhood, it sucks to be you.

 

 

redtape

 

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Department Of Taking An Ahhh Break Before Beginning Another Rant

I almost stepped on this petite creature on Wednesday afternoon, when I went to our CSA farm to pick up the weekly produce share. She was sitting on the barn floor, quiet as a…barn kitty?…and then became MOST INSISTENT about being petted.

 

 

barnkitty

 

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Department of Consequences

“No one raindrop considers itself responsible for the flood.”
(Chinese proverb)

 

In my near-future dreams, I meet a very nice, personable, intelligent, levelheaded-seeming person who is running for some local (as opposed to Federal) office – let’s say a State Representative – as a member of the Republican party. We commence to talking about Things, and this person, like other Republicans I’ve read about, sincerely claims that they were horrified and disgusted by their party’s nomination of that-which-became-our-country’s #45,  and that they are frustrated and embarrassed by #45‘s petty petulance, blatant ignorance, narcissistic and racist and sexist rants and antics, and his evident lack of self-control,mental stability, gravitas, discernment, and intelligence – his lack of just about any admirable quality that befits a world leader…

As I engage this person in dialogue I discover that I could, and in fact would like to, vote for this person, as we share similar opinions on the issues at hand.  But I have a hard truth to convey, and segue into that by telling them about my voting history. I tell them about how, ever since voting in my first election at age 18, I have scorned anything resembling party loyalty (and in fact I think the concept, along with one-issue litmus tests, is harmful to democracy).  Depending on the candidates/issues, I have voted for – in the past, and had expected to do so in the future – Democrats, Republicans, Green Party members, Independents, even a Libertarian or two ( or six) and a couple of socialists.  [6]

I myself belong to no political party.  Sometimes I register one way or another for the primary election, in order to vote for (or against) a certain candidate, but immediately post-primary switch back to no party affiliation.  Were I to have kept tabs on such things, ’tis a sure bet that more commonly (but not always) the candidate on the “liberal” or “left” side of the spectrum who has received my vote.

That said, here is what I would like this Nice Reasonable Republican For Whom I Would Like To Vote to know. Sadly but sincerely, I cannot support you as long as you are registered Republican and your party allows #45 to remain in office.

 

 

siriusly

 

 

 

Yes, I am holding you, and your fellow Republicans, personally accountable.  If Republicans continue to act as if they have lost both their scruples and their cojones and do not, from the lowest city commissioner to the senior members of the US Senate, rise up and with (or without) joining with the Democrats and others, work to impeach the Cheetos Hitler and/or invoke the 25th Amendment to remove that most unfit “president” from office, you will not have my vote.

Even if as a nation we somehow manage to survive the next 3 ¼ years with that maniacally treacherous, treasonous buffoon and his minions in office, I still will not vote for someone, for anyone, who is registered with the Republican party. I will never ever again vote for a Republican candidate, and will do my best to convince others to do likewise.

That’s it.

You may protest that you didn’t vote for him, that you are nothing close to being a party bigwig and are only a lowly local office holder and have no sway with the federal wing of your party, etc….   Excuses, schmuses. You are (all) responsible. He ran as a Republican for a reason; he became one of yours, and you let him. You did not do what was necessary to put your country, your fellow Americans, above your spineless, head-in-the-sand, political expediency…or whatever. Yes, you were responsible – you are responsible – and I’m holding you to it. For. Ever.

 

 

raindrop

Who you lookin’ at – it’s not my fault!

 

 

 

 

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Department Of Abrupt Segue To Shinier, Happier Subjects

Daughter Belle is very much enjoying her Marine Biology class labs, where in the class and the professor head out on a boat in the Puget Sound and…explore.

I am almost as thrilled as she is – and I look forward to today’s vicarious enjoyment, when, like every Friday this semester, I receive pictures like this:

 

 

marinebiolabsept17

 

 

 

 

 

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Department of Unexpected Stylings

 

 

scissors

“So you want a little off the top – I’ll show you a little off the top….”

 

 

 

 

Dateline: last Thursday afternoon, sitting at the chair in my hair stylist’s salon. While stylist KL fastened the hairdressing cape around my neck, I noticed an item on her station’s stand that was new to me. Next to the familiar containers of gels and sprays, and holders for combs and brushes and other styling utensils, I espied a bright orange spray can of something called Clippercide.

 

 

clipper

 

 

 

Although KL swore to me that Clippercide was merely a spray used to sterilized shears and other haircutting gear, I was suspicious. The product’s name was poorly chosen, I insisted. It sounds like a very specific felony charge filed against a haircutter who scissors someone to death.  

 

 

 

bookem

“First degree Clippercide – book ’em, Danno.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you never be on the receiving end of “Book ’em, Danno;”
May you never step on a barn kitty;
May you always hold the raindrop responsible for the flood;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Or don’t give a tinker’s fart. It’s a tossup.

[2] and with deceit and subterfuge from the business’ Executive Director.

[3] In the case of MH and I, right next door.

[4] Using the Very Much Long Story Made Short ® format.

[5] Save for the salutation, in which our first names are used. Ya gotta love the personal touch.

[6] And once even a member of the Communist party, because I wanted to see if by doing so I would get on some FBI or governmental watch list. How idealistic foolish was that? (Yep, I was in college.)

The Reality I’m Not Dreaming

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Department Of Been There Done That…
(And Done It Poorly)

I washed my car last Saturday.

 

 

cheering crowds

 

 

Thank you.

I mean hand washed it – something I have not done in years. Clarification: my car is a little over six months old, so I haven’t done or not done anything to that car in years. I meant, it’s been years since I’ve hand-washed any car we’ve had.

Not to imply my car resembles a college dorm room – far from it. I regularly and thoroughly clean and vacuum out the inside of whatever car I’m driving, but when it comes to the outside, I run it through the local car wash, and I urged family members to do the same.  Commercial car washes use less water than home-washing, and treat and recycle the water they use, and when we wash our cars at home, in the driveway, the runoff soapy water goes into the sewer and ends up in the rivers. So, by patronizing a car wash I am being a good citizen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

…no, really, THAT’S THE ONLY REASON I DO IT….  It’s not that I’m lazy.

Anyway, so I hand washed my car.  And now, I am so over that.  Forget the eco warrior consciousness [1] pretensions – having not done it for years, I’d forgotten what a mind-numbingly tedious task it is. I’d also apparently forgotten what shoddy results are obtained when a car is washed by moiself.

 

 

dirty car

It looked a little better than this when I was done.

 

 

 

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Department Of Why I Am In Tacoma
And Thus By Extension Or Implication, Why This Blog Is So Relatively  Lame Short

 

Belle had foot surgery.

I’m doing the Mom Thing ® , helping out with errands and taking her to her post surgery appointment. Most importantly, I am helping my daughter come up with some better-than-the-truth [2]  stories for her to emit in response to the inevitable, what-happened-to-you? queries she receives when people, from friends to strangers in the grocery store, get a look at her snazzy boot & crutches combo.

 

 

Blleboot

 

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Department Of The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

Last Friday I had a very vivid, unusual dream, where in Senator John McCain, yes, he of the recently diagnosed glioblastoma,was giving a speech.

Vivid dreams are the norm for moiself; stylistically, they tend to be more Dali than documentary.  What was unusual was the tone or setting for the dream: it was total realism – cinema vérité, as opposed to my typical night reveries which start out with plausible scenarios and quickly morph into Cecil B. DeMille goes Dada, cast-of-thousands spectacles. If the particular dream to which I refer had unfolded according to my “usual” REM reveries, at some point jars of peanut butter would have suddenly appeared out of the proverbial nowhere and flipped open in front of the podium where McCain was speaking, and Carmen Miranda and a chorus line of bare-chested Brazilian boy toys would have popped out of the jars and joined McCain on stage.

 

 

 

carmen

Mccain

Whom would you rather hear give a stirring political address?

 

 

 

So. I had a dream that Senator John McCain rose to the occasion. Sen. McCain still wore the bandages from the recent operation which revealed his brain tumor, at a press conference where he gave the speech of his – of any politician’s – life.

Sen. McCain spoke of treasuring his lucidity while it was still present, and of how his biggest disappointment was not of his impending death, but of leaving public service at a time when the delusional ethics and behavior of the current administration were more mind-scrambling than any hallucinations a brain tumor would likely produce. He announced his retirement from politics, and gave an impassioned call to action to his fellow senators and to the American people to demand the resignation and/or impeachment of Trump and Pence, citing Section 4of the 25th Amendment (to the U.S. Constitution).  His last request was that he could retire in peace, live his remaining days with his family, secure in the knowledge that the country was not in the hands of a madman and his lap dogs.

And then, I woke up.

 

 

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May certain of your most vivid dreams soon become reality;
May you never lack for entertaining responses to what-happened-to-you? queries;
May you know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em;   [3]
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

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[1] If I were really a warrior fanatic in that regard I probably wouldn’t’ have a car.

[2] Since the reality – corrective surgery for a bunion – is not nearly so entertaining as, “This guy was about to stomp on some puppies so I kicked him in the teeth and now the puppies are safe but the would-be-stomper’s teeth got imbedded in my foot…”

[3] Just wanted to see if you were still paying attention. And yes, that KR song reference is apropos of nothing, and frankly, I’m embarrassed that the song just popped into my mind as I was trying to end this post. Must have been a tangent from thinking about brain tumors.

The Toilet Seats I’m Not Believing

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‘Tis The Season

MH and I are hosting a St. Patrick’s Day Dinner tonight. I was going to use a certain Adult Beverage ®  as part of the glaze for the salmon I’ll be roasting; however, one of our guests has celiac disease and I wanted to make sure that by doing so I wouldn’t be poisoning him. I started to Google “can celiacs have…” and before I typed the e in have, the third choice that came up was my question:  can celiacs have whiskey. [1]

 

 

 

whiskey

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About those snakes….

The first time I encountered the St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland legend was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (read: the Santa Ana neighborhood of my grade school years). One Sunday afternoon in mid-March, a neighbor boy showed me the Sunday School pamphlet he’d brought home from his Catholic church. When I laughed derisively and pooh-poohed the pamphlet – which presented the legend as fact – my friend retorted with the fact that there are no snakes in Ireland, and there are snakes in every other country on earth…So how did that happen, Miss Non-Catholic smartypants? How did that happen – prove it, huh? Huh? Huh?

My neighbor/friend looked for any opportunity to witness his family’s “one true faith” (Catholicism) to the ultimately doomed moiself, whose family attended a Lutheran church. He was an otherwise very nice boy (his proselytizing phase lasted only a few months in grade school), with whom I enjoyed playing games of cards and tag and turning our bicycles upside down and pretending their wheels were steamboat paddle-wheels. Also, we enjoyed having spirited discussion of adult issues, like politics (hey, it was the 60s) and religion.

When it came to the “miracles” of that carpetbagging harasser of pagans and druids St. P, I immediately and instinctively understood that my friend had his head up his ass [2] – I mean of course, I knew that my friend was mistaken in claiming that I was the one who had to prove that St. Patrick had not done something – the burden of proof weighs upon the person making an assertion. But I was all of seven or eight; concepts like epistemological fallacy did not just roll off my tongue…whereas concepts like stupid dumb-ass were familiar and handy, and I probably applied one or two of them to my friend and/or his argument.

Wearer of Big Girl Pants® that I now am, I know that there are no snakes presently living in Ireland because, herpetologists and their pets aside, there have never been any snakes living in Ireland. Because: Science. As in latitude, and weather.

 

snakesplane

This M*****f****** snake thinks this plane is headed for Ireland!

 

 

 

There is no evidence of snakes in Ireland’s fossil record. Snakes couldn’t get to the island nation because the climate wasn’t (and isn’t) favorable for them to migrate and then thrive there.  [3]

Faith and begorrah, but England ’tis an island, and it has snakes! Yes, but only three species, and snakes only slithered over to England in relatively recent geologic time – about 6,500 years ago.

As we all remember from 2nd  grade science class (or Sesame Street), over time, all plants and animals will migrate through and/or colonize suitable habitats. Cold-blooded reptiles need heat from their environment to survive, and The Ice Age made the European islands incompatible with  reptile migration until ~ 10,000 years ago, when the glaciers began retreating. The glacial retreat gradually exposed a land bridge between Europe and the island of Britain, and also between the isles of Britain and Ireland. Melting glaciers inundated Ireland’s land bridge ~ 8,500 years ago, but the land bridge between Europe and Britain’s persisted another 2,000 years after that. Thus; Europe’s intrepid snakes had more time to heed the reptile version of Westward, ho!

“Other reptiles didn’t make it either, except for one: the common or viviparous lizard. Ireland’s only native reptile, the species must have arrived within the last 10,000 years. [4]   So unless St. Patrick couldn’t tell a snake from a lizard, where does the legend come from?
Scholars suggest the tale is allegorical. Serpents are symbols of evil in Judeo-Christian beliefs—the Bible, for example, portrays a snake as the hissing agent of Adam and Eve’s fall from grace.
The animals were also linked to heathen practices—so St. Patrick’s dramatic act of snake eradication can be seen as a metaphor for his Christianizing influence.”

(“Snakeless in Ireland: Blame Ice Age, Not St. Patrick,” National Geographic News)

St. P) snakes

 

 

 

“Over the centuries a number of legends have grown about St. Patrick, e.g., he drove the snakes from Ireland and used a three-leaf clover to teach about the Holy Trinity. These popular legends have endeared the saintly man to the Irish. The monks who wrote such dramatized stories about St. Patrick “were guided by their knowledge of what popular taste demanded.”
(“Knowing St. Patrick,” Our Sunday Visitor, A Roman Catholic weekly newspaper)

Although there were never any snakes for St. Patrick to “drive out” of Ireland, the dominant church and religious authorities never had a problem crediting a man they would go on to canonize as St. Patrick with a “miracle” that never occurred.

Good thing stuff like that never happens today!

 

 

creationism

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Department Of More Petty Things About Moiself

 

I curse at ants  [5] before I crush them with my bare fingers.

 

 

ants

Oh yeah? That murdering bitch should hear what we say about her in our last gasps….

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Department Of The Simple Pleasures Of Spring

My family lived in Southern California during my childhood, and one of our favorite camping destinations was the relatively nearby [6] Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. At a very young age I came to have an appreciation for the desert other school kids found difficult to fathom (“What’s the big deal? It’s hot,  it’s a desert –  there’s nothing there!”). Those lucky friends who were invited along on those camping trips became converts to desert appreciation, if not upon arrival then soon thereafter, usually during one of our hikes to the Palm Canyon.

My favorite time of the year to go to the desert was during spring break, which usually coincided with the brief but spectacular desert wildflower bloom. This year, I almost thought about flying down spur-of-the-moment, but even if I did so I probably wouldn’t be able to get near the place: wildflower and desert lovers and sightseers have descended en masse to witness a “super bloom” – Anza-Borrego’s most spectacular in over 20 years.

A super bloom is a user-friendly term to describe what is, essentially, a wildflower KA-BOOM. (I’m sure there is some official botanical term to describe the phenomenon).

Southern California deserts, after experiencing one of the worst droughts in the area’s history, are experiencing the wildflower show due to a variety of reasons, including the due to recent heavy and steady rains. Anza-Borrego, an area which usually gets only 5 inches of precipitation per year, has had  7 inches of rain in the past 8 months.

As ephemeral as a seemingly rational policy statement from a #45  [7]  cabinet member, the super blooms will likely last no more than a week.  Enjoy it while/if you can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Department Of The Lady Or The Tiger Or
The Door To Yet Yet Another Bullshit Misogynist Fairytale

A book of fables containing The Lady Or The Tiger was presented to me by my 4th grade teacher, as a reward for finishing first in a reading contest. [8]  TLOTT was the only story I remembered from the book. I thought the story was of ancient origin, and that thought was reinforced when I encountered TLOTT again, in a 5th or 6th grade English class. The story was so…primitive…it had to have come from The Ancients. Only later did I find out it was a (relatively) contemporary short story, published in 1882.

In case you’re not familiar with the plot, it involves a nasty king, his daughter (the princess), and her suitor. A lower-class (i.e. non-royal) subject falls in love with the king’s daughter and attempts to court her. The king is offended by this, and sentences the man to a devious punishment: he will be taken to an arena where he will be forced to choose between two doors behind one door is a beautiful lady; behind the other, a hungry tiger. If the man chooses the door with a lady behind it, he will have to marry her, and if he chooses the door with the tiger behind it, he will be mauled to death.

The princess schemes within the court to find out which door has the lady behind it. She doesn’t want her suitor to have to marry someone else, but she loves him and doesn’t want him to die. At the auspicious moment, she signals him to choose a door….but the story ends as the man opens the door, and readers are left to ponder what choice she led him to make.

TLOTT was presented the ultimate allegory of a tough decision, but my grade school click! radar (aka the feminist eureka moment) came to the fore.  Excuse me, but “The ultimate allegory of a difficult decision?” You people (read: adults, teachers) gotta be joking. To even make the argument that there could be another choice, other than let him choose the other woman and live…

 

 

 

WTF

 

 

 

I didn’t think in WTF speak back then. Nevertheless, I argued strenuously that there should be no suspense as to what happened – she loved him! She directed him toward the lady, not the tiger.  He would live…the real suspense would be how the princess and her suitor could find another way to be together, away from her asshole father.

My various teachers pointed out what they said were the flaws in my argument, with what was, at the time, totally acceptable, totally sexist, “reasoning.” Looking back, their analysis was astonishing for its matter-of-fact assumptions of female pettiness: a woman’s sole or ultimate motivation must be love and security; women are jealous of other women; she’d rather see him dead than with another woman – who by definition must be her rival, because women can’t be friends with other women; if-I-can’t-have-him-nobody-else-can ….

TLOTT, besides being a shitty story, sparked one of the first of what would be an ongoing line of feminist inquiries and realizations: This is how the world is supposed to view women?  This is what women are supposed to think about themselves?

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Department Of But Why Wouldn’t I Believe Them – Do They Have A Reputation For Telling Lies and/or Spreading Misinformation? 
(And If So, Why Aren’t They working For The Current Occupant Of The White House?)

Subject line in an email caught in my spam filter:

You won’t believe these three toilet seats.

*   *   *

 

 

 

 

May you believe the toilet seats that must be believed;
May you never be too young or too old to call out fairy-tale horseshit;
May the luck of the Irish be better for you than it has been for the Irish;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

 

[1] According to the NIH’s Celiac Awareness Campaign, the answer is yes, for whiskey or any distilled beverage, even those derived from wheat, as the distillation process removes the gluten proteins.

[2] I wonder if he saw any snakes there?

[3] Other islands that don’t have (native, non-introduced by human) snakes include New Zealand, Hawaii, Greenland, Iceland, and Antarctica.

[4] Nigel Monaghan,  keeper of natural history at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.

[5] Ants that get inside the house. Free range ants, I have no problem with ’em.

[6] From our home in Santa Ana it was a 2 ½ hour drive – which for Southern Californians, is just around the block.

[7] Aka The Cheetos Hitler. I try not to say his name in my house, unless quoting someone with a stronger stomach.

[8] Looking back, I hate to think that I was given that story to read as a reward of any kind.

The Songs I’m Not Remembering

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Department Of That’s His Story And He’s Sticking To It

MH traveled to Pasadena last weekend to attend a memorial service for a college classmate.  [1]  He shared a hotel room and rental car with friend with fellow alum DH.  Following the Sunday afternoon service, the two longtime buddies went out to dinner with another friend/CalTech alum – JD, who had also attended the memorial. JD offered to drive and picked up the boys at their hotel – which, BTW and not incidental to this story, had a choice of valet parking or no parking; thus, MH left the rental car’s keys with the hotel parking valet.

Upon returning to their hotel room, the boys found they had a terse/sheepish message on their room phone, saying that they needed to come down to the front desk and see the manager “…about your car.” In his text and photo to me about what had happened, MH, trying to piece together the story, said that the hotel’s parking valet apparently “…had a fun drive in the parking garage…until a cement post got in the way.”

 

 

mcar

“Officially, he hit a puddle and lost control.”

*   *   *

Department Of Weapons Of A Would-Be Serial Killer

Or make that, squirrel-y-er killer.

Exhibit A, as viewed from our kitchen window: Can you spot the discharged shell?

 

 

ammo

 

 

 

Exhibit B: Can you identify the weapon on the windowsill?

 

gun

 

 

A classy addition to our home décor which I’d hitherto unimagined, a Nerf Uzi [2]  seems to have found a home on our kitchen eating area windowsill during the past few months.  This particular window looks out onto our side yard, a jungle-y area of shrubs and ferns and vine maples. The trees bear the responsibility of holding MH’s growing collection of bird feeders, at least two of which were guaranteed to thwart those nefarious scourges of bird feeder hangers everywhere.

Yep, I’m talkin’ squirrels.

A “squirrel-proof” bird feeder is, as we have discovered, a concept and not a reality. Similar to how Science ® has proved that trailer parks attract tornadoes, hanging a squirrel-proof bird feeder in your tree guarantees that your neighborhood’s most balletic-ally agile, persistent, inventive and dexterous squirrels will be irresistibly, almost magnetically drawn to your yard. Thus, the years-long enmity between MH and sciurus carolinensis which has led my otherwise mild-mannered spouse to keep the afore-mentioned, foam dart-deploying weapon handy.  [3]

Exhibit C: can you spot the mas, which, when donned by a 6’2″ male biped, produces not one iota of dread in squirrels but is most effective in inducing a butt-dragging-crapping-outside-the-box-in-terror reaction in housecats?

 

 

s-head

*   *   *

Department Of More Fun With Animals

So, thanks to my new car’s radio – and BTW, when you say the phrase, my new car, please use your best Oprah voice…

 

 

Yet again, I digress.

My new car’s radio has, like, a bajillion preset options, [4]  and I’ve only seven or so channels I listen to on a regular basis. Before I selected the presets I did an internet search for Portland metro area music stations, to get my number of presets up to what I thought was a respectable figure (10). More often than not, I find myself leaving the channel on one of these new station “discoveries” – an eclectic oldies station run by local (Hillsboro) ham radio operators.  The station’s programming is all over the oldies map:  I’ll hear a 50s doo-wop song followed by a John Denver’s first hit (Country Roads) followed by one of The Beatles’ lesser-played covers (Carl Perkins’ Honey Don’t) to other hits and misses spanning several decades. Wednesday morning I was treated to a somnambulant edition of Hang on Sloopy I had no idea existed. [5]  The latter version varied greatly in tempo and even melody and was not as swampy/sexy as the more familiar version by The McCoys, but still had its own charm.

Earlier in the week I’d heard the station play, “Remember (Walking in the Sand)” by The Shangri-Las, that classic, romantic tragedy (romagedy?) tale of a teenage girl lamenting the loss and/or unfaithfulness of her boyfriend – which was fundamental fodder of songs written for the girl groups of the late 1950s – early 1960s.

I was familiar with the song, but couldn’t remember the last time I’d heard it…and after I heard it on that radio station I had to consider whether or not I’d ever listened to it all the way through.  Perhaps the radio station’s engineer was having fun with the background volume controls; whatever the reason, the increasingly loud sound effects at the end of the song got me to wondering: are listeners supposed to think that the heartbroken narrator returned to the beach where she once walked (in the sand…remember?) with her boyfriend and, distracted and distraught over her lover’s betrayal, she staggered into a mob of seagulls and was pecked to death?

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of More Fun With Radio

Make that, fun with a podcast. And I’m not sure that fun is the appropriate modifier…although I’d like to think that enlightenment of any kind is entertaining, in some ways.

Wednesday morning I listened to an amazing TED talk. Two speakers shared a stage, and shared a story which began almost two decades ago. Listen to it, and you’ll discover that what starts out as the tale of an Icelandic girl and her Australian exchange student boyfriend doesn’t go where you’d expect, to put it mildly.

For the rest of the day I kept thinking about the after effects of sexual violence, and in particular, the paucity of perspectives we have from its perpetrators. Increasingly, women and girls are daring to speak out about their experiences of having been raped, but how many men and boys have you ever heard admit to being rapists, and to talk openly about what that was like?

Rapist; Brute; Savage; Animal; Inhuman. We’ve many epithets and adjectives for those who commit sexual assault.  I vote for eliminating inhuman from that list, because I think societies might make more progress in dealing with sexual assault by ultimately recognizing the humanity of the assailant.

Yep, you read correctly. I know, it sounds almost sacrilegious [6] to refer to a rapist’s humanity. But how can you ever hope to solve a problem if you aren’t willing to think clearly about it?

And clearly, history demonstrates that just as kindness, compassion, empathy, altruism, and sacrifice are bright colors on the spectrum of human behavior, so are the darker shades of human-on-human abuse.

Rape and other acts of assault and violence, from bullying to waging war, are unfortunately common to the human experience. But when we label rapists/sexual abusers as inhuman we enable those human beings who for whatever reasons  [7] force themselves upon weaker/ intoxicated/drugged/otherwise incapacitated human beings, to subsequently and sincerely not consider themselves to be rapists or to have committed sexual assault, because they are not the archetypal inhuman fiend who sprang out from behind a hedge and held a knife to her throat….

 

*   *   *

Department Of Ending On A Lighter Note

Business sign of the week… or month…or maybe even year:  I saw this sign on the side of the road, meant to entice passers-by to consider the services of a landscaping company to spruce up your yard for the coming warmer months:

“This spring don’t get caught with your plants down.”

 

 

 

 

plantsdown

*   *   *

 

 

 

May you revel in the small pleasures of a forgotten song remembered;
May you never get caught with your plants down;
May you consider the humanity of the serial squirrel-harasser;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Who died too young after a long battle with rheumatoid arthritis. I shall write a bit about him in another post.

[2] Not its official name.

[3] Yeah, the squirrels flee when he fires it at them. And then they return.

[4] Okay; thirty.

[5] The stations website, such as it is, is quite low tech, and has no playlist, so I don’t know who did that version of HOS.

[6] But I’m a happy heathen, remember?

[7] Usually related to the cultural dictates which teach men that they are entitled to women’s bodies.

The Natural Beauty I’m Not Protecting

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“I hope you’ll display it as a reminder of the natural beauty you’re protecting.”
(Note on a card sent,  along with a paper Christmas ornament, by The Nature Conservancy, in a three page won’t you contribute? solicitation.)

MH and I give a lot of thought to which charities we support. We donate to organizations we deem effective, whether on a local or global scale, in supporting our “favorite” causes. Over the years we’ve added some causes/organizations and deleted others, the latter action usually taken due to what we see as a misuse of our donations. For example, if we received waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many requests for additional contributions, including being dunned for “annual” dues/membership fees starting at seven months before the end of when our membership expires year, it’s buh-bye to that one.

One such charity was Nature Conservancy. We supported them for years, and then we didn’t. They do some really, really good work – who isn’t for preservation of natural lands and restoration of habitat for endangered species? – but the constant appeals for more, accompanied by trinkets we neither wanted nor asked for, including their latest we’d love to have you rejoin appeal, [1] remind me of why I decided our conservation $$ would be better spent elsewhere.

 

 

 

ornament

 

An unsolicited holiday ornament wrapped in plastic, made in China. Now, there’s some mighty fine stewardship of the earth’s resources.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Every Cart Tells A Story

My computer calendar gave me a pop-up reminder: time to change out the emergency water supply in the garage. [2]  Two days later I was standing in the unusually long line at the store,  [3] bored outta my gourd, checking out the items in other people’s shopping carts. I began a game I’ve played for years: concocting a story about strangers, my fellow shoppers.  Their age, jobs, educational and marital status, state and/or country of origin, likes and dislikes – even their political opinions – I make up a profile of them, based on what they have in their shopping carts.

Before long I considered the thirteen items in my own cart – twelve water jugs and a stick of antiperspirant – and wondered what would my story be, to someone playing a similar game?  [4]

This middle-aged, sweaty white woman is very, very thirsty.

 

 

 

cart

*   *   *

Department Of Things That Give Me Hope Re The Resilience Of The Human Spirit

The good folks who gave us that most refined parlor game, Cards Against Humanity, have now given us yet another reason to go on living: they dug a really, really big hole, into which money was thrown. Check it out at https://www.holidayhole.com/

 

*   *   *

Department Of Shoot Me Now And Get It Over With

Forget water boarding – if you ever want to see me with my spirit totally broken,  [5] force me to sit through a Singing Christmas Tree ® performance.

And yes, I have been to such a thing. Twice, when I was young. Whenever I had to picture the concept of hell (a concept adults seemed to believe in, or at least find useful, but which I thought was rubbish), I flashed back to those horrifically perky, Lawrence-Welk-on-Quaaludes-and-acid, holiday “concerts.”

 

singing-tree

*   *   *

Department Of And Then There’s That

Hoping for the best the best doesn’t exclude ignoring reality.

Specifically, I refer to my pondering (read: dreading) what will happen after January 20, 2017. Many Democrats and select Republican non-trolls have been making noises re working together with a PuJu [6] administration on what might be considered nonpartisan, everybody-wants-this-done issues.

Now, I’ll be one of the first to commend the actions of everyone involved in finding ways to, say, fix our crumbling bridges/update our infrastructure and reform/simplify our tax code, etc. Still, any such accomplishments will not erase the fact that we’ll have a boorish, narcissistic, knowledge-incurious, unrepentant racist and misogynist as head of state.

 

 

disappointed

*   *   *

We have reached the seventh circle of the hell I don’t even believe in.

I was listening to a podcast of a Freakonomics radio show, the 11-16-16 episode, How To Make A Bad Decision. The hosts and guests were discussing a research paper, Decision Making Under the Gambler’s Fallacy.   The paper’s authors analyzed decision-making within three different professions – baseball umpires, loan officers, and asylum judges – to see whether those professionals were likely to fall prey to the gambler’s fallacy.  [7]  

The podcast included an interview with professional baseball umpire Hunter Wendelstedt, who talked about the application of technologies such as the PITCHf/x system [8] and instant replays of close plays as ways of checking an umpire’s calls. Not all umpires are enamored with the technologies and the resultant second-guessing/undermining of their authority, but Wendelstedt was a supporter:

“… these pitch systems got into place, it’s been a great educational tool for us….it really helps us become a better-quality product for the game of baseball.

 

 

really

 

The world is indeed ending not with a bang, but with a whimper.

I completely lost interest in the rest of the podcast after hearing that quote.  I beg of all sentient beings:  Never, ever, refer to yourself, or any other human being, as a product.

Unless in your case the human being thing is just an act and you actually happen to be a can of Cheezey-whiz.

*   *   *

The Toes I’m Not Spreading

Balance; calm; equanimity, toe envy….

Wait a sec. Of all the elements one might pursue or experience in a yoga class, envy of any kind – well, it’s just not yoga.

Still, there I am, in my yoga class, glancing around to see my fellow yogis seemingly effortlessly widen their lithe, long, supple little piggies when the instructors suggests we spread our toes to help us balance in tree pose. Meanwhile, my puny, span-challenged podiatric digits spasm with the effort.

Stub toes [9]  is just one of the milder epithets which have been applied to my toes over the years.  Some folks have refrained from outright name-calling, but still have obviously noticed my phalange deficiencies. One afternoon in high school,  the dance teacher substituted for our field hockey coach (who was called away for some emergency) during warm-ups. Dance Teacher decided to teach us hockey ladies some exercises which, she said, would increase our flexibility. DT asked us to remove our shoes and socks, stand barefoot on the gym floor, feet approximately 18 inches apart…

“Now, everyone spread your toes…” DT patrolled the rows of smirking field hockey players (we needed stamina, not flexibility, so why weren’t we doing our warm-up laps?), checking everyone’s deportment, berating this girl’s posture and that girl’s stance. She came to me, looked downward, and scowled.

“Widen your toes!” DT insisted. She then pointed to the feet of the girl standing beside me, as if to inspire me, for that girl’s lengthy, prehensile toes looked as if they would enable her to hang upside down from a tree branch.

“I am,” I replied. “This is as wide as they go.”

DT bent over, reached her hand down toward my foot, and made a clucking noise of patronizing sympathy. “I see, she sighed, and moved on down the line.

Flash forward to a couple of years later: I am in an athletic footware store, to purchase a new pair of running shoes. I am a regular customer of the store and know what size I wear, but the store’s new (to me) salesperson insists I remove my shoes and socks and step on the store’s shoe size measurer-thingamawhoowhooy-gadget. [10]

 

 

shoesize

You know, this thing.

 

 

Wow,” he gasps, as I comply with his request, “your toes are really short!” He crouches for closer inspection; I resist the urge to suddenly feign a spasm and kick him in the teeth.

“You know,” he looks up at me earnestly, “if your toes were normally proportioned to your feet, your shoe size would be one or even two sizes larger.”

Guess which salesman didn’t get that commission?

BTW – I rock at tree pose. Stub toes and all.

 

 

treepose

*   *   *

May you rock at your balance poses;
May your cart tell a noteworthy story;
May you dig a really big hole for any reason you chose;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] What could their financial/donations manager possibly be thinking? “Sure, they left us five years ago, but this paper ornament will bring them back!”

[2] Every six months I buy 12-one gallon jugs of water, swap them out with the supply already in the garage, and use the older supply for watering plants, etc.

[3] It’s the Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend; these people are already out of leftovers?

[4] Whom am I kidding – like anyone else would be playing that game, or looking up or around or anywhere but down, for that matter. Everyone else in my line, and in all the adjacent lines (Yep, I checked) was looking down at their cellphone…waiting for it to hatch a rare three-toed pygmy sloth dragon, or something equally significant, judging from the rapt expression on their face.

[5] If you did desire such a thing, that would make you a miserable little shit, wouldn’t it?

[6] aka Putin Junior, as I cannot bear to type his (allegedly real) name.

[7] The Gambler’s Fallacy is an erroneous  understanding of probability – the belief that the chances of something happening with a fixed probability, i.e., rolling 10 even dice in a row, become higher or lower as the process is repeated.

[8] A pitch tracking system which tracks the velocity, movement, release point, spin, and pitch location for every pitch thrown in a baseball game.

[9] Thanks, Mom!

[10] There must be a name for that device.

The Lunch I’m Not Buying

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For almost twenty years, my Canadian-born neighbor and friend has been itching to give moiself suggestions for the Canadian Trip I Have Yet To Take ® . Tuesday morning I awoke early, excited about the decisions I’d made on Monday re just such a trip. I looked forward to emailing an invitation to her: “I’ll take you out to lunch and you can be my travel agent!”

But first, I decided to go ahead and book my trip.

Long Story Short: I have a significant birthday coming up in few weeks, and have had a significant Act 3 Career & Life Crisis ®  going on for a few…years.  I shared some recent downturns regarding such things with friend SCM who, wise counselor that she is,  [1] offered this wise counsel:

It’s obvious you need a control-alt-delete from life right now….

She advised I take a trip, to…anywhere. Someplace totally random, or “…even if it’s just Quebec or Victoria or someplace on the same continent, you need a break from real life.”

I’d been thinking along similar lines – a meditative kind of vacation, not a trip involving lots of activities, which is what I’d usually want. I need to go alone, to have contemplative opportunity away from distractions, from the familiarity of work, routine, home and family…the kind of trip where you are forced to chill, where my main activity would be a combination of taking it easy, taking stock, and Figuring Things Out ® .

A long train trip would fit the bill. One where the destination is not so important as the process…and with really cool scenery on the way. However, my birthday being when it is (within loogie-hocking distance of Christmas)…what’s available/accessible in December?

After many days of research, I’d found the one that hit the spot with both my head and heart: Vacation By Rail’s Canadian Snow train, which travels across five provinces, from Toronto to Vancouver. I discussed it with MH Monday at dinner, working out which departure dates would be good for him perhaps being able to meet up with me at the end of my solo jaunt and spend a couple of days sightseeing in Vancouver. Later that eve, my fitful sleep was, for once, due to a good cause. I was filled with restless excitement – I was doing whatI usually poke fun at: setting my heart on something.

You know where this is headed, don’t you?

 

 

disappointed

 

 

Here is the email I sent to MH Tuesday morning, after I’d tried to make the reservations.

Subject line – trip: back to square one.

I noticed that no matter what date I put in on the train trip, just trying to see how far I could get in the online scheduling process, I got a message saying I had to call to speak to a booking agent to continue.

 It turns out that I had to call because I was booking for one passenger traveling solo, and they don’t list that price on line. The price listed on Vacation by Rail site’s – $___ for the rate class I sought – is the price per passenger for more than one passenger.  Same trip, same room, for a single passenger is “…uh,…significantly higher,” the very nice (and apologetic and embarrassed-soundin)  booking agent said, after she’d looked it up.  “Significantly higher” turns out to be More. Than. Double.

 Seriously  – over $8k  (I stopped writing the figure down after I heard the “Eight thousand…”)

 I told the booking lady I feel as if I’ve been had.

 I flashed back to a conversation during my Croatia/Slovenia/Bosnia trip, where a bunch of the veteran travelers were talking at dinner about the many reasons they liked Rick Steves tours, including the fact that there was no price discrimination for single/solo travelers.

 I woke up excited this morning (can’t remember the last time that has happened) and now I feel like I’m six years old and someone strangled my hamster.

 I don’t often burst into tears when talking to a stranger on the phone…at least I managed to hold off until I hung up.

 Fuck. To put it mildly.   [2]

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Things You Should Know About Me If We’re Going To Be Friends

I like “bugs.” Mammalia and Insecta –  I am appreciative of our respective ecological niches…with notable exceptions  [3] . I particularly respect and admire spiders. If at all possible, any spider found in our house is escorted to the great outdoors (as opposed to squashing it), where she may build her web in peace and harmony.

 

 

spider

We love you too, sweetie.

 

 

Ants, however, can kiss my ass – but Noooo,  blog-reading ants out there, do not take that literally, because I absolutely hate hate hate it when you creepy crawlers get in the house.

Maybe it was that stupid movie I saw as a kid – a movie which held the distinctions of being both the first nuclear-mutated-big-monster movie and the first horror movie I ever saw on TV. I had nightmares for days, until…once again, Science to the rescue! ®   With a little research I discovered that humans could never be attacked by giant mutant ants due to basic laws of physics; that is, physical limitations of the ants’ exoskeletons meant they’d be unable to support a body weight beyond a certain size.

 

 

 

them

 

 

 

Still, I find little comfort in the fact that ants will always remain small. The ants go marching one by one – that’s the part that gets me.

The hive mentality is abhorrent and frightening to me. I am uncomfortable around any creatures which display groupthink and which, voluntarily or otherwise, act as slaves to instinct. From social insects to German soldiers marching in lockstep; from fundamentalist Christians simultaneously raising their hands at a faith healing rally to Mormon missionaries on bicycles to a bazillion Muslims all dressed white and in throwing pebbles at pillars during their hajj…..ICK.

Ants in the house is the worst; I feel like I’m being invaded by The Borg.  And I don’t just want to kill them; I want to frighten them. I want to hire tiny ant IRA operatives to kneecap the invaders so they can return to their colony as a living warning to the others: stay away from this lady; she means business!

Can you guess what tried to occupy our kitchen this week?

 

 

hateants

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Things We Do For Science

Text exchange between daughter Belle, a junior majoring in Biology at the University of Puget Sound, and moiself, yesterday:

Belle: …guess what – I am now the temporary owner of a super cute frog.

Moiself: Temporary? You mean you’re watching it while someone is away? And you know you must prove it is super cute…

And she did:

 

 

sadiefrog

 

 

Moiself: Dude, that looks like a huge toad!

Belle: He’s for my ecology independent research project!

Moiself: What are you researching?

Belle: Me and my partner are looking at how diet nutrient content affects behavior syndromes in crickets after a predator stimulation.

Moiself: So, you’re actually interested in cricket behavior? The frog is just there to be the predator?

Belle: Basically we’re feeding crickets a bunch of different diets, and seeing if that affects how brave they are in the presence of a predator. Yeah, he’s just there to scare some crickets.

Moiself: Are these male crickets? If so, just given them a diet of nothing but beer and they’ll think they’re invincible. I’m serious. You might win a Nobel Prize for this.

Belle: The sex of our crickets is unknown, ha ha.

Moiself: Well then, can your research project have more than one hypothesis? Do the beer diet thing, and if it produces what passes for cricket bravado, they are likely male. If it has no effect, except that the crickets seem to be getting a bit heavy in the hip, they are likely female – and you have found a noninvasive way to determine the sex of crickets.

Belle: I don’t think they’ll let us use beer.

Moiself:  Hot pockets?

 

*   *   *

Department Of Going Through The Motions

For reasons that should have been made clear in the opening of this post, I’m not in much of a oh-fa-la-la-la-la-la-here-come-the-holidays mood. [4] Nevertheless, with Halloween just around the bend, it’s time to share what has become my holiday season tradition:

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you be careful what you set your heart on;
May you be free from ant and Borg invasions;
May you find the good in going through the motions;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Literally. Among her many attributes (such as being the Queen of Hats), she is a lawyer.

[2] After several hours of feeling like I got kicked in the gut, I got back in the saddle so to speak, and researched more options…and once again and more than once encountered the obscene solo traveler surcharge. Not gonna be a party to that ripoff.

[3] IMHO, fleas and mosquitoes can suck festering, turd-encrusted donkey dicks and die.

[4] And only four footnotes? Now, that’s a funk.

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