Saturday, October 31, 2009

By Another Name

Well, here it is. Tonight is the Great Neighborhood Candy Exchange. You know, that night when all the kids dress up funny and the moms trade candy through their kids.

That's all it really has become, you know. Yes, it all started with Druid ceremonies and Day of the Dead stuff in many religions, or celebrations of Saints in others. It has all boiled down to, my kids want to dress up funny and go get candy. "Just one more house, please?"

Kind of keeps things in perspective, doesn't it?

Today is:

Admission Day, Nevada

Apple and Candle Night, Wales

All Hallow's Eve -- Christian

All Saint's Day, Sweden

Dookie Apple Night, Newcastle, England

Duck Apple Night, Liverpool, England

Feast to Pomona -- Ancient Roman Calendar

Festival of Inner Worlds

Ghost Walk

Ghostwriter's Day

Hallowe'en or Beggar's Night

Homemaker's Day

Increase Your Psychic Powers Day

Independence Day, Antigua

National Knock-Knock Joke Day

National Magic Day -- in honor of Harry Houdini, who died on this day in 1926

National Caramel Apple Day

National UNICEF Day

Old Celtic New Year's Eve

Reformation Day -- Protestant Christian

Samhain Eve -- Druids

Senior Absurdity Day at Horace Mann School

St. Quentin's Day

St. Wolfgang's Day (patron of carpenters and woodcarvers)

Thump-the-Door Night, Isle of Mann

Trick or Treat Night

Youth Honor Day

Birthdays Today:

Adam Horovitz, 1966
Peter Jackson, 1961
Larry Mullen, Jr., 1961
John Candy, 1950
Jane Pauley, 1950
Deidre Hall, 1947
David Ogden Stiers, 1942
Michael Landon, 1936
Dan Rather, 1931
Michael Collins, 1930
Barbara Bel Geddes, 1922
Dale Evans, 1912
Ethel Waters, 1896
Chaing Kai-shek, 1887
Juliette Low, 1860
John Keats, 1795
Jan Vermeer, 1632

Today in History:

Ezra reads the Book of the Law to the Israelites after their return to Jerusalem from exile, BC445
First All Hallows Eve observed to honor all the saints, 834
Martin Luther posts his 95 Theses on the Wittenberg church door, marks the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, 1517
Georg Ludwig van Hannover is crowned as the English King George I, 1714
Execution of Girondins at Paris during the Reign of Terror, 1793
Sir Humphrey Davy of London patents the miner's safety lamp, 1815
A standard uniform is approved for US Postal workers, 1868
A tropical cyclone hits Bengal, about 200,000 die, 1876
John Boyd Dunlop patents the pneumatic bicycle tire, 1888
Arthur Conan Doyle publishes "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes", 1892
Benito Mussolini becomes Premier of Italy, 1922
Mt. Rushmore sculptures are completed, 1941

Friday, October 30, 2009

Only the usual boredom to report today.

Cleaning the church, schoolwork, Sweetie working late, piano tuner coming this afternoon, feed/clean up after the cats at the shelter, wake #2 Son when he is sleepwalking again.

Plus the usual fold the laundry/cook the meals/fight the traffic stuff.

Meanwhile, the children carved their pumpkins. One has the initials of the latest pop singer who is a craze. One was carved to took like it was sick to its stomach, and has the "guts" of the pumpkin coming out of the mouth (they got the idea from Calvin and Hobbes). The third has a sneer, and a fake cigar coming out of its mouth.

I may be boring, but my kids...

Oh, and Happy Frankenstein Friday. Don't read that book unless you want to be very sad, and see life from a rather odd perspective.

Today is:

Buy-A-Doughnut Day

Chan Kom, Mexico

Covenant of Grace Day

Create a Great Funeral Day

Frankenstein Friday (Always the last Friday in Oct.)

Great Pumpkin Carve

Independence Day, Swaziland

Look in the Back of Your Refrigerator Day

Los Angelitos, Mexico

National Basketball Coaches Day

National Candy Corn Day

St. Dorothy of Montau's Day

Birthdays Today:

Gavin Rossdale, 1967
Diego Armando Maradona, 1960
Harry Hamlin, 1951
Henry Winkler, 1945
Grace Slick, 1939
Claude Lelouch, 1937
Robert Caro, 1935
Louis Malle, 1932
Ruth Gordon, 1896
Charles Atlas, 1893
Ezra Pound, 1885
Fyodor Dostoevsky, 1821
John Adams, 1735

Today in History:

Antioch surrenders to Rashidun Caliphate and his Muslim forces after the Battle of the Iron Bridge, 637
Launch of the 8th and final Crusade, 1270
King Henry VII, Tudor, crowned, 1485
Queen Isabella bans violence against Indians, 1503
The first Methodist church in the US is initiated (Wesley Chapel, NYC), 1768
Dr. Richard Gatling patents the machine gun, 1862
Founding of Helena, Montana (capital city), 1864
John Willis Menard, of Louisiana, becomes the first black elected to the US Congress (by special election, he was challenged by the loser, but was allowed to address Congress from the lectern), 1868
Daniel Cooper patents the time clock, 1894
Martha Hughes Cannon of Utah becomes the first woman US Senator, 1896
The first US Automobile Show opens in Madison Square Garden, NYC, 1900

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Inspection -- update

It passed!

Even with the crack in the window. They are supposed to pass it if the crack is not interfering with the driver's line of sight. Good thing the inspectors usually go by their height, not mine! It does not interfere with me, either, but they might think it would, and I seldom drive that car anyway.

So, inspection took the last $18 in the house, and putting gas in it for the week took the remaining money from the account, so nobody better need anything at all paid today, or they will be searching couch cushions for change to pay for it.


Today is the day!

Sounds ominous, and for those of us who count every penny, it can be.

Today is the day I find out if the car #1 Son drives to school will pass inspection. If not, we are in deep.

There is a limit to how much flows in. There seems to be no limit to how much flows out. As Dave Ramsey says, the money comes in, it goes out, and only the names are changed to protect the guilty. Sweetie needs solvent for his project. The kids want Hallowe'en stuff. We have no milk in the house except the prepack cartons that Angel Food provides, and the kids don't like that stuff.

The piano tuner wants to come on Friday. If he has raised his rates again (3rd time in a row, if he has), I will have to go without that next time or find someone else.

Right now, just let the car pass inspection. One more time, please? If it does, I promise to celebrate the wacky Laughing holiday listed below, and ignore the Hide from Everyone day that I am tempted to invoke. Otherwise, dinner just might be nothing but a celebration of Oatmeal Day.

Happiness would be a fresh, new inspection sticker, to keep the policeman happy.

Today is:

Candies Day (They have to be kidding -- this close to Hallowe'en?!)

Hermit Day

Hide From Everyone Day (I know the feeling.)

Iroquois Feast of the Dead (held every 12 years)

Laugh Suddenly For No Reason A Lot Today Day (And end up either getting yourself and everyone around you in a good mood, or yourself being observed at the hospital in a padded room.)

National Disgusting Little Pumpkin-Shaped Candies Day

National Frankenstein Day

Oatmeal Day

St, Baldus' Day (patron of cattle and against family problems)

World Psoriasis Day

Birthdays Today:

Winona Ryder, 1971
Kate Jackson, 1948
Richard Dreyfuss, 1947
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, 1938
Bill Mauldin, 1921
Fanny Brice, 1891
James Boswell, 1740 (wrote the biography of Samuel Johnson)
Edmund Halley, 1656 (yes, that Halley, found the comet)--this is the date based on the OS calendar, often you will find his birthday listed as Nov. 8, because of the switch in calendar use.

Today in History:

First trial for witchcraft in Paris, 1390
Sir Walter Raleigh, adventurer, writer, and courtier, is beheaded, 1618
A severe earthquake shakes New England, 1727
The first Ohio River steamboat leaves Pittsburgh for New Orleans, 1811
Queen Victoria grants Cecil Rhodes rights to Zambezia, 1889
The first intercity trucking service, from Colorado City to Snyder, Texas, begins running, 1904
Turkey declares its independence as the successor state to the Ottoman Empire, 1923

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Current Dilemmas

The current dilemmas in our household:

Celebrate Hallowe'en on Saturday night, or go to the university football game? After all, Grandpa does spend a great deal providing us with season tickets. Then again, the opportunity to scare little kids in the neighborhood only comes once a year. It is also a good friend of Little Girl's birthday, so she wants to be with the friend.

Take Bigger Girl to volunteer at the Health Center tonight to help residents celebrate Hallowe'en, as her school has asked, which means picking her and Neighbor Boy up at school, bringing them all the way back home, turning around immediately and hurrying back out there with her even a further drive from our place to get her there on time. It is located in such a place that there is no convenient cross street from either the interstate or the state highway, it is an even further drive than her school, which is a 20 mile round trip from our house, and we have very little gas money. Or, Sweetie needs the van tonight to go to church band rehearsal. He had to miss last week, because of work, and they need for him to be there consistently so he can show reliability.

What to cook for dinner tonight -- beans again or figure out yet another way to cook ground beef?

Keep fighting the losing battles, or go back to bed? Since Sweetie decided to "help" this morning by pouring extra water through the coffee maker and ruining my coffee after pouring his own, bed sounds mighty nice.

Today is:

City of Riverside Founder's Day Festival, Riverside, Ohio

Folly Day

Fyribod (or Forebode) (Either way, whatever it is, it sounds forbidding)

Independence Day, Nationalist China

Milvian Bridge Day -- Christian

National Chocolate Day

National Holiday, Hungary

Ohi Day, Greece (Literally "No Day", celebrating resistance to Mussolini.)

Plush Animal Lover's Day

San Juan Capistrano Mission Pirate Festival

St. Jude's Day, (patron of desperate or hopeless cases -- the reason Danny Thomas chose this saint to invoke as patron of the hospital he helped found.)

St. Simon's Day

Time Day

Anniversaries Today:

Founding of Harvard University. 1636

Statue of Liberty dedicated, 1886

Birthdays Today:

Joaquin Phoenix, 1974
Julia Roberts, 1967
Daphne Zuniga, 1962
Bill Gates, 1955
Bruce Jenner, 1949
Dennis Franz, 1944
Charlie Daniels, 1936
Cleo Laine, 1927
Jonas Salk, 1914

Today in History:

Constantine the Great defeats Maxentius, 312
Battle of Yaunis Khan in which Turkish forces under the Grand Vizier Sinan Pasha defeat the Mameluks near Gaza, 1516
Battle of Amba Sel, in which Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi again defeats the army of Lebna Dengel, Emperor of Ethiopia; the southern part of Ethiopia falls under Imam Ahmad's control, 1531
The first university in the New World, Universidad Santo Tomas Aquino, is established in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 1538
Harvard University is founded, 1636
Peruvian cities of Lima & Callao are demolished by an earthquake, 18,000 die, 1746
Eli Whitney applies for a patent on the cotton gin, 1793
The first railroad in Spain, between Barcelona and Mataro, is opened, 1848
Maimonides College in Pennsylvania is founded as the first Jewish college in the US, 1867
The Statue of Liberty is dedicated by President Grover Cleveland, and celebrated by the first ticker tape/confetti parade in NYC, 1886
An earthquake strikes Mino-Owari, Japan, kills 7,300, 1891
The St. Louis police try a new investigation method -- fingerprints, 1904
Czechoslovakia gains its independence in the break up of Austria-Hungary, 1918
The Volstead Act, passed by Congress over Wilson's veto, starts Prohibition, 1919
The first coast to coast radio broadcast of a football game, 1922

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mud Pie and Groucho Marx

Tuesday, and the homeschool co-op dominates my thoughts.

Mississippi Mud Pie (as the recipe should go)

2 graham cracker crusts

8 oz cream cheese, at room temp
3/4 c sugar
8 oz whipped topping (use the rest of the tub for garnish)

1 pkg. chocolate instant pudding mix
1 pkg. butterscotch instant pudding mix
3 c milk

Mix the cream cheese, sugar, and whipped topping, spread in the crusts.

Mix the milk and puddings, let them thicken a moment, spread on top of the cream cheese mix.

Garnish with the whipped topping that is left over and serve.

As the recipe will go:

Quent will yank the mixer from Logan, trying to compare Logan's hair color (light blond) to the cream cheese, meanwhile, Faith and Hannah will hand mix the cream cheese with the sugar.

I will try to get them to mix the puddings at this time so it will thicken a bit while we spread the cream cheese mix. No one will be able to find the measuring cup I pulled from the cabinet because Jason hid it.

We will get the pudding made, and they will fight over spreaders. More will end up on their fingers than in the pies.

I will give up and only let the girls spread the puddings, showing them how to make the tops look pretty.

We will try to garnish the pies, only to find the boys went ahead and snacked on the rest of the whipped topping.

They will eat it all anyway, in about 30 seconds, and leave me to wash the spoons.

It's not on the level of Groucho Marx (see today in history), but it is slapstick, right in the church kitchen.

Today is:

American Beer Day

Angam Day, Nauru

Big Bang Day

Crack-nut Night

Cranky Co-Worker's Day

Dias de los Muertos begin, Mexico

Day of Peace

Good Bear Day

Independence Day, Turkmenistan, St. Vincent

Naming Day, Zaire

National Day, The Grenadines

National Potato Day

National Tell A Story Day, Scotland and UK

Navy Day

St. Frumentius' Day (patron of Ethiopia)

Swamp Buggy Race Day

Sylvia Plath Day

Tunch Pudding Festival -- Fairy Calendar

Birthdays Today:

Jayne Kennedy, 1951
Carrie Snodgrass, 1946
John Cleese, 1939
Ruby Dee, 1924
Roy Lichtenstein, 1923
Nanette Babray, 1920
Dylan Thomas, 1914
Emily Post, 1872
Theodore Roosevelt, 1858
Niccolo Paganini, 1782
Captain James Cook, 1728
Erasmus, 1466

Today in History:

Constantine the Great is said to have received his Vision of the Cross, 312
Founding of the city of Amsterdam, 1275
Founding of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1682
US Navy forms, 1775
Federalist Papers begin to appear in NY newspapers, 1787
R.H. Macy & Co. opens its first store, on 6th Ave. in NYC, 1858
Boss Tweed is arrested, 1871
The first published reference to "jazz" appears, in Variety, 1916
Chuhei Numbu of Japan sets the long jump record at 26'2 1/2", 1931
"You Bet Your Life," with Groucho Marx, premiers on ABC radio, 1947 (Ultimate result of this a few years later is, of course, the funniest line ever on tv, when a man with 8 kids admitted to Mr. Marx that he did indeed love his wife, and Groucho countered with, "I love my cigar, too, but I take it out of my mouth sometimes!")

Monday, October 26, 2009

Winter and 1863

It is becoming obvious, from a few subtle hints (like nighttime temperatures in the 40*F range) that winter is on the way.

Oh, joy.

That time of year where my skin is so dry, I can watch it flake.

That time of year where I wake up and have no motivation to move, because it is so cold.

The time of year in which cold seems to suck all the pleasure out of life.

I keep saying I want a winter home in Tahiti, and I mean it.

How come there is a song about there being no cure for the summertime blues, when it is the winter blahs that really get to you?

Well, it could be worse, I guess.

I won't tempt the fates by mentioning how.

Meanwhile, tonight I just might howl at the moon (see the wacky holiday list below).

Also, history handed me a rather interesting thought (in the Today in History list below, having to do with the concurrent happenings of 1863).

Today is:

Exaltation of the Shellfish, Pontevedra, Spain

Feed the Birds Day, UK

Flag Day, Austria

French Food Festival

Horseless Carriage Day

Independence Day, Norway

International Red Cross Day

Mule Day

National Mincemeat Pie Day

Pumpkin Day

Top-Spinning Ceremony, Thailand

Worldwide Howl at the Moon Night

Birthdays Today:

Cary Elwes, 1962
Lauren Tewes, 1954
Hillary Rodham Clinton, 1947
Pat Sajak, 1947
Jaclyn Smith, 1947
Bob Hoskins, 1942
Jackie Coogan, 1914
Mahalia Jackson, 1911

Today in History:

Comet 55P/1366 U1 (Tempel-Tuttle) approaches 0.0229 AUs of Earth (2.1 million miles and 3.4 million kilometers)--marking the third closest approach of any comet to our planet in recorded history, 1366
First use of lead pencils, 1492
William Penn accepts the area around the the Delaware River from the Duke of York, 1682
The first Continental Congress adjourns in Philadelphia, and the Minute Men begin to organize in the colonies, 1774
The "Federalist Papers" are published, calling for ratification of the US Constitution, 1787
The French Directory, a five-man revolutionary government, is created, 1795
Hamilton Smith patents a rotary washing machine, 1858

Soccer football rules are standardized and rugby starts as a separate game, 1863
The Worldwide Red Cross is organized in Geneva, 1863
(Note: is this the beginning of the bumper sticker, "Give blood, Play rugby"?)

First use of a "getaway car" after a robbery in Paris, 1901
The first Soviet (worker's council) formed, St. Petersburg, Russia, 1905
Margaret Sanger arrested for the obscenity of advocating birth control, 1916
Mother Teresa founds her Mission of Charity in Calcutta, India, 1950

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mother-In-Law Day

It is mother-in-law day. If you have one, and she is good to you, go give her a hug, or a call.

If you have a lousy one, go look up Ernie K-Doe's song "Mother-in-law" on YouTube, and groove along singing about how bad she is.

If, like me, your m-i-l is gone (in fact, the woman who would have been mine died before I ever met my Sweetie), count up your love's good qualities, and attribute them to her, whether she deserves it or not, and count yourself blessed.

It's a good way to spend a Sunday.

Today is:

Arab-American Day

Cartoonists Against Crime Day

Dioscuri (Shoemaker's Day)

Feast of Forty Martyrs of England and Wales

Mother-in-Law Day

National Greasy Foods Day

Pirates Week Festival, Cayman Islands

Punk-for-a-Day Day

Republic Day, Kazakhstan

Retrocession Day, Taiwan

Sourest Day

St. Crispin's Day (patron of shoemakers, glovemakers, weavers)

St. Crispinianus's Day (Crispin's twin)

Thanksgiving, Virgin Islands

Wild Foods Day (Should I eat them fried in grease?)

World Pasta Day

Birthdays Today:

Tracy Nelson, 1963
Jon Anderson, 1944
Helen Reddy, 1941
Bobby Knight, 1940
Billy Barty, 1924
Minnie Pearl, 1912
Leo G. Carroll, 1892
Pablo Picasso, 1881
Georges Bizet, 1838

Today in History:

Seljuk Turks defeat the German crusaders under Conrad III at the Battle of Dorylaeum, 1147
Battle of Agincourt, in which the Welsh longbow defeats armored knights, 1415
Christopher Columbus, aboard the Santa Maria, lands at the Dominican Republic, 1492
Governor Bradford of the US colony Plymouth disallows sport on Christmas Day, 1621
Wedding of future US President John Adams and Abigail Smith (the marriage lasted 54 years), 1764
Opening of the Erie Canal, 1825
Battle of Balaclava, memorialized as the "Charge of the Light Brigade", results in the deaths of 409 troops, 1854
First postcards used in the US, 1870
'Gunfight at the OK Corral", fight between the Clantons and the Earps, 1881
US inventor Lee de Forest patents "Audion," a 3-diode amplification valve which proved a pioneering development in radio & broadcasting. 1906
Nylon stockings go on sale in the US, 1939
Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. becomes the first black general in the US Army, 1940

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Another Caturday Night...

Another Caturday night, and I ain't got nobody... :)

Seriously, though, it is Saturday. A day to relax. A day to do a bit less.

Does anyone really think this is possible?

Feed kittens, groceries, get Sweetie to work (yes, it's a home game weekend), pick up Angel Food, take bigger kittens to Adoption Day, deliver Mike's Angel Food order to his house, laundry, make sure everyone is ready for the game, drive through the nasty traffic to the game, come home, get bigger kittens back from Margaret, keep children from killing each other and make sure all the cats and kittens in the house stay fed and alive through it all.

Oh, and lets not forget treating the smaller kittens' ringworm and dishes and scooping litter boxes and sweeping floors and somebody bring in the mail, please.

All while the annoying PeeWee style football league goes on across the street, the one with the parents who all think it is their heaven given right to park in front of my house because that is the closest parking spot, and having to park further and walk a few steps might actually burn a few calories.

The joys of life.

Today is:

Feast of Good & Plenty

Independence Day, Zambia

Make A Difference Day

National Bologna Day

Pennsylvania Day

St. Anthony Claret's Day

St. Raphael the Archangel's Day (patron of health inspectors, druggists, happy meetings, leaving home, travelers; against blindness)

Suez Day, Egypt

World Development Information Day

Birthdays Today:

Kevin Kline, 1947
F. Murray Abraham, 1939
David Nelson, 1936
J. P. "Big Bopper" Richardson, 1930
Y. A. Tittle, 1926
Moss Hart, 1904
Sarah Joseph Hale, 1788 (author of "Mary had a little lamb")
Antony van Leeuwenhoek, 1632
Domitian, Roman Emperor, 51

Today in History:

Cathedral of Chartres is dedicated, 1260
The Treaty of Westphalia ends the 30 Years War, recognized the independence of Switzerland, and marks the end of the Holy Roman Empire, 1648
Felix Mendelssohn, age 9, performs his first public concert in Berlin, 1818
The match is patented, by A. Phillips, 1836
The first US transcontinental telegram is sent, from San Francisco to Washington, DC, ending the need for the Pony Express after only 2 years, 1861
Levi P. Morton, US ambassador to France, drives the first rivet for the Statue of Liberty, 1881
Dr. Robert Koch discovers the germ that causes tuberculosis, 1882
Anna Taylor becomes the first woman to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel, 1901
The first NYC subway opens, 1904
"Black Thursday", the start of the stock market crash, Dow Jones down 12.8%, 1929
Al Capone is sentenced for tax evasion, 1931
The George Washington Bridge, connecting NY to NJ, opens, 1931
US forbids child labor in factories, 1938
Eisenhower pledges US support to South Vietnam, 1954

Friday, October 23, 2009

For once, a break.

Bananas were on sale.

It is Sweetie's birthday.

How is that a break?

He doesn't want a cake for his birthday. He wants my home made banana pudding.

1c sugar
4T corn starch
pinch sugar
4c heavy cream
1t vanilla extract
1 stick butter

Cook over very low heat a long time until thick, layer with vanilla wafer cookies and lots of bananas. Top with fresh ground nutmeg. Cover with wrap and hide in the fridge overnight.

It will be gone in one sitting.

Today is:

Canning Day

Chulalongokorn Day, Thailand

Feast of Fools

Festival of Forgotten Gods

National Boston Cream Pie Day

National Mole Day, from 6:02AM to 6:02PM, in honor of Avogadro's Number

Revolution Day, Hungary

Swallows leave Capistrano Day (After today, in spite of what you think, the natives will tell you that bird is not a swallow.)

St. James' Day

St. John of Capistrano's Day

TV Talk Show Host Day (The way some of them behave, do they deserve a day? Well, I guess everyone is good for something, even if only for being a bad example!)

Birthdays Today:

Al Leiter, 1965
Randy Pausch, 1960
Nancy Grace, 1959
"Weird" Al Yankovic, 1959
Martin Luther King III, 1957
Dwight Yoakam, 1956
Michael Crichton, 1942
Pele' 1940
Johnny Carson, 1925
Frank Rizzo, 1920
Gummo Marx, 1893

Today in History:

According to the calculations of Archbishop James Ussher and based on the Bible, Creation begins, BC4004
Second Battle of Philippi, Brutus defeated by Octavian and Marc Antony, Brutus commits suicide, BC42
A tornado, possibly a T8/EF4, strikes in the heart of London, destroys London Bridge (then a wooden structure), 1091
The Jews of Barbados are forbidden from engaging in retail trade, 1668
A revolt is held in Haarlem after a public ban on smoking, 1690
First Jewish prayer books printed in the US, 1760
The Continental Congress approves a resolution barring blacks from the army, 1775
Failed coup against the Emperor Napoleon, 1812
The first plastic surgery is performed, in England, 1814
The New Orleans Mint reopens as an assay office, 1876
The First National Horseshoe Throwing Championship is held in Kellerton, Iowa, 1915
Husband and wife Dr. Carl Cori & Dr. Gerty Cori are first spouses to be awarded joint Nobel Prizes, 1947

Thursday, October 22, 2009


"Make a list of things that are bothering you. If you can't think of anything, you are probably bothering a bunch of other people!" Peggy Jones.

I am impressed by this philosophy.

If I spend my time working on the things, big and small, that are bothering me, things that it must be my job to work on, then I won't have time to be bothering other people.

Big things, like world hunger, spousal abuse, and all the bad news that just seems to be everywhere. How to combat these? I can start gathering stuff for the Samaritan's Purse Christmas Box and gather items to donate for the thrift sale that benefits a couple of local charities.

Small things, like paperwork I haven't done yet, that I keep putting off until I have a big block of time to deal with it (like that will happen when I homeschool and have a small business and have to keep up with housework and laundry and meals...). I can spend 10-15 minutes working on the papers.

If I spend my time working on these things, I won't have time to irritate other people.

Now, if only I could teach this trick to my brother-in-law, The Mouth.

Today is:

Caps Lock Day

Chung Yeung, Hong Kong

Festival of the House of Mercy

Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival begins, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

International Stuttering Awareness Day

Jidai Matsuri, Japan (Festival of the Eras)

Make a Difference Day

National Barber's Day

National Holiday, Vatican City

National Nut Day

St. Abercius' Day

St. Mary Salome's Day

Birthdays Today:

Brian Boitano, 1963
Jeff Goldblum, 1952
Deepak Chopra, 1946
Catherine Deveuve, 1943
Annette Funicello, 1942
Tony Roberts, 1939
Christopher Lloyd, 1938
Timothy Leary, 1920
Joan Fontaine, 1917
Curly Howard, 1903
N. C. Wyeth, 1882
Sarah Bernhardt, 1844
Franz Liszt, 1811

Anniversaries Today:
Toastmasters International founded, 1924

Today in History:

The temple of Apollo at Daphne, outside of Antioch, is destroyed in a mysterious fire, 362
Emperor Kanmu relocates Japanese capital to Heiankyo (now Kyoto), 794
Battle of the Southern Fujian Sea, Ming Dynasty wins a victory against the Dutch East India Company, 1633
Princeton University is chartered, 1746
Andre-Jacques Trim becomes the first sky diver, parachuting over Paris from a balloon, 1797
Sam Houston is inaugurated as the first President of the Republic of Texas, 1836
First telegraph line linking US east and west coasts is completed, 1861
First concert performance of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, 1881
World's first automobile dealer opens in London, 1897
President Hoover gives the "American system of rugged individualism" speech, 1928
The FBI ambushes Pretty Boy Floyd, 1934
First commercial flight from the mainland to Hawai'i, 1936

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dowry vs. Bride Price vs. Indoor Plumbing?

Traditional societies have usually taken one of two views, according to anthropologists, of women.

In one view, the female is another mouth to feed, a drain on the family, and has to come with a dowry. If she doesn't have enough to bring with her because her family is poor, she might not even get married. Traces of this are still seen in China and India, where females are often undervalued, sons are considered to be better than daughters, and in some places, the number of female babies aborted or killed as soon as they are born is so high that the men can't find enough women to go around.

Then there is the bride price view. In this take, the woman's potential to bear children, thus increasing the family and its ability to work the land, is highly valued, and a man must pay a good price to get a good wife.

In modern Western society, you see traces of both systems, which is why the bride's family provides certain things for the wedding, and the groom's family is supposed to provide other amenities.

Well, there seems to be a new side to the story.

In India, where up until a decade or so ago, a man with several daughters was considered a poor man because of all the dowries he would have to provide, no matter how wealthy he actually was, a new awareness is dawning.

It seems that more brides are refusing to marry a man who cannot provide her with indoor plumbing.

A radio jingle there says it all: "No loo? No 'I do!' "

My college professor who taught Chinese history summed up Chinese history as, they kill off lots of the female babies, the men who can't find brides go off into the mountains and become bandits, eventually there are so many such unmarried men that they end up having some sort of revolution where these excess men get killed off, and the cycle repeats.

In India, the fact that the females are a bit more scarce is instead leading to a plumbing revolution. One that will raise the standard of living for the people as a whole.

Interesting news indeed.

Link to the full story:

Today is:

Army Day, Honduras

Babbling Day

Compact Day, Marshall Islands

Independence Day, Costa Rica

Lancing Tournament

National Day, Somalia

National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day

National Shut-In Day

National Youth Health Awareness Day

Overseas Chinese Day, Taiwan

St. John of Bridlington's Day (patron against complications in childbirth)

St. Ursula's Day (patron of teachers, schoolgirls, orphans, tailors, universities; against the plague)

Support Your Local Chamber of Commerce Day

Trafalgar Day

Birthdays Today:

Jeremy Miller, 1976
Carrie Fisher, 1956
Benjamin Netanyahu, 1949
Judge Judy Sheindlin, 1942
Celia Cruz, 1925
Joyce Randolph, 1925
Dizzy Gillespie, 1917
Alfred Nobel, 1833
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1772

Today in History:

Constantinople emperor Constantine the Great rules laws against Jews, 335
Sultan Kilidj Arslan of Nicea defeats 1st Crusaders, 1096
Martin Luther joins the theological faculty of the University of Wittenberg., 1512
Ferdinand Magellen arrives at Tierra Del Fuego (Pacific Ocean), 1520
Sea battle at Dunes, Lt Admiral Maarten Tromp defeats Spanish armada under De Oquendo, 1639
First display of the word "Liberty" on a flag, raised by colonists in Taunton, Massachusetts and which was in defiance of British rule in Colonial America, 1774
US Navy frigate Constitution, Old Ironsides, launched in Boston, 1797
Battle of Trafalgar, Adm Nelson defeats French & Spanish fleet & dies, 1805
The Penang Free School is founded in George Town, Penang, Malaysia, by the Rev Hutchings. It is the oldest English-language school in Southeast Asia, 1816
Joseph Aspdin patents Portland cement (Yorkshire England), 1824
Thomas Edison perfects carbonized cotton filament light bulb, 1879
First transatlantic radiotelephone message, Arlington, Va to Paris, 1915

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Uncle Bill

Is it just me, or does everyone have, somewhere in his/her past, or even present, an Uncle Bill?

Almost everyone I meet, if I say something about "Uncle Bill", I get that "Oh, I had/have an Uncle Bill!"

Almost to a man, they are tough old birds.

My husband's was. My husband's Uncle Bill started smoking when he was about 5-6 years old. Seriously, back when he was a child, in the hills of Arkansas, that was not uncommon. He worked hard all of his life, mostly as a truck driver. He was well off in his older years, because he worked hard and saved his money.

Then, one morning, when he was about 74 years old, he woke up, reached for his first morning cigarette, hesitated, and looked over at his wife. "How much do we pay for these d****d things now?" he asked.

She answered "$2.50 a pack," as that was the price then.

"That's too much!" he yelled, as he crumpled the whole pack and threw it in the trash. He never smoked again, and lived another 10+ years.

My own Uncle Bill smoked, and worked hard building a pest control business, which his son now owns and operates.

He was diagnosed with COPD and told, "Any day now" by the doctors, 12 years ago. His day came last Friday.

An Uncle Bill is an amazing person to have had in your past. Mine was. A veteran of the US Navy who served during WWII, he was 86, and had been married to Aunt Alice for 59 years.

Rest in Peace, Uncle Bill.

Today is:

Birth of the Bab -- Baha'i

Change Your Oil Day

Feast of No Excuse For A Feast

Installation of Scriptures as Guru Granth -- Sikh

International Juan Valdez Appreciation Day (As we sip our morning wake up brew, let's remember the hardy souls who pick the beans for us!)

Kenyatta Day, Kenya

Miss American Rose Day

National Brandied Fruit Day

Revolution Day, Guatemala

St. Conrad Ferrini's Day (patron of universities)

Birthdays Today:

Dann Gillen, 1967
Viggo Mortensen, 1958
Danny Boyle, 1956
Tom Petty, 1950
Jery Orback, 1935
Mickey Mantle, 1931
Art Buchwald, 1925
Fayard Nicholas, 1914
Bela Lugosi, 1882
Charles Ives, 1874
Arthur Rimbaud, 1854
Christopher Wren, 1632

Today in History:

The first Crusaders arrive at Antioch, 1097
Battle of sekigahara sets Tokugawa clan as Japan's Shoguns, 1600
Maria Theresa of Habsburg becomes ruler of Austria, Hungary, and Bohemia, 1740
US Senate ratifies the Louisiana Purchase, 1803
First Edition of London Sunday Times, 1822
Lincoln formally establishes Thanksgiving as a national holiday in the US, on the 4th Thursday of November each year, 1864
P.T. Barnum Hippodrome featuring "The Greatest Show on Earth" opens in NYC, 1873
The first Negro League World Series is held, the KC Monarchs shut out the Hilldales, 5-0, 1924

Monday, October 19, 2009


L is for Laundry.

Getting it washed is not the problem.

Drying is easy -- the line is out back. If it is wet, there are hangers and hooks set up for some stuff, and the electricity sucking vampire of a dryer to take up the slack when absolutely necessary.

Folding happens all of the time.

Having the children, including my own inner child, put the doggone stuff away, well, this is where the pile up occurs.

How can anyone get so far along in the process and just stop?

Happens here all of the time. Then I think back, and this seems to be what happens in many things in life. I get to a point of being almost done, and there it sits. Almost done. Whatever it is.

I guess, if I get it done, I get a final grade. What if I don't get an A? That has been the fear, planted deep in my brain from my first day of preschool (my brothers got what they got, and it wasn't much minded, I was required by my mom to get and A on every scrap of paper I brought home).

So, I never put the laundry away because I might not get an A for my laundry skills? I'm either overanalyzing (very possible), trying to be an overachiever (a lazy person like me?), or nuts. Probably a combination.

I better go put away the towels.

Today is:

Bettara-Ichi, Japan (Pickle Market Fair)

Change Your Life Day

Evaluate Your Life Day

Feast of St. Paul of the Cross

International Media Democracy Day, Canada

Jesuit Martyrs' Day, Canada

National Heroes Day, Jamaica

National Seafood Bisque Day

Potato Festival

St. Rene Goupil's Day (patron of anesthesiologists)

World Osteoporosis Day

Birthdays Today:

Ty Pennington, 1965
Evander Holyfield, 1962
John Lithgow, 1945
Jeannie C. Riley, 1945
Peter Max, 1937
Robert Reed, 1932
John Le Carre, 1931
Jack Anderson, 1922

Today in History:

Battle of Zama, Scipio Africanus and his Roman legions defeat Hannibal Barca and the invading Carthagian army, BC202
King Gauseric and his Vandals take the city of Carthage, 439
The Thirteen Years' War ends with the Treaty of Thorn, 1466
The first general court is held in Boston, 1630
The Stamp Act Congress meets in New York and writes a declaration of rights and liberties, 1765
Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown at 2PM, end of the US Revolutionary War, 1781
Napoleon begins his retreat from Moscow (he got within about 60 miles/90K), 1812
Elizabeth Blackwell becomes the first woman to receive a medical degree, 1849
The first 4 blacks are elected to the US House of Representatives, 1870
The USPS first used an automobile to collect and deliver mail, 1914
Streptomycin, the first antibiotic which could treat tuberculosis, is isolated at Rutgers University, 1943

Sunday, October 18, 2009

It is

It is a 50*F morning yesterday, 43*F today.

Wow, around here, I call that cold, for October.

I know, those of you who live where it really gets cold, that is nothing at all. I get cold very, very easily, however, and my hands and feet ache with it.

I knew our lack of tropical type weather this year meant an earlier cold season. I wasn't quite ready for it to be mid October.

Someday, I want to visit Canada, and lots of other places where the winters are truly cold. It will have to be during their summers, though.

Stay warm, wherever you are!

Today is:

Alaska Day

Great Horn Fair, Kent, England

Independence Day, Chile

International Credit Union Day

King Look Under Your Mattress's Unique Hiding Display -- Fairy Calendar (Finally! Proof, on the internet, that you do, indeed, need to look under the matress!)

National Chocolate Cupcake Day

National Sunday School Teacher Appreciation Day

Nike Awareness Day (I hope they are talking the Greek Winged Victory Nike here!)

No Beard Day

Pandrosos -- Ancient Greek Calendar (all-refreshing goddess)

Persons Day, Canada (Marking the ruling that women are persons in 1929.)

Shemini Atzeret, Eighth Day of Assembly -- Jewish

St. Luke's Day (patron of doctors, painters, glassmakers, artists, butchers, notaries, sculptors)

World Menopause Day

Birthdays Today:

Wynton Marsalis, 1961
Erin Moran, 1960
Jean-Claude Van Damme, 1960
Martina Navratilova, 1956
Pam Dawber, 1951
Laura Nyro, 1947
Mike Ditka, 1939
Dawn Wells, 1938
Peter Boyle, 1935
George C. Scott, 1927
Chuck Berry, 1926
Melina Mercouri, 1923
Jesse Helms, 1921
Anita O'Day, 1919
Lotte Lenya, 1900

Today in History:

Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah destroys the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, 1009
Battle of Assadun (Ashingdon), Danes defeat Saxons, 1016
Basel, Switzerland is destroyed by the Basel earthquake, the most significant historic seismological event north of the Alps, 1356
University of Heidelberg opens, 1386
Fourth Battle of Kawanakajima -- Takeda Shingen defeats Uesugi Kenshin in the climax of their ongoing conflicts in feudal Japan, 1561
The shoemakers of Boston form the first labor organization in the Colonies/US, 1648
The Mason/Dixon line is agreed upon, 1767
The US takes formal possession of Alaska from Russia, for $7.2 million, 1867
Edison makes electricity available for household use, 1878
John Owen becomes the first foramlly timed person to run 100 yd dash in under 10 seconds, 1890

Saturday, October 17, 2009

One of the stranger

One of the stranger happenings around here that is only occasional occurs when Grandpa comes to get the children for the weekend, like he did yesterday.

I actually came downstairs to a kitchen in about the same condition it was in when I went to bed last night.

Oh, the iced tea pitcher is empty on the counter (thanks, Sweetie, I'll get that Blue Fairy right on it), and the cats are lined up acting like dramatic teens that are starving to death as usual. Missing, however, are the sink filling piles of dirty dishes, the mountains of evidence strewn all over showing midnight depredations of underfed refugees that my children wish me to believe they are.

Amazing how easy it is to come down and get right into my day when the kitchen stays clean.

Now if only the children's rooms could learn this trick!

Today is:

Battle Flag Day

Big Yellow Hat Day

Dessalines Day, Haiti

Diwali (Deepavali) -- Hindu, Jain

Festival of Hengest, St. Ives, UK

Four Prunes Day

Gaudy Day a/k/a Wear Something Gaudy Day

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

National Mammography Day

National Pasta Day

Shukaku Matsuri a/k/a Kannamesai Harvest Festival, Japan -- Shinto

St. Audrey's Day Fair, Isle of Ely

St. Ignatius of Antioch's Day

St. John the Dwarf's Day

Sweetest Day -- the Autumn version of Valentine's Day

World Toy Camera Day

Birthdays Today:

Norm MacDonald, 1963
Alan Jackson, 1958
Howard Rollins, 1950
Margot Kidder, 1948
George Wendt, 1948
Ronn Owens, 1945
Evel Knievel, 1938
Jimmy Breslin, 1930
Tom Poston, 1921
Montgomery Clift, 1920
Rita Hayworth, 1918
Arthur Miller, 1915
Jean Arthur, 1905
Spring Byington, 1893

Today in History:

King Cyrus the Great of Persia marches into the city of Babylon, and releases the Jews from their 70 years of exile and making the first Human Rights Declaration, BC539
Battle of Neville's Cross, the defeat of King David II of Scotland by Edward III of England, 1346
Crown Prince Fernando of Aragon marries Princess Isabella of Castile, 1469
Composer Johann S. Bach marries his niece Maria Bach, 1707
Cornwallis defeated at Yorktown, 1781
Boston blacks petition the legislature for equal school facilities, 1787
The political rights of Jews are suspended in the Duchy of Warsaw, 1808
Thomas Edison files a patent for the Optical Phonograph (the first movie), 1888
Guglielmo Marconi's comapany begins the first commercial transatlantic wireless service between Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada, and Clifden, Ireland, 1907
Albert Einstein arrives in the US as a refugee from Nazi Germany, 1933

Friday, October 16, 2009

Chronicles of A Left Turn at Albuquerque, continued

The Aftermath

The kitchen had exploded. The bathrooms were not too bad, the laundry only backed up a little. Maybe 3 loads, once I added mine. No water in the water filter pitcher in the fridge, of course, and the ice cube trays empty. The Blue Fairy had obviously gone missing. A pile of mail the size of a medium sized dog. Litter boxes in sad shape. Deep breaths were impossible, but it was time to take one anyway, and get to work. I had played hooky, been a "lazy mary" for several days. No more.

By the time I got to bed, the car was empty, the kitchen was reasonable, and I only woke up to the usual after hours kitchen pranks of the little gremlins that live in the house and help themselves to midnight snacks each night. A load of laundry had been started before bed so that I could get a second started in the morning, and both on the line before co-op.

As usual, 4AM came early Tuesday morning. Somehow, in my technological inability, the blog post I wrote that morning didn't post, and I had to go back later to put the beginning of the story on the Wednesday post. Don't know how I managed to mess that up, but what else do you expect from the first cousin to a Luddite?

Mail, didn't take too long. Put the bills in the slot of the file case. Toss pretty much everything else.

Bathrooms, the kids had swished and swiped most days, like I had asked. Only took a bit of polishing, took the time after co-op.

Litter boxes, I chose to just empty and start over. About the usual time to do that, anyway.

Arrived at co-op, got some coffee, liquid life. Set up wasn't too hard. Managed to stay upright and conscious, and to add a bit of my usual inane chatter as Alexa competantly taught the cooking class to make lasagna. Did my shift in the two-year-old class. It was hard to lift the kids onto the swings on the playground, but I'm the one who signed up for this trip, suck it up, do the work.

Back home, and it's time to get back to the usual. I had, for once in my life, had the foresight to plan dinner well ahead, and had the ingredients in the house to make chili. Get with the program, stay with it.

The cooked food caught up with me the next day, no description will be forthcoming, just that it wasn't pretty.

God is still good.

It has been a couple of weeks since then, and the breathing hasn't gotten much easier. Didn't get paid for some work, no money, no groceries, once what I had saved ran out. The depression has not eased much. Tachycardia is back because I have run out of most of the dried food I brought with me and there is no money for more, fresh stuff or otherwise.

The roof, just out from under warranty, is leaking. Paid the man his $100 minimum to bang around up there for less than 10 minutes and he claims it is fixed. The water still comes in. Wettest October south Louisiana has seen in years.

Lots of kittens, in fact they had several waiting for me to get back in town. The oldest ones in the house have diarrhea, which has no cause they can find and which nothing is treating. They get bigger, beyond the cute adoptable stage, and I can't put them up for adoption until we can cure the problem. One of the kittens they gave me has ringworm, my biggest fear with kittens.

The internet connection has been a problem. I've dealt with the ISP, and they claim it's not them. I've spent money on new Linksys equipment, and countless hours on the phone with their tech people over the past week and a half. Still some stuff doesn't work, sometimes the connections are spotty.

The website is still an amazing place, and I love being there, but I feel I have nothing to offer. I get on anyway, when online works, and they kindly tolerate my foolish chatter. The other members are, as usual, inspiring and wise and working hard on the problems we all face. I am being my usual puttery self. By that, read lazy.

I'm finding it hard to stay awake, harder each day, in fact. My Bible reading hit me when I was hungry and exhausted: "In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat--for he grants sleep to those he loves" Psalm 127:2.

My every failure stares me in the face day by day.

I wouldn't trade the tremendous experience I had for anything. It introduced me to some of the best people I could ever have met.

It did bring home to me what I really have become.

Welcome, to the most boring blog in the world.

Today is:

Apple Butter Stirrin' Festival, Coshocton, Ohio (Through the 18th, come on by for harvest craft demonstrations, historians and musicians, pie baking and hog calling contests, a corn husking and an old fashioned spelling bee!)

Belfast Festival at Queens, Belfast, Northern Ireland (Through the 31st.)

Dictionary Day (Noah Webster's birthday)

Maintenance Personnel Day

Mammography Day

National Boss Day

National Liqueur Day

St. Hegwig's Day

World Food Day

Anniversaries Today:

Founding of Yale University, 1701

Birthdays Today:

John Mayer, 1977
Kellie Martin, 1975
Flea, 1962
Tim Robbins, 1958
suzanne Somers, 1946
Angela Lansbury, 1925
Eugene O'Neill, 1888
Oscar Wilde, 1854
Noah Webster, 1758

Today in History:

Olivier van Noorts' ships reach the Philippines, 1600
George Washington takes Yorktown, 1781
Sir William Rown Hamilton comes up with the idea of quaternions, a non-commutative extension of complex numbers, 1843
Dentist William T. Morton demonstrates the effectiveness of ether, 1846
Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre" is published, 1847
John Harwood takes out a patent on a self-winding watch, 1923
The Disney Company is founded, 1923
Fidel Castro is senteneced in Havana to 15 years in prison, 1953

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Chronicles of A Left Turn at Albuquerque, continued

At 8AM, there was again too much light for me to sleep, it was telling my brain to get up and get going. So, I did.

It didn't take me long to freshen up, brush my teeth and hair, and get my stuff downstairs.

Grace's husband was at the table, and offered me coffee, which I accepted. It turned out that Grace had not gone to bed yet, and they had given him his birthday present. He was loading all the music onto his computer before leaving, but kindly took time out to write the directions for me to get out of the neighborhood and back to the interstate.

I packed up, and moved all the rest of my items out of their car and into my van, noting that Grace's talented husband had, indeed, taped up my leaky tail light. Wonderful guy, and she knows it.

His cab came to take him to the airport just as I was about to head out, so I again busied myself doing something else so they could say a proper good-bye without my intrusion. Then I hugged Grace and got myself gone; with properly timed stops, I would indeed get to Houston right after lunch.

The first of these stops was not strictly necessary, but I made it anyway. I stopped at Buc-ees in Lutcher.

I had, of course, seen the signs on the way to San Antonio, but had not known then that this particular "truck stop" is somewhat of an institution. Grace had informed me that it was indeed worth a visit, always clean, lots of fun stuff. So, I stopped.

The phone calls from family had slowed a bit, but never ceased entirely, and Sweetie called while I was at Buc-ee's. When I told him I was in Lutcher, he was a bit startled, as the Lutcher in our state is well off the path I need to take to get home. We both laughed when I told him this was Lutcher, Texas, and that I was well on my way back. He had the usual "my work life is so busy" details to share, and told me to be careful, and that he was looking forward to having me home. I could only imagine.

Buc-ee's was indeed clean, and bright, and fun. Hot food, cold food, jerky of many types. Drinks of every kind you could imagine. Souvenirs and tchotchkes and, most painfully, nice and affordable cast iron, of pieces I have actually been looking for and unable to find.

I wanted so badly to have money to bring back something for the family. I had to settle, as usual, for something tiny and cheap. Some buffalo jerky for #2 Son. Candy for the others. I had to pass up the t-shirt I knew Bigger Girl would have worn, couldn't get nearly as much of the jerky as I would have liked for son (I really wanted to get him samples of all the different exotic types, he loves that stuff!), and, as for the iron ware, forget that. A quick consult of the bit of money I had left, and I knew I needed the rest for gas, and then for groceries when I got home.

It is the story of my life. A house full of stuff, much of which I can't or don't use, or don't particularly like, or use because I have nothing else. No money to get the items I would use every day, when I do find them. A wok, a roaster of just the right size and shape, the flat griddle for pancake night. All right there, good prices, and no way could I spend the money.

I paid for the gas, and for the little dribs and drabs I did get, and some coffee, half regular and half decaf, to keep me up. Got back onto the road as the clouds rolled in, and started trolling for radio stations.

Driving across the tremendousness of Texas alone gives you plenty of time to think.

I happened upon several gospel stations, and listened to one after another. They were comforting and inspirational and depressing at the same time. As one read parts of the story of the life of Harriet Beecher Stowe, I listened in fascination. The woman cut cloth for her clothes with no patterns, apparently, saying something to the effect that she knew what shape she was. Sewing was another thing I never did get the hang of. Another lack of talent. Her children begging her, when she took them alone (her husband was traveling ahead) to their new home, to write out some of the stories she told. Turns out she had based much of her writing on true events. Writing, another talent I envy whenever I stop to think about what could have been.

My mood matched the gray of the skies, and the rain and spray made the road blend right in. I thought over the tremendous conversations Grace led, that touched on everything from relationships to work to our bond on the website.

I screamed at God a lot. Halfway across Texas, I yelled about my friends going through crisis after crisis. Cancer. Poverty. Job losses, marriage trouble. Lots to yell about.

More than ever I saw what my life has become. As dull and gray as my hair, as the road, as the rain. No potential any more, no talent, wasted time, wasted life, full of sound and fury, nothing significant accomplished. At one time, some things could have been. Too little, too late. My tears were for my friends who are suffering, and for me, who has earned failure through the stupidity of my own wastefulness.

Tears for my kids, who have nothing better than me for a mother.

Dumpy, middle aged, gray headed housewife, not very smart, best you can say about me. Also, I clean toilets.

Don't get me wrong, please. I have tremendous respect for the people who are janitors, and housekeepers, and maids, and wait staff, and cleaning personnel, and for stay at home moms who work very, very hard. I believe that class is being considerate of the people who have to clean up after you. But I am not one of them, one of the workers who deserve such respect. I am a pretender even in that, slow, plodding, and dumb.

I cried, and prayed, and stopped in Katy, Texas, right before Houston, to make sure I wouldn't have to stop in Houston.

I managed, amazingly, to get through Houston, right after lunch hour. It was fast and crazy, but doable, and I didn't get shunted into the wrong lane.

The weather stayed gray and drizzly, sometimes just plain rainy. A couple of times, the rain was pouring. Just as trailer parks are tornado magnets, the sections of road under construction had drawn accidents, including one on my side where someone had slid off the road. Lots of flashing lights, lots of stop and go.

I figured I would stop again at the Louisiana Welcome Center, but it was closed, so by the time I did stop, I was desperate. Not a nice place to be when the only stop is one of those that specialize in cheap liquor and cigarettes, but there it is.

Going through Lake Charles was wet, but not difficult. Most of the local traffic probably takes the loop, because it takes them closer to home.

I was in Lafayette by what would be rush hour in Houston or the Baton Rouge area. Listening again to Cajun music, it flew past, there was no real rush hour on the interstate there to be worth the name. Must be nice.

Another rest stop, because I wanted to get gas, and I was tempted to get something to eat. I came very close to buying a bit of dinner, just some salad, but no. I was breathing hard, feeling that I had pushed too hard, but I kept pushing. Eat what you have with you, stupid. The money needs to go for groceries. You have wasted enough on you. The family needs it more.

There was actually some sunshine by the time I pulled into the house. Fight to get to the house with all the football parents who bring their kids for 3 torturous months every year to clog up the street in front of our house, every single one of whom feels he/she should not have to walk further than 10 yards to get to the field. The first sight of home, and #2 Son is sitting on the roof. Figures. The cat was away.

I called Grace as I pulled in, because I had promised I would set her mind at ease when I got home. Got out of the van and hugged Son, and went into the house. He fussed at me for getting home by 7PM, they didn't expect me yet. Hugs all around, as the kids came in. Moment of truth.

Today is:

Driving Day

Ether Day

Evacuation Day, Tunisia

Get Smart About Credit Day

Mertz of All Possible Mertzes

Missouri Day, Missouri

My Mom is a Student Day

National Grouch Day

National Inhalant Abuse Awareness Day

National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

National Roast Pheasant Day

National Shut-In Visitation Day

Parade of Giants & Dwarfs, Spain

Rainbow Pickling Day -- Fairy Calendar

St. Andeol's Day (patron of Switzerland)

St. Teresa of Avila's Day (patron of Spain, lace makers; against headaches, heart attacks)

White Cane Safety Day

World Poetry Day

Birthdays Today:

Sarah Ferguson, 1959
Emeril Lagasse,1959
Tanya Roberts, 1955
Richard Carpenter, 1946
Jim Palmer, 1945
Penny Marshall, 1942
Linda Lavin, 1937
Lee Iacocca, 1924
Mario Puzo, 1920
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., 1917
John Kenneth Galbraith, 1908
Friedrich, Nietzsche, 1844

Today in History:

Commissioned by Catherine De Medici, the 1st ballet "Ballet Comique de la Reine," is staged in Paris, 1581
Asser Levy is granted a butcher's license for kosher meat in New Amsterdam, 1660
George Washington takes the first formal presidential tour, of New England, 1789
Napoleon Bonaparte is exiled to the Island of St. Helena, 1815
Child labor law takes 12 year olds out of the work force, 1874
Edison Electric Light Company is incorporated, 1878
Koln cathedral is completed, 633 years after it was begun, 1880
The German dirigible "Graf Zeppelin' lands in Lakehurst, NJ, 1928
LaGuardia Airport opens, 1939

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chronicles of A Left Turn at Albuquerque, continued

Leaving time came all too soon. The others would be staying another day, as Script's flight home wasn't for another day or so, Eagle was traveling further still to visit other family, and Lades had ended up with a damaged windshield from a rock on the highway, and would stay an extra day to get the glass replaced. I don't blame her for not wanting to travel home with what looked like the St. Louis Arch in her glass.

Even Grace could have stayed longer if it hadn't been for me and my hard deadline of being at homeschool co-op by 8AM Tuesday to set up for the day. She was, as usual, gracious enough not to mention that I was the reason we left when we did. If we were going to make it to the hotel where we had reservations by a decent time that night, we had to get a move on.

Lots of hugs, final pictures, last good-byes, make sure we got everything out of the car for Pickles to take back home with her (Eagle would drive her back to the farm). There was no way I could have given her enough to make me happy, or any of the others, either, and I tried not to think too hard about that.

Grace and I fell back into our driving pattern. We had eaten the lunches we packed before we left, so we lost no time and just got out onto the open road. Beauty before and behind to look at, and Grace's intelligent and thoughtful conversation, only stopping to get gas, water, use the restroom, trade places.

We fell back to talking, and both agreed to having only one regret, that we couldn't have done more to help Pickles with her house. If we had been able to spend a couple of more days, I would have loved to work my way through her entire kitchen and bathroom, and give her the gift of peace in those places. If I had the time and the money, I would have been more than happy to rent a U-Haul and take stuff to the dump for her (she has to pay for garbage pick up where she lives, or save up and take it to the dump and pay to dispose of it -- makes it so much harder to clean a house when you have little money for such things).

We talked of so many subjects, all of which Grace understood and had tremendous insight into, that I lose track. I could only follow, breathless, in her wake.

Eventually we decided, in a crazy and fateful moment, to not stop at that hotel after all. As Grace pointed out, we might regret it later, but for that moment it seemed doable, and it would put us at her place in San Antonio by around 2AM, probably. Then I could sleep a few hours and get back on the road.

One reason for this was that, as we discussed it, there was a big glitch in our time line. We could stop, probably at around 10pm, get to bed quickly, get up early, pack the car, show up for the included breakfast at 6AM the moment they opened, and be back on the road by 6:30. This ould put me leaving San Antonio just in time to hit Houston at rush hour. Big, nasty ouch.

If, instead, we went straight through, I could be leaving her house just in time to hit Houston right at the end of the lunch rush hour, and I would be getting home by dark, instead of by 10pm-midnight, as I originally thought.

We decided to go for it. We would keep each other awake and alert, this could work.

Meanwhile, dinner. We found another of those mid-price chain restaurants, this time one that not only had veggie "burgers", but a salad bar. I made a doozy, wow, was I craving greens. Knowing we had a long night ahead, I even ate a few of the french fries. It's something I've only done one other time since I went raw, and for some reason it seems to keep me awake, just 6-8 of them. At the end of the meal, I spent some time figuring out how to work the tip calculator on my phone -- and figured out mostly that I can do it faster my way than by trying to use the silly gadget. Probably better for my brain if I don't let myself rely on the thing, anyway.

The longer I spent with Grace, the more I liked her. She even likes my favorite blogger, Crabby McSlacker of Cranky Fitness. The miles between where she and I live began to seem ever more like a burden.

As the evening progressed, I didn't feel so much sleepy as craving something. We pulled off at Fort Stockton to find a pit stop, and it was the strangest stop we made. There were no open stations near the interstate exit we chose. We drove, and drove, and finally found a station, and I purchased some very plain tortilla chips. Again, like the potatoes, they would keep me awake. Then we got on the road going the same direction, and came back to the interstate. Apparently, we should have taken the second Ft. Stockton exit, it is the one with the open stations.

This time, I was driving when we went through the Border Patrol checkpoint. I was asked where we were headed, did I own the car, etc. When I pointed to Grace as the owner, that we were taking turns driving, heading home to San Antonio. the officer peered in to look at her, asked if we were both citizens like it was a mere formality, and waved us on.

When we passed where we would have stayed for the night, Grace called her husband and told him we were just getting to the hotel exit, and she wanted to call before it got too late, as she had promised she would. She simply didn't mention that we wouldn't be stopping. :) This way, too, she would get to say good-bye to him again before he left on Monday, and she would be there to give him his birthday present. After all, he wouldn't be home for his birthday on Tuesday, and it just didn't seem fair that she also had to miss the gift giving.

It was quite a nice gift, too. Seems the whole family, in-laws, kids, everyone, had chipped in to get him the newest Beatles boxed set of remastered CDs. Something my Sweetie would go nuts over. We discussed his obsession with the Beatles, and with the quest for the perfect tone that has gone on for so long.

Our worst mishap occurred while Grace had the misfortune to be driving -- a state trooper, and our forgetting that the 80MPH speed limit that we were counting on to get us home by a certain time was the daytime limit. (I mentioned in an earlier post that this was important to remember, now you know why, if you have managed to read along this far.)

I was absolutely distraught, as it was on my account, really, that she was doing this. It didn't seem fair. She looked upon it as just another part of the adventure, and stayed calm and serene and graceful.

The trooper was cordial and businesslike at the same time, and we were soon on our way, sadder, wiser, and slower.

The main result of this was that we pulled in to her house a good bit later than we had figured, but that was okay, we had made it safe thus far, and that was the main thing.

I helped pull some things from the car, got the cold items into the fridge and the freezer pack into the freezer (not much cold stuff of mine left, just cashew butter and a couple of other odds and ends). Then, as she greeted her husband and told him of our decision to surprise him, I went upstairs to the guest room, laid down on top of the covers with my bathrobe for a blanket, and slept. It was about 4AM.

Today is:

Be Bald and Be Free Day

Big Kids Day, Channel Islands

Blessing the Fish Harvest, Yorkshire, England

Dessert Day

Emergency Nurses Day

Founder's Day, Zaire

Imamat Day -- Islam

International Top Spinning Day

Mega Kenka Matsui, Japan (Roughhouse Festival)

National Chocolate Covered Insect Day (I'll pass. Sorry.)

National Day, Yemen

National Frump Day (Sounds more like my speed!)

National Train Your Brain Day

Peace Corps Day

Quarrel Festival, Japan

Taoist Kusu Island Pilgrimage begins, Japan


Winter's Day

Birthdays Today:

Harry Anderson, 1952
Sir Cliff Richard, 1940
Ralph Lauren, 1939
Roger Moore, 1927
John Wooden, 1910
e.e. cummings, 1894
Lillian Gish, 1893
Dwight Eisenhower, 1890
William Penn, 1644

Today in History:

William the Conqueror wins England in the Battle of Hastings, 1066
Robert the Bruce of Scotland defeats King Edward II of England at Byland, forcing Edward to accept Scotland's independence, 1322
Rabbi Judah Hasid & Chayim Molocho arrive in Jerusalem, 1700
Henry Blair receives a patent for a corn planter, becoming the first black to obtain a US patent, 1834
George Eastman patents paper-strip photographic film, 1884
Theodore Roosevelt is shot while campaigning in Milwaukee on the "Bull Moose" ticket, 1912
Ethel Merman makes her Broadway debut in "Girl Crazy", 1930

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chronicles of A Left Turn at Albuquerque, continued

Five hours later, and my body said enough. It was too much daylight to keep sleeping, so I got up and went to the workout room, still dressed. Yes, I am crazy. I figured I was just going to try the elliptical machine, it wouldn't hurt for me to shower after.

That machine proved to be frustrating to say the least. It also monitored your heart rate automatically just by your grasp of the handles, but I could not, no matter how I programmed it, get it to quit pausing every 30-45 seconds. After slogging away for quite a while, I gave it up as a bad job, turned the individual tv with which every piece of machinery in the place was equipped back on (sorry, I haven't watched tv in years, and didn't feel the need to do so now, either), and went upstairs to clean up and change.

Another quick "we are in a desert" shower, clean clothes, and breakfast. This time, I ate mostly by the computers, watching to make sure there weren't other people waiting for me to leave so they could get online.

I got into the chat room, checked email, made sure Sweetie hadn't done any unplanned spending that would bounce our insurance payment, and again gorged myself on fruit I didn't have to cut up myself, most of it stuff I don't get often, and topped with chopped nuts. My idea of breakfast bliss, with coffee.

Grace and Pickles came down for breakfast, too, then we packed the car. I made sure that I had cleaned up after myself from the cooking, everything loaded into the dishwasher. All the cold items I wanted to leave for Pickles went into the cold bag with my smaller freezer pack,

both of which she could have. The cold items we were keeping, Grace and I packed into the ice chest with the larger pack. My biggest regret was that I didn't have more to leave with Pickles, that I couldn't give her even more, as this trip had given me so much.

We left to pick up Script and go back to the small town where Pickles' official address is for the Sunday event of our meeting, which was to go to an art studio and each create something of our own design. Pickles had arranged it with the owner of the studio, and for a set price, we would get a couple of hours to just do free-form art. We stopped right off the interstate to meet up with Eagle, and Lades, who was at another nearby hotel, was going to meet us at the studio.

Script had wonderful news that morning. Unlike lazy mimi, she had gone to church that morning, doing what I would have done and should have done, which was attend the very closest service, no matter the denomination. It turned out to be a church named after St. George, which had a tremendous meaning for her family, having been connected with a St. George parish for many years.

Then, because of the much better internet capabilities of the hotel she had moved to, she had gotten to watch part of a marathon her brother was taking part in. She also got to speak to her family, and it turned out to be a record day for him -- a personal best time, for a man who,
apparently, was considered handicapped by some (hearing loss from birth, among other things, I did not press too closely). He was thrilled, his family and trainer were thrilled, and when we were blessed to be able to listen to her conversation with him later at the art studio, she was in
tears, and I held on only by a thread. Next year, when he moves up an age bracket, such a time will have even more of an impact.

So, on to the studio. Lades made it, with Ford the puppy, who got to snooze in the shade of the front porch, under the trees. Now, finally, all 6 of us are together.

Eagle sat down and painted a beautiful landscape. She doesn't say much, but when she does, it is always worth listening to, and when she paints, you can tell it was done by someone who has talent.

Script made sure to keep the conversation moving and including everyone. She has a smile worth watching for, it shines, showing the depth of her character.

Lades was her usual fun self. She is beautiful and elegant and if life went as it should, she would be given back as much joy as she brought to my life.

Grace decorated the cover of a small blank art book, one in which she could record thoughts, or have room to draw, or both. It reminded me of the graciousness of the person herself in its design.

Pickles -- courage and vulnerability, steel and a baby kiss, if you could mix these, you might come close to the artist, poet, farmer, child inspirer that she is. Also a pretty voice; I didn't get to hear her sing, but I'm sure she could.

As for this mimi, I did what I always do, puttered, and didn't say a thing worth really listening to, and put together a boring, blah, nondescript little thing that didn't end up at all looking like what I imagined when I started. Don't touch, the dullness might rub off. That's okay, I was obviously built for scrubbing and chores.

Today is:

Festival of Unmediated Play

Floating of the Lamps, Thailand

Fontinalia -- Ancient Roman Calendar (winter festival)

Friendship Day, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

International Skeptic's Day

Modern Mythology Day

National Face Your Fears Day

National Peanut Festival

National Yorkshire Pudding Day

Pumpkin Festival

St. Colman's Day

St. Edward the Confessor's Day

Birthdays Today:

Nancy Kerrigan, 1969
Kelly Preston, 1962
Jerry Rice, 1962
Marie Osmond, 1959
Chris Carter, 1957
Sammy Hagar, 1947
Paul Simon, 1941
Nan Mouskouri, 1934
Lenny Bruce, 1925
Margaret Thatcher, 1925
Nipsey Russell, 1924
Yves Montand, 1921
Cornel Wilde, 1915
L. L. Bean, 1872

Today in History:

Nero becomes emperor, 54
The Vandals and Alans cross the Pyrenees and appear in Hispania, 409
Rabbi Issac Abarbanel begins his exegesis on the Torah, 1483
Jonathan Swift publishes the last of Drapier's letters, 1724
Charles Messier discovers the Whirlpool Galaxy, 1773
First publication of the "Old Farmer's Almanac", 1792
George Washington lays the cornerstone of the "Executive Mansion" (White House), 1792
Founding of B'nai B'rith, 1843
The first arial photo taken in the US, from a balloon over Boston, 1860
Eliezer Ben-Yehuda & friends agree to use Hebrew exclusively in their conversations, which begins the revival of it as an active and growing language, 1881
Founding of Georgia Institute of Technology (Ga. Tech), 1885
Premier of "Kukla, Fran, & Ollie", 1947

Monday, October 12, 2009

Chronicles of A Left Turn at Albuquerque, continued

So, the moment of truth had arrived, you might say. What was Pickles' farm like?

When she stepped out and invited us, all of us, who hang out on a website for the housekeeping challenged, to come to her home, she admitted that she had as many difficulties as the rest of us. She invited us anyway. That speaks volumes to her courage. She also hoped to use it to inspire in herself the desire to get it into better condition, which she had done.

Pickles is an awe-inspiring individual, vulnerable, creative, strong as steel and gentle as anyone you could imagine. She had done a tremendous amount of work, and even if she had not, some fundamental teachings of our site are you are not your mess and that you are a worthy and worthwhile person no matter what level your mess is (yes, among ourselves we have a scale of sorts, so we will know what the other is talking about when someone says what he/she is dealing with level such and such). I knew going into this that her home was not something out of house beautiful, neither is mine, and planning to cook at her house was something I was willing to do no matter what I found.

It was perfect. No, not that kind of perfect, my kind. The depression level in my mind is the same as the level of clean, as we would define it on our site, in her home. It was just right for me. I could easily have moved in there. It was just what this mimi wanted to see. I pulled out the toilet paper I had brought because I didn't think it was right for us to have a gathering at her home without providing some of the paper goods, and I always think of the weird paper goods that will be needed. I pulled out the dish detergent and cleaning wipes. I set out to give the beautiful Pickles what I believed she deserved, which was a kitchen area worthy of her beauty, that she could use to make nourishing meals for herself.

It did not take long. I, too, have lived with a sink that didn't drain quite right and in which the sink disposal was broken. I took a break to go see the "world's smallest farm" as Pickles calls it, and found clean animals -- goats, chickens, geese, ducks, and those wonderful dogs she loves so much -- clean food for them, fresh hay, fresh water, a lovely working farm on a tiny plot, with plenty of room for the animals to graze out back and on the side. It is tremendously obvious that, though she raises her own meat, she takes pristine care of her critters, and they have wonderful lives. All of our "organically raised" farm animals should have such a loving, caring farmer to tend them.

Between myself and Grace, we gave Pickles an area on the inside of her house that matched the beauty of the woman and her farm. A clean kitchen area that I would have been proud to fix a meal in. An area that she could use to start taking care of herself as she so obviously deserved, worthwhile and loving person that she is. The only difficulty that we could see was that Pickles did all of her cooking on a portable, plug in type of burner stove. Jambalaya takes a very hot surface to bring the water to an initial boil. I was pretty sure this burner could do it, Grace was not so convinced.

Also, Eagle had come out to the farm while we were still at TJ's and left a message. So, we decided to go meet up with Eagle, let Lades, who was exhausted (she still had not figured out why she was so tired, and later remembered her thyroid meds) go back to her hotel and rest, and decamp to the hotel where Grace and I were staying. That way, I could cook the dinner I had promised Pickles (and anyone else who wanted it), we could actually meet Eagle, whose multitude of nefarious vehicle problems had precluded her from arriving any sooner, and Pickles could plan on spending the night at our hotel. Script, it later turned out, had both changed hotels for the better internet reception and retired for the evening, as her health is rightly a priority dnd she needed the rest.

Does all of this sound complicated enough yet?

It ended up with me, Grace, Eagle, and Pickles at our hotel, doing some Cajun cooking at around 8PM, while Lades and Script took the evening off, as their health dictated.

The four of us had a ball, or at least I did and they were polite enough to say they enjoyed the evening. :) It turned out that Eagle is also a vegetarian, and Pickles, who used to be vegan, until she decided to turn farmer and raise her own meat, was the only one who would be eating the cooked food. So, we made a huge salad for everyone, and Grace chopped lots of veggies, and mimi got to putter around the kitchen and cook, and we told jokes, and laughed, and the rest of them passed out candies and sweets (vegetarian did not equal not eating cake for them like it does for me, I'm the only true crazy among them). I put some dried fruit and seeds on the table, too, and left the fresh fruit where anyone could get some.

This is where I did learn that you have to be careful what you buy at Trader Joe's. Grace pulled out a couple of items she had bought that afternoon to realize, now that it was too late, that one item had mold growing on it, and another had passed its expiration date. If they ever do build one here, I will shop there, but I will also watch for these problems.

To say I enjoyed the evening would be an understatement. The stove was hotter than I was used to, mine is a crotchety old thing with only 3 burners that work, and one of them takes coaxing. (Thus my willingness to cook on any surface.) This was one of those ceramic top jobs, and so I let it boil a bit longer than I should have.

We talked, laughed, Grace told "Ole and Lena" jokes, I talked about how to pronounce "mawmaw" and "boudin", and as it got later, I realized that these women are even more amazing in person than they are on the website. I am tremendously blessed to be able to know them, and only wish more of the people who wanted to come could have been there.

My other thought is what in the world is this dumpy little middle aged not too bright mimi doing in the midst of these tremendous people.

I tried not to dwell on that too much, and just absorb what I could from their wit and wisdom.

When it was finally time to call it an evening, I agreed that Grace needed to get some rest, and she agreed that she could trust me to take her car without her. Amazing, considering that I had only just learned to drive a hybrid that weekend. It is not difficult, but pushing buttons, lack of a key, knobs instead of shifting, and listening to the engine shut down at intersections without wondering what is going on takes a bit of getting used to. Apparently, I passed the test, and set
out to both take Eagle back to her hotel in the nearby small town where Pickles farm was located, and buy freezer bags for all the leftover food that I would be sending back with her. Pickles rode along.

It turned out that the on ramp from the street that ran near the hotel was now closed for construction, so I followed the detour signs and was confirmed in my belief that, in most places, if you follow the interstate on a side street long enough, you come back to another street with an on ramp. Eagle's hotel was almost directly across the street from the small town's Wal-Mart. I know the 24-hour Wal-Mart. I use one myself. So, as Pickles slept in the back seat with a soda in her hand, which she held upright the whole time she napped, I went in, got freezer bags at 12:45 AM, and drove back to the hotel. Yes, I can say I shopped in a small town in New Mexico in the middle of the night. Yet another for the books.

We arrived back at the hotel, and Pickles went in to take a shower. Of course, at that moment, the difference in diet and weird hours caught up with me, and I felt the call of nature. I went down to the lobby restroom with stomach cramps. when I came back up, I decided that if I needed to use the facilities again I would not disturb the other two with the shenanigans of my inner workings, so I slept on the couch with just a pillow and draped a couple of jackets over me for warmth. That way, I was dressed to leave the room at any moment. I got to sleep around 2AM.

Today is:

Columbus Day

Cookbook Launch Day

Dia de la Raza, Latin America

Discoverer's Day, Hawai'i

Family Harvest Festival, Nigeria

Farmer's Day, Florida (Sometimes called Old Farmer's Day)

Fortuna Redux -- Ancient Roman Calendar (goddess of successful journeys & safe returns)

Fraternal Day

Free Thought Day

Global Scream Day (30 second scream at 1200 hours GMT) a/k/a Moment of Frustration Day a/k/a International Moment of Frustration Scream Day (No matter what you call it, we all get a free yell at the universe for life's little frustrations.)

Hispanity Day, Spain

Independence Day, Equatorial Guinea, Somalia

International Newspaper Carrier Day

Last Pilgrimage to Fatima, Portugal

National Bookkeeper's Day

National Kick Butt Day

National Saleperson Day

Native American's Day

Thanksgiving Day, Canada

Birthdays Today:

Kirk Cameron, 1970
Hugh Jackman, 1968
Carlos Bernard, 1962
susan Anton, 1950
Chris Wallace, 1947
Luciano Pavarotti, 1935
Dick Gregory, 1932

Today in History:

The army of Cyrus the Great of Persia takes Babylon, BC539
Nichiren, Japanes Buddhist monk who founded Nichiren Buddhism, incribes the Dai-Gohonzon, 1279
Christopher Columbus' expdition makes landfall in the Bahamas, 1492
Massachusetts Bay discontinues all witch trials, 1692
America's first asylum for "Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds" opens in Virginia, 1773
Bavarian royalty invites the citizens of Munich to join the celebration of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen; this celebration becomes the founding of the first Oktoberfest, 1810
Charles Macintosh of Scotland begins selling Macs (raincoats), 1823
The Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania, the first medical school for women, opens, 1850
First recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools, 1892
Theodore Roosevelt renames the "Executive Mansion" as "The White House", 1901
Boston's Children's Hospital becomes the first to use an iron lung, 1918

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Chronicles of A Left Turn at Albuquerque, continued

Eventually Grace and I wandered back to the car and got out the salads that we had packed for lunches. I had brought lots of extra spinach (those premade salads never have enough greens) and some dried fruit/nuts, and we enjoyed it all at a picnic table in the breeze.

In fact, the breeze may have been a bit more than some bargained for. The nice volunteer from the program they were having at the Nature Center that day who was doing an art project with the children at some nearby tables under the overhang got a bit more wind than was strictly necessary for drying the projects a couple of times. It was all laughs and smiles, though, because it really was a beautiful day, the art was a fun project involving paint, and it was a time just made for fun.

Lades wandered over and shared some fruit and nuts, and the talk turned somehow to Trader Joe's.I had heard, of course, of the store, but we have none of those in Louisiana (just like we don't have Costco, BJ's Wholesale, or Aldi -- I guess we are too far into the back woods for some chains to get to us, or they don't like our weather, or something). Grace, it seems, lives in an area that does not have this particular retailer, but she loves the place, and goes whenever she can find one where she is traveling. This time there was one difference, however. Most of the time, she is flying, and therefore limited in what she can buy there. This time, she was in her own vehicle, and if we could pull off a visit, she could enjoy buying what she wanted, and not have any trouble getting it home.

We went back to where it was time for the volunteers to pack up for the day, and helped Pickles get everything boxed and bagged and into Lades car. Script had decided to go back to her hotel to rest. She has a few health related problems, and really needed to do so, especially as she had been "official photographer" for Pickles during the 2 days of this event. Lades was looking a bit peaked herself (turns out later she had forgotten to take her thyroid medicine, and was feeling it). She still agreed that a trip to Trader Joe's sounded good, so we packed Pickles and her stuff into Lades car, and followed them there.

Turns out Trader Joe's is a very nice place to shop in many ways. I was feeling tired, but they had small coffee samples, just enough caffeine for me for that time of the afternoon. I didn't really get to "see" as much there as I would have wanted, but I did see enough to know that I
want to go back, and that I have to watch what I buy there.

I came to these conclusions as I wandered the aisles talking to Pickles and buying her something to eat (I had been wanting to get her something, anyway, and this seemed very practical, she needed to eat, and soon, it was already halfway through the afternoon and she hadn't had lunch), talking on the phone to West, one of the people who had wanted to come out to meet us, but couldn't, and negotiating the regular Saturday crowd of shoppers.

The adventures continued as we lost track of and found each other through the store, passed the phone around (West wanted to talk to all of us, and we all wanted to talk to her, too), selected purchases, and I, as the new person to the TJ's experience, oohed and aahed over the interesting selections. Grace's debit card, it turned out, had a block put on it by the hotel, which swore it didn't do that, but did, and a nice man in the line actually paid for her purchases -- I didn't realize
all of this until later, or I would have done it, and just worked it out on the return trip. We found ourselves outside the store, I was a bit breathless, and Pickles rode with Grace this time while I rode with Lades, just to give us a chance to talk to someone we hadn't chatted with as much yet.

Lades and I didn't follow Grace and Pickles directly back to Pickles farm out in the countryside. First, we stopped off for gas. We drove past the interstate on ramp to look for a station, and found one a few blocks over. At first, Lades thought we were lost when we did this, but I pointed out my philosophy of lost, that we are still in the US, still in New Mexico, still in Albuquerque, following alongside the interstate on a parallel side street looking for gas, another on ramp will come up or we can ask for directions. We did find a station, took that same street to the very visible on ramp, and got back on our way with no trouble.

Then we also stopped at Lades hotel to drop off her TJ's purchases and use the facilities. There, we received a call from Pickles. Seems in the car trade off we forgot that Pickle's keys were in Lades car, were we on our way yet? We got on our way.

Lades had some of the most interesting gadgets I had ever seen in her vehicle. It seems the handheld phone with internet she had also plugs into the car and programs the radio, is a GPS, and I wouldn't be surprised to find they are trying to build and autopilot into them for cars. She talked on the hands free phone to her husband, told the radio what to play, and followed the bleeps on the screen right to Pickles' front door, which was open by now. It seems Pickles is not just a very talented poet and artist and farmer, but a pretty good burglar, too.

Today is:

Bring Your Teddy Bear to Work Day (At your own risk, good thing this fell on a Sunday this year! Although one website has it listed as being on the 14th.)

Cirio De Nazare begins, Brazil

Clergy Appreciation Day

Cloud-Stamping Pentathalon -- Fairy Calendar

Feast of Real Family Values (Whose family? And who decides?)

Festival of the Snow Geese

Herb Day

International African Diaspora Day

International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction (Better take this matter up with Mother Nature directly, folks.)

It's My Party Day

National Gaelic Mod begins, Scotland

National Sausage Pizza Day

Simchat Torah -- Jewish

St. Gomer's Day (patron of woodcutters, cowherds, & those unhappily married)

Vinalia -- Ancient Roman Calendar (wine festival)

Birthdays Today:

Joan Cusack, 1962
Steve Young, 1961
Dawn French, 1957
Elmore Leonard, 1925
Art Blakey, 1919
Jerrome Robbins, 1918
Eleanor Roosevelt, 1884
Henry John Heinz, 1844
George Williams, 1821 (founder, YMCA)

Today in History:

Massive earthquake strikes Aleppo, Syria, 1138
Columbus' ship sites land on the horizon (the Bahamas), 1492
Huldrych Zwingli is killed in battle with the Roman Catholic cantons of Switzerland, 1540
Peter the Great becomes tsar of Russia, 1689
Explorer Meriwether Lewis dies under mysterious circumstances along the Natchez Trace in Tennessee at the Grinder's Stand Inn, 1809
The first steam powered ferryboat, the Juliana, begins operation, 1811
Australia's oldest university, University of Sidney, is inaugurated, 1852
Thomas Edison patents his first invention, and electric voice machine, 1868
The Great Chicago Fire is finally extinguished, 1871
David Houston patents roll film for cameras, 1881
First female FBI "special investigator", Alaska Davidson, appointed, 1922
With the opening of store # 1252, in Milford, Delaware, J.C. Penney becomes a nationwide company, with stores in all 48 states, 1929

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Chronicles of A Left Turn at Albuquerque, continued

One of the things I used the computers for that morning was to check the route Pickles had given me for the place we would meet. Sure enough, I'm glad I did, as I got two different sets of directions from Mapquest and Yahoo maps and neither agreed with how easy she had made it sound. I printed off both and asked at the front desk, and the attendant pointed me to the route she would take as being most direct.

We actually did not get lost this time. :)

Pulling in to the place reminded me of the parks back home, except they wanted you to stop and pay for parking, which involved putting money in an envelope and depositing it into one area, and putting the tear off portion of the envelope on your window, etc. I noticed that no one who pulled in behind us bothered, but you try to make the right gestures.

The path into the actual Nature Center/park was short and restful, and I noticed that the people running the booth at the front had badges that I thought would have names on them, though I didn't really look closely. Good, I thought, when we see Pickles, we will be able to tell it is really her by the name tag. I was wrong, these were just volunteer badges, saying what organization the people were working with.

We walked past lovely greenery and trees and I never know the names of such things, I just enjoy looking at them. Grace seemed to be familiar with some of the plants, but with my black thumb, I am thankful to just walk past, look, enjoy, and hope whatever it is doesn't die of fright from my being there.

(Yes, I am that bad with plants. Especially house plants. They commit suicide if they know I will own them. I have even killed silk house plants. If I had a little indoor herb garden thing above the kitchen window sill, it would be called death row.)

The first booth we came to had a lady sitting there with beautiful eyes and the prettiest, warmest smile. It was the poetry/art booth, and as we stopped she asked if we wanted to do a collage with pictures cut from the magazines she had out, and she would turn our conversations into poems. We agreed, and started thumbing through the nature magazines.

She asked how being in this place made us feel, and I answered the first thing that popped into my head, which was prayerful, and like none of it could have happened by accident. When a small bug jumped onto one of the rubber stamps she had there with her inks, I noted it and she looked more closely and said it was a spider. I again said what popped up which was, "I just love arachnids!" Grace responded with the fact that she didn't mind spiders as long as they didn't jump.

Meanwhile, Grace was talking, too, and cutting and pasting, and drawing lovely bits of art between the pictures she was putting on the page, showing herself to also be naturally gifted in that area. I plodded along, and found a bit of a poem in one of the books, and a rainbow scene that reminded me of the rainbow we had watched from the back yard.

Two poems from our words and an art collage later, the talk turned somehow to pets not being allowed in this part of the park, as they tend to scare some of the endangered wildlife being protected here. One of her friends "over there", at a very nearby bench, had her dog with her, but had to leave him at the car and was worried about him. I asked if the lady's name was "Lades", and was asked if I had met her. I said, no, but I plan to.

Then Grace said, "If you are Pickles, we are mimi and Grace!"

Big hugs ensued, and much laughter. It seems my comment about arachnids had almost caused her to lose it, but she had held in so we would keep talking. Pickles accused us of not introducing ourselves on purpose, and really that was not the case. I wanted to make sure I didn't make a fool of myself, for one thing -- I do it so often, you would think I would get used to it, but I never do. I also wanted, if she was Pickles, to give her the opportunity to learn a bit about us that she would not have known had we just walked up and said who we were. She got to listen in, eavesdrop, so to speak, on us as people, giving her some insight into us. Watching her turn our words into poems and watching Grace turn magazine cut outs into art had given me some insight, too, into just how amazing these people are.

We walked over and met Lades and Script, who had been with Pickles at the booth the day before as well. I knew Lades right away, as I had seen a picture of her previously. Script I knew by the smile, and her rosary (I knew she was Catholic), and the fact that she was, as an accountant in her previous work life, very precise. She was the "official photographer" for the booth, and took her work seriously.

More hugs, more smiles. We went back to Lades' car and took Ford for a walk. Since the day was mild, and she was parked in the shade, it wasn't very hot, but she still did not want to leave him there for long, and all through the time we were there he was not alone in the car much, she kept on top of making sure he got out a lot. I tried to take him for a walk for her, but he would not leave beyond a certain radius with me, he is mama's dog, and won't stray from her. Eventually, she found the way to the dog walk, too, and he got to go down to the river.

Lades and I got to go into the Nature Center visitor's building, and it was fun. There was a child's area where I got down and crawled among the things meant for children to get a small ground animal's view of the world. It reminded me of doing the same when I had babies in the house, looking for things that needed baby-proofing. I also made a rubbing picture of a dragonfly.

They had owls and hawks that they used to teach the public about such animals, and I always enjoy seeing those.

There was a place where Grace and I sat and made some origami "goldfish", as representatives of the small endangered fish of the Rio Grande river that these people are trying to protect, among other species.

Grace took the walking tour, that turned out not to be so much a tour as a talk by some of the experts in conservation of this species, and they apparently talked a good bit about their efforts, and how much water is flowing past this part of the river at which stages, etc. In fact, when Grace stopped to ask a question about a local native plant, the man said, in a startled voice, "Oh, field botany!" and tried to look it up in a book he had with him. They narrowed it down to one of 3 possible species of the same genus, but it was apparent that the walk was more about experts discussing how their work was going than an actual tour.

Grace and I walked that path later, and she told me some of what she remembered. She said it was fascinating listening to them discuss these things that she knew nothing of, but that were apparently good news to them. Watching their excitement was catching. These particular fish seem to know, when other fish do not, exactly when the river is going to go down in what area, and vamoose ahead of time, which is great news for these little guys. Seems the Almightly gave them just the right knowledge to survive in this river, in this spot, despite large fluctuations in water flow, which other fish don't have.

Today is:

Alex Kiui Day a/k/a Kivi Day, Finland

Bonza Bottler Day

Double Tenth Day, China (In remembrance of the revolution against the Imperial Manchu Dynasty.)

Independence Day, Fiji

Kruger Day, South Africa

Health-Sports Day, Japan

National Angel Food Cake Day

National Cake Decorating Day

National Women's Day, Morocco

Naval Academy Day

Oklahoma Historical Day

Photokina, Germany

Shemini Atzeret -- Jewish

St. Francis Borgia's Day (patron of Portugal; against earthquakes)

St. Paulinus of York's Day

Universal Music Day

Birthdays Today:

Dale Earnhardt, Jr., 1974
Brett Favre, 1969
Tanya Tucker, 1958
Charles Dance, 1946
Ben Vereen, 1946
Harold Pinter, 1930
Richard Jaeckel, 1926
Thelonious Monk, 1917
Edward D. Wood, Jr., 1924
Helen Hayes, 1900
Giuseppe Verdi, 1813
Henry Cavendish, 1731 (discovered hydrogen)

Today in History:

The Great Hurricane of 1780 kills 20,000 to 30,000 in the Carribean, 1780
The first non-Native American settlement is founded in Oklahoma, 1802
William Lassell discovers Neptune's moon Triton, 1846
John Hyatts patents the billiard Ball, 1865
The first "Dinner Jacket" is worn to the Autumn Ball at Tuxedo Park, NY, 1886
Ho Chi Minh enters Hanoi after the French pull out of the city, 1954