Saturday, December 29, 2007

My weird cats

They have taken to accompanying me in the bathroom, waiting for that joyful moment when I turn the faucet on. Here, the three of 'em are captured doing what they each love best: Abby, drinking from the faucet; Luke, waiting for a chance to scare Abby; and Bert, sniffing Abby's butt. Nerds, all.

Who, me?
Athens received a half inch of rain yesterday, a welcome addition to our thirsty ground, but not enough to end the year without stating it's the driest since 1954. Still, it was great to listen to the off and on patter or raindrops on the metal roof yesterday. Homey and comforting.

I don't have a lot planned today, just the usual of heading to the Post Office to see what Santa Postman may have brought (ebay winnings? The delayed and awaited Christmas package that went astray?) and perhaps if I get up a head of steam, drag a load to the laundromat. I'll definitely make soup later, it's that kind of day. Cabbage-vegetable-tofu soup. Mmm.

Have a great day everyone!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

I'm glad it's over

Christmas is wonderful, but it's pretty intense. And I don't even have kids! The rounds of visiting, the pressure to make sure I see so and so in time to give her gift, getting the cards out, grocery shopping on Christmas Eve morning, & etc., all very busy. I guess I'll take down my few decorations today, and get back to normal routine. School here is on vacation from December 21 to January 6, over two weeks long. This makes a nice break for the teachers, para-pros, and principals, of whom we have many in our church. So the visiting continues for a good while.

I received a Christmas gift card to Target, and boy, do I have fun picking out the items I need-online. How convenient to be able to shop from the comfort of home, punch in the gift card number, and have the stuff shipped to me! I bought a blender, which I have needed for a while, a set of 10 frames so I can then frame my watercolors and hang them in cunning and sweet groupings as illustrated on the HGTV design shows, and a neck massager. With heat. Now all I have to do is wait for Mr. UPS Brown.

I'm glad it's over though. It's Christmas every day in my heart and in my life, but I am glad to put away the trappings and have the nationwide frenzy die down. Today it's a cool and overcast day. I'm still coughing and feel kinda tired. There's a card party tonight I was invited to, but I think I will slow down from the rounds of socializing and stay home, and work on a collage and finishing CS Lewis' The Screwtape Letters.

Meanwhile, take a look at these cutie goofies:

Bert, all googly and cute

Luke, all movement and athletics

Abby, AKA Crabby Abby

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A day to look higher

Merry Christmas! I hope you all have a wonderful time with your family, safe travels, and a peaceful reflection time about your upcoming year.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Twas the Night Before Christmas Eve

‘Twas the eve before Christmas
And all through the church,
One creature was stirring,
he was doing research.

The hymnals were placed in the pews with such care.
The members were sitting in meek, loving prayer.
The children were nestled all snug in their class,
in hopes that King Jesus would come back at long last.

And Pastor in his suit and his wife in her dress,
had just settled down for a sermon to bless.
When out in the skies there arose such a shout,
they sprang from the pews to see what’s about.

Away to the window they flew like a flash,
tore open the shutters threw upward the sash.
The candlelight glowed on the lawn just outside,
the church was dressed up as Savior’s Saint Bride.

When what to their wondering eyes did appear!
Jesus as Lord, looking severe.
What a magnificent King! So bright and so great!
We knew in a trice it’s our Holy Soul Mate!

On white horse more rapid than Time he descends,
He shouted and He called and His hand he extend.
Now Pastor! Now Wife! Now Singers! Now Deacons!
Now members! Now children! Now Bride as My Beacon!

Alleluia! Salvation! And glory and power!
Belong to the Lord this absolute hour.
"Now come up here, come up here" they all heard Him say.
So shouteth the Lord on this last timeless day.

As bright sparks before the fireside do fly,
when they meet with an air current do rise to the sky.
So up to the church top their coursers they flew.
With hearts full of joy, the clouds they sliced through.

On that night before Christmas? And all through the church?
The creature who was stirring, who was doing research?
He was dressed all in black, from his head to his foot.
And his soul was all tarnished with ashes and soot.

A bundle of troubles he had flung on his back.
He looked like a robber just closing his sack.
And the beard of his chin was dark as abyss,
And his hands held multitudes of cyst upon cyst.

And the smoke from his ears, his head like a wreath,
Encircled the hatred pulsing hot underneath.
Demon knew that for them was rapture and glory.
The Bible, for sure, was no trumped up old story!

Their souls he no longer had chance to reshape.
The end, it drew near! All he could do now was gape.

But back to the bride, their Blessed estate,
They who trod paths that were narrow and straight.
Mercifully saved, those who sup with the Lamb-
The Alpha-Omega, the Eternal I Am.

Away they all flew like the down of a thistle
They ascended to glory like fastest of missiles.
But he heard them exclaim as they rose out of sight,

Hallelujah to God and His Holy Might!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Movies, and Blogs

I'm watching Time Bandits. The best line in the movie, and the best line I've heard for a long time:

"Oh, no! It's the invisible barrier!"
"Ohhh, so THAT's that the invisible barrier looks like!"

I stumbled upon some new-to-me blogs. PressingTheHerald is one outraged dude, frustrated that the Portland Maine daily newspaper is as careless as it is with the oh, say, the news, the facts, the readers, mundanity...He busts them report by report, story by story.

Another guy doing the same kind of thing is a media High School teacher in central Maine, but doing it Tongue-In-Cheek . The latest post is called "We Regret The Era" a sly, funny, witty pun on newspaper "clarification" posts, not to mention the northerner's accent.

Crazy Aunt Purl is a woman in CA writing about her life. What makes her blog distinctive from all the other middle-aged. divorced women writing about their lives (ahem) is that she is a great writer.

If you like to see fantastic digital photos, they are here.

Surviving After Armageddon might be a little hard, so look up tips up here, where the baking soda post has already come in handy. And it's not even Armageddon yet.

Continuing on my birdwatching run

The pasture yesterday was full of blue jays during one hour of the late morning. A half dozen of them flew from tree to fence post to ground and chattered each other off and started all over. I took this through the window, on a cloudy and dark day, using extreme zoom, from a distance. But you can still see the markings very well. I wasn't aware they are so pretty!

Friday, December 21, 2007

National Geo top pics of 2007

The top National Geographic News photos of 2007 are out and I posted the top four. Amazing photography! An amazing earth! With amazing animals! All I can say is, wow.

4. Weird Deep-Sea Creatures Found in Atlantic

A fearsome viperfish, a jewel squid, and an invisible amphipod were among the eccentric animals found in 2007 on a deep-sea mountain range. But the show was stolen by Teuthowenia megalops here—or, as the Cute overload blog called it, Eddie McBlobbules, "the inside-out-seahorse-in-a-ball-nerd of the deep."

3. Bear-Size Catfish, Half-Ton Stingrays Among World's ''Monster'' Fishes
The 7-foot-long (220-centimeter) Mississippi paddlefish shown here are among the world's biggest freshwater creatures—and they're two of the stars of our third most viewed gallery of 2007.

2. Quake lifts Island Ten Feet Out of Ocean

Residents of Ranongga in the South Pacific Ocean sit on a massive coral reef that was lifted out of the sea—along with their entire island—by a magnitude 8.1 earthquake in April 2007.

1. New 7 Wonders vs. Ancient 7 Wonders

From Rome's Colosseum to India's Taj Mahal—see how the "new seven wonders of the world" announced in July 2007 stack up against the original list of ancient monuments. Thousands of National Geographic News readers already have, making this our most viewed gallery of the year. Story here

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Today is a good day

The heron is back, I am enjoying watching him hunt for fish. He's stalking around the pond's edges, standing with neck outstretched, darting his beak into the cold water when he sees a glimmer of a fish.

My cats are playing in the bedroom right now. Though "Crabby Abby" as my landlord calls her, only knows how to growl. So it sounds like a slaughter with Abby screaming and howling while things are bumping around and lamps crash. Initially I thought she was in distress (who wouldn't with all that caterwauling) but there she is, on her back, exposed belly, and all 4 paws in the air, dangling them toward Bert. OK, have fun, Crabby Abby.

Canada's Globe & Mail reports "Food prices have been surging for two years. The FAO food price index has climbed 40 per cent this year, on top of 9 per cent in 2006." Yah, I am feeling it at the grocery store. Aren't you? Particularly with bread and cereals. Ouch. And what's up with the 40% increase? Yikes.

The pony is walking around just outside my window, I hear the leaves crunching as he noses for grass under the fall blow down. There are a lot of birds scrambling around near him, looking, too. I have a bird feeder hanging off my deck stocked with lots of seed but the birds will not come to partake. I can't figure out why. It's been up a month, and I am getting ready to empty it and try another kind of seed. It's the same feeder I had in Maine and the birds all flocked to it there, even though, like here, the deck was in the middle of the yard away from the tree line. The hummingbirds came this summer to the same hummingbird feeder I had, just not the finches and brethren. Hmmm, I have a mystery to solve. Left, my feeder in Maine, where it was more successful in attracting boids.

I am having fun doing another collage. I'll post it when it's done. At heart I'm just a fifth grade gal cutting and gluing and pasting and laying glitter glue over stuff and flipping through magazines oohing and ahing before ripping pages out. I might not make sophisticated art, but I have fun.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Listening, watching, reading

I'm listening to my new Mahalia Jackson CD a friend got me for my birthday, and reading the Australian Courier matter of factly telling readers in a news report today that a global pandemic is inevitable and advises to stockpile food for at least 10 weeks. Hmmm, OK.

I have had this dread about bird flu ever since it came public. It has jumped to human transmission recently, and the number of little icons showing outbreaks on the Havaria Alert Service worldwide map has gone from zero on average to today: four.

A great blue heron has just flown in and landed in our little pond across the pasture. My table is in front of the huge windows affording a front row view of the pasture and pond. They sure are a large bird. Though if I have mis-identified the bird be sure and let me know!

Christmas is almost here. Be sure and remember the reason for the season, our Savior is born, and have a wonderful day.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Seen at Borders

The Jesus action figure, "complete with with gliding motion." Next Him was "St Vivian, patron saint of Hangovers." With prayer card.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Bethy in the Big City

I decided to head into Athens and buy some Christmas things. If you know me, you know this is a sacrifice. I hate using gas. I hate stores. I hate spending money.

But into the city I went, intending to buy an organizer thingie for my postage stamp bathroom since my two drawers of storage space are now filled. With cold medicines, I might add.

So I went at noon on a weekday hoping to avoid merry hi-ho-ho shoppers, & I trundled my red plastic Target cart right to the organizr aisles. Upon seeing the cheapest item they had in aforementioned aisles, I almost fell down in shock. $30 for a two-shelves plastic crap? No way.

I tried, honest I did. I even looked at the behind-the door hanging shoe tree organizer, mulling creative possibilities but in the end I couldn't bring myself to spend money for crap. And of the three drawer bureau that had cool brown baskets for drawers...well, that was $70. Too much.

I will be honest, I did buy a shirt for $5. I think it is a woman's duty, whenever and wherever she finds new clothing that isn't heinous and fits reasonably well, and is $5 or less, to buy it. So I did my duty. Passing by the Christmas card aisle, I thought, why not buy one for my pastor? I already sent him religious one, a serious, appropriate card with actual scripture on it. There was a huge sign advertising "FUNNY CHRISTMAS CARDS." He's a person too and maybe he would like a humorous Christmas card as well?! So I browsed.

Me and another lady spent a lot of time reading all the cards. We were both methodical, something I appreciated about her. We read them in order, from left to right, and right to left, and when we were shoulder to shoulder, we swapped. After jamming yet another unfunny card back into the slot, I looked at her and said, "These aren't funny." "No, they're not," she replied. We both shook our heads mournfully. "I'm buying one for my boss," She said. "I'm looking for my pastor." After a second I said, "The person who writes these should be fired." "Yup," she said. "They're bad."

See, the punchline to most of them either contained a four letter word (asshole, shit), a reference to farts, poop, or certain body parts. Like, Santa is in his sleigh...and here comes the guffaws, the last reindeer farts and Santa's fart-o-meter goes off the charts. Howl! Or this, The snowman has an extra long carrot for a nose and well...Or this, Santa was arrested and the card's front cover is a mug shot of disheveled Santa, because, you see, he breaks and enters and peeps. One of the cards called the mom a whore. Hilarious! And here is the real punchline, the next section over was the "Naughty & Nice" Christmas Cards, complete with protective border. Holy Reindeer fart, batman! What would THOSE cards say? The lady and I left with no cards.

So I ended up with a $5 shirt and a chocolate covered caramel tin to give to our postal workers. Needing sustenance, I headed to the deli for a tuna fish sandwich and a tea. The sandwich wasn't bad, but was expensive, and the poor gal making my green tea put a super-sized extra stuffed herbal bag into my small cup and by the time it had steeped it had emitted enough herbal taste to gag an elephant.

I am genetically engineered to not be able to pass by a Borders without stopping in. As I pushed open the doubledoors I immediately became calm. Ah, sanity. I make a great production every year of getting my calendar for the year and a new date book. I have to live with it for a year, and look at it every day so I can't make a mistake. This year was different, I decided right away. I got a small/mini wall calendar (I have two rooms remember) of scenes from Tuscany (ahhh), and I skipped the datebook because they didn't have refillable ones and the non-refillable ones all had Islamic holidays on practically every square. Sorry, I'm not Muslim.

Instead I got a sweet beaded journal and the selling point (aside from the girly bling on the cover) was the fact that the paper inside is super duper thick and luxe. CS Lewis's "Screwtape Letters" completed the trifecta and off I drove into the late afternoon sunset.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ingredients for a collage

Here are some things I have accumulated with an eye toward making something. What that something is, I don't know. I guess I just have to do it and see what emerges!

One day these appeared on my deck. No butterfly body, just two wings on the floor. They looked so lost, so pathetic, but so beautiful, that I got a piece of paper and scooped them up.

I won these on ebay for .99. The butterfly thing was still on my mind.

Opening a magazine I had not read for a long time, out slipped some rose petals I had gathered this summer and pressed inside the magazine to dry. What a happy surprise! I like it when I forget things in pockets and stuff.

I won these on ebay too for .99 cents. I like a copper border to my collages. I think it 'finishes' them somehow.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Happy Tuesday

Some random thoughts

I bought a Canon LIDE series 90 scanner and I LOVE IT. The thing is ridiculously easy to use and it scans up to 600 dpi. It's fast, color-accurate, and best of all, only uses a USB cord. No electricity, it plugs right into your computer. The OCR is pretty accurate and it even lets you make .pdfs. It is slim, light, and did I say, I love it? I've been putting up a lot of old photos I have around on 35 mm to my flickr page.

I got a waffle maker from Freecycle recently, and I made waffles for the first time ever yesterday. I feel like a grownup now.

I am letting my hair color go bye-bye. After coloring it for over ten years I decided to dispense with the color processing and time and mess and expense and let it go au natural. My hair is gray, 100%, but I am thrilled to report it is a silvery waterfall dew in the morning sort of gray. My hair is thick and way anyway so the added bonus of a luxuriant variation of a gray color is nice. Here is an article about other women enjoying their gray.

From the Overheard in Athens blog:

Girl: I just finished my first final. The question was "What is life?"
Professor: It's a fine magazine and a delicious cereal.

I didn't say they were big thoughts. Just random.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

How can 2 kitties be so different?

Oy. My kitties are growing and they could not be cuter. Or more different from each other. They sure do have cute little personalities!

Luke seems the more independent one, with all his curiosity and wandering around into every nook and cranny. He hops onto the bathroom sink when I wash, a paw swiping the water. He works open the sliding glass shower door to check what's going on in there. He leaps on the windowsill when a car comes or goes, when the dog barks, when the wind blows. He drags this worked-over, frayed and filthy string everywhere. He hops up on the table, drops it on my laptop, and backs away expectantly. This means I have to throw it. Sometimes in the morning I wake up with it on my shoulder. Awww.

But for all his roaming, he is the first to want to cuddle, worming his way onto my wrists when I type at the table. I let him sometimes, and type with one hand for a while. He is purring then.

Bert is the thinker, watching, never leaping without considering all the angles. He is smaller than Luke, and will always be a small cat. He does his own thing during the day, only occasionally interacting with me, but when he wants me, he squeaks. Awww. He doesn't meow, only emits a tiny squeak that always gets my instant response. When I come in from outside, he runs up to me and then plops down on his side right in front of me. I have to stumble to avoid stepping on him! Today I stumbled AND dropped the laundry on him, so it was a moving pile of shirts for a second.

But at night, he is almost frantic with wanting to cuddle. He leaps on the bed, settles in the crook of my neck, and kneads with vigor. If he doesn't settle down in a minute or so I have to heave him over down to the bottom of the bed. If I heave him too close to Abby then I hear "GRRR!" "Squeak!' Plop. Pitter patter, he leaps up on me again from the other side of the bed. Rinse. Repeat.

They sure keep me hopping.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Global meltdown sparks new tourism

Where to go in 2008: Or, "Aw, man, Greenland gets all the best global warming disasters!"

"For those who find that Discovery Channel documentaries and Al Gore's PowerPoint presentations don’t adequately capture the phenomenon of global warming, another option is now more readily available: pulling on a fur-lined parka and watching the ice melt in Greenland."

After that, can we watch a rainforest clearcut? Can we?

Graph data and story here. It's not good.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

I'm not blonde, but I should be

The plumbers are working downstairs installing a new bathroom. Plumber comes up, 'Please do not use the toilet for a few hours. Do not flush, I am disconnecting the pipe for a while.' I said OK.

A minute later I brush my teeth. I notice the water is draining slowly. I glug Drano down.

A minute after that knock, knock, KNOCK. 'Scuse, me are you using the water?'


Oh, no, please don't do that. I disconnected the pipe.
Don't the toilet and the sink use a different pipe?
No, is the same. Now it's wet there where I am working.
Oh, no, I poured Drano down too.
So that is the bad smell I was smelling.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Conversation at Sunday School

I teach Bible study at Wednesday night church to 1st and 2nd graders. Opening the class, me N the kids always just chat.

Boy: When did Hanukkah start?
Me: What do you mean?
Boy: Like, in 1892, or in Jesus days, or before that? When?
Me: I dunno. But I will look it up and let you know next week.
Boy: Thank you. I do not have the internet at home and it is difficult for me to look these things up.

He is 7.

I love this kid!!

The Menorah as shown on the honorary arch of Titus. Cast in the Museo nazionale della civiltà romana, Rome. PS: The answer is 165 BC when the Jews rededicated the temple after Antiochus IV had desecrated it with pig blood and pork feasts, one day's worth of menorah oil lasted 8 days & the Jews recognized the miracle.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Another page in my art journal

"Angel holding me": gesso, metallic acrylic paint, lace, glow-in-the-dark stars, and cropped photograph of a yard art angel, whom I noticed when looking at the developed photo, reflects me & my whole world. In the middle of the ball, you can see me taking the photo of the angel with my house behind me.

I like to think the scene in heaven is like this, that our guardian angel gently holds us and watches over us in our spheres of a world.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Monday, December 03, 2007

The extent of my Christmas decorating

I only have two rooms here. And two little, curious kitties. So I can't do a big-time decorating bonanza, but here is what I did decide to do: The bough is like the bridge from earth to heaven. The lights are heavenly stars. The ball of light is the Star of Bethlehem. The angel represents the heavenly host, who sang hosannas in the highest when the babe was born. The nativity set is white for the purity of Jesus. I purposely bought a small Nativity because it is amazing such a small baby born in such rustic circumstances changed the world forever. It is on a mat of red for the blood He shed for us.

Ta-da! Introducing the 2007 Prata Christmas !

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A community day in Comer

The annual Christmas parade and community day...fireman BBQ chicken plates served, school choirs sing, merchants all open up...happy people
Above, our precious children from various schools sing to the crowd.

High School Chorus

Elementary school chorus

Cub scouts on their float

Patriotism Georgia style

Ahhh, 'tis true, wise men still seek Him. Glory, Jesus is the reason for the season!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Good morning!

A few random things. I had a wildfire-like racing stomach-flu yesterday. Chills, shakes, spiking temp to 101.5. Thankfully it's subsiding now.

I am having really good luck with Christmas shopping on ebay. So far I've gotten a vintage 1960 bomber with pilot plane for .99, an alabaster carved nativity set from Peru for $6, and hard to find glow in the dark stars for $6. I usually avoid stores like the plague and especially at Christmas. Shudder. Shopping online through Amazon and ebay does the trick admirably for me.

Later today I'll be at Comer Elementary School helping out at the Good News Club, and tonight at church teaching the kids. A day with kids is always great and wonderful.

The weather's turned a bit colder, but thank God we had about an inch of rain. Driving by you look around and see the cow ponds all dried up like African Plains mudholes where the gazelles vainly try to drink from. Scary. The inch will not remedy the drought but it may help people whose wells are very low make it another month or so.

I'm letting my color grow out. My hair is 100% gray, a nice, silvery gray. I may scoot into town later and have my haircresser cut another inch or so off. It's growing out nicely. I was afraid I'd have that old skunk line atop my head, but the gray is melding through all over and the brown is just lightening up uniformly. I don't know why I'm doing this, after coloring it for over ten years. Maybe I'm tired of the chemicals. Or maybe I just want my real hair back. We'll see.

The HS Art Dep't joined the Annual Artisan's Show recently. I think that is a super idea. I bought a high school student's work, a painting I like very much. She was so thrilled to make a sale. And the proceeds from that table's sales go back to the Art department. How wonderful. Everybody wins. Above, Hannah Shelton, grade 12, "Seaside"

Take it easy and remember to be nice to someone today. Random kindness works.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

An evening in Comer

There's an Annual Open House in Comer between Bendzunas Glass and Blue Bell Gallery on the weekend of Thanksgiving and on the weekend after. The two galleries are our town's "anchor" galleries and the engine for the local creative economy.
Demos all day taught onlookers how beautiful glassware is made. Here, Paul junior, following in his artist father's footsteps, heats glass in the furnace, turned to a balmy 2000 degrees.

Blowing the glass. It helps to have a bead of air in there as the glass ornament is successively heated, shaped, and blown bigger in stages.

Squeezing the neck of the ornament smaller and smaller, again, a task that is better done incrementally. When the item is finished, Paul will tap it at the juncture where it is connected to the rod to release it. If it is connected off-center, or if it is tapped just one millimeter wrong, the whole thing will shatter!

Released from the rod, Paul now adds molten glass on top and curls it around to make the loop from which the ornament will hang. Then it is put into another oven to a mere 900 degrees. Paul and Paul's work here. Next Saturday, Blue Bell Gallery's Open House! I have two pieces hanging in the "Angels" show. Wine and cheese and art on a Saturday is good!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Can we tawk?

I envy people who can easily converse. Conversation, I believe, is a dying art.

Once we had a friend Mike, we called him Mikey. He was a huge man, 350 pounds, built like an aging football player, with an easy laugh. He lived next door and often, he would stop at our house on his way home. When we heard his truck we knew we were in for a few laughs and a good story. He was a true raconteur, regaling us loudly and always had us laughing in two minutes flat. Mikey was the kind of friend you were always glad to see coming.

Other people can converse on a more quiet and less showy way. My friend has a husky laugh and her eyes sparkle in delight when we talked. She didn’t say much, but her words were always insightful and full of love. Her style of conversation was more of the listening kind. She would listen with full attention, too. I’d storm in, say, “Guess what happened?!” and she would stop what she was doing, fold her hands across her belly, and look me full in the eye. She would laugh at all the right spots, and was entertained by the smallest incident. Often, she would add an insightful comment that left me pondering a new thought for the rest of the day.

I think that the dubiously named skill of “multi-tasking” has had a negative effect on conversation. Have you noticed that people do a lot of things while they say they are listening to you? Cell phone message checking, taking notes, shuffling papers, glancing at the computer. I am a bad offender of that as well. I need to do better at my listening, I admit. What if we all stopped doing other things and really listened to each other? Society would improve, I am convinced.

Italians’ style of conversation is steeped in storytelling. We call it "l’historia.” Even the simplest query from a friend, the smallest question designed for a short answer of “fine”, to the Italian, is met with excitement. Immediately we launch into a long, lyrical story that has a beginning, middle, end, and ranges from laughter to tears and back again. Watch out if you ask me how I’m doing! You are likely to get a long, and to me, absolutely fascinating story.

Remember the movie Moonstruck with Cher? A Brooklyn Italian-American family and their trials and triumphs? The brother-in-law character was named Raymond Cappomaggi and it was he who saw the large moon years before. Around the dinner table he was urged to repeat the legendary incident, with the family exhorting, ‘Come on, Ray, tell about Cosmo’s moon!” he responds, “Well, it’s not a story…but…” I knew exactly what he meant. It’s almost genetically impossible for me as an Italian-American to converse without having a fully born story in my mind, accompanied by hand gestures that usually knock over the salt shaker.

There are many different styles of conversation, and the one I like best I had the good fortune to experience this Thanksgiving. As a person with no family nearby I was invited to spend the day at a friends’ house. There were ten of us there, their family members and me. Even though I was meeting some of them for the first time, they included me in conversation that was flowing, relaxed, and easy. I was really touched by their hospitality. Ultimately, the best conversation style is not verbal, it’s one of the heart, one that includes, listens, and loves. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are having a blessed Christmas season.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Elders reminiscing at Thanksgiving

We were sitting around the living room after a great Pre-Thanksgiving meal on Wednesday night. Two guests were ladies were in their mid and upper 80s. They were remembering how poor they were here in rural GA in the 1930s. They had one pair of shoes for the year. Around now was the time of year they would get the new pair, in time for the cold weather and Christmas.

The elder of the two told us one of her jobs way back along when she lived in Atlanta during the week (and came home on weekends). She used to work at Sears & Roebuck in Atlanta. People used to get the catalog, pick out their shoes, and trace their feet and send that in with their order. Her job was to match the selected shoe to the tracing and pick out the right size.

The second of the two ladies said that it used to be so cold she remembers Thanksgiving weekend was always the weekend they killed the hog and boiled the lard down and processed the meat...and it was cold enough to keep it frozen in the ice house with no electricity.
(Note: above link is a reminiscence from an unknown man describing his memories in Arkansas).

And Thanksgiving week has been so warm we sleep with the windows open and hear the birdsong all's warmer these days.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Weird news of the day

I found this neato world map of hazards. The Emergency and Disaster information Service from Budapest, Hungary. Earthquakes, volcano eruptions, typhoons, biohazards and more, all posted in real time. Once you see the world map with the icons flashing the hazards you get a sense of just how active the planet is. Many of the items are not commonly known but once posted then I can learn more about them, such as the Legionnaire's outbreak in Ontario, or the anthrax-ridden rabbit in New Mexico that occurred within the last few days. Sometimes there's weird or funny events happening, like the argument in New Zealand yesterday whether the brown stuff washing ashore was an algal bloom or "poo." The scientist had been quoted, "Bunk! People know poo when they see it."

Here is something else that happened last night:

"Dublin, Ireland (AHN) - Billions of jellyfish, which covered an area of about 10 square miles of ocean, attacked an offshore salmon pen in Northern Ireland on Wednesday killing all the fish."

"The Northern Salmon Co. Ltd. lost 100,000 salmon worth $2 million at two net pens located one mile off the coast of the Glens of Antrim, north of Belfast. The fish died from stings and stress. Workers failed to rescue salmons on time as the mass of mauve stingers hindered their boats from reaching the pens."

"The company's managing director, John Russell, said he had never seen such a massive jellyfish attack in his 30 years in the business. He described the scene as unprecedented and absolutely amazing."

QOTD: Are there more earthquakes these days?

One thing I got interested in after I saw how seismically active the earth is, with so many volcanoes and earthquakes active at the same time. What is the world's average seisimicity? First, find the benchmark! Here it is, left. The USGS estimates that since 1900, there are an average of 18 major earthquakes (magnitude 7.0-7.9) and one great earthquake (magnitude 8.0 or greater) per year.

USGS has "Earthquake Information by Year" here. They don't make trending to compare against the benchmark very easy. I was unable to find total seismicity by year, only 'significant earthquakes by year.' So that makes comparing numbers of earthquakes against the historical averages, left, unwieldy. However, I did find a listing of earthquakes greater than magnitude 8since 1900. Very reliable historical trending. There has been an average of one or two quakes of that mag. per year and 36 years when there were none of that mag at all. In 2007...there have been 4 so far!

I created the chart below from data listed from USGS, criterion: "significant quakes worldwide greater than 6.5 or with significant damage, injury, or fatality":

PS: since starting research there has been another earthquake this morning, "A 6.7 magnitude earthquake rattled eastern Papua New Guinea on Thursday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey."