Thursday, January 31, 2008

Unearthing an old notebook

I found an old notebook of observations I'd jotted down on some of my trips.

At the Chelsea Hostel in NYC, a sign taped above the toilet: "Please do not discharge anything into the toilet except toilet paper." Hmmm, I'm still crossing my legs.

A sign on a nice building: "Beech Block: Artist in Residence at this Address." Is it a zoo? Can we feed it?

In Lubec Maine: "I like the Italian people, I just got back from NYC. The Gambino wedding. My uncle was their tax attorney." Back away slowly...

"The only bookstore in Washington County!" How sad to bill yourself as such.

An elderly man was zipping along the main street of a small, coastal Maine town on a riding lawnmower. It had a crate rigged on the hood containing spare oil and a book, his walking cane, and an American flag. Pasted along the side was a bumper sticker touting WMYX 91.9, and hung crookedly on the taillight was a wooden sign stating "Beware of Dog." Worked for him.

From a court decision involving Pete Seeger: "We are not inclined to disagree with his opinion even thought he is unworthy of our respect."

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Pah. Commercials.

What a day. I'm pooped. I mean, the Ionic Breeze blew all the hair off my Chia Pet and I had to use my Ginzu Knife to chop it up, and then applied directly to my forehead.

Commercials. Can't stand 'em. I don't have a TiVo but I do have a mute and an off button. So there.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Autobiography in a few words or less

So my blogging friends are writing more about themselves. One of them asked (begged) for more information from all her friends so she could use the info as a benchmark for normal and go from there. Ha! A futile effort! LOL!

About me: I am a writer living in a two-room studio apartment. I work here all day except for Wednesdays, when I volunteer at an after school Bible program and Wed nights when I teach Bible to kids. Thursdays I have a meeting at church. On Sundays I open the Sunday School with a short devotional. The rest of the time during the days is my own.

I spend it studying, writing, playing with my cats, driving around the county taking photos or visiting some of my elderly friends. Sometimes I make collages that aren't very good. Hey, you know, it's easier telling about what I do than about who I am. I'm not sure if I like this.

I am very organized. I make lists of what to do during the day and I feel an enormous satisfaction as I cross each one off. If I do an extra thing I add it to the list just so I can cross it off. I don't buy any groceries that aren't on my list. I rarely spend money on spontaneous splurges and if I do buy something it's sure as heck gonna be practical. For ten years in a row I asked for socks for Christmas. And meant it.

I love deeply but infrequently. Put another way, I love infrequently but deeply. I admire and cherish children, who are usually better people than people. I am easily moved but private about it. A beautifully written Psalm, a sunset, or soaring bird equally might bring tears to my eyes. I am a bible thumping Fundy who believes the Rapture is coming any minute. And that will be a huge relief, if you ask me, because lying, hypocrisy and injustice are barely tolerable for my tender heart to bear. God is very real and Jesus is the only way to heaven.

I am afraid of Sea Monkeys. They freak me out. And the box is too garish. I do not have children of my own and never regretted that for a moment. Being child-free has allowed me to travel the world, engage in my careers of choice, and move to Georgia when I got tired of Maine winters. I like blogging.

As a writer it's a good outlet. It is harder to write short than long, you know. Tighter writing is harder to do, and I have a dear friend who is a champion at writing incredible short pieces. I wish she wrote more. I had another friend who could imitate the Geico gecko to the T but make him sound very dirty. He made me laugh a lot.

I rescued two kittens and they are the light of my life. They wake me up in the morning and all day long they are so cute and loving. They're great. I've worn glasses since 7th grade and I'm not interested in wearing contacts. I am not a fashion freak but usually look nice. My hair, all grown out of the fake color, is now silver and I am getting quite a few compliments on it. I'm always on time, never lose my keys, everything is always put back in its spot and once I place the furniture in my home that is the way it stays until I die. I'm not so much a fan of change.
Left, a not-very-good-collage. Title: Navigating Spiritual Waters

Monday, January 28, 2008

NYT news flash: hopin' and wishin' away the recession

Bush Predicts No Recession
January 28, 2008
WASHINGTON — President Bush said Monday that he was confident the economy would not slide into a recession, and that the American people are strong enough to promote freedom and peace abroad while their hard work fuels prosperity at home
.

WHERE? In Bushlandia? Sorry pal, we are already in a recession. Waving the American flag, no matter how vigorously, will not prevent the recession we are already IN from deepening, perhaps to a depression, by year's end. Oy, this guy's nuts.

A tiny brief on short criminals

Forget Rodents of Unusual Size, now we have Criminals of Limited Stature. Apparently, a rogue band of dwarfs have been zipping themselves into suitcases, allowing themselves to be loaded onto airplanes, and once airborne, cherry pick through passenger luggage, stealing items the travelers were too brainless to either leave at home or carry on their person. They target Swedes. I do not know why Swedes, rather than, say, Norwegians, make for a tastier target.

Detecting a change of airplane trajectory, the dwarfs zip themselves back into their luggage upon descent, and emerge on the luggage carousel to be retrieved by their partners, Thieves of Unlimited Physique.

I am not making this up. Well, only the Thieves of Unlimited Physique part.

The news report went on to name famous criminal dwarfs in film. (!) The travesty here is that the Time Bandits were omitted from this august list.

It once was lost. Now it's found

I recently posted about my day trip to a nearby town and antiquing for thrifty art finds. I wrote that I had found a neat photo album containing postcards and ephemera from the 1940s and '50s. Last night I dragged it out to start cutting up some of the things inside to use in a collage I was creating, and noticed that on one of the envelopes from a veteran's convalescent hospital was a clear address. The address was consistent, always from the same person to the same person on all the envelopes the owner had pasted inside.

Before I cut it up, I decided to find its former owner. It was a long shot, I know, depending on how old the letters' recipient was in 1944, they could long be gone. Or not.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I found the woman, still living in the same town in NC! And a relative was listed living with her, same age, so I surmise it is either her twin brother or a husband of coincidental age, which is 89.

I am sending the photo album to her today, overnight express. I'll let you know how it goes!

Left, the cute artwork the convalescing soldier drew on one of his envelopes. He's really good.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

OK. Scientists aren't only baffled. They're puzzled, confound it!

Weird things been happenin'. I see a bad moon rising. Scientists are baffled by weird occurrances (sewer blobs notwithstanding). Jellyfish a'swarming, tigers attacking, algae blooming, sheep circling, camels dying...Bwah ha ha

Here's some more weirdness--

Cloudy with a chance of meatballs?

"Nacreous clouds are supposed to be rare, but lately they've rolled across the Arctic circle with puzzling regularity. "It's almost hard to believe," says Swedish photographer P-M Hedén..."

100 Sheep Baffle Farmer by Forming Circle in English Field

About 100 woolly sheep formed a perfect ring while grazing in a field in England on Friday, baffling the farmer and other witnesses, the Daily Mail reports. "I couldn't believe what I was seeing," said Russell Bird, who photographed the bizarre occurrence.

[A new take on crop circles. Where's Babe when you need him?]

Dozens of Indian Crocodiles Mysteriously Die

76 of the rare reptiles have died since mid-December in the river Chambal. Autopsies suggest the cause of death to be liver cirrhosis and stomach ulcers.

[Cirrhosis? Ulcers? Maybe the croc's mother-in-law visited and stayed too long?!?]

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Imagine what it does to your stomach

Holy calzone, Batman! My old stomping grounds, LOL:

"Lewiston Maine: A 50- to 60-foot doughy mass is clogging a sewer line under the city's main drag, and crews have been unable to budge it. "We're not sure exactly what it is," Public Services Director David Jones said Wednesday. "We're just trying to get rid of it. We want it to stop clogging up our pipe."

Jones said crews opened a manhole at the Bates Street intersection and saw the clog - an oozing, white blob that looks like uncooked dough."We've tried punching through it, but each time we do, it just oozes back over the hole," he said. "It really looks like dough."

Left, the Ghostbusters StayPuft boy. Coincidence? I think not!

Fox News picked up on the Lewiston Sun Journal's report in this hilariously titled article

Weird Blob Causing Big Mess in Maine

City officials in Lewiston, Maine, are confronting a problem straight out of a 1950s horror flick as a mysterious blob has taken over a major sewer line through the town, according to a report on WMTW.com. According to city officials, the doughy, 90-foot mass is comprised of grease, flour and rags, and has been blocking a stretch of 12-inch sewer pipe on Main Street since January 13, WMTW reports.

Friday, January 25, 2008

I've fallen and I can't get up

"Suicide bomber falls down stairs ..."

"A Would-be suicide bomber fell down a flight of stairs and blew himself up as he headed out for an attack in Afghanistan, police say."

Well, that'll ruin your day. Doh!

Evoking strong emotions

I recently posted some thoughts about Indoctrination and brainwashing relative to how people perceive Christians. I wrote: "Since becoming a Christian I notice a lot of pejorative language about what we believe and how we act. Here is one example: kids in a Christian home or whom attend a Christian church are being "brainwashed.'"

I mused for a short while about the pejorative language people use when describing Christians. You don't get the same reaction when people talk about other religions, that is for sure. There's just something about the name of Jesus that makes people instantly angry.

I did receive a comment responding to the short opinion piece, but I deleted it. The comment was angry, angry. You'd think I'd just ordered a jihad against the person's children. When I read down to the part where I was accused of genocide, I just pressed delete.

But since then, I have been musing not only on the language people use when describing Christians, but the anger in which this language is couched. Witness Howie Carr's editorial in the Boston Herald a week ago. Let's see how many denigrating stereotypes we can find in his very angry piece:

Howie Carr: "The Huckster was doing all right, I suppose, once one got off the main roads and into the red-dirt redneck districts [ONE] where, as H.L. Mencken once put it, the howls of holiness are heard in the woods. But overall, the “Christian leader” [TWO! scare quotes] seemed to know that the wheels were coming off his rusty pickup truck. [THREE] On the Friday TV liveshots he looked spooked, like one of his favorite snakes had just bitten him [FOUR]...It’s one thing to speak in tongues, [FIVE] it’s another to speak with a forked tongue [SIX]. But his constituency doesn’t care. They just want to hold up John 3:16 signs in the end zone at football games during the point-after kick. For some of them, “Deliverance” isn’t a movie, it’s a way of life. [SEVEN] They cheer at the end of “Easy Rider.” [EIGHT] Teeth are considered an optional fashion accessory. "[NINE]

Boy, Howie sure is happy that Pastor/Governor Mike Huckabee came in third. Nine stereotypes in less than 150 words. I wonder how happy he is about the guy who came in fourth? Or fifth. He must save his real invective for those guys. It couldn't be just because Governor Huckabee is a Christian, is it? Naw. Howie must have good reason to call the Governor a brainless liar. He just forgot to include the evidence in his piece.

Having hailed from the Boston region myself, and having moved into the very areas where Howie assumes snakes and toothless idiots stumble around holding John 3:16 signs, I can assure Mr. Carr that the folks around here are nice, industrious, pleasant folk who have all their limbs and teeth, do not own a Ronco Total Squirrel Fry-o-Lator and do indeed believe "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

Even for Mr. Carr. Especially for Mr. Carr.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Wednesday night bible study cutie comment

On Wednesday night bible study, I was finishing up the ten plagues of Egypt with my first graders. They are soooo cute.

We read about all the fish dying in the river of blood....and one of my li'l boys raised his hand.

Yes?
Did the dead fish have X's for eyes?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Me and my Neti Pot

Having suffered greatly from sinus infection after sinus infection a few years ago, a holistic healer recommended a Neti pot. It's an Aladdin shaped pot in which you place warm water and salt and then stick up your nostril and tilt your head. The warm salty water drains and cleanses the nostril. Repeat with the other nostril and voila, you are supposed to be able to breathe better.

I bought it, but then became too squeamish to use it. This week, suffering yet again from a stuffy nose in this dry-heated apartment, I dragged out my Neti Pot, squashed the ick factor, and drained. Repeat.

It works! The Neti pot is a wonderful way to clear bacteria infested nostrils and refresh the passageways. Since there are no side effects, I can do it as many times a day as I need to. It feels GREAT!

More information here

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

On the hunt for junk

There's a neat blog called Junking in Georgia where the woman explains the history behind some of the finds she makes. A friend and I went antiquing last Saturday. I was on the hunt for ephemera to use in my collages. I found a fantastic photo album that contained ephemera from the 1940s instead of photos. Inside was an occupation currency bill from Japan's occupation of Malaya, and French occupation bill. 1940s and 1950s travel brochures. Postcards from wartime Europe. Empty envelopes from a convalescing soldier in CA to a woman in NC. He had carefully and beautifully drawn art on the front of the envelope, with tiny notes to the woman he as writing to. All kinds of stuff.

I was intrigued by the Bridal Chamber brochure. What on earth is going on with that disembodied hand wearing a bracelet? First I researched Silver Springs and learned that it is Florida's first real tourist park. Since at least the mid 19th century, the natural beauty of Silver Springs has attracted visitors from around the country. Glass bottom boat tours of the springs began in the late 1870s. In the 1920s, Carl Ray and W.M. Davidson made the land around the headwaters of the Spring into something resembling the attraction that is there today, now known as the Silver Springs Nature Theme Park. (According to Wikipedia). These wealthy tourists lodged at robber baron Henry Flagler hotels, using his railroad of course. When the 1920s and 30s rolled around, folks had bought their own automobiles, and streamed into this previously undiscovered warm weather mecca. They were called Tin Can Tourists and that pretty much did Flagler in, because they stayed at the more cost effective campsites, B&Bs and guest houses.

Silver Springs is known for the clear springs and thus, the glass bottom boat rides. The legend goes that an 100-year-old black woman named Aunt Silla told the story of local poor woman Bernice Mayo and wealthy son-of-a-magnate Claire Douglass fell in love. They met at Silver Springs often, where, fascinated by the undersea world, Bernice would gaze longingly into the waters while Claire rowed. Eventually, they decided to marry. Of course, Claire's father was opposed, sent his son on a lengthy business trip, and destroyed all incoming letters from Bernice. Pining away, perhaps like the Norwegian Blue parrot, Bernice with her dying breath begged to be buried in a cavern below her beloved clear waters and then she expired. Assuredly, she was not "just resting."

Arriving home Claire sought to meet with Bernice, and discovering what had happened, disconsolately rowed out and drifted around, whereupon he saw a hand waving to him, wearing a crystal bracelet he had given Bernice his beloved. Diving into the water, Claire and Bernice embraced and now dwell forevermore under the caverns, in a perpetual watery Bridal Chamber.

Interestingly, in the 1970s and 1980s the story changed from two locals Claire and Bernice to an Indian princess named Winona and rival prince Chulcotah from another tribe. Political correctness?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Delenda est Carthago

she said cryptically. And that's all I have to say about that.

What a gas!

Sweden to Study Belching Cows
Monday, January 21, 2008

STOCKHOLM, Sweden — A Swedish university has received $590,000 in research funds to measure the greenhouse gases released when cows belch.
About 20 cows will participate in the project run by the Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, about 40 miles north of Stockholm, officials said Monday.
Cattle release methane, a greenhouse gas believed to contribute to global warming, when they digest their food. Researchers believe the level of methane released depends on the type of food they eat.

Wow, really? The gas you emit depends on what you ate? Cue the Nobel.

Watercolor Show last part

Pretty bad, except maybe the first palm trees. Anyway, it was fun to make them and practice with the paint!


Southwestern motif

Pagodas

Ghostly cemetery

Palm trees

Palm trees

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Modern witticisms

"Keep your feet on the ground, you head up high. Pray for rain, and keep the humor dry."

Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion

Just doing my part to be an above average blog.

Watercolor show part 4

I was in Venice Florida in January 2005, and as usual took the opportunity to indulge in some art and craft. My habit is to bring only one piece of carry-on luggage, so any art I created had to be small in order to have room to bring back. So I bought a pack of index cards, a kids' watercolor set, and set myself a challenge of seeing how many creative scenes could I paint using the same small space. How different would they be? Would I run out of ideas?

I had totally forgotten about this experiment until I re-organized my bookcase, the one with my handmade books on it. I had fun looking at them. The actual skill level is no great shakes but it's a start. So here are the results, in 6 sets. This and the next post will be a watercolor art show!

shades of Mondrian

Swirls, For Some Reason

Snake!

Fibonacci circle

Saturday, January 19, 2008

un BEE lievable

Kids in North Lauderdale FL got a bit of excitement when they were prevented from leaving school at the end of the day. Seems that a huge bee swarm had clumped in the front foyer. Yikes. A honey of a problem for school administrators.

So what did they do? They called a bee wrangler! Yup, there's such a thing as a bee wrangler. Here is a link to one of them.

Watercolor show- part 3

I was in Venice Florida in January 2005, and as usual took the opportunity to indulge in some art and craft. My habit is to bring only one piece of carry-on luggage, so any art I created had to be small in order to have room to bring back. So I bought a pack of index cards, a kids' watercolor set, and set myself a challenge of seeing how many creative scenes could I paint using the same small space. How different would they be? Would I run out of ideas?

I had totally forgotten about this experiment until I re-organized my bookcase, the one with my handmade books on it. I had fun looking at them. The actual skill level is no great shakes but it's a start. So here are the results, in 6 sets. This and the next 3 posts will be a watercolor art show!

Asian themed cards, experimenting with borders



Friday, January 18, 2008

Buddha: Bird Flu outbreak "alarming"

"It is alarming, but not yet time for panic. Therefore I have also alerted police to intervene so that in these affected areas there will be no movement of birds or marketing of birds. We will also kill birds within a radius of 5-10 kms of the affected area."

I am soooo sure the government will alert us when it IS time to panic, right? If there is a hierarchy of scare levels, like in the US with colors, it might go something like this--

Level 1: Dead Calm with snoring
Level 2: Slight arousal
Level 3: Something's up, I can smell it in the wind
Level 4: I hear bells, alarm, Will Robinson!
Level 5: Now is the time to panic!! Say this thru a megaphone while standing through the sunroof of a Humvee.

Watercolor show part 2

I was in Venice Florida in January 2005, and as usual took the opportunity to indulge in some art and craft. My habit is to bring only one piece of carry-on luggage, so any art I created had to be small in order to have room to bring back. So I bought a pack of index cards, a kids' watercolor set, and set myself a challenge of seeing how many creative scenes could I paint using the same small space. How different would they be? Would I run out of ideas?

I had totally forgotten about this experiment until I re-organized my bookcase, the one with my handmade books on it. I had fun looking at them. The actual skill level is no great shakes but it's a start. So here are the results, in 6 sets. This and the next 4 posts will be a watercolor art show!

Piney Northern woods

Sunset at Venice, Fl.

Tide

Seagull at sunset

Sunset sky, graduated

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Taking a bite out of Jesus

It's snowing and sleeting here and raining but I am tucked in with coffee and my laptop and writing, writing, writing. In Good News club we had 6 little girls respond to the Invitation for Jesus. We counsel them, and determine if they are just saying the words or really understand the concepts. You know, if they are ready. So I ask, "What is sin?"

Little first grade girl: "It's like when someone bites you? And you bite them back, really really hard."

Have a good day all.

The great 2005 index card watercolor experiment

I was in Venice Florida in January 2005, and as usual took the opportunity to indulge in some art and craft. My habit is to bring only one piece of carry-on luggage, so any art I created had to be small in order to have room to bring back. So I bought a pack of index cards, a kids' watercolor set, and set myself a challenge of seeing how many creative scenes could I paint using the same small space. How different would they be? How alike? Would I run out of ideas?

I had totally forgotten about this experiment until I re-organized my bookcase, the one with my handmade books on it. I had fun looking at them. The actual skill level is no great shakes but it's a start. So here are the results, in 6 sets. This and the next 5 posts will be a watercolor art show!









Wednesday, January 16, 2008

catnap

Luke likes to cover himself and leave his head out. It's way cute. I'm just glad that he finally takes a nap. He's an active one, all right.

And now, from the bird flu anticipation division

Avian influenza .. Out of control

CAIRO, 13 January 2008 (IRIN) - Fifteen new suspected cases of the deadly H5N1 strain of the avian flu virus were reported last week in five governorates in Egypt as government measures to strengthen national pandemic preparedness provoked mixed reactions in Cairo's streets.

Jakarta actually has a hospital in which they have staff manning the Bird Flu Anticipation Division?

In response, the government’s Supreme National Committee for Combating Bird Flu met last week to discuss the current outbreak and to implement measures to combat the spread of bird flu.

"Supreme National Committee for Combating Bird Flu"? I'm glad it wasn't just the Moderately Significant Sub-Committee for Dealing with That Bird Sickness Thing.

I don't know why I'm worried about bird flu. I just am. Now I'm also worried about the penchant for over-naming the response teams.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The fonts that time forgot

From my visit to a town named Winder, Georgia this morning. Old timey fonts on the two local grocery stores.

And the ever popular hand printed font advertising hot dogs and tornados. No clue what a tornado is. No time to stop and ask either.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The world is pretty. I like Columbo

I have a deep and abiding wonder of God's creation. Though we read in the news of iniquity, crime, murder, war...I look about and still see beauty. Clear skies with falling stars, sunsets of unearthly hues, muscular horses pounding the hillsides in the gentle wind.

Sunday was a good day, church, reading, Sunday supper, and downloading old Columbo movies. I watched "Try and Catch Me" with Ruth Gordon. What a stellar episode. The writing was so witty!

"A...for Annie? The maid? We don't have a butler."

Or this, Gordon watches Columbo's back as he is departing, and just before he is out of earshot she calls, "Lieutenant? I have just one more question."

Classic!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Wednesday night in the young children's bible study group

We were studying Moses and how he led his people from Pharaoh and out of oppression, from Exodus, a book in the Old Testament. We had a burning bush as the centerpiece (a fake plant with red paper taped on the leaves) and a staff like the one Moses had.

The lesson wound down. One boy asked,
What was the book we were reading?
Exodus. Chapter 3. Exodus means a lot of people leave a place.
Other boy raises hand.
Yes?
Can we exodus now?

Friday, January 11, 2008

A tour of my nook

I spend a great deal of time at my laptop, at the dining room table. All my work and most of my entertainment comes through the computer, so it's important to me that I have nice surroundings to look at if I am going to sit here 8 hours a day.

The wall in front of me contained a nice triptych of black and white palm trees that I received from an internet trade. But last week I took them down and put up my own photos of low tide at Lubec, Maine Bay of Fundy area, from my previous vacations.

However, the problem was, I could not see them as well as the black and whites, because the graphical element in the internet photos was so close up and stark: palm leaves. The graphical element in my own photos was more fine. I needed to take them down. So I did some pondering about what the next change should be. I am not a fan of change, but of course we have to deal with it on a daily basis in the world. That's why I like my home to remain as unchanged as possible. Putting up a new picture in the spot at which I look all day long would take a great deal of thinking. Once up, I didn't want to change it again. And it had to be pleasing.

I love watercolors so I decided to put up my Winslow Homer, "Hurricane, Bahamas" and as a bonus there were palm trees in the picture. Now to fill the empty spot, behind me where the Homer was.

I took a cue from the design shows and experimented with arrangements of my three low-tide photos on the floor, first. I decided to put the kelp underwater on top and the two close ups of wet sand and polished stone on the bottom. The sticks on the wall are actually a table runner I had bought in Maine long ago, but never used it for its intended purpose. It makes the white wall of my apartment warm and visually interesting. When the light is on the wood glows.

On the bookcase are some interesting items. The lamp on the left is lighted by a gentle touch and has three illumination levels. I always keep it on low for a nightlight. Next to that, the cactus in a blue mug is a transplanted baby that an 83 year old friend gave me. The terrarium-cactus next to that was a Freecycle giveaway. When I got it, the cactus was below the top edge. It has a mirror on the back wall of the octagon shaped container. It is doing really well in that spot! The courting candle holder is an antique from New England.

Description: "The candle sits inside the spiral and can be moved up and down within. When a young gentleman came a-courtin', the candle would be lit. When the candle burned down to the holder, it was time for the gentleman to excuse himself and go home. Depending on how much Father liked the young man, he could move the candle up or down, either giving the couple more time to visit or signalling that he didn't care for the fella and shortening his visit."

So that's what's around me as I write stuff for the paper or the blog or my book or work on photos or read movie reviews or download old Columbo episodes...