Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Thought I'd grab a copy of the Gettysburg Address and dump it into Powerpoint to parody another text-overloaded presentation we received today. While searching, found this. It's much, much funnier than what I had in mind.
Times (and demographics) have changed.

Point taken about the Indian (sorry, Native American) with his tomahawk and the women not voting. This leads me to wonder how many Portuguese or Gay pilgrims there were and how they were represented. What about these silent minorities?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

What did the deadhead say when he ran out of pot?

-Gee, this band sucks.

(Snort. Thanks, Karen.)
A couple found images from my dad's place.

This is me thirty years ago - I was four at the time. Like every other little girl whose mom had show-biz aspirations for her, I had to take dance lessons. Since my mom had a thing for Shirley Temple, she put me in tap dance school. Funny thing: I still remember the routines for the different recitals.

This is my dad forty years ago - at the time, he was 24. This was taken in Texas, I think, just before he was shipped off to the far east. Of course, the only stories he's told me about his time in the Army were pleasant ones: reminiscences of the Emerald Buddha on his one leave to Thailand, of aggravating the Korean MPs in Vietnam, of watching the sun rise as he was leaving Hawaii for his tour. He has particularly fond memories of Tales of the South Pacific, the last book in the barracks library left for him to read. Told me that he avoided the book till the very end because he'd figured it to be a soap opera. Was very surprised to find that it wasn't.

Of all of Winslow Homer's works that we saw at the Clark last week, Undertow is the one that keeps coming back to haunt me.

Could it be because of my fear of the ocean? I'm a strong swimmer, but feel that I'd been drowned out of a past life.

Perhaps I was just picking up on some other references. Hal mentioned that the composition reminded him of the arrangement of sculptures in a Greek pediment.

For some reason, I got to thinking of this alternately beautiful and horrifying piece at the Gardner.


Hmm, interesting. After clicking around on the Phoenix aht crit page I find this.
They're saying that there's no connection. Am not so sure about that.

Monday, November 28, 2005


On the radio, Horowitz is playing Schumann's Scenes from Childhood. I'm sitting here mapping out a sweater for Baby Landlord, who showed up a few weeks early. One of my favorite beers all year, Harpoon's Winter Warmer, showed up at the package store, so had to get some. Heavens, nutmeg is good in beer.

Though I've only been back a day, am feeling some serious heimweh. Thank heavens I have my little 'kitchen cabinet comforts' to help ease the sting.

*longing for Buffalo.
Poor devil never stood a chance.

-Nymphs and Satyr, William Bouguereau

My favorite from the Clark's Fiftieth Anniversary Fifty. (Happy Birthday to this gem in the Berkshires!)
A purgative and a nap

are what I could really use after my four Thankgiving dinners and whirlwind tour of New York State.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Time to head out.

This morning:

West down Rte 2. Stop at Williamstown.

Get ourselves onto the Pike heading west. Drive a bit. Make our way to Saratoga Springs. Catch another exhibit. Spend the night. Maybe get a mineral bath in. (Coopertown's a bit out of the way, otherwise, we'd visit Ommegang and Howe Caverns.)

Back on the road. Straight shot down the Thruway to Buffalo. In between family visits and turkey dinners (two scheduled so far), maybe we'll get to squeeze a bit of sightseeing in.

Next: grab rte 17 and head due east along the Susquehanna. Lots of Revolutionary War memorial sites along this route, so plenty to look at. Make our way up to Binghamton for the next round of Thanksgivings (two, I'm told). Stay a couple days to rest, catch up with family, admire Andrew's (redhead at the head of the table) new house. Head north to catch the Thruway east. Drive all day. Get home.

I'm going to be under radio silence for a while, but do try to pay a visit to these folks - they're wonderful company.

Enjoy your week. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving (or two...or three...or four).

Friday, November 18, 2005

Programming Language Inventor or Serial Killer?

I have to admit, I only scored 4/10. Also have to admit that the last boyfriend was a mathematician, wore a blue hoodie and had the nickname Ted.

-Thanks, Paula!
Product review can be an artform in its own right. There was never any doubt in my mind that there'd be an Amazon version of Leonard Maltin at some point.
Literally ran into the car of an ex-someone last night on the way home. He offered me a ride which I ordinarily wouldn't have taken except for the cold. Was a bit of a shock, as had not seen or heard from him in a number of years (didn't part ways on the best of terms).

He's doing well; said that I looked like I was doing well for myself. Liked the haircut (or was being polite about it. It's been shockingly short for about three weeks, now.) When he got to the corner where my house is, said our goodbyes. Asked if I'd like to have lunch with him sometime soon. Told him that I was going away for a while to visit family, so not soon.

Don't know how to feel about this. I was thankful for the ride home and am genuinely happy that he's realizing everything he'd set out to do. Don't know that I feel like having lunch with a person who did the number on my heart that he did. I don't know that I'd be able to eat, and wasting food's a sin.
Went downstairs to do my laundry and found the basement filled with strange Brazillian men. Ordinarily, I'd not give this a second thought, as the house I live in is a work in progress and most people who do that sort of work here are either Brazillian or Vietnamese. It's just odd to have one's basement filled with swarthy strangers sawing, nailing, varnishing things way so far past dinnertime.

What made me really unhappy was that the varnish smell made its way up to my floor. My house smelled of it and I couldn't open the windows. Too cold.
Did not sleep well last night. Am going to be a bear today.
Hal's mom calls it skaubenites; my family simply called it cha. Whatever one calls it, it's tangy-tasty and grows like a weed.

Had a bumpercrop this year of both the wild and the cultivated varieties. Since I'm a firm believer in waste-not-want-not, I've been trying (with no success so far) to find a way to preserve the rest of seemingly undending supply.

If anyone has any suggestions on this, I'd really appreciate hearing them. For the moment, I'm eating as much in salads and soup as possible. I've also been bringing friends and coworkers bunches accompanied by this recipe:

Sorrel Soup

1 bunch sorrel (about 2 cups shredded)
1 small onion
1-2 cloves garlic (depending on taste)
1-2 stalks celery, diced
2-3 T butter (I use Smart Balance - works perfectly fine)
2T flour
3/4 c milk (I use 1% -a little fat, but not too much)
3-4 c chicken broth (or so)

Saute the onion, garlic, celery in a bit of the butter. When all this is transparent, add the sorrel. When sorrel cooks down, add remaining bit of butter along with flour to make a roux. When the roux get a little beige-y, start gradually adding milk. Be sure to keep stirring this so you don't end up with lumps! To this mixture, add the chicken broth until the soup reaches desired thickness*. If you have some spare herbs straggling around, add them if you'd like**. Simmer on low (low!) flame for another 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly, until soup's heated through.

Makes 4-5 cups.

*I usually eyeball it. In the spring/summer, I add more broth as I want a lighter soup. The current version's been thicker, almost like a potato leek soup.

**Last night's soup had some thyme, tarragon and oregano from the garden.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Délicieusement Démodé?

Or full-circle?

Mon ami de loin found these old cartoons from the '50s during a fall cleaning. There's some wonderful camp value to them, yes. But the gender-politic issues are still kicking around today, even if we're not permitted to talk of them so openly.
Know what? I really, honestly, truly dislike colons and semicolons. Never knew how to use them properly, probably never will. I should just stop trying and leave them to the professionals.
Was taking a good serious look at the hands and feet just a few minutes ago. The swelling's gone down a bit, but the left one (yeah, the one I write with, scratch myself with, point the finger at folks with) is still smarting a fair bit. Hopefully, if the weather keeps drying out like it is, Left Hand will be back to normal again soon.

Left leg's been feeling weak. Last night, I was tired from a longer than usual day at work. My not being attentive to where I was placing my feet, along with the darkness and weak leg ended up in a fall. Sprained my poor left foot. I think if I brace it (and the knee) for the walk in today, it should be okay, though.
I love trying on socks while knitting them. Wish I could keep knitting the sock while it was on my foot, though - seems like a great way to gauge one's progress. Problem is, the toes keep getting in the way. Have to find a workaround for this.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Objets Trouvés

Walking through the junkyards on my way to work, I often find things that catch my eye. If they aren't too cumbersome and I think I can use them for something, I'll take them with me to the office.

What I tend to like the most are hubcaps. You can do all sorts of neat things with them depending on their shape, whether or not they're broken, etc. Last week, I picked up a particularly nifty one that somehow shattered into a star - solder a few pieces of mismatched silverware on, give it all a little shine-up and it'll make quite the supernova. Attach a tail of CDs cut in half and I'll have a comet. Mentioned this to the department head after he asked me about my new treasure and how I was going to decorate my new wall. He told me I had a "singular vision" and backed away. Karen said that I should change my name to Sanford. Let them laugh.

Am willing to bet that a certain someone understands.

(-image via that jewelbox full of all things bright and beautiful.)
The Wall

A couple years back, I got reorganized from the Fourth Floor down to the Second Floor. After being reorganized again last January, someone got the idea that it might be a good idea for me to be kicked back upstairs. The estimated re-reorg was to take place in July of this year, and I was to move into my former office which had been turned into a conference room. As could be expected, I made it upstairs a month late to a conference room instead of an office. No problem; I'd been working in The Agora before, so can handle just about everything now.

Things were coming along swimmingly until about three weeks ago, when I got a memo. Apparently, my wall was finally going to be built. Would be an overnight project, so I'd not be inconvenienced in any way.

Har! If anything, I got to know the guys in facilities really well: nailguns, buzzsaws and everything. Initially, I was to get a full wall and a door. Didn't happen. They started with a sort of shelf thing that was about four feet high. People would come by, lean over the shelf to see what I was doing and ask me why I had a shelf put in. Sometimes I'd answer that IT was starting an ice cream stand. Other times, that I needed it so that I could take in laundry. Someone in HR asked, so I replied that we were piloting puppet theater as an alternative to e-learning.

Word of my lunch counter got around to the head of facilities, so he inspected. Didn't understand why we weren't happy with the half a wall, but put in another workorder to get it extended to a reasonable height (meaning high enough for me to get some privacy). The next afternoon, the workmen came back and, after making fun of me for not being happy with the wall, started work again. After a few days (couple of which I couldn't stay in my work area), they extended it to about six feet (to my occasional cries of "For the Love of God,Montressor!" -Karen got it, anyway.) Now people have to lean around the wall in order to ask me how well I like it.

As I write, am chuckling a little. Before the workers got around to painting my wall, Karen and I tagged it. Since they only used one coat of paint, I'm still seeing her little maxim which didn't quite disappear: "Petit à petit l’oiseau fait son nid."
Lost 'Walking on the Moon' last night to a pretty Chuck Prophet song about old friends. This was brought on by static-y message from the soft, Australian-accented voice telling me that "we've been out of touch for so long; we have to catch up."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Why am I going on about all this? I guess because next week I'm going back to visit the family on a holiday for the first time in nearly 10 years. Even though I'm not a little kid anymore, I'm scared.
When I was a kid, I used to feel the same way as that little boy from work. It's really hard when you've a parent (or two) who's impaired in some way, and you have to make adult decisions when your brain's not mature enough to do so. I remember thinking so hard about stuff that my head would hurt and I wished to God for Dad/Grandma/our neighbor to come and help make life easier. Never happened, though.
I used to work in an agency that did foster placements, and it was amazing the number of times one of the social workers would find a foster parent whaling the hell out of a kid in the burger joint just outside the offices, often on the way to an appointment. This would call for taking the kid away right away and making emergency accomodations - even if that meant housing the kid at their place for a bit. Though I worked in administration, a couple requirements for us all were that we be trained in crisis intervention and that we do some field work. As a result, we'd often end up keeping an eye on stray kids.

For some reason, one little boy would find himself in our office regularly. He was small for his age (around eight), had huge eyes, and was very, very grave in demeanor. Whenever my one colleague (a tall, handsome Cape Verdean man who usually got boys left with him - great male role model, loved kids. The case workers loved him to bits.) wasn't around, I'd help out. I think that initially he was a little mistrustful of me, since I was another Big White Person, and they seemed to be the ones jerking him around a lot. Eventually, though, for a variety of reasons (Butcher paper and the big box of crayons. My really awesome tattoo. The fact that I took french fry breaks instead of coffee breaks, among other things), he warmed up to me.

We used to have some great conversations about what he liked (tattoos - wanted one on his arm like I had. Only in Chinese. When I asked him what he wanted the tattoo to say, he said that he didn't know, because he didn't speak Chinese and wouldn't understand it.) and disliked (sitting around in offices - he had plenty of experience in this), what he wanted to be when he'd grow up, places he'd like to visit. I learned that he liked roller coasters, but was too small to go on one yet. Also - he liked cheese pizza, but didn't care for egg rolls. Since he acted so mature for his age, I'd sometimes forget that he was a little kid and start asking him too many questions, giving him too many choices, treating him like he was older than he could handle. This was when he'd start getting a bit irritable, his body language would change, and he'd get this look in his eyes that said "hey, lay off. You're the big person, I'm the little person. Why don't you act your part so that I can act mine?" After a few experiences with this, figured out how to stop myself and let him be a kid again.

Eventually, he got placed with a good family whose intention was to eventually adopt (they had a history with us; it was cool.) him, so that was the end of the visits. All for the best, though. Two jobs and several years later, though, I still think about him. He'd be in high school now. How's he doing? Did he ever get adopted? Does he still want to be a police man? Has he ever gotten to ride a roller coaster? I also think a lot about the look he'd get when he wanted an adult to make the decisions. I hope that his new family picked up on it.
War injuries.

I'm never without pain; some days I just manage it better than others. When the weather changes or I get stressed out, though, sometimes it can be darn well near unbearable. These are the times when I find myself in a terrible mood and liable to hurt others' feelings. I don't want them to feel pain like I do, yet like some sort of savage I'll still inflict it.

It's cold and damp out, so my hands and wrists are swollen like an arthritic's. My neck is starting to shift into an unhealthy position, so the shoulders and back are hurting. My left knee, pelvis and ankles are also throbbing. I'm sure that tonight my jaw will lock from the clenching I'll do in my sleep - a subconscious reaction to the pain.

As awful as this all sounds, it's actually better than not feeling. For years I pushed the feeling away and neglected the body. My therapist called it dissociation. I called it transcendence. Now I hurt sometimes hard enough to scream, to cry, to want to be dead. Sometimes I will scream, but into a pillow. I don't want to upset my landlord. I do cry a lot (have a lot of lost tears to make up for). I don't want to be dead, though. I was dead-alive for decades, but somehow managed to resurrect me. I don't want to go back to the dead place again.
Ordinarily I don't care for fisking; generally see it as an exercise in pettiness. However, this article does an excellent job of showing a very political appointment by a self-proclaimed non political group.

-via Andrew Sullivan
On one of my recent walks home from work, I decided to pick up a couple Honey Locust pods. Figured I'd try growing my own as a project over the winter. We have a lot of them in my neighborhood, and I've grown to love them in all their thorny glory. In the spring, they give us beautiful white-wisteria-looking flowers whose scent could never be bottled. In summer, sunshine filtering through the lacy-patterned compound leaves illustrates the term "sun dappled" perfectly for me. In fall, those same leaves turn the color of school buses before falling off - a nice change from the drabber yellows of the Norway Maple and Ailanthus. In the wintertime, the spiked varieties look a little bit like characters from a Tim Burton story; kind of sad and grotesque at the same time. It's always a relief to see them bud again come spring.

Karen, who spends a good amount of her gardening time battling the seedlings, told me that they're very prolific and they grow fast. Guess I'll have to choose wisely where I plant, then. (Maybe will give Pablo's backyard a present. We'll see.)
Day Four

Of 'Walking on the Moon.' I tried to hammer it out with a bit of gamelan last night but it eased its way back into my head while I slept.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Two particularly funny lists from McSweeney's:

Reasons Bloggers Hate the Mainstream Media.

The MSM is too liberal.

Professor always calls on the MSM.

Bloggers got stood up at prom. By the MSM.


- - - -

Least Reputable Charities.

Doctors Without Credentials

Habitat for Sean Hannity

Red Cross—Undisclosed Location in the Cayman Islands Division

United l77t d00d College Fund

Feed the Children (to Other Children)



- - - -

Also noticed that they've got some new sestinas up. (Yay! Sestinas!)
I had no idea that it would be so difficult to use the phrase délicieusement démodé in a work conversation. Most IT people don't consider démodé to be particularly délicieux.
On the ride up Broadway to the I93 connector, we sat waiting at a light. The fellow next to us had his windows down and was cranking some eighties underwater reggae sounds. Was very funny to note all the heads in cars around him bobbing in sync.

This weekend's adventure took us up to the Maudslay estate in Newburyport. Strange to be on the North Shore, but not in sight of the Atlantic. Instead, we got to wander a ways along the Merrimac River.

Though leaf-season's largely over in this part of the state, we did see some indications that at peak it must have been stunning.

This park was, at one point, a second home to a wealthy family. Interestingly enough, all one could see was traces of the former estate: foundations of buildings, carriage trails, the layouts of some formerly spectacular gardens now gone to seed.

(Hal really got into photographing these ornamental grasses in one open area)

As always, the trusty assistant kept herself busy and in not too much trouble during the obsessive photoshoots.

(One could do worse than be a climber of trees.)

While wandering through a grove of rhododendrons (and it was a grove - these bushes were at least twice our height), we happened upon a small graveyard. Originally thoght it might be one of those old New England family plots. Turned out it was a plot for pets. Six or seven of them, if I remember correctly.

A great picnic spot was on the hill where one of the original houses stood. How wonderful to be out enjoying the sun, good company, a view that once only very wealthy people could have. Makes ordinary turkey sandwiches and apples that much nicer.

Monday morning's flower is another Autumn fruit.

There's something about bushwacking through a field of ripe milkweed pods and setting the seeds aloft that makes us feel like kids again. Hal and I made short work of one such field we encountered on our Weekly Adventure up the Nawth Shaw.

Amazing how such a seemingly chaotic seed dispersal system is packaged so neatly.

The Jumblies had their sieve, Hal has his milkweed pod. Can't really cut through the waves like 'Jarvy,' (why don't people name rowboats like they do larger craft?) but seems to handle well in calmer waters.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Glorious Sunday.

Today was one of those rare November days where I could open all my windows and warm up the house.

Spent a good half-day in the garden winterizing everything: pulled up the dead leaves of perennials, raked leaves, pruned/trimmed things that needed it, mowed the lawn for the last time this year, set the garden hose out to drain. Was too good a day not to be doing these things. As it turned out, most of my neighbors felt the same way, so got to get back in touch with them. Heard about Raphaella's newest grandchild, got to see my landlord's new kitchen and bathroom (similar to what's going to happen to my place if I'm to believe his threats), 'shot the sh!t' with my stoner just-out-of-college neighbor. He's funny and actually quite smart. Grew up on a farm in Vermont somewhere. Wish he didn't do so much pot, though.

In the house, I swept, but didn't bother with mopping. Just didn't feel like it. Instead, I bound off the raw edge of a sampler that Hal's mom wove. Though just a practice piece, it's pretty and exuberantly Latvian enough to make it a very happy addition to my house's décor as a piano runner. Bought some almond oil recently at Target and rubbed it into my piano (whose name is Daisy, in case you were wondering). She's positively glowing now. Now, to find a decent tuner.

Heard again from mon ami de loin. Assures me that, though things aren't wonderful right now, they aren't as bad as the media are playing things up to being. It's sort of the US media getting back for Europe's hyping of Katrina. (I tend to agree.) Talked a bit about Armistice - what we did for meditating on it, what it means to us. His favorite novel on that subject is "All Quiet on the Western Front." Mine is "To Serve Them All My Days."

I really appreciate how this person makes me laugh. May never meet him, but he does really benefit me. Am happy for that.

Ran some errands, finished cleaning my place, caught up with whom I needed to, napped. Am now getting ready to listen to Opera Night on 'HRB and get some knitting done. Then off to bed.

What a good life I have. Everyone should be as lucky as I am.
Ambient noise pillows to help soldiers in war zones sleep?

It's an intriguing theory, and if it works - great. I wonder, though, how many soldiers might find this sort of therapy annoying to the point of being detrimental to their mental health?

As I live in a very densely-populated urban area, I've learned to fall asleep through just about any noise (even the occasional gunshot). I cannot, however, fall asleep if a radio is on. One friend of mine, who couldn't deal with the constant outside noise, got one of those Sharper Image ambient noise-makers and absolutely loved it. I found, though, that the fake waves-on-the-shore and birds-twitttering sounds put me on edge. Made me grind my teeth. Enraged me to the point where I had to either sleep in another room or resign myself to waking up in a combattive mood the next day.
Looks like we've got the preschool equivalent to the $600 SUV stroller right here.

Apparently, some (more educated, better-heeled) parents are looking to provide academic advantage for their kids when they hit kindergarten, what with "No Child Left Behind" looming over everyone like the Sword of Damocles and all. Kaplan (et al), of course is right there to supply something to help them spend their money. From what I gather in the article, this sort of tutoring provides very little if any return for toddlers, unless they have a learning disability. If anything, it may well turn kids off of school. We'll see in a few years, I guess.

A little personal note, here: neither of my parents graduated college, and only one grandparent graduated high school. Everybody loved to read, however. Everybody loved music as well. As a result, my brother and I were always read to, danced with or sung to. Even my dad, who wasn't very musically inclined, would sing to us. We'd get "God Bless America" every night, though, because that was the one song he knew all the words to. My mom, who had years of lessons from her time with the nuns, would play anything and everything on the piano.

These loves wore off on my brother and me, and helped us quite a bit through some rough years both at home and school. The family investment, when we had it, is something that I've drawn comfort from during some awful, dark times.

I can't stress enough the importance of less, but better television. Push Big TV to give us something more useful than what they think we want. (And don't give me that whole "well, PBS lost a lot of government funding..." line - how many garbage travel shows with corporate sponsorship do they have now? How many membership drives do we submit ourselves to for the relative rock video that Nova's become? PBS is doing perfectly fine. They'd do better if what they offered was better.) Growing up, I rarely, if ever watched television; don't know that we had one when I was little. I vaguely remember the Big Three PBS shows from trips to grandparents' houses and from a grainy, off-color screen color TV somewhere that didn't get all the stations. Started learning French from Sesame Street. Also got a great head start in what some program director in one of Kaplan toddler tutorials called "valuable pre-reading experience and phonetic recognition" from Electric Company. Easy Reader gave me the confidence to sound things out on street signs, etc. By the time I started Kindergarten, I could read perfectly fine on my own. My brother took off a bit more slowly, as it turns out he's dyslexic. He consumes books like potato chips, though, and has turned out to be a darned good writer.

Back to music. As I said, there was a lot of that in our household and not just because everyone was a musician. They weren't, but that didn't stop anyone from having fun playing. Dust off that old guitar, get the piano tuned. One doesn't have to be a Segovia or Horowitz to play anything from the Fireside Book. Don't know an instrument? Then sing! Even if it's only one song! Or learn to play an instrument: Guitar setups are fairly cheap (cheaper than a piano, that's for sure). Buy one, get a Mel Bay book, learn a couple chords. Kids would learn something important, too, in seeing that not everybody's immediately a virtuoso, that some things take time to learn to do right, and that you can still have fun playing, singing, dancing, whatever, while in the process of learning. All that, in addition to getting one's kids outdoors (playing, not to Starbucks) every day is healthy both for the kids and for parents. Ultimately, it's the investment of things other than money in one's kids that generally brings greater returns than engaging yet another kind of paid help.

Friday, November 11, 2005

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

-John McCrae (1872-1918)

Au Champ d'honneur

Au champ d'honneur, les coquelicots
Sont parsemés de lot en lot
Auprès des croix; et dans l'espace
Les alouettes devenues lasses
Mêlent leurs chants au sifflement
Des obusiers.

Nous sommes morts
Nous qui songions la veille encor'
À nos parents, à nos amis,
C'est nous qui reposons ici
Au champ d'honneur.

À vous jeunes désabusés
À vous de porter l'oriflamme
Et de garder au fond de l'âme
Le goût de vivre en liberté.
Acceptez le défi, sinon
Les coquelicots se faneront
Au champ d'honneur.

-Jean Pariseau

Thank Heavens.

Instapundit's right - we need to hear more of this from the President. The administration needs to work a heck of alot harder than they have been on getting the truth out because, thanks to a hostile press and the amazing ease of diffusing (dis)information, lies "...made it all the way around the world several times over before the truth had time to even get its underwear on, much less its pants..."
Sorry, but...No.

White flags are not peace flags; they're surrender flags.

The traditional flag to be putting on a veteran's grave is an American flag.

Have seen these people before. Usually they're hanging out on bridges holding signs. I'd ask what the heck they were thinking, getting off their Sunday Lunch Hour sign-holding schedule, but I guess I already know the answer to that.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Let's remember to keep the "X" in "Xmas."

Back when I was younger, you couldn't start harping on "Merry Christmas" as being Anti-PC until after Thanksgiving.
More bad news from Home. It never ends, I swear.
On my walk back from getting lunch today, I saw a dollar bill mixed in with some fallen leaves in the street. Didn't pick it up, though. Figured someone else could use it more than me.
Have seen a couple of interesting posts on parents' rights over the last day or so.

Come on, let's be reasonable: I don't go on benders at Chuck-E-Cheese, so what makes you think that you can turn, say, the 1369 into Romper Room?

Now, I, like most reasonable people without children, am not militantly anti-kid (How could I be? I worked in Child Welfare for years - yes, taking care of kids) or anything, but don't push me or others like me, okay? You have rights, but so do I. You infringe on my rights, I'm not going to be happy. It's not "hating," it's a natural response.
Mr. Smith goes to City Hall.
Norm's Poll Results are up! I see that two of my three choices made the top 20, anyway.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Okay, I've had it.

Over the past couple days, I've gotten well over twenty phone calls from everybody running for either alderman or school committee in Somerville. Since I don't believe that there are any Republican candidates running (come on, this is Somerville!), I don't know that I can do anything but not vote tonight. This makes me feel dirty and sick, though. What do I do?

Of course, Peter Schickele's having pointed out that you can sing "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" to the melody of "Hernando's Hideway" doesn't help matters any.


Oh, what the heck. Yes, you can sing anything by Emily Dickinson to "The Yellow Rose of Texas," as well, I've found. Idem for just about anything by Schiller to the final movement of Beethoven's Ninth.


And let's not forget that since Hal has taken to calling my lovely Marcroft ovenware mugs "Hero Mugs," I can't drink a cup of tea anymore without humming the overture to Die Meistersinger. Thanks, Hal.

Some more images from our impromptu Saturday afternoon idyll:

Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here to watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake the darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake to ask if there is some mistake. The only other sound's the sweep of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

-Robert Frost


Though the Solstice is still another month an a half off, a combination of factors (Olmsted's design, a fog rolling in off Boston Harbor and the early sunset - 4:30 pm) created such an atmosphere that only Frost's poem could have provided the rhythm for my footsteps.
My Tuesday Morning flower is actually flaming fruits and foliage caught by Hal on our Saturday walk.


Where did we walk? At World's End in Hingham - one of perhaps a score or so of privately managed nature preserves on the Massachusetts coast alone. Interestingly enough, in spite of their being privately owned and managed, none that we've seen so far have featured NASCAR tracks or a Golden Arches.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Am still feeling a bit woozy, but probably should go out and get a little sunshine and fresh air, anyway. Besides, need to go take care of the cats and don't like dealing with Pablo's place in the dark (think Fingal's Cave or Ludwig's Castle in Somerville).
Of course, I couldn't not be bothered while trying to sleep. Received no fewer than six recorded phone calls from people looking to get my vote in tomorrow's elections. As if the flurry of collateral I'd received from everybody (at least five pieces from each alderman and school committee candidate) weren't enough.

You know what? Just for that, I am not voting for anybody. I will go in and vote against the damn economic divestment of Israel proposition, and then leave. Hate them all. Hiss.
Sunday's follies were apparently not enough. Monday struck my head with the force of a hammer on an anvil. Clang...Ouch! I thought my skull was going to explode from the force of the pain. I don't believe that it was a migraine, as there wasn't any flashing, although I did throw up a number of times. Judging by the fact that it's been kind of difficult to breathe lately and that the pain was a soggy, hot one around my eyes and temples, I'm thinking that this was sinus-related. Called work to tell my boss that I didn't think I could make it in, vomited again, felt my way back to bed. Found in my brain a place where it didn't hurt, so concentrated on having it soften the rest of me up. The effort of this concentration wore me out, and I managed to sleep for a good six hours.

Was all set to get the fall cleaning done yesterday when Chance decided to mess with me. While the fall curtains were in the washer, I went outside to muck around in the yard a bit. Pulled up a bunch of dead plants and potted the chrysanthemums, then figured that the laundry was done. Went to the door, which in principle is never supposed to be locked, and found that it had locked itself. So, there I stood, barefoot, in a tee shirt and no good supporting undergarment, mud on my face and hands. The drizzle started getting heavier, the sky darker and the temperature cooler. What to do?

Checked with the neighbors to see if anyone had a key; no one did. Borrowed a phone and called the landlord up nawth. He said that he'd not be back in at least two and a half hours, so I'd need to sit tight somewhere. The guy across the street loaned me a sweatshirt, so put that on and wandered over to Pablo's.

Thank heavens he was home. Amused myself with the cats for a bit while he was fretting over what to pack for the conference he's currently attending (Bjarne Strostrop speaking at some Microsoft group grope in LV - Pablo's guru/childhood crush/person he wants to be when he grows up if he grows up some day). When he finished with that, I made something for dinner, and then called the landlord again. Three quarters of an hour north of the City on I95...could I hold tight a bit longer? Of course. Waited with Pablo for his taxi, then took the long way home. When I got back, I found the house wide open and everything lit up like Christmas...hallelujah! Thanked my landlord and Mrs. Landlord for letting me in, then managed to get the curtains up. Much as I wanted to go to bed, couldn't do so until I had some privacy.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

"Je ris par peur..."

The upside to all this, according to Hal, is that now he doesn't have to buy the three disc set for Battle of Algiers. He can just turn on the news and see it for free.
I wouldn't blog this with a ten foot pole, much as I'd love to.

(Not for profit is NOT a mandate from God. It's a tax status.)
I do hope that mon ami du loin is doing alright. He's old enough to take care of himself, but a girl has a right to be concerned.

I see that there's been a silent march against the violence in Aulnay-Sous-Bois this morning, where 2000-3000 people walked the streets in a show of solidarity with authorities. The mayor of that particular suburb stated that the march was a sign that the laws of the Republic applid to all and that they were not going to give themselves over to violence.

Of course, then there's the "beurre" view: "Of course we are all opposed to the violence. Sarkozy, however, was the one who set things off, and he's not to be excused."

Sarkozy, in case you don't remember, is the one who called those who started the violence thugs. Seems like an apt description to me. If they happened to be maghrebin, well, there you go. Maghrebin and thug are not mutually exclusive terms. To try to shift the blame in this way is a great example of the decadence of PC, I think.

Here is a discussion as to whether the riots were organized acts (with a fair bit of prior planning), or 'crimes of passion' fuelled by emotion and the moment. As to the islamification of the movement: It can't be conclusively proven at this time, according to Paris's head prosecutor, Yves Bot. "At the moment, we can say that this is a movement directed primarily against the Republic and that it's not yet taken any sort of philosophical or ideological (communautauriste) turn."

The head of SOS Racisme called for a discussion that would go beyond simple investigation of the events and would address the futures of the urban ghettos. (Not a bad idea. A lot of these places are pits and tend to get ignored.)


Now I see that the rioting's spread across the country. Not good. What on earth's going on? Goodness. Denmark, too?
A UN auditing board conducting an investigation says that the US should pay $208 million back to Iraq for overcharges. A UN auditing board. Something tells me they really shouldn't be going there.

Of course, the cynical side of me sees this as a great way for some folks to attempt to get the spotlight off them, what with the recent release of the Volcker report and all. Also a great way to whip up some resentment against the US in Iraq and maybe get a few more troops killed.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Halloween's great, but November First is a pretty big day, too:

To my friends who celebrate All Saints Day, une joyeuse et benie fête de la Toussaint.

To those who pay homage on Day of the Dead, Feliz Día de los Muertos.

Of course we can't forget Diwali. Happy brightening up the night!


Roughly two dozen kids showed up: more than last year, but considerably less than what we used to get in Eastie (anywhere between 80-100). Mr. and Mrs. Landlord had all the good candy, like usual. I had slightly lesser offerings, but they were still gladly accepted.

Hal decided on a bat theme this year, no doubt inspired by the past weekend's film choice.

Isn't this a great Hitchcock-inspired view of Evil Incarnate?

I had put some green Christmas lights up in my front window - arranged them so that they'd look like glowing green ooze. Hal had fun playing with long-exposure shots in the dark. He mentioned that one of the results looked to him like music:

We left the front door open so that we could take a peek around the hall every now and again. It appears as though someone else was ver-y inter-ested in the goings-on around the neighborhood:

(I like the soft, out-of-focus effect. It makes the picture look like supernatural footage from That's Incredible or Ripley's Believe it or Not - two shows I watched faithfully as a kid, in spite of my not being able to sleep afterwards.)

I don't know what on earth transpired between Hal and Mamasan here. I think that someone was trying to mess both with the cat and flash photography.

Dinner was the traditional start of cold-weather fare:

Chicken Casserole (Chicken tenders with two cloves of garlic, a handful of soaked mushrooms, a couple diced carrots, a couple diced stalks of celery, a handful of chopped fresh spinach, a can of cream-of-mushroom soup. Covered it all, baked it for roughly an hour at 350.)

Stuffed Butternut Squash (One butternut squash, split and seeded. Put a pat of butter in each cavity, then sprinkled with a bit of nutmeg and cinnamon. Tossed this into the oven for about 1/2 an hour. When squash was soft enough to make me happy, filled the cavities with prepared boxed stuffing mix. Returned to the oven for another 15-20 minutes - until the stuffing was crispy on top.)

and pumpkin ale. This year's variety was Post Road Pumpkin. Very nice with a lovely nutmeg backwash. Lovely backwash? If you like nutmeg as much as I do, it is possible.

Dessert was leftover candy (very little left, mercifully). We got to try some of the inside-out peanut butter cups.

Since we were all pretty exhausted, the evening broke up early. Still, nice to have a little tradition to give a sense of continuity.
Past Pumpkins

Last year's, which did a world of good.

Three years ago was a cat theme.

(No luck finding the other jack o'lanterns yet: Two years ago, I did a smily face and four years ago, it was an anime-pumpkin. Hopefully will find copies.)
Today's my technical Monday, as yesterday was a complete wash work-wise.
At any rate, here's the 'Monday morning' flower:

Hal took this at what he called the "collective farm" up near Brunswick, ME last August. It's not really a Soviet-era farm where people are starved to produce food for other parts of the empire, though. More of a cooperative that grows vegetables and sells shares of whatever the crop is.