Monday, October 29, 2007

WeeMed Out

Oooh, that sounds a little nasty. Anyway, it was lots of fun this year – some of the same programs and some new ones, basically the same food menu with more bounteous and more chocolaty sweets this time around (last year I was late and wound up confronted by what looked like an angry blanc mange as the sole remaining treat). It was nice having my daughter with me because I got to see some things through fresh eyes. Some of her observations:

1. No one bothers you if you’re reading, even if you’re doing it during dinner at a full table. They respect your love of reading.

2. Very few shirts for sports teams – mostly smart aleck remarks or puns or clever quips. She even spotted an IMSA t-shirt. (My favorite: I don’t think much, so I might not be.)

3. Puns and smarty-pants remarks on the posters – “Free Soda: Exact Change Required” or a sign under the quiche, “Vegetarian, not Vegan…Duh!”

4. We missed some programs because we were too busy talking with interesting people.

5. Everyone is nice, and (ahem) Mom is popular (grin).

6. The souvenir shirts are cool. So are squirrels.

Some things I noticed:

1. Many people expressed a sense of relief or joy at being with other Mensans – two memorable remarks: “I haven’t spoken that deeply on a topic in MONTHS” and “It’s so nice to be somewhere where I don’t have to explain what a Klein bottle is.”

2. Even if I don’t care about a topic, listening to the selected programs is always interesting. Being me, a total goober, I walked into a conference room to attend a meet and greet for online Mensans. Turns out, the last program was still going on – on foreskin restoration. It took me a couple of minutes to figure that out, since there were no explicit pictures or language for those couple of minutes (although the large pink florescent penis and partial balls on the table should have clued me in, but I don’t like to assume…), and by then, I was moderately interested, even though I can’t imagine a topic I’d be less likely to seek out. It was very scientific and clinical, the speaker read testimonial letters, and I could tell he felt very sincere and earnest about his topic. Twenty minutes later he finished up, redirected a lot of people looking for a speaker on ghosts, and then the online thing started.

3. The hugs were even better this year.

4. It’s fine, even normal, to skip all the programs and just hang out and snork up beer and/or broccoli and chat with other Ms.

5. I’m not the only person who gets a little ferocious when the caffeinated coffee runs low.

6. Even the inexplicable costumes were funny.

7. No one b*tch slapped me for knitting all over the place. I even knit during the Saturday evening show and tried Very Hard not to clank like a member of a chain gang.

8. Hi, Bill! It was nice to finally meet you in real life!

OK, so I have to go catch up on laundry and get dinner started. I’m still smiling, though, which is nice.

Oddball Word of the Day

intelligensia (in-TELL-ih-JENT-see-uh): n. pl. intellectuals, considered as an educated, influential class, esp. as an elite.

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Also, dang tasty coffee.

Friday, October 26, 2007


I’m off to WeeM today – that’s the Chicago Area Mensa Regional Gathering. I’ll be taking my daughter, since I use WeeM as a senior year treat. We’re both looking forward to it – if nothing else, one of my favorite things about staying in a hotel is the unlimited supply of very hot water – I can have a hot bath that lasts a full day (with periodic reheating) if I want! Oh, the luxury. Plus, someone else worries about the cooking.

Anyway, I’ve been a naughty blogger. Here are some of the things that have been going on since I last posted:

My dad went into the hospital twice – the first time was when his blood pressure dropped really low and he was even more confused and tired than usual, plus the congestion in his chest got worse. Once he was checked in and poked and prodded, he and his blood pressure perked back up, but they still kept him for three days. Then, a day after he got back to the nursing home, he tried to get out of his wheelchair and fell and broke open the skin on his forehead, so he had to go get scanned, checked out, and sewn up.

Then, my dear knitting friend had a partial knee replacement, the “Oxford Knee” (Name brand surgery!). I had to go up to Fringe to pick up some special order yarn, and I decided I’d pick up several skeins in autumn colors for her, too. Then, while in traffic on the way there, I had a brainstorm – a yarn bouquet. The yarn store owners looked at me like they were wondering where I was hiding my third eye, so, as I sat in traffic on the way home, I decided to try my local florist. I know the owner there, and she’s wonderfully creative.

I stopped in, showed her the yarn, and asked if she could combine it, safely, with some autumn toned flowers in a basket for a unique bouquet. She looked thrilled at the chance to do something new, and said sure. I left it in her hands, and toddled home. I got a call from my knitting friend (OK, it’s Irene. I’ve outed your first name. Be afraid!) who was overwhelmed at the lovely bouquet. I couldn’t resist, so I went over and took a picture of it:

Faboo, eh? (I have it on good authority that the yarn was severely fondled before I took the picture, so It's not necessarily in its original state.)

Then, let’s see, it was let the dog out every two hours so she didn’t pizzle in my house, I had another 504 meeting for my youngest, and he had a dentist’s appointment and a med. Management appointment; I had four bouts of volunteer tutoring, two rounds of extended length private tutoring in German (excellent adult learner, though, which is cool), and one afternoon Spawn came home to announce that he was going to legally change his first name.

I could have gotten all worked up about it, but I decided that it was probably better than getting a strange piercing or obscene tattoo, so I smiled and asked what his new name would be. He wouldn’t tell me. So, I’ve been calling him “Spot” or “Fluffy” or “Lars” in the hopes of irking him into telling me. So far, no luck. My husband has not reacted calmly, even though Spawn fully intends on keeping the family name. Being a whimsical teenaged boy, Spawn didn’t do his homework and found out it would take six weeks to legally change his name, would involve a lawyer, a fee, and publication in the newspaper. We haven’t heard much about it since then.

And then there’s knit stuff:

About 10 years ago, I made my daughter a “hot damn” afghan from a pattern on the Knitlist. It involved multiple strands of thin yarn, size 35 needles, and muscles like Conan in order to tame the yarn and needles and wrassle them into compliance. I swore, silently, that I would never make another one, and, of course, it’s Bunny’s cherished blankie. Well, between 10 years of daily use and one new dogette, the afghan developed a huge, scary, tangled hole in the middle, and then somewhere midway between middle and end, in each direction, the yarn failed and there were two splits. Bunny wanted the afghan fixed. She moped; she stuck out her lip, she said encouraging words.

I bit my tongue, yet still managed to offer to make her a brand new one. She cried and said she just wanted the old one fixed. I pointed out there was no way I could ever hope to match the yarns again, showed her the only possible yarn I have which I could use to fix it, in the hopes of getting her to agree to a new afghan instead. She perked up and said they’d be fine; that she didn’t mind if her blankie had battle scars. So, I gave in.

And I began darning, and darning, and darning. The two splits weren’t a problem, but that big danged hole in the middle took me, well, several days to build up the courage to deal with it, then four days to – a) untangle the mess and find out what was split, missing, etc., b) knit back what had unraveled, as best as possible, and c) two days to darn the 12 inch by 6 inch remaining hole. The craftsmanship is fine, but, boy, oh, boy does the darn stick out like a thick, sore thumb. Bunny, however, is delighted. I may finally be over the throbbing headache that accompanied it.

Then the Doodle came to me after dinner one night, as I was meditating over a new sock, and announced (I think I have a family of budding Walter Kronkites – they announce stuff rather than just casually mentioning it) that he needed a new sweater. I asked him about the two sweaters I made him two years ago, which were very handsome -- made with doubled sock yarn for warmth and durability, and in masculine variegated blues, which he had been wearing quite happily up until his announcement. He said they didn’t fit any more, and I made him try one on.

He was right. He looked like Pappy Yoakum, with his belly showing and most of his lower arms sticking out. The width was still fine, though. I said, “Holy Crap! When did you grow so much?” He laughed and said he didn’t know and could he please take off the sweater since it made his armpits feel funny. Aaargh. So, he got measured up for a new sweater. The durned kid has pretty much grown three inches beyond the limits of the previous sweater in all vertical zones. We picked out a yarn, and I swatched and cast on. And, no, he doesn’t want any fancy stitches or stripes or patterns, he just wants a plain John Doe sweater made by Mom. That’s OK, everyone needs a little mindless TV knitting.

Then there’s Being On Hold, which should be a paid job. Or, I should at least get extremely valuable discount coupons because I think I’ve spent 24 solid hours either talking to people in India or touch-toning my way through corporate phone labyrinths over the last two weeks in order to: update two Tracfones, get a monstrously wrong electric bill straightened out, make a consumer complaint on a product, and making an inquiry on one of my Dad’s bills. I dozed off at the dining room table twice while waiting on hold, lulled to sleep by the sound of an electronic female telling me how important my call was.

Last night, I woke up from my unintentional nap on the couch, at 8:30, to the startling realization that the only clean pants I had were the ones I was wearing, so I headed down to the laundry room, where there was another startling discovery. My family decided to show me how much they’ll miss me by saving up all their laundry until the night before my departure. It’s piled on a waist high counter to a height over my head, and stretching about 7 feet wide. There were throw rugs, robes, uncountable towels, and, of course, all of my pants in there. I quirked an eyebrow at the mountain of pong, fished out a couple pairs of my and Bunny’s pants, and threw them in the wash. I did the same thing with underwear and shirts this morning. The rest of it can wait for me to get back, or for the weight of the laundry to turn the socks into diamonds; I don’t care. They all know where to find the soap and turn the dials.

So, I’m off to WeeM. I may never leave the room because I’ll be enjoying the hot water, the lack of phone duty, and the laundry being someone else’s business. Hope to see some of you there, and, if not, have a hot bath and a great weekend on my behalf!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Five Completely Dumb Things I’ve Done...

…in no particular order

1. When I was a kid, despite knowing I should stay away from electrical outlets, I still tried to plug my plastic iron’s plastic cord in, just in case (also, don’t put me near signs that say “Wet Paint”). When I got up off the floor, with my hair sticking straight up and a snootful of electrically fried plastic smell, I decided that maybe staying away from electrical outlets would be a good general principle after all.

2. I took a driving test in a car that was really amazingly awful. The horn didn’t work, so I had a rubber ducky that I used as a horn. My three-point turn, because of stiff steering bits, was more of a five point and big smile at the examiner turn. It wouldn’t go over 45 miles per hour without shimmying and making scary clunking noises. The headlights chose their own brightness, pretty whimsically, which made night driving extra spicy. I passed the test, though. Maybe the examiner just wanted to get the hell out of the scary car with the dangerously perky (it was a sham; I was embarrassed and scared shitless) driver.

3. I sat in a train station in Paris and pelted pigeons with dried chunks of baguette. I was frustrated and hungry, and the damned baguette was inedibly hard. Even the Parisian pigeons snubbed it. I beaned one big b*stard pretty hard in its tiny head and got cussed at (in lovely French) by an old lady.

4. In high school, my best friend and I went to see a sci-fi movie. When we bought our tickets, the clerk looked at us funny, and pointed us to the correct theater (one of three). We were a little late, so we squinched into some seats in the back so we wouldn’t disturb people. We watched the screen for a few minutes and realized that a whole lot of people were having a lot of sloppy sex. My friend poked me and said, “I thought this was going to be a sci-fi movie”. I said, “Maybe it’s alien sex. Maybe it’ll be over soon.” We decided to tough out the alien sex until a few seats away we heard a guy, well, you know, doing the Pee Wee Herman thing. We looked at each other in embarrassment and left. We checked the marquee; it was supposed to be the sci-fi movie. We asked the clerk, and he said we’d gone in the wrong theater, but we hadn’t – the sci-fi movie was listed on the sex movie theater. So, in the spirit of adventure, my friend and I went back in and watched the porn. It was yucky, and we were the only girls in there, which was also yucky. The sci-fi movie was next, but we left halfway through because we were still stunned and kind of numb from the porn, so we headed for a coffee shop and spent a lot of time looking at each other in VERY BRIGHT LIGHT, drinking coffee and saying, “Well…Holy shit.”

5. I got very, very drunk in my late teens, and spent the night at my stepbrother’s house. His wife took in stray animals, and I woke up covered in cats. I thought I was hallucinating, or having the dt’s or something. I got up to go wee and had to pry cats off my head, my neck and my arms. When I sat down on the throne, thinking I was in a fur-free zone, the window clicked. I looked up, and there was a cat, sitting in the window, watching me wee. I had to scrape cats off my pillow to get back in bed, and the sound of all that purring and scratching totally freaked out my still-drunk self. I have not gotten snockered since, and I don’t have any cats. I wonder why?

Here’s to a wiser weekend!


Rabelaisian (Ra-beh-LAY-zee-ehn) adj. broadly or coarsely humorous, satirical, etc.

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Moment of Calm

Bluebird by Robin Trower/James Dewar

I remember when this song came out in 1977; I heard it on the radio one cold morning. It was so beautiful that I lunged up out of bed, then lay back down, listening in awe. It calms me every time I hear it, while overwhelming me with the amazing guitar skills. If you wait past the first few awkward seconds, it'll be worth your time -- the recording is from 1977, so there's a little noise.

Relax, and let it happen. You could even knit while listening!

Oddball Word of the Day

plangent (PLAN-jehnt) adj. having a loud, vibrating, lamenting sounds, with a wave-like beat or surge

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)


We were discussing friends and friendship in group yesterday. Some folks have trouble trusting that they are likeable enough to have real friendships, others have trust issues, others are so isolated and unfamiliar with social settings that they are horribly self-conscious and feel awkward and too weird to make friends. I feel lucky.

I was not a person who inspired friendships until I hit my midteens and moved in with my Dad and Stepmom. Prior to that, I had your typical cynical, acidic, alienating and alienated attitude that most kids have who are abused. “Don’t get close to me, you’ll just cause me pain” is how that shakes out lots of times. Dad and Ellen made the difference.

They liked me, even when I was obnoxious and peculiar, they found my sense of humor hilarious, they pointed out my good features physically and mentally, and they accepted me. That made such a huge difference. After having been treated with hatred, violence, distain, and dismissal for so many years, having someone else not only see me, but also see the good in me was a revelation.

Looking at it from here, my spot years later in life, I think it works that way for most people, regardless of their upbringing. I think that when others accept us and like us, we are more able to accept and like ourselves. I think we begin to take ourselves and our right to friendship and decent treatment more seriously and learn to discern the difference between someone who enjoys our company and someone who is working a hidden agenda.

I think back over the friends I’ve had over the years. Some people, like me, just needed companionship for the short term, or their lives took different paths, but during the time we were friends, we laughed, we threw popcorn at each other, we were able to let down our back hair and share emotions, worries, gossip, adventures, and deepest secrets.

Others started off like friends, but, and I don’t think I’m the only one who’s faced this, at some point, their eyes shuttered, they drew back and didn’t share. There were places they were not willing to go, be it in shared silliness or seriousness, or there were things they were afraid of – rejection, judgment, criticism, I don’t know. I do know I’ve sometimes been on the other side of the shuttered eyes and mind, too.

Sometimes we just needed a break from one another – things had been intense or taken too much time, and we were enjoying relating so much that we let important things fall by the wayside, so we had to step back from the time-eating friendship for a spell. If we granted each other that space without resentment, then things went well. If that was too threatening for one person or the other, sometimes the friendship altered or died.

I don’t enter into friendships expecting one person to solve or resolve all my needs – that would be overwhelming and imprudent. I share different aspects of myself with different friends, as they do with me, and that’s enough. There’s usually plenty of crossover, too, in areas and issues. It’s manageable, it’s safe, it’s sane, and it’s normal. I’m not looking for a “bff”; I’m happy with a “gffalail” (good friend for as long as it lasts); I don’t require perpetuity of my friends; I think that would be a little frightening because so many things lie between here and forever.

I suppose the best thing I have going for me in my approach to friendships is that I truly believe I am likeable, but I don’t expect everyone to like me, and I’m not devastated by rejection. Plenty of fish in the sea, and plenty of evidence to the contrary. I don’t have to be everyone’s cup of tea.

So, as I often do, I bring the things talked about, or alluded to, in group home and roll them around in my mind, chewing on them, pulling them apart, examining bits in greater detail and so on. I was thinking about friendship skills and my kids and wondering how I’ve done, if I could have done better, if circumstances conspire against them, etc. I suppose only time will tell.

They are selective in their friends, which I think is a pretty good thing. I figure the adage, or variation thereof, that a man who is everyone’s friend is known by none of them is true – it smells of people-pleasing and burying the bits of oneself that can create a deeper friendship. They each are working on learning about friends and friendships; Bunny has had friendships that slowly evaporated over time and distance, and we’ve talked about how that just happens and how to keep in touch if they both want to. Doodle has learned to let friendships build over time and let trust enter in manageable increments. Spawn is having introspective moments over what a friend really is and what’s appropriate to expect from friends (and what they can expect from him) as he and his cohort age and move into different phases of their lives.

If they ask me questions, I answer them with personal experiences, and I really do try to avoid holding forth too much. Sometimes I’m not completely successful at that, but their questions are always welcome, and I hope I let them know they’re not alone, they’re likeable and loved and accepted, and that finding people who like them and appreciate them is often a matter of luck and circumstance, as well as liking themselves well enough to be honest and real in encountering others. I’ll never really know by what yardstick they are measuring themselves, though, I suppose.

But, they are always welcome and loved here, and I guess that’s pretty much all a parent can do.

Oddball Word of the Day

caryatid (KARE-ee-AT-id) n. (in architecture) a draped female figure serving as a supporting column

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

College Season and Small Dogs

Well, the colleges are bombarding Bunny with pamphlets, offers of scholarships, enticing letters, multi-colored flyers, and email. Lately, our mail has been 2/3 college mail and 1/3 bills and dross. I’m cynical, and I should probably do a better job of hiding it. I’m pretty sure most adults, especially most adults who were smart high school students, got the same kind of mail – offers of scholarships, but when the actual offers show up, they’re not usually full scholarships – those are reserved for the students who can pay back the college in entertainment value – namely, conference sports. Yep, I’m cynical.

And, the smallest dog has been working my patience pretty hard. We had “Adventures in Wee” day on Saturday. Gracie wee-weed in every room in the house, including leaping into the upstairs bathtub, wee-ing in the tub, then leaping out, with the shower curtain still in place, hiding her crime. I am just now discovering some of the more cleverly hidden damp spots. We’ve already shampooed and Dog-gone-d the downstairs carpet once; I have to take the Bad Shaky Can with me if I let her accompany me when I go to do laundry. Funny how she doesn’t wee in her crate. Aaargh.

Fortunately, her big brother is fine. It cost us one arm and three fingers to get his shots updated and him fully checked out and protected against all possible infestations and diseases, but the vet says he’s in fighting trim and that all that playing with a kid sister is good for him. I invited him over to massage the Hoove after a hard day of sister-wrestling, but he laughed at me and gave my dog a cookie. Humph.

It’s also time to vacuum again – between chewed up pencils, chewed up chopsticks, chewed up straws, chewed up paper (Oh, she ate the one kiddy book I was actually pretty sentimental about), chewed up toys, and shed hair, it looks like Kim and Aggie would have words for me. Sigh. Time to go lie down on the couch, pull the blanket up over my head and pretend I’m not there! (Think that will work?)

Oddball Word of the Day

younker (YUNG-ker) n. a youngster

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

In case...

You're blue...

Meme Scheme

OK FugueStateKnits has tagged me, and I’ve come out of my dark, yarn-infested lair and decided to play nice with others, having set my snips aside for the nonce. It’s a random things meme, and here are the rules: Once tagged, you must link to the person who tagged you. Then post the rules before your list, and list 8 random things about yourself. At the end of the post, you must tag and link to 8 other people, visit their sites, and leave a comment letting them know they've been tagged.

(Oh, great, now I have to come up with eight people who also have sites, and who may choose not to wreak cyber-havoc upon me for tagging them. Feel the dread.)

1. I would love to have a clutter-free, pristine house, but that would last as long as it would take me to open up a newspaper. Then there’d be inserts on one end table, which I might not get to chucking out right away, bits would probably fall out, which I wouldn’t vacuum up for a while, and then I’d wind up with the crossword puzzle and Sudoku puzzle section folded open and left on the coffee table until I got a chance to do them. My cluttered house isn’t just the fault of my family and pets; it’s my fault, too.

2. I’m actually looking forward to my children being all grown up and living elsewhere. It’s not that I can’t live with them; I love them, and they are dear and wonderful people. It’s that I’m wearing out on dealing with the teenaged years. I’ve already really, seriously done the midnight feedings and diaper years, and I have a puppy, so I’m dealing with a doggy version of the “toddler” years all over again. I’m looking forward to relating to my kids as fellow adults to whom I am related, with a lot less “Mom” stuff.

3. I am a really good friend except for one thing – I don’t do “Hi, how are you?” phone calls or emails. I can’t stump up any motivation for calling someone up to talk about nothing in particular. I enjoy it when my friends call me up for those kinds of calls, but I never seem to do it myself, and even when I think I should, I wind up agonizing over coming up with an actual reason to call. Some people find that peculiar.

4. I have an inappropriate sense of humor almost all the time. I will burst out laughing in the emergency room, especially if it’s something going on with me. It’s probably a defense mechanism – finding something absurd in almost everything, but I don’t think many people find it amusing. I’ve been known to snicker during my women’s group because something said makes a wild, loony image in my head, or I notice bizarre things when other people are having problems, and I have to really fight down my urge to point out whatever inappropriate and probably insultingly irrelevant thing it is. I couldn't stop laughing during my Dad's retirement party and had to go to the little girls' room before I embarrassed him. That was about 25 years ago, and I haven't gotten much better.

5. I went to a Catholic high school for my last two years of public education. I am not Catholic, and it was kind of an eye-opener into the dogma of that religion. I still have my plaid, pleated polyester skirt in a memory box somewhere.

6. I am a survivor of severe childhood abuse. It is not all that I am, nor it is the most important thing about me, but it is something that will always be with me. Sometimes, I have very blue times, which, really, only other survivors can understand. June is a rough month for me. An acquaintance has tough Julys. I have alluded to the abuse in my childhood in previous posts, but here’s why June is rough for me.

Shortly after my 12th birthday at the beginning of June 1972, my mother and I were visiting her family in the south. She had a rage storm, hit me over the head with a heavy object, and I wound up in a coma. For once, she did it in front of a witness, my uncle. He sent her back to our home, and he and my other relatives took care of me. According to them, I was in a coma for 6 days. They did not seek medical treatment for me because of a number of factors, ignorance and fear of the law being two of them. When I came out of the coma, I could not bear light, could not speak, could not walk, talk, figure out how to eat, toilet, drink fluids, read, or do any of the other ADLs (Activities of Daily Living) necessary to survive.

They found a C.N.A. to watch over me, and my aunts and uncles worked, very lovingly, to help me recover. By the end of the summer, I could go outside with dark glasses and a loose, billed hat on; I could walk, but not well, toilet, eat easy-to-chew foods, and drink from a straw. I could not remember mathematics or read for more than a minute or two at a time. I went back to school and struggled to get back up to speed. It was grueling and frightening, since I don’t know what my mother told the officials to explain my problems.

I caught up with my studies within a year, but it took me almost two years to recover all my abilities, and, like other people with TBIs (traumatic brain injuries) I have some problems that have lasted until today and will last the rest of my life. They are not significant, and I don’t even notice them anymore unless I think really hard about them. Surviving attempted murder was a life-altering event. So were finally having a witness and champions.

And, to pre-empt the question, no, that's not all there was. It just explains blue Junes.

7. I do know how to ask for help with various things, but I don’t do it very often. I envy people who are able to, without even thinking about it, ask for assistance with big and little, everyday and out-of –the-ordinary things. I think that gene fell off my DNA somewhere along the way.

8. I read romance novels, mostly Regency ones. And I like them.

Alrighty! I’m tagging Crazy Aunt Purl (who will probably think I’m an annoying stalker), Franklin at the Panopticon (who is still recovering from an exciting infusion of knitting in color and who, I am sure, will be offended that I have tagged him), Joan (of the famous Knitlist socks) . Christie, Wendi, Lamb and Frog , a survivor blog – the Memory Artist, and some unlucky blogger I just happened across.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Oddball Word of the Day

shandy (SHAN-dee) n. a drink of mixed beer and lemonade (sounds a little yucky)

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Randomizer

(Strange side note: When I write that word, which I’ve used more than once, I invariably think of a sci-fi movie that took place in a prison in the year 2XXX, and all the prisoners had an “abdominizer” implanted in their stomachs. Rather than being an effortless way to a super six-pack, it was a punishment device. If they tried to escape, the abdominizer ball would sprout wicked blade wings and puree them from the inside out. Being perverse, I kind of thought that would be a great idea for blending soup or clearing clogged drainpipes… You know, unless it got beyond itself and went out of control.)


The iPod “1-2-3-4” song is here. I can only understand a few words of it, but they seem like nice words, and the voice and tune are pretty.

I think my parrot is smart, and it’s been hard work keeping him on the straight and narrow path of virtue and honesty. Not so lucky were the caretakers for this birdie.

Courage, wisdom, fortitude and spirituality. I was reading a post about faith here, where the blogger mentions moments of that hair-raising, eerie feeling that you are not alone in the moment – that something greater, kinder, and wiser is with you. I’ve had those, too.

About 8 years ago, my husband lost his job due to the machinations of a person of evil intent. We were in poor shape financially, the children were all under 12, we hadn’t been here in our little town long, and I was scared – scared that we wouldn’t make it, that my husband would become so depressed that he’d be unable to work or seek work, and that I wouldn’t be able to bring in enough income to keep the wolves at bay. I don’t cry on many shoulders, but I had cried, very briefly, on the shoulder of a female friend who’s had her share of scary moments. It helped, but not enough.

One morning while I was deep in the fear-of-the-future well, I was standing at the kitchen sink, washing a pot. It was early morning, I was the only person awake, and I was crying silently. The sun came through the window; I took a deep breath, put down my head and prayed -- I asked God to grant me the courage, wisdom, fortitude and spirituality I would need to get through the coming days. As they say in 12 step groups, in that moment, I really did give it over to God. I felt the worry slip from my shoulders, the hair on my neck stood up, and I felt a greater presence. Two days later, my husband got a call from his former employer, asking him to come back – they had uncovered the misdeeds of the other fellow, fired him, and wanted to make amends (and keep clients). I’m not saying the two were related, but I know I got through the two interim days with a lighter heart and true hope.

Anyway, when it comes to the topic of faith, that little foursome – courage, fortitude, wisdom and spirituality – represent to me a prayer applicable for life, to whatever greater power a person believes in. And then I think of the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. I’ve never been a Catholic, but I believe there is wisdom across the spectrum of faith. When he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, a local paper published an interview they had with him, and he was quoted as saying something along the lines of “I don’t pray to God to take away the cancer. I pray to him to give me the strength and wisdom to deal with it and to help others to do the same.” I was humbled by that statement, and breathed it in as wisdom that I needed then and continue to need when obstacles arise.

On a more light-hearted note, one of the gals in my knitting group makes me laugh because she has a “punishment” closet for craft projects gone bad. If the project annoys her, has awful instructions, insufficient bits, or is getting on her nerves for any reason, it goes into the closet for being naughty. Eventually, when she feels like she’s able to deal with a truculent, fiddly project, she’ll rootle through her closet and find something that has been suitably punished and bring it out and work on it. She claims, tongue in cheek, that sitting in the closet causes them to rethink their resistance to being crafted and they are much more amenable later. She has one project though that still shows no remorse, despite serving a total of nearly 10 years in the closet. It has not yet been deemed completely unsalvageable, and she optimistically estimates it should be more approachable before the end of the decade.

Oddball Word of the Day

ruction (ruck-SHEN) n. a noisy disturbance, quarrel, or uproar

(from the guide to MMMW edited by Laurence Urdang)