Friday, September 30, 2011

Thirty days

Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November.
All the rest have thirty-one,
Save February alone,
Which has twenty-eight, in fine,
Till Leap Year gives it twenty-nine.

Rhymes from Mother Goose, Rev. Ed.
Compiled by Charles Welsh
D.C. Heath and Company, New York, 1930

Thursday, September 29, 2011

How high is the water, Mama?

Yesterday I left work early for a dentist appointment then delivered documents to a law office in Lynden. Since it was a beautiful day and not yet time for supper I stopped off at the City Park. Here is Fishtrap Creek, which runs through the park.

And here it is again. The temperature was so mild and perfect. I sat at a picnic table but soon noticed insect activity on the surface. I enjoy etymology but I'm not much of a student of entomology, so I got up again.

The creek is quite full, it seems to me, for this time of year. It should be lower at the end of summer and get higher again in the winter. But maybe it typically is higher yet than this in the winter. I don't come to the part much in winter. Anyway, a beautiful afternoon.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Plus ça change

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. That's French for: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I had to google "little mark under c" to remember what it's called. It's called a cedilla. And the little accent over the e même is a circumflex.

In French, there is no umlaut. Or if there is, I never heard of it.

Anyway, I'm trying out the new Blogger interface; that's the change. In either the new or old Blogger interface, they seem to have taken away the Amazon tool I used to be able to use to make easy links. Now I have to go to my Amazon Associates account in another window and get a link there.

Isn't that interesting? I read an article just the other day in which Susannah Breslin offered three possible reasons why no one reads your blog. Number 1 was "You're boring." Number 3 was that you're not a controversialist, which is someone who likes to disagree with others. I may be boring. I'm definitely not a controversialist. I truly dislike conflict, which is one reason I don't write about politics on my blog. Would I rather go weeks with no comments on my posts or every day have hate- and anger-filled comments by people who can't stand my opinions? Monty, I'll choose door number 1.

Here's an article about choosing doors by a mathematician. I can't understand it. As the saying goes, "I'm an English major; you do the math."

The first time I ever heard the phrase, "You do the math," was from the actor who was not Harrison Ford in the re-make of "Sabrina." On a talk show he said about his role, "I'm in a love triangle and the other guy is Harrison Ford. You do the math."

Which in turn reminds me of a funny review by Mark Steyn of the movie "Legends of the Fall," where he says, "A young English woman (Julia Ormond) arrives at the western ranch of Colonel Ludlow (Anthony Hopkins) and stirs the loins of his three sons. The sons are played by Brad Pitt, Aidan Quinn and Henry Thomas — and you know from the casting which one's unlikely to make it to the final reel."

Hey, Julia Ormond was the girl in "Sabrina," too. Suddenly this blog, which was rambling all over the place is starting to come together. I just need to tie in cedillas, circumflexes, and "Let's Make a Deal."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Let the good times roll

Just spent the evening on a land line phone talking to customer service to get a cell phone activated. Woo hoo. Earlier today I had a dentist appointment. Woot, woot. The fun just never stops around here!

I'm worn out from the excitement.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cooling down

Today the weather cooled off significantly, which was a relief. It was windy with scudding clouds and falling leaves flying around, just like a fall day should be. It's reassuring when the weather does what it's supposed to do at the appropriate season. Later in the afternoon, we had a cloudburst.

I had a quiet day at home. For reasons I won't go into, I didn't go to church, but I did turn on a Catholic mass on EWTN and heard a homily on obedience to God, based on today's lectionary. I did a load of laundry.  I went out on my deck and looked at my flowers. I made some sandwiches for my lunch this week. I ate piece of apple pie with ice cream while visiting with my parents.

I finished reading The Tudors: The Complete Story of England's Most Notorious Dynasty on my Kindle. It was a decent enough book. I disagreed with some aspects of the author's reading of Elizabeth I's character (I admire her) and I felt he put forward some sensational rumors as facts--e.g., saying that when Elizabeth had smallpox it ravaged her skin and caused a lot of her hair to fall out so that she had bald patches. For some reason there was a belief floating around for a while (sort of like an urban myth, but about history) that Elizabeth was bald when she was older but pretty much every biography of her I've read (and I've read many) refutes that. Elizabeth Jenkins, author of my favorite Elizabeth biography (Elizabeth the Great), suspects that it arose because Elizabeth I wore wigs a lot when she was older, but she did find references to Elizabeth's actual hair at various points in her later life. Also, all the biographies I have read agree that Elizabeth was fortuitously spared disfigurement by smallpox although her lady in waiting and good friend, Mary Sidney, caught it from her and was disfigured. Anyway, this author, G.J. Meyer, believes Elizabeth was indifferent to the welfare of her people and concerned only with her own survival. At the end he seems to blame poverty in England from the time of the Tudors up to and including the Victorian age a couple centuries later on the Tudors, but particularly Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. That seems a bit much. But it was interesting to revisit that time and read through all of the rulers' reigns.

When I read several biographies of the same person, which I have done mainly with Elizabeth I, it's interesting to me to see how different biographers take the same information and events and read them differently so that they get different takes on what Elizabeth was really like.

Back into the work week tomorrow. Hoping for low doses of stress this week, not high doses.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Prickly heat

We've been having strangely warm, humid weather since Thursday. I don't like it. Especially at work where my work station is in a hot, airless location. It seemed like it was cooling off this morning, but this evening it feels sticky and warm again. This makes me cranky, fussy, grouchy, and crabby.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

All good but the oysters

Well, I went to my company picnic, held at the home of our senior ranking officer (so to speak), who has this beautiful view from his patio.

It was just the kind of party I like, where people sit where they will and talk as they will,  help themselves to drinks as they will and eat as they will. No forced games, no corporate rah-rah speeches.

The only bad part was when I decided to sample an oyster. Our host had some very fresh oysters and was shucking and sharing them, and a number of people who love oysters were enjoying them heartily. I wondered to myself if I had ever had an oyster and if so, whether it had been perhaps sort of good. I tried one. No, I had never tasted that before and, oh, no, I did not like it at all. Yuck, gross, and blech are the words that come to mind.

Driving home this evening, just remembering that oyster made me wonder if I should stop at the Lynden Rite-Aid and get some Pepcid AC or Pepto-Bismol, but by the time I got to Lynden I was thinking of other, more pleasant things. Almost anything would be more pleasant to think about, except maybe manure.

So, except for the oyster, it was a delightful afternoon and evening.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Join the happy, peppy people

Tomorrow is my company picnic at a workplace I have only been since July. I asked a co-worker, "What's it like?" and got joking answers. What I was really looking for was an assurance that I would not have to play volleyball or go on a scavenger hunt.

Every party needs a pooper,
That's what we invited you fer.
Party pooper.
Party pooper.

I don't really want to be a party pooper, I am happy to talk and laugh and eat. I just don't want to play organized games or get pep talks.

Speaking of party poopers reminds me of the classic "I Love Lucy" Vitameatavegamin scene where she starts out asking, "Do you poop out at parties? Are you unpopular?" and after numerous doses of the highly alcoholic Vitameatavegamin she asks, "Do you pop out at parties? Are you unpoopular?"

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dog tags

I hung a new license on my dog's collar today. It was a more difficult task than I had anticipated.

Now he is street legal.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Photo essay: Fall approaches

Personal retreat

I'm home from church this morning. I decided last night not to expend my energy getting ready and not to set my alarm for this morning. I just felt tired. I needed to catch up on sleep and my brain needs a little toning up. Of course, good Calvinist that I am, I also felt guilty about this decision. I don't like to miss church. I like church. I approve of it. I won't get another chance to go to church for at least a week.

But I decided, since my motive is not rejection of the church and its teachings, but a need for down time, for alone time, to label my morning not as "skipping church," but rather as "taking a personal retreat." The goal of this retreat is solitude and the length of the retreat is from the time I get up until around lunch time, when I will go visit my sister-in-law.

Retreat activities include: sleeping until I wake up naturally, walking the dog, having a bite of breakfast, having an extra cup of coffee, taking a shower, looking out the window and reflecting on the strangely sweet melancholy of autumn. I hope also to include in the agenda: taking out the garbage and doing a load of laundry. I'll wait until my folks upstairs go to their church service to do those, so I can traipse through their house with my garbage and laundry without engaging in any conversation.

Some of these activities are my normal Saturday morning routine, but I couldn't follow that routine yesterday because of the ALS Walk. I need them.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The walk

Well, I went to the Walk to Defeat ALS today.

It was at Squalicum Boathouse, Zuanich Park, in Bellingham -- a beautiful setting. It's been there for the past two or three years.

It was cloudy, breezy weather, quite pleasant, really. Some years it feels like summer at the walk, but today it felt like fall.

Friday, September 16, 2011


I was working with my ALS Association Fundraising page. The ALS Association is a very worthy cause. But they have a very clunky website. It kept dumping me out to a front page that said, "Find your local chapter," then you had to click your state and try to find your way. I'm thinking, I'm logged in. I'm trying to go to my own page. Just take me there. And--this is not an ALS site problem, but a Windows or computer problem--I kept getting this box that asked, "Do you want only the information that is delivered securely?" And I kept having to click, "No." I needed a button that said, "NO! I told you NO! Now stop asking!"

Oh, well. The work week is over, and tomorrow I will attend the Walk to Defeat ALS.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sure and certain hope

I attended a graveside service this afternoon for my cousin--comforting words spoken by my wise, good dad--and then went to a family gathering at my cousin's brother's house. (Obviously that is also a cousin.)

After I got home, I hunted up two pictures of my cousin. One is this one, taken probably in 1997 at a family reunion. On the left is my cousin, on the right is my oldest brother, who died nearly five years ago of ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease).

So here are two members of my generation of my family whose earthly lives were cut short, my cousin at age 49, my brother at age 52.

Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection into eternal life

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Feeling a little sleepy for blogging, so instead, since it's Tuesday, for your viewing and listening pleasure:

I like the Moody Blues.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011

No cause for alarm

On Friday nights, it's such a feeling of relief to get into bed and not set the alarm--just knowing the alarm can't go off makes me feel more at rest even the night before.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A bruised reed

But what's really on my mind is that a cousin of mine took his own life on Tuesday night. I can't stand the thought that he was so unhappy and in so much pain as to even want to do that, and I can't stand the thought that he didn't call anyone for help. We have a large extended family, and there were dozens of people he could have called and someone would have been with him in less than an hour, but he didn't call. What was I doing Tuesday night when he was in such anguish? Just reading or watering my plants or reading articles on the internet. If only I could have sensed somehow and at least prayed for him.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench.
Isaiah 42:3a

I pray that the Lord, in his tenderness, pitied my cousin's anguish and received him with love and kindness. I pray that Jesus comforts my cousin's family, especially his mother and father.


We're getting a spell of warm weather and the people who announce the weather on the radio are thrilled about it: "The beautiful weather is going to last! High temperatures! Get out there and enjoy." They must have air conditioning in their workplace.

Me, I would welcome a cooling trend. I am a delicate flower and I wilt in the heat.

But why do weather people assume that every listener or viewer loves hot, sunny weather and dislikes cool, rainy weather? I like rain. It cleans the air, and it makes the little flowers grow. Especially delicate flowers, like moi.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


We had a tragedy in my extended family today, or more exactly last night. I would like to go back in time and intervene to prevent it from happening. Or if I could wake up tomorrow and this event will have been a dream.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Morning off

I'm doing a little straightening up this morning before family members come over for the Labor Day barbecue this afternoon. Even though we'll officially be in the back yard, people will need to walk through my apartment to use the bathroom or to go upstairs and get supplies. And if the kids start to get bored outside, it may end up that my great-nephew is on my computer and his little sisters are playing with toys and puzzles in here. So it behooves me to straighten up.

You would think with a three-day weekend I'd have gotten more done than usual, but no dice. My sister-in-law thinks I should count recovering from the work week as an accomplishment.

This morning I also need to set up my family's team for the local Walk to Defeat ALS, which will be happening in a couple weeks.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Last night when I was about to get supper ready, through my open kitchen window I heard a lot of clucking and squawking, like an episode of Foghorn Leghorn when the chicken hawk gets in the henhouse. Our neighbor kid raises chickens, so first I tried to look out the window, then I went outside and to the west side of the house to try to get a better look. I wasn't completely sure where he even has his chicken coop, so I didn't know where to look.

I did not see any predator making off with a domestic fowl in its maw, but I did notice (a) how well the veronica is growing as a groundcover and (b) that a few weeds were sticking up out of the veronica. So I started to pull a few and went up the stairs pulling weeds for a while. Then I remembered I was going to make supper, so I went back in the house.

Reminds me of a story my mom tells about my flower-loving grandma (who was her mother-in-law), how my grandma put a roast in a pan on the stove, then went out to her garden. After a while, my mom, who was staying there, became concerned that the roast would burn, so she tended to the pot. It was another twenty minutes or half hour before my grandma ran into the house, having just remembered the roast. When I knew that grandma, when she was older, I was aware that she frequently had to buy new tea kettles because she would put the water on to boil and go out to her garden for a moment. She would return much later to find the kettle had boiled dry then melted on the hot stove.