Tuesday, November 24, 2020
Monday, November 23, 2020
I love having fun with weird, off-the-wall ideas - it's stimulating to play with imaginings that are offbeat or initially nonsensical. Dr. Seuss opened his children's book 'Wacky Wednesday' with the idea of a shoe on the wall - something odd, indeed, but it hooks and fascinates the reader from the get-go, simply by being unexpected, and 'out there.'
I recall how much my kids and I loved reading Dr. Seuss' "On Beyond Zebra," where he created an extended alphabet beyond the letter Z. It inspired them to continue creating more of their own alphabet in the same vein, simply because they found it thrilling to imagine new letters that hadn't been discovered. Not dismissing that quirkiness as an adult opens me up to play with new ideas, and gets my creative juices flowing. The wackier, the better - it frees me from habitual, stereotypical thinking ... to where there is no set path or limit.
And sometimes these unusual ponderings can be quite amusing. So here are some of my recent oddball musings:
- When will they start making flour less powdery? (The pic below shows the reason for this contemplation)
- How is it that we have less snow on the days it was forecast, than on the day for which it wasn't predicted?
- How do things only turn up when we find them?
- Coming up with new words: my own new word this week was opaquens: the act of making something go opaque. I can only find opaque, opaquely, opaquer and opaquest in an online dictionary. Thinking creatively challenged me to discover a new sense of the word that I think works, poetically.
- Hmm, I wonder if "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak is really about the thoughts in our heads?
Sunday, November 22, 2020
Saturday, November 21, 2020
Friday, November 20, 2020
Four months ago, on day 122 of my COVID seclusion, I posted a pic of the books I'd read (https://vignettes.mixmox.com/2020/07/book-pile.html)
Now on day 255, the completed pile looks like this. I've read some books online, and have placed substitutes of the same length on each pile for my photo. Though the pile has doubled, from one stack to two, I really thought I would have read far more than what this representation shows. I guess I still have to figure out the right ratios of compost (writing) to sunlight (yardwork), to water (crocheting) to get it to grow faster!
Each stack covers roughly 4 months. And I still have loads of unread books on my shelf (not pictured), as well as books acquired subsequently. I'm not making much of a dent in my backlog, and some authors keep bringing out new books to add to my problem!
Thursday, November 19, 2020
Have you ever had someone come at you with what looks like a loaded caulk gun, primed to dispense into your mouth? I happened to me yesterday at the dentist's office! Pretty frightening, even when you're expecting to have an impression done of your teeth, but I wasn't anticipating such a modern approach. Despite it seeming, initially, like an inappropriate way to approach a patient, it was nowhere near as unpleasant as my previous experience.
Waaaaay back in the Seventies, I'd had dental impressions done before my first set of braces. That time, a horseshoe-shaped tray of goo was placed in my mouth for me to bite down on. The family dentist, whom we all referred to as the 'butcher,' walked out of the room while he waited for it to 'set.' He seemed to be away for an awfully long time and I began to think he'd forgotten about me.
I could hear him laughing, joking and gossiping with his nurse/secretary and waiting patients in the other room. It sounded like he was having a good time, and was unaware of how much time had passed. I thought the compound had hardened to the point of it being a fixture in my mouth. I kept thinking, and hoping, that every pause or noise I heard, was him returning, but still ... I waited. I was panicking, sure he'd let it set far longer than it needed to, and I was terrified that it would never come off. Thoughts of him pulling all my teeth out to remove the tray began to occupy my mind. The wait, the delay in his return, was a scary time, alone in the chair. But I was obedient, and taught to do as I was told, so I stayed put and waited, alone and in fear.
Turns out, I was right to be worried, because when he finally came back, and attempted to unclamp it, he couldn't get it out. He was concerned, too, and tried various methods to wiggle it and get it to loosen. He got very flustered. I imagined all my teeth being pulled out, painfully, along with the impression tray. My recollection is that finally, he practically sat on the clamp with his whole weight, to remove it. I was petrified. Is it any wonder that one of my worst nightmares is to have my front teeth fall out of my mouth?
By comparison, the caulk-gun approach seems mild!
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
November is here -
Oak leaves rub like scritchy rain
Against each other.
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
Monday, November 16, 2020
Those green balloons filled with fluid (aka tomatoes that endured a frost on the vine) that I wrote about so disparagingly, have been turned into this: salsa verde. And, we both lived to tell the tale 😀.
A Green Stinkbug exploring the leaf litter. I love the different colored 'squares' on the leaf it's found.
Sunday, November 15, 2020
It's mid November.
It was balmy enough to eat dinner outside at the end of last week (no kidding!)
There were NO bugs, either.
So we did it.
And for dessert ... want some coffee with your cream? Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm, Irish coffee!
Saturday, November 14, 2020
Friday, November 13, 2020
My turkey 'encounter' on Veteran's Day wasn't an interaction, so much as a close sighting. I saw them from a short distance away as I sat amidst leaves on the lawn - it was wonderfully thrilling to be so close to them!
I heard them scrabbling through the leaves (like me), looked up and saw them coming into our yard. I really didn't want to frighten them off, so I froze in place, only making miniscule, fluid movements when I needed to see them better. I watched them make a loop through our yard, which included a walk through my native blooms and birdfeeder-spoils area, and then they exited again in a line, chit-chatting quietly amongst themselves - a kind of comforting contact sound.
They noticed me, and looked my way, seeming wary, but my immobile state probably convinced them I was a shrub or tree stump! One stretched and spread its wings, generating a small breeze that sent a pile of leaves aflutter - it was quite special.
Thursday, November 12, 2020
After much humming and hawing, I was finally persuaded that Invisalign braces, followed by a retainer, would help my jaw ache. I had already spent $$ having all the imaging and modeling done ($$) to determine the extent of the problem, and my dentist felt that I had a 95% chance of it improving my life. OK then. I decided to bite the bullet and go ahead with the treatment, and called up to ask what financial aid options, or payment schemes, they offered.
My options were:
- I could pay a little every month until the full amount was paid, at which time my treatment could begin.
- I could apply for a care credit card online, which which give me interest free credit for x months, depending on how much I spent
- I could pay in full, ahead of treatment.
"Ok," I asked, "if I pay in full, prior to starting treatment, is there any discount for paying up front, or paying in cash?" Nope, not at all, I was told. The price was set at $x,xxx. I said I'd sleep on it and get back to them, having been given a direct number and contact name for the billing of these treatments.
I called back 2 days later to say that I would pay the entire amount on my credit card. "Oh, we have a special on for December right now, where you can get $400.00 off, but I could make it apply to your November purchase. Would you like to do that?" WHAT? This was the exact same person I spoke to about getting discount for paying up front a few days prior.
Sometimes, I just don't understand real life ... but I'm not complaining - this time around it's gone in my favor. It's just odd that this wasn't offered to me when I specifically queried about discounts available - and if I had decided to pay on the first day I called, I would have been $400 poorer.
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
I'm not one who often remembers their dreams after waking, but today's one was rather odd, so I guess that's why it stuck. I was in a bathroom with another person (unknown), standing on a tile floor, when the other person turned around to me, asking what that sudden loud noise was. "Oh, don't worry," I 'd said, "it was just the water pouring out of my ear onto the floor!" It was a gush as out of a faucet, wetting the entire floor! And I was so relieved!
I've been experiencing what sounds like crackly liquid in my ears for some time, and can feel it move when I lie in certain ways in bed, though it never drains out onto my pillow or earlobe. It shifts, like molasses, and tickles as it moves, but remains inside. Ugh. Nothing in there the experts say, it's the sounds of my jaw and the rumpled cushion between the joint, grating! It's all in my head, I'm told!
I guess that dream was all about wishful thinking ...
Monday, November 9, 2020
Sunday, November 8, 2020
What to do with a spoonful of spinach, a few stalks of cooked broccoli, a mushroom looking limp, and some slices of leftover roast beef? I couldn't bring myself to throw them out, but each was a tiny amount, not enough for an individual serving even, but how I wound up with such small amounts that couldn't possibly have been eaten when first cooked, I'll never know.
So, once again, a pizza to the rescue - I added bacon, cheese and garlic to the toppings for this scrumptious result, sprinkled with black pepper:
Saturday, November 7, 2020
I've recently had a lot of fun making a few extra masks for my family. I ended up making 15! What started off as a routine pattern, turned into personalized and custom adaptations. So, what could have essentially been a 3-4 hour project became a 2 week one - my choice!
So, for someone working in a nursery with young babies, Disney and bright cartoon characters were chosen to feature prominently in the middle of the concertina-style mask.
For someone running their own business, advertising goes a long way ... I printed out the logo, traced the letters through onto the back of the paper, pinned it in place on the back of the mask, and did simple satin stitch along each letter. Boy, was this relaxing! I loved doing it.
Friday, November 6, 2020
Thank goodness for a November sunny day, and the outdoors. It was great to shake off a bit of that election drama I'd overdosed on. And it wasn't very windy, either, which was a bonus.
Our yard furniture had to be carried off the deck, and stored away for the winter. Turns out, I was overdressed for this physical activity, and was forced to strip down to a pair of leggings and a swim top!
The hammock came down, and the kayak (having been left out hopefully, for a last paddle), got stowed away. We carried the tomato plants off the dock, with a few 'frosted' tomatoes still hanging on - they felt like sacs of pus!
Then we set about taking the dock apart, bit by bit. Green fragments of broken milfoil plants were floating about everywhere and kept taking me off task. When we pulled the dock frame out onto dry land, we found that our suspicions of a broken axle were true. The dock had been incredibly uneven and unstable for most of the summer, despite our attempts to rectify it. We thought that perhaps it kept sinking further into the silty mud. Another job for my handyman!
I busied myself picking up dropped twigs and branches, breaking them into wood-stove sized pieces and collecting them in a tote. Anything, to stay outside and imbibe this fresh air!
Thursday, November 5, 2020
These all go hand in hand, symptoms of the same underlying problem: no respect for the planet, and with it humanity.
This is not science fiction. This is our current reality. We're living it. It's all around us. It's here.
10. Uncontrolled spread of non-native species: beetle infestations, killer wasps, Japanese knotweed
9. Decline and extinction of native species: honeybees, bats
8. Pollution of our 'nest': contamination of water bodies, air, groundwater, ozone layer: things we depend on to live
7. More frequent, stronger force hurricanes
6. Unmanageable floods, independent of hurricanes
5. Runaway fires: dangerous winds and habitat destruction
4. Famine, and unforeseen drought in temperate climates
3. Extreme temperatures and climate shifts becoming the norm
2. Disease, displacement, civil unrest, migration, pandemics
1. Poverty, Depravity, Corruption (both physical and moral)
Wednesday, November 4, 2020
Still too close to call!
I'm embarrassed and ashamed
We did not stand up
In greater numbers -
To restore morality
To our government.
Never did I think
That fascism could take hold,
After lessons learned.
Half of this country
Supports the supremacy
Of class, wealth and race.
Time to examine
Just how this could be our truth
In Twenty Twenty.
Land of liberty?
A moral apocalypse
Has struck our nation.
One people, yet divided
On justice for all!
'Us' and 'them' prevails.
How can we disagree on
I am stunned and shocked,
Land that touts human freedoms,
But doesn't live it.
My adopted land -
How I misunderstood you!
I feel heartbroken.
Till we live as one,
Shall be our death knell.
We must find a way
To restore faith, love and hope
Tuesday, November 3, 2020
Monday, November 2, 2020
👿😈 👿😈 👿😈 👿😈
I see the following list as replacements (rephrasing) of the original 7 Cardinal Sins (pride, greed, lust, envy, sloth, gluttony, wrath):
1. Voting a known immoral person into high office.
2. Willfully and deliberately ignoring numerous unprincipled decisions, citing one outlier as your excuse.
3. Rejection of science (essentially our ability to see, think and make logical connections in the world).
4. Turning a blind eye to systemic social injustice and pretending it doesn't exist so that it doesn't affect your comfortable life.
5. Labeling inconvenience as hardship and expecting privilege to be your basic human right.
6. Not acting for the greater good, citing personal freedom (basically, common selfishness) as the 'reason.'
7. Accepting a dogma because it conveniently ensures your prosperity, doesn't challenge your lifestyle, and means you don't have to think for yourself.
👿😈 👿😈 👿😈 👿😈
Sunday, November 1, 2020
Eating lunch outside,
Is on my Fall 'to-do' list -
Much to see and hear.
Leaves and acorns drop,
Floating, or pummeling down,
Sounding like Fall rain.
Leaves flit and spiral,
Dancing gracefully downwards,
Acorns as missiles,
Pelting down, forceful and hard:
Weapons from above.
Photo by Dale SchultzA Wheelbarrow of Weapons
Saturday, October 31, 2020
Ugh, on top of all that is depressing and spirit-sapping right now, we've just been given the prognosis that the faults on our 13 year old Odyssey minivan are TERMINAL. I feel so sad and unprepared.
The engine is in perfect working order. The interior (after vacuuming) is clean, and without rips and stains. The bodywork has a scratch on the cowling, but it's otherwise pristine (after a wash). No crashes. New-ish tires. The problem is with the underparts of the chassis - it's all rusted away, with very little holding the heavy bits together. We've had two independent opinions on it - and they concur exactly. It'll never pass an inspection in this state, but it's too expensive to repair for the age of the car ... Yet it still purrs perfectly!
I'm fortunate and privileged. We have a second car. It's been a luxury owning 2 cars for our lifestyle. This is definitely a First World problem, and I'm embarrassed that this might come over as a 'complaint.' To me, it's more our attachment to, and appreciation of, something that has served us well and faithfully, that I don't want to come to an end. Even though it's an inanimate object, we have a relationship of dependence, reliability and safety with our investment, that has made it personal. It was a part of our family's trips and adventures.
The aptly named Odyssey: "a long and eventful or adventurous journey or experience."
Friday, October 30, 2020
Obituary for Tumblr Schultz
Tumblr was born in early 2011 and is survived by his sibling, Dallas, and his parents Linus & Lindsay and preceded in death by his half sister Flickr. He lived a full life with passions in landscape supervision, plumbing, and small rodent biology. I met him the day I helped neuter him - he was a kitten named "George" that couldn't stop purring long enough for Dr Berchtold to hear his heart before surgery. A few days later, my parents brought him home from the Lowell Humane Society to live with us. We named him Tumblr after he fell from a rafter that first week. Tumblr was clumsy AF. He preferred sleeping on my shoulders to sleeping anywhere else. He shit in the sink every chance he'd get. He was gentle and naughty. He angrily licked me instead of biting me when I had to bathe him. Another time, he slipped into a neighbor's pool and almost drowned but Dr Patricia Hart's quick thinking brought him back from 92 degrees with a microwaved IV bag. He died while receiving dental care under anesthesia but was found to have serious jaw complications incompatible with life.
It's so hard to say goodbye to loved ones ... the unconditional companionship, love, and memories our 4 legged family members provide is unparalleled. Yesterday my son and daughter-in-law's cat used up the last of his 9 lives, and he is sadly no more with us. I can't get him out of my mind. I remember bringing him home as a kitten, and remember how cuddly, and purry, and loving, he always was.
Here he is, imagining himself to be a big, scary hunter, but he's really a terrified kitten, still on a leash.
He'd love to snuggle into our necks and would push hard against our faces. He slumped into cuddles as if he had no bones in his body, just soft, loose fur, even as an adult.
I have so many delightful memories of his little antics, or clumsiness - it's hard to determine which was mischief and which was his inability to be a proper cat! In his early days with us, he fell down off a rafter (unhurt, of course, but kittens shouldn't fall off broad rafters, either), hence his name, Tumblr (and hat-tip to modern life).
I remember him going missing one afternoon, after we'd had him outside with us in the yard while we cleaned out the car. When we were done, we closed up and went into the house to settle in. After some time, we realized that Tumblr wasn't around, so we went outside to look for him, scouring the yard and calling his name. He didn't appear! Some time had gone by and we were getting very worried, and began combing the woods across the street, as well as the lake shore and dock area over and over, calling incessantly, worried that he'd fallen in again. I walked around and looked into the water all around the dock, sobbing my eyes out, distraught as could be. I couldn't stop crying, and wasn't doing a good job of searching in that state. Eventually Dale, at a loss for places we hadn't yet searched, looked into the car, and there he was, walking around in the open space at the back - all safe and sound. Oh boy, Tumblr - you gave us such a scare!
He had a habit of kneading a soft blanket he particularly liked, and sucked on it - it was gross finding a wet patch on the blanket afterwards! I've just been reminded that he pooped on my pillow once, as a kitten - luckily for him, I'd erased it from my memory. He never seemed to show anger or annoyance towards us, and was as gentle as could be, never biting or scratching - so how could anyone stay angry with him for long?
A memorable and unforgettable character! No wonder we loved you so much! 💔
Thursday, October 29, 2020
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Monday, October 26, 2020
Sunday, October 25, 2020
Today we brought a mouse into the house! Not on purpose, of course - though I know a lot of you might question that. We may come across as terribly over-the-top nature-friendly, but this was a mistake - we're not THAT weird! It was a total oversight, and error on my part.
We carried a laundry basket filled with yard twigs and pine cones inside, placed it on a large sheet of cardboard, and I began making my usual brown bags of fire starter/kindling for our wood stove season, in our living room. In retrospect, I feel like a twit, because ... seriously ... when I got down past the top layer of twigs, and saw what looked like nest lining and fragments of leaves and pine cones, I didn't think anything of it! I continued filling the bags until Dale saw the material I was handling. He suggested that we might have to look out for mice, because it looked as if we'd disturbed a nest. I scoffed - of course it (or they) wouldn't still be in the basket by the time we got inside! PLUS, there had been NO scuffling or activity at all whilst I was working with it ... we couldn't possibly have brought any inside.
Whilst sitting on the couch after dinner, I thought I saw a movement on the kitchen floor, but staring in that direction for a few minutes afterwards didn't yield any more movement. It must have been a shadow, or my imagination in overdrive after Dale primed me with his suggestion. I went back to my reading. But, no, there it was again - a small grey animal, close to the floor, sniffing around. Aargh! I called Dale to help me deal with it, and he heroically captured it with a nearby towel lying conveniently on the floor. We haven't (yet) seen any more.
What a numbskull I am! Is this what getting old means? Ignoring the information that is out there right in front of your face - in this case, obvious nesting material? Is it that what losing our sharpness means, why so many elderly people get taken in by scammers? Is it that we're losing our ability to discern danger, losing touch with our instincts?
Eek! Scary thoughts ... since it's not the first time we've noticed, in retrospect, that we ignored some signs that were out there ...
Saturday, October 24, 2020
I enjoy being out on the water in my kayak. I like floating aimlessly and looking at everything in front of me, without paddling much, and without direction or purpose, except to take everything in. I love the caressing bob of the water - it feels comforting. When it's clear and light enough that I can see the diversity of plants below me, I feel as if I'm caught between two dimensions, neither of which is solid - air and water. I'm at the interface between two different worlds, in a earthly craft that suspends me. It gives me the ability to straddle both.
I go where the currents take me and drift, enjoying the quiet and unplanned direction. There is no purpose, except to BE.
Floating on water
I'm tranquilly suspended
The whims of breezes
Transport my kayak gently
As I glide and drift.
The quiet lapping
Ensures my restoration
Friday, October 23, 2020
In the 227 days of my COVID precautions, I have prepared (and EATEN) 681 meals! That sounds like a heck of a lot, doesn't it? We eat 3 regular meals each day (well, apart from the two or three brunches that condensed two meals into one, so give or take a few), and have eaten every meal at home, or from home. We haven't bought take-out, or frozen meals from the grocery store, either (my soy allergy precludes me doing this under normal circumstances). When we take a road trip, we make sure to prepare a picnic lunch for ourselves, and I bring my own thermos of coffee. It's always a fun thing to do! Especially because ... it's not pretty when I get hungry, and food is not readily available.
Yesterday, we packed bacon and egg sandwiches, yogurt and a thermos of coffee so we could eat our breakfast after a routine (fasting) bloodwork appointment, and before a sleep clinic visit in the same town. It turned an ordinary little thing into an event. We sat along the Eastern Trail and had an outdoor, picnic breakfast. A goods train thundered along behind us, vibrating in the ground beneath me - a breakfast adventure!
This is our normal. It's what we're used to - it's how our parents lived, how we were raised. It's familiar and comfortable for us. I usually don't even consider buying a cup of coffee anywhere when I'm out, in non-COVID times. It's just what we do. Even after 26 years in the U.S., it's still an unfamiliar phenomenon to stop somewhere to buy coffee when we're out and about. It's foreign to me.
So for us, this is nothing unusual. I don't miss things that I wasn't doing previously. I'm fortunate, since this has made it easier for me to weather this unpredictable period, without impositions on my lifestyle.
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Monday, October 19, 2020
I have no idea what it is that keeps it 'glued' together so it doesn't fall apart. The only thing I can find about it, is that it might be a lake ball ... but there's not much more than that to go on.
It looks a lot like a hedgehog to me. Or a coconut ...
Sunday, October 18, 2020
Fall in New England is a superb time of year. I just can't get enough of being outside right now. I decided to have a relaxing day, so sat down on the grass and moss to collect acorns for donating to a wildlife refuge (It also eliminates the hazard that hundreds of rolling balls underfoot add to one's experience of walking downslope). It was such a peaceful and calming activity. What a bountiful harvest:
Whilst gathering, I listened to the audiobook "Still Alice" by Lisa Genova on my phone, and took in the magnificence of Fall. What a stunning sight! I drank it in, and am now so drunk that I found myself writing about this mindless activity!
Saturday, October 17, 2020
I saw a Moonwort, or Moonwort fern, this week, for the first time in my life. It popped up in my yard, and I noticed it only because I was sitting down in the moss, picking up acorns all around me.
It's a strange fern that spends a long period of its life underground, between 5 to 10 years, using a fungus to get its nutrients! Then when it's ready, it emerges into the light around July, with a single leaf blade and a spore stalk. It lasts through the winter, till about May.
It's also known as a grapefern (Botrychium dissectum) because of the grape-like bunches of spores it produces. It's found throughout New England, but is not easily propagated in a garden setting because it depends on specific soil-living symbiotic fungi to survive. Once germinated, the plant may live nearly five decades. Unbelievable!
It has really beautiful lacy leaves.
Fascinating! Such an unusual plant! There's so much to learn, just from spending time outside, quietly gathering acorns.