Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nearly January

It's a little warmer today, 40s in the late AM. The ducks are slow, as sedate as ducks can be--a relative condition, naturally.

We haven't had much precipitation this winter, and I'm getting worried, but then...I always worry this time of year...about moisture for the garden. It'll come, I remind myself. It always comes.

But what if it doesn't? I mean, droughts are not unheard of!

I can water from the hose once the real thaws come, but it's not the same, not at all. Soft water from the sky is not the same as hard water pumped up from the ground. The plants respond differently--true fact.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Note on Winter by Emily


The sky is low, the clouds are mean,
A travelling flake of snow
Across a barn or through a rut
Debates if it will go.

A narrow wind complains all day
How some one treated him;
Nature, like us, is sometimes caught
Without her diadem.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Duck Talk

The behavior and chatter of chickens is well studied. Although not all the mysteries of a hen's cackle have been revealed, there's a pretty good understanding of chicken talk. They're extremely simple creatures, after all.

I don't know how well duck talk has been studied, ducks like the mallards on my river, but I suppose, considering that a chicken can be understood, that I can speculate the ducks are having a fine time this morning as the gale howls down the stream in freezing temperatures.

While we cringe and huddle inside, the ducks are dipping and paddling almost joyously. Some fly in, some fly out of the throng, the ladies quacking greetings and departures (boys don't quack). One could probably resent them for their giddiness in such miserable weather OR...we can be glad someone, at least, is having a good time.

How's the weather? Just ducky!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

If I Were a London Taxi

If I were a London taxi, I would drive around town, never exceeding the speed limit.

I would show you the fabulous London tower, Buckingham Palace, home of the Queen of England.

I would ride you on a slow boat to China, eat lunch from a brown paper bag, serve Foster's.

If my engine grew tired and cranky, I would fill it up with premium fuel and call "Click & Clack" on my radio Saturday morning.

If I had a fleet of Mercedes, I would throw them into the drink so no one could envy them.

-Dave Sparlin

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Why there are a lot of them...

In my direct ancestral line alone, there is

Anderson Smith; 15 children

his son, Vincent T.; 17

his son, George Washington; 14

his son, Elbert Columbus; 5

his son (my grandpa), Odie McBride; 6

And then there are all those great-aunts and uncles of mine, for example, Vincent's brother, John, also had 11 children. How many more SMITHS in that single generation?! It boggles the mind.

It's a fun family to research though, because they have all the best names, Andrew Jackson Smith, Narcissa Rachel, Priscilla Aquilla, Elbert Columbus, George Washington, Solomon, Serilda, Columbus Cornelius, Marcus De le fe, Luticia Oregon, and on and on. They tended toward grand names and to use colorful nicknames. I suppose when you have that many children, you have to get creative about naming them.


I can't stop learning. Even when I'm not particularly interested, there's always another bit of information thrust on me. The Normans, for example.

If I ever remotely thought about it, I suppose I imagined the Normans were of a genetically Frankish/Gaulish origin, "Norman" due to their "northern" location on the French map. Wrong.

North Men, it turns out, were from a place real north, not a French 'burb. They were Vikings who stayed and married the local, rich girls. From Wiki; "The Viking contingents who raided, and ultimately settled Normandy and some parts of the Atlantic coast, included Danes, Hiberno-Norse, Orkney Vikings, as well as Anglo-Danes from the English Danelaw, under Viking control." And William the Conqueror was a grandson of Rollo, who successfully besieged Paris with Sigfred. Rollo's Wiki article has this cultural gem, "Legend has it that an emissary was sent by the king to find the chieftain and negotiate terms. When he asked for this information, the Vikings replied that they were all chieftains in their own right." According to the articles, the raiders learned French quickly, but it appears they never fully embraced the continental lifestyle, not if this passage is an indication,

"Eleventh century Benedictine monk and historian, Geoffrey Malaterra characterised the Normans thus:

Specially marked by cunning, despising their own inheritance in the hope of winning a greater, eager after both gain and dominion, given to imitation of all kinds, holding a certain mean between lavishness and greediness, that is, perhaps uniting, as they certainly did, these two seemingly opposite qualities. Their chief men were specially lavish through their desire of good report. They were, moreover, a race skillful in flattery, given to the study of eloquence, so that the very boys were orators, a race altogether unbridled unless held firmly down by the yoke of justice. They were enduring of toil, hunger, and cold whenever fortune laid it on them, given to hunting and hawking, delighting in the pleasure of horses, and of all the weapons and garb of war."[1]

It's good to know the truth, actually, because Norman conquests were the exception to that old saying, "Well, at least we can always defeat the French." Rather, Normans further proved the point.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Heaps of Blessings

I wasn't sure whether to title this post 'Heaps of Blessings' or 'be careful what you wish for.' Since the day I hooked up the scanner and got the program running, I've been pestering my sisters for the pictures from the house, not because I'm particularly interested in keeping all the family photos, but because I want to scan and save them to CDs so they can be easily distributed to as many family members as want copies.

I just came home from a week-long vacation to discover two overly-large boxes of jumbled photos, no rhyme or reason to any of it, not by dates, places or people. In fact, there's also a box of lasagna noodles and a basket lid in one of them. It's a wonderful treasure, but...O, gosh, the mess!

Here's one jewel before editing (Estal, Dale and Danny):

Friday, July 9, 2010

Laundry Room: Before Pictures

I should be ashamed to post the hideous state of my laundry room, and I can only do so because I AM going to fix it, in fact, have already begun the process. Notice the lovely holes in the ceiling? First the toilet above leaked; that was fixed. Then the shower above leaked; that was fixed. Literally, a house falling down around our heads.

Also, notice Hannah on her square of carpet. For some reason, both Hannah and Maggie like to sleep there in front of the dryer. Underneath both the scrap and the area rug is a linoleum floor. Hannah spent a night in this room once and chewed out a large hole about 2x3 feet in rough diameter. She never did anything like that before and hasn't since so I don't know what got into her that night. Crazy girl.

Fortunately, there's superME to do all the repairs and make this room functional and pleasant to look at once and for all. Yay!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Another Phase Complete

They're just plain, white walls, but that was the goal! They're clean and crisp, and the foyer/stairwell area looks 10x brighter. I'm pleased and feel like I can open my front door to guests and family without cringing. Now I want to turn my thoughts to the ceiling.

In the meantime, I began dismantling my laundry room in an attempt to create a functional and comfortable workspace, so I have household cleaning equipment and supplies strung all over the downstairs hallways. It's quite a mess.

In there, I'm planning on stripping the damaged, linoleum floor, repairing the holes in the ceiling, removing the popcorn, reorganizing the storage shelves, adding a laundry-folding table (which can double as a sewing table), stripping the remainder of the wallpaper (in various states of adhesion), replacing missing trim and painting the walls. Pictures will ensue, I'm sure. *grins*

Sunday, June 27, 2010


With gross disregard for life and limb, I constructed this catwalk to reach the top middle of the wall. Here are a few pics of the first coat of primer. The final color is white, too, just not as stark. It's slightly more buttery, Behr "toasted marshmallow" to be exact.

I finished the first coat of primer today, but I'm not sure what I'll be doing the rest of this week because the MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN THE WHOLE WORLD is flying in from NY tomorrow. I haven't seen him in so long, and I'm so happy he's coming.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Purchasing Doors and Windows

Remember the door Al broke? Well, I've been doing the research to buy three new ones.

Immediately, I eliminated Home Depot or any other independent source of doors, because I didn't want to deal with an assortment of retail people in trying to match doors with installers and warranties and financing. I had three companies into the house, Mid-America Exteriors, Renewal by Anderson and Pella.

Mid-America only had vinyl doors and windows, wanted me to put a mortgage on the house to finance it and tried to convince me that wood doors were crap.

Renewal had awesome, wooden doors, all kinds of options, warranties and service to die for, but they wouldn't tell me the price. Even when I had Al call them, they wouldn't provide an estimate. I was almost ready to go with them, but I wasn't about to give them carte blanche! How can you sell windows without telling people the price first?

Pella had great, wooden doors, warranties and service just as good as Renewal, although fewer options in styles. They do have, however, an attractive finance plan and--this was the kicker--they gave me an estimate.

I'll never know if the price is less or more than Renewal, because Renewal isn't telling!

So...Pella windows it is. Now I'm just taking some time to be sure I'm happy with my choices before I send the rep the exact details.

Pictures to come in a couple months!

Phase 1 Complete

I finished painting the first room of the foyer (above), except for the ceiling, which I'm still mulling over. The entry is now so bright and clean that it inspired me to go wash another wall, but then washing it revealed all the wear and tear and stains, which left me quite dissatisfied, so now I'm painting an additional wall (below) before I start on the stairwell. THEN, I'll go back and think about ceilings some more. Crown molding is rattling around in my head, maybe a plastered texture....

Monday, June 21, 2010

Project Update: Painting the Foyer

That's Al, camera shy.

The mess at the mid-point of a painting project.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Summer Home Repairs

Project today: Home Depot for paint for the foyer.

Yea, it's a 14 ft ceiling, and I have to paint around these doors, cutouts, trim, angles and 2 textured walls. My ladder is visible in one picture, the ladder with which I plan to make a catwalk and, most likely, break my leg.

I'm not doing a drastic color change, but after 12 years, 4 teenagers (with various cutting and projectile weapons labeled as "toys"), a walking cane and more than 8 dogs, all of them puppies at one point, it's past time for a refresher of this central artery of the house. I do NOT look forward to it.

The new paint job is only one of many projects we're looking at now that we're empty-nesters again. I already began ripping carpet out of the basement, harder than it seems, because the carpet tacks are nailed into concrete. Eventually, the upstairs carpet will have to go, and we'll need all new flooring. For now, we're enjoying the cool concrete in the basement while we get through a hot, Kansas summer.

Upstairs in the living/dining room, Alan tried to save money by replacing the worn, sliding door with the one that we never use. These doors, I should preface, have been the source of great annoyance for, at least, the past five years--that's how long the sliders have been worn to the point that I have to perform a Herculean feat every time I want to open it. And yet, I have to open it several times a day as ingress/egress for the dogs to the back yard.

To picture this properly, one should also know that one of these double pane doors is VERY heavy, heavy enough that I cannot lift one or--if you can imagine this--walk it corner by corner across a floor. Imagine if you can, Alan trying to lift these heavy doors out of the sliders (top and bottom), transport to the other opening and then try to fit them into the other set of sliders WHILE lifting.

Much to my delight, the inevitable occurred! Finally, after five years of door HELL, I'm getting new doors for the decks!

Hiding guiltily with his dog after breaking the door. Al often breaks things by trying to brute-force them to work, which is a long-standing joke around here. This time I was thrilled!

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Goddess

My dream; feel free to interpret:

I previously (previously meaning that in the dream, I came equipped with this information) knew about something special in an underground cavern. A great deal of the dream was concentrated on the look of the cavern and the experience of climbing down into it, as well as, traversing its floor.

We (there was another individual with me, male, similar age, undefined) entered through a roughly circular hole in the ground. I had the impression of a small sinkhole, about eight feet in diameter. We had to heft ourselves over the edge and climb down a vertical wall, much like descending one of these fabricated rock-climbing walls, except that this was grittier...crystalline, dirty white. It was calcified or like very hard salt. I remember that it was frightening, but the handholds were relatively simple to find, and we descended without any trouble. Nevertheless, I had strong feelings of claustrophobia that I had to fight.

Because I was the guide, I had to ignore my own fear about the cavern and lead on. At the bottom, the floor was extremely convoluted, the same texture and color as the walls. There didn't appear to be a light source, but the pale color was relatively uniform and seemed, because of its quality, not to require any light to be visible.

The floor, as I said, was extremely convoluted and had this same crystalline, crunchy texture. At one point, I could look down on us in the dream and see a shoeprint, not a footprint, but what looked like the mark of a man's dress shoe. There was nothing to say it had been made by a man, but I had that impression throughout. I deduced that the floor where we were walking was once molten/plastic/liquid and that someone had stepped upon it in that state and left his shoeprint as it cooled.

Our destination was not immediately visible, but a short walk of about 30 yards around a bend in the cavern revealed the object of our attention to my guest. It was a bronze statue of a goddess. She was approximately 6 feet high and stood on a base of another foot. Her arms were raised high at her sides (a bit like the arms of a many-armed goddess, but only one pair), and she had a semi-circular "halo," also of bronze.

She was stationary, but quite animate. Her eyes were aware. I remember being extremely afraid of her and wanting to fall down on my knees and beg her not to obliterate us and everyone else in the world with a blink of her eye. On the other hand, we felt so much admiration for her power that we also wanted to raise our hands and praise her over and over. You never quite lost your fear, even when assuming a posture of love, and you had a deep compulsion to sacrifice as a gift to her, even if you knew it was paltry and of no use to a being as powerful as she was.

My companion expressed his concern (to the goddess) that she shouldn't be hidden away in this small hole, but out where people could see and praise her beauty. In one breath, he sincerely meant that out of love AND he wanted to flatter the goddess out of fear.

I had to explain, somehow transmitting the thoughts of the goddess, that it didn't matter where the statue stood, that her power was far beyond the confines of matter or this image where we were alternately shuddering in fear and rejoicing with praise.

The only way she was hidden was when we (mortals) were too blind to see her. Despite that, her power continued to flow through everything in the world, sentient or not, living or not, every crystal of sand, every idea of man. In my mind, I could see her influence as a hazy blue sphere encompassing the whole globe of our planet, permeating the earth and the surrounding space. I remember wishing that I could love her without the fear, but the fear was integral, perhaps because of the great difference in power between us. I suspect that the fear was my fault, that I created it, that I nourished it unwittingly in every aspect of my life, that it had attached itself to me so strongly that only death would free me of it--if even then.

This is when I woke up, still afraid of the cavern and the goddess, and tried to shake off that creepy feeling you have after a nightmare, except this was a little different, not so intense a fear, but still enough to wake me.

*shudders* I still feel a tingle of fear at the back of my neck!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

On Wearing a Corselet in a Fight

Readers and friends know I'm a fan of northern epic literature and the sagas, and I swoon over Beowulf--what a hottie!

Anyway, I'm occasionally caught reading yet another analysis of the symbolism, customs, yada, yada, you know the stuff master's theses are made of...within Beowulf, the poem.

The latest, not that current really, is one I've read before from a book call God's Handiwork, and I just had to share this statement made by Richard J. Schrader, the author. He's discussing Beowulf's struggle with Grendel's mother, and he writes, "He [Beowulf] is saved from her knife by God and his corselet as she seeks to avenge (wrecan) her son...."

Now, what I'm thinking here is that it's a fine thing to have God on your side in a fight, but it's a damn, fine thing, nonetheless, to be wearing a corselet!

Monday, May 24, 2010


The kitchen window opens out onto a screened deck under which we have a large, messy lumber pile the inner depths of which we haven't shifted for twelve years. All of this faces the riverbank, which begins to slope down only a few feet from the house toward the water . In a few words, PRIME habitat for growing these monsters.

This is not the first of this spider's generations I've photographed and surely not the last, but it's the first one intrepid enough to creep in the open kitchen window and splay itself among my dirty dishes!

I usually leave these wonderful creatures alone, happy that they're fulfilling their niche under the woodpile, but this one had to go I'm afraid...under a newspaper and the flat bottom of the nearest, empty vase.

If you open that link above, notice the date, May 18, 2009. Next year I shall be looking out in late May!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


I love my roleplay*. I only wish there were more and better forums, better moderated. Also, there should be a global organization that identifies all the small entity forums and allows them to link and search throughout. Anytime the word "roleplay" is googled, this parent organization should pop up as the first choice, and then the link should blink in bright, neon lights, "HERE IS ALL THE ROLEPLAY YOU'LL EVER NEED, SORTED, FACILITATED AND MODERATED FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT!"

Small forums could apply to the parent organization, which would then sort the forums by topic, world setting, maturity of content, population and other categories. Forums would receive ratings for quality, participation and ease of play so that roleplayers would know what to expect when they sign up.

For example, as a roleplayer, I want to know just how often to expect a reply to my thread. Currently, I can sign up to a thread, but my only idea of how active it may be is to search through old replies for the dates of individual posts, a tedious process to say the least. Also, I always have this feeling that the perfect world is out there, hidden in an obscure, roleplay forum, one which I'll never find in this vast network of websites, blogs and forums. Another roadblock I've found is the requirement for niggling bits of computer apps. When I run into that, I simply stop the registration process, but maybe, just maybe, what I want is over that wall!

I'm not complaining. I'm making a suggestion for how to improve the ability of roleplayers to find each other and increase the quality of play once we do. Fortunately, I am currently participating in two (or three), fantastic roleplay threads that I love to write and to read, so I'm personally satisfied.

But what about when they run out? Then what? I'll have to wade back into the surf and see what I can find. And...they always do run out. There's no forever (or at least I haven't found it) in a roleplay. The dread of finding and beginning another makes me want to nurture the two (or three) stories I have and enjoy. And with that said, I have someone waiting for a reply...



*Roleplay: Alas, the general population may not be aware of this utterly fascinating activity, so I'll define it, if such a beast as amorphous, polymorphous and/or omnimorphous can be described. It comes in many forms, which is a good thing and a bad thing, as reflected in this post. The basic play begins with an individual imagining a character s/he would like to act out and in what world setting they'd like to place their character. I won't describe the process of finding a partner(s), the lament of the above post, but once other individuals with similar tastes are identified, they each take turns advancing a written story, usually through posts on a forum, although there are other formats such as Second Life and MMORPGs.

Disclaimer: If a D&D'r ever reads this, I didn't forget you, I just didn't think going into your game and its influence helped define what's happening currently on the web. You esoterics may jaw about that history over cognacs, because I've already written too little about a topic that's too large.