Wednesday, April 30, 2008


You've probably heard the horrible story about the Austrian woman who was held captive for over twenty years by her abusive father. After everything he did to her, not to mention the terrible mistreatment of at least some of their seven children, I'm shocked to read today that "he faces up to 15 years in prison if he is convicted of raping his daughter, among other offences." What? Only "up to" fifteen years?! Admittedly, the guy isn't young, and he might not live out even a fifteen-year sentence, but I think this crime deserves a much more severe, "symbolic" punishment than that.

Then of course there's the whole issue of determining whether or not he has a psychiatric disorder. I can save them some trouble. Yes, the man obviously has problems. No normal person could be guilty of this. There has to be something wrong with him. But if he was clever enough to create a sound-proof cellar and manage to keep the everything hidden for so long (and possessed of enough awareness of the world and the laws of men to see the necessity of these measures), he obviously knew that what he did was wrong. Honestly! It's enough to make you wish you were a prosecutor, yourself!

Apparently the government thought he was capable enough to allow him custody of a few of his children (whom they thought had been abandoned by their mother). If he was deemed fit to raise those children, then you'd better believe he's fit for the worst punishment the law has to offer. (Which, judging by the whole "up to 15 years" thing is probably not all that bad!)

Maybe he ought to be locked away in the prison he himself created. . .

ETA: Yes, I actually do know how to spell "outrageous", when I stop to think about it. :oP

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Of spiders, dreams, and "sweded" movies

We may have found our first brown widow spider, last night. I spotted it building a web in the kitchen window over the sink, which I'd opened in the afternoon. (Another brief cool spell. It's so nice to have the windows open! Especially if there aren't spiders building webs in them.) We couldn't tell for sure whether or not it was a brown widow (it was hard to get a good look at it), but it definitely seemed a possibility, so Donald did away with it. (Thank you!) Great. Another venomous pest to keep an eye out for. . . !

Maybe it's time to get out the general purpose de-buggifying spray. It's been a while since the last treatment, anyway. I don't really enjoy spraying poison, but I guess I'd rather spray small amounts of poison from time to time than have lots of bugs and spiders in the house. (Maybe that makes me crazy.)

= = = = = = =

I've been clearing up some papers from this desk, and on one of them, I found notes about one of Donald's dreams. I meant to write about it back when it was "new", but I forgot. Why bother taking notes on someone else's dream? He doesn't often remember his dreams, and this one struck me as funny. So, the dream--

We had just gotten two new dogs, but each of them came with "issues". We discovered that the first had a warrant for its arrest, so we had to take it to the police station to sort it all out. (Can a dog have a warrant on it? I mean, I know that if a dog has been making attacks it can be confiscated by the law or even euthanized, but would there ever be an actual warrant?) The second dog turned out to be wearing two separate layers of furry "clothes" that made it appear to be different colors than it really was. Not sure why. . . Maybe it (or its owner) thought one color was more desirable than the other.

Well, I thought it was funny. (g)

= = = = = = =

I was recently introduced to the concept of the "sweded" movie. To "swede" a movie, you just refilm it yourself-- usually in an extremely shortened format, hitting on various high points of the story. You can enlist the help of friends or do all the roles yourself. If I understand correctly, the key to a good sweded film is a very limited budget, cheap "FX" and the use of common household items as props. The sillier the better!

If you're curious about the name-- which, I'll be honest, is what interested me to begin with-- it comes from Be Kind Rewind, a 2008 comedy. The premise of the film is that a guy working in a VHS rental store somehow manages to erase all the tapes. He and some friends embark on a mission to remake the ruined movies using an old camcorder and their own cheap versions of special effects. According to the wikipedia entry for the film (because I haven't actually seen it myself), they tell their customers that the movies are from Sweden to explain the higher prices of renting them and the delay between request and arrival of the "sweded" film.

I think this sounds like fun! Definitely an amusing way to spend a day or two with some friends-- especially for older kids and teens.

You can find a selection of sweded films by searching YouTube. Obviously they're only fun if you've seen the original movie. (If you've seen it multiple times, that's even better.)

Here's one for The Lord of the Rings:

I think the best part of that one is the bit that starts about six minutes in, but there are several other "LOL" moments (such as the "barking" at the "Council of Elrond"-- it does kind of sound like that in the real film!). Note that some people think this one shouldn't count as a sweded movie because the production values are too good. (g) Purists! They pop up everywhere! ;o)

(On a tangential note, LOTR fans, have you seen this? I had to laugh, because Donald and I have actually discussed this before. Wouldn't have been much of a saga, but it does make more sense! Evidently there's a whole series of these "how ____ should have ended" videos. They even have their own domain.)

The first sweded film I saw was this "no budget", 5-minute version of Princess Bride:

The fire marsh and the "rat"! (g)

Well, that's it for now! Hope the week's off to a good start for you all. :o)

Friday, April 25, 2008


"Fotografi" is Swedish for-- well, I think you can figure that one out for yourself. ;o) (I think they also call it "fotografering", but I'm not sure why they need two words for it or how they may differ slightly in meaning.)

Warning: If you aren't interested in photography, this won't be of much use to you. Sorry. . . I'm writing about it partly just to remind myself of what I've done, what I've read and some links I've found.

I've been playing around with a different style of photography, lately. (Or maybe that's the wrong way to put it. It's really more a different style of post-processing photos than of actually taking the photos.) Donald gave me some pointers on how to use Photoshop to get a "dreamy" effect I've admired on Flickr, and I've been experimenting with that for a few weeks. Then today I discovered that there's a special name for this style/technique. It's called "Orton" imagery / effect / photography. Wow! It has a name!! (g)

The Orton effect (or whatever you call it-- seems like there are several variations) is named after its creator, photographer Michael Orton. He started using the technique back in the days when you needed film for your camera. (Thank goodness for digital! I don't have to feel guilty for taking a hundred photos at a time!) Back then, you had to take two slide photos to achieve the Orton effect. One was purposely blurred and the other one sharp, but both were overexposed. Once the slides were developed, you took them out of their slide mounts and sandwiched them together. The result was a dreamy photograph with rich colors.

Of course, these days most of us prefer digital to slide photography. (It's a whole lot cheaper, for one thing!) Turning a regular digital photo into an Orton image is pretty easy, if you have a good photo editing program. You can take two photos, as in the slide process, but the way I've been doing it (and I'm happy with the results, so far) requires only one photo.

Here's how I've been doing things, so far:

I start by playing around with the color on the photo-- usually lightening it, because the process tends to darken and saturate the image. Experimentation is key. Once I'm satisfied, I copy the image onto another layer. (This is Photoshop talk. Ctrl-j is the shortcut I use.) Next, go up to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.

At this point, you have some choices to make. I sometimes go back to this step a few times until I get things set the way I like them. In the Gaussian Blue box, pull the slider to determine the degree of blurriness in the photo. I sometimes find that the less blur I put on a photo in this step, the more blurry it seems in the end. (shrug) Try a couple of different settings on the same photo-- and go through the remaining steps to see the final result-- to get a feel for it, then fine tune to get it just right. Once I've selected the degree of blur I want (and clicked "OK"), I look at the Layers palette. It's automatically set to "Normal", but there's a drop down menu. You can play around with these settings to get different looks. Usually I end up choosing "Overlay".

Ta-da! ;o) Now the blurry image is sitting on top of your original (color-adjusted) photo. Sometimes I like it just like this and move on to the saving process. However, it may profit from a little tweaking. You can lessen the effect by adjusting the opacity and fill settings (also in the Layers palette).

And that's pretty much it. You may want to readjust the colors, brightness, etc., but sometimes it's not necessary. Just be sure to "Save As" (or "Save for Web") and not "Save". Otherwise, you won't have access to your original, unblurred photo.

This page I found today has different instructions. I may try those, next time, to see how much difference it makes. (Honestly, I think "my" version looks faster and easier, but maybe the results are worth the trouble.) Here's another version (and I imagine there are still more out there). Flickr has at least two groups devoted to Orton, and on one of them I found this-- a link to a tutorial for a 3-layer Orton effect.

I have a feeling this may be the sort of thing-- well, hey, maybe everything in life is!-- that people either love or hate. Obviously I'm a fan (g), but there may be people who wonder why anyone would want to ruin a perfectly focused photo by blurring it. ;o)

Friday's Feast - #188

Here are my answers to this week's Feast:

Name something you would categorize as weird.

So many directions you could take this! ;o)

I think it's weird that people are talking about "vat-grown meat" as a distinct culinary possibility, these days. Logically, I have to admit that-- depending on how it's done-- it could be a good idea. . . But I'm not always a logical person, and my gut reaction is queasiness and "Omigosh! Like, that totally grosses me out!" (g)

It just seems like something that belongs in a sci-fi movie-- not in my daily life. I'm also afraid that this could be one of those things where, twenty or thirty years down the road (20+ years after we've all begun eating it, that is), they'll come out and say, "Oh, and by the way, we now have reason to believe that eating this crap will probably cause cancer and birth defects and early death. Have a nice day!" But that's just my humble opinion. ;o)

What color was the last piece of food you ate?

White and beige. It was cereal (generic Honey-Nut Cheerios) and milk. . . .Or maybe it was an orange vitamin C tablet-- if you count vitamins.

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how much do you enjoy being alone?

It depends on how much I've been alone recently. If I don't have enough alone time, it can go all the way up to 10; if I've been alone all day, I'm ready for a little company. Most of the time, it's about a 7 or 8. I certainly don't mind being alone, as long as I know I have the option to see someone soon.

Main Course
Fill in the blank: I will ______ vote for _______ on _______ .

I will probably not be enthusiastic about whomever I vote for on November 4th. Looks like this time it's going to be more a vote against someone than a vote for someone else. (This actually seems to be more the rule than the exception, in my experience.)

Describe your sleeping habits.

I like to have a little time to "unwind" in bed before going to sleep, unless I'm already completely exhausted. Watching a little TV or reading a book does the trick. Talking can be good, too, but I don't want to talk about anything at all stressful or even just too exciting right before going to sleep. The darkness of the room isn't as much of a factor for me as it is for some people (I can sleep in broad daylight-- not as well as at night, of course, but I can sleep)-- but I prefer to have a ceiling fan running. I don't often have trouble falling asleep (unless something is worrying me or I'm too excited about something coming up the next day). Just lying back (I sleep on my back most of the time-- except during the day, when I mostly sleep on my right side), closing my eyes and relaxing usually does the trick. I'm asleep within five or ten minutes of my head hitting the pillow.

Friday's Feast - #187

I missed last week's Feast, so I'll answer two today. :o)

Name a color you find soothing.

I find more than one color family soothing, but the first that comes to mind right now is the color of our bedroom-- a pale apple green. It is perhaps a little bit bolder and more yellow than what many would consider "soothing", but I like it.

Using 20 or less words, describe your first driving experience.

I must've blocked it out of my mind, because I can't remember the first time. ;o) Stressed out, nervous, annoyed, etc.

What material is your favorite item of clothing made out of?


Main Course
Who is a great singer or musician who, if they were to come to your town for a concert, you would spend the night outside waiting for tickets to see?

I'm not really a concert-going person. I've never gone to one, and I don't really care if I ever do. I'm content to listen to the music on CD. I can't think of a single group I'd want to stand outside all night for. Sorry. (g) (I'd maybe do it just for the fun of it, if a group of good friends wanted to. But that'd be more for the experience of doing something mildly crazy than for the love of the band.)

What is the most frequent letter of the alphabet in your whole name (first, middle, maiden, last, etc.)?

Counting first, middle, maiden, and last names-- there's a four-way tie! There are four occurrences each of "a", "h", "i", and "n"! Interesting. I certainly wouldn't have guessed "n" or "h"!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lawn mowing and other fascinating stuff

I started mowing the lawn last week. It had really needed it for a week or so before that, but for one reason or another I kept putting it off. We have a lot of lawn to keep mown (especially considering that it's all done with a smallish walk-behind mower)! I'd convert more of it to flower beds, but I think that keeping flower beds mulched and weeded is at least as much work as mowing. . . At least you see instant results with mowing, even if it is one of those pesky chores that need to be done every time you turn around (for a few months of the year, at least).

After mowing, I remembered something that I'd forgotten over the winter-- my hands get really itchy right after mowing. Is that normal? I wonder if it has something to do with my gloves. I think I may at one point have washed a bunch of gloves together with a pair that had come into contact with itchy insulation. I wonder if I might have "contaminated" the whole bunch. On the other hand, I used the gloves over the weekend when I was digging a patch for our tomatoes, and I don't remember feeling itchy after that. . . Maybe it's triggered by all the vibration from the mower-- or some strange hands-only allergy? I guess it'll just remain one of life's great mysteries. ;o)

-- -- -- -- --

We heard last week that our visitor made it home to Sweden safely, so I thought I'd pass that along to any of you who might be interested.

-- -- -- -- --

I've noticed that when I'm framing a photo, I tend to prefer the strongest "line" in the photo (if there are lines-- such as stems or branches) to arc from the lower left-hand corner toward the upper right-hand corner. I wonder if there's a "norm" in this matter. Do more people agree with me in this preference? There's certainly no right or wrong-- and sometimes you don't have much choice-- but one way or the other is generally more aesthetically pleasing to me, and usually that happens to be the diagonal I've described.

Hm! I just found this forum thread where people were discussing this very subject. They wondered if culture could have something to do with preference (depending on the way you read the language-- left to right, right to left, etc.)-- or if it might be linked to which hand or eye is dominant in the individual. I think I've mentioned before that I'm right-handed but left-eyed. (I look through the camera's viewfinder with my left eye, aim a gun with my left eye, and so on.)

-- -- -- -- --

This morning, I began digging up plants that are growing in the area where we're planning to put our patio. Fortunately (?), most of the plants there are just some wild yellow iris that seem to never bloom, so I'm not too worried about whether they survive the move. I'll probably stick them somewhere, just because I feel guilty for throwing them out in the woods to shrivel away to nothing. . . and the foliage is nice, even if they don't bloom.

The handle of our old, inherited "sharpshooter" shovel, which has been acting up for a while, finally snapped while I was digging up those irises. We have a regular shovel, too, but I would like to replace the sharpshooter, also. I like it better than the regular shovel. I don't know if it's worth trying to repair the old one, because it's worn down so much. The "blade" (whatever it's called) is even dented in a spot or two. Of course, assuming we could refit it with a new handle, I guess we could file down and resharpen the. . . whatever the technical word for the metal part is (g). . . I'm not sure how hard that would be to do. I'll have to ask some more experienced gardeners for advice. ;o)

-- -- -- -- --

Still on the subject of the patio, we're still in the planning stage. There are so many options-- so many things to consider. Privacy and shade vs. views of the yard. . . "Sheltered and cosy" vs. "open and airy". . . How much "clearance" does a porch swing need? How much smaller will a given area feel when we partially enclose it? What will look better-- a lattice roof or an "open slat" roof? And which will give better shade? This is the sort of thing that you can get stuck planning for months, to the point that it seems you'll never move past the planning stage at all-- but we want to look at it from every angle and do our best to make it "right"-- well, "right for us".

-- -- -- -- --

Friday, we went down to the beach for the first time in a long time. Spent a little time on the actual, "real" beach, then drove further over into Florida to visit Big Lagoon State Recreation Area and Tarklin Bayou Preserve State Park. (Family, if you haven't been to Tarklin before, it's an interesting stop. Very near Big Lagoon. Free admission, nice concrete/boardwalk combo path. It's meant to be a place to see pitcher plants, especially, but it's a nice little walk, even if they aren't "blooming". The path takes you through a wooded area and right out to the bayou.)

We took over 300 photos (g), and I've put some of them up on my Flickr account. (There's a link in the column to the right. . .)

Going to the beach makes me nostalgic. . . And coming home again, I felt like I'd been gone much longer than half a day. Strange. I guess I really don't spend much time away from here, so even just a brief change of scenery is enough to give me that "home after a long vacation" feeling.

-- -- -- -- --

Speaking of Flickr-- I decided to "geotag" some of my photos, over the weekend.

For those who are unfamiliar with that term, it means that I marked on an interactive map the general location of where I took some of my photos. Kind of like putting a push pin in a map to indicate where I took a photograph. Other people can look at the map and see photos taken at any given spot.

However, I am unable to find my photos on the map, without searching specifically for photos from my own photostream. Weird, and kind of annoying, too. Why did I go to all that trouble if no-one else can even see them on the map? Maybe it's just taking a while for them to show up. . .

Well, that's enough for a post. I've been adding to this one for days, now. Time to actually post it!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Booking Through Thursday: Vocabulary

This week's Booking Through Thursday relates to vocabulary:

I’ve always wondered what other people do when they come across a word/phrase that they’ve never heard before. I mean, do they jot it down on paper so they can look it up later, or do they stop reading to look it up on the dictionary/google it or do they just continue reading and forget about the word?

When I was younger and more enthusiastic about scholarly pursuits, I was more likely than I am now to immediately stop and look it up.

(Back then, that meant going to the dictionary or the family encyclopedia rather than "googling" it. It's not that I'm "old"-- I'm not even thirty, yet-- but rather it's an indication of how drastically our world has changed in the last twenty years. Several years ago, some of the eighth graders I was working with had no idea how to use an encyclopedia! A few seemed confused by even the simple process of alphabetization. Of course, how much of that was due to a change in technology rather than individual ignorance is up for debate. . .)

These days, whether or not I stop to look up something (or on a very rare occasion, write it down and look it up later) depends on a variety of factors, including the following:
  • Whether or not I can get the gist of the meaning from context clues. If I'm completely stumped, I'm less likely to ignore it and continue reading.
  • How "into" the story I am. The more engaging the story, the less willing I am to pause.
  • How often the word or phrase occurs. If it keeps cropping up, I'm more likely to stop and research it. (Of course, I'm also less likely to want to continue reading the book at all, if the author repeatedly uses the same exact word or phrase. That's one of my pet peeves. You're an author; invest in a thesaurus, for goodness' sake!)
  • How personally interesting I find the word/phrase. If it "sounds good" to me, I'm more likely to take the time to look into it.
I suppose stopping and looking things up is almost the only way we improve our vocabularies, once we leave the classroom. Obviously it's good for us to continue to learn, but I also feel that an author who continually forces his/her readers to stop and reach for the dictionary (or the keyboard) is running a certain risk. Every distraction takes away from the story, I think. Besides, people don't like to be "talked down to". If I feel that the author is more interested in flaunting how many thirteen-letter words he knows than in weaving a good tale, I'm not impressed.

Sometimes the morning news just makes you feel like CRAP.

There's nothing like starting the day off on a positive note. Like when the first thing you hear is a reiteration of the possibility that you're (maybe) more likely to have cancer because you were raised in the age of plastic food containers and had a plastic bottle in your mouth since Day 1, probably. (sigh)

So what am I supposed to do about this great news? Somehow divine which plastic containers in my house have BPAs and toss them? (Some people say they're the ones marked with a 7 in the little "recycle" symbol.) Or is it best to just avoid all plastic like the plague? It's not going to be an easy task, these days!

Fortunately, I'll probably have pushed this little joyful nugget to the back of my mind in a day or two, and I'll be able to eat food stored in plastic without every bite tasting of dust. Honestly, what else is there to do? I don't think I want to go through life checking everything for 7s.

I thought 7 was supposed to be a lucky number, and it was the triple 6 we were to be on the look-out for? ;o)

Anyway, I guess my writing this is just spreading the happiness a little further. Sorry if I ruined your day, but I needed to complain.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Take5 Tuesday

Prompt from Take5 Tuesday:

1. 5 things you like about spring.
  • The first days of warm sunshine. (It's one of the few times of the year when I actually enjoy sunshine, because it's not yet too hot.)
  • The smell of freshly cut grass and honeysuckle.
  • Feeling excited (for a few weeks, maybe?) about the yard. (This is when I make big plans that I later fail to carry through to completion. ;o))
  • Gentle springtime breezes.
  • Birds building nests all over the place (even on our back porch).
2. 5 things you plan to do this summer.
  • Work on at least a couple of yard projects. (Pump house, patio, maybe more. . .)
  • Keep alive the tomato plants we've purchased. (I hope!)
  • Keep an eye open for an ad for Eskie puppies. (There aren't many available, but I'd really love to have another Eskie, one of these days.)
  • Do a better job than last year at keeping the yard in order.
  • Avoid snakes.
3. 5 of your favorite sports to play.
Ha ha ha. You're joking, right? I'm not that sporty.
  • Badminton
  • Bowling (It's been a while. . .)
  • Bocce (Just the two of us, around the yard-- nothing fancy.)
  • Volleyball? (It's been so many years, though!)
  • Softball (Again, years and years and years!)
4. 5 board games you like to play, (or played as a kid.)
I don't play that many board games these days. Not because I don't like to, but because most of the time it's just the two of us, and there aren't many board games (that we like) that work with two people. We need to invite some people over to play board games, sometime. . .
  • Scrabble (We do play this one fairly often. Neither of us are champion level, but it's nice for a change from the other games we play.)
  • Trivial Pursuit (Another one the just the two of us can play.)
  • Clue (I used to play this a lot as a kid.)
  • Pay Day (Same as above. . .)
  • Parcheesi (Just to name one more-- we had a lot of games I liked just about as much as this one. I think I like Pit better, but I don't think of that as a board game. . .)
5. 5 sites you visited today.
  • Flickr (More specifically, I visited my "home" on the site, with recent photos from my contacts, recent activity on my own photos, etc.)
  • Google Reader (which helps me keep track of blogs I read)
  • Blogger (this blog and my clay blog)
  • Google (Almost every search starts with the little Google search bar built into my browser. I end up here several times a day, usually.)
  • The Daily Meme's list of Tuesday memes (where I found this one)

Recent bits and pieces

The yearly tax stuff is over and done with, for the time being-- not counting one or two more things we have to do that are due today. I could go on about the frustration, annoyance, etc., but I guess that's all understood.

ETA: "one or two more things we have to do that aren't due today". Aren't! Aren't!! (Or "weren't", since it's now Wednesday. . .)

-- -- -- -- --

Our guest left early Sunday to start the leisurely drive back to southern Florida. He should be somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean right about now, I think. (Glad it isn't me! It's not a very pleasant thing, a long flight like that.) He wasn't looking forward to returning to the cold, snowy weather they're having in Sweden. Meanwhile, I'm not looking forward to a long, hot summer and all the lawn-mowing the season has in store for me. . .

-- -- -- -- --

Despite my moaning and groaning about hot weather and grass, we've actually just been having a short cold snap. Highs in the 60s (and only just, yesterday)-- ice on the roof this morning. Brr! Back into the 70s tomorrow, though, I think.

-- -- -- -- --

I noticed the cold water on the washing machine was just barely trickling out, last week. (The flow had probably been gradually decreasing for weeks-- if not months-- but I never really noticed it until then.) I did a little research online, then we located and cleaned a little thimble-shaped screen that filters the in-coming water. The difference after clearing that filter was amazing. No more pitiful trickling that takes forever to fill the machine. Thank goodness it was a problem that we could fix for free!

-- -- -- -- --

Last night, I dreamed that Bill and Hillary (you know the ones I mean) were visiting my extended family for some sort of dinner party. In my dream, one of my aunts owned a very marshy, alligator-infested property, and that's where the party was being held. (I suspect this dream was inspired by H's recent talk about how she learned to shoot in rural PA, when she was a girl. Not that there are gators in rural PA, but you know what I mean.)

The thought of the two of them at a family party amuses me. They wouldn't get a very warm reception! In fact, later on in my dream, someone had a plan to prank Bill. The prank makes no sense, now that I'm awake, but the idea was that we'd get him to look into a hole drilled through a melon (???). He'd know that he was "supposed" to see something in particular, but meanwhile, the rest of us knew that he couldn't see it (because of the way it was drilled, you see; it was a trick melon, obviously (g)). So when he went on and on about what he saw-- the thing we knew he couldn't actually see-- we'd share a snicker at his expense. (What? I told you it didn't make sense!)

Don't you wish I shared my great dreams with you more often? ;o)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Booking Through Thursday: Writing Challenge

Here's this week's prompt from Booking Through Thursday:
  • Pick up the nearest book. (I’m sure you must have one nearby.)
  • Turn to page 123.
  • What is the first sentence on the page?
  • The last sentence on the page?
  • Now . . . connect them together….
    (And no, you may not transcribe the entire page of the book–that’s cheating!)
At first, I thought you were just supposed to put the two sentences together-- and I wondered where the "challenge" was ;o)-- but then I realized that the idea is that we should write our own bridge between the two sentences. That is more challenging!

There were two books nearer me than the others. I suppose I ought to take the one that was on top. . . a copy of Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë. Here are the sentences:

1. 'Generally thought? But what do you think?' (spoken by Mr. Rochester, asking what Jane thinks of gifts. She's just answered that they're generally thought to be pleasant things.)
2. 'I have none.' (spoken by Jane)

This is difficult. I'm so familiar with the dialogue in this book that it's hard for me to think of anything but what really comes next! (g) Well, here goes. . .

'Generally thought? But what do you think?'
'I haven't given them much thought, sir.'
'What? Not given much thought to the subject of presents, Miss Eyre? In my experience, many women think precious little of anything else!'
If by this speech he had hoped to draw from me an entreaty that he look more favorably upon womankind, I meant to disappoint him. But he immediately continued--
'What sort of misers are your parents, that you can claim ignorance of gifts?'
'I have none.'

That wasn't easy. I have renewed respect for dear C.B.! ;o)

The other book is Carry On, Jeeves, by P.G. Wodehouse, and here are the two sentences:

1. 'Rather! Bucks you up, you know!'
2. 'Your nephew's manservant?'

Um-hum. That pair of sentences almost seems to make sense-- in an odd sort of a way ;o)-- on their own. . .

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Beautiful spring... :o)

Originally uploaded by MossyOwls

Nothing much to say. . . Just wanted something other than a dusty, dead snake to be the first photo on this page. ;o)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Tid-bits again. . .

I found a small (about a foot long?) snake on the easement, this morning. I'm not sure how it died, but it may have been crushed, as it was right in the middle of one of the tire tracks. (By the time I went back to take the photo below, it had been driven over a few more times, and it was getting pretty squashed. I tried to crop out the gory parts. (g))

It gave me a nice little shock. I think I'm paying attention as I walk along-- looking out for snakes in particular-- but somehow I still didn't see the thing until I was right upon it-- just a couple of feet away. I guess my mind wanders. . .

I think it looks like a moccasin (aka cottonmouth), but I probably tend to think every snake looks like a moccasin. ;o) What do you think?

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I came across this link today: Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes of All Time. I've read through the top ten, and there are some good ones. (g) (Donald had already told me about #3, as it happened in Sweden.)

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Donald and Jocke (our visitor) killed three of those giganto monster bumble bees, yesterday evening. Added to one Donald had already killed, that makes four. Maybe now we'll now be able to come and go without being harassed.

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Somehow our plans to fix up our "temporary" step to the kitchen door morphed into "wouldn't it be nice to enlarge it and give a nice spot for pets to rest?" (It's one of the shady spots, and it's near a door, so it's a natural choice for an afternoon nap.) Then that somehow grew into a little patio with some type of shading so we can enjoy it, too.

Of course, this is all still theoretical. The only things really growing are our plans. ;o) But we did buy some concrete pavers, so we're definitely going to be building something. . .

It's hard to see what color they are, in this photo. . . And they actually do change color a lot, depending on whether they're wet or dry. They're a pretty close match to our tinted mortar, if you're familiar with that. Sort of a slightly reddish/maroonish brown.

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We put the bottom layer of pavers there on Sunday, and all the rest on Monday. Yet already I found some ants trying to colonize! They don't waste any time!

Industrious little creatures. Too bad I'm going to have to demolish them. ;o) Yeah, I'm pretty heartless. I may feel a small twinge when I do away with them, but we don't want a yard crawling with fire ants! I've already done one round of ant poisoning this year. Looks like I'm going to have to do another one soon. . .

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It suddenly strikes me that there are a lot of dead or doomed critters in this entry. . . I hope I haven't put a damper on your day. After all, they're all pest-type animals. ;o)

Friday, April 4, 2008

Friday Fun: Style Edition

Another meme? Sure, why not? ;o)

This one's called Friday Fun, and here are the questions (and my answers):

1. Which decade do you fall in? 20’s, 30’s, etc.? I won’t ask for an exact age!

I'm in my 20s, but only for another year. (It's still hard for me to believe that it's been that many years since high school!)

2. Do you subscribe to the theory that there are age appropriate clothes? Or can they, in general, span the generations?

I think that it's less a matter of what's "age appropriate" than what suits your body. Obviously, we all look better in some things than in others. We ought to try to wear things that flatter us (or at least don't emphasize our worst traits), simply out of respect for ourselves. ;o) In theory, anything that's ok for a 20-year-old to wear should be ok for a 90-year-old, if she still wants to wear it. Or in other words, the young whippersnapper probably shouldn't be wearing stuff that would be inappropriate (immodest) for her great-great-grandmother to wear. Of course, Great-Grandma probably doesn't want to wear the latest fashions. . .

3. Do you think you “dress your age” in accordance with the current “appropriate” styles?

Yeah, I think I do, more or less. Maybe I wear less "professional" clothes than many women my age, but I doubt many of them would wear professional clothes if they didn't have to. (g) I definitely don't go out and buy an all-new wardrobe just to fit in with the latest styles. I tend to shop either out of necessity (running out of "good" shirts or need another pair of pants) or because I see a great sale than because it's a new season and striped tops and chunky shoes are "in". However, I don't think I'm so far behind the times that I stand out. . . (At least I hope not.)

4. Are there “young” clothes that you wish you could wear but don’t feel like you still can? Is it based on your age or body type?

Not really. . . Keep in mind that I may not be up on the latest styles ;o) but I can't think of anything the teens or early-20s are wearing that I "couldn't" wear, if I wanted to. (Of course, I'm not that much older than they are-- yet.)

There are things I wish I looked better in, though-- and things that I've never (since my teens) liked to wear, and probably never will. I do not wear sleeveless shirts or things that show my back. . . I'm not big on shorts, either. It's not a modesty issue. It's more that I just don't think I look as good in those things as I look in something else. I'd also like to lose a little weight, and that's in large part so that I'd look better (more like I did before I got married). I don't think it's enough weight (or enough of a personal issue) that it'd keep me from wearing something I really wanted to wear.

5. Do you find that you are more comfortable in your own skin as you get older?

I think (hope) that this will become more evident in the next decade or two. I guess it's true for me, already, to some degree. I can't say that I never worry about certain aspects of my appearance, but it's much less of a concern than it was when I was a middle and high schooler. I guess that's partly due to age and experience-- learning that most people are too busy with their own lives to notice my physical weak points (or really care about them, even if they do notice). Being married to a sweet husband is also a confidence booster. ;o)

6. Do you have a thing for a particular kind of clothes? Like you love all things cargo pants, or tennis shoes, or T-shirts, etc.?

My favorite clothes are cold-weather clothes (or at least cool-weather clothes). I love jeans that fit just right. Right now, I prefer bootcut/flare-leg jeans to straight-leg jeans. I love three-quarter-sleeved tees and sweaters. I mostly wear tennis shoes (or athletic shoes-- whatever you like to call them), but I also have a couple pair of other favorite shoes, including some zip-up ankle boots. I definitely don't wear very high heels. I like shoes that I could walk for miles in without getting blistered heels or pinched toes. I guess you could say I like to balance appearance with comfort-- or maybe tip the scales in the direction of comfort. ;o)

Friday's Feast: #186

This Friday's Feast:

Invent a new flower, give it a name and describe it.

This kind of thing is always pretty difficult for me. There are already so many wonderful flowers-- and I haven't invented one before. ;o) Short of sitting down and drawing one (not going to happen today!), the only way I can describe a new flower is in terms of the "old" ones.

How about this?
It's a wall-scaling type of vine-- but not invasive or harmful to structures (so I could actually let it grow on my house without worrying that I'm destroying our home!!). The leaves are large (six inches or so across) and heart-shaped. They're colored like rose leaves-- some of them edged in red. The blooms (which are present year-round) are shaped like an old-fashioned cabbage rose, but they're fairly small (two inch diameter) and grow in small clusters. They are a rich creamy white with hearts of rose, and they smell like vanilla and almond. The buds tend to open all at once, and if you happen to be watching when they open, it's like seeing a time-lapsed video of an ordinary flower opening. I call it Climbing Breath o' Almond. ;o)

Name someone whom you think has a wonderful voice.

For singing, you mean? Hm. . . No-one comes immediately to mind. I'm more interested in the melody of the song than in the voice that sings it. I like Sarah McLachlan's voice, for one.

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how clean do you keep your car?

Inside, 8 or 9. I don't vacuum it very often, but I don't like a car to be cluttered. Outside, I tend not to notice that it needs washing until it really needs it. . . So maybe a 4 or 5?

Main Course
How do you feel about poetry?

I'm fairly ambivalent about poetry. I only read poetry "for fun" very rarely. I'd usually rather be reading prose. That said, I'm fond of some of the poetry I've been forced to read (in school), and I even wrote a little, years ago. I think the problem is that there's so much bad poetry (IMHO)-- and so much that simply doesn't appeal to me. I don't want to wade through all the yuck and blah to get to the few hidden gems. It's the same reason that for years I've tended to be a re-reader than take a risk on new novels. I've just read so many books (contemporary ones, especially) that left me cold, disappointed, or downright angry. . . I guess I'm picky!

What was the last person/place/thing you took a picture of?

Yesterday, I snapped a few shots around the yard. I think the very last photo was an overview of part of the back yard, with the corner of the house in the foreground, looking all the way back to my grandfather's barn (and the trees further beyond it).

Thursday, April 3, 2008

What is *wrong* with this guy??

Ok, so Ted Turner's an absolute nut. Nothing new, I guess. . .

Better make the next few years count! ;o)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A man with blue(/gray) skin

Truth really is stranger than fiction. . .

This poor guy's skin turned a blue-grey color after (years of?) drinking and washing his face with some sort of weird water. (Sorry, I didn't really pay attention to that part. I think I'll stick with regular well water!) At least he seems to have come to terms with it, which is good, since doctors say this new color is permanent.

Must be a RePUPlican. . .

Hee hee.

I've had the radio going while cleaning up, for the past hour or so. Molly meanwhile continued her siesta in the kitchen.

(. . .Yeah, she's inside. I don't know why, really. The weather's fine outside, but when I came home from shopping, she acted like she wanted to come in, too. She's getting a bit spoiled. Maybe I'm imagining it, but I think she's been a little bit needier ever since Daisy died. More prone to suddenly "crying"/howling for no apparent reason, for instance.)

So, anyway, she was quietly resting on a blanket in her corner while "talk radio" voices floated in from the other part of the house. Until they played a clip of Hillary. (The infamous one in which she describes a corkscrew landing and sniper fire.) Evidently, Molly didn't like what she heard, and she voiced her discontent with a few threatening muffs.

You know, I've always heard that dogs can tell a lot about a person. . . ;o)

Blog Cuss-O-Meter

I saw this on another blog today and thought it was kind of funny. . .

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
Created by OnePlusYou

Of course, knowing that your parents and grandparents will probably see what you write may cut down on cussing. . . ;o) I don't think I'd often be tempted to curse on even a private blog, though. Writing/typing requires you to think about what you're "saying" more than when you're just spouting off.

Just when you least expect it. . .

. . . something goes kaput.

I know by now that there will always be something that's not quite right. We aren't allowed to have all our problems go away simultaneously, for whatever reason. But just because I recognize that fact doesn't mean I don't grumble about it. ;o)

Last night when we switched on the ceiling fan in our bedroom, it made some weird noises. We gave it a closer look and saw that the blades were moving rather sluggishly. Even more worrying were the odd electric humming/buzzing sounds it was emitting-- and a slight "burnt electrical" smell. So, no more fan in the bedroom!

It may be something that we can repair, but I find that doubtful. We do run the fan practically every night of the year, but it's not that old, yet. I don't think my parents have had to replace the fans in their house, and those fans are many years older than this one. Maybe it wasn't a good brand. . .

It's not really that big of a deal, but it's still frustrating when something breaks down. We had to replace the microwave a few weeks ago-- and about the same time we had to make a repair to the older car. And of course there's also the general yearly annoyance of Tax Time. It all adds up to a little grumpiness, but it's easy enough to put it back into perspective.

So, the next entry can't be a complaint. . .

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Home Improvements ;o)

Here's this week's prompt from a meme called "Ten on Tuesday":

Ten Things You'd Fix in Your Home (if you had the time and money)

(And I think "fix" can also mean "upgrade"/"add"/etc. Oh, and I'm extending "home" to mean all our property. I'm being pretty extravagant in some of them, too, by the way.)

Oh, this'll be easy! ;o)
These are in no particular order. I'm just writing things as I think of them. . .
  1. I'd hire someone to do all the landscaping that I don't want to do. They'd definitely be doing all the mowing, "insecticiding", and weeding. I'd probably "let" them get everything in order, just the way I want it, then maybe just dabble a bit now and then. (g) I don't mind planting things, usually. It's the upkeep that irks me. I'd love to have a beautifully and extravagantly landscaped yard, but honestly, I think I may be too lazy to do it on my own. I'm going to have to cut back and keep things simple, I guess. (shrug) (Hee hee. I almost typed "shrub" instead of "shrug". Appropriate typo, given the topic.)
  2. I'd upgrade the flooring throughout the house. We'd have to really think about what we'd want, but it'd probably be a combination of tile, hardwood and/or laminates. (My main hesitation over hardwood is that I've heard it stains pretty badly with dog urine, and I have a feeling there will be the occasional puppy mistake now and then over the next however many years.)
  3. I'd have a garage built. We're going to get around to this one of these days. . .
  4. I'd add some type of decking/arbor/open gazebo somewhere in the yard/adjacent to the house. I'm not sure what I'd want, exactly, but I'd want at least part of it to be covered, so we'd have a shady spot to sit. Right now, most of our shade is in parts of the yard we don't really want to sit. (g) I've planted trees (and will be planting more), but obviously trees take time to grow.
  5. I'd put in some sort of small storm shelter. Again, not sure what kind, exactly-- just a little place to run to when the weather turns really scary.
  6. I'd buy those new fabric hurricane/high wind window protector-things. (Whatever they're called.) I'd have them all ready to cover all our windows for the next bad storm. I think they're fairly expensive, now, but maybe they'll eventually come down in price.
  7. I'd pour millions into R&D until someone finally came up with a snake-proof fence, then I'd have it installed around the perimeter of our property. ;o) (Next, I'd sell it, making billions of dollars in the process. (g)) It would be so nice to not have to worry about one of us or our pets coming upon a poisonous snake in our own yard! Or if that one's just too far-fetched for you, try this one: I'd hire a professional pest-control person to come on a regular basis and rid the yard (and house, if necessary) of unpleasant creatures. (The downside of hiring all these people to do the dirty work for me-- I'd have to deal with them so often! I don't really enjoy waiting for people, talking to them, etc. No offense to them; I'm just more comfortable without strangers in my house or yard. I wouldn't really like having to deal with that even more often.)
  8. I'd have a small pool put in somewhere and hire a pool service to keep it nice and clean for us. Unless I'd already learned to swim, the pool wouldn't have a "deep end"-- but I'd love for it to be one of those very fancy types with a waterfall and ledge seating. :o)
  9. I'd change the light fixture in our kitchen. It works, but I don't really love it. It's a fluorescent fixture that looks like something you'd see in an office building, I think.
  10. I'd buy some new appliances for the kitchen. Mainly a new stove (electric, probably stainless, definitely glass/ceramic topped) and a new (quiet) dishwasher. These are definitely "do-able", but there's no immediate rush.
I can think of even more, too-- gravel on our driveway, for instance-- but I guess ten's enough. ;o)

I kind of went overboard on a few of those. (g) I'm not sure I'd really do some of them, even if the cost wasn't an issue. But it's fun to think about it, at least. :o)