Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Local City on Onion News Ticker

When I saw Kimberly today, she asked if I'd seen that a local city (local as in that's where my father works, and this city's high school football team was/is our high school football team's main rival) was mentioned in the ticker at the bottom of a recent Onion video.

I hadn't, so of course I had to go find it and take a couple of screenshots:

(Click to see it bigger, if you're interested.)

I don't know what to make of it, but I guess it's funny that they chose to mention a local city, even if it had to be about a trailer park. (Incidentally, just in case someone isn't familiar with The Onion, it's satire. This is not a real news story. (g))

General Chit-Chat

Bits of the "tid" variety. (Whatever that means.)

- - - - - - -

The heat persists. That slight cooling we were hoping for never quite happened, I think, though at least we got some rain (and the hope of more to come, with a little luck). Now that it's July (How'd that happen, by the way?), we have to face the reality that the heat is probably here to stay for two or three months.

I know I tend to gripe about the heat a lot. I'm sorry. It's almost impossible to ignore completely, but I'll try to be find other things to write about (from time to time).

- - - - - - -

We're thinking about doing some painting in the kitchen and master bathroom, one of these days. (Maybe not one of these days soon to come, but sooner or later.)

List of indoor projects we're mulling over:
  • Painting the cabinets in the kitchen and master bath. (Probably a crisp white.)
  • Painting the walls in the kitchen. (Leaning toward a slightly warm-toned blue or aqua-blue. Still debating.)
  • Painting the walls in the master bath. (Unsettled. Maybe some type of sand/beige.)
  • Putting in white beadboard, chair rail, and crown molding in the breakfast room (and maybe eventually the area between the kitchen and dining room, depending on how the breakfast room goes).
Of course, we still have outdoor work to do, but in June/July, indoor improvements are more palatable-- even if we're just at the planning stage.

- - - - - - -

So Al Franken is actually going to be a senator? I can't take him seriously. (Not to mention that the sight of him makes me sick.) Oh well. At least he's not my senator. (Though I do feel sorry for the many Minnesotans who didn't vote for him and are still stuck with a joke for a representative.)

- - - - - - -

We're planning to spend the 4th of July with the paternal side of my family. I intend to take along a camera, but I don't know if I'll photograph (m)any people. I don't want to make a pest of myself. Still, there will probably be something I can point the camera at without becoming a nuissance.

- - - - - - -

I took a few photos of Trixie over the weekend, while Donald held her on the couch. Here's one of them:

Eskies are such a joy to photograph-- so much easier to capture than dark-haired dogs like Molly. I don't imagine she really cares, but sometimes I feel guilty that I hardly ever post photos of her. It's just that they rarely turn out very well. (There are a few more on my Flickr photostream, if anyone's interested in more dog photos.)

- - - - - - -

Today, I reached a milestone at Vimeo-- fifty uploads.

Here's #49-- some mammatus clouds that we spotted yesterday evening:

Mammatus Clouds from Michael Johansson on Vimeo.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


I figure it's been long enough since the last Google Analytics post to justify a new one. The last "Analytics" post was in September; I'll only be counting keyword searches since then.

Since, September 24th of last year, search engines have generated 1,060 visits to this blog, via 724 keywords (or keyword combinations).

As usual, the runaway leader of search engine hits is a hefty conglomeration of keywords from people looking for information about rag quilting. (If you're here for that very reason, allow me to direct you to Sew I See, my sewing/related subject blog, where I've consolidated the rag quilting posts from this blog, in addition to more recent sewing-themed entries.)

However, though far behind rag quilting, there was a new contender for top honors-- "snake eggs", "black rat snake eggs", "eggs in mulch", and variations on that theme. It seems that there are quite a few people out there finding snake eggs in their mulch, including one who evidently found twenty eggs in his/her mulch! (Here's the relevant entry.)

Here are some (ok, lots) of the other keywords:
  • "swedish candy" --Wonder what kind, specifically...
  • "cockapekapoo"/"cock-a-pek-a-poo"
  • "does anyone breed cockapekapoo puppies" --I imagine so, but maybe not very many breeders.
  • "moonbeamers cartoon" & related
  • "narcolepsy more causes_risk_factors"
  • "somali pirate situation"
  • "doggonevideo"
  • "husqvarna pronunciation"
  • "tilt shift video how to"
  • "itchy palms more causes_risk_factors"
  • "numb fingers more causes_risk_factors"
  • "sarah michaels milk & honey" --Several people came here again during this period, looking for that line of products-- and it's been how long since they stopped making it? Wonder how much I'd get for my partly used-up container, on eBay. ;o)
  • "why was sarah michaels discontinued" --I don't know. Life is hard, sometimes. (g)
  • "'st. john rivers' pronunciation"/"how do you pronounce st john rivers" --It's pronounced "sin-gin". Weird, huh?
  • "why is st john pronounced as sin jin" (at least three variations on this one) --It's a cruel joke the Brits like to play on unsuspecting foreigners. (g) Seriously, my guess is that it came about because it is easier/faster to say than "Saint John". If you try to say "Saint John" quickly, "SinJin" isn't such a stretch. Eventually, everyone just pronounced it that way all the time. (But this is only a theory.)
  • "blogspot he is nearsighted and needs glasses" --Huh?
  • "blue-gray skin" --Ah, yes, the blue-skinned man...
  • "gender guesser" --I'd forgotten about that.
  • "glaskogens"/"glaskogens naturreservat"/"glaskogens nature"
  • "odds and ends abbreviation"
  • "odds of random things"
  • "wild wet t" -- Don't think I want to know what that means...
  • "voortman almond krunch" --Stop it! I'm already hungry for cookies!
  • "'animated wendy' nasty wendy's"
  • "'car tags' slang" --No earthly idea.
  • "concerto for harpischord, strings & continuo no. 5 in f minor" --Very specific!
  • "'gentler' in a sentence"/"a sentence for gentler"
  • "glammas and granddudes"/"names the grampster"
  • "i fear for the future" --Yeah, me too, which is probably how you got here, huh?
  • "'john locke' 'tree topper'" --Is there really such a thing?
  • "'lumis' 'peanut butter'"
  • "'malted milk balls' vacuum" --Oh great. Now I want some Whoppers, too... And I have the strangest urge to clean the rugs... ;o)
  • "'meatballs - the movie'" --Never even seen it, as far as I can recall.
  • "'national turn off the tv day'"
  • "'oklahoma' and 'unexplained rumbling'" --You get that in OK, too?
  • "'people on welfare shouldn't be allowed to vote'" --Well, I do think there's an argument to be made for some voting regulation-- at least in cases of those who are persistently on welfare with no legitimate reason.
  • Various search terms with polymer clay in mind
  • "'sleeping with * arms over * head"
  • "'squirreler' dictionary" --LOL!! Donald! You're not the only one!!
  • "'talkin' bout your generation" --And neither am I. (g)
  • "'tilt and pour' 'milk carton'" --Oh, yeah. They've actually disappeared, at least in this area. The stores only carry the regular milk jugs, now.
  • "'what's my family motto?'" --Depends on your family name. If all else fails, you could always make one up! ;o)
  • "acm wallet overnight" --No idea what that means.
  • "american eskimo the proposal movie" --Yes, it was an Eskie! (Or so I've read.)
  • "amigo crisp corn sweden" --Those are so good!! I wish I had one now...
  • "battery operated plastic doghouse bank that picks up a coin" --Okaaay...
  • something about vacuum cleaner reviews...
  • several about the Black Caucus visiting Cuba
  • "black looking eggs in mulch" --Ew. I'd leave 'em alone, if I were you. Handle with extreme care and caution. (g)
  • "candy vacuum" --Wha...?
  • "book 'molly no doubt'"
  • "cause for fingers and palm of hands to turn grey to blue" --That sounds serious!
  • "changed the vacuum belt but there is still a smell coming from the vacuum"
  • "chewy whopper candy"/"whopers candy chewy in the middle"/"whopper duds"/"whoppers malted soft dud"/"whoppers vacuum" --SO glad to see I wasn't the only one curious about those duds!
  • "cocoon found in mulch" --Are you sure it's a cocoon? See link to snake egg entry, above. (g)
  • "cola bottle singing rick astley"
  • "da da da di da da di da da da da opera" --No, seriously.
  • "december 2007 sam's club trampoline" --Ah, yes. The December 2007 Trampoline. A very good vintage.
  • "describing age ten with pictures and no words" --Seems kind of tricky.
  • "draft stopper, dog-shaped" --Ooh, that sounds cute! Maybe I should make one, if I can find a pattern (or make my own)...
  • "earphone spree"
  • "eastern kingsnake" --Look here, if you're here for that, too.
  • "emily of new moon coloring book" --I don't know if it exists.
  • "empathy doll britt-marie"
  • "ends of nostalgia"
  • "far off target"/"not far from target"
  • "fingers go numb and hurt while tunisian crocheting" (and regular crochet, too)
  • "firefighter michael johansson"/"michael johansson firefighter" --No, not quite.
  • "flickr kite surfing accident"
  • "fluffy icing"/"light and fluffy icing"
  • "footed pajamas tar"
  • "google earth how to 'unblur'"
  • "grey skin color seizure"/"grey skin hands symptom" --Please see a doctor.
  • "guess store tacky"
  • "hands itch after shoveling"
  • "homeland security alert right wing"
  • "hometown photos"
  • "horse chestnut make soap"
  • "housewives list of odds and ends around the house"
  • "how do I unlock me hyundai elantra without setting of the alarm?"
  • "how do snake eggs feel like" --A little leathery, I think. But not very firm-- "softer" than a chicken's egg.
  • "how does crocheting affect fingers"/"how to croucheing"
  • "how to make sweden candy" --Wish I knew...
  • "how to make the potluck not tacky" --Since when is potluck tacky? HMM?
  • "how to pronounce chickasabogue" --My best guess: chick-uh-suh-BOWG. (Long "O" on that last syllable, to rhyme with the first syllable of "hoagie".)
  • "how to pronounce the floor at the end s" --I'm clueless here. Anyone?
  • "hypnotized dog on tv with cupcakes"
  • "i want to add more squares to my rag quilt" --Well, go ahead and do it. ;o)
  • "i'd rather be quilting license plate"
  • "index of /oddsandends"
  • "jared schutz polis i loved you from the moment you first touched me and i want, and i need you back in my life" --Wow. That's a long one...
  • "julmust"/"lucia kattar"
  • "killing weeds with electricity"
  • "la di da daa techno"
  • "la la da da da da di di da da da"
  • "license plate trivia web address"/"license plates alabama trivia"
  • "list of words to describe the cold weather" --Frigid. Frosty. Freezing. Icy. Chilly. Arctic. There, that's a start.
  • "lmm's oyster" --What in the. . .?
  • "looking for like artificial turf for pet to wee wee on inside of home" --I think you'll like find what you're looking for in this entry.
  • "mandy donald"
  • "mean bee" --Oh, are you tormented by one of those, too?
  • "meaning 'i'm feeling up'" --Scared to ask...
  • several about moccasin eggs --I don't think they exist. (They do that thing where the females carry the eggs around inside them until they hatch.)
  • "nightmarish dreams" --A.K.A. "nightmares"? ;o)
  • "nightnoise at the end of the evening blogspot"
  • "nothing much im afraid"
  • "numb fingers after hitting" --Here's a thought: stop hitting.
  • "odd lawn mowers"
  • "odd license plates"
  • "odd state trivia"
  • "odds and ends books that stone toilet cleaner"
  • "odds and ends current events"
  • "odds and ends fashion"
  • "odds and ends form various sources : it took a laundry to clean the area"
  • "odds of getting bit by a black rat snake"
  • "odds on 50th wedding anniversary"
  • "odds that first and last initial are the same"
  • "odds the other dog is also male puzzle"
  • "one flappy sore inside mouth" --Ick. Just wait and it'll probably go away.
  • "patio photography"
  • "pics of dogs fluffing from snake bites" --?
  • "pictures sweden candy"
  • "pirates online of photo odds and ends"
  • "polymer clay nativity"
  • "psychotic moments"
  • "quilting +laptop"
  • "rap babies saffle" --I have no idea what that's all about.
  • "reward posters"
  • "ridge vent hurricane leak"
  • "sentence kinder +"/"sentence with kinder"
  • "sewing + sweden"
  • "sideboard, s√§ffle"
  • "skymall favorite dog-off"
  • "snakes are living in my mulch" --Yeah, they'll do that.
  • "someone has printed my name"
  • "something light can't get through"
  • "song, 'some little bug is going to get you someday'"
  • "sweden candy bars with bugles" --Those are called Marabou Amigo bars. Yummy!
  • "sweden in 1890" --Sorry, I wasn't there at the time. ;o)
  • "swedish belts"
  • "swedish candy how many dollar" --Depends on how much you buy, and whether or not you happen to be in Sweden.
  • "swedish candy shops"/"swedish cherries candy"/"swedish raspberries candy"/ etc.
  • "they have ice cream in cuba black caucus" --Yes, I know. Amazing news, wasn't it?
  • "toby sue g's odds and ends"
  • "tomgallon house"
  • "too far off" --Better not go, then.
  • "translate sonodora" --No! Not until you ask nicely! (Ok, I don't know the translation.)
  • "trixie i odds" --Please don't. She's odd enough as it is.
  • "trixie videos"/"trixie vids" --I got yer Trixie vids right here.
  • "ultrasonic dog bark"
  • "vibrations from lawn mower makes me hungry" --LOL!
  • "victorandcarrie flickr"
  • "vintage children's book little lost puppy" --Oh, that sounds sad.
  • Many more about vintage children's books...
  • "vintage vacuum cleaner advertisements"
  • "voortman cookie shirts"/"voortman cookies 2008 recap"
  • "what gross ingredient is in malted milk balls" --The ingredient you're detecting is most likely malt (thus the name, "malted milk balls"), and it's not gross. It's very, very tasty. *smacking lips* ;o)
  • "what if my odds say negative about me"
  • "what is the puppy smell" --If you mean "puppy breath", I've read that it's a symptom of... brace yourself... intestinal worms. Don't know if it's true, but our puppy lost her puppy breath after we de-wormed her. No matter where it comes from, it is an adorable smell.
  • "what recent news soty amused you most"
  • "what was that song in the 90s that started with 'la di da da da'" --"Around the World" by ATC, I think...
  • "why do i always feel like i'm forgetting something" --If you figure it out, please pass it on.
  • "wkrg.com moonpie" --"Throw me somethin', mister!" That's what they say you should shout at Mardi Gras parades. (shrug)
  • "words that describe candy" --Sweet, tangy, sour, yummy, delicious, gooey, sticky, crunchy, chocolatey. Take your pick.
  • "words to describe weather" (two variations)--Now, that's just too broad a subject. You're on your own! ;o)
  • "words that discribe how snow feels" --Cold and wet. Next!
  • "words to describe a storm"
  • "words to describe yarn"
  • "world market genuine swedish gingersnaps" --Those are good, aren't they?!
And there you have it-- my seemingly never-ending list of search engine keywords! Aren't you glad you read all the way through to the end? Wasn't it really worth that investment of your time and energy? . . . Hello? . . .Hello-ooo?

Hm. Oh well. I had fun. (g)

Hop & Go Fetch It

Hop & Go Fetch It
Originally uploaded by MossyOwls

In the evenings, when the sun's sunk low enough to make the heat more bearable, Trixie and Molly know that it's time for their daily frisbee or bubbles excursion. Yesterday, it was frisbee.

She's Made It!

Trixie's hit the big time! She made it to the front page of Loldogs!! (g)

I submitted a captioned photo a while (two or three weeks?) ago, but had pretty much given up hope of it ever getting enough votes to make it to the main page. (I don't know how long that usually takes...)

Then, last night, as we were checking out our "funnies" (Engrish, Loldogs, Lolcats, FailBlog, etc.), I recognized one of the dogs. ;o)

Granted, it's not the version with the caption I submitted-- the idea for which Donald suggested. (If you're familiar with Loldogs/Lolcats, you know that-- unless you specify otherwise-- anyone who signs up is able to caption your photo and receive votes on it.) Still, it's pretty neat seeing a picture of one of our dogs on such a popular website!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Some Much-Needed Cuteness

Here's something just for the fun of it-- a video of some cute Eskie pups:

Aww. :o)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Why I'm Not Crying

I have a terrible confession: I haven't shed a single tear for Michael Jackson. And, even worse, seeing random people (on TV) all teary-eyed and rambling on and on about how great he was? Well, I only reach quickly for the remote.

I'm sorry the man died, and I'm sorry for the family and friends he left behind. I was sorry to hear about the other celebrity deaths this week, too-- but people die every day, and a celebrity's death is no more tragic than someone else's passing. (And really, it hardly affects our own lives much more than a stranger's death does. Honestly, Daisy's death had much more of an impact on my life than Michael Jackson's ever could-- not that I'm suggesting that a dog's death in any way equals the import of that of a human-- but I'm sure you get my point.)

I'm just sick of celebrity-worship in all its shapes and forms-- whether it's this media frenzy whenever someone dies-- or someone saying that Obama is "sort of God". (Ugh. That one is still barf-inducing.) But then again, I think I'm especially loath to worship my fellow man. I'm not eager to kneel before a mere mortal like myself-- (Too proud?)-- and I'm much more likely to drop a tear and send up a prayer for a common, unknown man, woman, or child than the latest big name in the news. Somehow, I feel that they need it more, because they don't have the whole world to mourn them. . .

Anyway. Don't mind me, I'm just in a grumpy mood tonight. ;o)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Little of This, Little of That

Saturday, we had my parents and Kimberly over for our annual "Midsommar" lunch and some games. It was lots of fun, and I couldn't believe how quickly the afternoon passed!

Here's a photo of one of the things we served-- Donald's Amercian-style (because the store didn't have ground pork that day) Swedish meatballs:

For dessert, Donald made our traditional midsommar "Swedish-style" cake (with fillings, whipped cream, and fruit):

He did a great job! :o)

- - - - - - -

After a long couple of weeks of dry, unseasonably hot weather, we're ready for some relief! The temperature is supposed to be slowly working its way down to the low 90s-- still not cool, but much better than 100 or higher.

Yesterday, we got some rain, which helped for a while-- until the sun came back out and turned the world into a sauna.

Well, unfortunately, stifling summertime heat and humidity is part of the price we pay for our mild winters. But no-one said we have to be happy about it. ;o)

- - - - - - -

I'm continuing along through The Hidden Hand (even if it is nowhere near the level of Jane Eyre in quality). I'm not continuing especially quickly, because I've never been a speed-reader, but I'm still making process.

Here are my observations since last time:
  • The mother/son relationship (between Marah and Traverse) has (mercifully) left the creepiness behind.
  • Cap is such a brat in the scene where she insists upon going to the fair. I think we're supposed to like and root for her even during that scene, but I just don't.
  • The description of Black Donald's long, "jet black" hair reminded me of Disney's version of Captain Hook. (g) (And yes, there is a character called "Black Donald", and if Donald were dark-haired, I might swipe that nickname for my own use. ;o) As things are, however, it just wouldn't make much sense. Sandy Donald or Strawberry Blond Donald doesn't have the same ring...)
  • The bit about Clara using her own hair to embroider Traverse's names into his clothes? Gross. I know the Victorians (and maybe people from earlier periods, too) had a penchant for collecting the hair of loved ones (particularly those deceased) and working the locks into jewelry (brooches and rings, especially) and other elaborate displays, but this seems even creepier than that. . . Grossness aside, would human hair be strong and durable enough to use as embroidery floss? I guess it lasts a pretty long time on our heads, but it seems too fragile to sew with. . . (shudder)
  • Direct quotation from one character: "No girl can marry before she is twenty without serious risk of life, and almost certain loss of health and beauty; that so many do so is one reason why there are such numbers of sickly and faded young wives." I guess there's some sense in it, applying it to the days when marriage usually meant immediate and oft-repeated child-bearing-- and if a girl wasn't prepared for the stresses of being a wife and mother, then yes, it might age her before her time-- but it seems a little too much of a generalization, and it felt awkwardly out of place. (And what of Marah Rocke? She was 17 or so when she had Traverse, and yet we've been told multiple times that-- though she's reached advanced years-- her mid-thirties *choke*-- she's still quite pretty and girlish.) I get the feeling that this was one of E.D.E.N. Southworth's pet notions, and this was her way of "putting it out there".
  • The amazing coincidental connections continue to crop up, and the author is presently in the process of "killing off" a character purely for the advancement of plot. (Isn't that mean of her? But authors are ruthless in these matters.)
  • The people in the vicinity of Hurricane Hall and TipTop must be particularly stupid that they can't see through Black Donald's ridiculous disguises. I guess this is when I'm supposed to pull out my rather worn Willing Suspension of Disbelief. I'm trying, but I've had to use it so much lately that it's getting threadbare.
  • Possibly the most irritating thing about this book-- the most "Oh, this is so not Jane Eyre-quality material!" aspect of it-- is the way that Southworth sometimes goes into too much detail about things that turn out not to really matter. It's not as bad as it could be, but it's bad enough to be occasionally irksome. I do have sympathy, though. I think I tend to leave too much in, myself, when I'm telling stories-- and maybe she was being paid by the word, since this was originally serialized. So, yes, I have sympathy, but it's an irritated sympathy. (g)
Overall impression (so far):
The book is very silly in spots, and I have trouble telling how much of that silliness is intentional, but I guess it's at least entertaining enough that I'm continuing to read it. (I still can't figure out what the teacher was thinking when she based her recommendation on Jane Eyre, though! Well, apart from one unusual plot element that they share...)

- - - - - - -

Happy Birthday to Carrie (and Trixie, too)! :o)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Two Guilty Pleasures

First, Harper's Island.

I may not seem like the type to enjoy horror/thriller-type entertainment, but every now and then, I am. (Particularly if it's mild enough to be shown on network TV. I know I can handle it if it's not deemed too gory for the ol' tube. ;o)) This series has turned out to be more entertaining than the first couple of episodes led me to expect. Unlike apparently every other person who watches the show, I don't really have a pet theory about the identity of the killer. I think several people are equally likely to turn out guilty-- even one of the supposedly deceased characters. The writers have done a good job of making just about everyone seem suspicious. (g)

It's nice to know that there are only a set number of episodes and that the program was designed with a particular ending in mind. With "regular", on-going series, it usually feels like things are just drifting-- not good for mysteries.

I only wish I could go ahead and finish the series all at once! I want to know how it ends!

- - - - - - -

The second (less guilty) guilty pleasure is The Hidden Hand, a novel by E.D.E.N. Southworth.

This novel was recommended in passing by one of my high school teachers. I think she made the suggestion based on seeing that I was reading Jane Eyre-- as in "If you like Jane Eyre, you ought to read The Hidden Hand." She gave me the author's unusual name, and it remained on my "to read" list for years. I never happened across it, but whenever I'd transfer my list of title and authors to a fresh sheet of paper, eliminating some of them as either lost causes or no longer appealing, I'd keep The Hidden Hand. If it could possibly be compared to Jane Eyre, then it deserved to stay.

Well, I've finally found it and started reading. (You can, too, if you click the link above. It's available for free online. I bought a printed copy, because I'm just not that crazy about reading from the monitor, but you can't beat free.)

I'm almost 100 pages into the story, with over 350 left to go. Here are some things I've noted so far:
  • Marah and Traverse-- What an odd mother-son relationship! I realize we have to make some allowances, considering that this was written and edited in the mid to late 1800s, but it's almost creepy at times.
  • There are some instances of possibly offensive language and racial stereotypes. (Again, take the era it was written into consideration.)
  • Capitola is a bit of a Mary Sue, so far. (And I suspect that she may only increase in Mary Sue-ishness, as the story progresses.) And of course, if Capitola is a Mary Sue, then I have to label Herbert and Traverse (especially the latter) as a pair of Gary Stus.
  • I had to laugh when it turned out that Capitola has not only an unusual identifying birthmark (on the palm of her hand, which struck me as an odd spot for a birthmark), but also a tattoo of her name and birth date! How very... convenient.
  • A trapdoor in Capitola's bedroom? Leading to a bottomless pit? Really?
  • Would people actually have reacted so strongly to a 14-year-old (I think) girl dressing in boy's clothes? Would it really have been looked upon as an almost criminal offense?
  • "Miss Condiment"-- What a name! Reminds me a little of Dickens, only less subtle in its oddity.
  • The relationships among the characters are about as tangled as in a soap opera! There are too many coincidences to count, and I'm not even a third of the way in!
  • No-one's hair is merely "black". It's (almost) always "jet black" or "coal black".
  • Within the space of two sentences, someone uses the phrase "HORROR OF HORRORS!" (yes, in all caps) and says she "swooned away".
So far, I can't see much Jane Eyre in this book, but I suppose it's still interesting, in its own way. I don't see myself re-reading this one time after time, though.

Monday, June 15, 2009

More Snippets

More disconnected rambling:

- - - - - - -

Granny's doctor said that there was no damage to her heart (very good news) and that her heartbeat had remained regular long enough to allow her to check out of the hospital on Saturday. By all accounts, she's been enjoying relaxing in the comforts of home.

- - - - - - -

My "self-portrait challenge" is still on-going-- though in extended pause mode-- but I'm already declaring it a success. I may not have taught myself many (or any) new and incredible tricks with the camera, but I think I have been learning how to get a halfway decent photograph of myself.

Here are some of the things I've discovered as I've gone along:

* The most difficult aspect of self-portraiture (imho) is getting the focus just right. Thank goodness for digital photography! You may have to take ten or twenty photos to get one with the focus in the right spot-- and everything else just the way you want it-- but with digital cameras, that's no problem. The ability to instantly check your composition, focus, etc. in the preview screen and adjust your pose and camera settings accordingly really helps, too.

* The second most difficult aspect of self-portraiture is making the decision the take a photo of yourself. It's not always a pleasant prospect if you're already sensitive about your appearance or if you've come to dread looking at photos of yourself. If nothing else, after this project I'm definitely no longer "afraid" to point the camera in my own direction. I can weed out the bad ones and produce a presentable self-portrait. No-one else need ever see the embarrassing photos-- and I hardly have to look at them, myself, with my finger poised over "delete". ;o) (Technically, I guess I've always known these things, but experience has proven it and made me realize that it's nowhere near as painful a process as I once thought.)

* Photoshop is your very good friend. (g) Thank you, whoever invented the clone tool and the spot healing brush tool (among others in the Photoshop arsenal)!! And don't worry-- no, it's not cheating to use a photo-editing tool to remove a blemish here or smooth a wrinkle there. People have been retouching (or even "doctoring") photos for practically as long as photography's been around-- only these days it's so much easier (not to mention faster and cheaper) that anyone can do it. If you're the sort who feels that every pimple, scar, and crease must be preserved for an honest portrait, that's fine, but I have a feeling most of us can live with a few white lies in most of our self-portraits.

* I wear a lot of turquoise/teal tops around the house, these days. (g) Or at least I have just happened to be wearing that color in most of my self-portraits, so far. This is less a sign of my personal tastes than it is a sign of what colors designers have recently deemed best for low-priced fitted tees. (Though I do like teal.)

* I tend to like certain angles of myself better than others, and that is clearly reflected in the photos I choose to process and share. I guess all that stuff about people having a "good side" for photographing might be true, after all. ;o) My preferred angles seem to be those that make me look more slender-- and those that emphasize my eyes. The same is probably true for 99% of people. (I think I read somewhere, once, that most women name their eyes as their best physical feature.)

* Self-portraiture is actually fun and addictive. Previously, I hadn't taken many portraits of any kind-- beyond dog photos, I guess, if you count those as portraits-- so this is fairly new for me. There's lots of territory to explore. I think I'd be even more interested if it were easier to get the focus right, but that only makes it that much more exciting when you get a good one. I'm not sure how many photos I'll take before the end of this challenge-- or how many of them will be particularly good self-portraits-- but I think I can safely say that I'll continue experimenting with self-portraiture long after the challenge is over, and I think that qualifies this "project" as a definite triumph.

- - - - - - -

I heard through the grapevine that someone was wondering where to find the photos of Donald up on the roof (to accompany the story, here in this blog). Unfortunately, it didn't occur to me to take a photo at that time, but I did take a snap of Donald painting lumber for our patio project. (No, it's still not finished. But we're getting close! The bulk of it is done.) I doubt he'll be very fond of this photo, what with his 'round-the-yard painting clothes and messy hair. (g) But the demands of our public must be met! ;o)

- - - - - - -

After reading a bit at a time for a long while, I finally finished the "new" L.M. Montgomery biography by Mary Rubio. I added that fact to my list of topics to blog about, a week or however long ago it is that I started compiling this entry, but now I find that I can't remember what I wanted to say about it.

The book was an interesting read, though I was familiar with the general "story", having read the published journals and a handful of other LMM biographies and related texts. It's been years since I learned that her life wasn't always the rosy, joy-filled thing that one might have expected or hoped for the woman who wrote Anne of Green Gables. The blame of it (if blame is to be assigned) falls partly on fate, partly on certain people in her life, and partly on herself-- her own choices and traits-- as is usually the case. There were a few things I didn't particularly like in the book, and because the endnotes were reportedly cut back to suit the publisher, there were times where I wondered what evidence Rubio had used to form some of her conclusions. Overall, however, I enjoyed reading the book and discovering the many new bits and pieces of information presented. This despite the fact that it was at times a sad story. Rubio did a good job balancing some of Maud's more tragic periods (as presented in the journals) with the existing records of her doings and the memories of those who knew her personally. LMM herself acknowledged that her journals were her vent-- and anyone who has ever kept a journal knows that a diary never presents life as it truly is-- but it was still good to read that, even during her darker years, her life "went on".

Just before the biography came out, LMM's granddaughter published an article revealing that Maud's youngest son (Stuart, who died in the 1980s) had believed and told his children that his famous mother committed suicide. Some fans were shocked; others admitted that they'd always assumed as much. Her final published journal entries, scanty and brief in the last years of her life, do indicate that she was suffering mental anguish, as well as physical problems, but I'd always taken for granted that her reported cause of death was legitimate.

Rubio's account suggests that LMM might have accidentally taken an overdose of her medications, which were possibly poisonous and mind-altering. (Back when I first read the journals, I was struck by the many different medicines she mentions by name-- most of them unfamiliar to me. I find it very plausible that she and her husband Ewan may have suffered adverse effects, both mental and physical, from an unfortunate combination of powerful drugs.) Certainly Rubio calls into doubt the idea that the page Stuart found was really a suicide note. I tend to agree that, if nothing else, it was not originally intended to be/written as a suicide note, but as a commentary on the now missing pages of her journal notes.

I'd like to believe that Maud's death was accidental, but either way, her writing has given joy to generations and will likely continue to do so for many years to come.

- - - - - - -

Over the weekend, I heard for the first time about this story. Apparently, nearly 400 miniature Eskies (American Eskimo Dogs) were rescued from a puppy mill in Washington State. Some of them were living in shocking conditions, such as makeshift cages created by placing a sheet of plywood over shopping carts. It's hard for me to even imagine 400 Eskies in one place... I'm not a fanatic when it comes to so-called "backyard breeders". I don't think it's wrong for a family to breed a pet, so long as they are committed to either finding good homes for or keeping the resultant pups-- but I don't see how anyone could run a real puppy mill. They simply mustn't look at dogs as valued pets, but as some sort of commodity. I would feel guilty keeping "food animals" in those kinds of conditions, nevermind a cat or dog.

I was surprised to see a story about an Eskie puppy mill, because in my experience, Eskies aren't that common-- at least, not around here. The only reason I found the story to begin with was that I was trying to find out if the dog I glimpsed in a movie trailer (The Proposal) was an Eskie. I think it is, which is also surprising, since-- well, again, Eskies just haven't been that common, in recent years. Maybe this movie will help bring them back into the public eye. (They were very popular during certain periods of history.) Some will say that no good can come of popularity, but I wouldn't mind seeing more of them around-- and it's not like this is Disney's 101 American Eskimo Dogs or something on that level. (g)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Granny L. -- Recovering & Ready to GO HOME!! ;o)

As you'll know if you read my "tweets" (the most recent of which are visible somewhere along the sidebar to the right), on Tuesday morning my my maternal grandmother had a heart attack. I don't think my grandparents knew for certain what was wrong, but my grandfather finally insisted that she go to the hospital. Fortunately, after Grandpa drove her to there, she was quickly diagnosed and taken in for surgery. They put in a stint in about half an hour (I think) and then placed her in ICU for monitoring.

Yesterday (Thursday), they finally found a free (non-ICU) room for her, and they're keeping her until they feel confident that her heartbeat is properly regulated. I have no idea how long that'll take, but we hope it won't be too many more days, because she's ready to go home! (g)

It's strange how the things you "always hear" often hold true. (Well, not so strange, maybe. That they're true is why you always hear them!) A tornado coming at you in the middle of the night really does sound like a freight train, apparently. Time actually does seem to slow down while you're taking a tumble. And when you first hear that someone you love has been taken to the hospital for a heart attack, it takes a minute or two for the news to sink in. You need time to process it-- and only then do you begin to realize what it means-- and what it could mean.

In this case, we were blessed-- or lucky-- or both. From what I understand, Granny's doctor has classified the heart attack as mild. It appears that no lasting damage was done. There may be more medications in her future-- cholesterol-lowering drugs, maybe even something to help regulate heart rhythm-- but she should be able to go back to her normal way of life and continue to do the things she enjoys. To say that we are all so thankful for that is obvious, but I'm writing it anyway. ;o)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Political "Sniblet"

But just one-- I promise! (g)

Have you heard? "Obama is sort of God."

Oh, sorry about that. I should've warned you to steel yourself for the barf-inducing nature of that clip...

Doesn't this guy realize that he's doing ol' "B.O." no favors by likening him to God? I can't believe that many Americans-- liberals included-- are comfortable with that comparison, not to mention that it's pretty much begging for "Antichrist" reactions.

And did you catch the part about how, while "Reagan was all about America", Obama's message to the world is that "we are above that now"? Because, obviously, having an American president who made America his top priority would be baaaad. Wouldn't want that!

Naw, America doesn't need anyone-- not even the President!-- to look out for her best interests. I mean, we'll be fine. The U.S. is "too big to fail". Right?

Good grief!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

It's Tidbits or Nothing, I'm Afraid.

So tidbits it is!

(Glancing over my list of topics, I see that they tend toward the negative. Sorry about that. I'll save the non-negative for last, and you can just skip ahead, if you like.)

- - - - - - -

Boring details about jaw pain & sniffles to follow.
You may want to skip down one section...

You try not to complain too much about little things (Hey, who's that I hear stifling a snicker?!), because you know there are people who have real, serious problems, and sooner or later you'll likely experience some of them, too, but lately if it's not one (little) thing, it's another. Just as the pain in my right jaw/neck was finally fading away (but not quite all gone), I was hit by a sudden bout of very distracting sneezing and sniffling, Saturday night. That night was the worst of it, but I'm still a little more tickle-nosed/sneezy than normal. It doesn't seem to be a cold-- no sore throat, coughing, or fever. Every now and then, for the past couple of years, at least, I've had these "suddenly sneezy" experiences, which usually last only a day or two. I've sometimes wondered if I'm developing allergies. I never suffered from them as a child (as far as I can recall), but I think I've read that it's possible to develop them at any time. (Joy.)

P.S. I started this entry Monday, when the jaw pain was finally gone (after about a week). Tuesday morning, as I chewed my first spoonful of cereal, I heard that weird "crunch crunch crunch" sound in the right side of my jaw again-- the same thing I heard within a day or so of the onset of my last experience of jaw pain. (And it wasn't just the sound of the cereal crunching. (g)) I hope this isn't going to become a never-ending cycle of jaw weirdness, because it's really not much fun. And I'm not even one of those people who constantly chew gum! What am I supposed to do? Cut back on eating and talking? ;o) (I probably could cut back on some of the eating... But a healthier diet would likely involve even more chewing than I currently do. How many times is it that we're supposed to chew each mouthful? Twenty- or thirty-something times?)

...Well, that's enough health junk. You know how I hate medical/health junk. (Oh, you didn't? Well, now you do.)

- - - - - - -

We've been trying to get rid of something I grew up calling "sugar ants" (but which apparently are not sugar ants, since those don't live in the US). They've been in our kitchen for a long time, but until recently, they stayed in one spot away from the food. There weren't a lot of them, and they didn't appear to be hurting anything, so after "home remedy" solutions failed, I just threw up my hands and decided to learn to live with them. Recently, however, they showed up in our pantry, and that is not ok. Donald bought some bait poison, which we've been leaving out for several days. I can't tell whether or not it's working. Sometimes there are no ants in sight, but then (like last night, for instance) there are suddenly quite a few of them gathered around the "bait plates" again. I guess I'll keep replacing the bait and hope that it just takes a while to get them all.

Incidentally, it irritates me that (as I learned when researching ant deterrents online) so many people assume that if you have ants in the house, it's because you're living in a pig sty. I'll admit that I'm nowhere near the best housekeeper in the world, but it's impossible to live a meaningful life and keep the kitchen free of the minute amount of crumbs and food residue that it takes to keep a few ants alive. Even a dishwasher would be a big no-no unless you ran it immediately each time you dirtied a dish-- or thoroughly washed the dishes before leaving them on the rack (in which case why bother with the dishwasher at all?).

- - - - - - -

The terrible news of that jet that "disappeared" over the Atlantic has reminded me of all the horrific things I've ever imagined about flying-- what those last few minutes would be like. I'm glad we have no plans to fly this summer. Not that it's any less safe this summer than it ever is, but... well, I never really want to fly. It's like taking a nasty-tasting medicine-- it has to be done, sometimes, but if it didn't, I'd happily spend the rest of my life on solid ground, where I belong.

- - - - - - -

Last night, I woke at three-something a.m. from an awful dream. Someone I loved had died. (Apparently I'm too superstitious to give names...) I've dreamed before that people I care about have died, but I can't recall dreaming that about this particular person, until last night. The strange part was that until I woke up, it wasn't completely devastating. We were sad (though I have no idea why it was happening, we had warning, even to the point of discussing cremation/burial options), but it was something we both simply accepted with unnatural calmness. It wasn't until I was awake that I felt myself on the verge of tears-- when logically I should've been reassured that it was only a nightmare.

Last night, I turned over, tried to shake off unreasonable anxiety, and was soon back in the world of dreams (this time something about video games, a tornado-- an especially popular item in my jukebox o' dreams-- and the cast of That 70s Show), but it's not always that easy. Somehow, things always seem at their worst when I wake at 3 in the morning. L.M. Montgomery (one of my favorite authors) tended to write about the horrors of lying awake at 3 a.m.-- and I've seen references to that hour from time to time, elsewhere. I'm not sure why, but when I wake up around 3 a.m., I rarely feel good about myself or life in general. Worries that are manageable at other hours seem to crowd around me, smothering and insurmountable. Falling back asleep can sometimes be difficult-- but once I do, I'm generally back to my usual self in the morning. I suspect that there is something to this business about 3 a.m. being a cursed hour-- much worse than mere midnight. Of course, the "curse" is probably linked to our physiology-- biochemical reactions or something equally scientifically mysterious-- and the fact that we aren't thinking very clearly when we wake at that hour.

- - - - - - -

This weekend, Donald went up and replaced the shingles that were blown off our roof in March. We had been just keeping it patched with tar paper in anticipation of possibly having it professionally repaired, but after having it inspected and talking it over, Donald decided that he could replace the shingles himself.

It's good to have something a little more permanent than tar paper done, at least. Some of what the roofer we consulted with told us (suggesting that certain parts of the original job possibly hadn't been done properly) still makes me a little uneasy, but (rap wood again!) that roof saw us through Hurricane Ivan. Besides, even if we'd had a professional do it, we wouldn't have replaced the whole roof, and I know Donald put more care into the patch than the average roofer would have.

Here's to no more hurricanes or roof-damaging squalls for twenty years, at least! ;o)

- - - - - - -

We taught Trixie a couple new tricks, a few days ago. She already knew "sit" and "down". (Well, in theory. Sometimes she still seems to be confused about why it's necessary to get into the "sit" position when she's already "down". I guess I can't blame her. It doesn't make much sense...) Next, we added "roll over" and "speak". I wondered, while teaching her to speak, whether we'd regret it. So far, she's been pretty good. Of course, she sometimes barks during "trick sessions" just on the off chance that we'll reward her, but I think that will decrease as she becomes better at differentiating between commands. Still, maybe her next trick will be learning how to use an "inside voice".

Let's close with this very no-frills video of Trixie demonstrating her tricks:

Trixie's Tricks from Michael Johansson on Vimeo.