Saturday, December 16, 2017


We use the word Barbarian to presume ourselves better.

It's all about ourselves.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Have you ever found yourself feeling a kind of ... distrust, when you find out someone isn't a reader? Or special admiration, even a crush, on a writer? Even the smallest phrases can be great storytelling; I am able to clearly remember some of the things that have swept my heart away: Beloved Ex's calling me a wonderful bag of things. Humorous, sure. But ... "telling" in a way that was important to me. A girl who once said to me, I have a voice like rain and brownies baking. The friend who called me a flower-eyed waterfall. And Mr. X ... that time he said to me, "You use your wit and intelligence as if your appearance had no power, and the effect is devastating."

Why the self-aggrandizing intro, today? Well, READ on, my friends. On the evolution of storytelling. It keeps humanity alive, literally. And the best storytellers get the greatest rewards, in egalitarian communities. Hmm.

And now, a little consumer culture ...

Of all the people I have known in the 25-year SUV trend, I am aware of ONE who ever used their winch, and none who ever went offroading, or even camping. (In the 1970s, my cousins did have a proto-SUV, but they skiied and camped and hunted and used its immense capacity in full, though not every single time they drove it.) SUVs looked to my contrarian eyes like a Baby Boomer/yuppie fad from the start, and what rugged behavior I ever *have* seen with them seems to be confined to drivers imagining that "SUV" confers upon them not merely invulnerability but also immunity to the existence of others on the roads when it is snowy and/or icy. (Strangely, this does not appy to rain; everyone in this whole town seems to just *crawl* when there is rain, mist, or drizzle anywhere in a 50-mile radius. No matter what they drive.) Anyway, to the link, Batman: on SUVs, and the developing social structure in America, over the past 30 years. As always, there is room for quibbling here. But it's an interesting wider look at "trends" ...

The older I get, the more I LOVE investigative journalism. Doesn't matter when it's a couple or few years old; the detective stories hold up, and truly good writing never goes out of date. Here's a great piece about discovering provenance, and for my writer friends, stay tuned to the end - the bit about publishing a book is priceless.

Here is a joyous(-ish ...) stocking stuffer for you all! More demented cover fails with the Caustic Cover Critic, guesting over at the Australian Book Designers Association. Featuring: Jane AusTIN and Slash. You know you wanna click!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Es Schneet

Last year's tree

I am in the path of the snowstorm, and as far as I know it hasn't stopped for about 25 hours. It's not getting deep, because it's very wet, and where I live (fortunately) it doesn't seem to be accumulating on the roads much. The ploughs, which were surprisingly frequent last night, and wigging Pen and Goss right out every time they passed, haven't been active today. Good sign, I suppose.

It is pretty, and my across-the-street neighbors have played in it a bit; I love to watch them. Little kids in snow is fun.

As for me and the resident Poobahs, we've stayed in. I have accomplished less than I'd have liked to, but the big wardrobe is back in its rightful home (no injuries to me or it), and the tree is up out of the basement. All but four stubborn screws away from having my lower cabinet doors ready to sand and spackle and paint, that's still only half of six doors actually de-hardwared. But, with further messes to make, and work on the house pending this week, there will be no regular housecleaning today. So, of what I need to accomplish, I suppose it is not so bad.

And the paid job has been productive of late. And, after this week's electrician and handyman visits, I'll have the full run of cabinets, range hood, and backsplash.

Thursday, I'll actually decorate the tree; the night we always did it as kids. I have a couple memories to enjoy while I get to that, and the couple of days' activity to anticipate. Then, a big family visit, the best part of the holidays to look forward to.

Puddy (every year)

Channumas is comin' y'all. Who's excited? Who is ready?

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

It was a day ...

... and it is an evening.

One of those days it's hard to keep yourself together. One of those days you feel like this, or this - or wish you did, because actually you are so much more fragile. One of those days you break, because of music. One of those days you are angry - and impotent. Cruelly, inhumanly, inhumanely - impotent. To help, to love, to DO.

It was a productive day. The sort of day you clear out the "pending work" folder and fill the recycling bin. You lob a few balls into other peoples courts, and check off a few things, completed, too. And even still, the sort of day you still have time to realize ... terrible, terrible things. Things you have always known, even articulated before, in different ways. But which still have the power to devastate.

Sometimes, it is a good thing to know that, when I say I am possessed of a  wee and paltry brain, really it is a joke.

Sometimes, it is a burden. To understand too well. And still be powerless. And still be the little girl, who is desperate and too tender and devastatingly weak.

Sometimes, it is a good thing, having a daily routine, having discipline - it keeps us together, most of the time.

Sometimes, it is a burden - the routine, the discipline. Keeping it together. And being devastatingly weak.

It is time to feel this. Instead of maintaining, to succumb.

It is evening.

It is night. Oh, Lord.

Thursday, November 30, 2017


Ran across the following phrase today, and realized I haven't done an "aside" post in a VERY long time. This rates it:

thoroughly half-baked

Okay, carry on.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


How much fun is a good debunking? Particularly one that goes after those clickbait farms that so adore spreading BS which, unfortunately, people seem to lap up like creature-milk. Please enjoy ... the true history of gruesome Victorian photography of the dead! Not. Heh. (The click beyond: tear catchers and the phrase "each of us can choose our own belief." Maybe meant to be funny; but YET another symptom in the hardening American resistance to *facts*. And now sigh.)

Ummmmmmm(ami) - women's emansoupation - here is a tale of tasty seasoning, which I now feel the need to go buy so I can put it in my new spice rack.

Dominick Tao, an American veteran, is a great writer ... with a meaningful story.

Do you remember Powers of Ten? Here's another great animation, graphically representing just how far humanity has gone into the Earth.

And finally, the old two-space. I trained myself out of this habit over the space of a few days just in the past four years or so. My resistance to change (apart from being a Virginian) was seething irritation at the single-spacers' screaming insistence that ye olde River of White was apparently horrifying to them, and that has always struck me as a ludicrous stance. My feeling is, what is so damn gorgeous about a giant, unbroken wall of text? Ahh, but: count on the Arrant Pedant to produce a detailed, and MUCH more cogent discussion on the subject. (Also: yay, he is back!)

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Squees and Thanks

Thanksgiving didn't turn out as planned, but oh I do love the quiet holidays that are just me, mom, and my stepfather. He has been ailing for seven years now, but the point has come where doctors are starting to recommend stopping recurring procedures, and the slowdown he is in now feels somewhat different from previous periods when he has felt low. So, though I'd invited them to my house, at about 1:30 on Thanksgiving day, when I was pulling the turkey breast out to tent it for its final phase, grabbed the broccoli and sweet potato dishes, and went to their house.

When your mom is in tears, the dishes you've twice-washed and spot-inspected lose all significance.

But our day, which is possibly the last quiet-holiday time the three of us will share, was lovely. He was up most of the time I was there, and dressed even. We had a few little laughs; his grace is at times the greatest blessing for others, in the face of his pain. I deeply love my stepfather. Another blessing, and one I did not see coming eleven or twelve years ago.

As much as those I love must endure, my own life is richly blessed and comfortable right now. I still miss Mr. X. But there is someone that remarkable in this world, for me to miss. That is inestimable.

At four years in, my "new" job is now entirely mine. I love the work I do, and I like and respect the people I get to work with. It was scary to leave public service, but I have learned that a form of service that is much more direct has great rewards, and what we do is honorable, sometimes fun, and gives to our community in ways that are new to me and mean so much. All this, and at four years there's a bump in vacation accrual, so woo!

Gossamer and Penelope are still the finest little monsters anyone could ask to live with. Goss is soft and gentle - and preternaturally forgiving of his great lummox of a human. Pum is soulful and warm, both magnificent and insouciant. They make me laugh every day, and then they warm my heart.

Writing ... I'm doing that. Not enough - but is it ever enough, in any writer's mind? What is happening with it is good. That counts.

Christmas: we are looking forward to my brother and BOTH nieces coming for a visit.

And homeownership ... ahhh, homeownership! Here may be the most immediate squee for today. In three days from now, I will have a new run of five kitchen cabinets. One wall has always been the home of every bit of storage in this 67-year-old house - and it's not too bad, actually; lowers, as well as uppers all the way to the ceiling, and I have eleven-foot ceilings, so storage is significant.

So 'long about my birthday (suffice it to say, this was over half a year ago), I went to the Habitat for Humanity Restore a couple or three times, and found a pair of midcentury cabinets which will coordinate nicely with the originals. Since, then, I have poked now and then at all of them - removing the old black hammered hinges from mine, spackling and repainting the uppers (white), throwing around a bad paint job (black) on the lowers, re-hinging all of the uppers including the "new" ones.

Today is the day to remove the lower doors and old hardware, give them a spackle and sanding, and tomorrow paint 'em black.

MONDAY ... comes the handyman. He will cut the crown molding and patch the circa-1950 hole in the wall that was all we had in the kitchen for a vent back then. Install the cabinets, AND the ventless range hood. And all the drawer and cabinet handles. He's even going to tidy up a spot of water damage (long since resolved) that predates my 16 year ownership. The tile I ordered isn't here yet, but we'll call this guy back. Or cross fingers it'll arrive today! :)

Oh my gosh. In three days, I will have new kitchen cabinets. I'll be able to put away my crock pot, cookie jar, lots of things. So exciting!

And on the first day of The Big Holiday Family Visit, I also will have a brand new chair. Mom and I recently went chair (s)hopping at a couple of stores, and on my own time I tried at least one more place, on a quest to find The Chair. The chair you come home to, that will welcome you and take care of you all evening after work. The chair that is kind of foxy, but also comfortable. And one we saw on the day she and I sallied forth was all that, but also had remarkably good BACK SUPPORT. It was the chair that stuck in my head through a few more chairs and another shopping trip. And it will be mine.

This is the kind of chair that makes a big difference in a home. It's the kind of chair that makes a big difference in most days, too. So, with this, and the major changes in the kitchen, some really big improvements for the holidays. After The Great Bookcase Project of the summer of 2017 (three. seven-foot. bookcases, y'all. Don't even tell me you're not jealous), and the final completion of the it-seemed-neverending basement job, this is going to make for one HECK of an organized domicile. And just in time to clutter it all up with Christmas decorations!

Still life with much clutter

Hoping everyone had a splendid, blessed, and joyous Thanksgiving, and that the best is yet to come.

Are you ready ... ???