Sunday, April 22, 2018

Today, I Feel Like A Genius. Read This And You Will Feel Like One, Too.

We join a Cleveland Sunday news show already in progress...

Robin: And today is National Jelly Bean Day! The sweet little treat is thought to be the invention of a Boston candymaker. His popular candy was sent to Union troops during the American Civil War. How about you, Ryan? Do you like jelly beans? I have to say that myself, I like Jelly Bellies better than jelly beans.

(Camera cuts to shot of Ryan the weatherman, standing in front of the map. For a moment he looks terribly confused; his mouth opens, then shuts. He glances at the camera, then looks over at the anchor desk.)

Ryan: Aaah...Jelly Bellies and jelly beans are the same thing. Jelly Bellies are a brand of jelly beans, Robin.

Robin: (voice heard, off, brightly) Oh wow! You learn something new every day!

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Friday, April 13, 2018

Settle In With Some Fries And Let's Ketch...Er, Catch Up

It would seem I'm a Terrible Virtual Friend and Correspondent. So many days have drifted by and here we are with nothing more wonderful than a Catch-Up Post from me.

Get it?  Catch Up--Ketchup?

Oh well...I tried.

Spring Has Sprung! As I tap away on my keyboard, it is a Blissfully Sunny 75 degrees outdoors. My windows are open, I feel uplifted, and I'm even barefoot right now. My walk was sprightly and pleasant. Crocuses are smiling at the sun, buds are on trees, and the guy down the street was out mowing his lawn. As I leaned over our neighbor's fence to give treats to their dogs (The Boys, as I call them), I took note of their forsythia just beginning to show bright yellow blossoms. My chives are up and ready to be snipped for baked potatoes tonight, and my oregano and tarragon are starting to come on. And, looking closely, I spot a fine sprinkling of dill which has nudged up through the mulch. Hooray!

I Am The Champion! After a grueling season rife with injuries to my marquee players, my perseverance paid off and I beat Sam in the Championship Round of our NBA Fantasy League. I had an impressive record of 18-3 with an 11-game win streak. And I was the only woman in the 10-team league. My knowledge of the NBA is bordering on the obsessive at this point. Once a student, always a student.

Undecorator Update. As of today, very few Christmas Decoration Sloths in my orbit have taken down their decorations, most egregious being the Nativity Wreck on my street and the mailbox wreath three blocks north. I've decided to Be Grateful that none of the offending decor is an inflatable.

Knitting Pathology. I started a mitred square blanket with the intention of A) using up a lot of yarn that was given to me and that I had bits and pieces of; B) focusing on Knitting As Therapy, and; C) having an ongoing small and easy project that wouldn't give me fits and didn't have a date certain for necessary completion. It all sounds Just Perfect, right? Well, baloney to that.

First, I found little mini-skeins of very pretty yarn on sale that I thought, "Oh, that would be so lovely to fill in squares on the blanket project" so I bought a load of them. Then I knitted a couple of different projects that used bulkier yarn, and I really loved that, so when I found a bunch of it at a ridiculously low price, I bought that. And then I decided that I would set A Square A Day as a Knitting Assignment for myself, which is completely reasonable, and then every day I keep an eye on the clock, wondering when I'm going to have some unbroken time to sit down and knit my square. All of which is Completely Counter to what my Original Intentions were. I swear, I am a Horrible Project most of the time.

Looking Forward. Last Saturday, our mail was exciting! In it was an invitation to a release party being thrown by our favourite winemaker in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. We were verbally invited last October, but hadn't given it much thought again until the invitation showed up. Luckily, we were able to book a room at our usual inn, and we can't wait to go and taste the new wines before they are released to the general public. We've developed some very nice relationships with so many of the wineries and winemakers there that every time we open a bottle, it's like reliving a memory.

I do so hope that Spring has shown up where you are.  We here in NEO will be back to the 40s and low 50s in just a couple of days, but this gift of Fleeting Spring has been a much-needed tonic.  And that is, after all, what Spring is all about:  rejuvenation, reward, and renewal.  I'm storing this up until Spring comes again To Stay.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Help Me To Help You To Help Me: My Moneymaking Idea To End The Madness Of Holiday Sloths

This idea is my gift to you.  Please make it happen and keep all the profits!
Dearest Readers, let's all check our calendars together, shall we? It is April; we can all agree upon that. Can we all agree, too, that in the past, oh, let's say...three months, we've had lots of holidays pass by, including the well-known New Year's Day, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, and Easter? Certainly a couple of those are Decoration-Worthy for some of our More Festive Neighbors. Yet, some of them are still Stuck--Irretrievably, it seems--in Christmas Past.

Case in point: the photo below is one I took on my walk a few days ago. Sadly, it is on my very own street, and as of this writing, its status has not changed.

Nativity Wreck:  The Wise Men were smart enough not to show up.
And until a week ago, a lighted wreath (illuminated 24/7) hanging out of a second story window was still a prominent feature of the front of this home.

Unfortunately, this Serial Offender is not the Rogue Holiday Decoration Sloth.  On my walk, they are everywhere.  And proud!  Like this home several blocks from my own.

Sometimes this is still lit up when I pass by in the morning!  Fun!
What's really mystifyingly egregious are the Christmas wreaths still left hanging on front doors and on mailboxes, which are hanging right next to the doors, under cover of the porch.  HOW HARD IS IT, EVERYONE?  JUST REACH OUT AND GRAB IT AND BRING.  IT.  INSIDE.  WITH YOUR MAIL.  ANY DAY NOW WOULD BE GREAT.


So, here's my idea for a moneymaking business.  All you need is a van or a small pickup truck, an extension ladder, and a good supplier for sturdy cardboard boxes in various sizes.  Very No Frills.  A client calls and says, "Look.  I don't want to Undecorate my house.  All the festivity of November/December that translated into ten tons of tchotchky dripping from my home has now become a nightmare to me in February EVEN THOUGH WE HAVE HAD DOZENS OF VERY DECENT DAYS WITH NO SNOW AND TEMPERATURES ABOVE FORTY.  Please come and do it for me."  So, the Undecorator comes, strips all the Holiday Crap, and packs it into sturdy cardboard boxes.  He or she places the boxes either into a garage, shed, or into the home (no stairs will be climbed, and no lifting boxes overhead to put them up on shelves will be done, ever; the homeowner must place boxes into final storage).  Finally, the Undecorator presents the bill, takes payment, and it's over.  For all of us.

As far as looking for new business, please.  I could have found you no less than six new clients in a one and a half-mile radius of my own home, happily placing flyers, dreaming of the days when Christmas was really over well before Easter arrived.

So, what do you say?  Can you make this happen for me?

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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

They Are Students; They Are Victims; They Are Change--Ready For The Revolution

Is it almost Every Day now? Because it feels like almost Every Day--that almost Every Day a school is On Lockdown, or there is a School Shooting, or we're in the Aftermath of a School Shooting. It feels sad and hopeless, yet I'm full of outrage and anger and motivation, like I have to lift a wrecked car off of my child in order to save him.

I was more than midway through my teaching career when Columbine happened in 1999. Despite teaching in one of Ohio's "Big Urbans," I doubt one of us ever imagined a single one of our students capable of a mass shooting. Some of our kids were in and out of juvie, several had incarcerated parents, and to find more than a handful in class with the same last name as both parents (or their single parent) was relatively unusual. A high percentage qualified for free or reduced lunch. Many lived in public housing. The odds were stacked against so many of our kids, yet the idea of a Columbine-like event at our high school of 2000+ was unthinkable.  We were largely ignorant as to the profile of the typical adolescent mass shooter, and we were never given any education, even after the incident.

After it happened, the school district immediately tightened security. All exits would remain locked; teachers would be posted at the doors, admitting no one except through the main entrance (and no, we did not get hazard pay).  Students and staff were photographed for I.D. badges, to be worn on a lanyard around their necks at all times, which the kids found ridiculous and irritating. I reminded them that we were a huge school of three floors, three buildings, and that outsiders had sneaked into our school plenty of times. Besides, it wasn't costing them any money.  "This is stupid!" they protested. "The Columbine shooters were Columbine students!"  The discussion pretty much stopped when one student said, "The I.D.'s are so they can identify our bodies."  I retired in 2011, tossing my I.D. badge into the trash can.

Six months later, I joined a community of bloggers trying to grieve the losses of more than twenty grade school children at Sandy Hook by "writing it out". And astonishingly, two short months after that, and about fifty miles from my home, a terrifyingly disturbed boy walked into Chardon High School and murdered his classmates.

Incredibly, I still have so many of the same Outrages, Questions, and Sadnesses today. Because of Inaction. Because of Unwillingness. Because, it seems, of Abject Cowardice by the same politicians and, overwhelmingly, the same political party. Do they not have Children? A Sense Of Humanity? A Soul?

I know that so many of you share my feelings. And I hope you have had a chance to watch and listen to the empowering and encouraging speeches given by the young activists at the March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C. They are inspiring and moving. (Just search "March for Our Lives speeches" on YouTube). These Parkland teens have benefitted from a rich program of the arts and debate and a school system that helped them understand critical thinking and verbal expression. Add that to their ready use of social media platforms, and a true Movement was born. The most vital part of the speeches--aside from their obvious emotional impact--was the idea that they stressed VOTING FOR CHANGE. Tables were set up at these and sibling rallies to register voters and to provide information regarding voting. This injects more momentum to the already-inspired women and minority voters and candidates who have scored seats locally and statewide, building to a Blue Wave in the midterms.

Before I end, I want you to meet Parkland survivor Sam Fuentes. As she took cover from the shooter, a bullet tore through her leg, and shrapnel chewed into her face. Pieces of it behind her eye and cheek will remain there forever, like the memories of her ordeal. She had to post pictures of her injured face from her hospital bed and screen shots of her bleeding body being loaded into the ambulance to try and silence social media trolls and pro-NRA conspiracy theorists. She watched her friend Nick Dworet die, and it would seem her struggles with PTSD are likely far from over. Despite all of this, she took the stage on Saturday and read a slam poetry-styled speech, displaying the humanity and authenticity that is sorely lacking in Washington, D.C. Her courage and conviction, in the midst of becoming physically and emotionally overwhelmed, should inspire us all.  Please watch and listen;  you'll be so, so very glad that you did.

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Monday Meme: Love It/Hate It

Yikes! Almost two weeks since my last post. Lots of excuses, but let's leave them be and jump right in with something that makes it easy to Get Back At It (the It being writing a blogpost).

Quicky Monday Meme: Love/Hate Relationships

1. What song/kind of music always makes you feel good/irritated?
     80s music always makes me feel good, and so does Tina Turner or Earth, Wind, and Fire.
     All country music irritates the hell out of me.  All of it.  All the time.

2. What are among your best/worst traits?
     A few of my best traits are empathy, tolerance, and my ability to organize.
     My worst traits are impatience, impatience, and probably impatience.

3. What food did you used to like but now you don't?
     I used to like ham, sloppy joes, and fish; I don't anymore.

4. What book did everyone else love but you didn't?
     Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
     Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick

5. Fill in the blanks: I love my ______, but I hate (its/their/the)______.
     I love my cats, but I hate their hair.
     I love my country but I hate what the republicans are doing to it.
     I love my blog, but I hate how worky it sometimes feels to keep up with it.
Your turn in Comments.


Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Who Knew Salad Could Be So Racy? Sign Language Saturday On A Tuesday

Photo Dept. of Nance

Great sense of humour over at the ad agency in charge of the layout of this ad, which arrived in my mail today for a local grocery store.

Too bad it's the Baby Spinach that's "washed & ready to enjoy."  What a missed opportunity.

Monday, February 26, 2018

It Started With The Coffeemaker

On Saturday, Rick repaired--again--my coffeemaker. I'm inordinately and irrationally fond of this coffeemaker, a Cuisinart drip model circa 2004-5, and I refuse to let it go. When I first discovered it was leaking a month ago, he took it apart and replaced a hose. My Gratitude and Joy were boundless. Last week, when it started leaking again, all Rick did was to mildly berate himself for not replacing both hoses when he had the thing apart the first time, and set about taking it apart again. This time, unfortunately, the repair was more difficult and tedious.

Lucky for him, my own tasks took me in and out of the kitchen so that I could check on his progress help. On one of my sojourns through his work area, he asked me to hold the light so that he could use both hands to maneuver the circuit panel/board back into place and put everything back together.

But it wouldn't all fit back in. I watched my husband's face carefully for clues: was my coffeemaker terminal? did he really know what he was doing? was I going to have to get dressed and do my hair in order to go get coffee in the morning? WAS LIFE AS I KNOW IT OVER?

My search of his features yielded nothing. His expression was one of Placid Determination and Quiet Concentration. Clearly, I was going to have to Get Involved.

"Maybe you should just untie that bigass knot in the cord there," I suggested helpfully. "It seems to be holding up the whole shebang."

"It's not that."

"Okay." He moved around a lot of wires and cords and the panel/board thing. He tried a couple more times to get it all to fit. He looked at a piece of plastic that fit on the back near the power cord. It was obvious that my expertise was necessary here. I thought carefully about Strategy, Tact, and the cost of Marital Counseling.

Then I decided to speak up anyway. "Hey, Rick? Maybe they just tied that knot in that cord because of some UL regulations about cord length or something. You know? I feel like--"

And suddenly, right in front of me, Rick was screwing the bottom onto the coffeemaker. Just like that.

"Hey!" I said. "You got it! Yay!"

"Yep," he said. "Nance, that knot in the cord is there to keep the panel from being yanked all the way out."

"Oh. Well, you could have said that from the beginning! Why didn't you say that before?"

"I just thought about it."

I boosted myself onto the kitchen counter to keep him company while he finished up. We needed to test the coffeemaker to see if it worked and to see if it would leak again. "And how did you do all this tedious, frustrating work without swearing? If it were me, I'd have been a few Eff Words deep and then some."

"Because every time you hear me swear while I work, you think something's wrong. And then you worry. So I learned not to do that."

For a moment I was floored by this.  It showed a depth of understanding and concern that truly touched me.  It showed that Rick had listened to me over these many, many years!  "Wow," I said.  "That's really true, and I very much appreciate that, but okay, hold on. Of all the fantastic advice I've given you in all the years we've known each other, what percentage of it would you say that you've actually listened to?"

Rick held the coffeepot up to eye level to measure its contents before pouring it into the machine. He plugged the coffeemaker in, flipped the switch, and without turning around said definitively, "Seventy percent. Your coffeemaker is working."

My heart was full. I was so happy! As soon as that red light came on and I heard the sound of water successfully burbling through My Precious Coffeemaker, I almost gave Rick a pass on his preposterous answer. Almost. "Seventy percent! That's ridiculous. No way is it seventy percent. I'd put it at forty percent, tops. Especially if you figure in follow-through, like when I say you should ice your leg or take a naproxyn or stay off screens after 9PM. And you don't."

"Look under here when I lift this up," he said. "See if you see any water." He carefully raised the coffeemaker, and I craned my neck to see beneath it. A few drops of water were collecting on the newly-replaced hose. A wire clamp dangled, too. I reported these to Rick, who sighed patiently. "I can't believe I forgot to put the clamp back on after all that."

"Don't burn yourself. Be careful. Why don't you wait until it cools way down? It's easy enough just to put the clamp on, right?" I leaned over to provide Support and show Concern, so much so that I almost fell into the sink. I needn't have bothered; by the time I had expressed my Profound Sentiments, Rick had unscrewed the bottom of the unit, replaced the clamp, and started to screw it back in place.

"Why don't more people take my advice?" I asked him. "I'm not talking about the people on TV; I know they can't hear me when I tell them what to do. More people need to do exactly what I say. And immediately. Everything would be better."

"Maybe a lot of people do take your advice. They just don't tell you about it."

A final check of the coffeemaker proved successful. Hopefully, I'll have another fifteen years of Good Service and Good Coffee from it.  I'll let you know.

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