Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Happy New Year's Eve.

This is Lloyd's and my wedding anniversary. We had what you might call a whirlwind courtship. When he was pointed out to me by a mutual acquaintance, a voice in my head said, "You're going to marry that man." So, when he proposed to me—not eight hours later—I said yes. That was just before Christmas, and our wedding was barely two weeks later on New Year's Eve.
Lloyd and Jan, Seacliff Beach, CA, Oct 2005
We've been married forty-two years now. We have raised two only children: our daughter was born nearly fourteen years after our son. Both of us are cancer survivors. Both of us have been able to find work when we needed it, and Lloyd was able to retire in 1996 at the age of 66. God has been good to us.

Sometimes people ask how we have been able to stay married so long. A determination to work things out between us is a key. Humor is another. If either of us were incapable of laughing at ourselves and the situations in which we have been, this marriage would have been on the rocks many times. Another point in our favor was that both sets of parents showed us in many ways that they loved and respected our choice of partner. (I always said that were I to run away from home, I would run to his mom as mine would just send me back.) We stayed away from those relatives who disparaged our relationship.

When we were first married, Lloyd worked for an aircraft field service team that contracted to repair, replace and retrofit airplane parts. His job has taken us from border to border, coast to coast and even to Puerto Rico. We have seen so many wonderful places and met many wonderful people.

We settled in Wichita in part because of the job market here, and also because Tim had attended eight different schools in two years. It was time to settle in one place. Even after we established our home here, we have been able to travel to see relatives and to just see the country. And we have been able to continue the courtship long after the wedding.

Our word of the day for December 31, 2008 is "annual" — Pronunciation: \'an-yə(-wə)l, -yü-əl\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French annuel, from Late Latin annualis, blend of Latin annuus yearly (from annus year) and Latin annalis yearly (from annus year); probably akin to Gothic athnam (dative plural) years, Sanskrit atati he walks, goes
Date: 14th century
1 : covering the period of a year [annual rainfall]. 2 : occurring or happening every year or once a year :
yearly [an annual reunion]. 3 : completing the life cycle in one growing season or single year [annual plants].

Our quote for the day is from Wallace Stevens (1879–1955), U.S. poet. Journal entry, March 4, 1906. Souvenirs and Prophecies: the Young Wallace Stevens, ch. 8, ed. Holly Stevens (1977):

Poor, dear, silly Spring, preparing her annual surprise!


Monday, December 29, 2008


My sister invited me to join LibraryThing the other day. This is a site to inventory your library, or just list all the books you've read. There are chat rooms and billboards and that sort of socialization for librarians and others who work with or just plain love books and reading.

One of the easier ways to enter data for LibraryThing is something called a Cuecat, aka a barcode reader. Way back in the mid-ninties, Radio Shack was handing out these clever little critters (they are shaped like a stylized cat) left, right and center. The idea was that you could read the barcode on a product and get information above and beyond what was on the lable. Well, I never was able to find anything that had info out on the web. I really think the reason for their existence was to allow advertisers to develop a database of people who bought whatever objects and target them for further advertising. They are a lot more subtle about collecting their data, Kitty

Anyway, I thought, that's just the ticket. I don't want to have to type in a kazillionty-three ISBN numbers (which is what the barcodes translate to) to populate my portion of the site. So, I did an exhaustive search, mostly moving piles of books and computer literature into other piles, until I found my Cuecat. Calloo, Callay, O frabjous day! HOWEVER, my Cuecat is ancient in technological terms: not a USB device. Either I find a converter, or I'll have to bite the bullet and acquire a new one. Maybe there will be more on this.

The word of the day for December 29, 2008 is "bibliophile" — Pronunciation: \ˈbi-blē-ə-ˌfī(-ə)l\
Function: noun
Etymology: French, from bibli- + -phile
Date: 1824
: a lover of books especially for qualities of format ; also : a book collector.

Our quote for today is from Pablo Neruda (1904–1973), Chilean poet. Memoirs, ch. 11 (1974, trans. 1977):
A bibliophile of little means is likely to suffer often. Books don’t slip from his hands but fly past him through the air, high as birds, high as prices.


Saturday, December 27, 2008


Christmas 2008 dawn

It is amazing. Yesterday we had a cloudy, but warm, day. It was 54F. at 8:00am and 65F. at 8:00pm. This morning it is only 30F. with a projected high of 35F. and a winter storm advisory. Time to batten the hatches, I think. I do need to run out for a prescription refill, which I will do as soon as I finish this and put the kitchen dishes in the sink.

Note the old moon in the tree, just above the rooftop
Christmas 2008 sunrise

This sort of weather is typical of South Central Kansas: balmy one day, frigid the next and warm again a couple of days later. We don't normally get much snow, but ICE...

I use the word typical advisedly. When we moved to Kansas 35 years ago, people who mentioned the weather always would say, no matter what the weather was: "But that's not normal for this time of year." People are still saying this; ergo, there is no normal weather in SCKansas.

One meteorological phenomenon that is constant is the wind. Indeed, Kansas is named for a Native American tribe whose collective name translates as "People of the South Wind." I sometimes joke that there are only three days a year without at least a 10mph wind, and those days we get our own smog instead of Oklahoma City's.

The word of the day for December 27, 2008 is "meteorology" — Pronunciation: \ˌmē-tē-ə-ˈrä-lə-jē\
Function: noun
Etymology: French or Greek; French météorologie, from Middle French, from Greek meteōrologia, from meteōron + -logia -logy
Date: 1620
1 : a science that deals with the atmosphere and its phenomena and especially with weather and weather forecasting. 2 : the atmospheric phenomena and weather of a region.

Our quote for the day is from Adrienne Rich (b. 1929), U.S. poet. "Storm Warnings" (l. 12–14). Norton Introduction to Poetry, The. J. Paul Hunter, ed. (3d ed., 1986) W. W. Norton & Company:

Weather abroad
and weather in the heart alike come on
Regardless of prediction.



Thursday, December 25, 2008


e Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Glad Yule, Seasons Greetings, etc. to all. e

While cutting up an orange this morning to make orange/banana salad—which my sister informs me no one in our family likes but me—I was thinking about Witchie-poo's song, "There Ain't No Rhyme for Oranges". This happens to be true: one of the few words in English that doesn't even have a good assonance. Possibly a case could be made for larynges, but I don't even want to go there.

Anyway, I had plenty of fruit in my breakfast this morning. Lloyd got half my orange with his egg and bacon on toast, but I had the breakfast salad plus raisins in my rice. Nummy!

Jan with new toy
Lloyd with Santa
Lloyd, Speedy and I opened our presents before breakfast. Lloyd got a calendar with photos of San Francisco—he already is enjoying his main present: an LCD television. I got a weather machine that will pull in the MSN prognostications so I don't have to turn Lloyd's tv on to see what the weather will be. Speedy got a t-shirt that says "I still live with my parents" and a dark blue sweater that looks really nice on him. My sister gave Corky another gorgeous Santa for his collection. She gave me a huge gryphon for my collection.

Speedy also got several toys and chew bones. He doesn't know which one to play with first. I have already put a few of them back for later.

Here's hoping that everyone out there gets, if not what they want, more than they deserve. And may all of my readers have a merry and happy and safe Christmas. If you are traveling may you arrive and return safely.

Our word of the day for December 25, 2008 is "fructose" — Pronunciation: \'frək-,tōs, 'frük-, 'fru̇k-, -,tōz\
Function: noun
International Scientific Vocabulary fruct- (from Latin fructus fruit) + 2-
Date: circa 1864
1 : a crystalline sugar C6H12O6 sweeter and more soluble than glucose. 2 : the very sweet levorotatory d-form of fructose that occurs especially in fruit juices and honey —called also fruit sugar levulose

Our quote for the day is from Tertullian (c. 150–230), Roman church father. Apologeticus, IX.8:

The entire fruit is already present in the seed.



Tuesday, December 23, 2008


My sister came to visit Sunday. She didn't stay overnight for several reasons. One was the extremely windy Sunday weather prediction for her area coupled with an early Monday morning trash pickup. For some reason having her mailbox blow off the post the week before has left her leery of putting an unattended trashcart on the curb all day in a high wind.

While she was here she showed us her gazumptillion photos of the Great Barrier Reef and Ullaru. I am quite willing to look at these as long as they are in conjunction (as these were) with photos of our cousin Kathy and her family, most of whom we hadn't met as they moved to Australia about 30 some years ago. Kathy's husband was the head of the mathematics department at the school where he taught until his retirement this past year.

On a side note, I had meant to take some photos of my sister's visit, but I mislaid my camera. Before going to work Tuesday, I had noticed that I needed to charge up the battery. I remember telling myself that I would do that when I got home. However the camera was not in sight when I came home that evening, and I forgot about it until Thursday afternoon. Then it worried me that I could not find it. I looked for it on and off this past week, but didn't find it until this morning. For some reason, it was atop the rosewood display case in the living room. I don't remember putting it there. I'm convinced that the Ephemeral Snatcher, a monster out of my daughter's role-playing games, is living in my house—moving things into an alternate dimension and dropping them back in at whim.

The word of the day for December 23, 2008 is "
strayed" — Function: intransitive verb
Etymology: Middle English straien, from Anglo-French estraier, from Vulgar Latin *extravagare, from Latin extra- outside + vagari to wander — more at extra-
Date: 14th century
: wander : as a: to wander from company, restraint, or proper limits. b: to roam about without fixed direction or purpose. c: to move in a winding course : meander. d: to move without conscious or intentional effort [eyes straying absently around the room]. e: to become distracted from an argument or train of thought [strayed from the point]. f: to wander accidentally from a fixed or chosen route. g: err , sin.

Our quote for the day is from Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. “Wild Apples” (1862), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 5, pp. 301-303, Houghton Mifflin (1906:

Nevertheless, our wild apple is wild only like myself, perchance, who belong not to the aboriginal race here, but have strayed into the woods from the cultivated stock. Wilder still, as I have said, there grows elsewhere in this country a native and aboriginal crab-apple, Malus coronaria, “whose nature has not yet been modified by cultivation.”... But though these are indigenous, like the Indians, I doubt whether they are any hardier than those backwoodsmen among the apple trees, which, though descended from cultivated stocks, plant themselves in distant fields and forests, where the soil is favorable to them. I know of no trees which have more difficulties to contend with, and which more sturdily resist their foes. These are the ones whose story we have to tell.



Sunday, December 21, 2008


Since Dan blessed us with his family's foray into gingerbread architecture, Claudia has explained her tree-trimming and Monae describe her trip to the mall (brave girl), I decide to write about our decorations that didn't make it upstairs this Christmas.

Lloyd has a collection of Santas that has expanded to more than 30 since the initial gift circa 1990. As some of them are on permanent display in our living room (see December , 2008). I brought up a couple of hand-sized Santas that were in the tub with the Christmas tree. However, I didn't bring up the dancing Santa (synching to Elvis's "Jingle Bell Rock") or the one my sister gave him that is about the size of a three-year-old.

Also, I did not bring up the glass-brick, hurricane-chimneyed, red and green decorated thing that my dad picked up at a garage sale one year. Since I put the old artificial scotch pine and most of the trimmings in a garage sale about four years ago, I didn't bring up the remaining boxes of glass balls, nor the "glass and gold" ornaments shaped like angels, deer and musical instruments. The tiny Italian made wooden pixies and toy ornaments stayed behind, as well, with the felt tree skirt my mother made us when we were first married and the Christmas stockings, ditto. The Chrisamons are all still in tissue in their own box.

This year, since Lloyd wasn't watching while I decorated outside, I did bring up all the light strings, but any that were missing plugs (due to terrorist squirrels) or wouldn't light for whatever reason went in the trash. I suppose I should have given them to Goodwill for someone to change out the defective bulbs, but I didn't think about it until after the trash pickup had already happened. Maybe I should take all those unused baubles to Goodwill and get my basement storage back.

The word of the day for December 20, 2008 is "attrition" — Pronunciation: \ə-ˈtri-shən, a-\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English attricioun, from Medieval Latin attrition-, attritio, from Latin attrition-, attritio, from atterere to rub against, from ad- + terere to rub — more at
Date: 14th century

1: sorrow for one's sins that arises from a motive other than that of the love of God. 2: the act of rubbing together : friction ; also : the act of wearing or grinding down by friction. 3: the act of weakening or exhausting by constant harassment, abuse, or attack [a war of attrition]. 4: a reduction in numbers usually as a result of resignation, retirement, or death [a company with a high rate of attrition].

Our quote for the day is from Helen Hayes (1900–1993), U.S. actor. On Reflection, An Autobiography, ch. 12, Evans (1968):
Marriage is like a war. There are moments of chivalry and gallantry that attend the victorious advances and strategic retreats, the birth or death of children, the momentary conquest of loneliness, the sacrifice that ennobles him who makes it. But mostly there are the long dull sieges, the waiting, the terror and boredom. Women understand this better than men; they are better able to survive attrition.



Saturday, December 20, 2008


My sister just sent me this e-card which has been on the net since 2002—thank you, Joshua Held (animation) and the Drifters (Bill Pinkney, lead bass and Clyde McPhatter, tenor)—but it has got to be my all time favorite, as first one then the other of my relatives sends it every year. Check out Santa's knee action.

Hope you all enjoy the show and have a merry and a happy.

Our word of the day for December 20, 2008 is "
snow" — Pronunciation: \ˈsnō\
Function: noun
Usage: often attributive
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English snāw; akin to Old High German snēo snow, Latin niv-, nix, Greek nipha (accusative)
Date: before 12th century
1 a: precipitation in the form of small white ice crystals formed directly from the water vapor of the air at a temperature of less than 32°F (0°C). b (1): a descent or shower of snow crystals, (2): a mass of fallen snow crystals. 2: something resembling snow: as a: a dessert made of stiffly beaten whites of eggs, sugar, and fruit pulp [apple snow]. b: a usually white crystalline substance that condenses from a fluid phase as snow does [ammonia snow].

Our quote for the day is from Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822), British poet. "Rarely, Rarely, Comest Thou" (l. 31–36):

I love snow, and all the forms
Of the radiant frost;
I love waves, and winds and storms,
Everything almost
Which is Nature’s, and may be
Untainted by man’s misery.



Wednesday, December 17, 2008


May your holidays sparkle with happiness. -- Jan and Lloyd
Since I always buy a gazillion cards because someone always sends me a card after those on my list have already gotten theirs, I thought I'd "send" ours out to everyone here for whom I have no land address. I like to get my cards from Current as they always have such lovely choices. It's probably too late to get anything personalized in time for Christmas, but shipping options make delivery possible even when buying right up to 12/19/08 midnight. If you need something after that you'll have to brave the mall, or like Erma Bombeck, hit the hardware store.

All the big items have been bought and most of them shipped. I always liked each child to get a book, a toy, a piece of clothing and something to eat. For years, I gave my son socks and underwear in his Christmas stocking. He finally complained that he had more than enough socks. Nowadays he probably could have resold them on E-bay. Anyway, the next year, instead of the six-pack, I got him one pair of argyle socks. Every year since then I have bought him some outrageously patterned socks. (Except I don't remember sending him any this year. I'll have to wait until after Christmas to be certain.) One year, he put them on as soon as they were unwrapped. He ended up with tye-dye legs because the color bled onto his skin.

The word for the day December 17, 2008 is "salutation" — Pronunciation: \,sal-yə-'tā-shən\
Function: noun
Date: 14th century
1 a: an expression of greeting, goodwill, or courtesy by word, gesture, or ceremony. b plural : regards. 2: the word or phrase of greeting (as Gentlemen or Dear Sir or Madam) that conventionally comes immediately before the body of a letter.

Our quote for the day is from Author unknown. From the Sanskrit, “The Salutation of the Dawn.”—Masterpieces of Religious Verse, ed. James Dalton Morrison, p. 301 (1948). Attributed in some sources to Klidsa, Hindu dramatist and lyric poet of the fifth century, A.D:
Listen to the Exhortation of the Dawn!
Look to this Day!
For it is Life, the very Life of Life.
In its brief course lie all the
Verities and Realities of your Existence;
The Bliss of Growth,
The Glory of Action,
The Splendor of Beauty;
For Yesterday is but a Dream,
And To-morrow is only a Vision:
But To-day well lived makes
Every Yesterday a Dream of Happiness,
And every To-morrow a Vision of Hope.
Look well therefore to this Day!
Such is the Salutation of the Dawn!


Tuesday, December 16, 2008


"Be careful driving this morning, as there may be slick spots," my husband admonished me this morning as I rolled out of bed to get ready for work.

"I'll look out to see what things are like first thing," I answered. The photo below is the result. Last night, we were expecting flurries. Looks like it may be more like one to three inches now before the snow has finished.

The snow is still coming down as a sort of freezing mist. My favorite weather—NOT! Of course anything below 50F is not good weather. As I write it is 10F and likely not to get above 20F. However the wind has died down so no wind chill nor much drifting—we'll take the good with the bad.

Friday is my last day of work this year. The company is shutting the plant down until January 5. Plays havoc with vacation. Of course, I was not planning on taking a long vacation next summer, but it would be nice to have the days to take when I want to.

Oh, well, I still want to get up to the Kansas City area before Christmas. Or maybe my sister will feel like driving down for a day or two. We have a book to discuss.

The word of the day for December 16, 2008 is "hibernation" — Pronunciation: \'hī-bər-,nāt\ Function: intransitive verb
Inflected Form(s): hi·ber·nat·ed; hi·ber·nat·ing
Etymology: Latin hibernatus, past participle of hibernare to pass the winter, from hibernus of winter; akin to Latin hiems winter, Greek cheimōn
Date: circa 1802
1 : to pass the winter in a torpid or resting state. 2 : to be or become inactive or dormant.
— hi·ber·na·tion
\,hī-bər-'nā-shən\ noun
— hi·ber·na·tor
\'hī-bər-,nā-tər\ noun

Our quote for the day is from G.C. (Georg Christoph) Lichtenberg (1742–1799), German physicist, philosopher. “Notebook F,” aph. 44, Aphorisms (written 1765-1799), trans. by R.J. Hollingdale (1990):
The Greeks possessed a knowledge of human nature we seem hardly able to attain to without passing through the strengthening hibernation of a new barbarism.



Sunday, December 14, 2008


santa display
All the presents wrapped: check. Crates of presents sent thither and yon: check. Decorations up, both in and out: check. Plans for Christmas Day in hand: ooops!

Santa walking staff

mirror over livingroom sofa

larger shot of the Santa display

I had thought that Lloyd and I would run up to see our daughter yesterday. There is still a box intended for her and her husband, and some books to trade with my sister whose home is on the way. I don't want to have the box delivered as it includes a pair of glass candlesticks that once belonged to my paternal grandparents. These are not a Christmas present. They just didn't go home with Cyb last time she was here. It seemed logical, as they were already boxed up, to include them with the Christmas presents.

Claudia, Lloyd's elder daughter, is going to visit with her mother in Arkansas, thus will not be coming down for Christmas. She was here at Thanksgiving so her other relatives will be happy to see her this month. Tim, our son, is still in Oregon. He won't be back for Christmas. (He claims he's allergic to Kansas. I think he's allergic to Oklahoma from whence we get most of the dust and pollen.) Cyb's brother-in-law is to be back for Christmas, so she and her husband will be spending time with them. My sister went to Iowa for Thanksgiving, so we have invited her down for the day. However with the weather so unsettled this time of year, that probably won't happen either. I'm just going to put one of those Hormel tenderloins in the crockpot and whoever comes will get fed something. At least I don't intend to have Beanie-Weenies on toast as my parents did the first Christmas the three of us kids were out of the house.

In our Christmas cards this year, I sent an actual letter (gasp!) Going through my address list, I realized that a number of people only hear from us at Christmas time. Many of them had not heard of Lloyd's medical problems, nor that the company I work for had been sold. (I'm doing the same job with the usual suspects, just the logo on the shirts have changed.)

Yesterday a fellow who used to work with Lloyd answered my letter with a note of support. Also two dear friends—Betty, who used to cut Lloyd's hair, and her sister, Joyce, who makes the best sweet potato pies in the world—stopped by to chat for about a half-hour. As I hadn't seen either of them for some time we did quite a bit of catching up. I now also have their e-dresses and phone numbers in case of need. Such an uplift for any season.

Our word of the day for December 14, 2008 is "braced" Pronunciation: \ˈbrāst\
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): brace; braced; brac·ing
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French bracer to embrace, from brace
Date: 14th century
transitive verb 1 archaic : to fasten tightly :
bind. 2 a: to prepare for use by making taut b: prepare , steel [brace yourself for the shock]. c: invigorate , freshen. 3: to turn (a sail yard) by means of a brace. 4 a: to furnish or support with a brace [heavily braced against the wind]. b: to make stronger : reinforce. 5: to put or plant firmly [braces his foot in the stirrup]. 6: to waylay especially with demands or questions.
intransitive verb 1: to take heart —used with up. 2: to get ready (as for an attack).

Our quote for the day is from Edwin Markham (1852–1940), U.S. poet. "Lincoln, the Man of the People" (l. 30–35) [Our Holidays in Poetry. Mildred P. Harrington and Josephine H. Thomas, comps. (1929) The H. W. Wilson Company]:
Sprung from the West,
He drank the valorous youth of a new world.
The strength of virgin forests braced his mind,
The hush of spacious prairies stilled his soul.
His words were oaks in acorns; and his thoughts
Were roots that firmly gript the granite truth.



Thursday, December 11, 2008


My sister is ill. She has the "code'n d'node." Consequently she will not be coming to visit us this weekend. This means, of course, that I will have to find another box to send Christmas presents to the KC area. I was hoping to inveigle her into carrying the packages back with her and—as they are for my daughter's and my granddaughter's houses as well as my sister's—distributing them at the other end.

I suppose I could mail them all in one box. I do have one box that large. The question then would be who would be the recipient. I could send it to Erin as most of the presents will be going to her children, but she is so busy that I dislike begging her to interrupt her day to deliver the rest. Cyb would probably deliver the presents without much prodding, but she has never appreciated delayed gratification. I usually address their gifts to her husband as he can resist her wiles (Can't we open them now? No one would know. Please? Pretty please with strawberries?) I could send them to my sister but as I say, she is under the weather. Even though she will probably be well by the time the gifts get there, she doesn't need the hassle.

Alternatively, I could schlep the presents up to KC myself. If the weather weren't so chancy right now, I probably would. Maybe if the weather is nice the weekend after next, Lloyd and I will run up for the afternoon just to see everyone before Christmas Day. But I'll still send the presents now—JUST IN CASE.

The word of the day for December 11, 2008 is "
inveigle" — Pronunciation: \in-'vā-gəl sometimes -'vē-\
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): in·vei·gled; in·vei·gling \-g(ə-)liŋ\
Etymology: Anglo-French enveegler, aveogler, avogler to blind, hoodwink, from avogle, enveugle blind, from Medieval Latin ab oculis, literally, lacking eyes
Date: 1539
1 : to win over by wiles :
entice. 2 : to acquire by ingenuity or flattery : wangle [inveigled her way into a promotion].

Our quote for the day is from the Bible, Proverbs i. 10:
My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008


I made it home yesterday noon. It had been snowing for several hours while I worked, but the wind was blowing pretty hard. The roads were becoming snow-packed. We got an inch and a half of snow. I know that doesn't sound like much to those of you who usually get feet of snow or whatever that is in metric. Also we in the Great Plains tend to measure snowfall horizontally as that is how it falls. Yet, once that first flake drops, the drivers around here forget what little courtesy and good sense they ever had. I suppose they think they can blame their bad driving on the weather.

The thing is that driving on ice and packed snow calls for reduced speed, gentle changes in acceleration, deceleration and direction. People who have four-wheel drive SUVs in countryside so flat they had to build a hill for the Soap Box Derby races do not understand the concept of subtle as it applies to driving. As I made my way home, I passed at least four cars in the ditch, two of them the 4WD SUVs. So I called my supervisor and told him I wouldn't be back until morning.

The cleaner came, as Tuesday is his day at our house, apologising for being late. He had had to detour around an epic accident. I hit him gently with the adages: Better late than never, Haste makes waste and Better safe than sorry. I finished wrapping presents for family while he worked, and I got all but a few of my Christmas cards addressed. I discussed moving the defunct (and extremely heavy) television out to the garage. He will do this as soon as the streets are clear again as his son will be coming out to help him. I may ask them to put the other extremely heavy tv in the living room on skid pads while they are at it. Then I can move that set away from the wall more easily when it's time to spring clean.

The word of the day for December 10, 2008 is "moderation" — Pronunciation: \,mä-də-'rāt\
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): mod·er·at·ed; mod·er·at·ing
Date: 15th century
transitive verb 1 : to lessen the intensity or extremeness of [the sun moderated the chill]. 2 : to preside over or act as chairman of.

intransitive verb 1 : to act as a moderator. 2 : to become less violent, severe, or intense [the wind began to moderate] .
— mod·er·a·tion
\,mä-də-'rā-shən\ noun

Our quote for the day is from Euripides (480 or 485–406 B.C.), Medea. 636:
Moderation, the noblest gift of Heaven.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008


This is just a rant, which you are allowed to skip until I'm feeling less sorry about the world in general.

Our plotters are down at work, and it is snowing sideways outside. This is not as much a non sequitur as it seems. I'm contemplating not coming back to work after lunch. It's usually a fifteen minute round trip, so my supervisor has given me blanket permission to use ETO (Earned Time Off: combined sick-leave and vacation) when the weather is bad.

I suppose that I could stay, work through lunch and take off early. Unfortunately, I've tried that. Lloyd won't eat and take his meds unless someone is there. I've even tried calling home in an attempt to get him to feed himself. He just waits until I get home and complains that I'm trying to starve him and the dog.

I suppose that, as this is cleaning day, I could stay here and call after the cleaner gets there at noon. He would be happy to nuke a hamburger for Lloyd and throw a handful of kibble into the dog's dish. Hmmm. I don't like to be home while the cleaner is there, anyway. Sort of a fifth wheel situation.

Hopefully, by lunchtime, the wind will die down a little and the roads will be reasonably dry. I'll come back to work to find the repair guy has fixed the plotters. There will be a new RFA (Request for Assistance) on my desk that I can do with my eyes closed. Jimmy the Cleaner will move the dead TV out to the garage workbench. I'll be able to bring my table back up-stairs. Life will stop being normal again. Santa will come to our house in the fullness of time.

The word for the day for December 9, 2008 is "grumble" — Pronunciation: \'grəm-bəl\
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): grum·bled; grum·bling
Etymology: probably from Middle French grommeler, ultimately from Middle Dutch grommen; akin to Old High German grimm grim
Date: 1580
intransitive verb 1 : to mutter in discontent. 2 :
growl , rumble transitive verb : to express with grumbling

Our quote for the day is from Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Mr. Frisbee III (Eric Idle), in Monty Python’s Life of Brian (film), written and conceived by John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin (1979):
Some things in life are bad.
They can really make you mad.
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
Don’t grumble, give a whistle,
And this’ll help turn things out for the best ...
And ... always look on the bright side of life.


Sunday, December 7, 2008


This has been a busy weekend. I brought our fiber-optic Christmas tree up from the basement, but instead of putting it on an end table in the living room where Speedy would want to investigate, I decided to put it in the bedroom. We spend more time in there anyway. Unfortunately, the only place to put it where the dog won't get at it is on top of the highboy. As you can see, it is not a good fit. Still, I'm not going to move it. The lights are nice in the evening.

I put up the Santa face on the door and a lighted pine garland on the mirror. They were in the same plastic crate as the tree. Our Christmas guest towels and the Santa tea towel and pot holders were also in the box, so they are also on display.

I wrapped presents while doing laundry. Noticing that several items had been overlooked, I braved the crowds for reality shopping. So a couple/three presents still need wrapping. The Christmas card list was easy to update this year. Mail merge addressed most of the envelopes for cards: there's always someone whose address I need to track down. I'll have the majority of them ready for dropping off at the post office tomorrow.

The word of the day for December 7, 2008 is "preparation" — Pronunciation: \ˌpre-pə-ˈrā-shən\ Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English preparacion, from Middle French preparation, from Latin praeparation-, praeparatio, from praeparare to prepare
Date: 14th century
1: the action or process of making something ready for use or service or of getting ready for some occasion, test, or duty. 2: a state of being
prepared : readiness. 3: a preparatory act or measure. 4: something that is prepared ; specifically : a medicinal substance made ready for use [a preparation for colds].

Our quote for the day is from Doris Lessing (b. 1919), British novelist. "The Chronicler", in The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four, and Five, p. 141, Knopf (1980):

This is certainly not the place for a discourse about what festivals are for. Discussions on this theme were plentiful during that phase of preparation and on the whole were fruitless. My experience is that discussion is fruitless. What sets forth and demonstrates is the sight of events in action, is living through these events and understanding them.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Finally I have a photo of Speedy's new friend, Pooter. This pup lives a couple of blocks from us, cater-corner from the park. For the past few months, if I took the camera, Pooter was inside. If I didn't take the camera, there he was. I was beginning to think either the dog or his owners had some mystical power to know when whether we had the camera or not.

Pooter is either pure-bred Jack Russell terrier, or is closer to the breed standard than Speedy anyway, as Speedy's left ear stands up, while both of Pooter's bend over. They look like they could be from the same litter.

Speedy in his blue coat and Pooter Pooter

Speedy does not like the coat that he is wearing. I think it has something to do with machismo. Yet the wind has been so fierce, I thought he might like to keep his hair tacked on. I was wrong. While he was playing with Pooter, Speedy managed to baptise my foot. He certainly didn't get a treat for that trick!

The word of the day for December 4, 2008 is "simulacrum" — Pronunciation: \,sim-yə-'la-krəm, -'lā-\
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural sim·u·la·cra
\-krə\ also sim·u·la·crums
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin, from simulare
Date: 15th century
1 :
image , representation [a reasonable simulacrum of reality — Martin Mayer]. 2 : an insubstantial form or semblance of something : trace.

Our quote for the day is from Alasdair Chalmers MacIntyre (b. 1929), British American philosopher. After Virtue, p. 2:

The hypothesis I wish to advance is that ... the language of morality is in ... grave disorder.... What we possess, if this is true, are the fragments of a conceptual scheme, parts of which now lack those contexts from which their significance derived. We possess indeed simulacra of morality, we continue to use many of the key expressions. But we have—very largely if not entirely—lost our comprehension, both theoretical and practical, of morality.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Claudia says she doesn't want her photo taken as she is windblown.Thanksgiving Day, Lloyd's elder daughter came with her son to visit us. She's the sort of guest to have: asks politely how she can help and knows where things are so she can do so. Her son is 33, but has developmental problems. Although his muscular abilities are poor, he gets around on his own and can dress, feed and toilet himself. However, he communicates with a limited number of signs and vocalizations. As little as that is, it is amazing to me what a wealth of expression that is. My amazement is multiplied when I remember that learned men told his mother that he would not live past the age of three, that he would never walk, that he has cerebral palsy, autism, whatever the diagnosis du jour is for what we used to call "spastic retardation".

We had a lovely time. She and I caught up with what is going on in one another's life. She had time to talk to Lloyd. We set up Lloyd's Christmas present—a new Sony LCD tv replacing his eighteen-year-old 36" Sony. I wanted to wait until Christmas Day to give it to him, but the old one went south last Monday. We spent all day Friday watching movies: The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Mad Money. I won't critique the movies. We had seen them all before, enjoying them enough to watch them again. It was all, "Pass the popcorn."

Claudia called just now to tell us that she was home, making what is, for us, a six-hour drive in just under four and a half hours. Of course, we stop—as my mother used to say—at every rest stop and tree. We stop at the rest areas to buy snacks and use the hygienic facilities. We get the dog out for a run. We take our time. She gets in the car and drives. She doesn't stop for stock or stone. She only stops for gas when the engine is sucking fumes.

The word of the day for November 29, 2008 is "
visitation" — Pronunciation: \ˌvi-zə-ˈtā-shən\
Function: noun
Date: 14th century
1: an instance of visiting: as a: an official
visit (as for inspection) b: [2]wake [3] c: temporary custody of a child granted to a noncustodial parent [visitation rights] 2 a: a special dispensation of divine favor or wrath. b: a severe trial : affliction. 3 capitalized : the visit of the Virgin Mary to Elizabeth recounted in Luke and celebrated July 2 by a Christian feast.

Our quote for the day is from John Milton (1608–1674), British poet. Paradise Lost (l. Bk. IX, l. 20–24):

If answerable style I can obtaine
Of my Celestial Patroness, who deignes
Her nightly visitation unimplor’d,
And dictates to me slumbring, or inspires
Easie my unpremeditated Verse:


Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I spent yesterday putting Christmas lights on our spruce tree. The tree is now thirty years old. The first year in this house, we decided to have a live tree for Christmas. We bought a two foot tall, blue spruce. It was so cute sitting on the end table in front of the living room window. After we opened presents, the kid and I pulled off the decorations. During the football game half-time, Lloyd dug a hole in the yard and we planted that tree.

About two years later, the tree was about four feet tall, so I put a string of lights on it. The year after that, someone came by during the day while my husband and I were at work and stole the top third of the tree—and the lights, too. For the next years, we had a bush, but we put lights on it anyway. Eventually, one of the top branches turned up to form a leader. The tree is now approximately twenty-five feet tall. I can't reach the top, even standing on the top step of the ladder and using the long pole with a hook on the end.

For the past few years I've been saying no more decorations. Lloyd doesn't have the stamina for it anymore. The kids are gone. I don't decorate nearly as much inside the house. Still the neighbors say every year how much they enjoy seeing the lighted tree. So the lights are up once again, and I've added some commercial spiral trees to add some color between the spruce and the porch.

The word of the day for November 26, 2008 is "
tradition" — Pronunciation: \trə-ˈdi-shən\ Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English tradicioun, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French tradicion, from Latin tradition-, traditio action of handing over, tradition — more at treason
Date: 14th century
1 a: an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (as a religious practice or a social custom). b: a belief or story or a body of beliefs or stories relating to the past that are commonly accepted as historical though not verifiable. 2: the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction. 3: cultural continuity in social attitudes, customs, and institutions. 4: characteristic manner, method, or style [in the best liberal tradition].

Our quote of the day if from Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874–1936), British author. “The Ethics of England,” ch. 4, Orthodoxy (1909):
Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes—our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking around.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I had one more load of laundry to finish this morning. In the process of running up and down stairs, bringing up clean, folded laundry to put away, I noticed Speedy standing at his dog door. He looked back over his shoulder with this really pleading face. "I have to go out, but nobody will open the flap for me."

"I'm on to you," I said. "You were running in and out of the house all yesterday afternoon. Just because it's cloudy outside today doesn't mean the flap won't open."

"Like I said, NOBODY will open the flap." and the eyes turned up the pathos of doghood to way past woeful.

Speedy on the lookout for squirrels
Since my hands were empty at the moment, I pushed the flap until the magnets let loose. He put his nose under and went on out to find a squirrrel or cat to annoy. I went down for more laundry. Before I got back upstairs, I heard the clickety-click of his paws on the dining room floor. Probably won't be the last time for this performance, either.

After I got settled down to write, Speedy took his lookout position. He suddenly started barking like the mailman was outside. The doorbell rang, so I went to answer the door. The young couple who just moved into the neighborhood had a Jack Russell on a leash. They said he was a stray and wanted to know if he was ours. "We have a flight in a couple of hours," they said. "But we didn't want him to just be loose on the street."

"Nope, but there's a family down two blocks who have a Russell that looks similar to that. You might try there." I hope those are the dog's owners. Still, a Jack Russell gets a premium price at the Humane Society, so even if they turn him in, he'll probably have a good home within a week.

The word of the day for November 23, 2008 is "piteous" — Pronunciation: \ˈpi-tē-əs\
Function: adjective.
Date: 14th century.
: of a kind to move to pity or compassion
pit·e·ous·ly adverb
pit·e·ous·ness noun
Our quote for the day is from William Shakespeare (1564–1616), British dramatist, poet. Prospero, in The Tempest, act 1, sc. 2, l. 13-5:

Be collected.
No more amazement.
Tell your piteous heart
There’s no harm done.


Saturday, November 22, 2008


This is going to ramble a bit. I took Speedy for his walk this morning. It is very chilly out, but I had forgotten to put on my headband. My sinuses would now be blocked if I hadn't taken meds immediately on getting back. That'll teach me. Now I feel sleepy.

After we had been back in a while, I heard Speedy moaning and messing with the dog door flap. Usually that means he wants me to let him out. He has no problem getting in, but heretofore, he would wait until someone (me) came along to lift the flap. This morning, he decided not to wait. By the time I got to the kitchen, he was down by the fence; I left him to do as he pleased. After about fifteen minutes, he hit the doorflap and came flying in through the living room to jump on the couch and look out through the window. I don't know what that was all about, probably a squirrel that ran across the cable from the utility pole in back to either our spruce or on across the street. He has settled down now and has lain down on the sofa back with a big sigh.

I would like my niece to send me the URL for the post about the dog and the sweet potato, as it is really hilarious.

I tried to embed the video of the "Llama Song", which my sister sent to me as a remedy for earworm. The video portion is nearly as non-sensical as the song. Here's the address:

Hope you all have a good day.

The word of the day for November 22, 2008 is "meander" — Pronunciation: \mē-ˈan-dər\
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin maeander, from Greek maiandros, from Maiandros (now Menderes), river in Asia Minor
Date: 1576
1: a winding path or course ; especially :
labyrinth. 2: a turn or winding of a stream.

Our quote for the day is from Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751–1816), School for Scandal. Act i. Sc. 1:
You shall see them on a beautiful quarto page, where a neat rivulet of text shall meander through a meadow of margin.


Sunday, November 16, 2008


Today I am indebted to Indigo (who has just received the Let Them Eat Cake award) for the quote for the day.

My son occasionally sends me the paragraphs that claim that people are able read, comprehend, take meaning from printed words that are garbled.That we really only need the initial and ending letter correct with the other letters in between in any order. [lkie tihs] He contends that spelling, punctuation and capital letters are irrelevant.

My contention is that correct spelling and proper grammar will garner more readers in the long run. He throws e.e. cummings in my face. I say, "Pooh!! Who reads e.e. cummings these days? Give me Robert Frost."

I would like to have my Eighth Grade Style Book back. I don't even know if they are in print anymore. However, I make do with the The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: A Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager and the Doomed by Karen Elizabeth Gordon and Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss. Both are excellent grammars for those of us who want to be understood.

The word of the day for November 16, 2008 is "obscurely" — Pronunciation: \äb-ˈskyu̇r, əb-\
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French oscur, obscur, from Latin obscurus
Date: 15th century
1 a:
dark , dim. b: shrouded in or hidden by darkness. c: not clearly seen or easily distinguished. : faint [obscure markings]. 2: not readily understood or clearly expressed ; also : mysterious. 3: relatively unknown: as a: remote , secluded [an obscure village]. b: not prominent or famous [an obscure poet]. 4: constituting the unstressed vowel \\ə\\ or having unstressed \\ə\\ as its value.
ob·scure·ly adverb

Our quote for the day is from Albert Camus:
Those who write clearly have readers, those who write obscurely have commentators.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Not that it has anything to do with today's WOTD — Happy birthday, Cathy.

Kansas Gas Service truckA man from the Kansas Gas Service came out today to change out the meter. First he came inside to verify that everything that runs on gas was actually doing so. Then he had me shut off the furnace at the thermostat. He went outside to do the exchange. I went out to get photos.

KGS meter repairman
Looks like this is a pretty old meter, he said.
I said, If they didn't change it out when it went dead 20 - 25 years ago, it's the original.
I'm having a bit of trouble getting the joints loose, so I'll just put a whole new unit on, pipes and all.
repair work

I left him to it. The wind is a tad brisk today with a wind chill of about 38 or 40 F. I on't envy his job at all. It only took him about 45 minutes to complete the job, after which, he came in to ensure all the pilot lights were lit and that nothing had been disconnected inadvertently.

old meter

It must have been nice having $12 bills these past months.
I'm on the "Even Pay" plan, so it has been more than $12 a month, and I am a bit ahead of them so far. Still, I agree that a nominal payment is better than the proverbial poke in the eye.
Well, then, that's all right and tight. They already want me to hurry to the next job. This is our busy season you know. Who would have thought it would get cold this time of year?

new meter in placeSo our gas bills will be going up some. Perhaps that's worth having a working meter. Having a working meter is probably better than that estimate I was promised.

The word of the day for November 15, 2008 is "vindication" — Pronunciation: \ˌvin-də-ˈkā-shən\
Function: noun
Date: 1613
: an act of
vindicating : the state of being vindicated ; specifically : justification against denial or censure : defense.

Our quote for the day is from Anna Julia Cooper (1859–1964), African American educator and feminist. A Voice from the South, part 1 (1892):

It is not the intelligent woman v. the ignorant woman; nor the white woman v. the black, the brown, and the red,—it is not even the cause of woman v. man. Nay, ‘tis woman’s strongest vindication for speaking that the world needs to hear her voice.

Monday, November 10, 2008


I had to call the Kansas Natural Gas company the other day. We're on their "Even Pay" plan to help budget our money. Even so, at this time of year the payments usually go up when I turn on the furnace. So I scrutinized the bill and noticed that it showed no gas usage—at all. So I looked at last month's bill and the month before that—no usage—at all.

So, I talk with a person who calls herself "Tina."

"What's the deal here?" I ask.

Tina goes off-line for a few minutes while the computer pulls up our information. She comes back with,

"That's easy to explain. We noticed last December that your meter was dead, so we've just been using an average of the last three years to estimate this year's usage."
"You knew this last December?"
"Oh, yes, this sort of thing happens all the time."
Yes, I know. It happened at our house about 20 years ago and y'all fixed the meter within the month. When can we expect your crew out to fix the meter?"
"Well, I really have no idea. The schedule is all filled with new construction connections."
"Meanwhile, what happens next month when your meter will have been off for a whole year?"
"We have a formula that calculates your usage. It's really very accurate."
"You'll be hearing from me again."
I intend to call every week until they send someone out to fix the meter or until I talk to my furnace guy. Maybe I'll go all electric. Westar never lets their meters go dead.

The word for the day for November 10, 2008 is "estimate" — Pronunciation: \'es-tə-,māt\
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): es·ti·mat·ed; es·ti·mat·ing
Etymology: Latin aestimatus, past participle of aestimare to value, estimate
Date: circa 1532
1 archaic a:
esteem. b: appraise. 2 a: to judge tentatively or approximately the value, worth, or significance of. b: to determine roughly the size, extent, or nature of. c: to produce a statement of the approximate cost of. 3: judge , conclude.

Our quote for today is from the Bible: New Testament, Luke 14:28:

For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it?