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?

Saturday, November 8, 2008


We can certainly tell that the Christmas/gift-giving season is at hand. The poor mailman has been leaving from eight to twelve catalogs per day for the past month. This is up from four to six per day during the spring and summer. Apparently merchants think that if you buy one widget (because you needed that widget for a one-time operation) you need to buy three more widgets and all the widget related gear ever created. I don't think so. One year, I bought my daughter's roommate a bed for her cat. The next thing I know, I'm getting Drs. Foster and Smith, PetSmart, Petco, Petmeds and I don't know what else pet-oriented catalogs. Actually, these had tapered off, but now I've bought a few things for Speedy they've started up again.

two days take: 27 catalogsI don't know why I need two catalogs per month per merchant after October 1st. If I work at it, I have most of my year-end gifts bought before then anyway. Catalogs after that get dumped as soon as I can strip my personal info and push the rest into the bin. Except for stocking stuffers, all that needs to be done now is wrapping and addressing. I'll stop at the Post Office before Thanksgiving to buy the holiday themed stamps and after to send boxed gifts and stamped cards. I expect a catalog from the Postal Service any day now.

The word of the day for November 8, 2008 is "catalog" — Pronuciation: \ˈka-tə-ˌlȯg, -ˌläg\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English cathaloge, cateloge, from Middle French catalogue, from Late Latin catalogus, from Greek katalogos, from katalegein to list, enumerate, from kata- + legein to gather, speak — more at
Date: 15th century
list , register. 2 a: a complete enumeration of items arranged systematically with descriptive details. b: a pamphlet or book that contains such a list. c: material in such a list.

Our quote for the day is (for all the librarians in my life) from Barbara Tuchman, Informal talk to library staff when 8,000 oak drawers were replaced with 800 black-bound dictionary catalogs:

For me, the card catalog has been a companion all my working life. To leave it is like leaving the house one was brought up in.


Thursday, November 6, 2008


The elections are over. I note the London Times Online has an article that because of space constraints is headed "Barrack Obama, America's first black...". I wonder if this is like being First Lady? Anyway, Senator Obama is now in the position to finalize his choices for the Executive Team. All sorts of rumors are flying about his choice for this post or that. The news media here in Kansas are, of course, pushing Governor Kathleen Sebelius for some important post. I like having her as Gov, though. I'd rather see her run for the Senatorial seat held by Sam Brownback two years from now.

Aside from politics, I've been noticing the neighborhood change toward winter. Yesterday robins were grouping to migrate south. I am used to seeing them in the spring, but seeing eight or ten of them in autumn is unusual for me. The starlings and grackels are flocking together, too. Their piercing calls and excited chatter can be heard for blocks. I have also been hearing blue jays shouting, "Thief! Thief!" And the water fowl are gathering on the catch pond north of Wildwood Park for their journey south.

Trees are turning color and losing their leaves. Last year we had freezing rain before the leaves dropped, so most of us couldn't get that last raking in before the snow came. This year I've told the fellow who does our lawn to wait until the maple in front is at least half through with losing leaves, at which time he can mulch the leaves that haven't blown away. Also he can winterize the mower and put it in the garden shed. Any leaves that drop after that will get a trip through the leaf blower if they don't get blown to Nebraska.

The word of the day for November 6, 2008 is "migration" — Pronunciation: \mī-'grā-shən\
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural mi·grat·tions
Etymology: Latin migratus, past participle of migrare; perhaps akin to Greek ameibein to change
Date: 1697
1 : the act of moving from one country, place, or locality to another. 2 : passing usually periodically from one region or climate to another for feeding or breeding.

Our quote for the day is the adage:
Birds of a feather flock together.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008


OK, all you U.S. persons—if you are registered to vote and haven't done so yet, get out to your polling place and get with the program. If you are eighteen, a U.S. citizen and not a convicted felon, you ought to have registered in time to vote. If you're all that and didn't register, those of us who did register and voted now declare that it is all your fault that they are putting us in these handbaskets on the greased rails. And don't ask me where they got the money for the baskets and rails when they can't write a bond issue that will pass to keep the schools, parks and roads up and running without leaving loopholes for graft big enough to put the circus through. Enough of that rant...

Seriously, folks, your vote counts. Just in the last election there were races that the decision was made by lot because the vote was dead even. There were other races in which voter fraud gave us "representatives" who were more interested in their own power and aggrandizement than in their constituents needs. Get out there and pull the lever, hang the chads, mark your ballot, let them know who you want to represent you or judge you or whether the bond issue is worth the pain of taxes.

The word of the day for November 4, 2008 is "elect" — Pronunciation: \i-'lekt\
Function: verb
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin electus
Date: 15th century

transitive verb 1 : to select by vote for an office, position, or membership [elected her class president]. 2 : to make a selection of [will elect an academic program]. 3 : to choose (as a course of action) especially by preference [might elect to sell the business].

Our quote of the day is from Robert Moses, On John V Lindsay as mayor of NYC, NY Times 8 Jan 1978:
If you elect a matinee idol mayor, you’re going to have a musical comedy administration.


Saturday, November 1, 2008


All Saints' Day or All Hallows' Day is a rather strange attempt by the Christian Church to hijack a holiday for Christ. Most cultures celebrate their dead on a set day of the year. The Celts had several, but November 31st, being not quite equidistant between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice, has always seemed a strange date even for the Celts whose calendar has a few more seasons than the Roman one.

Halloween, the night before All Hallows', has never been Christian—in spite of the Church fathers allowing their parishoners to dress as saints. This sufferance has led to the plurality of costume modes among our youth. The pagans dressed as monsters (perhaps to scare away the evil spirits) and the Christians dressed as saints (presumably in emulation of the saints' virtues.) Nowadays we have the Monster category headed by ghosts, witches, vampires and the more modern Texas Chainsaw villain and Darth Vader. Also, the Heroes (Saints) with Supergirl, Batman and Robin. Disney characters seem to have edged out the Historical category, with Pooh and Ariel, the mermaid rather than Davey Crockett and Harriet Tubman.

Ariel lovely beadwork Super Girl tigrita negra kitcat various & sundry
We had an all-time high of 65 treat bags handed out to the children. (Some years, I have handed treats to accompanying adults just to get rid of the candy.) Everyone was well-behaved: no child left without saying "thank you." I closed up just at 8:30, because treats and children came out even just as the alarm I had set for closing went off. If there had been more children on the street, I would have pulled out my reserve goodies, but the land sharks at work will get their goodies Monday.

The word of the day for November 1, 2008 is "costume" — Pronunciation: \ˈkäs-ˌtüm, -ˌtyüm also -təm or -ˌchüm\
Function: noun
Etymology: French, from Italian, custom, dress, from Latin consuetudin-, consuetudo custom — more at
Date: 1799
1: the prevailing fashion in coiffure, jewelry, and apparel of a period, country, or class. 2: an outfit worn to create the appearance characteristic of a particular period, person, place, or thing [Halloween costumes]. 3: a person's ensemble of outer garments ; especially : a woman's ensemble of dress with coat or jacket.

Our quote for today is from Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. “Demonology,” Lectures and Biographical Sketches (1883, repr. 1904):

Sleep takes off the costume of circumstance, arms us with terrible freedom, so that every will rushes to a deed.