Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pity the Poor Titan

Steve Reeves
Atlas was an unfortunate Titan, if one is to believe certain versions of Greek mythology.  He lead the other Titans in a revolution against the Greek gods, lost big time, and was condemned to spend the rest of eternity bearing the heavens upon his great big Titan shoulders

I learned this from reading a book on Greek mythology by Edith Hamilton.  I was a sophomore in high school, condemned to my own Titan-like task of riding a bus from my rural community to the high school in the larger rural community.  The ride took thirty long minutes, and that steel box held all the noise, anti-school sentiment, sexual tension, and energy of about 60 teenagers.  My brother in college had taken a class using Ms. Hamilton’s book, and he left it at home one Christmas.  I carried it in my purse all through high school, reading and re-reading it during the mindless eternity it took to go to and from school.
Temple of Zeus

I confess without hesitation I initially read the book for its titillation value, as those Greek gods were a randy group of beings.  After I got over looking for sexual content, I moved onto reading about the other gods and humans in pursuit of happiness through grand odysseys to find the one thing that would fulfill their destinies.

Liver again?!  Man...
It didn’t take many read-throughs to see how doomed they and their adventures were from the very get-go.  I groaned aloud each time I read how Prometheus was tied to a revolving wheel and having his liver eaten every single night, only to have it grow back during the day.  His crime:  giving fire to the humans. 

One memorable unfortunate was Minerva, who spinning and weaving was said to rival that of the goddess in charge of those homemaking skills.  This really ticked off the goddess who turned Minerva into a spider.  That’ll teach you, Ms. Minerva.  No competing with the gods/goddesses.


He is risen! Hallelujah!
Now, I sigh in relief that the earth is held in the palm of God’s hand, that Jesus Christ bridged the gap between Heaven and Earth with His nail-pierced hands.  His sacrifice is our salvation. 

On the other hand, the ancient Greeks walked around looking over their shoulders to see if there was a griffin ready to swoop down and scoop them up for dinner.  They sacrificed at every temple and holy site, just in case that god/goddess was in town checking out the human condition.  How dismal, how hopeless.  Poor Atlas. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Small Stones

Courtesy of Bing.com

28 July 2011

Grandma, watch me
Splash and dive
Did you
See
That?








Hands in the water
Sweeping
through the bubbles
And finding
The air.


"Grandma, my fingers are wrinkled."
 Tan lines on legs
Sun streaked hair

Droplets on eyelashes
Wrinkly
fingers
                                                

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Geeks in Conflict

Our beloved David Tennant (Dr. Who)

My husband John and I are geeks, and proud of it.  Knowing one is a geek means that there are several channels on television where we will find something to watch:  National Geographic, History, Discovery, Sci-Fi, and any channel that shows repeats of Star Trek: the Next Generation or the Original, and Doctor Who.  Life is simplified in many ways, just knowing these few channels.

However, this geek-hood has brought out some problems in our relationship. 

I am a quiet person who can spend a whole day without talking or watching television.  My husband is a babbler, who talks even when he is alone, and must have the television on whenever he is home.  Normally, we balance each other out.  But geek-ness has stirred up some problems.
Yes, empirical formulas

A wormhole
When we watch a show on—oh, I don’t know—say, wormholes and empirical formulas, or the history of the Hale telescope, or maybe the particle collider and anti-matter…when the show is over for hours or maybe even days, my husband is still thinking about it.  Not only is John still thinking about it, he wants to discuss it with me, and share his observations & thoughts about it.  

It is what it is.
Obviously, this is a one-sided discussion, an inequality, if you like.  I listen to him for minutes, maybe as long as five whole minutes.  But somewhere in that time frame, a hand reaches up to a switch in my brain and clicks it to “off”.  Then I am blankly looking at him, nodding as if I understand and care.  In a short while, I start looking around the room.  After that, I go to the bathroom.

Add caption
Bless his heart.  He knows what is happening, but the enthusiastic desire to teach and share his passions in life override that part in his brain that should have an on/off switch but doesn’t.

Yesterday was prime.  We were watching a track event with javelin throws and such.  John started talking about how certain animals could be trained to excel at these track events.  He speculated about cheetahs in sprints, gazelles in the hurdles, gorillas in shot-put, and…I stopped listening.   Only after a few minutes, did I realize he was asking me, “What do you think?”
1980 - awesome movie

Blank, I gazed at him and tried to rebuild the sentences building up to that question.  The only thing I could come up with, as that hand in my brain struggled to find the switch and turn it on, was, “Well, John.  The only things animals are really interested in are eating and mating…”  Then I looked at him, seeing if that was a good answer.  John, ever so much like our granddaughter Sunshine, nodded and said, “That’s probably right.”

Then John got up and went to the bathroom. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Joy of A/C: pt. 2, Bats and Cats and Elephants....

I just really liked this photo.
There is no screen separating the great night outdoors from the window fan and the inside bedroom.  The force of the air flow prevented insects from getting inside. 

One night, my oldest brother Don raised the window and turned on the window fan, but he didn’t understand the issue about 2inches  versus 3 inches opening.  We all went to bed and a cool breeze flowed through the upstairs, our open adjoining door, and out through the amazing window fan
The window fan

...almost there...almost there...
Sometime around midnight, we all woke up.  It was an eerie thing to do, waking up at the same time and for no apparent good reason.  But our senses were primed and sharp to a high-pitched squeak and a sense that a giant mosquito was just over our heads.  Don turned the light on in my brothers’ room, and we all blinked to see what was buzzing us.
A harmless bat

It wasn’t clear at first, but in seconds we burst into screaming and racing around the rooms as the bat frantically zoomed around with us, trying to find the damned window fan opening.  The 3 inch opening was just enough for it to find its way into the house, but there was no way the wretched, scared bat would find its way out.  

It zipped and zoomed, and we screamed and ducked.  I dived back into my bed and pulled the sheet over my head, tucking it around myself.  My older brother Robert tried to get in the bed with me, but selfishly I was not giving up my protected space.  He crawled under my bed instead. 

And I'm zooming in....
After several long desperate minutes, Don turned off the light, and in an authoritative voice told us that we had to quiet down, and let the bat find a place to settle.  We would get the bat in the morning. Robert slept on the floor under my bed, I under my sheet, and Don with a blanket around him.  Whatever cooling air we might have gotten from the window fan that night was nullified by the layers we put between our sweaty skin and the bat.
...and I'm flying...

...and now I'm sleeping....
In the morning, Don found the bat asleep, hanging upside down from the wallpaper.  He used his blanket and snatched it off the wall.  As we watched, Don flung the blanket open through a window, and the bat plummeted to the ground.  We closed the window, and were just about to close the shade when we saw our best mouser cat pounce on the bat and carry it away.

We turned off the window fan, observed the incorrect window height setting, and closed the window.  The sun came up, and the temperature soared.  And, that is one very good reason why I love air conditioning.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Joy of Air-Conditioning

Summer in Illinois
Perhaps it is a sign of being soft, but I really love air-conditioning.  No, really love it.  I have had enough of windows wide open with screens stretched to keep the bugs out.  The fresh air is great until the allergens sneak into my nose.  The wafting breezes are lovely, but only when the temperature is 60 to 82 degrees.  Yes, I have set limitations, and they are very narrow.

Just how hot is it today!?
My youth was spent on a farm in rural Illinois, in a two-story house built sometime between 1850-1860.  The walls were lathe and plaster, and the windows were sash with a pulley system to raise and lower; the wood had some weak places that were held together with paint.  In other words, it was a typical farm house. 

The summers were the hardest.  Once the sun came up over the cornfields to the east, all the windows upstairs were closed, and the shades were drawn.  For, once the sun started climbing, so did the temperature upstairs.  If it was 100 deg. outside, it was 110 upstairs.  Venturing upstairs to fetch something meant coming downstairs soaked in sweat.
Window

Sears window fan, 1950s
But once the sun went down, the shades were opened, and the windows raised; screens were maneuvered in to block out bugs.  And then we would turn on the window fan.  Most people see that word and think about the lightweight box fan available from Wal-Mart for $19.99.  But, they would be mistaken.  A window fan is different.  It is a heavy piece of machinery that is hoisted by two people into the frame of the window and made secure.  During the day, the window is closed, and the fan sits idly by inside the window frame, waiting for the night when it gets some real action.  Once the window is opened, the fan is turned on and whoa-Nelly-Katie-bar-the-door!   The fan is aimed so that the air is pulled through the windows on the opposing side of the house and propelled out forcefully through the slicing blades of the window fan.

The key thing normally entrusted to me was to raise the window sash to the right level, where it would lock in place.  There are two levels: one that is about 2 inches above the window fan and one that is about 3 inches above the window fan.  You wouldn’t think this could make a difference, but it does.

Why does it make a difference?  Well, I will tell you tomorrow.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rain on the Table


The rain began to mist...

Marianne and Jody skipped to the table ahead of their mommy.  “We got here first!  We win, Mommy!”  Still holding hands, they climbed onto the table top and danced, their joined hands lifted up to the clear blue sky.

“Get down, girls!  Come help me with the picnic basket,” Laura Marshall groaned as she struggled with the heavy basket in one hand and the blanket in the other.  “Quickly!  I can’t carry this much farther!”
The girls jumped to the bench and then onto the grass.  “Let me get the basket…No, you carry the blanket this time…No!  You got to…” 

“Girls!  Please!”  Laura reprimanded them, setting the heavy load onto the table just as her strength gave out.  Silently, Marianne and Jody glared at each other.  Shrugging, they reached out to help Mommy unpack the sandwiches, the homemade potato salad, and apples.  With each item, they giggled.  A picnic!  They had not come here to this park in so long, not since Daddy went away on that trip.  And, to this table, too. 

Between bites, Laura told the girls about the table, how she and their daddy had their first date at this very table.  “Your daddy sat there, Jody, and I…”  Laura paused for a moment.  “I sat over where you are, Marianne.”

“What happened next, Mommy?  What did Daddy say?”  The girls knew this story by heart, word for word.  They knew how Daddy had reached across the table and held Mommy’s hand.  They knew how she giggled.

 Laura thought for a moment, and in a distant voice continued.  “The rain began to mist through the trees, and soon it was really raining.  We ran to the car, and laughed as we got soaked.” The girls nodded, as Laura’s face took on a softness that appeared when she talked about Daddy.

When every crumb that could be eaten was gone, the blanket was placed out on the sun-warmed grass.  The girls sprawled on it, spreading their arms wide, and gazing through the tree branches. Filled with Mommy’s memories and food, they felt like they could reach out and hold their father.   

 They could see the rain, the wet table, and the dripping branches.  Daddy had been here once.  Maybe, someday Daddy would come back from Heaven and have a picnic with them.  
 Go to this blog site to read other stories about "Rain on the Table".

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Barn out in the back


The timbers felt strong, even though the boards were fading from red to gray.  The tin roof had held up for decades, but even it was starting to doubt its integrity.  

 The weeds around the outside appeared to be holding the barn up, with so many vines and creepers.  The silent dust-mote interior spoke of cows, hay, empty feed sacks, and hidden bottles.  

 How much longer can it stand?  Even it doesn’t know.

Click below to follow other photos that inspired or intrigued so many talented writers!
Inspiration Point Blogfest  

Blog Restrospection

Many thanks (I think) to Delores at My Feathered Nest for being chosen to participate in a retrospection on past blogs.  At first, I looked at her note, realized that this was going to require some thinking on my part.  It is summer, and it is too hot to think—that ran through my mind. 

But then I said, “Well, dang…” and looked over my months of blogs.  I had started in January, and here it is July, but there were nearly 100 blog postings.  Here it goes:

Category 1:  Most beautiful   I chose “My Valentine Queen”, which is about my mother.  Mom passed away April 3, 2011, and this blog was written Feb. 21.  After this blog, Mom developed pneumonia, and failed rapidly.  I am crying as I write this, for I miss her so very much….

Category 2:  Most popular  This one “I do! I do!”  received a lot of attention, which kinda surprised me.  I thought my five advices were common sense, but then I am a “teensy bit old”.
Category 3:  The Most Controversial  This is tough, since I am not an “in your face” person.  I wish I were more gutsy (like you, Delores, you wild woman, you).  So I picked one of my early blogs “The Bigger They Are”.  
The Bigger They Are

Category 4:  Most Helpful   This one “Life” is from the famous/infamous A-Z Blogfest.  As its title implies, it is about life and all it entails.
Life

Category 5:  The Post whose success surprised me   Well, that one is from the A-Z, as well.  This blog post is “W is for…”  I wrote that one selfishly, as I found myself glued to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Shows.  My, those dogs were amazing. 
W is for...

Category 6:  The Post most ignored    I wrote a short story for a blog contest, around this great photo found by Dawn Ambers.  I thought I did a good job, and Dawn gave me an award.  But, still, not many people found it interesting. :(
Category 7:  The Post I am proud of    This post was painful for me to write, as it dealt with an incident in my life I have never talked about.  This post is from the Broken Heart(s) blog fest. 
Broken Heart(s)

Now I must choose five fellow bloggers, and notify them of their choice to participate or not.  These writers :

A Penchant for Pens  , 1st Writes , Diary of a Square-toothed Girl , Fearfully and Wonderfully , and
Ju Dimello

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sunshine and the Ten Commandments

all images are courtesy of Bing.com
There are movies that will always be remembered for grandeur, universal truths, flawless performances by the lead actors, and/or excellent writing.   One of my favorites is “The Ten Commandments”.  Oh, I know, it is over-the-top in many ways, but it still stands out as an epic of the late 1950s.

Today my daughter Erin and her girls, Bright Eyes and Sunshine, came down to visit.  I think key factors may have been that we have great A/C and it is stinking hot where they live thirty miles away.  My husband took them out to Spaghetti Factory while I stayed home to deal with some digestive issues.

When they returned, Grandpa put this movie on to share with the girls.  Of course, Grandpa has been dying to show them “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and maybe “Kill Bill: I & II”, as he has the common sense of a gnat.  But, we watched the first half of “The 10 Commandments”, with an incredible amount of commentary.  Sunshine questions every single movie I have watched with her, and I don’t think she really listens to the answers. 

Nice hair
When Moses came down from the Mountain, the girls observed his face was glowing and his hair was blown back.  They had all sorts of theories about that ranging from being in front of the fan, to his mommy blow-drying his hair, to seeing God.  We told them that Moses would get the Ten Commandments from God and give them to the Hebrews.

Sunshine gave us her wise, all-knowing look, “Oh, I know all about them!”  Such knowledge and confidence exuded from her, it was awe-inspiring.  Mommy asked her to name a few.

Sunshine crawled into my arms and hugged me. “Oh, you know.  One is ‘Don’t bite’.  Another is ‘Don’t steal’.  And, another is ‘Don’t cheat’.”  Our adult eyes shared a common moment, and we nodded to Sunshine in agreement.  “Those are all good ones, Sunshine.”


Sunshine beamed that incredible five-year old smile at us.  I told her that I had ‘Don’t Bite’ nailed.  I was really good at not biting any one.  She eyed me for a second before giving me a look of approval.  “Good job, Grandma!”

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Voices

Careful!  Fragile!
I went to an antique store today.  At these marvelous places, I walk along the dusty shelves and sense a welcome from all the varied pieces that have found their way there. When I scour through the crowded shelves and kneel down to look at a delicate teapot, I am really searching for the hands that held that teapot.  I closed my eyes today, and pictured how the blue and white china teapot was carefully washed and dried, then placed up away from little hands.  The teapot was well-used, though, as there were faint stains that built up over time.

How many hands used these?
 The worn kitchen implements tell me that tons of potatoes were peeled and mashed, a boatload of apple pies were rolled out, cooked, and appreciated. 

Old tables have so much voice to me.  The scratches and dents resulted from many meals, and there must have been laughter and stories told after the dishes were cleared, the coffee poured. 
Many meals were eaten here.
Rusty, Goldie, and Blackie (not actual cows)


On the farm we had three milk cows, which produced untold gallons of raw milk over my life there.  Every morning Mom strained the milk into a metal crock, and set it carefully in the old Kelvinator refrigerator.  By late afternoon, she showed me how to skim off the cream that had risen to the top of the milk as it cooled. 
Raw milk
Mom carefully ladled the cream into an old Mason jar, where it would wait.  Then she poured the milk into a chipped pitcher, just in time for another crock-full of warm milk, fresh from the evening’s milking.    In the morning, we would again skim off the cream, and ladle it into the jar.  We drank the milk, bits of cream still circling around the thick white liquid.

This is exactly like mine!
When enough cream accumulated, it would go into the heavy glass jar butter churn.  How many pounds of butter did we churn?  Over 20 years?  What did Mom do with the butter? Too many questions, and I have no answer for them all.  I do know that Mom sold the butter to women in the nearby town, saved up the money, and used it for whatever she wanted to buy for herself.  Mom never lived in luxury, but the ‘butter money’ gave a taste of having extra.
Mine is very similar!

Today I held a smaller version of Mom’s old churn, with eyes closed and mind searching for the hands that turned the handle, spinning the paddles until cream went from liquid white to solid yellow.  I know that somewhere in this churn’s life, a girl’s hands took over the churning while the mother worked on another chore.  The worn faded red handle told me that the girl grew to a woman, who would someday want her own churn. 

I paid for the churn, and carried this treasure out into the bright sun.  The resulting migraine told me that it was time to get into the dark rooms of my house, so I made no detours to my other favorite places.  At home, I wiped the churn off with one of Mom’s old faded dishtowels.  I placed it in the hutch next to Mom’s butter mold, carved by my great-grandfather for his daughter.  

In the dark of the dining room, I gazed at my ‘new’ churn with a great sigh of pleasure.  Migraine or not, I felt good-- no, great.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

It is not our fault! Science confirms this!

It is not our fault.  The truth is finally out, and I feel such relief.  Since I hit 45 years old, I have had this sense of guilt and failure
I have had to work on staying a size 8-10 for my whole adult life.  There have been years when I flirted with a size 6 or even less, but those were stressful years when I was more concerned with working than I was with eating.

Then the migraines became serious, and the neurologist had me try one anti-seizure medication after another.  Each one was a serious metabolism killer.  Then menopause came along, and the suppressed fat cells inhaled deeply.  “Ahhhh.  Finally.  Now it is our turn.”

But, HALLELUJAH!  An article has appeared on the scene from Dr. Laurence E. Dahners, senior author and professor in the Department of Orthopedics in the University of North Carolina.  He has determined the following:

“I think it’s a fairly common human experience that people find themselves to be wider at the age of 40 or 60 then they were at 20,” said Laurence E. Dahners, MD, senior author of the study and a professor in the Department of Orthopaedics in the UNC School of Medicine. “Until recently we assumed that this was caused simply by an increase in body fat.


“Our findings suggest that pelvic growth may contribute to people becoming wider and having a larger waist size as they get older, whether or not they also have an increase in body fat,” Dahners said.

The pelvic width of the oldest patients in the study was, on average, nearly an inch larger than the youngest patients. This one-inch increase in pelvic diameter, by itself, could lead to an approximately three-inch increase in waist size from age 20 to age 79. If the rest of the body is widening commensurately, this might account for a significant portion of an increase in body weight of about one pound a year that many people experience during the same period, Dahners said.”

Their results confirmed that the width of the pelvis, the width but not the height of L4 vertebral body, the distance between the femoral heads, and the diameter of the femoral heads all continued to enlarge after skeletal maturity.

In Particular, the fact that the pelvic inlet also widened is evidence of true pelvic growth rather than simple appositional bone formation, Dahners said.  The pelvic inlet would be smaller if appositional bone formation were taking place, he said.

This begs the question:  If my pelvis is growing wider, doesn’t that mean my butt is wider? 
Also, since the spine tends to compress as a result of gravity, stress, and regular doses of stupid actions, doesn’t that mean that all the organs and gooey stuff within the ribs will also compress?  I mean, where would it go?
What would happen..

Think about this image:  You take a balloon and fill it with water.  When you press down on the balloon gently, the balloon will spread out.  Press too hard, well, that’s a different story, of course.

So, not only is the butt getting wider, but the abdomen is protruding since there is no place else for it to go, right?  Everything, baby, is heading south and out.  It is a no-win situation for all of us.

There is no excuse for the flabby arm thing, though.  Maybe Dr. Laurence Dahners will discover more about that problem.

Friday, July 8, 2011

How Summer Is Measured


Summer is slipping by me.  Already the fireworks have burst in the sky, while I watched them in TV.  Where did the awe go?  What happened to all those “Ahhhhs”  and “Ohhhhs”?

Summer is measured in so many ways.  I guess it comes down to that basic premise. 

Summer is measured:

* in the amount of fireflies caught and held in a quart jar.
Three won't be enough!

How they glow..
* in the first good ear of sweet corn covered with butter.

* in the wrinkled fingers of my grandchildren after swimming all day.

* in the number of times people comment on how hot it is today.

This one will be the best!
* by the splashing in the pool.

* by the number of the SPF in the sunblock lotion.

* by how high I want the A/C set.
It's like magic!

* by the lack of football games on TV.

* by the sales of summer clothes at JCPenney.

Can you add to the list?  I wonder how many measurements our blogging community can add?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Small Stones

Living outside the box
where the wind
clears the head
trading white
for blue.

#2
Voices rumble, grumble
the same, the same
Is
quiet is too much
to ask for?

#3
The plant nearly died
but all it needed
was
water.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Adventures at Costco

Courtesy of Bing.com
Going to Costco is our cheap date, where we can go shopping and eat free food.  Perhaps Costco is a California phenomenon or another sign of American “over-the-top” shopping, I don’t know.  But it is a place where one pays an annual membership due, and gets to shop in its monstrous cavern of a warehouse. 
As high as the sky...

The first time I went to a Costco, I had an anxiety attack, seriously.  The shelves went way up to the sky, disappearing in a metal vaulted ceiling. Products were at the reaching level, but above that were the fork-lift products: cellophane wrapped boxes of Scott ™ facial tissue, at least two hundred pounds of them; or, maybe another hundred bottles of olive oil ready to be put on the shelves.  These loaded shelves towered over me, the consumer, and I had an anxiety attack.

Would you like a sample, ma'am?
Nothing happened, but I sat down in the lawn furniture on display, did some breathing and discovered the real reason people came here.  It was the myriad of free samples given out by cheerful employees wearing disposable caps, black aprons, and disposable food service gloves.  Oh goodness me.  The samples they were handing out, with lines wrapping all over the store!  If one wanted to try some crème Brulee truffle cheesecake, well, ‘here you go, ma’am’.  Or if one wanted to try out the new frozen pizza, or the health drink, or the jalapeno artichoke dip on a rice cracker—line up here, it is only $8.99 for two, here-you-go-ma’am.

Do you think we have enough, honey?
We joined the sea of humanity pushing our way through the warehouse from sample to sample, soon forgetting that we did indeed need to buy milk, eggs, bread, and chicken.  By the time we got to the checkout registers, our cart was filled, our bill was $150, and we did not need to make dinner when we got home.

Happy samplers







Yesterday, we took our granddaughters to Costco with their mother.  I was in charge of the girls, thinking they were innocent in the ways of free samples.  But, no.  Each held my hand, and steered me from one sample to another.  “Sunshine” climbed up on a case of diced tomatoes, and called out to her sister, “Over there!  I see one—looks like pizza.”  When it appeared that I was getting overwhelmed, they dragged me into the “Fresh Produce” room, where a blast of 40 degree air surrounded the crates of blueberries ($5.99 for 2 lbs.) and a flat of strawberries ($6.99 for 2 quarts).  “You feel better, Grandma?”

After we spent about a million dollars, we all got some frozen yogurt ($1.50 for 12 ounces) and sat on the picnic tables outside.  The girls ate it all.  I was too stuffed to move—all that free food.