Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Update

This is a day off for me because I must work this coming Saturday. Actually, I had originally scored a three-day weekend, but had to work yesterday (Sunday, yes we're open Sundays) because of  a staffing shortage...but I won't bore you with that. Yesterday was easy money, and a slightly shorter work day, so I am not feeling too put upon.
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On the bright side, I did score that sundress! What a surprise...it started in Ohio, then traveled to New Jersey, but then it sat in York, Pennsylvania for a very long time.  Suddenly, however, it was in Maryland, then North Carolina, and then at some point,  Philadelphia. Anyway, it did materialize, and it's cute.  Speaking of material, it's a bit thin, but I will wear neutral underwear in low lighting at the beach and it will not matter.
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In other news, my older sister moved back home after convalescing at my mom's house for a few weeks. (She had back surgery) This is happy progress, and when I first arrived at the top of the stairs and entered her apartment, I was greeted by Tiger, a cat I hadn't seen in months, soon followed by Gray Boy, and I think I got a glimpse of the shy Bazzy.  No lighting trick is going to hide the fact that these cats are not thin.  They've always been heavy, but they are larger now. I suspect that GB has been eating more than his share, and that Tiger has been loudly complaining to both her caretakers that she hasn't been fed. (Liar)

Actually, Tiger's the one who reminds me of a Kliban cat (it's the stripes), but she looks small next to Gray Boy.  When GB is lying on his side, he looks like an area rug. I am not exaggerating, and yes, I've seen bigger cats on the interwebs, but I am hoping that they are photo-shopped. (Bazzy is merely chubby. She who arrives last at the feeding trough gets the least.*)
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IF I am writing about my sister's fat cats, THEN it must be slow around here. 'Round here...' gives me a Counting Crows ear worm, which reminds me: they are releasing a new album in early September. It's about time.










*IF they are aware that they have separate dishes, it is not evident. 

Sunday, August 03, 2014

For the time being

Goofing off as much as possible this morning before I must go to work...it's unusual that I must work all weekend, but yesterday wasn't bad at all.  I do have a slight self-induced headache from that last beer* at last night's social outing. How lucky it didn't rain. This morning's run did not quite jiggle out the ache, but I can tell it won't linger too long.

What have I been up to? I'm almost finished watching all three seasons of BBC's Sherlock Holmes, and then I will go through withdrawal. Each episode is two hours long, which always seems to come as a surprise--was I really cloistered in my dark room, bent over my DVD player with my headphones on that long? Yes, yes I was. Several times. So far, this series is not a disappointment, but soon I will be forced into withdrawal.

The only disappointment I've had recently was ordering a sundress from a catalog, which was the last one available, just happened to be my size, at a bargain price--and I even scored free shipping--but I never got it. Lost in the mail. *sigh*


Alas, not to be...oh, is that Moriarty? I know he faked his death, too--I'm counting on it. But I wasn't counting on the dress, really, it's okay. A bargain on a whim, I'll find something else, as if I needed anything else.

We will be visiting Mike's parents later today because one of our Minnesota nieces is here! It is the end of an era, when the girls can no longer come together. Adulthood: sooner or later, it catches up with all the kiddos.

And now, I really must get ready for work...thank goodness we wear a uniform.





*called, aptly, A Wee Heavy. Tasty, but I should not have lifted that one.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Whatever floats the boat

My ideas about what I can or might do, and what I will or won't like, are sometimes frighteningly unrealistic. For instance, I've always had this feeling that I could, if I tried, become a very early morning person, which in this case means "I could get up at 5:00 am and go running."  Recently, I actually came up with the harebrained idea of putting my wind-up alarm clock inside my teddy bear puppet, and sleeping with it. Yep. And when the alarm I was snuggling with went off at 5:00 am, what did I do? I jumped out of bed, left the room, shut off the alarm, and got right back into bed (with the bear).  Yes, it did help me roll out of bed earlier, but first I had to recoil and recover from the shock of that alarm. I didn't like it. Note to self, forever more: 5:00 am is too early for you, and this must be accepted. It's okay, it's not actually necessary, anyway. Get over it.

This is me and Beachnut, my bear. My hair is long now, pulled back, yet still a mess.

If there is anything I must constantly remind myself not to do, it is inventing problems I do not have. Or, making problems out of the way things are.

Enough of that. This fall, I am determined that I am going to make one of these--



I love it, and this really should not be that difficult. Yeah, I remember, vaguely, a blog post about starting to loom knit, which I did not keep up, but I am slowly crocheting a throw for our couch in the living room. That I can do. That loom knit hat I started was another strange, harebrained notion; I don't need or particularly want a gray hat, and--every time I put that project down, I had to remind myself how to do it, all over again. In contrast, basic crocheting is something I learned as a kid and never forgot. And there are all kinds of new stitches to be learned by watching YouTube. How exciting.


                                See, it's as broad as my hand now, and can be sort of meditative.

Another thing I keep thinking I want is a big plastic "swimming" pool.
Why? Do I really picture myself pumping this up, filling it with cold water, and--sitting in it? With my Nook? Because I need more sun? Oh, yeah, it would need to be covered when not in use, too. It does not come with a cover. Anyway, it's only $18 at Big Lots, but it seems more appropriate for me to simply keep sitting out on the patio with a cold drink. I do enjoy that. See? My summer does not need to be fixed.

Perhaps, one of these warm days, I'll do something really different and visit the township swimming pool, instead of staying home to crochet an afghan. That's not a totally unrealistic notion...









Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Magic of Summer

Summer goes by so quickly, I'm trying not to miss it. Any late afternoon that is not dark and stormy, I will find a way to enjoy, to live in the summer.

We had a very good time at the 2014 Magic Collectors' Convention in Cincinnati, OH. It was fun spending time with a few people we enjoy but rarely see, touring a couple awesome collections, and hearing Teller speak (he does) about a trick he'd spent a year perfecting. And no, sadly, that link does not contain a video; evidently, it's been taken off YouTube, and I can't find it anywhere.

However, we did take a few pictures--first, an idea of where we were, exactly.

We stayed at the Marriott in Covington, Kentucky, which is right across the river from the big city. Those murals are The Roebling Murals, and they depict the history of Covington. At the near end of these paintings, there is a staircase that leads to the Roebling Bridge.


Quite the ornate crossover, no? Nice walkways on both sides. The Ohio River is pretty murky looking, though. Here's a shot from the Cincinnati side--


And here is the lovely Smale Riverfront Park. I had the pleasure of running through this park two beautiful mornings in a row. As you see, we had very nice weather.

One of the highlights of the tour was Ken Klosterman's collection, the Salon de Magie, which is overwhelming. His collection is well rounded: posters, apparatus, photographs, books, historical items and ephemera--you name it, he had it. And this was not all of his collection.


This is what Mr. Klosterman calls his little log cabin. The man does own a sense of humor.  It is much bigger than it looks in this picture, and there is a natural cavern underneath, accessible by a tiny elevator. It is a hidden passageway to the booty down below...


This photo was taken upstairs in the living room, and that is a Robert-Houdin clock I'm standing with. This is just one of them--he has two others.


Down in the cavern, every available spot is taken with valuable collectibles. Even the tables belonged to famous magicians.


This is the famous Light and Heavy Chest, the most important artifact in the entire place.

We had lunch outside, in front of the cabin, between his horse farm and the lily pond. We did not tour the Whitehall Mansion, where the rest of his collection is housed, but we did receive a nice video of both these collections with the rest of our convention goodies.  It's rather startling, seeing so much--wealth.

An unexpected highlight was the fire drill that occurred at the Marriott during the convention's auction, which I'd decided to skip in favor of some down time. As a result, I was called out just as I was seriously nodding off, to the sounds of sirens and k'booming. It turns out that all that k'booming I heard was coming from across the river, the game night fireworks show. Gee, we hardly ever get to see fireworks. Along with the sirens and flashing police lights, it was quite a raucous event.

Mike came away from the auction with another collectible book, while I bought a memoir by Celeste Evans, one of the first lady magicians. She kindly autographed it for me, and I'm happy to have had the chance to meet her.

The night before the convention, we stopped overnight in Columbus, Ohio to meet up with a friend and see his sizable collection. Columbus was a happening place that night, mostly because Santana was in town. Also, at the hotel in which we stayed, there was a Haunting Convention. Hmm, if the magic collectors ever become too tiny a group (a definite possibility), perhaps they can merge with the haunters...two groups that thrive on costumes and illusions.

It's always nice to get away, and even nicer when it turns out to be such an interesting and enjoyable trip. And now for the rest of summer---




Sunday, June 01, 2014

Rabbit rabbit, and all that...


Happy June!  Good bye, May of 2014. Fourteen years into the aughts--no, that's not the correct way of putting it--I should say, it's already been thirteen years since the new millennium. Youknowwhatimean; it's not 19-something anymore, and sometimes this still jars me. I'd better get over this. Really, if I live up to my life expectancy, I will have straddled the centuries almost perfectly.

The solstice may occur on June 21st, but since the local school district closes in about 6 days, that will be cultural beginning of summer. It will be a collective exhale for so many people. I got so tired of this past winter that I will try very hard not to complain about humidity this summer.

I chose a magic card bunny because we will be traveling to Cincinnati in a couple days to attend a magic collectors' convention. I'm always game for a road trip, and since we're taking Greyhound, I'm even happier. We don't have anything else planned until September...so, the summer is wide open.

What are you up to?







Saturday, May 24, 2014

Oh, honestly...

There are so many books in my queue that I don't know what to pick up next, so I suppose it'll be a short classic, one of the many I am too ashamed to admit I haven't read. And as I prepare to delve into that, the bombardment of flashing advertisements heralds the coming of the next Richard Kadrey book. These books are not my usual fare at all, and yes, they sound ridiculous, but--the new Richard Kadrey book is out. Eventually, I will need to know what becomes of Sandman Slim.

Meanwhile, there are much more serious works of literature out there that I've snubbed, or not much liked at all. For example, a few years back, I read American Rust, by Philipp Meyer, and--didn't get it. Actually, I liked the writing style that many people objected to, and even thought the author captured the aura of western Pennsylvania (the little I've of seen it). But--I simply failed to gain insight into the characters and thought the plot was an iffy drag. I'm thinking of this right now because Philipp Meyer has a new book, too--a serious one that I might really like--and because I feel like a total zero for not having the majority opinion about that first tome, which is a silly way to feel, but there it is.

Oh, but wait, hold on: the last book in the All Souls Trilogy, The Book of Life, by Deborah Harkness, is coming out in July, and before that, Cormoran Strike and his smart assistant Robin Ellacott are back for J.K. Rowling's second detective novel, The Silkworm. Major distractions will forbid the reading of too many older books this summer, for sure.


Hey, something has to turn your wheels, right? And speaking of going places, I've discovered running skirts. Sounds silly, but wait: they are very comfortable, with lightweight mesh shorts underneath a very lightweight dark skirt. The skirt covers a bit more than ordinary shorts without feeling long or baggy, plus it covers up the worst of the sweating I do. Oh, and there's a hidden pocket on the side of the hip. Nice feature.


No, it's not ruffled or plaid. I'm not out of my mind, just a wee bit self-conscious in my old age.





Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Scaredy Cat

The day started with a flurry of activity; I got up and ran six miles, checked the mail and ogled Facebook, took a shower, ate, and then drove off the doctor's office for a simple procedure. While there, I remembered that today was primary day. Oh, man, life would've been so much more relaxed, had I'd voted first. Short term memory: it's the first to go. But, however, when I got back home, I successfully rushed around ridiculously enough to just get to the polls and then work on time with my lunch packed and my hair looking--not too disheveled.  Lucky for me, selfishly speaking, at this juncture, no one votes. Two minutes total, no lie. It took me longer to walk back and forth from my car than it took me to sign my name and cast my vote.

And the medical procedure? My doctor wanted to biopsy a couple moles. I would have enjoyed this experience much more had my doctor not felt the need to show off all her excising tools. Since these moles are on my back, it should be my luxury not to be exposed to the details of their removal.  But lo, when she was finished, she held up the two bloody vials to show me what she'd just cut out!


Did I really look like I wanted to see that? I think not. And it didn't occur to me that I'd have stitches, and that means going back for another visit. Dammit. 

Work was very slow today, a long slog, since I worked the very last shift after rushing around in the morning. Rush around to sit around, that's so often the case.

And after all this petty stuff and boredom, I get home and hear the news that Pennsyltucky Pennsylvania's ban on same sex marriage was struck down today--woohoo!

I'll drink to that--tomorrow. Can't stay up too much later tonight.




Sunday, April 27, 2014

This just in...so far

What? Two nonfiction books in one year? It happens. Rarely. 
After we visited the Philadelphia Library, I felt compelled to read a Poe biography, and not long 
afterwards, the great writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez died, so of course I finally picked up the memoir I've been squandering for several years.

I've read only a fraction of Garcia Marquez's memoir, but he has already demonstrated the dreamy, innocent way he perceived life as a child, and how he was able to hold on to that.

It would seem that these two men, who lived in different times, different cultures, and different hemispheres, may as well have inhabited different planets, and yet--there are similarities. Most importantly, they both knew they were writers before they were men. Edgar Poe stated, in an early letter, ...succeed or not, I am "irrecoverably a poet." before he was a legal adult, while Garcia Marquez quotes Rilke, If you believe that you are capable of living without writing, do not write.

Both men also worked long, hard hours as editors of struggling journals, for very small wages. They were admired, but not paid. Poe's writing was published before there was an international copyright law (I won't go on here about how awful that was for both native and foreign writers), and it would be many years before Garcia Marquez earned much of a living as a writer.

Poe and Garcia Marquez each had political views that defy my understanding, so I will simply say that they were both influenced by the men who supervised their early childhoods. In Poe's case, this was his foster father, John Allan, a Southern aristocrat, while Garcia Marquez was at first raised by his grandfather, Colonel Nicolás Ricardo Márquez Mejía. Both men were living in rather interesting times, and at this remove, it seems wise to enjoy their talents without becoming disturbed about their personal lives.

Coincidentally, both authors had high-profile grandfathers. I'm particularly intrigued by David Poe, Sr.  Born in County Cavan, Ireland around 1743, he emigrated to Baltimore with his family, probably in 1850. He was a quartermaster general during The Revolutionary War, and actually loaned the fledgling government $40,000! That a spinning wheel maker saved that much money is astonishing. Unfortunately, this deserving patriot died poor. Meanwhile, the outspoken Colonel Nicolás Ricardo Márquez Mejía was a veteran of the thousand days war and helped found Aracataca, the village in which Garcia Marquez grew up.

However, it is easier to contrast than to compare these two men. After all, they were born 118 years apart, one in Boston, MA, the other in Aracataca, Columbia. Garcia Marquez was surrounded by a huge family, steeped in Caribbean culture and tradition, while Poe's few relations were scattered down the eastern coast of a country they'd adopted recently. Garcia Marquez was raised by his grandparents for eight years because his parents were poor, while Poe was placed with foster parents his family did not know.

These are just some musings...and I really should get reading. The pile is getting higher, but I won't speak of that just now.






Sunday, April 20, 2014

Witches

Last night's movie was The Conjuring, which I found to be entertaining, but did not love. It was a supernatural thriller involving witches of long ago. It does get good reviews because it's done well. However, I found the religious angle annoying, and as usual, all the witches were portrayed as evil or demonic women. And yes, it's taken for granted that witches really did exist.

I can't help conjuring the image of Agnes Nutter, the witch in the hilarious novel, Good Omens, co-written by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. When Agnes is burned at the stake, she makes sure her dress is loaded with plenty of explosives and nails. See, that's revenge! Seriously, if witches really existed, it would be suicide to mess with them.

Why do witches have to be evil? I enjoy the idea of witches as simply very talented, differently able people.  Consider the All Souls Trilogy, by Deborah Harkness. Her main protagonist in this series is Diana Bishop, a very talented witch more interested in peace and harmony--and the right to love who she will--than anything else. (The last book comes out in July, by the way.)

At this juncture, most of the witches that come to mind are J.K. Rowling characters, which are mostly positive images;  Hermione Granger and Ginny Weasley are certainly good role models for young witches.

Older creations, such as Strega Nona (Tomie DePaola) and Glinda (L. Frank Baum) are also kindly characters who do not want to possess your mind or harm your children.


See, do they look scary? No. They are just enjoying coffee and pastries, which they can probably prepare much faster than most of us. There is no need to be stereotyping them in such a negative fashion.

OH! I almost forgot: Happy Easter!

I did not know about the Finnish Easter witch tradition.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Overheard, sort of

Last week, as I drove home from work listening to NPR, I heard a man start to recite a poem that resonated with me. This poem belongs to Lloyd Schwartz and is titled "To My Oldest Friend, Whose Silence Is Like a Death"

In today's paper, a story about our high school drama
teacher evicted from his Carnegie Hall rooftop apartment

made me ache to call you — the only person I know
who'd still remember his talent, his good looks, his self-

absorption. We'd laugh (at what haven't we laughed?), then
not laugh, wondering what became of him. But I can't call,

because I don't know what became of you.
— After sixty years, with no explanation, you're suddenly

not there. Gone. Phone disconnected. I was afraid
you might be dead. But you're not dead.

You've left, your landlord says. He has your new unlisted
number but insists on "respecting your privacy." I located

your oldest son, who refuses to tell me anything except that
you're alive and not ill. Your ex-wife ignores my letters.

What's happened? Are you in trouble? Something
you've done? Something I've done?

We used to tell each other everything: our automatic
reference points to childhood pranks, secret codes,

and sexual experiments. How many decades since we started
singing each other "Happy Birthday" every birthday?

(Your last uninhibited rendition is still on my voice mail.)
How often have we exchanged our mutual gratitude — the easy

unthinking kindnesses of long friendship.
This mysterious silence isn't kind. It keeps me

up at night, bewildered, at some "stage "of grief.
Would your actual death be easier to bear?

I crave your laugh, your quirky takes, your latest
comedy of errors. "When one's friends hate each other,"

Pound wrote near the end of his life, "how can there be
peace in the world?" We loved each other. Why why why

am I dead to you?
Our birthdays are looming. The older I get, the less and less

I understand this world,
and the people in it.

My car was in the driveway before the Schwartz stopped reading, so I sat there, mesmerized. I cannot have any idea how this man feels, but it reminded me so strongly of a friend I had in college, and after college, with whom I'd done a variety of things. She came to my wedding, she stayed with us for New Year's, and took a couple small trips with us, too. Kathy. You know precisely where I live, but for the past twenty years or so, I have no idea where you are.

The last letter I had from you informed me that you were going to live with an aunt in Florida, and that you'd write when you got settled some place. You never did. Since then, I've googled and searched. I sent holiday cards to your old address, hoping they'd be rerouted. I got absolutely no response--nothing ever came back. 

Finally, very recently, your name did come up on a search, and I could tell that it was definitely you--and I'm relieved that you are in fact in Florida, and you are alive. Like Schwartz, though, I can't help but think--was it something I did? 

How are you? What's been going on?