Monday, October 5, 2015

Thoughts for today: A list

  1. Why was the radio on in the post office at 7:30 in the morning on a Sunday?  Was someone there, or is there a pet that needed soothing, or a squatter?
  2. What happens at a flag retirement ceremony?  There are posters all over town advertising it, bring your tired old flags and we'll put them to rest appropriately.  I'm so curious about who will go, what it will be like, and so on.  Lullabies?  Deep six? Someone go and tell me, please.
  3. Do Epsom Salts really soothe your aching muscles, and if so, how?  This, I believe, can be answered by the internet, but ugh, climbing all the way up to the internets again.  How many times a day can I do that?
  4. Why do I have so much trouble with froth and brushing my teeth all of the sudden?  It used to be, brush teeth, no big deal.  Now, each time I brush, I later notice a white frothy mustache around my mouth, as if I have rabies.  Is it something with my saliva?  Or my technique?  The toothpaste?  Or, as I suspect, is it
    a new property in the world, like gravity, that no one is talking about, but it's happening to everyone?  Big government, undoubtedly?  Or is this the first sign of my personal end times?
  5.  Will we ever stop gun violence, or is it just a thing we'll continue to endure helplessly, like the weather?
  6. The potato chips that came with my sandwich today expire on Christmas.  Duly noted.
  7.  Why don't I know what vermiculite is?  Again, sheesh, if I felt like it, I could climb back up to the top of the internet and find out, but I'm all out of breath from #8.  But I'm embarrassed to confess that I don't really know what it is.  Is it related to mica?  Is it bad to harvest it as a substrate for a cricket home?
  8. I just converted my genetic testing results into medical results and discovered some interesting things.  One is that I'm less susceptible to the placebo affect than the average person.  The good news is that I have genes that are supposed to make me more empathetic, optimistic, employ sensitive parenting techniques, less likely to have autism, and, best news of all, less likely to get Alzheimer's.  (Which seems to confirm that the toothpaste thing is a government plot?).  The bad news is that I'm going to die.  Eventually.  Probably of cancer.  

That's it. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Horoscopes and Peaches

The great wheel
Pisces (2/19 – 3/20):  I listened to a podcast recently about how to increase your level of curiosity.  Lack of curiosity isn't one of my (many) problems, so you may wonder why I was listening.  Isn't that what we do?  Once in a while, listen to something that let's us feel the tiniest bit smug.  You don't see the guy who hasn't been off the couch in 3 years reading Runners Magazine.  But anyway, he said the secret to a great life is being curious (citation needed), and the way to increase curiosity is to go new places, read new things, create more.  Do it, Pisces!

Aries (3/21 - 4/19):  I very much love this book.  If the book were a person, I'd want to hang out with it.  This is the book I wish I'd written, and when I read it I alternately want to crawl back to bed and give up, and get up and try harder.  Sometimes, luckily, trying harder wins.  I especially like that it doesn't have a plot, and it's hilarious in a low key way.  Aries, hang out with people who make you laugh this week.  

Taurus (4/20 – 5/20):  Oh, back to curiosity.  Apparently there are two kinds:  state, and trait.  State is when something piques your interest, and you're in a state of curiousity momentarily.  Trait is when you just wake up curious every day.  You know who you are, Taurus.  Trait is the secret to a long life, they say.  I hope that's true!

Gemini (5/21 - 6/21):   A few weeks ago, I went to the Farmer's Market to buy 3 peaches, because yes, T.S., I do dare.  I just wanted enough to put on cereal for a few days.  The peach sales lady, if that's an actual job title, said she didn't want to sell the peaches because although the flavor was good, the texture wasn't.  She said she'd sell me a whole box for $10.  That seemed like a terrific deal, so I bought two boxes.  The boxes were filled with  gigantic peaches, each one the size of a small planet, which seemed so exciting at first, Gemini.  If I could do animations, I could have made a fuzzy solar system in my house, and then made something happen, like a total eclipse of the peach. Oh, Total Eclipse of the Peach.  If I could only animate.  Be animated this week, Gemini.

Cancer (6/22 – 7/21):  As soon as I brought those peaches home, though, I realized my mistake.  It was much like adopting 40 puppies or six infants, because they needed constant attention.  Constant.  I decided to make fruit leather, because texture doesn't matter.  The point of fruit leather is that the texture is, well, like leather.  But you have to cook it forever, and turn it over again and again, day in, day out, during the day and into the night.  And the whole thing is so sticky. Midway through the project, I remembered that I don't even like fruit leather, but I couldn't remember why.  Is it because it bugged me that it's always individually packaged in plastic?  Or that it sticks in your teeth?  Or, and I think this is it:  it's not really food.  It's never more than a snack.  "What's for dinner?" is never answered with "fruit leather."  So, that happened, Cancer.  While you were out.

Leo (7/23 – 8/22): But I totally had a victory with that whole peach business, which is that I froze a bunch of them, and then, rather than hoarding the way I do when I process food in any way, I used some!  And made a peach cobbler from this lovely book.  If I had a blender, I would be making smoothies too.  But Leo, my sincere apologies to make your horoscope about my peach issues and victories.  Your horoscope:  It's okay to sleep in a little.  No need to leap up in the morning.  Sleep is our friend.

Virgo (8/23 – 9/22):  I am very excited about this app, which makes decisions.  You type in the two options (for example, "Do I dare to eat a peach?" or "Should I take a nap?") The app sends a photon to Geneva (I KNOW!).  After an exciting little thing happens on your phone, it reveals which universe you're in.  Check it out.  I spend most of my time in Universe A, where, unfortunately, I'm not taking a nap.    
Can you see the black cat? Yes, strange doings.
I stopped in the middle of the woods to enjoy the sunset, and a
black cat showed up.  I don't think that's a good sign.

Libra (9/23 – 10/22):  I heard an ad for a video doorbell he other day, and it seemed like, well, how to put this.  But someone should have told that person that no one needs a video doorbell.  The deal is that you can see who's at your door from wherever you are in the world.  Alas, no one knocks at the door anymore.  Well, the Jehovah's Witness' come once a year on November 13 (They are nothing if not predictable.)  I think the world is going to end before they get to it this year, sadly.  But every other person besides the JW has texted, e-mailed, called, been invited.  Knocking on the door has gone completely out of style, just like skinny jeans.  Phew.  Libra, you should feel free to knock on my door, though.  You would be welcomed.

Scorpio (10/23 – 11/21):  I took this quiz; surprise surprise, off the charts.  Ugh.  Quirkyalone is still alone.  The weirdest thing is that they offer a class in how to get quirky.  Who would take that?  I'd like the class in how to leap into the middle of the bell curve.  At the end of it, I wouldn't be that person who spends her days folding paper boats and carving tiny people out of mushrooms for a video that will never happen.  No sirree.  I'd take the "Not at all quirky, not alone" class, and end up dressing like a 12, going to the game, and carefully minding my investments from my tidy little house that doesn't have a porch that's falling off. Ok, I really wouldn't sign up for that either.  But jeez, a class?  Be your wonderful self, Scorpio.  

Sagittarius (11/22 – 12/21): This guy came into the coffee shop last week and was just the happiest man, beaming and saying hello to everyone.  It turns out he's a collector of lava lamps.  Correlation or causation?   Sag, connect to your inner lava lamp.  And, connect to this book if you have a moment.  It's rather excellent.

Capricorn (12/22 - 1/19):  This, from a reliable source: a local logger was hired to bring 20 six-foot long cedar logs to the 17th floor of the Amazon building this week so that the dogs have somewhere to pee.  It seems like we're in a strange part history where that could all come together:  there are still trees and loggers, and they're within driving distance of a dog population that needs a fake forest in a skyscraper because their people are too busy doing whatever it is you do at Amazon to go outside for a walk.  1500 dogs are registered to go to work at Amazon.  This may be occurring in the crack between Universe A and B.  It makes me sad that dogs have to work in cubicles and pee inside too.  It's bad enough for the humans, but at least they get paid. I'm glad I have a job that involves peeing in the actual woods, but I digress. Cap, be thankful for all your gifts this week: intelligence, creativity, friends and family.  Choose joy.

Aquarius (1/20 – 2/18): Every single thing we say to our children leads them to understand that they're good enough, or they aren't.  Keep that in mind, Aquarius, and let things go as much as possible.  Embrace the messiness of a deeply flawed world.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Dollar Store, and Lifting Up Out of Squalor

I was on my way home from Installment #1 of "Lift Ourselves Out of Squalor" (LOOS), in which I will be helping a friend, who in turn will be helping me, in the project of gaining some semblance of order and lack of squalor in our houses and grounds.  (Doesn't "grounds" sound fancy?)  I'm the sort of person who works around things that normal people would fix.  Like, if a lightbulb goes out, I stop using that area and move toward a different light like a moth.  If a sink starts dripping, I turn it off at the base, and stop using that sink.  And so on.  (The only thing I have going for me is that I'm not very aquisitive; I'm not a hoarder.  Oh, and I don't have a million cats.  That's two things, if we're counting.)  I like to call this being flexible, but it's leading toward squalor, and I'm super excited to have a buddy in lifting ourselves up out of this condition.  But that's not the point.

The point is that I went into a Dollar Store yesterday, which is the weirdest idea for a store ever; I was slow to grasp it.  Nothing is labeled with a price, of course, because you don't need that.  So I kept carrying things up to the cashier, asking "How much is this?"  And the answer was the same every time.  "A dollar."  What was kind of sad, now that I think about it, is that she didn't stop to explain:  every single thing is a dollar, you can stop asking, fer crissakes.  She just kept answering until I figured it out on my own.

It is the oddest organizing principle for a store.  It doesn't have a normal theme, like food, building materials, or clothing, but around a price.  Are people sitting at home, thinking, sheesh, I'm all out of things that are a dollar.  Where could I go? Oh, I know!

I was so amazed by the whole thing that I wandered around with a basket and threw stuff in it.  (After verifying the price with the clerk.)  It was almost like that coma I fell into in Target one day 10 years ago.  You know the one I mean.

What I bought:

  • A small square plastic box with 100 toothpicks in it.  I think this is a good deal, if you need toothpicks.  Which I don't, but still.  If I had mini-marshmallows, I could build a model of the periodic table.  
  • Six foil cake pans.  They came in groups of two, for guess how much?  Yes.  I think this is a terrible deal, but I need them to make special stuff for my bees, so money is no object.  I spent $3 on these 6 pans.
  • Two rolls of parchment paper.  I love parchment paper for all the obvious reasons, and would have bought it even if it were $3, because that's how I roll.
I've been thinking about the dollar store ever since I left, and realized I need to go back, because I was so distracted by the price that I didn't really notice who else was shopping there or what they were buying. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Duplicate universes and so on.

Things I don't know about.  In most cases, the internet could explain.

1.  Duplicate bridge.  I could look it up.  But first, let's think about it.  Does everyone, at different tables get the same hand?  I get why that would be an interesting way to compare skills, like playing golf on the same course or something (to throw in something else I know nothing about), but my questions are more practical.  Do you create decks that are in the same order, and then deal?  Or does someone set it all up ahead?  Okay, I'm going in for answers.   

Real field work!  In a pretty place!
The answer:  you deal, and then after the game, hand your intact hand to the next table. Now that's brilliant, and so much easier than my vision of some lady sorting decks of cards to match each other.  Duplicate bridge, it turns out, is a low stakes version of the twins separated at birth experiement.  (The twins turn out the same, I think.  It's mostly nature.  But you knew that.)

2.  How to animate well enough to make a short film of the refugee situation out of chanterelles and paper boats.  Do you ever wake up with a vision of something, and you get super excited, and it takes a while for you to remember that you don't have any of the necessary skills? I hate that.  I just tried to make a paper boat, and even that was challenging.  But I've got all winter...

3.  The Berenstain Bears Conspiracy.  Here's the deal:  Everyone seems to remember that it was called "The Berenstein Bears", but it's really "Berenstain."  This is used as one more piece of evidence that parallel universii exist.  

The symptoms of parallel universes include ghosts, deja vu, dreams, and people waking up one day to find things are just ever-so-slightly off. (Doesn't that happen every day?  Or is that just me again?)  Back in the old universe, where we grew up, it was spelled and pronounced "stein", but in this new world, it's "stain".  When did it change? Or, did something supernatural happen?!! (Insert scary music.)

I have the same concern about the color "chartreuse", which I thought (as did everyone else I knew, come on, fess up) was in the magenta family until about a week ago.  Ok, maybe 10 years ago, but still, well into adulthood.  It's lime green in this universe.  

Do you like the quarter, for scale?  That's a
whole lot of muskox.
Things that are making me happy today:
1.  This poem, sent to me by my daughter.  
2. This book, which is charming stories about insects written by my new obsession, Jean Henri Fabre.  Painter, writer, scientist, he loved  bugs and mushrooms.
3.  A gorgeous pile of qiviat, which is the soft inner hair of a musk-ox that was hand-collected in the
arctic by Ms. Pasta, and given to me this week.  I'm pretty sure it's one of the softest things I've touched, and spinning it is sort of like being on drugs.
4.  that exciting new find in South Africa, Homo naledi.  Oh to be a young, skinny, brilliant, non-claustrophobic paleontologist

And this just in!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Things that I'll never stop being fascinated by

Time travel.  I think it's why we have these brains, to think about time travel.  Not thinking about time travel every day is sort of like having electricity and sitting in the dark.  Oh, that's a terrible analogy.  Ok, more like having legs and never walking.  There are all the great campy movies, and the opportunity to think hard. And, we all spend much of our time doing that: thinking about the past, wondering about the future.  (Me?  98 percent time travel.  2 percent on my yoga matt.)

Messages in bottles.  What's not to love? That someone took a bottle with a cork  -- and that's quaint right there -- but they decided to mail someone a message by way of the ocean, and it's often a sweet message full of hope and love.  Arrgh.  A tiny tear leaks out when I think too hard about that.  Why choose the ocean?  Oh right.  Probably because the ocean has been so generous with us.  And is also full of hope and love, not to mention octupuses and seals.

Amnesia stories.  I will confess that these were more compelling when I was 20 and had a great memory, when forgetting seemed so implausible.  But when I hear stories about people who turn up in Dallas, for example, with no idea who they are and how they got there, well, that stops me in my tracks.

Or this tomato, that announced "NO".  Photo
stolen without permission
from The Cake Boss
People who orchestrate their own disappearance.   "I'm just going out for a pack of cigarettes, honey..."  And only years later do their loved ones realize it was strange -- "Hey, he didn't even smoke!"

Amelia Earheart.  Duh.  I love imagining that she flew into some weird vortex-y tessarect and is alive in another dimension.

DB Cooper.  Of course.  Who does that?  Jumps out of an airplane with wads of cash?

Renditions of deities that appear, unannounced, in tortillas.  Emphasizing yet again that we see what we want to see.

Finding mushrooms in the woods.  Because that's magic, to go on a walk and see a giant orange orb popping out of the ground.

Honeybees.  For the obvious reason that they live in extremely tight quarters and get along, always rowing together in the same direction, building comb and making honey.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Half mast and other random thoughts.

1.  About 10 years ago, I was in Black Diamond, a small town near here, and noticed the flag at half mast.  I expected something big, so I pulled over and went into the post office to inquire.  The lady said that the postmaster died.  Right?  Didn't the flag being halfway up the pole used to give you a start?  Like, "OH MY GOD, JFK's BEEN SHOT!"  Or some form of apocalypse happened. Now it's like, "yeah, the guy that put it up has Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and that's as far as he could pull the rope.  Anyway, two out of the three official flags in our town were at half mast yesterday and no one knew why.  I find this disturbing.

2.  I don't know if there will ever be a thing as beautiful as Stevie Nicks singing Landslide.  On this planet, at least.  Go listen right now.

3.  Which reminds me: as far as I know, I won't be able to listen to music after death.  That may be the worst part about being dead, though I won't know til later, I suppose.  Maybe maggots eating the flesh would be worse, but I don't think so.  The music thing makes me panicky, like  I shouldn't stop listening for even a minute while I have ears and a pulse.

4.  Well, there is just the need for a little silence.  Or a lot, if you're me.  I won't go into my long story about the Loud Person in the library who was talking LOUDLY on his cellular telephone, arranging to have a wetland cleared on a Sunday 'SO NO ONE WOULD FIND OUT', he shouted.  No, I won't go into that rant.  Because the real point of #4 is this.  They blast traffic noises in the desert to see how the wildlife like it. Um, let me guess...

5.  I'm almost done with medical school (although I've taken to calling it medical marijuana school because the tests are easier and the hours are shorter.)  Actually, it's massage therapy school and I'm going to be so sad to leave the lovely humans I've met there.  It's been amazing to learn about how people respond to touch.  In a nutshell, yes, we like it.

That's it.  Five things is all I could summon today.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Horoscopes: The Going to College Edition

A friend mentioned something the other day about trying to cram in all the important life lessons in before her son goes to college.  I thought I'd try to figure out what the bare essentials are for being a grownup, so here goes.  

Pisces (2/19 – 3/20):   Everyone going out into the world should know how to chop and saute an onion.  Here's how:  just do it!  Wear goggles if you must.  Or, wad up a piece of bread and stick it under your upper lip when your chop. Pisces, the main point is this:   never avoid real tears, because connecting with our tenderest parts is what makes us human.  And that is why we're more likely to starve than eat our loved ones.  (And do avoid chemical exposure to the eyes.  When's the last time anyone talked about macular regeneration?  The reason?  Because that's not a thing!)

Aries (3/21 - 4/19):  I went to look at property for someone recently; it was really cheap because the owner died inside the house, went unnoticed for a week, and her cats ate her.  I know.  I can't promise I wouldn't do the same -- if I were locked in a cinderblock house for a week, hungry, well, maybe I'd eat my imaginary pet rabbit named Geoffrey after he died of natrual causes.  (Though I don't know if there's much nutritional value in imaginary pets.)  Adulthood requires this, Pisces:  If you'd like to live with a non-human, get a dog!  They may eat you after death, but will leave your face alone, unlike the felines.  (Wait, maybe we don't care about our faces after death? I'm unclear on this, like so much else in adulthood.)  

Taurus (4/20 – 5/20):   The real question is why should you chop and saute the onion?  Here's why: everywhere that's worth going, culinarily, begins there.  The sauted onion is the building block of flavor, the core flavorful sweetness of anything worth eating.    Soup? Stir fry? Omelet? Mirepoix? Please don't let the young people leave home without knowing how to build flavor.

Gemini (5/21 - 6/21):   Have a solid opinion about time travel.  Do you think it's impossible to travel back to a time before you were born for physical reasons, or because it's a paradox?  Do you believe in the kind of time travel where the word "yet" is key?  As in, no time traveler has prevented the holocaust yet.  (Though, of course, there may be other atrocities that were prevented; we just don't know about them.)  And so on.  Be able to defend your position, if needed.  (And, if you go time travelling without me, leave a note, Gemini!)

Cancer (6/22 – 7/21): I stayed in a weird hotel in Tumwater recently where the sweet young desk clerk said, "Yeah, Tumwater is the hub.  I mean, if you're going to the ocean, it's on your way.  Or Portland - it's on your way?  Or Seattle.  Or, if you're going to Chelan, this would be on the way."  She kept going on and on with all the places, and they got increasingly far-fetched, although I don't think she was trying to be funny.  I wanted to play too, and add, "Or Paris!  It's on the way to the moon as well!  And Cairo, for sure."  But I didn't.  Adult Skill:  Know where the hub of your own life is.  Is it Tumwater?  A relationship?  A spiritual practice?  

Leo (7/23 – 8/22): People who lie will lie to you too.  A man who cheats on his wife, for 
example, will lie to everyone else, even about the smallest things.  Try not to judge; it's the only way he knows.  Summon compassion, because his life will be tangled and lonely, and he wishes, more than anyone, that he could tell, and more importantly, live with the truth, but he doesn't have that particular muscle.  Feel pity, not anger, Leo.  The liar needs forgiveness more than you know, but do keep your distance.

Virgo (8/23 – 9/22):  There are two troubling large giant blobs in the ocean.  One is a band of warm water 1,000 feet long, and 5 degrees F warmer than the surrounding area.  The other is the Great Pacific garbage patch, which is maybe 270,000 square miles, a unit of measure that's also known as, "about the size of Texas."  Which brings me to the point, Virgo.  Every adult should know where they stand on using states as units of measure.  I fall on the side of using square miles or meters for area, and furlongs for distance, but that's because I don't really know how large Texas is.  Or even a football field.  

Libra (9/23 – 10/22):  You should know the origin and insertion of the sternocleidomastoid, and what each of the major organs in your body is responsible for. Ok, you can probably get by without that.  But here's something important:  don't resolve issues via The Silent Treatment.  You'll look like an emotional midget, and on that day that happens once a year when peoples' physical size is altered to match their emotional size, you'll slip unnoticed into a crack in the sidewalk. (Wait, is that really a day that happens every year, or is that merely a dream I had? And while we're at it, is library book amnesty day a thing?) Instead of silence, speak your truth kindly and directly.

Scorpio (10/23 – 11/21):  NEVER run out of toilet paper, olive oil, coffee or half and half.  Why put yourself through it?  Oh, and this:  keep prawns in the freezer.  If you already know how to saute an onion, you can instantly whip up a simple yet delicious dinner for a drop in guest.  Staples, scorpio.  Know your staples and keep them on hand.  Be sure to cultivate friendships with people  who eat prawns, or the whole thing falls apart.

Sagittarius (11/22 – 12/21): You should know why Greece is in so much trouble. I know, you don't care, but you should, so it doesn't happen to you!  Here's a quick tour:  
  1. Greece hasn't done a good job at collecting taxes.  The government collects only half of what it should.
  2. Greece used to borrow money from Germany and other wealthy nations, but  there were terms and conditions that kept borrowing in check.
  3. When everyone switched over to Euros, Greece had way more borrowing power, because they were suddenly on Germany's team.  Germany, in a sense, was insuring Greece's debt.
  4. Let the good times roll!  Greece kept borrowing and borrowing, but not having a way to pay it back.
  5. Germany finally said, um, guys, you can't borrow any more money until you go on austerity measures and make a plan to get things under control.
  6. Austerity never works.  (Have you tried it?  It sucks.)
Capricorn (12/22 - 1/19):  When you get offical-looking stuff in the mail, open it and deal with it.  Things that come in official envelopes never improve with time.

Aquarius (1/20 – 2/18): Never swerve for revenge, as William Stafford said.  Let people who disappoint go without a fuss.  They're doing the best they can with the tools they have, and it won't serve you to retaliate in any way.