Sunday, November 29, 2009

Aries (3/21 – 4/19)
: Yay. Finally, a good week ahead. You should probably celebrate with some yummy dessert, don’t you think? Tiramisu? Have you ever made that from scratch? I hear it’s the easiest thing ever. Oh, wait, that's not your horoscope, it's just a comment.

Taurus (4/20 – 5/20): It seems like you’ve been having all of these little setbacks lately. You’re always so quiet about it all that you think no one really notices, but that just isn’t so. (Oh, was I supposed to keep that bit about the setbacks to myself?) There’s really not much more you could be doing.

Gemini (5/21 – 6/21): I know, it is hard to focus. Especially now, with the moon is in the waxing gibbous, and the heart line so long and wavery. I might be mixing up palmistry with astrology, sorry! What all that means though, is don’t get any new pets this week, and forgive those people. I know! It isn’t easy, but they’re doing the best they can.

Cancer 6/22 – 7/21: Desperadoes, you better come to your senses. It is time. Read a poem now and again, and live as if it were true. (This one is really solid.)

Leo (7/23 – 8/22): Grr, that family can be so annoying! But try to look at the big picture and stop resenting that you have to do everything. Make the house beautiful if you feel like it, but if not, just play with the dog, hang out with your sister, or take a nap.

Virgo (8/23 – 9/22): You’ll feel less tired in the future, that is certain, but this is good week for napping. With Venus in Scorpio and a bad moon rising, you may want to develop a secret guilty pleasure, like daytime tv or creme brule.

Libra (9/23 – 10/22): Everybody loves your salads. And, your new picture, I might add. This week is gonna be incredible. Enjoy.

Scorpio (10/23 – 11/21): Oh, my Scorpios. Just keep doing what you do. It’s gonna be long, but it will end well. Make some nice plans for the weekend, and keep your eye on that.

Saggitarius (11/22 – 12/21): Drive carefully! And if you haven’t already marked up those catalogs, do it now, before it’s too late. I see a white cake with white frosting coming your way. Oh, and you know that texting while driving is illegal, right? That came up right next to the waxing gibbous part.

Capricorn (12/22 – 1/19): Work work work work work. Again! But soon it will change, and you’ll be lazing about, longing for the old regimen. (Okay, that part is not really an astrological forecast, but more of a wish for you.)

Aquarius (1/20 – 2/18): The fun never stops! I know, you so did not see that coming, eh? But this will be an excellent week. Pack your lunch on Wednesday. Sure, bring me one too, that would be fine.

Pisces (2/19 – 3/20): This is a good week to start a new book. (Your choice, reading one, or writing one.) Keep running, even though it is just completely miserable. You may take that as a metaphor if you'd rather not go outside.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Dear Chortnee,

I just saw some cannabis incense while out shopping today. Um, I thought incense was to cover up the smell of cannabis....

Sing me,

Confused Shopper

Dear Confused,

That's just to help sell houses. It provides that aroma of, "this house is so easy, even a pothead could live here."

Remember back when realtors advised that you bake bread, or boil water with cinnamon in it to make it seem homey? Well, that backfired. Prospective buyers were all, "shit, I have to bake if I live here? Could you show me something a little easier?" The cannabis incense sends the subliminal message, "lazy people who like to snack a lot would be right at home here."

Oh, and I think it's also used sometimes to mask the scent of cooking meth.

Thanks for writing,
Dear Khort-nee,

I would love some snarky advice. You see, I received Happy Thanksgiving texts from friends, even strangers, while I am out of town away from my children. I sent my kids a Happy Thanksgiving text message - it was a smarmy one, I admit it! - and my kids never replied.

What do I say, what do I do? see the back of my hand flung across my brow in a woe-is-me pose?

My boy is fourteen, my daughter is 21. My 6'3" boy is usually mistaken for a college student and my daughter is routinely considered to be a woman in her 30's, which has contributed to both of them thinking they are more mature than their years. As if teens and 20-somethings don't already have over-inflated egos as it is! If my reply is too whiny and dependent, I'm weak, if I'm flip them some you-know-what, it has to be hip enough to make me look cool.

Looking forward to seeing your reply posted!

Sign me,

Mother Hen Away from her Chicks

Dear Mother Hen,

Thanks for writing. I find your question a little unbelievable; if you were my mom, I'd arrange to be with you on thanksgiving, because I think you might be an excellent cook, not to mention kind-hearted. But that's just me, and maybe its because I've been, well, let's not go into that now. Back to you. You have three choices. But you knew that. Shall we review?

1. You could adopt those random texters as your own family. This might work out for everyone. Maybe those people aren't so tall or confident, and they'd be delighted when you text them with smarmy Pearl Harbor Day wishes and the like.

2. You could go with the, "if you love someone, let them be" approach, and send wishes if you feel like it, but expect nothing in return. This, it turns out, is how Courtnee ended up living alone in the double-wide on the outskirts of the internets, which is not a cautionary tale, just a fact.

3. You could try the bitter lecture approach: over-the-top fondness saturated with guilt: My dear loved ones, you are my real family. And I call you "real" because I created you out of nothing, sacrificed sleep, youth, beauty, and time to the cause of growing you in to the fine young people you've become. Oh wait, have you become fine young people? It remains unclear. I wiped your tears, bandaged your wounds (and didn't even wear latex gloves!) [FYI, Khortnee would NEVER, EVER touch people without wearing gloves.] You should probably mention the stretch marks, and the jobs you've taken, and the countless times you've gone to parent teacher conferences (yawn), the boyfriends you haven't followed, the treehouses you haven't lived in, etc. Lay it on pretty thick. End with the inevitable question, "Is it too much to expect a text message on Thanksgiving?" I'm not trying to rub it in, by any means, but, Khortney's phone has a quick text feature that includes messages like, "you're the best", and "I love you" that can be sent with little effort. (I know, you're wondering why Courtnee even has a phone. But that's for another time.)

Oh, there is always the possibility that they were busy decorating their pilgrim hats, and making festive turkeys out of marzipan, and their hands were too sticky to text back. I bet that was it.

Let me know how it turns out. Oh, and I like the dramatic, "woe is me" pose. I matches my scarf, so if you're ever tired of using it, may I borrow it? I think it would look good in the trailer.


Not in a vegetative state

I can't stop thinking about that guy, Rom Houben. It turns out he was not in a vegetative state, but rather, has “locked-in syndrome,” the same thing that the author of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly had. I can’t imagine anything harder, really. In case you didn’t read the story, Houben was in a car accident 23 years ago, suffered severe brain damage that was misdiagnosed as “nothin’s going on in there”, ala Terri Schiavo, when in fact, he has been fully conscious, having thoughts and emotions, but unable to express them.

Picture that. Living more than half your life, completely paralyzed, and unable to express yourself. Nothing worse, really.

It turns out that he can move one finger, so he’s writing a book. I know! If that doesn’t make me feel like a slacker. I’ll definitely read the book when it comes out. I suppose it will be the exact opposite of a travel book, which is when people go all over the world, interact with strangers, see new stuff, and write about it. This will be about not going anywhere or interacting with anyone for 23 years. Yikes. And I think I have nothing to write about. (Oh, maybe you’re thinking that too? Uh oh. I hate to bore my faithful readers!)

The other troubling thing? An expert indicated that about 40 percent of those who are diagnosed as being in a vegetative state actually have locked in syndrome. Maybe there’s a refresher course for those diagnosers. (Is that a real job, by the way? Sorting people like that? You, locked in. You, potato. And so on.)

I’m about to leap out of the huge bed at this sweet B&B that M. and I are visiting, lest I be confused with someone in a vegetative state. I think I hear the diagnoser at the door.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Another furlough day today, yay. It seems like we should be on house arrest or something. “Um, I’m sorry, but I gotta just stay right here on the couch. I’ve got furlough today. Yes, its an actual condition, do you think I’d make that up? Why did you think they rhymed it with pillow?”

But it’s a nice break from the rat race and gives me way more time to waste in my favorite procrastinating ways, like refreshing this site: Snoqualmie Hydrologic Forecast on the 32 after the hour, and so on. Who knows, I may even fix the thermostat, go for a run, clean the house, and go to yoga, but right now, I’m enjoying the wood stove, so maybe not.

Oh, and another thing. In the class I just took about blogging, she said it was important to have links to other blogs you read, in order to build a little community. But my problem (okay, one of my problems) is that I don’t really read many blogs. I’ve been looking for some good ones. Suggestions?

Blogger is supposed to recommend blogs for you based on your own. If you click the “next blog” button, you should be led down an avenue of blogs similar to the site you’re on. The first time I did that, it directed me to a series of beauty blogs. How to manage your thinning, receding hair, how to get great nails, what new products are out there for lip color. Um, okay. I’m sure I could benefit, but, well, anyways, I tried it again, and was directed to a blogs written by Mormon mothers in Utah. I’m just sayin’, blogger, I don’t think those are my people.

I tried it again today, and got some rather interesting blogs, kind of science-y. Was that because I mentioned electricity? I know! But these blogs were written by PhD students in Minnesota with smart commentary on all things science. It felt a little presumptuous for me to link to them, like, um, yes, you smart people will probably want to read my blog, because, um, I too have written about electricity. You may wish to also read about my experiments with solar energy...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Yup. Still.

This is where the thermostat used to live, back when we had one.

No one has any problems? Even tiny ones?

Because this would be advice column day. I know. But let me introduce N'3lvra, the resident advice columnist. She lives here, in a faded turquoise double-wide at an undisclosed location on the internet. (I know. It's germy out there, with all of the people sneezing everywhere and not washing their hands, but she keeps to herself with her hand sanitizer, and hasn't gotten the H1N1 or anything worse yet.)

Surely, you must know someone with a problem. Write to her. She could use some human contact. Ask Cort-nee Now


Oh, and her name? N'3lvra? I know, I think her parents were just selfish, don't you? But it is pronounced "Cort-knee". Spell it how you will, she really doesn't care.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What the Stars Are Saying About Your Week, A Monday Feature

Aries (3/21 – 4/19)
: I know! I didn’t think it would be this bad either. But you’ve got that cute puppy, and for now, a job, so enjoy it. Plan another trip or something. This week isn’t looking so great.

Taurus (4/20 – 5/20): Oh, dear little Taurus people. Mind if I call you Tory? Too familiar? Okay, forget it, but remember, I can see into the future, and let’s just say you probably won’t need sunglasses today or tomorrow. But anyways, I don’t worry much about you; you tend to take pretty good care of yourself.

Gemini (5/21 – 6/21): I think running is the best thing that’s going to happen in the next few days, so keep it up. You’ll at least feel like a legend in your own mind because you got out there.

Cancer 6/22 – 7/21: Don’t make it so damn hard. Just go with things, enjoy what you can and quit feeling so guilty and inadequate. It is completely unbecoming. And I mean that in the fondest way possible. Oh, and the stars suggest you should make soup.

Leo (7/23 – 8/22): A good week ahead, for sure. Keep making beautiful things. It seems like no one notices, but that just isn’t so. We’re all about the beauty here. (Does that sound shallow, rather than astrological? Oops.)

Virgo (8/23 – 9/22): I know, it’s a terrible cliché, but spend some time with those babies before it’s too late, eh? Stop worrying about your receding hair, and do something that makes you laugh. Or makes us laugh, at least.

Libra (9/23 – 10/22): God, you’re sophisticated. You offer so much balance in this tippy little world. But if it does tip a little, don’t feel bad, it’s not always your fault.

Scorpio (10/23 – 11/21): Okay, my freaky loved ones, keep it up. Whatever you’re doing works. You, my friends, are not controlled by the stars. You’re more like Harold and the Purple Crayon: you imagined the stars, and brought them into being. Use your power wisely. Imagine good things for the rest of us.

Saggitarius (11/22 – 12/21)
: We all think you're hilarious! Don’t worry so much. Just show up once in a while, knife and fork in hand, ready to eat. (That was an astrological metaphor, fyi.) Oh, and don’t forget to floss. (Oh, and that was not a metaphor.)

Capricorn (12/22 – 1/19): Oh, the rugged little Capricorn people. Lighten up. There’s more to life than work. Oh, wait, I’ve got that wrong, it is all about work. This week, anyway. Just doggedly muddle through it, because it won’t always be this way. (Did you like the use of the word, “doggedly?”)

Aquarius (1/20 – 2/18)
: If your personal growth were wearing pants, they’d be too short by the end of the week, so hang on, focus, and pay attention to the random possibilities out there.

Pisces (2/19 – 3/20)
: The mysterious fishy people have a productive week ahead. You’ll get a lot done, but it will leave you strangely unsatisfied, as if maybe you got a lot of the wrong things done. Do more star gazing and less laundry, is all I'm saying.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

No more blow by blow

Okay, I’ve stepped away from this long and tedious story, and realized there’s no need to delve into it in any sort of detail. Suffice it to say:

I have been to The Home Depot three times this weekend.

I have spent over two hundreds of dollars. Yes, I said two hundreds, that was not a typo. I am my own little stimulus project, in fact. What does it take get a blue dot at This little dot could say, “Betsy tries to warm up the house. Number of jobs created: Unk.”

I have purchased and attempted to install two different thermostats, but the first one had the proper number of wires (4 + ground), but the wires were so much smaller than the old one that it seemed really, really wrong. Implausible that disaster wouldn’t ensue if I hooked the giant cable-ish wires up to the tiny new wire. The second one had the proper gage of wire, but only 2 wires, not 4. I’m sort of looking back at the old one, thinking, hey, maybe I was rash. Maybe we can work things out.

Oh, and that picture? That, my friends, is the tree I decorated with the festive lights, shown at night in all its glory. Um, yes, that’s it. It turns out that solar isn’t really so effective here at this time of year. It worked for about an hour. But I thought I should post the pic, since I purchased 4 strands of lights and put them up and all, involving the ladder and great effort. I don’t know about you, but fa la la, is what comes to mind when I look at that picture.

Speaking of working things out, the teenage boy in my family called me on the phone this morning (from upstairs), to request that I bring him food, and possibly give him a back rub. I know. But we had a little trouble talking on the phone. It would ring and I’d answer but he couldn’t hear me. So I went up there to say good morning, and he was all, “hey, why didn’t you answer?”

“I know! We’re having some communication issues in our relationship, R.”

“Mom, I think our relationship would improve if we started seeing an electrician. It’s too cold in here to get up.”

Which was a valid point, so I started a fire in the woodstove, which is way better than the crappy electric baseboard heating anyway. (Do people still even have electric baseboard heating? Oh wait, I do.) But shoot, does this ever happen to you? You put a log in the fire, and you're just shutting the door when you see a spider. And since the fire is already really underway, the log already has some sparks on it, so you don't want to pull it back out. So you go get a glass to put the spider in, but return and can't find it, because either something bad has already happened, or maybe the spider is just hiding, but you grab the log and pull it out anyway, just in case, looking for the spider, but set off the smoke alarm. I know.

And, just so you know, I'm not usually so I Love Lucy-ish. Seriously. I'm totally competent some of the time. And, in case you're worried, this blog is not going to be like Erma Bombeck on drugs or something. It totally won't be like that.

Everybody's missin' the sun

The other night, I was talking to J. & B., and the subject of my cold house came up. By Thursday evening, my house is extremely freakin’ cold (efc), because no one has been around and heat’s been off, and the insulation here consists of, oh, probably mouse feces and wilted old pink scratchy mouse nesting materials. (I prefer to say mouse, rather than the other rodent possibility.) At any rate, J. suggested I go get a thermostat with a timer, and have it heat the house up before I get home. Duh. I know, everyone else got one of these in the eighties. A tiny voice in my head was all, “leave well enough alone,” but I did not listen.

I went home: “You know, thermostat, we need to break up. There’s a coldness that just doesn’t belong in a healthy relationship. Thermostat was all silent, grrr, I hate that. But I knew what T. was thinking: “Um, it’s always all about you, isn’t it. You want me to be totally at your beck and call, even when you aren’t home.” But whatever, I was just at that point.

The next day, I went to The Home Depot, which, well, I don’t exactly have ADD, but lets just say I don’t do very well in big confusing stores with fluorescent lights and lots of shiny things. Alert readers are all thinking, sheesh, I got a bad feeling about this. But anyway, I was walking down the Christmas light aisle, which I think is all of the aisles right now, and um, did you see something colorful? Me too. Even though I’m not really a big celebrant of Christmas, and I think the lights represent everything that’s wrong with our society, like, buying unnecessary crap made in China with a very short life, and lots of environmental cost, and outdoor lighting in the rural area is just wrong, and everything else. I know all that. But still, it’s been especially dark here lately. Stan died unexpectedly last week, and so many of us are sad about that. And about 40 people got laid off from my workplace a few days ago, which is a lot, like maybe ¼ of us. Not to mention the literal darkness and rain.

So lights seemed like a good idea. AND, they now have solar LED lights, which made me feel less guilty. I pawed through them all, looking for something cheery but tasteful, like tiny blue lights. They didn’t have that, so I selected all these other lights. A string for by the door so it would be cheery, and a timer for that, because I am all about having my house do stuff for me. I know. And for some odd reason, I bought these suction cup hooks that were displayed right by the lights, making me think, and I don’t think it’s just me being dense, that they would actually have something to do with hanging Christmas lights. Um, in case you are tempted by this, let me just tell you that they would be useful if you were hanging lights in the shower or something. The suction cups, which I own 24 of, well, they don’t suck to just anything. After all of this, I went to the thermostat part, and studied them, and picked the cheapest one that looked like it would work. Because obviously, I’m all about saving money.

I got home, (house temperature = to outdoor temperature by now), turned off the power, and took apart the thermostat. In the dark. Went to my Home Depot bag, and couldn’t find the new thermostat that I just bought, because, turns out I didn’t just buy it, I was too distracted by the lights and stuff. I acted all cool, like, whatever, I was gonna put the lights up first anyway. (I know, who cares, I was home alone anyway, but just so you know, no curse words left my lips.)
So I drag the ladder out to the little tree that I had in mind for the lights, which, the beauty of this whole solar LED thing is, you don’t need an outlet, or a tiny wind mill or anything. Just sun. Oh, right. So anyway, 21 feet of lights does not go very far on even the smallest hemlock tree, just so you know. But I felt clever for about 3 minutes, because I had thought to purchase two strands. I know! But shoot, I go back to the house to get strand number two, and discover that the second strand is a whole ‘nother color than strand one, my second shopping mistake. Strand 1 is muli-color, strand 2 is white. Nothing wrong with white, it’s all tasteful and stuff, but BORING. We see so many white lights all the time (or is it just me?). But I thought, okay, so now there’s basically just a shallow “s” shaped thing formed in lights on this small-for-a-hemlock-but still healthy little tree. And I decide that since I have to go back to The Home Depot anyway, I can get more colored lights. Since I already have this sting of white lights, I might as well use them to decorate a small rhododendron. Let’s just say, 21 feet doesn’t even go very far, even on a tiny rhody.

Let’s review: the lights and power are off inside, and the thermostat is unhooked, leaving wires hanging from a hole in the wall where the animals live. The ladder is out by the hemlock tree, because I’ll surely get back to that soon. The chair is by the rhody, because I’ll probably have to get more lights on that too.

At this point, I remember that what I should really be doing is writing something for Stan’s memorial the next day. I was asked to speak, and first just said no, are you freakin’ crazy? I mean, there’s nothing I want to do less than write something and then read it in front of a hundred weeping people, about someone we all wish hadn’t just died. That is exactly at the end of the list of things I want to do. And then I realized that I should have said yes, because sometimes when friends ask you to do something, you have to just do it anyway, because if they think you can do it, well, maybe you should just trust them, so I had to call back sheepishly and say, um, okay, I’ll do it.

Okay, I’m in the middle of writing this long and hassley story, full of trips to Home Depot and things not working out, when I just suddenly got bored: first I have to live it, and then, sheesh, write about it. I can hardly finish. I tell this to R., who says, “but Mom, you live all your stories, and then write them. Why is this any more boring than anything else you do?” Which is a good point, but sheesh, I think I'll take a little break. Come back soon!

Explaining the afterlife to my dog...

 The other day, my dog asked me what happens when we die.  Gulp. I look at Jasmine and think dammit.  I didn't think dogs knew about mo...