Showing posts from July, 2010

That pants area again

I came upstairs from the Permit Center the other day, whining mildly about a customer. Same old story, but each angry person thinks they are the first one to say things like, “WOW. You know what? You’ve just TAKEN my property.”

When in fact, they bought something that’s been foreclosed on because developing it was complicated and expensive because there are wetlands and streams all over the place, and, surprisingly, I don’t actually end up owning all of these properties.  Sometimes, they bring up how a relative (grandfather, usually), didn’t fight in the war so that this could happen, and I want to say something about how I bet your grandfather wouldn’t have picked such a low-lying wet piece of property, and if he did, he probably didn’t expect to build a 6,000 square foot home on it. But I don’t, I sit quietly with my hands at my heart center and breathe, and say things like, “Is there  anything else I can help you with today?”

B. says, “Hey, don’t worry, I’ve got a plan. I’ll …

I was thinkin' about Ursus...

There’s a family of bears living in our neighborhood. The other night after work, I went on a long walk in the woods, mostly to clear my head, but also sort of hoping I might catch a glimpse of the bear. On my return, I walked around the lake a bit, and saw garbage strewn about on the street. A pod of neighbors were standing there, discussing how the bear had been doing laps around the lake, getting into the cans.

I stopped to clean it up, even though I didn’t particularly feel like it, because that seemed like the neighborly thing to do, but I have to say, I was pretty irritated at the contents of their garbage. Recycling here could not be easier . There’s no sorting required. Everything –- cans, paper, cardboard, plastic, wax milk cartons -- it all just goes in one giant bin for bi-weekly curbside pickup.

This house has the two bins, one for garbage, and one for recycling, and the garbage bin has been tipped over and strewn about by the bear. I start cleaning it up, but ther…

Gravity, explored

Well, I've spent a good part of the day trying to understand what's going on with gravity, and thought I'd share it all with you.

View more presentations from betsyjm.

Five rules and a suggestion

Dear Khortnee,

I seem to remember that Very Good Mothers have a set of 5 rules. But the only one I can remember is "Try something new," which I believe was the 6th. Can you help fill in the blanks?



Dear Anonymous,

Your font looks vaguely familiar, as if have a pretty little birth mark at the nape of your neck. But it's hard to tell for sure.

Yes, there are five rules besides the sixth, which is more of a suggestion. Here they are, annotated.

Show up. Wherever you are, be there, knife and fork in hand, ready to eat. Behave as if your life were a delicate ember that you need to carefully tend to, breathe gently on, and then celebrate when it catches.  You'll have to do this over and over, all your life long.  Don't ever give up, and don't forget to let it be festive. 

Be honest. This seems so basic, but it involves not just saying the truth, but thinking ahead about what you want the truth to look like so you can always tell it with pride, or at…

Project Wave

After spending a delightful 24 hours on Lopez Island (I am an uber-efficient summer vacationer – just get it done. Why linger?), I decided to try to bring the sweet Lopez tradition of waving here to Lake M.

On Lopez, just about every single person you pass waves to you. It’s usually the two-hands-on-wheel-just-lift-the-peace-fingers wave, but there’s the occasional lift-the-right-hand-fully-off-the-wheel gesture. It’s hard to tell if the few people who don’t wave are locals, weary of tourists who come to wave at them, or if they’re tourists who don’t know the custom.

At any rate, I guess Lopezites feel particularly connected to one another because they live on an island, and it’s more obvious to them than it is to the rest of us that there are a finite number of people to encounter, and those people should be good to one another, because life is better that way.

Living on the outskirts of a lake is the inverse of an island, right? The opposite of land surrounded by water would b…


Yeah, I'm still not over that NYT headline: "Ambitious Effort Begins to Contain All Spill Oil."  I'm sorry for not being able to move on, because we all know people like that and we don't like it.  We really don't.  But seriously, do they get to use the word "ambitious"?

Reader quiz:  Which of the following sentences uses the word correctly? That guy running out of the burning building was really ambitious!  Wow, wasn't it ambitious of her to swim to shore after the boat sank? She's no slacker.I'm feeling pretty ambitious today.  I think I'll put pants on.I have an ambitious friend who made cherimoya sorbet.

Into the future

Aries (3/21 – 4/19): Ever been to a party where the chairs are arranged in a circle and you go around the room taking turns telling stories about shootings in your family's history?  And there's enough material that they try to go around the circle twice?  I hate that.  But even worse is that when it gets to you, they say, "it's okay if you don't have anything.  You can share mental illness stories from your family if you want."  And you're thinking, "can't we just shoot off some fireworks and call it good?"  Just enjoy the stories.  Enjoy that the people you know have great grandfathers who got shot down by the river in Texas. 

Taurus (4/20 – 5/20): Oh, my dear Tauriis, while we're on the subject of stories, I'd like to call your attention this.  I know, you don't click on links, because you never know where you'll end up, and if you'll be dressed appropriately for the site, so I'll just tell you.  An evening of li…

Take me out to the . . . maytag factory

Today I was sitting in my cubicle when E. walked in with four candybars.  "Pick two."
I studied the selection:  two Three Musketeers, and two Baby Ruth's.

"I forgot what Baby Ruth's are like.  Do I like them?"


I chose one, opened it, and snarfed it down.  "Yes, I do like them.  They taste like the baseball game."  I was trying to sound knowledgeable about sports for an unknown reason.

"Why would you say that?"

"Um, the name, and the peanuts?  Seems baseballish to me."

"No, this candy has nothing to do with baseball.  People think that all the time, but they're wrong."

I went to Wikipedia and learned that the candy bar was named after Grover Cleveland's baby, Ruth.

"How'd you know that?"

"I'm really smart as long as it doesn't involve my actual work.  Like, ask me how many parts there are to a clothes dryer."

"Um, okay.  How many?"

He stares off in…

Just askin'

Dear N'3lvra,

Is this Betsy person that posts your replies your assistant or is there a legal reason that you are unable to post these yourself?

Just Askin'

Dear Askin',

Betsy does the posting for me, true.  And she usually doesn't edit much.  I'm unable to post for a variety of reasons  -- I'm not really at liberty to discuss the legal matters yet, but all will be revealed in about 7 years.  That, and they keep me under heavy sedation most of the time, which isn't the worst thing in the world.  They dial it down a bit when a letter comes in, give me a few minutes at the keyboard, and then crank up the meds as soon as I'm done typing.

I hope they wake me up for the CD release party.  The last cd was excellent, but now they've actually written a song about Khortnee!  Or at least her room.