Monthly Archives: December 2011

Quotes From Here and There

It’s good, once in a while, just to be able to

I’m not all that bothered by small hypocrisies — it’s fun to rag on prominent folks for ’em, but I’ve always liked the sentiment that “hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.”there (in the comments)

Happiness is to be found in peace and moderation. Yes, the pleasures of life are to be enjoyed … but as a temperate balm. Self-indulgence is a recipe for

Photographs and Memories

Yesterday I brought home some of my mom’s stuff, including 15 photo albums and two boxes, one rather large, of loose photos. And that wasn’t even all of them. Mom loved her photos. Someone suggested to my brother that we “just throw away” most of the old pictures. Mom would have been horrified to hear that.

There’s something almost sacred about photographs, especially snapshots of people. We’ve all heard that some primitive tribal people did not like to be photographed because they believed the camera would steal their soul and imprison it in the picture. I wonder if maybe we have a little bit of that superstition ourselves. Not that souls are imprisoned in the photos but that maybe there’s a tiny piece of a soul in the photo and therefore it must be cared for and treated with respect. No, I don’t really believe that but maybe I feel something like that because I do feel that photos should be treated with a certain respect and care.

From the time I was little we would frequently sit and look at old photo albums, many with pictures dating from my mother’s childhood, and she would talk about the people in them and the places they were taken. I never did that much with my kids, mostly because my mom had all the old photos. I find myself wondering what will happen to all of them when I’m gone. Will they be thrown away? All those little “pieces of souls,” unloved and just thrown out with the trash? I find that extremely troubling.

The photos and other items that belonged to my mother – I do not feel that they are mine. I’m just taking care of them for her. I felt the same way about my grandmother’s sewing machine. It wasn’t mine; I was just taking care of it for my grandmother. Over the years I’ve gradually come to feel more of a sense of ownership of it but I’m still as much a caretaker as an owner.

The title of this post is, as you may know, the title of a song by Jim Croce but there is a different song that perfectly evokes the charm of old photo albums:

Perhaps later I will show you some of my mother’s old photos.

December Departures

I don’t feel comfortable sharing the important things going on in my life with strangers on the Internet. But I wouldn’t feel comfortable continuing here as if everything was the same. Why is the inevitable so hard? Sad, yes, but since it’s inevitable you’d think one could be at least a little bit prepared. But the inevitable is always supposed to be sometime in the future. Years in the future or maybe only months in the future but always in the future. Not today.

On December 18th, one week before Christmas day, my mother passed away. Now I have no one to share with. Of course that’s silly. I have lots of people I can share with but no one is delighted by things in quite the same way she was. Now, everywhere I look the world is full of things I want to share with her but will never be able to.

She was 78 years old. She was diabetic, and for more than 10 years she had also been on dialysis three times a week. In the last several months she had grown weaker. She was in the hospital several times and in between went to a nursing home and rehabilitation center where she was having physical therapy to help her regain strength. Of course we both knew that The Inevitable could come at any time but she was cheerful and hopeful so I was hopeful too. When she was feeling better we were going to have a Girls’ Day Out – lunch and shopping. When she was feeling better I was going to bring her to my house to see my new kitchen. When she was feeling better we were going to go through all the old photos and try to identify and label as many as possible.

Sixteen years ago, on December 17th 1995, my mother-in-law passed away. If not for modern technology it is very likely that Mom would have made her final exit on the 17th also. December 17th is a cursed date. Neither of these wonderful women would have wanted to have spoiled the Christmas season so we will not let that happen. We will remember all the Christmases they were there for and enjoy many more happy holiday seasons. But the 17th is a cursed date.

* * *

We laugh at funerals. It is the way we are made. We can no more keep from laughing than we can keep from crying. It seems that the best gatherings always occur in connection with memorial services. After my mother’s funeral on the afternoon of the 22nd a few of us gathered at my husband’s youngest brother’s house. It is an old house that has been added on to and beautifully decorated to have a warm and comfortable feeling. This little gathering had an indescribable, almost magical, quality to it and, in such a small group, included several of the most remarkable personalities – not famous people but people you would pay to listen to if you knew about them.

My uncle, my mother’s younger brother, was in the Air Force and even in old age still has a military bearing and a commanding tone of voice. When I was a little kid I was just a little bit scared of him but I always liked listening to him and with a lifetime of experiences he can still come up with stories I haven’t heard before.

I don’t recall if my mother met my eighth grade history teacher (“Coach”) while I was in his class but they somehow became acquainted in later years. Coach has also been a friend of my husband’s family for many years. He is now a small, wiry man with thinning white hair with just that hint of yellow that indicates that it was once blond. He has a rare talent for story-telling and a seemingly endless supply of fascinating stories of small town life.

My husband, brother-in-law and oldest son also have a good bit of story-telling talent. Not to leave out anyone else – my younger son, brother-in-law’s wife, and my aunt. It was altogether a pleasant little gathering and I did feel a bit better sharing food and conversation with these people. I would like to think that my mother was somewhere listening. She would have enjoyed it.

* * *

I am going to close comments on this one. It’s not that I don’t appreciate expressions of sympathy but they don’t really help and I don’t want to have to read through them.

More or less normal posting will resume in a few days.

Everything’s Better With a British Accent

Leeann was talking about cussing in different accents and it reminded me that I have not yet mentioned my newest “vice”. No, not cussing in accents; I don’t do accents very well. My newest vice (It’s not really a vice but it’s more fun when I think of it that way.) is Top Gear on BBC America. Not that they cuss a lot; it’s the everything being cooler with a British accent thing that reminded me.

There is an American version of Top Gear. I saw part of one episode. I suppose you have to be a car guy to get it. It seemed pretty lame to me. But there’s just something about guys with British accents talking about cars, and especially arguing about cars. They’re often very funny.

The show has a celebrity interview segment. So far most of the celebrities I’ve seen on it are people I know nothing about or have never heard of at all. The only exception: Patrick Stewart. I haven’t seen that episode on TV yet but I looked it up on YouTube.

Men Are From Lowe’s – Women Are From Macy’s

Here we are – less than two weeks away from Christmas and there are people out there still pondering what to buy for a person of the opposite sex, be they husband, wife, father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter, or that co-worker you barely know whose name you drew this year. Well, you’re in luck; you’ve come to the right place. Of course I cannot tell you exactly what to buy but I have helpful tips of a very general nature – which may not apply to all individuals, your mileage may vary, etc, etc, etc.

What men most want to receive as gifts are the things they were going to buy for themselves but haven’t got around to buying yet. Often the biggest problem is getting them to not buy these things before Christmas. What women most want are the things they would not buy for themselves – things they admire and lust for but rarely buy for themselves because they’re impractical, possibly expensive, and it feels too self-indulgent to “waste” money on.

Men want practical gifts – things they can use. Women want things that have no purpose other than to look at and admire and fondle. Most women do like some kinds of practical gifts as long as they’re not in any way related to housework. One possible exception, if she likes to cook, would be high-end kitchen appliances, utensils, and dishes, but be careful.

Men will come right out and tell you what they want – model numbers and everything. Don’t be shy about asking. He would rather get what he wants than to be surprised. Women also will tell you what they want but they’re more subtle about it. In fact, your wife or girlfriend has been telling you all year what she wants; you just weren’t paying attention. If you have to ask you’re probably in trouble. Women do want to be surprised and they want to get what they want.

Men do not care about gift wrap. They expect some kind of wrapping but they don’t care about the color or design and they won’t even notice whether or not it’s neatly and expertly done. The important thing is that the package not take too much time or effort to open. Use paper that tears easily, don’t put ribbon all the way around it and use only barely enough tape to hold it together and even so they will complain and make fun of you for using “too much tape.”

Women, on the other hand, like pretty packages. Most will forgive you for lack of wrapping skills and probably don’t even care if you get someone else to do it for you, though it is a little extra nice if you go to the trouble of doing it yourself. But it must be pretty and it should be under the tree early enough that she has at least several days to admire it and anticipate the magic moment when she gets to find out what’s inside. So what are you waiting for? To the stores!

Random Linkage

People You Didn’t Know Were in Star Trek – Actually, I did know. Except for the last one. Wow, seriously?

Michele Made Me – Crafts using stuff found around the house.

Unique Stress Busters – The virtual bubble wrap looks like fun. I also like the LED light show thing. Ooooo pretty lights. (One product image possibly NSFW.)

34 Cool and Unique Fences – From beautiful to extremely tacky

Melted Snowman Cookies – Very cute!

55 Inspiring Quotations – Some of these poster designs are interesting. Naturally, whether the quotes are inspiring or trite will depend on the individual reader. I like “The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”


Something like this had to happen sooner or later. On Tuesday of this week a cannonball shot by the Mythbusters went through a house and a minivan in a neighborhood near the Alameda County bomb range where they were filming. No one was hurt.

I can hardly wait to see that episode. Number Two Son said that if it had been his house he would have wanted to keep the cannonball. Well, yeah!

Fabric Fondling, etc.

So true I might have said it myself:

For many of us, our greatest pleasure is to pet our batiks, fondle our fabrics, and stroke our stash.

That is from an email newsletter from I tried to find an online version of it but when you go to the Newsletters on the site you get something entirely different. That makes me a little sad because it’s really a nice little article and I wanted to share it with you but I had to quote that line because, as I already said, it’s so true.

What is it about fabrics. To me fabrics are like diamonds to some other women. Or shoes. I love looking at fabrics, even online where I can’t actually fondle them. As for stroking my own stash… nah, I don’t really do that, at least not just for the sake of stroking it. And as I said before I don’t really have a huge stash. Everything I buy I have a pretty good idea what I’m going to make of it or I don’t buy it. (Of course that doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes change my mind.) That keeps me from having to add another room onto the house just for the fabric. But fabric… wow. I’m drawn to it like bees to clover. Especially quilting cottons. (which I often use to make blouses or dresses) There are so many patterns and colors and when I go into a store (real or virtual) I want them all. Lately I’ve been very interested in cotton flannels as well. This is a seasonal thing of course.

This same newsletter also quoted these Gershwin lyrics:

Fabric of Dreams:

Weaving a dress for my lady
Out of the fabric of dreams;
Fashioned of twilight,
Sewn with the shy light
Of stars and the moon’s fragile beams;
Clasped with a girdle of dawning,
Rainbows to cover the seams,
Brightened with kisses,
Ladylove, this is
Your gown from my fabric of dreams!

Also visit Luana Rubin’s blog

Random Notes

To the sports commentators on ESPN, NBC and Fox: Brett Favre is retired. Get over it already. Even I have moved on. Why can’t you?

Why is it that the simplest things are often nearly impossible to find?

I’m not doing very well with this whole holiday shopping thing this year. I have no ideas and I’m running out of time. If I don’t think of and order some things this week I’m going to have to go out and shop in actual stores! The horrors!

Actually, I have ordered a few things but I just don’t have as many ideas as I have had in past years.

It’s cold this morning. Dammit NOAA! You said it would be warmer than normal for the next three months.

Looking on the bright side, I’m finally going to get to wear those new winter boots that I haven’t been able to wear because it’s been too warm for them.

Speaking of cold, I need to leave my nice warm fire and go out in it this morning so Number Two Son will have bread for his sandwich to take to work and the Husband will have coffee in the morning and the cats will have food to eat. And maybe I’ll stop at one or two of those charming local stores where maybe I’ll get some shopping inspiration.

Desperate Attempt to Maintain Something Like Normal Blogging

Lately I’m having a seriously hard time maintaining any interest at all in blogging, much less coming up with something interesting that someone might actually want to read. Oh, I do have things I want to say but I can’t get motivated to say them. But of course that’s why they invented embedding. So…

funny real estate - Can't Handle the Weight of Literature
see more Lovely Listing

I sort of like that. I’m not sure about the design on the little door at the bottom but otherwise it would go nicely in my big, quirky Victorian fantasy house.

Quotes From Here and There

Should a kid make it to double digits without a scratch, you have to figure he’s spent the entire ten years in his room. Apparently some people think that’s a good ideahere

…but what was Bill Mantlo subjected to if not rationing? And what were the faceless, implacable bureaucrats who decided his fate if not the equivalent of those dread death panels?there (via)

It’s funny but I totally forgot about “Snowmageddon” in the effort to survive the summer’s drought and heat…here (Yeah… I didn’t totally forget but I know what you mean.)

I don’t want characters to get smooshed together; I want to watch them interact.there

We cannot even agree on what constitutes “good,” so how can we expect to hold it in common?here

“The lovely in life is the familiar,
And only the lovelier for continuing strange.”

Shut Up, Harry

I am starting to get a bit annoyed at Harry’s Law. (NBC) I like the characters and enjoy watching them interact and the stories are often interesting but lately the crusade episodes are coming more and more often – episodes in which they use the criminal trial of the week to highlight some social “evil”.

It’s probably been like that from the beginning but I first noticed it earlier this season when they had a teenage girl on trial for manslaughter because something she wrote on her blog instigated the harassment of a fellow student who then committed suicide. Can a person be held responsible for another person’s suicide? I don’t know. There should be some punishment for bullying but the charge of manslaughter seems a bit harsh. But what bothered me about this episode was that the defense attorneys argued, basically, that the defendant was innocent because everybody else is doing it.

Last night’s episode was a two-fer. In separate cases they took on banks and football. I agree with everything they said about banks but I do not agree that getting screwed by a bank is an excuse to rob that bank. In a real case they might have tried a temporary insanity plea but this was television and they had a point to make so instead they argued that the defendant was not guilty because the bank had no right to treat her so unfairly.

In the football case a couple whose son had died from a head injury was suing the school, not because they had acted irresponsibly but because they had a football program. This case was an excuse for Harry and her witnesses to preach about the dangers and the evils of football and while some of their arguments were based in fact it was all way overblown. They made it sound like most kids who play football are going to end up either dead or brain damaged. Personally I think that, while schools should have sports programs, too much emphasis, and money, is given to sports at the expense of other things like arts education but the anti-football agenda in last night’s Harry’s Law was just too over the top.

Harry’s Law is certainly not the first show to take on social issues and I’m not totally against that sort of thing but whether I agree with the point they’re trying to make or not I would like to see a little more subtlety. Subtlety, in fact, would be better for making their point than in-your-face crusades against “evil”. And being somewhat realistic would be helpful too.