Tuesday, November 30, 2010

We'll See...

I heard something on the radio that I thought interesting. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to verify its validity but I’ll share it anyway.

It is supposedly St. Andrew’s Eve. Every where I looked said that was yesterday but for now I’ll go along with the talk radio host’s version. He claims you can predict the weather for the upcoming winter tonight. How? You place a glass full to the brim with water in the grass in your yard. The amount that spills out overnight determines how wet the winter will be. As in lots of water means lots of snow, none means it’ll be dry.

I’ve decided not to do this. There are torrential rains predicted for my area tonight. Up to two inches. So my glass would be way beyond overflowing. We’ll see. But, for the sake of comparison, why don’t you go ahead and stick a glass outside and then in the spring let us know if you think it was accurate or not.

Monday, November 29, 2010

So Wrong

Scientists are striving to develop ways of making trees glow. They intend to replace electric streetlights with these trees. They’ve been experimenting with bioluminescent genes from fireflies and a variety of glowing sea bacteria to create particles which would eventually be inserted into tree DNA. They also speculate that trees could be used for lighting for areas that aren’t included in an electric grid. Additionally, they are considering piping a form of this glowing algae into your home to replace the electric lights there.

Hmm. Personally, I don’t think I want the trees to start glowing. That’s just a bit too creepy for me. And I doubt the trees would be very pleased with it either. As for the algae streaming through my house. No, thank you. Yes, we need alternate fuel sources but I hope this isn’t the answer. I like to be surrounded by darkness at times. You can’t switch off a tree.

Imagine this. They perfect oak trees to be used for lighting. The trees make acorns. Then we have glow-in-the-dark squirrels. Which are then eaten by something else which also starts to glow. Hey there’s an idea. Let’s skip the trees and inject the glowy stuff straight into ourselves. We could be our own light source. On the other hand that would likely ruin hide ‘n seek so perhaps not.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


When I was a kid, Thanksgiving was always hosted by my dad’s parents. It was probably my least favorite holiday after my birthday. That grandmother was fussy. She didn’t like me much. At one point I thought it was children in general but there were a few instances that showed it was just me.

I wasn’t allowed to touch anything, not even the toys that were kept there for me. As she always put it, I’d ruin them if I played with them. No, they weren’t antiques. They weren’t fancy, special, collector’s items. They were just plain toys yet I was very rarely permitted to get them out of the closet where they were stashed.

Then there was dinner. Turkey. Not one of my favorites to begin with and especially not hers. It was always dry. And the gravy tasted funny so it was no help. Her version of potato filling was mashed potatoes with saffron and parsley. Dried corn, lettuce with hot bacon dressing and creamed onions for the veggies, none of which were kid-friendly. Pumpkin pie for dessert. Again, something I prefer not to eat.

There were two things that salvaged the day for me. Black olives that my grandfather would let me put on my fingertips and eat before dinner, something that infuriated my grandmother. I never knew if it was because I ate them from my fingers, because I had them prior to the meal, or because he didn’t make me sit at the table while having them. All I know is every year I’d have my olives and get hollered at. And then she’d comment during dinner that I wasn’t eating because I filled up on olives. You can imagine the drama the year I informed her that I simply didn’t like the dinner she cooked. Yes, I was in major trouble once we got back home for that one.

The other saving grace was Aunt Violet. She was older than dirt and I’m not entirely sure actually related to anyone. Picture bumbling Aunt Clara from Bewitched and that was Aunt Violet. The only time she ever appeared was on Thanksgiving Day. I never knew where she came from or where she was the rest year. I don’t even know what happened to her at the end of the day. One minute she’d be there in her hat with the layer of netting over her forehead and the next she’d vanish. I’m fairly certain she wasn’t a figment of my imagination because I asked and other people remember her too. Unless maybe it was a mass hallucination. Probably brought on by the olives.

Anyway, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving. Hope it’s better than mine used to be.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I'm Ready

My house has forced air heat. Before I turn it on every season I think it best to replace the heater filter. So bright and early Sunday morning Howie and I ventured off to Lowe’s to snag a new one. This year I even remembered the size needed without pulling out the old one to check.

When I got back home I changed it instantly. I don’t always. Some years the cats claim it for a scratching pad and I end up going back for a second one. It falls under their principle of anything new in the house must be inspected and utilized in whatever way they can prior to it being put to its intended use. Heater filters of any variety don’t hold up well under multiple sets of claws.

So the filter is replaced, all by myself, and I’m all set for winter. A whole week before my December 1st deadline. That’s the earliest I permit myself to turn the heat on. It hasn’t been that difficult this year. The temperature has only dropped below 60 twice so the temptation to switch it on early wasn’t there as it is some years. Maybe next weekend I’ll cover the back of the air conditioner to cut off the draft and not turn on the heat until January.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Life Goes On

I brought my great aunt's Christmas cactus home with me a few weeks ago. Look how pretty it is. Still, it has me a little sad.


Have a good weekend.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Today's Discovery

It’s mid-November and it took me until today to notice that they’ve changed the backs on pennies. Yes, I know. I’m a tad behind. The one I saw was a 2010 though it could have happened years ago.

Honestly, I don’t pay that much attention to new coins unless they’re defective in some way. I have the coolest penny that is stamped off-center. I’m sure there are many of them floating around out there but I found this one and I think it’s nifty to have so I kept it.

Generally, I only check old pennies, to see if there are any wheat ones. I save them. I’m not sure why other than my grandfather did and when he passed I got the container. By the way, the container is a vacuum cleaner bank that was a promotional item that came with the Electrolux he purchased in the fifties. The one that I have and is still functioning. Have the owner’s manual too since he never threw anything away. If I searched through the stack of papers I inherited I’d likely locate the receipt for it.

Hmm, getting sidetracked. What was my point? Oh yeah. Pennies. Wonder why they decided to mess with them. I supposed changing the color of bills wasn’t enough.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I was outside the other day and noticed the most delicate scent wafting through the yard. Odd. Usually all you can smell in my neighborhood is french fries cooking at the corner bar. Curious, to say the least.

I looked around and finally realized it was my holly. Poor bush doesn’t seem to realize that it’s Autumn. It’s in full bloom and is just gorgeous. Thinking on it, I can’t remember if it bloomed last Spring so I don’t know if it’s late or early. Either way, it’s not going to be much help when it comes to providing pollen to make berries. Still, it is very pretty and was such a nice surprise that I had to thank it for making my day brighter.

I rescued this plant from a trash can years ago. It was down to one sad little leaf and its former owner had given up on it. I brought it home and chipped a hole in the cement at the back of my yard, since all the dirt area was already filled in with plants. If you don’t know, hollies aren’t really supposed to grow in lime, the main ingredient in cement. I planted it anyway and then asked the yard spirits to look after it for me.

Twenty years later, it’s eight feet around, six feet tall and beautiful though a tad confused. I explained seasons and, before I headed back inside, asked the yard spirits for their continued assistance. We’ll see…

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Citadel

Saturday there was an open house at the Citadel, Reading’s new Intermediate High School. It is located on the site that was formerly St. Joseph’s Hospital. Some of the original hospital buildings remain though they have undergone major renovations. The school has over 311,000 square feet of space and currently holds all of Reading’s 2500 ninth and tenth grade students.

The school was open for four hours with tours given randomly, mainly led by student tour guides. I, however, went with a friend who happens to be a school employee so I got a much more involved tour than most. I was able to wander around inside the classrooms that are supposedly haunted with spirits leftover from people who were sent to die in those rooms when it was the hospital, the former morgue which is now an employee break room, and the tower located behind what had been the hospital chapel. I also got to poke around in the areas that are still being set up. There was such a rush to get the school open by the beginning of the year that some of the spaces aren’t quite finished.

We spent a few minutes in the security center because it fascinated me. There are 15 monitors, 12 of which are divided into 16 squares, totaling 192 areas under constant surveillance. The other three monitor rotate areas, designated by the security guard according to what’s most important to see at the moment. Any of the 192 cameras can be blown up to full screen size as needed. As I said, fascinating but a bit sad too that it’s necessary.

I attended a very small school, 600 total grades 6 through 12 so exploring a place that size was fun for me. Each hallway has a different color scheme as opposed to the institutional cream that my school had. I’m told no two classroom floors are identical. Even the lockers are color-coordinated with the floor and walls. Pretty cool though I suspect many of the students fail to notice.

It was perhaps an odd way to spend a Saturday morning but I’m glad I went.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


...is Veterans Day. Have you said thank you?

Monday, November 8, 2010

I'm Tired

Emotionally and physically.

I spent the past two Saturdays helping to empty my great aunt’s apartment. She’d moved in there nearly 30 years ago when her knees got too bad to handle the steps. There was stuff that needed going through but she already had her big clear out when she sold her house.

It was very difficult. Everything there held some sort of memory so choosing what to keep and what to send to auction was a challenge. My great aunt is the most organized individual ever. She kept a book of all her possessions, where they originated and what they cost if an item was purchased. The added historical value of something that was perhaps given to my great grandparents as a wedding gift only added to that.

It’s finished now. I have some treasures. Not all that I may have liked because there simply isn’t space but I have the ones that mean the most. Still, I’m very sad. An era has ended. Although my great aunt is alive and as well as can be in the home there’s been a significant shift in my life. It hasn’t been easy for me and I can only imagine what it feels like for her.

Yeah, some days life is very, very hard.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Terrible Twos

I’m not sure how many human months are the equivalent of two cat years but if Beau is any indication it’s seven. In the past week he’s become a holy terror.

I have one of those old-fashioned claw foot tubs with the rounded edge. The big cats can all walk it which Beau has watched with both fascination and envy. He’s been attempting to do the same and Sunday he finally made it. Sort of. He managed to hop up on the edge but slid right down the other side into the tub. Not awful except that I happened to be in it with the shower running at the time. Nothing quite like sudden wet cat panic.

He’s been trying daily since then which has made my getting ready for work an event rather than routine. He’s progressed to the level that he can walk all the way around the tub but is then stymied when he encounters the shampoo shelf. He hasn’t figured out how to either turn around or hop over it into the sink without sending everything flying. I’ve had to reach out of the shower and, soaking wet, scoop him from the edge to deposit him on the floor. A game to him because he instantly returns for another go.

Apparently he loves the sound of the tub mat suction cups detaching. The past few days I’ve heard him playing with them constantly. The other morning I went to take my shower and the mat was all bunched up in one corner. What fun. I’m waiting for him to attempt to climb the shower curtain only to shred it as the big cats all did in turn. Then his learning to walk the tub will be complete and he’ll move on to something else. Silly little brat.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


There was some discussion about the differences in terminology for things you use all the time yet don’t or can’t remember the name for.

The object in question today was most definitely a thingy. As opposed to a whatsit or a doohickey, items which I also use. Then there are the doodads and whatchmacallits. Also thingamubobs, thingamujigs and gizmos. To go with the jiggies and gadgets.

I’m sure there are more out there. What do you call them?

Monday, November 1, 2010

I Need Socks!

It’s getting a little chilly in the morning. Chilly enough that I’ve considered breaking out my brand new, shiny pair of real shoes. Yes, believe it or not, I have real shoes. Got them last summer when they were tremendously on sale and I decided I couldn’t pass them up when they were that cheap.

I looked in my sock drawer this morning and was greatly dismayed by what I found. Not much of anything. I have a few pairs of fluffy white socks I wear with my sneakers, a few that I wear instead of slippers and that’s pretty much it.

My cool socks have fallen to bits. I’m sockless, as it were. Years ago, I worked with a woman who gifted me with the coolest socks every Christmas. Nifty and good quality. So good they’ve lasted all these years. Until now. I really miss her and her little bundles of Christmas socks. I wonder what she’s doing.

I’m now forced to go in search of socks on my own. I am not much of a shopper so I find that task a bit distressing. I preferred letting her deal with it. While I’m out there I should probably search for slippers too since they’re getting mighty shabby these days.

Sigh. Nothing’s ever easy, not even the change of seasons which should just happen without me needing to get involved.