Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Birthday Party Review

We're just about to enter Pisces, my birthday season. I think it's fascinating to watch a person change over time (me, here, obviously):
I spent the morning gathering photos from past birthday parties, when I've had them. Since I didn't always--or don't have photos of them––I borrowed a few from other people, or other events.

^ 1964: Sister's 5th birthday, I am 3 years old, Whitewater, WI

^ 1987: Me, 26, with Lucinda (center) at her 30th birthday party,
our place, Chicago, IL (Lourdene on right)

^ 1995:
John's 44th birthday w/ Lucinda (center) at our place: I'm 34

^ 1996: 35 years old, my graduation party (BA in Religious Studies)

^1999: My 38th Birthday Party (at bink's), me, Kate, John, Denise P.

^2000: 39th birthday--a weird 70ºF March day in Minneapolis--(Loring Park)
L to R: John, Ken, Richard, Kate, Maura, Lucinda, Denise, Art, me

^ 2001: 40th Birthday and Adieu-to-MCAD-Library Party
Kay, Eva, me, Allan

^ 2005: Me (left), almost 44, on my father's 74th birthday, w/ sister

^ 2009: 48th birthday party (Spock pin from David B)

^ 2010: 49th birthday party (Jackson's Gelato)--mittens knit by Poodletail

^ 2011: 50th birthday party, Sputnik ball of potato chips from Michael & Alex

2012^ Christmas (housesitting Joanna's): Marz, bink, Maura, me (almost 52) 

^ 2015: My 54th birthday at work, Activities in Memory Care

^ 2016: 55th birthday: registering at the Wikipedia Art+Feminism Edit-a-thon, MPLS Library

^ 2017: 56th birthday, me, Annette, Kyle, Esther (cake by Laura)

Our Dictator: "Fix it like you wanna, Chief!"

"No people ever recognize their dictator in advance. He never stands for election on the platform of dictatorship. He always represents himself as the instrument [of] the Incorporated National Will. 

"...When our dictator turns up you can depend on it that he will be one of the boys, and he will stand for everything traditionally American. 

"And nobody will ever say 'Heil' to him, nor will they call him 'Führer' or 'Duce.' 

But they will greet him with one great big, universal, democratic, sheeplike bleat of 

'O.K., Chief! Fix it like you wanna, Chief! Oh Kaaaay!'"

--American journalist Dorothy Thompson (right), quote from 1935

Known as the First Lady of American Journalism, Thompson (1894-1961) was head of the New York Evening Post's Berlin office from 1925 until Germany evicted her in 1934.

This is a re-post from ten years ago, April 8, 2008, when George W. Bush was in his final year as president. 
(So, the 4 comments are from 2008 too.)

I've heard people say Trump makes Bush look good, but I don't agree at all. 
Bush was a precursor:
it was his response to 9/11 in the first place that got us into these endless murderous wars & policies [Guantanamo] and amped up the ongoing politics of fear.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Sometimes we give help, sometimes we need help. Dental Version.

This morning I met with the director who oversees the St. Vincent de Paul ministries at the Catholic church I used to work at. I was there to interview her for a mini-article (excruciatingly short: half a page!) about SVDP's work alongside families who come here as migrants--especially people who are refugees or asylum seekers.
I hadn't seen the director in almost fifteen years; it felt like a homecoming.

Afterward I had a dentist appointment--my first in six years. 
(Why have I let so many things lag?)

The dental hygienist who I've seen in years past was telling me about her trip to Paris and, unexpectedly, got talking about the patron saint of Paris--St. Denis--and how he's represented on the cathedral of Notre Dame holding his severed head.

 The hygenienist said to me, "You were raised Catholic, weren't you?"

"I'm still Catholic," I responded.

If it'd been last week, would I have said the same?
Not sure. 
The Church has a boatload of problems, but after twisting and turning every whichway, I have to say, they fit me.

I don't mean I'm personally guilty of raping children, no! 
But on a lesser scale, all the general fucked-upness of being human, yes.
Like not going to the dentist for [mumbledy-mumble] years.


And Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, am I going to pay for it. A diagnosis of four fillings, one crown, and one referral to an endodontist later, I can tell you:
go in for cleanings!

However, it's not as bad as I feared.

After the dentist did his exam, I said, 
"I'm not in danger of dying, am I?"

He and the hygienist laughed. 

A lot. 

And reassured me, no, no, my dental health was nowhere near that bad.

I also asked the hygienist who the patron saint of dentists is.

She knew: 
St. Apollonia.

She had a bad time of it, as you can imagine from her becoming the patron saint of a helping profession nobody likes. 
But she did get depicted by one of my favorite artists, Francisco de Zurbarán.

So--here's the mini-article I just wrote up after my adventurous day.
To Help and Be Helped: St. Vincent's Immigrant Support Ministry

Before he was a saint, Vincent de Paul was a slave––a victim of human trafficking. In 1605, when Vincent was  24, pirates captured the ship he was on and sold him into slavery in North Africa. He promised God that if he escaped, he would spend his life helping others. With the help of a Muslim woman, Vincent did escape. And he spent his life fulfilling his promise, serving people in need, including those fleeing hunger, poverty, and war.

Today, those same human-made disasters force thousands from their homelands every day. The United Nations estimates 258 million migrants are scattered around the world––including Minnesota.

The SVDP Immigrant Support Ministry at the Basilica of St. Mary follows Vincent’s example to “serve, accompany, and defend” newcomers from troubled regions. Since 2015, teams of SVDP volunteers have walked alongside 11 families as they start over again. The families originally came from Burma, Iraq, and Somalia, but many lived in refugee camps in other countries before arriving here.

Besides big things like housing and education, it’s little things that help newcomers feel at home: warm coats for winter, baby clothes for a newborn, furniture for an empty apartment, and household items such as a used vacuum cleaner. The SVDP ministry provides these things in various ways, including vouchers to shop at SVDP Thrift Store.

The work is ongoing. Like Vincent, sometimes we need help, sometimes we give help. Either way, SVDP is a good place to come together for our common good.
For more information:
SVDP Refugee/Immigrant Ministry at the Basilica of St. Mary

P.S. That web page ^ is not up to date, so, in the way of these things, I also volunteered to update it.
As they say, no good deed goes unpunished.

P.P.S. Floss your teeth!

Monday, February 19, 2018

"Tear down this wall."

Hm. I see that the quote I posted yesterday--about not removing a wall until you know why it's there--has been used to argue against changes such as legalizing same-sex marriage.

I hadn't thought of it in political terms. I'd quoted it because I think it's wise in personal terms--be careful about removing your psychological supports, willy-nilly.

In both realms, I'd argue for the wisdom of forethought, and I'd vote for the messiness of liberation over the sterility of repression.
I never thought I'd be quoting Reagan, but I'm with him in saying,
 "Tear down this wall." (wikipedia article)
The Berlin Wall, West Berlin, Germany, 1962
 Photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, via Magnum Photos

Of course that's not enough. When I was young, I thought all you had to do was tear down  walls. I didn't know that the harder thing to remove was what Germans, after the Berlin Wall came down, called the wall in the mind.

You can't really tear down the wall in the mind--that's putting up another wall. You have to dismantle it with care, and replace it with something (or learn to live with it, or go around it, etc.).

I recently came across a blogger whose first post explains that she started the blog because she was so disgusted with herself for being depressed when her life was so blessed. So she was going to start writing positive thoughts every day, she said, as a way to "slap myself in the face".

I don't know, maybe it helped her? I couldn't stand to read on. 
If it's one piece of a larger strategy, it can be helpful to count your blessings, to "fake it till you make it," but it's not usually very effective in the long run to bludgeon yourself out of your intrinsic feelings.

Maybe that's why clowns are so scary--we sense that painted-on smiles are lies.

In contrast, I think of the story of a young student who talked to Gandhi about his desire to follow a spiritually enlightened path and not cling to material things, but the student felt he was failing because he couldn't bring himself to get rid of his books.

Gandhi told him not to get rid of his books--it's not enlightened, he said, to do violence to oneself.

You don't build resilience by forcing yourself to look on the bright side. It's more about gaining a set of skills--boring and sometimes hard to practice--like. . .  honestly, I think it includes little things like drinking water throughout the day, or eating some peanuts when your blood sugar drops. Or turning down invitation to go to a movie with friends if you don't want to go. Or getting up the gumption to ask someone to a movie.

It's amazing what that little stuff can do for your mood. It's not really little in importance, any more than bricks in a wall are.

I've been thinking about this because lately I see how socially isolated I've become in recent years. For a bunch of reasons, I undermined my natural tendencies to socialize with groups of people.
But it's not something I can build back up in a moment, with a dramatic act of will. It's more like remembering to drink water.

I'm really pleased that I took a small but huge step of reaching out to volunteer at SVDP. I go to my first shift this morning, and then tomorrow I interview the facilitator of the Refugee Welcoming Committee for the little article I'm writing. 
Writing short pieces is a fun challenge--at only half a page, it's like writing a poem.

A really nice thing about little stuff is, you can do it. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

"Brandish that raspberry!"

Have you seen that some concerned parents are concerned about a scene in the new Peter Rabbit movie when rabbits attack a man with blackberries, knowing he is allergic to them?
"Allergy bullying is not funny," concerned parties say.

I can see if your child was likely to die from allergies, that is a terrible thing to live with, and you'd be extra sensitive. 
But from the outside, I wonder if the concern is a wee bit overblown, or possibly misplaced?
I haven't seen the movie, but as I remember from the book, the man in Peter Rabbit was going to shoot Peter and EAT him. 

Seems to me this scene could be a political allegory... 
The children say, STOP SHOOTING US.
What I really thought of, however, wasn't Beatrix Potter's books but Monty Python's sketch, "Self-Defense Against Fresh Fruit" (1969)--especially the bit around 3:30, re the raspberry. (I think the tactics would work against any small berry.)

"Brandish that raspberry--be as vicious as you like with it!"

I began watching MP soon after it first aired in the United States in 1974. 
High-school pals and I used to go around saying,
"Come at me with a raspberry!"

I suppose most parents of small children today wouldn't know this skit. 
Did the filmmakers? 
You'd hope so....

Groovy Mugs

I've been missing eBay, so I started listing there again--with a few adjustments.

As someone said, "Don't take a fence down until you know why it was put up".
[--various attributions, including JFK paraphrasing G K Chesterton]. 
eBay was providing intermittent social pleasures and the pleasure of the chase (those intermittent rewards are hard to give up)––and pin money. One time I made $55 profit, another time I lost $22, mostly I make about $4 to $12 per sale (not charging for time).

And it remains interesting: 
I'm learning more about business than I did when I wanted to go into videography and took small-business classes––I regret now that I didn't just jump in and START.

I've become more aware of invisible overhead, for instance, (packing tape! not cheap), and, of course, unpaid time.
I can't do much about expenses--from the start, I've always used as much recycled packing material as possible (I find an endless supply of clean cardboard boxes in recycle bins in the alley--mostly from Amazon)--but I can manage time better.

One thing I'm doing differently is selling low-priced things in lots, rather than individually. 

The price of shipping doesn't go up much when you add a couple things to an order, and sometimes it doesn't go up at all, 
so it's a better deal for the buyers too (providing they want more than one of the things).

Yesterday I bundled these three stackable pedestal mugs from the 1960s.

(The colors of the top one made me think it was from the '70s, brown-and-orange being the color combo of the era, but the company went out of business in 1969.)

When did huge mugs become the norm? These only hold 8 oz./1 cup.

Friday, February 16, 2018

"be of [government](a little)/ More careful"

Reading the House Judiciary Committee's surprisingly... tender-hearted? report on the impeachment of Richard Nixon––
(remember I was so excited to find it for 99¢ at the thrift store?)––
I was reminded of lines from e e cummings:

"be of love(a little) more careful than of everything..."

By "surprisingly tender," I mean you can sense in their words the committee's anguish that President Nixon failed in his "duty to take care" of this vulnerable thing that they obviously cherish:
their (my) constitutional government. 

They painstakingly go into how that government was framed, explaining it patiently, in a way that makes me love them for caring to do dry background work in service of this really rather romantic & difficult thing to pull off [democracy]. 
They're like,
"See, Franklin and Jefferson talked about this before... and they decided it'd be a good idea to have these checks and balances [examples] ... which this jerk just blew out of the water!"

It's in bureaucratese, of course, but bygod, it reads as if they'd hired a nanny who then abused their baby.
Which is close to what happened. When you read relevant transcripts of White House tapes, it's BLATANT.

THE PRESIDENT: What'll he [Gordon Strachan, aide to Bob Haldeman] say? Just go in and say he didn't know [about Watergate]?

[JOHN] DEAN: He'll go in and stonewall it and say, "I don't anything about what you're talking about." He has already done it twice, as you know, in interviews. 

THE PRESIDENT: Yeah. I guess he should, shouldn't he, in the interests of ––Why? I suppose we can't call that justice, can we?

You bastard, Nixon! No, we can't call that justice.

And here's something extra galling:
unlike our current president, Nixon was smart and knowledgeable. 
He knew what he was doing. (Though the two men do share a dangerously paranoid and inflated self-regard.)

Now I've lived among my species for more than five decades, I know how hard it is to get a group of people to cooperate and to be effective. I appreciate (like I never did growing up) all the care that went into designing a system that would give that a chance to happen.

To people who say, We don't need no stinkin' government, 
I say, Really? Have you met the humans? Half the time we can't figure out a workable dish-washing rotation.

Substitute government for love in e e cummings' poem and it works--even the line "discover laughing".
(Maybe especially "discover laughing". When can we do that?)

be of government(a little)
More careful
Than of everything
guard her perhaps only

A trifle less
(merely beyond how very)
closely than
Nothing,remember government by frequent

Her least never the most
memory)give entirely each
Forever its freedom

(Dare until a flower,
understanding sizelessly sunlight
Open what thousandth why and
discover laughing)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Tom Swift in the Caves of Nuclear Fire

 Copyright 1956. Found at a thrift store. Nuclear science! In penny loafers!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

When I Look at the News, I'm just like...

Happy Valentine's Day

A curious stuffed cloth creature I found at a thrift store--signed 1959

 It's like one of Barbara Pym's unsettling "different pigeons", as imagined by Edward Gorey:
“They’ve moved me to a new office and I don’t like it at all” [a fussy character says]. “Different pigeons come to the windows.” 
--Barbara Pym, Excellent Women, published in 1952

P.S. That fish I listed on eBay yesterday at what I thought was an exorbitant price?
It sold just now, this morning. Just as well, as I have lots of neat eBay stuff cluttering my place, but I feel a little tug, letting go of toys.

I like that today is also Ash Wednesday--a regular Catholic mash-up! [post below]

Happy Ash Wednesday

"Consider the Lilies" (1939) by Stanley Spencer, from his series of eight paintings, Christ in the wilderness 

I would subtitle this "Be Not Anxious" (from the full quote, below).

via Wikiart

The flowers are those of Spencer's  home town, Cookham, England. ("Earth's crammed with heaven,"--Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
But I love best Jesus's hair.*

Matthew 6:28-34 American Standard Version (ASV) 

28 And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

*Point of grammar: It used to be the style not to add a possessive "s" to Jesus, but I never thought that seemed right---I pronounce the possessive Jesus-uz, don't you? 
I see the practice is changing.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

My Favorite Fish for Madri Gras

My brain––addled by two strong Old Fashioneds for Mardi Gras––
is trying to connect the dots of Jesus as a [vintage rubber squeaky toy] fish, 
and Jesus going into the desert for forty days––
and failing.

(You'd think bourbon would help, but guess not.
Maybe sometimes things just don't line up? This is hard for me to accept.)

It just seems like a bad idea. Don't put the fish in the desert!
(OK--there's a connection.)

Stopping now.
I'll just share this photo of the rubber fish I had in mind >
a vintage toy I posted today on eBay that I like so much, I almost hope it won't sell. 

I priced it high, but I've found that is no protection---people do buy the coolest things, even if they cost a lot.*

I believe she is modeled on "Cleo", the goldfish in Disney's Pinocchio (1940), and possibly has no connection whatsoever with Jesus. (Though wait, obviously Pinocchio is a Christ figure, who gives his life for his friends.)

 Maybe she looks obnoxiously cute or repulsively old in the photo?
But, really, in person she's sneakily adorable.

She's from the 1960s, I believe:
fifty-year-old rubber, but amazingly she's still soft and pliable, and makes the most adorable deep-toned noise when squeezed.

OK, I'm stopping HERE: [here].)

Happy Fat Tuesday! 

*Next day: The toy sold this morning. Swim away, little fishie!

Monday, February 12, 2018


I go to my volunteer interview at SVDP Thrift Store today and the manager tells me he saw on my LinkedIn profile that I'm a writer. He  wonders if I'd enjoy writing for the store's newsletter, besides signing up for a shift in thrift. 

Why, yes, I say, I would.
Would I like, to start, to write a short article about the Basilica of St Mary's refugee ministry program, which coordinates with SVDP to supply people with things they need?

I would, very much.

Huh. A three-in-one of my interests: thrift, writing, and religion.
How 'bout that?
I haven't been into religion in a long time, but fifteen years ago I worked as a sacristan at the very same Basilica that runs the refugee program. While that church has issues, I never stopped admiring their work for economic social justice, which they do better than other non-profits I've known. 

I was impressed this guy immediately matched my skill to their need. And surprised––it seems a natural match, but none of the other places I've volunteered have tapped that skill, though they all could have used my help as a writer more than as a schlepper.

Likely I'll discover soon enough things that bug me at SVDP, but this is a heartening & hopeful start.

Notes on Resilience: The Early Heart

My former editor mentioned the possibility of a book on resilience, and I immediately said I'd be interested in writing it. [Even though I swore I'd never write for them again.]

Getting that assignment is a long shot, for various reasons. Since it's a longtime interest of mine (I blogged about "Learned Optimism" in 2010), I thought I'd start poking around more on my own.

I always like to start with etymology, and this word's provides a great leaping off point.

1. resilience (n.)1620s, "act of rebounding," from Latin resiliens, present participle of resilire "to rebound, recoil," from re- "back" + salire "To jump, leap" (See salient)

2. salient (adj.)
1560s, "leaping," a heraldic term, from Latin salientem (nominative saliens), present participle of salire "to leap"....
Used in Middle English as an adjective meaning "leaping, skipping."
The meaning "prominent, striking" first recorded 1840, from salient point (1670s), Latin punctum saliens, going back to Aristotle's writings

refers to the heart of an embryo, which seems to leap, hence, the "starting point" of anything.

3. The heart of an embryo?!

"The heart is the first organ to function within an embryo. It starts to function when the nutritional and oxygen requirements of the growing embryo can no longer be met by diffusion from the placenta." [about four weeks in human embryos]

This picture of a the heart of a mouse embryo [right] was created by Dr Laura Pastorelli at the MRC National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR).  

The heart here is at the "looping stage". The organ starts as a single tube before looping round itself. At a later stage in development, the heart tube will fuse to form the four chambers of the heart.

4. The first sound we sense in the womb is the pulse of our mother's heart and blood.
...It is often said that the first sound we hear in the womb is our mother's heartbeat. Actually, the first sound to vibrate our newly developed hearing apparatus is the pulse of our mother's blood through her veins and arteries. We vibrate to that primordial rhythm even before we have ears to hear.

Before we were conceived, we existed in part as an egg in our mother's ovary. All the eggs a woman will ever carry form in her ovaries while she is a four-month-old fetus in the womb of her mother.

This means our cellular life as an egg begins in the womb of our grandmother.  Each of us spent five months in our grandmother's womb and she in turn formed within the womb of her grandmother. We vibrate to the rhythms of our mother's blood before she herself is born. And this pulse is the thread of blood that runs all the way back through the grandmothers to the first mother. We all share the blood of the first mother - we are truly children of one blood."  
-- Layne Redmond, When the Drummers Were Women
[Associated article on drum history, by Redmond, in Drum Magazine.] 

More to come.
I want to write more personally about all this (and more), but now I'm going to get ready for my interview to volunteer at SVDP.
That's a bit of conscious resilience on my part---I've been sad over a recent loss and decided it would help to try something new--to do something different. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

New Bear, Old Bear

Technically speaking, both of these stuffed black bears [below] are old bears, sold as souvenir toys at Yellowstone Park gift shop in the 1960s.
These are my favorite kind of stuffed animal I've discovered, and I have four more waiting in the wings. They are plentiful and can be found in number on eBay. (Don't pay more than $10.)
I kind of want a hundred, to fix each one up differently.

The one I restored (no name) is keeping company with the newly arrived one, almost dry after its bath (named by bink Louis-Louis). Those are L-L's ears in front--they're only glued in so they come off in water. The extra fabric comes in handy for patches.

The bears don't like the red plastic collars & leashes they came with, naturally, now they are no longer attached to children. 
Off they come. 
But someone gave this bear a necklace of a red cotton potholder loop--one of those loops for weaving hot pads. That will stay. 

It's nice to have backed off from eBay a bit. 
Instead, besides Bear Repair, I hope to volunteer at the St Vincent de Paul Thrift Store.
In the long run, I didn't fit in at Steeple People (too elitist), nor, in the sort run, at Goodwill (too corporate). 
Maybe this one I will fit just right?

SVDP's an old favorite of mine. 

It's more, um,  small-c catholic* than the others. I mean, it's in a poorer neighborhood, is less picky about what goes out for sale (which means more interesting stuff gets put out), and there's always a grocery cart of free donated bread by the cash register. 
It makes no pretense of being an antique store, and appears to have no profit motive. 
The last time I was there, I was a dollar short, so I gave an item back. The cashier deducted a dollar and then gave me the thing. I would have gotten fired if I'd done that at Goodwill.

I seem to have an enduring interest in this work. I have an interview at SVDP this week. Fingers crossed.
* "catholic", from Greek, katholikos: 
kata or kath (meaning “through” or “throughout”) + holos (meaning “whole”). This notion of “throughout-the-whole” carries no notion of boundary or lines drawn that demarcate those who are “in” and those who are “out.”
via HuffPo

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Idea: Try something else

After 24 hours in Las Vegas, I felt panicked & trapped. 
It had been my idea to take L's mother there for her 83rd birthday, but I'd forgotten what a hard time I have with her. She's a master of passive manipulation and treacly negativity (e.g., at the airport, of a stranger, "I just don't think it's healthy for anyone to be that fat"). 
And because she's in the very early stages of dementia, she couldn't be left alone. Luckily L's niece came along, shared her room with L's mother and generally did most of the shepherding.

But still I felt trapped, and not just psychologically by L's mother but physically by the place. The Las Vegas strip is built to overpower and contain puny humans within complexes of massive buildings. The windows don't open, so the air inside smells like filters and cleaning fluids, and it takes ages to walk through or around the Mussolini-like blocks. I was excited to see a bike-share station outside our hotel, until I saw there was no way to rent a bike without a smartphone, which I don't have.

I went to bed Saturday night feeling like I was pinned in a straightjacket. I tried to think my way out of it, to rise above it, mentally. 

"This shouldn't get to me," I told myself, even though I've found this is a fruitless thing to say. Worse than fruitless. You're gaslighting yourself, which just leaves you feeling crazy.

When I woke up Sunday morning, I told myself instead,
BE ON YOUR OWN SIDE: Is there anything you can DO to change this?

And I thought, go to a library.

I've done this before in foreign cities; libraries are a place you can sit quietly, spend no money, and get a sense of the lives of regular people who live in the area.
And they're on city bus lines. 

Leaving L. with her family, Red Hair Girl and I headed out to the closest branch, about 45 minutes away, with one bus transfer. I instantly felt better, and when I arrived--Cracker Jack!--the library was unexpectedly beautiful.

I asked the librarian if the stone was local. She didn't know, but volunteered that the architect of the library is famous. She didn't know their name.

I'd debated about bringing my laptop along. Thankgod I did. I looked the library up. The architect is Antoine Predock, from New Mexico, and the stone is local red sandstone. The conical concrete structure is for children's birthday parties. How great is that?

The map showing the library also showed a park across the street.

As I was leaving, I asked another librarian, What's the park across the street?

You mean, a place to park cars? he said.

I crossed the street. 
Kitty-corner from the library is a small state park--the site of the Old LV Mormon Fort. Directly across the street, it's true, is a parking lot.

I 've never met librarians before who didn't want to find things out.
I kind of wonder if the tourist industry has sucked up all the people in LV who are brilliant at public service. 
It's not like I think everyone should be an extrovert––(I'm not)––but, really, all the people I talked to in the tourist industry were friendly, bright people who seemed happy to connect, even if there was absolutely no possibility of a tip. They were the best part of being there.

My last morning, having been to the Grand Canyon (a Number 1 restorative), I gave a little red rock from there to the hotel coffee shop barista I'd seen every morning--at the same time that she was surreptitiously giving me a free coffee.

She held the stone to her nose and breathed in.

 "Smells like home," she said.

"Alive Toys"


 Boxer Claressa Shields

Hammer thrower Amanda Bingson ^

Today I'm turning my form in to the gym to get matched with a personal trainer, so I can get started on strength training.
I don't care if I lose weight--I don't care if I gain weight--I just want to be strong again. 
And I can be! I just have to start (again).

Friday, February 9, 2018

Do you listen to songs over and over?

Once in a while I hit upon a song that I listen to on repeat for hours and hours (and hours).
I would bet lots of us do, right? (Do you? Which ones?)

Last night it was "Sweet Is the Night" by ELO, 1977, from their album Out of the Blue.

As far as I can see, youTube (below) doesn't let you set a song to play on an endless loop, but Vevo does

Five other songs I've listened to for hours in a row

I'm not sure what they have in common--Marz said I like music with square beats? A bit thunky, and melodic, and even sweet-- 
but also I like a bit of a ... like a bitter flavor in music? Like turmeric? 
(Some minor chords? Though I don't think ELO has any!)

It usually isn't primarily for the lyrics---I don't even know what this first song is about...

1. The Cranberries' "Dreams" 
(Sad to see Dolores O'Riordan died recently, at 46. [Rolling Stone article]) 

2. Beethoven's 7th Symphony, 2nd Movement 
Leonard Bernstein conducting--there are some funny youTube comments on this one:
Guy looks like Harrison Ford
10/10 would carry out contract assassinations to this. [ME: good, scary point, even people with kitty avatars feel this...]
Hello everyone, sorry to disturb you. If you have been reading the comments, no doubt you will have seen that many people are saying Beethoven was black, a woman etc. I am here to tell you there truth. Ludwig Van Beethoven was actually a Duck-Billed Platypus, do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Me and the other members of the Platypi Coverup Society believe it is for the best that you people know this, the government is trying to hide the facts! Thank you for listening.

3. Gillian Welch's "Orphan Girl"
In this case, it is the lyrics, as well as the music. After my mother died, I listened to this for weeks. I still listen to it sometimes.

4. Bruce Springsteen's "Tougher than the Rest"
Rather unusually, I love the official video for this (slower than the recorded version, and the way Bruce and his future wife Patti Scialfa look at each other...):

5. Stan Rogers - "The Mary Ellen Carter"
A ballad about raising a sunken ship, this also goes on the list, 
Songs I Listen to When I Need a Lift.
Video is a live performance from the doc about Rogers--starts with a sailor talking about how singing the lines "rise again, rise again..." saved him spending a night in the sea after his ship sunk.

There are others, of course, maybe for another day.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

MOOD: throwing out old spices

You come back from a trip with fresh eyes. 
Like, maybe you open your cupboards and realize you haven't refreshed your spices in two years, and half of them have turned to sawdust.

Fair enough, but why did I ever buy 79¢ chili powder in a plastic bottle, with a TWO-year expiration date, in the first place?

(It doesn't even need a date. Salt never goes bad.)