Monday, July 24, 2017

I May Never Eat Another Spud. Ever. Thanks, Andy Weir!

On Thursday, 20 July 2017, I finished reading one of the bestest books I've read in ages, The Martian –by Andy Weir. Oh! My! God! What a ride. (My review is here: if you're interested). Thanks to Andy Weir, I may never eat another potato as long as I live. As I lazed on the sofa, recouping from being stranded on Mars and eating more spuds than I knew existed, I watched the news. That night was the 48th anniversary of our landing on the moon. Do you remember it? I do.

I was very pregnant 48 years ago, and had taken the bus from Portland to Taft, Oregon (now part of Lincoln City) and was spending a few days on the Siletz River with my grandparents in their travel trailer parked at Mick's Place (last time I was there, it was Coyote Rock). The Portland Oregonian newspaper had kindly published instructions so people could not only watch the moon landing, but could photograph it from their televisions. Bravo Oregonian! about half-way through the video the horizon starts going up and down. Well, actually the horizon stayed put, the guys with the cameras were going up and down. Photo stolen from the web.

So there the Skipper and I were (Skipper was my grandfather) in their little trailer, with our tripods set up in the galley, cameras pointed at the exceptionally small and grainy tv (no dish, no cable). I watched the whole thing through my viewfinder. Did I mention I was pregnant? Very pregnant? Well, as Neil and Buzz cavorted about on the moon with their cameras, the horizon went down and up and down and up and.... It took a lot, but I managed to keep my stomach from going up and down and up and out and.... There I was, on an airless, waterless moon, and I was seasick!

What a thrill! What excitement! We were on the moon!!! First stop in space exploration. Mars, here we come, ready or not!

When I got home, I called my Auntie Marie and asked if she'd seen it. Oh, yes, she'd seen it. Like everyone else who could get to a tv, she was enthralled. She remembered when the Wright Brothers flew for the first time, and she told anyone who would listen that she would live to see men land on the moon. She could picture space flight, but in her wildest imagination, she never saw remote tv. She thought she'd live long enough to read about it in the paper, see an article on the evening news, she was totally gobsmacked that she actually got to SEE it.

I miss my Auntie Marie, a whole lot. But I'm kind of glad she didn't live to see the space programs killed. That would have been a huge disappointment, not to mention heart ache, for her (as it was for a lot of us). And thank our lucky stars we now have Elon Musk! And Neil deGrasse Tyson! And other visionaries!

In the meantime, I truly don't think I can ever eat another spud. While I watched the horizon move down and up on the tube, and managed to keep my dinner where it belonged 48 years ago, I had a really hard time surviving all those days by eating spuds while stranded on Mars for about 18 months last week. My least favorite veggie to begin with and by the time I finished the book, I really don't like them. If you haven't yet read The Martian, I strongly suggest you do. It's worth the read. Just don't start it at bedtime. (And poor Marc Watney didn't even have hot sauce to make those spuds palatable!)

A most special thanks to those of my friends who graciously let me have part of their life-time supply of exclamation marks for the writing and publication of this blog. No exclamation marks, or friends, were harmed during the process.

Monday, July 17, 2017

I Have Attained My Super Power (Are You Jealous?)

Remember when you were a kidlet, and played Let's Pretend with your friends? When my friends and I played cowboys and Indians, I was always the Indian, by my choice, not luck of the draw. And I did not always die, and if I did, I took a lot of White Eyes with me. Sometimes we pretended to be the King, sometimes the Knight—Slayer of Dragons, Rescuer of Fair Maidens. Because, when I was that age, dragons were still horrible beasts, and could not be ridden. Now, I would be Rider of Dragons, Rescuer of Fair Hunks.

And, of course, we would choose our super powers. Some of us could fly, leap tall buildings, throw a really yuge and heavy hammer, crash golden bracelets together—I became invisible. That was the super power I wanted: Invisibility.

Me, as I wanted to appear as a child

I wanted to be able to pick on Mrs. H when she was our substitute teacher (I didn't much care for her), throw chalk at her, clap the erasers together over her head. I wanted to stay up late and read my library books (we didn't have TV). I wanted to be able to listen in on forbidden conversations, catch spies, stop crime before it happened. I wanted to be invisible!

Now that I am in my 70s, have more silver in my hair than brown, I have attained my super power. Yes, indeed, I am invisible!

A few months ago, I tripped shortly after I exited my car, and down I went. Dame Fortune smiled upon me (well, maybe it was a grimace, but she at least saw me) and tilted my collapsing self to the sidewalk, not the parking lot. People drove by and didn't see me in my bright and multi-colored quilted jacket lumped on the sidewalk. People walked by me, stepped around me, and at best made unkind remarks about being drunk so early in the morning (it was 0800), or how I should sleep in a shelter instead of out where children could see. NOT ONE PERSON SAW ME as a human in distress.

Selfie of me, as seen today

Fortunately, once my stars (bright and multi-colored) receded back into the heavens, I was able to take an inventory of my bones and hide; none were broken, but I couldn't get up. (Yes, the commercial is true: Help! I've fallen and I can't get up.) There was nothing near that I could grab to pull myself up. I was doomed to spend the rest of my life on that cold concrete, a whimpering lump of unseen brightly clothed invisibility.

Finally, a young man, I'm guessing about 17 years old, who looked like he was on the varsity wrestling team walked by. I called to him and asked his help. He seemed surprised—he apparently did not know sidewalks could talk—but his eyes quickly saw it was a lump of brightly colored person on the sidewalk who called to him, and he came over, easily pulled me to a vertical position, ascertained I was, in fact, okay and not drunk, and walked away.

Well, surely that was a one-time deal, right? Wrong. The other day I went into my most favoritest store in the whole wide world to buy some office supplies. I have shopped in this store for a dozen years. I know many of the people by name. I could not find what I needed. I could not find an employee to help me. If I saw a worker bee over there, by the time I got to over there to ask help, said worker bee had flitted off to somewhere else. I stood around looking lost. Finally, I decided they couldn't see me, so I came home and ordered what I wanted from

I have attained my super power, and it ain't as much phun as I thought it might be. I think I'll play Let's Pretend again, and be considerably younger!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Summer Quilts

Do y'all know what a summer quilt is? Chances are, if you live south of the Mason and Dixon Line, and were lucky in your choice of Grandmas, you not only know what they are, but have spent many a summer night under one. If you live to the north of said line, chances are you don't.

I'm not talking about the lightweight things you buy. I'm talking about the real deal. A summer quilt is a quilt top quilted to a backing, no batt in the middle. It's like sleeping under a couple of sheets instead of a blanket.

They are, or were, common in the South for those summer nights when it was too hot for a blanket, and too cool for just a sheet. I have two. They are not bed size, but what is commonly known as 'lap' sized, but the are large enough for me to sleep under, and boy Howdy! are they nice.

My mom's memory quilt, pieced
One is pieced. I have made memory quilts for people I knew and loved who have died, and could never find the right fabric or the right pattern for my mom's quilt. One day as I was looking through the fabric store for something else, the sales lady put a bold of fabric on the shelf in front of me – big, bold red hibiscus. The red hibiscus was my mom's favorite flower. I bought what I hoped would be enough to make her quilt. Turns out it was. And then, a few months later, my quilting magazine had the perfect pattern, so I took my fabric back to the fabric store and bought the rest of the stuff I needed. Then, maybe because it was summer or maybe because my mom didn't like blankets, I decided to make it a summer quilt. I love it, and it's large enough to nap under. I keep it on my sofa during the summer.

Whole cloth summer quilt
On another foray through a fabric store I found 3 or so yards of a bright fabric (I like brights, can you tell?), and bought it. Not sure what I was going to do, I waited a while, figured it out, and took it back to the store for some complimentary fabric for borders, and decided to make two whole cloth summer quilts. So far, I've got one finished. (Whole cloth—not cut and or pieced)

So I now have two summer quilts which I dearly love. They are perfect for those nights when it's too cool for just a sheet, but not cool enough for a light blanket. If you have a sewing machine, you, too, may have a summer quilt with just a wee bit of effort. ;-)

And, just so you know, I took the photos, I didn't steal them off the web ;-)

Monday, July 3, 2017

Celestial Bowling Tournaments

We had a thunderstorm the other night. They usually come to the desert, and roll right on through. This one reminded me of when I lived in Florida. The thunder rolled around up there for two hours or so, and the lightning lit up the skies. Alas, my enjoyment of such event came at a cost. Some homes were struck and burned to the ground. I prefer my storms to be a loud light show, with no damage done. The storm demolished the tent where Walmart was selling fireworks. Hoo-boy! Can you imagine what that would have looked like had lightning hit it?

I don't recall ever being afraid of thunder and lightning, perhaps I was once, as a small child, but Daddy explained it to me. And everybody knows Daddy's never lie to their daughters. It was, he said, nothing more than elves (or gnomes or maybe even Vikings. I don't remember perzactly) bowling in heaven. When the ball rolled down that heavenly alley, that's what we heard as thunder. When they hit the pins, we saw it as lightning. Now, after an explanation like that, who could fear?

The problem became not one of fear, but one of anger. Those elves (or gnomes or Vikings or whoevers) never invited me to play, too. And of course, I wasn't allowed outside in the storm to voice my opinion.

That's one of the things I really miss about Florida. They had some marvelous thunderstorms. Sometimes, the thunder was so close my house shook. Oddly, the cat slept right through them. So did the dog. Alas, I did not—I woke to listen, watch, and enjoy. It amazes me how many people I know who have had lightning strike their homes. Outside of Portland, Oregon; again in Port Charlotte, Florida; and other places. I am very fortunate, and I recognize that fact.

I prefer my elves, or gnomes, or Vikings or whoever Daddy said were bowling, to bowl in a far less destructive manner. Perhaps it's the Gnomes vs the Elves? Dragons vs Vikings? I do wish I could watch the tourney on the telly, really, I do.

Y'all have a Happy Fourth of July. And a safe one. Set your firecrackers off over a body of water, not your neighbors home, ok? And stay inside during those storms! One friend struck by lightning is enough, thank you!