Saturday, December 21, 2013


Ah! My soundtrack has been stuck on this one channel lately. It's like HATE FM or something. Someone (you get one guess) likes to tell endless stories about how x person did this evil/stupid thing and other stories about how she said this one super smart thing and nobody else got the joke and on and on. Oh my golly.

The hatey stories are so bad, I've started just interrupting with interested questions that divert the topic to harmless areas. For example! Suppose it's a story about how this person smoked for sixty years and of course she got eighteen kinds of cancer, it's her own stupid fault. (I've heard that one about ten times in the past week.) What you do is divert to some side topic. Where does she live? Does she have family nearby? What's that town like? Have you ever been there? Someone told me there's a beautiful old library nearby!

Otherwise it's pretty much grit the remaining teeth and spend as much time as possible elsewhere.

Though I am sort of interested in the pathology of it all. What makes old people go into HATE FM mode? I know it's pretty common, all that bitterness and anger and condemnation, plus the braggy superior side where they tell lots of stories about how they did it RIGHT unlike those other dopes.

D. and I have speculated that it's insecurity, defensiveness because they feel judged, a feeling of superiority that comes from sitting in judgment on others, and so on. 

My feeling is: think whatever the hell you want, but I don't want to listen to a litany of hate, thanks! I generally have to focus on the positive to keep my head above water.

Which is an apt metaphor given the outrageous amounts of rain now falling on the outrageous amounts of snow. Double the fun! So much water under the bridge!

Oooh, I should fight hate with platitudes. Especially Biblical ones, speaking of floods. Judge not, lest ye be judged. Love thy neighbor. And other King James things. Or even just: to each their own. It takes all kinds. Bless her heart. Whatever floats her boat. Nobody's perfect. 

And so on. I like it! All I need is a strategy other than banging my head on the table.

It all happens in the kitchen. She just NEVER leaves the kitchen these days, I have no idea why. I need to go down there to cook and eat although fasting is starting to sound really good right about now. I have an electric kettle! I have instant grits!

I don't know, there's a self-preservation line there somewhere. I'm not in the best shape lately and the Litany of Hate (TM) really gets me way, way down, not least because I know that as soon as I'm out of earshot, I'm the star of it. Oh yes. But that's always true with gossipy haters. Whoever isn't there is the target.

So anyway! I spent a bunch of time packing my dishes and kitchen stuff today, things that have been stored in the basement and have been variously dug through and disordered and have become disheveled. Get it, dish-sheveled? Ho ho!

I got most of that done before it got too basementy down there for me.

I have a plan, maybe, sort of? I think so. Pull the trailer up out of the barn tomorrow, set it up with those pads and a good solid tied-down tarp roof over the very high tarp floor, and get started loading it up. 

I think Friday is the earliest I could imagine scooting out of here but Monday is much more likely. I'd love to be at D's in Madison by New Year's Eve and spend a couple of days visiting. Then it would be a matter of assessing the weather to determine which route to take. The Great Plains are a force to be reckoned with, but going across on 40 isn't too much of a fun time either, really. I mean there's all of California to drive up in that case, which is just ridiculously exhausting and endless seeming. Though the 5 is really a very easy drive. The thing to avoid is the Rockies. 

Of course, depending on weather, it might be feasible to make a fast run across 90, if I could be sure I'd miss out on any crazy storms. That's by far the most direct route, though even thinking about Montana makes me very, very tired.

States that make me tired just thinking about driving their length: Montana, California, Kansas, Nebraska. And Pennsylvania I guess but I never have to go the whole length without a stop in the middle.

Packing is brutal. Oof! There's the disruption, and then there's the heavy lifting--ask my back about that right now--and then there's the existential despair of contemplating each item you own one by one. Why this spoon? Why?

Then there's the traileresque issue of what will fit, which is to say: not everything. I did look into trucks with trailers but it was stupidly expensive. And then they called me every day for a while, wondering why I didn't rent one, which was also annoying, though you can't really blame them.

You've got your clothes and shoes. Your dishes and pots and pans. Your furniture. Your oddments like Christmas decorations and action figures. Your kayak and canoe, of course. And your books. And tools. Oh yes and guns. I wonder if they would fit in my big blue trunk, which can be locked up tight? 

No bed, no tv, only about half the furniture, half the clothes (the half I actually wear, ha ha!) and only the books I have with me, which might even mean the whole thing is realistic. Yowza!

So anyway that's what I've been up to these days. Whee! Thinking, packing, contemplating spoons, trying to tune out the constantly blaring Hate Channel. Shredding all the old bills and things. Considering maps. 

And trying to get my glasses fixed, ugh! No success there. The latest incarnation drags at my right eye so badly I had to stop wearing them. It still hurt the next morning from the night before. Madness! Now I'm wearing my old ones, which hit the same spot, of course. I need anti-gravity hovering glasses that stay the prescribed distance from my eyes but do not poke me in the nose, squeeze my skull, or drag on my ears. Honestly, glasses. Is that so much to ask?

My mom's hand mixer and sewing machine both just turned up their toes, so I got my hand mixer out and fully intend to sneak off without it. I offered my sewing machine, but it's so effed up, it's really hard to sew anything with it. It goes out of adjustment every five minutes. Dude, maybe I won't even bring it! I would definitely replace it at long last if I did that. It is *very* heavy and unwieldy and also did I mention it doesn't work right? Yes!

See, that's my frame of mind lately. Yay, I can leave it behind! I'm not remotely taking everything. I have a vague plan to drive out in the summer and visit and collect everything else, but of course I'll have a new bed by then, won't I? My mattress seems to have taken a sudden turn for the uncomfortable, not sure how that happened. Don't they usually get uncomfortable gradually? Not suddenly? But it's like it just gave up the ghost. Welp, it said. I quit. 

I might take the frame, though. I like the frame. 

Guess what was in the attic? A mouse! Yes! But guess what else? My old easel from when I was a kid! It's awesome. It's BLUE. It has two blue chalkboard sides. I adore this thing. I was in there getting some unused flat cardboard boxes that I'll need to render three-dimensional and got the easel out too. 

Don't you think your possessions should totally make you go OH BOY!!! and/or YAY!!! instead of "Ugh, why do I even have this?"

I'm pretty outrageously excited about the whole thing, I have to tell you. SERIOUSLY EXCITED. But I'm also aware it'll be extremely stressful in the brainpan and I know I don't have a lot of resiliency in the emotional/whatever area these days. It's true. I get all wigged out over little things, never mind zooming off into the wild blue yonder with nowhere to land when I get there. Though actually I have a bunch of friends out there who would totally put me up, including dog and cat. So that makes it a lot less stressful. 

It also helps that it's pretty awful here lately. I know holidays are hard and whatnot, but I'm pretty tired of being the punching bag and getting a constant stream of criticism and comment and negativity poured on my head. Because it also means THAT WILL STOP which is a major energizing factor to get me out out out of here. I really really need it to STOP.

Like this: my new glasses fitted my face fine for what, three weeks? Four? But everything went parallelograms when I turned my head, which made me dizzy and sick, so I got them adjusted. He made that go away, but they hit my cheeks with the new angle. That was uncomfortable, as was the new head-squeezing, so I went back, etc., and now they're unwearable. But what is the comment I get repeatedly? They would be okay on a normal person's face but mine is TOO BIG, meaning too fat, and that's why they don't work. Never mind that they were fine for weeks and weeks with my same face, right? 

If there's any way to turn anything into a nasty reflection on me, she does it. What a miserable way that must be to live. It's plenty miserable just being around it!

Let's think things like: if I do this right, I can be out in a week. A WEEK. Ten days! Two weeks! It reminds me that I'm in control of what I do and when and where I go and how I get there. Which is true and always has been but I think I forget when someone keeps hitting me on the head with a hammer. 

Anyway. Happy Solstice and all! I baked a cake! You can totally have some! I'm way too full for it but maybe later, and then certainly for breakfast. Oatmeal cake for breakfast, gosh, it's practically the same thing as having oatmeal! I know! 

Maybe the antibiotics are kicking in or maybe it's the prozac but today I'm feeling much more like an actual person than yesterday. Yesterday I wanted to smash everything. But instead I read a book and knitted and snuggled the housepets. Good girl!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Make haterade?

When life gives you haters, make haterade? I would but only if it involved some cranial facsimile of an orange juicer. Their crania, not mine.

I disapprove of people telling me their constant litany of hate. CAN YOU IMAGINE?

I strongly suspect I would not be such a misanthrope if the anthropoids I'm around weren't so persistently, even perniciously, negative. Hate hate hate! Hate this person, hate that person, this person is disgusting, that person is stupid and useless! Oh my golly, this is not how I want to use my ears, listening to that bile!

So I'm the headphone queen now. I have these big blue headphones (of course) that were like $5 in the Walmart checkout aisle a month ago. They have the benefit of being visible. Oh and they don't fall out of my ears like earbuds do, because of that close encounter with a telephone pole that one time while I was riding my bike. Whoops!

I wonder how long it would take to fill the bathtub with hot water one cup at a time? Or whether I could run a garden hose from the bathroom sink? Hmmmm. Hmmm, she says. Hmmmmm.

What are you up to today, internet? I'm avoiding unpleasantness, as we discussed above.

My uncle died, see, and my mom hates his side of the family, the side she never ceases to tell me I take after. Well, I look just like my dad and uncle did: tall, red wavy hair, etc. Cut from the same exact cloth. So it's hard to listen to the endless haterade about how awful he was and how Those People Are All Crazy and how that family is so terrible because of this one thing someone said once. And so on. Miserable.

It's episodic, or anecdotally episodic. I get constant stories about how so and so did this one thing one time! And that proves he/she was evil and worthless and a liar and scum!

In other words, it's auditory poison and I'm very very very very sick of it. I try to avoid it by not being in the same room or earshot but hello, barging into rooms where I am, also bellowing loudly on the phone in the next room.

I kind of started screaming when the next room bellowing began today, because I'd already run away from it and there was nowhere else to run. Not really actual screaming. But saying loudly "NO NO NO NO NO MAKE IT STOP I CAN'T LISTEN TO THIS ANYMORE" and then I turned out loud music and then I put in the earbuds and then the earbuds fell out and then I got my blue headphones. Ahhhhhh.

So anyway. Hi!

This is why I stay up all night, to avoid and avoid. But then, you know, it doesn't help, so I might as well get up early. It's better for you, right? I wake up in the morning and think, "Ugh, why would I want so much of *this*?" which I think makes more sense when you consider what *this* includes. Awfulness, that's what. It's awful. It's poisonous.

There! Now I'm done complaining about that.

Let's figure out which Portland. Holy goodness, how can I not know this?

Conversation with my friend D. pointed out that my sudden anxiety about being the aunt who lives alone super far away might be related to the news of the long-ago death of my uncle who lived alone super far away.

I know my family's kind of toxic, but it's the one you get, right? I mean obviously I need to be farther away than a thin wall (scream, scream) but you know, how far? Of course you can visit from far away. The niece and nephew's aunt on the other side lives in flipping Thailand and they still see her once in a while.

Cities! They are expensive. I've been researching housing, of course. Near city: expensive! Prohibitively. Away from city: much cheaper, and also where I want to be anyway. Win! Except that an hour commute in the snow is a different animal from an hour commute in the rain.

I could really use a therapist type person on this one! An unbiased person who can listen and hear and analyze and bounce back. Not that I've ever had one, but I've heard. Well, I met with that one back in Maine twice, but all he did was tell me to meditate. I think when you tell everyone the same approach, you are a guy with a hammer who sees everything as a nail. They aren't all winners, we know this.

I'm in a state of extreme waffledom. I like thinking about packing up everything I own into a big yellow truck and driving down to the interstate and having to decide: east or west? Ha! Obviously west. OBVIOUSLY. That's not even a question. I have never, ever liked living in the east, and by east I mean east of Ohio and Michigan.

Let's pro and con it.

Why stay east? To see the fam. However, I've BEEN east and I rarely see them. Here I am in the miserable east, land of Sauron and orcs and all sorts of unpleasantness, and I see them maybe twice a year, and that's with their mother/grandma in the same house. East does not mean visits.

We could go back and forth on whether I should actually stick around for the family toxicology anyway, but that's another question, isn't it?

Here's another major incentive to get the hell away from all that snowfall: my dog is very short. I had to shovel him a path through the yard this past storm and it wasn't even all that deep. Shoveling flipping hurts. Snowblower hurts. Poor hands! My hands hurt like hell no matter what. So that's a thing.

Big yellow trucks. Mmm, mmm, mmm. I'm so happy when traveling in a big yellow truck, with all my stuff neatly packed away and labeled and my animals right there with me, everything contained and safe and there. Oh oh oh. No wonder I have such RV fantasies!

It would really need a bathtub, though. I'm afraid that's non-negotiable.

There are lovely houses in Independence, Oregon, which also has the benefit of the BEST TOWN NAME EVER on top of being right near my favorite town to live in. And there are all sorts of other positive things thereabouts, I kid you not. It's a town I used to drive through and think, "This is some kind of paradise." Those rolling soft hills around the Willamette River. Mmmmm.

I was thinking about how I feel about Maine, also. How do I feel about Maine? I hated living there. Hated it. Where I lived, everyone was incredibly rejecting of anyone and anything they hadn't already known their whole lives. Speaking of negativity! That was negativeland. It's also miserable there physically for about 85% of the year, either a frozen wasteland with feet of snow or a humid bog full of vicious stinging insects.

I imagined a conversation with J. and had to laugh at myself because of it. It went like this:

"I can't decide. Portland, Oregon, or Portland, Maine?"
"I thought you hated living in Maine."
"I did."
"I thought you loved living in Oregon."
"Yeah, I did."


Anyway the things I would go back for are like that kind of deal writers make with...who? when they move to L.A. If I do x, I will get y! But nobody signed that deal, dude. So my deal saying that if I go back there, I will get happy family time is equally imaginary. Just because I want it doesn't mean it's a thing that will happen.

Whereas I can definitely count on the rain and the coast and all the lush misty green.


I just typed something about a "hatefest" in a text message and autocorrect changed it to "hated east." HA!!!!

QED, bunnies.

Dweedle dweedle dweedle

Oh, hi there!

I had this absolutely firm plan to take the knock-out pills at midnight and go to sleep at a reasonable hour, preparatory to taking them at 10 pm or possibly even earlier, and going to sleep at an even MORE reasonable hour. But then I was busy sewing applique hearts and flowers and butterflies and soccer balls on my royal blue hoodie to cover up the holes the pupper bit in the sleeves. And finishing The Night Circus simultaneously and at the same time.

So I'm still awake. Mr. Dog has been snoozing ecstatically in the middle of the bed for hours. It's all warm and blissful in here. Nowhere in the house is warm and cozy except the bedrooms, some of which are offices. But that's a little anti-social. Still, though. I get so cold and drafty and brrrrrr, and my dog gets miserable, so we retire up here. Then my mom comes by and says "Knock knock" outside the curtain over the door and I say, "Who's there?" because that's the appropriate answer. Ha!

I still have a stack of butterflies and soccer balls to sew on. but the pointy daisies are on, except the stems. Sewing on appliques is strangely satisfying. Also it's nice to have things there instead of holes in my garment sleeves, right? 

Luna Lovegood would totally do it. So I'm within my rights.

Hey, remember how my little nephew kept calling me Grandma? I love that. But even better, he now calls me Grandma Aunt because I guess people kept correcting him when he'd call me Grandma. They're like, "No, she's your aunt," and he compiles that data with his absolute conviction that all female relatives are grandmas and comes up with Grandma Aunt. 

I love it! I really do. I have my own personal invented family name spontaneously created by a child! How cool is that? 

Also it reminds me of Aunt Thing from those books, you know. 

My mind went blank on the author and the title. Bluh!

Madeleine L'Engle, of course. A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and all that, but what was the first one called? Oh man.

I got out a puzzle and have been working on it around the little teeny potted Christmas tree and the heaped up loot. There is not quite enough room to work with, alas. Also it's bloody freezing in there. Coldest room in the coldest house. Brrrrr. But the puzzle time did allow me to think through some big things and helped me figure out plans and all that, like knowing what I actually want. Imagine! Knowing what you want!

Crazy talk, I tell you what.

And in case I forget later (guaranteed) my favorite Woodchuck Cider is the Summer one. Something about the spices. Mmmmmm! In a case you get three wild card bottles, which in my case (ha ha!) came out to be Summers. Yum yum. I love the Woodchuck Cider so much anyway and now this!

Seems absurd to imagine I might possibly be moved in a couple of weeks. That's because it's probably absurd. But possible. It really is. I have trouble wrapping my head around these things. But it's just a matter of upping and doing it. Now is better than later. My next Online Job iteration starts the 7th and it'll be all work work work once that gets going again. So really time is of the essence here.

I made insanely good gingerbread cookies, that kind of chewy perfection that makes me really wish I'd followed a recipe to get them that way, instead of changing all the ingredients around to suit my impulses of the moment. Good impulses as it turned out!

All you have to do is write "You'll hardly believe this recipe is low fat!" for me to triple the butter. Well, from 6 T to 16. What? Sugar cookies take 16. It's not like it's unheard of. Then I also added half a cup of white sugar since it didn't call for any. And more flour to make up for the extra butter. And I think more molasses and more brown sugar, too.

They're stupidly good but utterly destroy my innards. Ow ow ow. I can't think why. It's just cookies. But then, I really can't chew anything these days, which wreaks havoc with the digestion. Don't think so? Swallow a bunch of carrot slices whole and see what happens. A clue: it isn't good.

Tonight I also wanted popcorn, of course, speaking of things I can't chew, so I melted some butter and then had to throw it out. It was the neighbor's organic butter and it smelled HORRIBLE heated up. I don't know what was going on there but that was a seriously gross smell. Holy yuck! I'm not sure I'll be  able to eat any more of it even un-heated. Oy. Bleah. 

So much for the butter of visible cows. 

I melted some regular butter right after that and it smelled great. Like, you know, butter. Huh.

It takes a whole Wonderfalls episode to darn a pair of hand-knitted wool socks back into wearability. But that's okay because a) yay, Wonderfalls! and b) yay, wearable wool socks! Really it's win-win.

I'm not sure I liked The Night Circus because the magic was all whatever you want whenever you want it with no rules or form or logic whatsoever. Just, like, I want it to do this! And so it can! But it can't do that, no. I hate illogical systems of any kind, I swear. Because they're not systems. They're easy and convenient and lazy and sloppy, is what I'm trying to say.

Whereas a Briggs and Stratton engine, oh the bliss! I love them so much. This is the choke, this is the prime, this is the fuel cut-off, this is the starter. This deep and abiding love of small engines stretches to include pre-computer car engines, also, even though they're really not the same. But they're lovely and orderly. Things! They are made of parts! They work for reasons!

I got to snowblow the whole endless driveway today, very fun and satisfying except that holding down the two levers to make the thing go is utterly excruciating to my hands. Or wrists. I'm not sure where the pressure is happening that makes it hurt so much, but it's the kind of thing where you want to scream and vomit and fall down and writhe in the snow. Or, you know, at least let go of the handle grips. 

I really can't keep on doing this. It had to get done and my mom didn't want to do it, though. We got about ten inches of snow, though it squished down a lot overnight with the freezing rain on top of it. I actually got the snowblower out for her, then I thought I'd try it and make sure the snow wasn't going to clump all up anyway, then I have a really hard time stopping doing things so I did the whole thing, vomitous pain and all. Oh man. Even in retrospect that pain is way beyond anything manageable. I do think it's kind of entertaining that the whole time I'm like, "This is unendurable. I'll just go up and down this half mile driveway one more time." Or however long it is. It probably seems like a quarter mile when I'm not going ow.

I really wonder if it is somehow hitting pressure points? Or if it happens to hit me right in the worst arthritis joint in all those little handly/wristly bones? Don't know. But ow. Shoveling is vastly more work but vastly less pain.

Whoops, quarter to two. Going to sleep fail! Must hop in bed. I wake up at about 11:59 every morning, I have no idea why. Well, I'm in solstice darkness zombie zone or something, I do not know. But given all the heinous tasks I'm completing each day, I guess it's working out all right. 

Here are the requirements for a place to live:

sufficient space inside house
little traffic
green space nearby
house, not apt.
yard, either fenced or fence-capable
garage if in snowy zone
nice neighbors
not within earshot of a *&$^%)$ shooting range
garden space
insulated so that heat isn't $600/month
reasonable/short drive to work, store, library, post office, and fun stuff like museums and music venues, not to mention places to put the kayak in the drink and paddle around
knitting group
writing group
heck, D&D!
friendly people who want to hang out and knit/quilt/whatever while watching sci-fi tv on dvd and drinking adult beverages
friendly dogs that my dog can hang out with and play with
dog-friendly venues like parks and lakes and things
miles and miles of good dog walks, with occasional bathrooms for humans
mulberry trees!
good stores for food
good comfy coffee shop for sociable writing
clean air
Guinness draft
ability to play instruments without bugging anyone

I think there are probably requirements I've forgotten. What are they? Like a yarn store, gosh! And a bookstore, man! And Thai food. Mmmmm.

Oh boy, that sounds like a fabulous place to be, doesn't it? 

For housing search perspective I looked around in places I used to live. It highlighted to me that part of the alienation of the process is looking in unfamiliar places. It's infinitely easier when you know just by looking at the address what the neighborhood is like and whether that's a good price, or whether it's totally not worth it due to considerations like a huge busy street nearby or belligerent shirtless meth heads. Heh.

I wouldn't consciously choose places today where I've lived happily for many years in the past, which also tells me a lot about the process and how the brains are coping with it. Hang in there, brains! We can do this!

I keep rereading Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, which is about this guy who has utterly failed to get on with his life following a major crisis, who then in the course of the book does manage to do it, but screws it up so very badly, but then manages to pull it together after all. Doesn't that sound like a smallish story? But it's huge! I'm a big fan of the pulling it together after all story. Oh yes yes yes.

Thinking about my new future location I keep picturing myself running around all speedy with black leggings and black boots, which is absurdly specific and also absurdly mundane because that's totally what I wear all the time. It's like saying I'm running around with arms and legs. It's like my uniform. But what I mean is the running around part, because if you live in a rural area or small town, you pretty much drive places. You don't run around in paved areas with lighted storefronts. What am I trying to say? That's the difference. Not slogging to and from cars through parking lots, but zooming around places with sidewalks and places you can walk into. Being afoot and mobile. But with snow and real dark. 

Wrapping my head around things: always the most complicated part! Especially when I don't have any real data yet because it's to be determined. Hey! How about going to sleep, huh? Try again tomorrow for the midnight pill time. Hup hup!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Oh Kafka, my Kafka!

The state just wrote me a letter to say I had to go sign up on this website or all hell would break loose. You did not sign up for the thing that we never told you to sign up for, within the time frame we did not tell you about! Bad person! Bad!

I went to the website and signed up.

But then it said: you have signed up previously, so give us your Participant ID or you can go no further. We know what it is but you don't. But you have to give it to us or you're screwed.

Press this button for us to mail you your Participant ID. It will take six weeks to arrive.

Press this button for us to email you your Participant ID. The one we know and you don't. We'll email it to you so you can type it in this little window here. Yes. I hope you gave us your email previously, because there's no place to enter it in here. Tick tock!

They emailed it to me. But my email won't open the message. Ha! Like, it actually crashes my email when I try.


How are you doing, huh? Me, I'm cold. I don't know what's going on. I have never been this cold. Normally I'm never cold at all. Like I could be out running around and it's really insanely cold out and maybe my fingers or toes or nose might get a little chilly. But I'm freezing even in warm rooms and just forget about going outside. It feels about 25 degrees F colder to me than it really is. That's a lot!

I come inside and look at the thermometer and it's like 23 degrees out, which is not even coat-worthy in my world. Maybe a jacket if it's windy. But I'm frozen through. Why???

I have no idea.


Also I'm doing not much besides sleeping. Oh, the sleeping! Sit me down for a second and I'm out. Put an animal near me and I'm out even faster. Like, sleeping deep enough that I dream. I did it today after breakfast, which was at 12:30 because I'd just woken up. Up in the office at 1:30, sat on the couch, tipped over, boom. Except then I got really cold and woke up.

I'm not really doing much besides my giant plumbing endeavor, and that only rarely. Like I did it yesterday for a million hours but the result was not only that I half destroyed the laundry room, which has the misfortune of being located one floor down from my bathroom, but that there is now no running water in my bathtub/shower. Which there was before. At least in the bathtub, if not in the shower.

I sort of lost the pipe that goes up to the shower. It's inside the wall. I mean, it's attached at the top end, but it swung and got hooked behind some stud and now I can't tell exactly where it is. Somewhere out of view (the entire thing is out of view, one reason it's such a headache) and out of reach. I figure I'll unbend a coat hanger and fish around in there for it. I started to do that before replacing the destroyed ceiling tiles in the laundry room, but then every time I touched anything, more shoals of mouse poo fell into my hair, so I STOPPED. Obviously.

There are two more ceiling tiles with wet spots but I kind of hit my ceiling (so to speak) with regard to gross-out factor after the first one tilted and poured a quart of brown water full of the aforementioned mouse poo etc. right down the back of my t-shirt collar. Like that was pretty much one of your grosser experiences and I don't even want to think about it. Certainly don't consider the smell, for example.

No wonder my brain keeps shutting down and making me fall asleep, huh? Except it did that before this even happened.

So it's back into my Professor McGonagall robes over wool sweater over long-sleeved knit dress over leggings, out of sheer coldosity.

I watched the 5th Harry Potter movie last night, speaking of Her Awesomeness, and man! Is that ever dull! It's so dull. Like it's just flat, isn't it? Though I love Luna of course and the DA and the scary big fight in the Ministry, that whole big sequence, actually. But the only really great and glorious part is when the twins decide to go out with a bang. Maybe it was partly the terrible old tv I was watching it on, one of those very early flat-screens with no resolution--someone gave it to me, must get rid of it--but it was really surpassingly dull in its execution. Like, if I wasn't already in love with everything, I'd have zoned out. (I kind of did zone out.)

So anyway hum de hum. I really need to get the damn plumbing fixed before I can zoom off north, and I really need to stay conscious for whole hours at a time to accomplish that. Also I have an appointment with my lovely PA doctor person on the 17th which is when? Tuesday. I have to get cracking here. Except if she decides I do have Lyme (which would explain all the frozen sleepy ice queen zombie behavior) then I might have another issue to deal with. Oomph.

Employment! I am vigorously interested in the subject! My transcripts all arrived, which means I need to fill out the paperwork and write some checks for the Maine dept. of education thing. If it goes well--and I have no reason to expect that it won't--I could be certified to teach high school English in Maine by Christmas. Or whenever, you know. I also need to make sure to cover some more bases and get the certification (with more checks) for Latin at least, and probably should do German and maybe French. I'm out of practice but it's like falling off a bike!

Artie in one of the Warehouse 13 episodes I just saw gets dropped through a trap door and calls up, "No, it's okay, the floor broke my fall." Yay!!! Warehouse 13, man, I just love that show. How soon can I get season five? How about NOW? Now would be good. Or sooner. Some of the time it's just the pure execution and delivery of the lines that makes me laugh so hard I endanger my drawers, like Pete saying, "Oooooo, sometimes this job can be so GROSS!"

I thought of you when the Mouskie Falls ran down my shirt, Pete. And all you had to deal with was a box made of a Russian terrorist's skin! Okay, yours was grosser. Carry on.

I will never, ever eat anything with those chocolate sprinkles on top, though. NEVER. In fact I firmly predict projectile vomiting if you even put that in front of me. Get out of here with your sprinkles!

Jeez, this website. I'm going back and forth so that I don't lose my whole bag of marbles. I hope you don't mind! You have my full attention! When I'm here. It knows all of my previous employment up to like 2006. It knows an awful lot! Gosh.

I have a hard time knowing what to redact. On the one hand, I will certainly quit a job when told by the manager to lie to the state inspectors. Not just lie, but actively deceive through my actions and behavior. On the other hand, I don't think I need to spell that out, do you? One would assume that someone asked by a supervisor to behave in an illegal manner would quit that job. Right? I mean, I assume ethics and such as a given. I don't need to stand up and say I Am Ethical, do I?

I find myself thinking fondly of my college dining hall jobs, where I was very, very warm. I scrubbed pots! I ran the dishwasher! I served french fries and hot dogs and tortellini! Oh those tortellini...yum. I find myself thinking about what jobs sound *warm.* Restaurants sound warm to me. Oh my golly I just cannot get warm. My hands are ice and I'm shivering at my desk. I'm sure it's about 70 degrees in here.

I keep on climbing in bed because it's the only way I can get warm. And then...zonk! Asleep for a couple of hours.

In summary, productivity has dipped to an all-time low over the last week! Yesterday's plumbing disastravaganza notwithstanding.

The plumbing part actually wound up kind of in a good place, in that I installed cut-offs for the water right before the bathtub/shower, so that I don't have to shut off water to the whole house to work on it, which was certainly a deterrent before.

The Trader Joe's peppermint bark: it comes in a very pretty tin, but you get six big tiles of it, not a lot of broken pieces, like I somehow expected. Goodness! It's a pound tin so that's a hefty amount in each tile or slab.

They did not think this through. I can't even bite through this bark. It's like actual bark! But more minty.

I love Samantha Irby's bitter Christmas letter mad lib type thing here. And I totally want to make that steak, oh my golly. People have more sense than to send me asinine Christmas letters glorying in their good fortune, but I do get pictures of their kids I've never met. I will never understand that. Why would you send me a Christmas card with pictures of your kids? We are unacquainted. I'm trying to see it from a parental perspective but I'm still not getting it.

Maybe they make them for family and then send them to others out of habit. That's probably it.

I'm not interested in pictures of children I've never met, even if they are close relatives of people I care a lot about. They aren't you, your kids. They're not you. I guess I summed this up by saying I would never understand it, right? Consider it my own failing!

The peppermint bark turned out to be quite delicious once I managed to break a corner off one of the slabs. Even that was super hard.

Question: am I dramatically enfeebled, or is this some feisty peppermint bark?

What fun to relive all of my dreadful jobs from the past nine years! My goodness. It is severely tempting at times like these to go snuggle up on the comfy couch (the one I made) with my puppy and cat and pull a stack of quilts over us and just stay here writing things. Thinking about organizing and hauling and driving and finding and learning and unpacking makes me make grim noises of misery.

I had to throw all kinds of heavy objects around in the garage today to find this apron my brother wants me to replicate for my nephew's day care and it was so much effort I want to lie down just from thinking about it. I found it, though. And I have the fabric ready. It's just a matter of zzzzzzzzzzzz......

Oh! I did do a lot of shopping the other day. It was glorious! And fun! And exhausting! And I got to do a puzzle/game in Starbucks for ages until I got too cold (a theme!) and then had their clam chowder, which was fantastic. Is that in all of the stores? Because get it, if it is. Mmmmm.

Christmas shopping, so fun. I went all around the bookstore collecting loot like a hunter/gatherer. Well, a gatherer. I did not have to slay the Frog and Toad books. As usually I wanted all the awesome giant puzzles but acquired none of them because I have a stack of them already that I've never done. And it's far too cold (ahem) in the dining room to work on one. Oh man. Every time I check my temperature it's down near hypothermia levels, so I'm not going into that dining room. Forget it!

It's funny to be like, "I'm freezing! I must have a fever!" and then check and it's 96. Heh. Not so much a fever. What's the opposite of a fever? There should be a name for that.

Well, Kafka's website and I are getting along now, more or less, though reliving the employment fiascos of the last several years has been less than a party but still better than the ceiling tile mouse sewage Niagara, so there's that. Modified yay!

I need some hot soup, or possibly popcorn with a bunch of cayenne. How did I get out of Trader Joe's without any miso? Daft!

I'm sure in a day or week or whatever all this will be resolved and I'll be like, "What? Who sat around reading Hyperbole and a Half over and over and slipping in and out of consciousness? Nonsense!"

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Ugh, the bug! It is kicking my bottom with all of its many tiny feet. What is this vile thing? And why won't it go away?

I'm okay if I don't eat, but then eventually I eat, and then WOE, with the nausea and headache and vertigo and malaise. Not malaise. What's the word I'm searching for? Maybe it is malaise.

Ugh, malaise sounds like a disgusting condiment now. No I do NOT want any on my sandwich! Nor do I want a sandwich. I even made plain barley soup today. Barley, garlic, bouillon. I can't shake the smell of it and even though it tasted good at the time, the smell is making me ill.

Sorry smell. I know, it's me, not you. 

My poor dog seems to be terrified of my brother-in-law, who does tend to grab at dogs in a big terrifying way. He's like a non-native speaker of dog. He wants to roughhouse the second he arrives, while my dog is still not even sure they're not scary alien intruders he needs to defend against. And so: the dog spent about 48 hours clinging to me. Or stuck to me like a barnacle, more like. 

This morning after they were gone, he and I were in the office and he heard grandma open a door down the hall. He looked up at me in utter consternation and leapt into my arms where I sat in the office chair. He's got a good vertical leap, that dog! He's short but stocky so I'm very impressed with his jumping abilities. Also he weighs about 40-45 lbs now, all muscle and adorability, so it's kind of like being tackled by a large warm cuddly calzone.

Mmm, calzone. No, wait, I would feel like I was going to die if I ate one of those. But doesn't it sound good? Maybe I'll make pizza tomorrow after all, since even the barley soup, a Mesolithic food if ever there was one, made me feel deathly ill. I actually Took To My Bed in the sense that I felt so awful I just crawled in, fully dressed, with my wool hat on and my hood pulled up over the hat. I have burning red cheeks and freezing extremities. 

It's all very dramatic in a completely mild way. And I'm sure it'll pass any day now. Right? Sure!

Meanwhile I'm happy with my rabbit hole, pulling apart the genealogy of ancient scripts and learning all sorts of things left and right. It was very fun to have my sister visiting because she is astoundingly well read in all areas of life. For instance she knows all about the Phoenicians, which I had not the slightest clue about except something about purple. That is very little to know about an enormous culture! Also maybe a reed boat that Thor Heyerdahl crossed the Atlantic in, maybe?

I read all of Thor Heyerdahl's books in high school, one of those binges I used to go on. (Ha! Used to. Ha!) But given how long ago it was, my memories are a little fuzzy. 

Anyway we had a fun time discussing the various theories and looking at maps for hours and she even went out back by the creek to assess the cup carved into a boulder there. She agrees with me that it's clearly a human artifact. I noticed things I hadn't before, since I hadn't ever really studied up on this until, oh, Tuesday. Monday? This week, anyway. 

It looks like the result of incomplete rotation. Say you put a key in a lock and turn it almost all the way one way, then almost all the way the other way, leaving a wedge shaped gap at the top and bottom. That's the shape of this cup. In fact, it has two layers that show that movement. 

It's odd but the research says these cups in the Americas tend to have a raised bump in the middle, sort of like a navel might, but elsewhere they don't. This one does. I just think that is so interesting.

This is why you'll find me gazing into the muddy leaf mould and thinking about how difficult it would be to move that boulder and take it with me. It's not even that huge. I'd say twice the size of the ones I moved out of my garden in 2012. Twice the size of the ones that were so heavy, I couldn't begin to lift them, but moved them nonetheless, right?

I do not think I'm taking the boulder with me. But still! With my new cup-vision, I wonder how many more I'll see around everywhere? I have to start tagging them with the iphone so I have the coordinates. I already couldn't find one over by that bridge near the rock pile to show my sister. There's another one up the hill but it's on the path.

So. Yeah! 

It's a standing joke that it's not a Burns family gathering until someone has consulted a reference work. And we consulted many! My goodness. I think we beat any previous record by a mile. 

I forgot Christmas was coming because I'm out here in the Appalachian outback where I see nothing to remind me. Should I decorate? What should I do? I'm not so much of two minds about it as of about .23 minds. Gosh I'm all limp and wan and feeble. I wonder what's up?

There are echoing rumbles like distant thunderstorms happening here, but I suspect they merely point to the ascendency of whatever evil bug has taken up residence in my innards. Shhhhh. Thank goodness there isn't lightning in there to go along with it!

Barley is supposed to encourage the growth of helpful bacteria in your insides. Also brown rice. I can't really chew any of it so I'm not sure it's going to work, but it's worth a shot. I ate up the yogurt. I need to get out and buy food at some point. It's something I'm avoiding because of You Know, the furtive anabasis, but people have to eat. Don't they? 

I have a whole lot of Amish cheese from across the road, though. Mmmm. Not that I would go near it. But the thought of it is lovely. Also I bought a pound of butter packed into its container. It doesn't come cubes or whatever. I love having the butter of the cows I can see from here. Yum, the butter of visible cows! Yum, the cheese likewise!

I did decide to have wine yesterday because of St. Paul of course, not that he's my favorite guy at all, but he did happen to write that line about "Take a little wine, for your stomach's sake." Of course I couldn't remember where so had to look it up. More reference works! It's 1 Timothy 5:23. We were joking we should go to sporting events and hold up that Bible reference like they do with John whatever it is. 10:19? I don't know, I don't watch football.

I like John better. John's way better than all that St. Paul, anyway. I know you can spot someone raised Lutheran a mile away by their predilection for the first four books, but my hostility toward Paul is entirely based on his writings, so there. Every once in a while, usually while heroically bored in church, I'd start reading the Gospels, until they realized the reason I was toting my red Bible to church was for entertainment purposes and took it away. Stop that! Reading the Bible in church? What are you doing?

Hee. Anyway I'd get through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and Acts, and then not even halfway through Paul's various letters before I got all mad at him and stopped and skipped ahead or just put the thing down and stopped reading. 

You can credit those Bibles they gave us at Sunday School with my fascination with ancient writing, by the way, because they had excellent notes in the back, all kinds of indices and explanations and scholarly material. There was also a good introduction, with maps! I sure do love a good map.

The Phoenicians were the Canaanites for anyone looking for a thematic throughline.

It was supposed to snow 5-8 inches but instead we got like an inch and a half and it melted off the driveway on its own, thank goodness, because noodles look at me all enviously these days and wish they could aspire to my slumpitude.

I think there's another storm coming? Or something? I don't know. Honestly I just have to kick this bug before I can do anything. I sprained my left thumb again (re-injured it for the umpteenth time) by lifting the massive World Atlas so clearly I can't be allowed to do much of anything.

Though I am going to bake gingerbread cookies. Mmmm. And maybe those excellent chocolate sandwich cookies with the mint filling with the crushed up peppermints in it. I'd use puffy mints instead of candy canes, though. 

There's a fabulous graduate program at Brown in Ancient Western Asian Studies. Isn't that fantastic? I could totally go for that. This week. I'd get in and thrive, too. My sister pointed out I have a totally solid academic background in paleography and ancient languages, not to mention that I've worked multiple places as an actual paleographer, one of how many in this country? Ten? Twenty? If there are twenty working paleographers, I'll knit my hat. (Because there totally might be. I have no idea.) Point being I'm not some random flake off the old flintstone.

My sister had the best Neolithic joke, oh boy! She wins. I was like, "You win!" We were discussing these various crackpot theories about the Danube culture and their script and how people put them forward without regard to fair consideration of all the facts, and she said, "Well, they have an adze to grind." Which is SUCH a fantastic Neolithic joke!

And then grandma said that there was an adze up on the top shelf of the desk I was using, my dad's old desk, which I haven't cleared off or even messed with much except to push the clutter back a bit. An adze? On the desk I'm using? I didn't believe it, and we went and looked, and it wasn't there. But then I did remember that he had one ages ago. Where did it go? Where is the adze of our father? 

The Funk and Wagnall's multi-language dictionary with all the words listed in parallel is missing, too. That's the dictionary that made me reinvent the wheel when I was like, "Epiphany! Many of these European languages seem to share common roots!" Which of course the writers and publishers knew, because that's why they were putting them side by side, but I didn't know that.

Where is the adze? Where is the Funk and Wagnall's? Must interrogate brother. Odds are high that my mom told him he could take them then forgot and now has no idea. She's done that to me a million times. And then she's outraged at the looting which is nothing of the sort.

I must show you some of the insanely adorable pictures of my dog hiding under a quilt on my lap to avoid the alarming people nearby. The whole dog, under the quilt. He was very warm and cuddly to snuggle with. Kitty sensibly stayed upstairs under the bed the whole time. 

Well I spent a lot of today watching Warehouse 13 (thematic throughline! ancient artifacts!) and putting that flannel quilt together. Oh my goodness, I love Warehouse 13. Evil Giles as Paracelsus! He's so lovely. How has Anthony Head not aged one bit? I swear he even looks younger now than he did in Buffy days, maybe because he's not so gaunt. He's terrifying as Paracelsus. 

I forget to articulate just how wonderful the characters are. Myka and Claudia and Mrs. Frederick and the new fantastic therapist with the PhD and Dr. Vanessa and H.G. and on and on. They are easily the best written women on television. And in this sequence of episodes, there was a whole lot of excellent man crying, and I mean that in the very best possible way. The men are written so well on that show, fully rounded and emotional and awesome, and they actually get to cry, not just well up or whatever. Tears, red eyes, caring about people. Artie and Pete and Steve are just the absolute best men on tv. Even this new young guy Nick is great.  

Steve's ex, that was a brilliant episode. What is this showrunner going to do next, after this show ends? Where are the writers going? Because this started awesome and expanded into every direction of awesomeness and I just adore it. Especially because of the ways it's scary and intense and completely funny the next second. I know there are Buffy writers on there and they are just mind-blowingly good at what they do. More, more, more! Okay, not much more is coming, I guess? I'm trying not to think about it.

Some knitters know they're running out of yarn on a project and knit slower. Others knit faster. As if doing either one will make the slightest bit of difference to how far the yarn goes. Did you know this? It's true. I'm one who knits faster, as if to beat the yarn to the end of the project. But with Warehouse 13, I'm hoarding and savoring and pretending it's not actually ever going to end. I wonder when I can get hold of the remaining episodes? I don't even know whether they've aired.

Pause to think fond and reliefy thoughts about my new future unknown home, where there will be DSL and certainly by June at least, tv and dvr, because the World Cup is coming around again! Yes! Can you believe it? When did I get satellite tv last? World Cup. When did I get it the time before that? World Cup. And before that? WORLD CUP. One day I'll still be living in the same place I was during the previous World Cup, but it hasn't happened yet, has it, bunnies? Nope!

I want to catch up on all of Once Upon a Time, too. I watched the pilot the other day and saw so many things I didn't notice the first time because they weren't significant yet, which is just brilliant. For example, Emma picks out a blue star candle to stick in her cupcake and light to make her birthday wish. I know! Also I still hate Prince Charming. Everyone else is so smart and sharp and funny and he's such a plodding clueless dunderhead. Sorry, Charming, I may have some issues there. Sharpen up, though!

Whoops, another epic. Here's one last question for you re: Neolithic stone carving, though. If you were carving something in a cave, a message about as long as a Tweet, actually, what would it be? 

We were trying to think it through and came up with a couple of ideas but I'm curious what others are out there before I give ours away. I don't have any particular adze to grind, after all!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Neolithic gives me cabin fever

I'm raging to get on the road and go find that place to live and so on. What is holding me up, you ask?

I'm totally sick. I hate it. It's inconvenient, I tell you. Also miserable. Waaaah! Anyway nothing will make that go away but waiting. Guggggh. Hate to wait.

My phone isn't here. I don't know, I have phone transition terror. I would guess that's fairly common. It was in Newark last night, according to FedEx. I expect it today or tomorrow. I am very excited to say the least! It's a slight upgrade from the old one for 99 cents, but the camera won't be all scratched up from being dropped in the creek, so...yay!

Hurry up, though!

I suppose there are things I ought to be doing with the old one, like backing it up and such? I've never done this. Eeeeeeeee!

Other thing: the plumbing isn't finished. That's because of the bagels, I guess? I don't know. I'm not supposed to eat processed anything OR wheat and I ate up these leftover bagels and it was a bad idea. Am sad bagel regretter, full of regret! And bagels! Woe.

Therefore my hands are useless since, ooh, a couple days ago, the thing that hasn't happened in a while where they keep me up all night because they keep going numb, I have no grip, drop everything, and so on. And my feet, but they sleep okay. And plumbing is all grip. I can't do it when I can't use my hands for anything more energetic than holding a spoon. And dropping that spoon.

This makes driving difficult also. Not that you need a vise grip on the steering wheel, but you do have to hold it. I have pudding grip.

Stupid bagels! They were really good, though. Too much criminal food = major inflammation = arthritis typhoon. Ow.

Boy oh boy, though. I want out. I mostly don't want any company AT ALL right now. Go away, people who are actually here! I'm a big fan of lots and lots of alone time anyway but right now, after all that concentrated visitor time, I want zero people time. Zero!

Even the housepets kind of need to back off a little bit. Yep! I'm having room-sized personal space! That's because I'm frustrated in my powerful need to scamper out of here.

My sister and her husband are coming to visit tomorrow and Friday, too. I wouldn't have waited around to visit with them but since I'm sick and can't scram, I guess there's more people time coming up. Ugh, humans! They all want to talk and sit there and stuff! All with their *presence* and *sounds* and all that.

Hey! I will tell you things I totally love though:

Tally marks. Have you seen this? Look!

I remember learning about Ogham script a million years ago. Now I'm mostly amazed with how logical and orderly it is. The guy who deciphered Linear B partly did it because he organized the symbols logically, but I have to wonder why those writing systems were so logical in terms of sound/image and ours really aren't even one tiny bit.

Don't you remember learning letters and their sounds and trying to figure out how they correlate? I do. Well, the letter O works because your mouth makes that shape. But the rest of it is only association. Like the t looks t-like because you know it's a t.

It's just very difficult for me to believe that these Danube writing inscriptions are nonsense, like some people argue. Who would write nonsense everywhere over a whole continent using identical symbols? That doesn't even make sense--like, you would need some kind of meaning in it just to remember the identical symbols. You don't need to know what a language sounds like or even what it means to find order and repetition in the words. Though gosh, that sure would help.

The key to Linear B was finding repeated local place names in the writing. Isn't that awesome? Thousands of years later. That's one of the problems with the Danube writing, though. No cultural context.

They say the best passwords are deliberate misspellings or non-words of various kinds, like artificial languages or things like b33r that use numbers for letters. Hmmmm.

And so! I'm a cranky hermit thinking an awful lot about symbol systems like music and Ogham and tally marks (day-oh!) and Linear A and B and boustrophedon. Do you know boustrophedon? It's writing in Greek where you'd go along left to right and then get to the end of the line and write the next line *backwards* right to left. Reversing the letters! How cool is that?

I learned about it again a million years ago as writing that's like the ox pulling the plow to the end of the row, then turning and plowing back the opposite direction. The roots of it are ox and turn, so yeah!

There are many crackpots on the internet raving about indecipherable ancient scripts, just so you know. I'm aware. They write things like, "This is obviously a representation of the constellations! Archaeologists must be blind!" And then you realize they have not the slightest clue because a) people read stars into different constellations all over the world, b) people *see* different constellations depending on location, and c) they've changed since the year 8000 BC, son, wake up.

Also their diagrams make no sense even taking those things into account. But then, crackpots! Yes!

But it's a fun subject for a grumpy sick solitudinarian philologist with cabin fever and hands like noodles.

Oh boy, now I want some noodles. Forbidden fruit! Remember the bagels of regret! Ow! Also the tiny pies of regret and the turkey sandwiches of regret and the stuffing of regret. Ow ow ow. Oh yeah and the birthday cake of regret and the pumpkin pie of regret. Alas! Alaaaaaas!

Well, I'll just say: I don't think we've changed much in 10,000 years. Truly. Or even really that much in 100,000 years. Not when you look at what people did day to day. Once you're into the Neolithic, we're basically us, just with fewer spoons and things.

Ooof, imagine the constant company back then. People always in your face! Look at the little round Neolithic houses and despair. Sure, there were a lot fewer people, but they were all bunched together in families and clumps and you would just never get away from them, never!

I'd go out and carve cups into boulders, too. Hey! I wonder if that snow has melted off them yet?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Theophilus Thornybramble

I have no idea where he came from, but Theophilus Thornybramble was an alternate identity I made up somewhere in the 80s to entertain my friend AC. He was a vague and wandering philologist from the early 1800s, possibly a Quaker or other gentle dissenter. He wore one of those wide-brimmed black hats and a clerical collar and always had dishes of frog spawn and pond lilies and other things in his crowded house.

I used to call her at work and say, "Hello, this is the Reverend Dr. Theophilus Thornybramble of the Falls Church Tea and Lemonade Society." And it made her laugh very much. We were both living in D.C. at the time, or was I still briefly in Falls Church, being a nanny? Not sure.

Anyway I did not fight the thorny brambles today but my fingers are still full of thorns from yesterday's gloveless battle.

I feel strongly that the Rev. Dr. would have an exasperated niece who would put on a big white apron and sweep through his cottage and clean once a month, leaving him baffled and looking under pot lids for his missing tadpoles.

Gawain dog and I went for our walk, hurray for us! I'm pretty positive I just caught a bug from the young maniacs since it's all in my chest and making me cough in an alarmingly pre-industrial manner. Or possibly like a newly industrialized Dickens character, with puffs of soot coming out.

We went down the road and came back through the fields, where we flushed a pheasant ("Goodness me!") and discovered a giant pile of relatively recent bear poo. ("I thought they were all asleep by now. Let's go inside!")

I mean, aren't they? When do bears hibernate? Why does all the wildlife have to use the paths I cut? Because I make awesome paths, that's why. And the rest is all brushy brush and thornybrambles.

I was up far too late trying to solve the riddle of cup and ring stone carvings, which appear all over the world in similar forms. There are all kinds of daffy ideas about What They Mean, like they're a symbol of the sun god's resurrection or I do not even know what. You could interpret absolutely anything as a symbol of the sun god's resurrection if you wanted to. Kilroy! A symbol of the sun god's resurrection, as it peeks over the edge of the earth in the morning!

Still, why would people all over the planet chip (or peck, a lovely word choice) cup shapes into giant boulders? I thought of great ideas like: sharpening their bone arrowheads! Making candles by letting beeswax melt in the sun! Using the cups as stands for something, like meat drying rack feet! Making tea!

They also look like maps to me. Or like aerial views of motte and bailey fortifications, or even more like ring forts, especially the ones with the rings of divots that look like post holes.

I mean, look at this aerial view of Tara and then look at images of cup and ring stone carvings.

How long would it take you to carve a nice round divot into a boulder? I'm actually really curious. Is it super hard? Is it easy? Is it easy-ish? Is it something that would happen if you were using a bow and drill to make a fire in the approved Neolithic way? I would think there were all sorts of things you could do using a bow that way. It's basically a Neolithic version of today's small engine. Makes fire, but also increases your arm power by focusing it down. I'd use it for everything, wouldn't you?

Most of the rock carvings are semi-circles or full circles cut by a gutter. They remind me most of these things because of the repeated curves:

If I were casting gold, or beating it flat on a nice hard surface, I'd certainly carve the shapes first. I don't know how they did the gold work, though. Like at all. No idea. It's the Mold gold cape that's been marinating in my head making me think about all these things, really.

It's obviously imitating some kind of fiber work, don't you think? Woven or knotted or beaded? I'm knitting one right now so I keep thinking about it. Actually I keep putting it aside because it has bobbles, which are a total headache, so I'm like four rows in. Shhhh. 

So that's why I was up half the night. Must figure out archaeological mystery that probably has been resolved already and get eyestrain doing so!

It's true, my eyes are killing me, which is not interesting at all and makes it tricky to do other things.

However. I have tiny pies! What's with the tiny pies, Scotland or whoever? I love them, but my goodness. They're cookie size. Are they actually expanded filled cookies, or are our pies big versions of these tiny pies? Also, they have three holes in them, which makes me think of those German drei Augen cookies.

Clearly I need more occupation for my brains to chew on. Also more tiny pies. Mmm! My sister-in-law's mother brought them for Thanksgiving and my mom refuses to touch them since she was poisoned (so she says) by whatever I made for Thanksgiving. (She says it was the stuffing, because it had butter in it, but so did the cake and the frosting, and the pie crust had shortening, and the turkey was a fat one, and the gravy was made of its drippings, and also she put Cool Whip on her pie, so go figure. She was moaning that I poisoned her all the next day to anyone who would listen. Awesome!)

Anyway more tiny pies for me. They're that tartan shortbread company kind, whatever that is. So cute! So tasty! So little!

Ha ha, so there's a certain unity to the Get The Hell Out party. I appreciate that! I totally will. Today I packed the ziggurat and spent time talking to myself out loud about what is essential. I have to think these things through. Essentials.

Gosh, I know I'm no Rev. Dr. Theophilus Thornybramble, and I sure don't have the knees for archaeology, but I get awfully obsessive about megaliths and paleolithic everything and especially the Neolithic and loom weights and fire drills and aerial surveys and homo heidelbergensis and all the varieties of moss that Otzi had in his pockets. Though he was Copper Age. Never mind. Still awesome!

Also, can you even see this grid? Look at the glorious names! Eemian Stage! Hoxniense! Ipswichiense! These are the chewiest names anywhere.

Currently agreed upon classifications as Paleolithic geoclimatic episodes[15]
America Atlantic Europe Maghreb Mediterranean Europe Central Europe
10,000 years Flandrian interglacial Flandriense Mellahiense Versiliense Flandrian interglacial
80,000 years Wisconsin Devensiense Regresión Regresión Wisconsin Stage
140,000 years Sangamoniense Ipswichiense Ouljiense Tirreniense II y III Eemian Stage
200,000 years Illinois Wolstoniense Regresión Regresión Wolstonian Stage
450,000 years Yarmouthiense Hoxniense Anfatiense Tirreniense I Hoxnian Stage
580,000 years Kansas Angliense Regresión Regresión Kansan Stage
750,000 years Aftoniense Cromeriense Maarifiense Siciliense Cromerian Complex
1,100,000 years Nebraska Beestoniense Regresión Regresión Beestonian stage
1,400,000 years interglaciar Ludhamiense Messaudiense Calabriense Donau-Günz
I know!

And it just slays me that people were hopping around RIGHT HERE being Neolithic not that long ago. Like, those cup-shaped holes in the rocks in the woods out behind the house, right? Were those carved out? Were they drilled out by fire drills? If it wasn't all snow and mud out there right now, I'd have to go look closely at them and get burrs in my hair. Anyway now it's dark. 

I wish I had my books about the stone age. And working eyeballs. Ow. Also? I like stones. A LOT.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Trying the book-shaped thing

This ipad, you know I love it, but it's not really the best writing implement in the world. It's not. It has two external keyboards but neither is really great. 

One is the Apple kind and works well but turns itself on all the time and starts playing music. Seriously, there seems to be no way of stopping it short of turning off bluetooth or taking the batteries out. It's deeply annoying. I suppose it would be great if you never left the room you were in. 

The other is this book-shaped thing. Brown leather, holds the ipad, has a teeny keyboard that locks in magnetically. It props up the screen so it turns into a tiny laptop sort of thing. I've been avoiding it because of the miniature keyboard, but I had to sunder the bond between ipad and the apple keyboard last week in an effort to transfer pictures to sister-in-law's macbook (no dice) so I figured I'd try this one, as long as it was bluetoothily unbonded.

This works okay but not on a lap. Why haven't they worked out a way to do this on a lap? Either the keyboard is not connected, so it flies all over the place unless you have a flat and level set of quads, in which case I'm worried about you, or like this one, it doesn't form a flat surface and so everything is slithering around. I have it on a quilt basting grid right now. It was the closest reasonable object. And it's not working because the whole thing is gradually sliding toward my ankles.

Well, I have this lapdesk, too. Let's try that. Hmm. Better.

I just want writing to be SIMPLE and TRANSPARENT and I don't want it to involve constantly reconfiguring my legs and surface areas and trying to figure out how to keep the hardware properly situated to make the process work at all. UGH.

That's not why I haven't written in a long time. So busy! Busy with busy things!

Like cleaning the house for the family visitation, then visiting with them. So fun! So exhausting! So much dang work! And now I'm sick because I caught a bug from the little bunnies. Or else I caught frakking Lyme disease from the tick that got embedded in my back that day I walked up to the reservoir and the spring. I have no idea when that was because I have not been keeping proper records!

Also the end of school was traumatic because it got cut off with no warning AND I was expected to get the most tremendous amount of work done in no time with no notice, which was insanely stressful and awful and wiped me out. It was unreal. 

The stress had to do with how much work you do as a professor when you're not being paid for it. If you're teaching all semester, you get paid for the whole semester, duh, so you work all the time, pretty much every day, assuming every weekend, and all that. But I was temporary. I didn't work before my term started and when they said I'd only get paid up until Wednesday, I did not think I'd be working after Wednesday either, right? Would you? Do you work when you're not paid? 

I still can't quite believe they asked me outright to work after I would stop being paid for it. I had to say straight out, "Are you actually asking me to work without paying me for it?" I was agog.

Yes, so the other person came back that Thursday and I would not be paid for that day but they wanted me to keep grading the rest of the week for free. Nope. Various people with sense around the place said pencils down at 5:00 and so on but I stayed until about 10:30 that last night, getting as much done as I could, until the person who cleans the building was leaving. I didn't want to stay there alone in an empty, unlocked building.

There was also this farcical stapler drama. You heard that right. Apparently the stapler vanished from the office I was borrowing (and sharing with someone else the whole time) and I got all these questions about it. Where's my stapler? When did you see it last? That stapler cost a small fortune!

I kind of just had to walk away from that. Really? You actually think I stole your stapler? 

Here is a hint: I did not steal anyone's stapler, not then, not ever. I take things IN to work and donate them. When I left WB, I brought in all sorts of file folders, post-it notes, pens, anything I didn't want to move. Yes, on the balance sheet of me and work and office supplies, there is a one-way transit: toward work.

So that was all ridiculous and stupid and unprofessional to a degree I've never really run into before with a university (outside of Penn State, of course) and made me angry and bitter and astounded and other emotions. And tired. And crabby. 

The whole time my mom kept telling me I should have kept on working for free, that she totally worked for free after her job ended (this is not true; but it was a completely different situation, in any case, not following an eight week temp job) and on and on, raised voice, screaming stuff at me.

The mom situation devolved from there into worse and worse badness, with the family coming to visit. She is a terrible housekeeper so there was mildew and no one had vacuumed (because she won't let me, saying that if I do it, she will lose the ability to do it) and things like windows haven't been cleaned in years. Like ten years. It's awful. So I was trying to help clean and she would make ineffectual dabs at things like Mr. Burns on The Simpsons and she got more and more frustrated and agitated.

Then one day I was eating oatmeal and she asked if I'd put my stuff in a storage space if she rented one for me.

And I said no, if I live here, I live here. I have possessions. I keep them 97% to the two rooms (of eight) that I'm allotted, even though those rooms are half full of her junk anyway. But some things don't fit, like my cello, for instance. 

Anyway she got outraged and furious and screamed and threw things and slammed things and was shaking with rage, essentially because I would not just up and do what she said, and because I called her on her bullshit, wanting me to be an invisible slave who does all the work but has no rights and isn't even allowed to leave a cello next to the piano in a room that nobody uses. She argues like a three year old, unfortunately--she can't have a reasonable discussion--and starts hurling insults and pulling all sorts of passive/aggressive moves. She's incapable of disagreeing with anyone without taking it as a vicious personal attack.

So that went well. I had been packing all week because school was over and I was kind of embittered by that situation, not to mention the tremendously byzantine and hopelessly incoherent seminar I was taking at the same school. So I kept on packing, moving stuff to the barn to store, getting things ready for the family visit by cleaning, storing things in the garage, getting the guest rooms (yes) ready, making the Thanksgiving dinner elements as early as possible, and so on. 

I'm still packing, but I'm not sure I can walk away and leave this cranky old lady to fall and break a hip just because she's hostile and impossible to deal with, know what I mean? She's a nightmare of blame, anger, hostility, no memory, dementia, confusion, and being generally incapable of doing anything whatsoever, but you don't just walk off and let someone croak because of that, do you?

I don't know, I'm mulling. She's not officially non compos or anything. It's that weird gray area. And the house is obviously miles too much for her to do on her own. She can't begin to take care of it. Not at all. 

Well, I don't know, as I said. I want out, and I want it now, but I also have to live with myself, you know. I'm working on applying for teacher certification in Maine, where you can do an end run around the usual training/exam system (complex! expensive!) if you have extensive education and teaching experience. I was going to do this before but it costs a lot even just to do it this way. But I'm doing it now. 

I figure if I have a teaching job to go to, that makes it easy. Plus, hello, I want a job to go to! I'm looking at the Portland area, but I don't know it at all--never been there--so I need to take a drive up and research where to go and all that.

My big nephew is having a baby in Massachusetts, so I'm going to be a great-aunt! Holy Moses! And I'm jonesing for some more little niece and nephew time. And my father's cousin is moving up to Boston, I think to retire from the NIH. Also there are dozens of cousins from my mother's side all around Methuen Mass. and environs. And my own glorious cousin lives near Portland, as does her truly excellent son, whom I once knitted a Jayne hat. He's the one who gets my jokes, that kid. Well, he must be pushing thirty now, jeez. 

You see the bind I'm in! Comfy but irritating inertia with guaranteed hostility and almost zero employment options! Scary but cousin/sibling/niece/nephew-filled move to unknown small city that I've heard is awesome! Everyone says I'll love it there. However, I also love it here, except for how awful it is. I mean, I'm a fan of the fields and woods and things. Amish cheese. You know. The good stuff!

Meanwhile, I was planning to drive up this week and look around, possibly even rent a place--yes, that was the plan--but I'm down with some nasty thing, with a high fever and aching all over and generally being miserable. I'm hoping it is just some bug the kids brought with them. Oh boy, those kids! I absolutely love them! They were so fun to play with, right up until I got too tired and cranky, heh! 

I'm hoping it is NOT Lyme from the tick that bit me and embedded in my back like ten days ago. I read up on how to tell if you've contracted it and apparently you get flu-like symptoms ten to thirty days later. And they don't test for it unless you get the rash. So far I have a big welt that won't heal and is all itchy for inches around, but I haven't seen any rash yet. That can take a while to show up too, though. 

I'm supposed to see the lovely doctor-like personage on the 17th, unless this thing gets way worse first. The fever just blows. I hate fevers. Fortunately (hmmm) I'm completely unemployed as of last Wednesday so I don't have to worry about missing work.

My sister and brother-in-law are coming to town Thursday for like a minute but it means there's another wave of cleaning and crankiness to get through this week. Between that and the fever and nausea and aches and whatnot, I don't have high hopes for the next couple of days. I'm planning to sit quietly in the office, where my daybed/couch thing is now installed (where little nephew slept) and knit and read and nap a lot. 

Thanksgiving was highly successful in terms of getting everything done on time. I'm still amazed I could do it with all the raging hoopla all around. The turkey was perfect, all the sides were excellent, there was birthday cake for little nephew and pumpkin pie and everything a person could desire, all ready right on time. It took some doing, especially under the circumstances, with the crankypants thundercloud hovering and small children trying to help and housepets underfoot getting stepped on.

Actually I loved having the children helping. They would come running into the kitchen and say, "Maggie, I want to help you cook!" and I'd set them up with something fun to do, like find all the super gross cranberries and take them out, or roll out the extra pastry to bake a little baby pumpkin pie. Little nephew did that, rolled out the crust for a tiny pie, then he got to eat it at Thanksgiving dinner. Isn't that awesome? I adore those kids.

Little nephew came running and crashed into me and hugged my legs and said, "I love you, Grandma!" Which is so fabulous, I don't even have anything to say!

I've already got the yarn and pattern for a Welcome To The Flock sweater for my little great-niece/nephew en route. So exciting! But I have Christmas knitting to finish before I can start it. Ooooh, plus I just found this amazing blanket pattern on Ravelry so I'm going to make that. And my sister-out-law is having a baby next spring also, so I get to knit more things, more! More knitting, yay!

I think I'd better find some sort of ibuprofin or something for this heinous headache and everything-ache. Flu-like symptoms indeed. I had a flu shot so I'd be surprised if it turned out to be actual flu. But I'd much rather have flu than Lyme disease, holy yuck. Though I think they just dose you up with antibiotics and you're done with it. 

Okay, this keyboard thing passes, but not with any kind of flying colors at all, alas. It holds up the ipad better than my usual book rack, which tends to overbalance and drop it all the time. But this keyboard is subpar in that it misses letters all the time and the left shift key doesn't seem to work right. It's just not communicating properly. 

Time for a bath. Oh yeah, in the midst of everything else I've been trying to replace the whole pipe melange for the bath/shower, but between having no idea what I'm doing and getting the wrong parts at Lowe's every time I go, I'm into a week and a half without a working shower. I like baths plenty but I really need to get this fixed and squared away. The access space is impossible to the point where I'm all over bruises from getting in there to work. One of these days. Maybe tomorrow! Who knows! I might be feeling better, right? Yeah!

There, epic update! Where do you stand on the moral responsibility vs. self-preservation debate? I'm a little bit stumped on this escape plan, myself. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hi, I'm Stormee, with two Es

I'm appalled, with two Ps. Bloom County!

It is very very stormy out. My two blue chairs fall on their backs! Then I go out with the dog and stand them up again. And then they blow flat again.

The power keeps flickering and there's all this really loud rain and I think a torrent of some sort nearby, possibly down the gutters and downspouts?


But mostly today I did things already and now THEY ARE DONE.

I made all these pizza crusts for one day's dinner next week when all the guests are here. Brother and sister-in-law and their two little speedy bunnies. It turns out little nephew is obsessed with someone from a video with blue hair? I guess? And I just found a blue wig in the car (no idea) still in the package, so obviously I need to have that on when they arrive. 

The meals are all planned out. Everything is all planned out, invasion of Normandy style, down to the last detail. I'm thoroughly psyched because I get to make tons of food, I get to make a lot of it in advance, and I get to visit with everyone lots while we eat good food because I will have made it in advance. See how that works? I know!

Hence the pizza crusts. And I cooked myself a lovely pizza for dinner from one of them. I made six individual ones and three large ones, then used one of the large ones. I had this crock pot chicken left over that I'd shredded and left to soak up the delicious broth, so I drained that and put it on there, plus the last of the Rhinebeck buttermilk blue cheese, SO GOOD, plus a red pepper, with provolone on top. It was insanely good.

Whoever told me to make chicken or beef in the crock pot with flavoring and then just shred it after is a genius. It makes fabulous filling for tortillas or sandwiches or whatever. Oh man! I'm in love. 

I made pumpkin pie from those pumpkins I got. But I also invented this weird oatmeal mochi marzipan crust. Okay, I did this: send a lot of almonds through the processor until they're bits and powder. Pour boiling water on a cup and a half of oats. Let that sit a while. Mix the still hot oats/water in with the almonds and put in a whole bunch of solid coconut oil. (It's some fancy kind of refined by whipping it around or something, I have no idea.) Cut it in so the hot oatmeal water helps melt it down. Mix in enough dry oats to give the whole mixture body and strength. Add a bunch of brown sugar. Then add more oats because the sugar makes it watery.

That is your pie crust. Or possibly a blandish granola. It looks like crumbled up cake after baking. It tastes good but sort of puffy and bland the way mochi is. 

I have plans to try this with a ton of sugar and really refined/powdered almonds and call it mochzipan. Right? 

Right, so all those pizza crusts, a fancy pizza, invented a pie crust, made pie, made crumbly granola mochzipan, went for a big hike up the mountain to check the reservoir (full) and the spring (full of crap, and also a mouse that looked startled to see me.)

Therefore one of these days I'll be going up there with my colander duct taped to a ski pole to haul all the detritus out of there. And with a caulk gun and a tiny "keep out" sign for the mouse. Well, the "keep out" sign will be understood.

I also washed ten zillion dishes and went around making oof noises, especially when bending was required. Oof, I said. My back! It complains!

But hey! Guess what? I got that gigantor frelling seminar DONE as of tonight. Oh that was the other thing. I had a ton of that to do and got it done. And a lot of Online Job and got that done. Am awesome. Am accomplished. Am frelling tired and oofed out. 

Here's a silly thing. I put some medications somewhere and can't find them. It's nearly impossible that they're really lost, like fell out of the car at school or something. But I can't seem to find them in the house anywhere.

But then I just found my allergy pills in my bag after searching there six times, so probably they'll turn up. Maybe after I clean up the UNHOLY MESS that surrounds me in every direction.

I'm going to make more Thanksgiving things in advance and freeze them. It's awesome to get things like that done. I'm going to make a regular, less-homemade-y pioneer girl looking pie for Thanksgiving and eat this one up. This one looks pretty darn rustic since it's from real pumpkins. Pumpkin pie for breakfast! Look out!

There's major monstrous housecleaning coming up, too. Like I need to steam clean my bedroom carpet because my sister-in-law is allergic to cats, my idea to clean it, not anyone else's, but it means I have to clean it up up up. Nothing on the floor.

My suspicion is that I'll find my bottle of pills. Genius, I had three with thirty each and was being tidy so I combined them into one of 90, and that's the one I can't find. Gaaaaah!

I also have lovely LOVELY knitting to do, the kind where I can't wait to get started, oh boy! Not only am I going to be a great-aunt in May (you betcha!) but my sister-in-law's sister is having a baby in April (she is totally family somehow!) which means I'm going to knit a couple of Welcome To The Flock sweaters and hats for them. Bawwwwww! The yarn is coming.

And I'm knitting the prehistoric Mold gold cape of course. How could I not? I'm just going to finish up these socks before the yarn arrives so I'm on target, right? Yes!

Here is weird news. PANTS. Yes. I have these jeans that fit sort of weird, like too loose and too low and too short and too wide yet still somehow tight and weird. Three pair. Gold, brown, purple. And I wore the heck out of them at my last job, with boots because they're too short. ANYWAY. Then this summer the store sold off the rest of them on drastic sale and I went "Oooh!" and got a couple more in other deep dark jewel tones. Only I figured they fit the same way. (Do not follow the logic here.) So I never wore them. I KNOW.

But then today I wore the raspberry ones and they're totally freaking comfortable and long enough and are clearly a slightly different cut, so that's all very silly and the upshot is PANTS!

I'm pretty thrilled. They are raspberry, dark green, dark blue/green, and I think another pair? It was that week or two where the store was just like "Take all our winter clothes for 1/20 their usual cost! Take them! Take them!" And I did. Especially long-sleeved heavy t-shirts with V or scoop necks.

Which leads to the next project: making them into dresses. Most of them I got two of the same color, so there's a dress. But then, aha! The glorious part! That leaves an extra top part from just below the armscye up! What should I do with that? Make it into another fabulous chimaera dress, of course!

I have many exciting plans.

And lots of Woodchuck hard cider. For the holidays, of course! I think I'll just have generic "holidays" from now until after the New Year, what do you say? 

It will all go better if I can find those dang pills, though. Last night I neglected to take them before bed and had the most horrible nightmares, horrifying vicious animals like the killer trilobite mouse that could fly up to eye level and razor through you with its needle fins. Animals getting hurt, all this mudlside and swamp and grossness, floods coming through everything, family getting their flesh scraped off down to bare bones, dead uncles floating away in state on mattresses sagging down from the wet blankets, all kinds of horror and death and damage and pain and terror.

And so I might tear this place apart looking for the goddamn pills is all I'm saying. I can taper off just fine but you're not even *supposed* to stop suddenly like that. (These are the extra as-needed panic pills. Let me just assure you: they were needed.) I did eventually pull it together enough to get up and got the bottle and took some. 

Sleep! It's scary in there! Bad stuff happens and you can't get out! Then you wake up and are so terrified you can't get up and find the anti-terrified pills!

Night terrors, what a glorious fun time. Yucko. But since a lot of the work got done and off my plate as of tonight, I'm really hoping it'll let up. Or else I'll go back on those big-time meds.

I like to remember to think: What would be the best thing for me right now? 

Am I the only one who was not remotely raised to think that ever at all? Nor to think "What do I want?" I did eventually sort of start to figure out that I was allowed to think "What do I want?" but the wiring between that and "What would be best for me?" is like two kite strings and a twist tie. And one of the kite strings is all snarled up.

I'm just going to take the good-night meds (another type entirely from the previous two, JIMINY) and try to tidy up and put everything away that I can while they take effect. You promise I won't have horrific nightmares again tonight, though, right? None? Nobody's arms with the meat falling off and the bone and ligament and tendon exposed? Right? In floods with uprooted trees flailing about?

P.S. I am a math-deprived person and I can stop looking for that bottle, because this one right here is that one. I just can't estimate the number of pills by looking at it. I took them out and counted and there's 75. Oh, bunnies. This is the one I combined them into a week ago and took two a day as prescribed. Math! I still might clean up this room a bit, though. Heh.

P.P.S. You know that song Raspberry Beret? Is there some sort of word for pants/jeans/trousers that can go in place of Beret? Because I'm not coming up with one and that song has been trying to sing itself in my head all day.