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Friday, November 30, 2012


If kids like a picture book, they're going to read it at least 50 times. Read anything that often, and even minor imperfections start to feel like gravel in the bed. 
~ Mark Haddon 
- - - - -

The other day I was trying to think of the word "gavel."  It rhymes with "gravel," which is why I used this photo and quote if that was not obvious.  Anyway, I couldn't think of the word "gavel."  I could only think of the word "anvil."

I think it's because a gavel is like a hammer of justice and an anvil is like a hammer of justice for Wile E. Coyote.  And an anvil was probably used to make Thor's hammer of justice.  And also, I guess that I think more justice occurs in cartoons and comic books than in real life.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


People don't buy for logical reasons.  They buy for emotional reasons.
~ Zig Ziglar
- - - - -

I believe this, I guess.  Even purchases made for things people need.  Like socks.  Where you buy your socks may be driven by emotion rather than logic.  Or groceries.  Could people who only buy organic food be doing it based on emotion?  I think so.

Or the glitter cat ornament above.  Well, there aren't a lot of either emotional or logical reasons to buy that.  In fact there are zero logical reasons.  The only emotional reasons I can think someone would buy this glitter cat ornament wearing clothes are guilt, depression, shame, regret, and grief.

No, wait.  Those are the emotions they would experience AFTER buying this glitter cat wearing clothes.

I can't think of an emotional reason they would buy the glitter cat wearing clothes.

And also, if Glitter Cat were a superhero or a villain, it would be a villain.  Mainly because of the glitter part.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


The best car safety device is a rear-view mirror with a cop in it.  
~Dudley Moore
- - - - -

I like to drive.  I like going around to see things I wouldn't see if I sat at home.  And then I like to take pictures of those things.  I'm not sure if it's the going, the photographing, the thinking, or the writing about my drives that I like the most.  

I only sometimes get scared that I am someplace I ought not be and that someone is going to come out and yell at me.  Unfortunately, those places are usually where the best photos are.  

That's interesting, isn't it?  The things people don't want us to see are the things by which we are most intrigued.  Whether it's their rusty bedspring lawn art or their livestock or where they hide their money.  People are so sensitive sometimes.  They're cute.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


People Trample Over Flowers,
Yet Only To Embrace A Cactus.
~ James Joyce
- - - - -

I remember when I was a kid my grandma had a bunch of cacti in her backyard.  Which isn't common in Iowa.  And I remember getting pocked on those things.  And I wondered, "Why does Grandma always put a plate of brownies in the middle of the cactus patch?"

I guess I won't ever know that.

On an unrelated note, I sure do remember the melodious sound of her laughter. 

Monday, November 26, 2012


Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.
~ Benjamin Franklin
- - - - -

When I left, Leslie asked if I wanted a snack for my trip - a granola bar or string cheese.  Or leftover Brussels sprouts.  She said I could take some and pass them out to other passengers on the plane.  We discussed the pros (Brussels sprouts are delicious) and cons (Brussels sprouts have a distinctive odor) and decided against it.

Why we always allow society to force us to conform when it comes to appropriate airline snackage, I will never know.  However, I suppose I'd rather limit my airline Brussels sprouts intake if it means that someone else will have to limit his Durian intake. 

Yes, I had to look that up.  It is the stinkiest food according to someone on the internet who has the skills to put together a list.  It frightens me what Durian smells like since Lutefisk is only #5 on the stinkiest food list.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle.
~ Robert Alden
- - - - -

The commercials for Light Brights when I was a kid included the following lines, "Light Bright making things with liiiiight.  What a sight making things with Light Bright."  Wait.  That isn't even right.  It was LITE Bright, wasn't it?  (wait here.  I'll check)

I'm back and for Pete's sake it WAS LITE.  Even worse it was LITE BRITE.  Why do companies do that?  Does it really sell more of the product to spell the words incorrectly?

Well, I guess it worked at my house because my parents brought one.  However, as I am confident I have mentioned, my parents also took away the chemistry kit that came with my microscope when I was a child.  Clearly, they were trying to hold me back academically - in spelling and chemistry. 

Shame on them.  For the record, I am a pretty good speller.  (pause)  They did successfully stifle my chemistry progenacity, though.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


In skating over thin ice, our safety is in our speed.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
- - - - -
A while back, I was writing to Leslie to let her know who would play Barbara Staner Uehling (Mizzou Chancellor from 1978-1987) in a movie.  Just because.  I do that.  I always am trying to cast people in movies.
Anyway, I couldn’t remember Tilda Swinton’s name, but I remembered she played the ice queen in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. Except it wasn’t The Ice Queen. It was The White Witch. Otherwise, it would be The Lion, The Queen, and The Wardrobe. 
And she was a witch because the idea of a queen hidden in a closet is a ridiculous concept.

Friday, November 23, 2012


My cooking is so bad my kids thought Thanksgiving was to commemorate Pearl Harbor.
~ Phyllis Diller
- - - - -

I like it when people cook.  When you cook for others you show them that you love them.  You want to help sustain them.  You care about them and are willing to give your time and effort to their well-being.

Unless you are cooking meth.  Drugs are bad.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength.  Give thanks for your food and the joy of living.  If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.
~ Tecumseh
- - - - -

I didn't come to love Thanksgiving until I was an adult.  I didn't really like it as a kid.  I don't love turkey or ham (though there have been turkeys and hams I have had which have been very good).  I do NOT like pumpkin pie.  I am not at all enamored with green bean casserole.  I like corn.  I like stuffing.  I like mashed potatoes - mainly because I grew up in a house that only had mashed potatoes occasionally - as in not every Thanksgiving or Christmas.  We always had boiled potatoes.  Easier, but not an pleasant in either taste or texture, if you ask me.  Which no one ever did or I would have shared my thoughts on that.

As opposed to not liking boiled potatoes that much, I do like gratitude.  I really, really do.  I like to acknowledge what people do and how they make the world a better place.  I like to do it because it makes me feel good, but not because, "Oh, Michelle is so nice.  She always says thank you and good job to people."  No, I like to do it because there are people doing amazing things every day who don't get acknowledged for their contributions.  Not that they are doing kind things to solicit praise.  

I just think it is really important to notice things.  And to let people know that you noticed.

As for Thanksgiving, I like the food even though Thanksgiving food is not all my favorite food.  I like the smells of Thanksgiving.  I like people crowding into kitchens and around tables that are too small.  I like the nervous feeling of being around people you haven't seen in a while and then reconnecting and remembering what you cherish about them.  

When I was a kid, I remember always hearing people talk at my grandparents' house (my Grandma and Grandpa Boettcher's farm).  They talked about what route they took when they drove there.  They talked about the weather.  They talked about how well or poorly their gardens had done.  My dad is the third of three boys, though all of my uncles have since passed.  Anyway, it was the same (to my child-ears BORING) conversation over and over and over.  Seriously, it was so boring that I thought I was going to die.  

I did not die.

Anyway, that was then.  Now I think that Thanksgiving represents love to me.  I think Thanksgiving is about love because it is about food.  I like it when there is drama over what kind of stuffing someone made.  People argue about that kind of thing because they are missing out on some love when they don't have oyster stuffing or cornbread stuffing or whatever kind of stuffing they think they ought to be having.  Every family has a story about the year the dog stole the turkey or the cook used sugar instead of salt to brine the turkey or Thanksgiving dinner was horrible because someone made ham instead of turkey and overcooked the ham so everyone went to Village Inn on the way home to get a "real" Thanksgiving dinner.

Stories are my favorite.  Thanksgiving isn't about gifts and selfishness and commercialization and money.  Not that Thanksgiving dinner is cheap.  But Thanksgiving is about storytelling, story-making, and the mythology of memory. 

Thanksgiving is about being together.  Or thinking of people you aren't with.  And putting love in the food and love in your thoughts and love into the world.

At least that is what it is to me.

Love and sometimes board games.

And board games are about winning.  Which I also love.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


No self-respecting mother would run out of intimidations on the eve of a major holiday.
~ Erma Bombeck
- - - - -

I love that there is a holiday dedicated to gratitude.  To looking at the amazing things in the world and celebrating the fact that they exist.  To realizing that we are fortunate and realizing how much of a difference some people can make in our lives.

July 6th is so awesome.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
~ Pablo Picasso
- - - - -

I think it is a good idea to make the mundane special.  Like taking a bunch of leaves and making hearts out of them and leaving them on someone's garbage can lid.  I think that it would make taking the garbage out a little less dreary if there was a nice little surprise waiting.  I think it is important to brighten someone's day - even in little ways.  Showing you are thinking of them is important.  And generous.  And kind.

And when the police tell you you have violated a no-trespass order, I think you should just explain why you were loitering around someone's trash can.  And I think - if you find a way to make them understand why it's okay for you to be there - you should let me know.  Because I just can't get through to them sometimes.

Monday, November 19, 2012


If you want something said, ask a man... 
If you want something done, ask a woman.
~ Margaret Thatcher
- - - - -

Leslie said that she was sure she wouldn't run for president and then she said that was probably a good thing.  She said she wouldn't want to be the president.  

It does seem to take a certain kind of person to want that job.  I'm not going to comment on what kind of person it takes to do that job well because that is highly subjective - and maybe irrelevant to who wants the job.  I just think you have to have a certain sense of identity and ambition and competitiveness and passion...  To be honest a mix of both good and less admirable characteristics.

I just agreed with Leslie and said I probably wouldn't be a strong political asset.  "I'd probably trip over things and spill stuff and blog a lot, and none of that would necessarily help your administration."

Sunday, November 18, 2012


No one saves us but ourselves.  
No one can and no one may.  
We ourselves must walk the path.
~ Buddha
- - - - -

I know that I am fortunate.  I know that there are a lot of privileges and opportunities I have.  I know I get to do things others do not.  I get to experience things others cannot.  I have talents others do not.  For example, I know how to walk into a party like I am walking onto a yacht.  Not a lot of people can do that. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012


When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: 
that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.
~ Jonathan Swift
- - - - -

I drove past this sign and was compelled to take a photo of it.  I like signs.  I think it is interesting to take a look at the messages people choose to broadcast to the world.  Or the labels they adopt for themselves.

I just wonder if this particular place was named after someone's mother or if it was someone's last name or if it is a place you're supposed to go there after you drive your truck or motorcycle through mud.  The best guess, though, is that someone probably "muttered" when they suggested a name for the place and people just misheard him.  Or her.  Probably him.

Friday, November 16, 2012


Strange things blow in through my window on the wings of the night wind 
and I don't worry about my destiny.
~ Carl Sandburg
- - - - -
I suppose a house wouldn't have to have windows.  One wouldn't have to be able to see outside.  To look at the trees or the sky or the building next door or who approaches the door.  There is risk in the window.  There is the opportunity to see out, but the opportunity for others to see in.  It's easier to break in through a window than a wall.  And when we really see others, we also afford them a chance to see us.

Also, I think they ought to be called windnos not windows.  Because they are carpentry's way of saying NO to the wind.  Right?

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Everyone calls himself a friend, but only a fool relies on it; nothing is commoner than the name, nothing rarer than the thing.
~ Jean de la Fontaine

- - - - -

In some written correspondence, I referred to Des Moines as DSM.  Leslie said that reminded her of the DSM IV (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).  I had not considered that before.  Maybe that is why there aren't a series of cities named Des Moines.  It would be fine for DSM I through DSM III.  After that it would get a little dicey.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


It is not only fine feathers that make fine birds.
- - - - -

Add to vacuum cleaners and copiers, birdbaths.  I can fix those items.  However, I wish I had thought it through when I fixed the birdbath for Leslie's mom.  I don't know what I was thinking. I don't think they ought to be bathing in public.  Perverts.  Depravens. Debauchickadees.  Weirdowls.

You get the idea. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


A little and a little, collected together, becomes a great deal; the heap in the barn consists of single grains, and drop and drop makes an inundation.
~ Arabian Proverb
- - - - -

When the old farmer said he was going to put up the structure so that it blocked my view, I asked him not to.  He said he didn't have to listen to me.  He could do whatever he wanted.  I wasn't the boss of him  I tried to talk to him as a neighbor.  In a friendly, generous way I encouraged him to consider alternate locations.  Locations that would block someone else's view.

He didn't listen.  He just did what he wanted.  There was no convincing him otherwise.

You could say he was being stubbarn.

But you don't have to.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.
~ Potter Stewart
- - - - -
Me:  I'm going to present on ethics -- bwaa ha ha!!!

Gretchen:  Fake it 'til you make it.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Here we go 'roud the prickly pear,
At five o'clock in the morning.
T. S. Eliot
- - - - -

You know how some plants have thistles and stuff on them?  Some people do,  as well.  They just need strategies to protect themselves from the cruelty of their environments.  It doesn't mean there aren't good parts to them, as well.  It doesn't mean that if you take the time you can't get to know them.  And we have to remember that the world may not treat them well because of their thorns and thistles.

But be patient with the people in the world, too.  Because - while it is a bit unusual to see a person walking down the street or in the workplace or in the grocery store wearing a jumpsuit covered in thistles - they probably have their reasons.  Sometimes the world needs to adjust to fashion which is designed to incorporate organic materials and built-in defense mechanisms.  It's not always just about protecting the wearer from the non-wearer, but vice-versa.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Slumber not in the tents of your fathers.  The world is advancing.
~ Giuseppe Mazzani
- - - - -

I think it is completely acceptable to call a guy who sleeps in flannel a slumberjack.  And if he is not a nice guy, I think it's fine to call him a slumberjackass.  And if he is a not nice guy who sleeps in flannel all the time and kills people, yes, he is a slumberjackassassin.  And if he is also always super-sarcastic, it's fine to call him slumberjackassassinsincere.


Shall I continue?


That's what I figured.

Friday, November 9, 2012


A horse never runs so fast as when he has other horses to catch up and outpace.
~ Ovid
- - - - -

I am sometimes too quick to judge.  When I took this photo, I thought it was just a rockinghorse next to a mailbox.  Upon further review, I see the mailbox is supposed to be a covered wagon.  Now THAT makes sense.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Do not be very upright in your dealings for you would see by going to the forest that straight trees are cut down while crooked ones are left standing.
~ Chanakya
- - - - -

Overheard at the grocery store...

Woman:  How are you?

Other Woman:  I'm upright.

Woman:  Oh, I see wine in you're cart.  You'll be fine.

Other Woman:  Yes.  Coffee, wine and cat litter.  I'll be fine.  Oh, and a bit of chocolate.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it's like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.
~ Ernest Hemingway
- - - - -

When I looked at the "recently added" list of music the girls had purchased, I saw the following:
* "You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC
* "Back in Black" by AC/DC
* "Highway to Hell" by AC/DC
* "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns 'N' Roses
* "Juke Box Hero" by Foreigner


This was unexpected to me.

I guess everything goes in a cycle.  Round and round.  Like a record on a record player.  Or a CD in a CD player.  Or a frisbee thrown by a frisbee player.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Silence is a fence around wisdom.
~ German Proverb 
- - - - -

I think that you should be careful when you're on the fence.  I'm not telling you to have a definitive opinion on every single issue.  It is important to gather information and think through things.  Don't be impulsive.  Don't do things halfway.  It's important to explore where you stand.  Sometimes people don't take enough time to think through everything.

Also, I think that maybe if you have to sit on either a barbed wire or electric fence, that might make you make up your mind a little more quickly, mister!

Monday, November 5, 2012


The role of the Post Office [currently] is as trusted third party with an unparalleled workforce and physical locations,...  Who else can claim so many countertops and employees, and the trust of virtually every merchant in the country with their money, with their bills, with everything?
~ Eric Arnum
- - - - -

I bet a lot of postal carriers do community service. I mean, their jobs are basically service to the community and in the community.  They can be the bearers of good tidings and great joy or of stress and anxiety or of sad news.  THAT is the power to influence.  And I bet - given the nature of their work - a cause they really care about is reading. "Mail Carriers for Letteracy" is a pretty huge organization for mail carriers, I bet.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


I just love real characters, they're not pretentious, and every emotion is on the surface, they're regular working people. Their likes, their dislikes, their loves, their hates, their passions; they're all right there on the surface.
~ David O. Russell
- - - - -

People who attempt to impress me by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than they actually possess give me a pretention headache.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Fear is static that prevents me from hearing myself.
~ Samuel Butler
- - - - -
Leslie complained because she had to repeat herself over and over to her mother.  Then she complained when her mom got new hearing aids, saying, "She got new hearing aids and now she hears everything."
Personally, I think Leslie should be grateful her mom got hearing aids and not hearing aides.  Because that would mean there would be extra people running around the house loudly repeating everything Leslie said to her mom.  And that would be really annoying.  Plus, they'd probably leave milk cartons in the refrigerator with like only a little bit left and no one needs that aggravation.

Friday, November 2, 2012


Truth is tough. It will not break, like a bubble, at a touch; nay, you may kick it about all day like a football, and it will be round and full at evening.
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
- - - - -

When I asked Jessica if she wanted to go to the football game, she said, "Okay...  Pull my finger."  I didn't really know what to do, so I pretended like my hands were full.  Then she said, "Wait, that's not what I meant.  I meant...  twist my arm."

I'm not sure that's what she really meant, though... 

Thursday, November 1, 2012


We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. 
When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.
~ Buddha 

- - - - -

Patty and Joy go walking together a lot.  Joy is taller than Patty and walks at a freakish break-neck speed.

Patty:  Just look at me walking with her...  it's like a Chihuahua walking with a Great Dane.

Me:  She's not that great.

Patty:  No, probably not.

Joy:  Oh, I thought she said, "Great Dame!"