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Thursday, February 28, 2013


Winter is not a season, it's an occupation.
~ Sinclair Lewis
- - - - -

You know, for someone who has not liked winter in the past, I kind of enjoyed this winter.  I use the past tense because I have decided that winter is over and spring is on its way in the next few days.

Anyway, I did get to go out and have some nice walks in the snow this year.  I got to experience some nice blizzards that did not negatively affect me in any major sort of way.  I didn't get 33 inches of snow like some people did, but we got a bit of snow.

But, enough is enough.  It's time for the snow to go away. 

Now it is time for spring to be sprung in the same way a spring springs out of a pen when you take it apart.  Just as that spring jumps out of one of those clicker pens, so much spring spring forth to turn the landscape green and other colors.  To bring the smells of spring - the ones smelling so much like spring that you know it's spring.

If we lived in Ireland, it would be Irish spring.  But we don't.  Instead, it will be Iowish spring.  Oh, I - oh - wish for spring.

See what happened there?

Plus when it gets to be spring I can go outside more.  I think maybe my brain has cabin fever.  Which is better than other fevers my brain could have.  Like "brain fever."  I'm not sure that's real, but if it is, that sounds pretty rough.  Or "disco fever."  If you have to have "disco fever" I am guessing the feet or legs would be the best place to get that.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


The great advantage of being a writer is that you can spy on people.  You're there, listening to every word, but part of you is observing.  Everything is useful to a writer, you see - every scrap, even the longest and most boring of luncheon parties.
~ Graham Greene
- - - - -

I took this early last Sunday morning.  I think it was Sunday.  You can see someone walking across the street.  I wondered, when the person saw me taking a photograph if he or she (I don't remember if it was a man or a woman) thought I was a private investigator.  I don't remember where she or he was going, and if he or she got in a car, I don't remember what color the car was.  I also am not sure that the person was alone, but she or he might have been.  I can't remember exactly what time it was when I took the photo.  It doesn't look like anyone else was around, but maybe there was someone delivering newspapers when I was there.  I can't be sure.

I think I'd make a great private investigator.  I am not sure if the person in the photo saw me taking a photo, but I wonder if he or she thought I was one.  I also wonder how tall the person was and what color his or her hair was.  Maybe it was a bald person. 

Life is a mystery.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail.
~ Heraclitus
- - - - -

So, when you go out and are driving around looking for interesting things and you see a giant red hand on a farm on a gravel road kind of not near anything, you can't help but go check it out.  Because while you were hoping to see interesting things and even "expecting the unexpected," this wasn't on your list.  And surpassed your hopes and dreams.

Then you drive up the driveway and get closer and can't tell if the red hand is pointing you toward some sort of antique venue or if it is luring you into some sort of trap.  You get close enough to take a photo, but then you think that you probably are trespassing - even if there wasn't a no trespassing sign.  And you could argue that the hand beckoned you.

You second guess things.

You snap a few photos and then you drive away before an angry landowner or a nice landowner's angry dog can confront you.

At least that's what you do if you're me.  

Because you don't want to get caught...  What's that saying?  Oh that's right. I think I remember how it goes.  "Don't get caught...
doing something you shouldn't be doing."

Monday, February 25, 2013


Lying just for the fun of it is either art or pathology.
~ Mason Cooley
- - - - -

I saw Pat Benatar about ten years ago.  Maybe twelve years ago.  Anyway, she was at the casino near my parents' house.  She was good even though it had been a while since she had been singing top ten hits.  One of the songs she sang was "Love is a Battlefield."  I remember someone used to think she was saying, "Bone the first snowing...  Love is a battlefield."

It's "Both of us knowing."

Regardless, I think of love as more of a playground than a battlefield.

And I didn't have any playground photos available, so I used this one of a unicycle.  It's kind of fun.  If you know how to ride it.  (pause)  I am assuming.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lighting and a lightning bug.
~ Mark Twain
- - - - -

So as I was sitting and writing my blog, something bit me.  It hurt and then it really, really itched.  I was trying to figure out what it was.  For some reason I decided it might be a bedbug.  I was not in bed when it happened, but I'm guessing that bedbugs don't really know the difference between a bed and a chair or a table or a book or a pair of scissors.  Anyway, I looked at the bite and then I googled "What do bed bug bites look like."

Now, I know what you're thinking - "Michelle, don't EVER look up medical photos online because they gross you out."  I realized the risk I was taking.  I went for it. 

First of all, medical photos online gross me out!  They can't just show A bite - they have to show some massive attack of bedbugs - or at least the results of said attack. 

Eventually, I was able to find what bites look like in a less repulsive image.  I was not bitten by a bedbug.  Apparently, bedbugs bite in threes and these are referred to as, "Breakfast," "Lunch," and "Dinner."  Clever, huh?

Anyway, you know how if you are going to sleep and then you find a spider in your sheets you just keep feeling like there are a billion spiders (and there probably are if it was a girl spider because they have like a billion babies and they're ALL IN YOUR BED!!!!)?   Well, when you see pictures of bedbug bites, you feel like you are being attacked by bedbugs.

Well, not you, but me.  Why do you always think everything is about you?

Saturday, February 23, 2013


Our modern society is engaged in polishing and decorating the cage in which man is kept imprisoned.
~ Swami Nirmalananda
- - - - - -

When Leslie said that she wanted to fashion the living room after 1968, I thought it was meant to be a tribute to me and my birth year.  Then I realized what interior design looked like in 1968 and hoped it was a joke.  She did look awfully comfortable in the living room of the past, though.

In my defense I was too small as an infant to do any interior decorating or even to use language to express my dislike of the style of the times.  Now, if my parents had taught me sign language, I could perhaps have warned them about how this all would look in slides and photographs decades later.  But they didn't teach me sign language.  I don't know what they were thinking.  I guess maybe they anticipated me growing up and learning to use utensils at the dinner table and didn't want me talking with my hands full.

Or maybe it was that they didn't know sign language.  I guess, this issue goes back generations.

Friday, February 22, 2013


The safest road to hell is the gradual one - the gentle slope, soft underfoot without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.
~ C. S. Lewis
- - - - -

Sometimes I try to do things and my intentions are good.  I do something I think is kind or a show of friendship or generous.  And sometimes those things backfire.  I think you should still try to do good things.  I think it is important to be a good person - or as good as you're able.

And you know what they say about good intentions...  They are way, WAY better than bad intentions!  Or than that movie "Cruel Intentions."

Thursday, February 21, 2013


I guess I just prefer to see the dark side of things. The glass is always half empty.  And cracked.  And I just cut my lip on it.  
And chipped a tooth.
~ Janeane Garafalo
- - - - -

This photo is one I took of a display on glass at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh.  I think this green glass boozing set is really, really cool.  I cannot make things out of glass.  I can't do glass blowing or glass etching or make stained glass.  I can make stained clothes and carpets.  I've yet to find a museum doing an exhibition of that kind of work, though.

I like that it is called "stained glass."  You usually think of stains as negative, but they don't have to be.  Except for that stain that used to be in the Tide-to-Go commercials.  Remember that?  But, hey, even that stain wasn't all bad.  I mean it was loud and interrupted and was difficult to understand, but it did make me laugh. 


Maybe I like stains because they remind me of me.  At least the talking ones.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


It is the function of art to renew our perception.  What we are familiar with we cease to see.  The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it.
~ Anais Nin
- - - - -
So I like the Rudolph special with Yukon Cornelius (whom I always want to call Klondike Cornelius.  Maybe that's his brother) and Hermie and Rudolph.  I like the story of those who are marginalized coming together to support one another and challenge the status quo and then save the day - even though it does involve the capturing and abusive training of the Abominable Snowman guy.
When I look at this photo, though, I am struck by something different.  It is as if I am the Abominable Snowman guy and Klondike is coming at me with his pickaxe and Hermie and Rudolph are watching on in horror as Klonkike - I mean Yukon Cornelius attacks me.
It's a little different from that perspective.
On a note only very loosely connected to this blog post, it is good that Anais Nin didn't marry a guy named Rodger Compoop and decide to hyphenate her last name.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


We are only just beginning to understand the power of love because we are just beginning to understand the weakness of force and aggression.
~ B. F. Skinner
- - - - - 

The other day I posted something on Facebook that I probably shouldn't have.  Or at least that I thought better of later on.  Afterward, I wrote to my friend Mimi that I was probably being passive-aggressive in posting it.  And then and there I decided not to do that.  Hiding snide comments in the guise of innocent observations or commentary is unseemly.  I know that when other people do that it really bothers me and so I don't want to behave like that. 

Instead, I am now committed to being more active-aggressive.

Monday, February 18, 2013


I believe God has instilled in us a craving, a deep desire to run with Him on a fantastic adventure, yet many of us crawl along in life without even a glimpse of our hidden passion.  There has to be a reason for living.  There must be a Camelot, a hidden Utopia where we can rest from our personal campaigns.  Fantasy opens our eyes to a better place, a shining city we do not yet know.  And these stories provide a mental bridge to that city as we pursue horizons we could never distinguish with our physical eyes.
~ Bryan Davis
- - - - -

I think that every day you should be able to come away with at least one good story.  It might be something you overheard on an airplane.  It might be something you experienced with a friend.  It could be something you dreamt or made up.  Stories are all around us.  We just each need to collect them on our travels through our days as we see fit in our own little libraries.

Like today when I came home and accidentally found myself in a house belonging to three bears.  You might think that's funny.  That I would confuse my own home with the home of some bears.  But it wasn't funny at all. It was better than when I visited those three pigs, though.  Or the three blind mice.  Or - most especially - the three stooges.  I know it's unkind to call them stooges, but those guys SERIOUSLY got on my nerves.  And yet, all of the above make for some pretty good stories.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


He's lived a fiction.  And, of course, he thinks that if you love someone enough, they will love you.  And if you steer things enough, things will, under your control, come right.  And this is the fiction of the controller: A controller thinks that they can control their life into what they want it to be.  But their life will never be what they want it to be until the stop controlling, and that is their journey.
~ Julian Fellowes
- - - - -

So there is this show on public television called "Downton Abbey."  I'm sure not many people have heard of it since not many people watch public television.  Anyway, it's pretty good.  I didn't want to watch it at first, but when both Leslie and Kirk encouraged me to watch it, I started watching it.  

Anyway, I like to talk about it with Leslie.  I don't watch TV when it runs, but I watch episodes online later.  Sometimes Leslie and I discuss what happens on the show.  The other night we were talking and she said something about something (I'm keen for details), and I said, "I think that Mr. Downton has really mismanaged things and he needs to let Matthew fix them."

She responded and said that things were definitely mismanaged and that Tom was going to take over parts of the estate and that would be good and then she interrupted herself and said, "His name isn't Mr. Downton!"

I knew that.  I just like saying it.  Maybe I'll start asking her which one of the daughters is Abby Downton.

And what if your name WAS Abby Downton?  And then if you were part of some organization where they called you by your last name first and they called you, "Downton, Abby!"  You'd probably think that would really get on Abby Downton's nerves.  But it wouldn't because she has a good sense of humor.

Anyway, the Downton's have had a tough year.  I hope things settle down for them in the future.  But then it would be a boring show about rich English people gossiping all the time.  And it would get canceled because no one would watch something like that.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


The heyday of a woman's life is the shady side of fifty.
~ Elizabeth Cady Stanton
- - - - -

I was looking up things to do at a birthday party for someone turning 50.  One of the suggestions was, "Play Twister."

I thought that was more of a bad suggestion than a good suggestion.

Also, when I looked up, "Fifty Quotations" I got a lot of "Fifty Shades of Grey" quotations.  Not exactly what I wanted for this blog post.

Friday, February 15, 2013


It's not down in any map; true places never are.
~ Herman Melville
- - - - -

These photos are from an exhibition at the Christian Petersen museum at Iowa State.  The artist is Andy Magee and the exhibition is called "Post Pop Redux."  It is awesome. 

Above you see a map of the world. What you may not see from the image above is that the map is made up of plastic army soldiers.

As you can see in the image below, the soldiers are all pointing to the center of global conflict - or maybe the place where global conflict resolution will happen.  Yes, you guessed it: Charleston, South Carolina. 

Wait.  Maybe it isn't Charleston.  Maybe it's D.C.  

But my point is...  This is a cool map.  And that sure is a lot of little plastic army soldiers.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


What I find most disturbing about Valentine's Day is, look, I get that you have to have a holiday of love, but in the height of flu season, it makes no sense.
~ Lewis Black
- - - - -

Valentine's Day should not be the only or even one of a small pool of days that you tell people around you that you love them.  And you can tell people besides just your significant other that you love them, you know.  You should try to make it a practice to do that regularly with people you care about.

But if hate Valentine's Day and if you are the person who put this sympathy card in with the Valentine's Day cards, I still want to be your friend.  You don't have to tell me you love me.  I love you though, because you did this and it made me laugh out loud.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
~ Khalil Gibran
- - - - -

My brother Kirk's partner's grandmother just passed away.  Jared was very close to her.  Jared, Kirk and Jared's family are in my thoughts.

Also in my thoughts is the fact that I just sent Kirk and Jared a card yesterday.  It was so very much in my thoughts, that I had to text Kirk about it today.  I wrote him, "Sent you two a card yesterday that is not at all a sympathy card.  Don't think I'm insane when you get it."

I didn't want them trying to figure out what two gerbils wearing space helmets had to do with Jared's grandmother.

Grief is the price we pay for love.
~ Queen Elizabeth II
(take care, guys)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


I believe that if you don't want to do anything, then sit there and don't do it, but don't expect people to hand you a corned beef sandwich and wash your socks for you and unzip your fly for you.
~ Shel Silverstein
- - - - -

It's important to keep your feet warm and healthy and dry.  They are very important.  If you Google "the importance of healthy feet" you get more than 2.9 million results.  And if there is one thing that the internet has taught us it is that the more results you get for a subject the more important it is for life and the world.  Miley Cyrus, for example, returns 246 million results - about 243,000,000 more results than healthy feet.  Cat videos return about 283,000,000 results.  Shakespeare gets you 129,000,000 results.

Another way to conceptualize this:

Cat Videos > Miley Cyrus > Shakespeare > The Importance of Healthy Feet

Anyway, back to feet and footcare.  Like I said, keeping your feet warm and dry is one way socks can help you take care of your feet.  I also like the socks because they give the feet helpful parameters.

Without those parameters you can really get carried away by your feet.

Monday, February 11, 2013


The more you explain it, the more I don't understand it.
~ Mark Twain
- - - - -
You may already know that I do not understand some of the holiday ornaments I see in stores.  I don't understand how they connect to any of the religious or lay traditions related to the end of a year or the beginning of the next year.

I am able to understand things like, "Uncle Dan lives in San Diego, so let's get him a San Diego holiday ornament."  Wait.  No, I don't really understand that.  It seems like you just don't know Uncle Dan very well if that's what you come up with to give him as a gift.  But at least I understand there is a CONNECTION there.

This ornament, though.  WTF? 

Product Developer:  Mr. Ornamentbusinesskingpin?  I have an idea.  What about an ornament for all those families out there who can't agree about which cereal to get?

Mr. Ornamentbusinesskingpin:  Sounds great, Phil.  Sounds just great.  Get on that.  Oh and Phil, let's make sure there's plenty of glitter on that ornament, okay?

Product Developer whose name we just learned is Phil:  You bet, sir!

Yeah.  So some things I just do not understand.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Life stands before me like an eternal spring
with new and brilliant clothes.
~ Carl Friedrich Gauss
- - - - -
I don't like the phrase "light appetizers."  I like even less the phrase "heavy appetizers."  Can't we just say "SNACKS NOT DINNER?"
I also dislike the phrase "business casual attire."  I mean, guidelines are good, but I just don't like phrases that sound made up to convey some sense of social stratification or even phrases formalizing that stratification.
Now, if I saw something posted that suggested one ought to wear "showbusiness casual attire," well, I might like that quite a bit.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


I have never killed a man, but I have read 
a great many obituaries with pleasure.
~ Clarence Darrow
- - - - -

I wish that I would have been the one who had the job of making up death mythologies for cultures around the world.  I would have been pretty good at it.  Like in Australia, I would have had a grim reaper type figure, but instead of carrying a scythe he would carry a bent stick.  And it would be called a "doomerang."


Sometimes I think all the fun work has already been done.

Friday, February 8, 2013


- - - - -

In Iowa we get lots of interesting kinds of weather.  One of my favorite weathers here is "thundersnow" which sounds like a sort of super-power a super-villain would have.  I'm not really sure how it would disarm people since we in Iowa tend to navigate thundersnow pretty easily.  I guess if there was enough snow.  But then it would just make the thunder an accessory.

Anyway, I thought of another kind of snow thing that would be cool.  A snowcano.  I know volcanoes aren't exactly weather, but I think a snowcano would be fun - especially for skiers.  And then kids could make it for science fairs.  I guess since the center of the earth is molten lava and "molten snow" is just water, that a snowcano is sort of exactly what a geyser is.


Never mind, I guess.  But isn't that a pretty picture?

Thursday, February 7, 2013


I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt
- - - - -
Today is Leslie's birthday.  She definitely is curious.  She wants to know everything about things.  When she helps someone looking for information, she gets as excited or even more excited about what they learn together than the person asking for help.  I think that is indeed a good trait.
I wonder if her mom ever forgot her birthday and just said, "Quit your whining!  I gave you the gift of curiosity!!!"  (pause)  Yes.  Knowing her mom, that probably happened.
And by curious I mean "eager to learn or know; inquisitive" not "exciting speculation, interest, or attention through being inexplicable or highly unusual; odd; strange."
Or maybe people are complex enough that they can encompass multiple meanings of a single descriptor or trait.  Yes.  I think they are.
And also I think that if a father could ask a fairy godfather to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be to never have to find a horse's head in your bed when you wake up in the morning.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Every Advent we entered the purgatory of lutefisk, a repulsive gelatinous fishlike dish that tasted of soap and gave off an odor that would gag a goat.
 ~ Garrison Keillor
- - - - -

This is the dining table at my parents house.  Apparently for this particular meal we were having beans, olives, grapes (or "fruit salad" according to my mom) and rolls.  Judging from the wall hanging (an advent calendar) it was Christmas time.  That means that either the lutefisk hadn't been put out yet or else Leslie had eaten it all.

She had three helpings last year.  Three.  I don't know anyone who has ever done that.  On purpose OR on a dare.  When she took the second serving, I thought she was just trying to make a good impression.  But when she took a third helping, I thought she misunderstood that lutefisk is largely an ornamental food in our family holiday food tradition.  Like fruitcake in some other families.

She said she liked it.  Again, even people in my family - genetically pre-disposed to eating lutefisk - who eat it as part of our ritual don't really say they like it.  It was featured on "Bizarre Foods," so maybe that just makes her a bizarre foodie.

Of course, now that I think about it, it could be on the table.  It is clear, after all.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Cease to inquire what the future has in store,
and take as a gift whatever the day brings forth.
~ Horace
- - - - -

The other day Tiffany brought me in a giant packet of information.  Some kind of work that I guess I'm supposed to do or something.  Anyway, as she left she said, "Don't say I never gave you anything."  I replied, "I never do because you give me the heebie jeebies all the time!"

I really am a ray of sunshine.

Monday, February 4, 2013


Physically you are a human being, but mentally you are incomplete.  Given that physically we have this physical human form, we must safeguard our mental capacity for judgment.  For that, we cannot take out insurance; the insurance company is within: self-discipline, self-awareness, and a clear realization of the disadvantages of anger and the positive effects of kindness.
~ Dalai Lama
- - - - -

I am going on a trip in a few days, and I am very excited about that.  When I planned my trip, I realized that February weather can be unpredictable, so I got travel insurance.  It looks like everything will be fine, but I'm glad I got the insurance.  And I'd much rather go on the trip than get the insurance benefit.

It's too bad that if you life doesn't go quite as you planned that you can't get something called "life insurance."  


Oh, wait.  I guess you can.  I meant if your life doesn't go as planned, but to a lesser degree than what current life insurance plans cover.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Life is extraordinarily suave and sweet with certain natural, witty, affectionate people who have unusual distinction and are capable of every vice, but who make a display of none in public and about whom no one can affirm they have a single one. There is something supple and secret about them. Besides, their perversity gives spice to their most innocent occupations, such as taking a walk in the garden at night.
~ Marcel Proust
- - - - -

I have heard people say, "I like spicy foods, but they don't like me."  I think that is a bit arrogant.  To anthropomorphize food and then have it focus its thoughts on you.  Well, I think we are a little full of ourselves, are we not?  Or judgmental to think that spicy foods wouldn't like you.  That spicy foods would be cruel and dismissive.  

And don't tell me, "That's not what I mint!"  You are at least parsley to blame.  I think it's thyme we curry up and realize it's better to be saffron sorry.  Mock me if you mustard, but I will have the fennel word on this topic.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.
~ Tom Stoppard
- - - - -

I like that quote by Tom Stoppard.  And someone must have agreed with him since this barn I had as a child has a handle on it.  I have to be honest, though, when I see an adult carrying around a doll or a dump truck or a ducky, I am kind of suspicious of them.

Friday, February 1, 2013


I have found that among other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.
~ Maya Angelou
- - - - -

It is not every day that someone gives their sole to you.