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Thursday, April 30, 2015


Set wide the window. Let me drink the day.
~ Edith Wharton
- - - - -
You can't always get a sense of the day from your window.  You can't tell what the temperature is or if the wind is warm or cold. You can guess, but you can't know the world simply by watching it.  You have to go out and be in it.
And it can be scary. You don't always know what you'll find. Some days might make you wish you had stayed inside. I think more days will make you glad you ventured out.
But take a jacket. You never know. Little things can make or break a moment. In this case a jacket can make or windbreaker a moment. In the case of the quote above, the fact that the second sentence ends with "the day" instead of "today" makes a huge difference.
That's what I think.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer; nothing is more difficult than to understand him.
~ Fyodor Dostoevsky
- - - - -

One day in class Kelsey started laughing.  A lot.  She could hardly breathe.  She finally was able to share that she accidentally texted the word "denounce" to Tyler when she was trying to spellcheck it.  It was funny.  It was more funny because she was laughing so hard.

We all had a chuckle and then went back to class.

And then I looked up "denounce."  It means "To publicly declare something wrong or evil."

It was only later when I thought to myself, "Self," I thought, "Why was she spellchecking 'denounce' in our assessment class?"

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


 The author O. Henry taught me about the value of the unexpected. He once wrote about the noise of flowers and the smell of birds - the birds were chickens and the flowers dried sunflowers rattling against a wall.
~ Chuck Jones
- - - - -

I love language. It is fun and funny and tense and intense - and past tense, for that matter. 
That said, I don't love all words. I guess most of them serve a purpose, but some words I don't care for. For example, I don't really like the word "pungent" unless you're using it to describe a guy who is clever with words.

Monday, April 27, 2015


Fear can sometimes be a useful emotion. For instance, let's say you're an astronaut on the moon and you fear that your partner has been turned into Dracula. The next time he goes out for the moon pieces, wham!, you just slam the door behind him and blast off. He might call you on the radio and say he's not Dracula, but you just say, "Think again, bat man."
~ Jack Handey
- - - - -
Leslie can be a little high-strung.  Sometimes I walk in and say crazy stuff like, "Hello." or "Hi." and she jumps out of her skin.
That happened the other night.  I walked into the kitchen.  She was cooking or putting away dishes from the dishwasher or something.  I said, "Hi" and she was startled and jumped a little.
"Oh," she said, "Sorry.  It was a very intense moment on Hawaii-Five-O."
"Hm," I replied.  "I will add that to my list of things I didn't expect to ever hear from you."

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Reality seems valueless by comparison with the dreams 
of fevered imaginations; reality is therefore abandoned.
~ Emile Durkheim
- - - - -

I wonder when I see abandoned houses or barns or storefronts or storebacks, why did someone just leave them?  Were they called away?  Was it illness or emergency?  Was it just giving up and  moving on when a dream didn't play out the way someone had hoped?

I also wonder when I see abandoned buildings if there might be treasure in them or big giant hidden bags of money.  But I hardly ever find those things there.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


I have a flood of ideas in my mind. I just follow my vision.
~ Yayoi Kusama
- - - - -
I have a flood of ideas in my mind, too. And -  like a flood - I don't always know what is left around and usable until the waters recede. There might be a photo album or a tire or a baby shoe or a jar of pickles.
And I can use what is left to create "found art." And I can share it with my neighbors who are dealing with their own floods in their own lives in their own ways.
And I can then drive away really fast when they yell at me for dumping my garbage in their yard.

Friday, April 24, 2015


There are some things you learn best in calm, some in storm.
~ Willa Cather
- - - - -

Sally:  Does anyone have the weather radio- it is not in the resource room.

Me:  I think it got blown away in the tornado last spring.  Or maybe it was last night's flood...  Actually, I don't know where it is.  I should not have responded, probably.

What I learned from this is that I should sometimes type things and not hit send and then decide if I should hit send instead of typing and sending and then thinking.

However, it appears that the thinking was happening in this email as I was writing it.  And I still hit send.

I guess there are some things I never learn best.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


One of life's most painful moments comes when we must admit that we didn't do our homework, that we are not prepared.
~ Merlin Olsen
- - - - -
Wayne: Homework is boring.  True story.
Me: Grading is fun.  Entering grades into computer systems is boring.
What if we didn't call it homework, but lifework?  Would we make different kinds of assignments?  Would we engage in the assignments in different ways?  Would it raise the stakes.
And what if we didn't call it grading, but judging.
Wait.  I already do that.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Friends come and go like the waves of the ocean, but true ones stay like an octopus on your face.
~ Unknown
- - - - -

I don't know who said that quote, but I wish it had been me.  First of all, I love the ocean.  Second of all, I am okay letting some friends go if that's what needs to happen.  Third, I have developed a huge respect for the octopus.  Octopi are smart.  REALLY smart.  Kirk and Jared gave me octopi art for being a part of their wedding.  

I love the ocean, too. 

My friend Rachel also loves Ocean.  But when we have our chats scheduled, she will put that aside to dialogue with me.  She told me.  Just the other night she said, "So I was going to sit in the car and finish listening to Billy Ocean, but then I remembered I should prioritize our conversation."

THAT is true friendship.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


We always see our worst selves. Our most vulnerable selves. We need someone to get close enough to tell us we're wrong. Someone we trust.
~ David Levithan
- - - - -

Reflection is good, but it is imitation, right?  Each see-er sees different things. When we reflect on moments, we see them through our own lens. We need people to encourage us to see things from a variety of perspectives. Is one way of seeing something more "right" or more "true"?  I don't know.  I really don't know that we can ever tell someone what is true for them.  We can't know that.

I think it is even more challenging when we are reflecting not on moments, but on ourselves. We see the external and the internal. The internal is like - I don't know what. Something hidden and filled with the unexpected. Some good things. Some troubling things. Like the inside of a chicken pot pie.

My friend Mimi helped me realize this. We were going to be presenting together and she asked me for a brief bio. After I sent it to her, she responded, sending me back what I had written and then commenting:

"Michelle Boettcher is a tenure-track assistant professor who previously served in administrative roles in housing and most recently as assistant dead of students and director of judicial affairs." 

I think you're making a statement here. :)

In that way, Mimi helped me see myself for how I was seeing myself - whether I wanted to admit it or not. And that person is, unfortunately, not good at typing and editing her work sometimes.

Monday, April 20, 2015


Do stuff.  be clenched, curious.  Not waiting for inspiration's shove or society's kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It's all about paying attention. attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. stay eager.
~ Susan Sontag

Nancy seemed to be the manager of the gas station mini mart place [for the record, NOT the one pictured above].  That said, it also seemed to be Nancy's day off.  She had just stopped by for some reason.  She wasn't working that day.

Maybe that's why the guy with the leering eyes was mopping the bathrooms with days old water.  Of course it could have simply been that he was using black floor cleaner.  I avoided eye contact because I was afraid that if I looked directly at him that it might constitute a common law marriage in his mind.  He gave off a vibe that indicated he probably didn't get a lot of direct eye contact from people.

I digress...  Back to Nancy.  Maybe on the days when Nancy worked people who came in for job interviews actually had someone with whom to meet instead of being told, "Katie?  I didn't know a Katie was coming in today. Thayn't no one here to talk to today."  Of course on this day that was followed by, "Wait.  There's Nancy. I'll ask her. NANCY!"  Katie was rescheduled for later in the week when Nancy would be available.

And maybe on the days when Nancy worked the register area didn't smell like sour milk. Maybe Nancy was a stickler for those kinds of things and people just slacked off when Nancy was gone.

But Nancy had stopped by.  With her friend.  Friend?  Son?  Husband?  He seemed a lot younger than she was, but she seemed a lot older than she was so it was hard to tell the nature of their relationship. He stayed close to her, maybe hoping she would buy him a Ring Pop or a new lighter or a well-aged hotdog off the rollers.  The gas station mart had all those things.  Him waiting and not buying anything for himself made him seem like he might be her son.  And his face tattoo may have made him look younger, too.

And Nancy did yell at him when they walked out the door the first time because he forgot to remind her to buy her cigarettes.  That Nancy.  What a character. 

I think.  Yes.  A character in her world, but maybe in a play or a song or a reality TV show.  "GasMart Nancy."  There's probably a better title.  "Tattooface" is a better title, but I don't think the show would be too much about him.

Adventures are fun. 


Sunday, April 19, 2015


The more I paint, the more I like everything.
~ Jean-Michael Basquiat
- - - - -

This is a house near Leslie's house. Some new people moved into it a few weeks ago.  To my knowledge they haven't painted it yet.  I don't know if they will or not, but it looked like they were doing a lot of work on the inside of it.

I have done a lot of painting in my life.  Mostly on the  insides of places.  I worked summer paint crew for a year or two when I was in college.  I painted places as an apartment manager for a year.  I have painted places where I lived.

I think I would also like to do art painting.  I have only done a little of that.  I have some of the stuff to do oil painting, but I don't really do it.  A blank canvas intimidates me much more than a blank page does.  It's not that I don't have ideas or don't think I could do it.

I probably am just afraid that my trees wouldn't be all that happy.

Saturday, April 18, 2015


Excuse the mess, but we live here.
~ Roseanne Barr
- - - - -

A while back Granny told David that his hair was a mess.

Her hair was a mess, too.

I told David, "You should have told her she looked like she'd been rummaging through the garbage all morning."

Because she had.

Looking for a gift card.

Which was in her purse.

Friday, April 17, 2015


Memory... is the diary that we all carry about with us.
~ Oscar Wilde
- - - - -

So Facebook does this thing now when it pops up things that happened in the past - old posts that you posted.  I don't have those pop up very often.  Or I don't notice them often when they pop up.

The other day one popped up about working non-VEISHEA last year.  I had been following non-VEISHEA this year, so it was interesting to see it from a year-ago-perspective.

But what really weirded me out was when I got a notice from Facebook that read, "Suzy Owens commented on your memories."

That seemed sci-fi to me. Plus, I don't want people having access to all of my memories.  Especially law enforcement.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Three is a time to be quiet and a time to talk.
~ Aung San Suu Kyi
- - - - -
Rachel:  Make sure you talk out loud to someone.  (Sometimes you forget that).
Me:  That made me laugh.  What is bad is today I worried that I am going to be one of those people who wanders around talking to herself.  Because I already do that.  Except for the wandering around.
Rachel: You stand in one place and talk to yourself?  Awesome.
Me:  Otherwise I fall down or run into things.
Rachel:  Nice self-awareness.
Me: Thank you.  Just short of being self-absorbed.  Most days.
Rachel:  In faculty work - it's a fine line.
Me:  Yes.  I can't wait to cross that line so I can be as important as some of the rest of them!!!
Rachel:  Just a girl.  With a dream...
Me: My movie tagline.
Rachel: I can hear the music.
Me:  Is it "Tempted" by Squeeze?  'Cause that's what I'm playing right now.
Rachel:  Something more operatic.  Like the movie theme from Forrest Hump.  Gump.
Me: BWAA HA HA HA!  I think "Forrest Hump" is a different kind of movie than what I want for my biopic.
Rachel:  So true.  I love our texts.
Me: Me, too.  This might show up in my blog - just an FYI.  And Leslie says I take creative license with my blog.  But in my defense, that's only because I take creative license with my blog.
Rachel:  It's the best part.  Grandma always says don't ruin a good story with the truth.
Me: Grandma is super wise.  It's good to listen to what she says.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Love is much nicer to be in than an automobile accident, a tight girdle, a higher tax bracket, or a holding pattern over Philadelphia.
~ Judith Viorst
- - - - -

A lot of people might think this isn't a good place to get your taxes done.  Since Al Capone went to jail for tax evasion, that is one way of looking at it.  Or maybe we can look at is as being a good place to get your taxes done because the Capones maybe learned something from that experience and won't make the same mistake twice.

You can go there if you like, but I'm not going to.  Is it because I'm too choosy or too snooty to go there?  Is it because I make assumptions about the quality of the work based on some of the commentary in the first paragraph?  Is it because I don't trust anyone except myself to do my taxes?


It's because I don't live in Pennsylvania where this is located.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


The value of a dollar is social, as it is created by society.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
- - - - -

I am not sure if this promotional display is emphasizing how much or how little a dollar can buy.  I suppose it depends on whom you are.  I suppose it depends on how much you like corned beef hash and canned mackerel.  Or maybe it just depends on how hungry you are.  And maybe that says a lot about how we treat people who have less money than other people.  No, sorry.  Not maybe.

I don't know that I would spend a dollar on most of these items.  Maybe an Andrew Johnson dollar.  He wasn't a very good president.  Or Buchanan.  Or Harding.  

On a not-very-related note, it would be ironic to buy a teapot with Harding dollars, wouldn't it?


Trust me.  It would be a little ironic.

Monday, April 13, 2015


She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside her.
~ Zora Neale Hurston
- - - - -

I saw this a long time ago in Target.  It creeped me out.  It still does.  As does the fact that one of Aurora's words is "Barbie."  I'm all for creativity and perhaps Aurora's Barbie will go on to do great things in Aurora's world with her giraffes and cell phone collection.

And I do blame myself.  I should have gotten Aurora that Marie Curie doll or the Zora Neale Hurston action figure or the Maya Lin marionette.  Or the Frida Kahlo finger puppet.  Wait.  She does have her mom's Frida Kahlo finger puppet, so that's good.  And besides, who am I kidding?  If there was a Zora Neale Hurston action figure I'd have kept it for myself.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


I rant and rave about noise pollution.
~ Robert Carlyle
- - - - -
Leslie says that I shouldn't complain about noise in the library if I sit in the loud area.  Who knew there were loud areas in libraries?  I mean, I guess I sort of figured it out since everyone was so loud.  I'm often slow, but eventually I catch on.

That said, do you know what people do a lot in libraries?  They throw books on tables.  Or they do that thing where you take a stack of papers and tap them so they all line up.  Or they use power staplers or three hole paper punches.

Know what is annoying?  That stuff above.

Now you're wondering what this photo has to do with this post.  Let me tell you.  This is the designated quiet section of the library.

I'm just kidding.  It's not. 

It's a place in Clemson.  You can hike to it.  The day I was near it there was a family (I think they were a family, they looked family-ish) in there singing.  They sounded good, the acoustics were good.  They were practicing Edelweiss.  And they were dressed in traveling costumes.

Not really.  It's just that I watched the Julie Andrews special with Diane Sawyer the other night. 

This park is a place that is probably usually quiet.  And I expected it to be quiet.  But the family singing didn't bother me.  If they had been slamming down books and using loud staplers and three hole punches, then I would have been annoyed.

So my point is that not all noise is bad.

Saturday, April 11, 2015


It is life, I think, to watch the water. 
A man can learn so many things.
~ Nicholas Sparks
- - - - -
I love to watch the water.  I like the way it moves and reflects and sounds and captures light.  It is soothing and helps to quiet my mind.  

There is something scary about the water, too, however.  It hides things.  It can swallow you up.  It can create change in slow and incremental ways - or tremendously powerful ways.

When it is gone, we miss it.

When we have too much of it, we want it to go away.

It controls our experience on a number of levels.

Still waters run deep.

Water under the bridge.

You can lead a horse to water.
But what if we replace the word "water" in these proverbs with "otter?"

You didn't see that coming, did ya?

Now you've got some REAL thinking to do.

Friday, April 10, 2015


Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing.  There is a time for silence.  A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny.  And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it's all over.
~ Octavia Butler
- - - - -

True friendship really does mean being there to pick up the pieces.  Or trying to be there for that.  Some people have too much pride.  But if you have a friend who hurls herself into her destiny and that first destiny turns out to be glass house or a glass ceiling, there are probably going to be a lot of pieces to pick up.

And if your friend is a bird, it really could be a glass ceiling.  Or wall or window.

And if your friend is a bird, I hope you have some other friends, too because that one bird friendship may not be as mutually-reciprocated as you think.

Thursday, April 9, 2015


There is no need to fear the wind if your stack of hay is well-tied.
~ Irish Proverb
- - - - - 
When I'm driving down the road with someone and I see bales of hay in a field, I like to say, "Hay!"

Then the person I'm with will look around and say, "What?  What is it?"
And I say, "Hay" and point at the hay.
And I know once you get to be an adult it's ridiculous to blame your parents for your behavior.
But this is my dad's fault.  
Kirk will vouch for me on that.
And, just for the record, it is annoying when people say, "Oats are cheaper.  Grass is free.  Horses eat it.  Why don't we?" when I say, "Hey."
But know what is more annoying?  When they say, "Shut. Up."
And then I spend the rest of the trip trying to figure out why I'm driving down the road with someone like that.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go the grave with the song still in them.
~ Henry David Thoreau
- - - - -

It is very hard to sit still when you are listening to "Sing, Sing, Sing" by Benny Goodman.  I'm guessing that is why not very many college students listen to it in the library. 

I can't think of any other reason that college students wouldn't listen to Benny Goodman.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying.
~ Oscar Wilde
- - - - -

Language has power.  The words we choose to use or the words we never use matter.  We need to be careful.  And that is not a selfless act.  The impact matters for everyone.

I heard once that the words you put out are not only received by other people, but they boomerang back at you, as well.  That's why I try to use mostly small words.  Because I am not sure how good I am at catching boomerangs and I'd rather get whapped with something small.

Monday, April 6, 2015


Nobody gets to live life backward. 
Look ahead, that is where your future lies.
~ Ann Landers
- - - - -

Moving forward is not free.  Sometimes it is freeing, but crossing rivers, bridges and time comes with a cost.
We leave something behind as we move forward.  Bridges and paths and stories don't simply connect places, they connect moments in time. 

You just can't take it with you.  

Well, you can't take it all with you - especially when you cross a bridge.  Bridges aren't made to sustain the weight of all of our baggage.  We have to leave some of that behind.  Which is why you shouldn't burn bridges. You might need some of that stuff later.  You just don't know.

And it's okay not to know what is in your future.  Life wouldn't be as fun if you had to constantly worry about a spoiler alert.  

Sunday, April 5, 2015


 Use your enemy's hand to catch a snake.
~ Persian Proverb
- - - - -

When I was driving to Pennsylvania on my move from Iowa last summer, I talked for a while with my friend Amy.  One of the things she shared was that one of her kids wants to be a herpetologist.  She was in the car with her kids and I asked her what they wanted to be when they grow up.

Amy:  Well, one of them has wanted to be a herpetologist since he was little.  (talking to her son) What do you want to be when you grow up?

From back seat:  A herpetologist.

So...  When we were in Canada, there were two snakes that would come out every day.  One was on the dock in front of the main cabin, the other was on the path between the main cabin and our cabin.  For some reason I decided the one in front was a "he" and the one in back was a "she."  That annoyed Leslie who wanted to call them both "it."

Anyway, the snakes were easy going.  They let me get pretty close to them.  I took some photos (like the one above). 

When I got back to PA, I figured I would try to find out what kind of snakes they were.  I did a little research and as near as I can tell they are Nerodia sipedon - or northern water snakes.  They are non-venemous.  They can sometimes be confused with copperheads or cottonmouths. 

I thought it was interesting seeing them.  As long as I was the one moving toward them.  I didn't like it so much when they moved toward me.  But then, I'm kind of like that with people, too.

Saturday, April 4, 2015


Not rural sights alone, but rural sounds,
Exhilarate the spirit, and restore
The tone of languid nature.
~ William Cowper
- - - - -

I am not so sure that what we need is to get away from noise and traffic and people.  Maybe what we need is to get away from the noise we know, the traffic we experience every day and the people with whom we are familiar.  Maybe it's not quiet, but it's new noise we ought to see.

Or - you're right - it's new noise we ought to hear.  You know what I mean! Why do you have to be so nitpicky about the words I use?

I think maybe you are one of those familiars I need some time away from. 

Friday, April 3, 2015


Carob works on the principle that, when mixed with the right combination of fats and sugar, it can duplicate chocolate in color and texture. Of course, the same can be said of dirt.
~ Sandra Boynton
- - - - -
Leslie: Don't let me forget, I have to pick up Easter candy from the chiropractor.
Some statements call for so many questions you don't even start to ask them.

Thursday, April 2, 2015


The day of fortune is like a harvest day,
We must be busy when the corn is ripe.
~ Torquato Tasso
- - - - -

Overheard: “I guess I didn’t chew my corn up too good last night.” 


Time to expand my “Things I wish I hadn’t overheard” list.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


When I was a little kid we had a sandbox.  It was a quicksand box.  I was an only child...  eventually.
~ Steven Wright
- - - - -

I started trying to teach Aurora the "You've got something on your shirt - FLIP" trick (where you flick the kid's nose when s/he looks down at the shirt) from the time she was about born years old.

I am not the first person to say this, but I think it is very good to trick kids.  I think if you play tricks on them when they are small, they learn to navigate challenges, to be creative, to appreciate humor and to think outside the box.

Also, I do not think you should keep children in boxes.