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Sunday, May 31, 2015


So I don't think I'm gonna pull my head into my shell
just because a bunch of people start acting like idiots.
- Todd Rundgren

- - - - -

Some people hunt for shells on the beach. 
Others hunt for shells on a shooting range.

There is a lot of hunting going on.

Saturday, May 30, 2015


Money is a strange business. People who haven't got it aim it strongly. People who have are full of troubles.
~ Ayrton Senna
- - - - -

People are always asking me if I would rather have empty mansions or full moving trucks.  I'd rather have empty mansions if the moving trucks aren't full of my stuff. I have issues with other people's stuff.

Which I suppose could be condensed to, "I have issues."

Don't we all? Who is without issues?

Plus you could play some fun games of hide and go seek in empty mansions.

With my luck I'd end up in a mansion full of coats with crumbs in the pockets.

I hate that. And the fact that I would whine about that is annoying.

And really, no one has ever asked me if I would rather have empty mansions or full moving trucks.

This blog is full of lies.

But that crumbs in pockets thing is true.

Friday, May 29, 2015


My kids always perceived the bathroom as a place where you wait it out until all the groceries are unloaded from the car.
~ Erma Bombeck
- - - - -
I sent this postcard to my mom.  Apparently I did that in January. I have a bunch of these I sent to her. Is it because she loves SPAM so much?
And also I am not sure about the part where I said she loves SPAM. I vaguely remember eating it, but not regularly. And I don't really remember HER eating it.
My memory isn't that great sometimes.
But my memories mostly are.  So there's that.

Thursday, May 28, 2015


I got a fever and the only prescription is MORE COWBELL!
~ Christopher Walken (SNL)
- - - - -

Me:  Let's start a band.  Can I be the tambourine player?

Suzanne:  Only if I can play the gong and cow bell...

Me:  I forgot about the cowbell.  I'll be playing it, too.  You can play the triangle and the castanets, though.

Suzanne:  Why do you get the cowbell?  I have a master's degree in cowbell...  I think I'm more qualified.

Me:  I have a doctorate in cowbell.

Suzanne:  I've toured internationally on a solo tour of cowbell performance.  You can't beat that.  You just can't...

Me:  I invented the cowbell.

Suzanne:  See...  Now you're making stuff up....  The cowbell was invented by Vincent C. Bell in 1837...  He kept losing his cows, so he decided to strap a bell on them so he could find them easily...  In 1839 his wife, Elise Bell, discovered that these lovely bells made a great instrument.   Anyone with an advanced degree in cowbell should know this!

Me:  No, my friend, YOU are the one fictionalizing.  The cowbell was...  Okay, I didn't INVENT it, but I was the first one to use it as an instrument.  And Vincent's wife's name was not Elise, it was Tinker.  The sound of a cowbell can free up those clogged neural transmission routes in your brain so that you can think more clearly.  That, of course I did NOT discover. That was Elias Theenkstumutch.  He was German.  You should be familiar with his research.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.
~ Mark Twain
- - - - -

So, the last I had heard, Leslie's mom was going to dinner with some friends.  Okay, so it was only 3:00 p.m., but old people dinner sometimes is a lot earlier than less-old people dinner.  And I thought maybe they were going somewhere across town.

I came downstairs just as Granny was leaving.  She had on her coat and her pocketbook was sitting in the seat of her stair lift robot thing.

"Oh," she said.  "I thought everyone was already gone."

"No," I said.  "I was upstairs and Leslie is in her room doing some work."

"All right then," she said.  "Well, I guess I better get going."

"Okay.  Have fun!" I said.

I heard her mumble something.  I was pretty sure I heard her correctly, but didn't ask her to repeat it as she seemed a little cranky about having to get going.

"Leslie?" I asked, going to her room.  "Where is your mom going?"

"To a funeral," Leslie said.  "Why?"

"I thought she was going to dinner.  I told her to have fun."

Leslie laughed.  She could tell I felt kind of bad, so she said, "Well, I basically said the same thing.  When she said she was leaving I said, 'You're going to dinner at 3 o'clock in the afternoon?'"

"Um..." I responded, "I appreciate the effort, but that really isn't at all the same as telling someone to have fun at a funeral."

And, for the record, I'm pretty sure that her mom mumbled, "Well, I don't know who has fun at a funeral!" when she left.

Communication is hard.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


This life is for loving, sharing, learning, smiling, caring, forgiving, laughing, hugging, helping, dancing, wondering, healing, and even more loving.  I choose to live life this way.
~ Steve Maraboli
- - - - -
Me:  I'd like to marry you just to hear the wedding vows you'd come up with.

LL:  (deviously) Really?!

Me:  (nervously) Well...  I'd like to hear them.  I don't know if I want anyone else to hear them.

LL:  A.  E.  I.  O...

Me: Clever.  I guess we don't have to worry about that marriage thing, though.

Monday, May 25, 2015


The day will happen whether or not you get up.
~ John Ciardi
- - - - -

I don't really understand our need for every day to be a special day. Let me clarify. I think that we should make the most of every day we have. I believe we can find something special in every day we have.

I mean I don't understand how every day has to be " Dill Pickle Cut Into Thirds Day" or "Left-Handed Calligraphers Day." The other day I had this conversation...

Leslie: Is today "Siblings Day" or something?

Me: Yes.  I feel like it was just "Siblings Day" last month.

Leslie: I didn't even know there was such a thing as "Siblings Day."

Me:  Why does EVERY day have to be some damn day?!

Sunday, May 24, 2015


Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring - quite often the hard way.
~ Pamela Dugdale
- - - - -
Michael and David make me laugh.  Probably much more importantly Michael and David make Michael and David laugh.  I'm sure they've made each other cry at times or angry, but they mostly make each other laugh.
I was telling Jessica about when the song "The Coat of Many Colors" made Leslie cry.  I know this seems like a tangent, but stay with me, I'll bring it back.  And - in all fairness - "The Coat of Many Colors" is a sad song about how mean children and grown up children can sometimes be.
Anyway, I asked Jessica if she had ever heard the song.  She said, no.  She didn't think she'd heard that song.  So I started describing how Dolly Parton had written it about a box of rags -- then Jessica cut me off.
"Yes!" she said.  "'The Coat of Many Colors.'  I've heard that song."  I was confused, but figured she forgot about it until I explained the concept.
Then she added, "I thought you asked if I'd heard of the song 'The Co-Dependent Brothers'!"

Saturday, May 23, 2015


How could drops of water know themselves to be a river?
Yet the river flows on.
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery
- - - - -

I wonder sometimes how important it is to know in a given moment that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves. I think sometimes it is important. I think as a general rule it is good to bear in mind that we are not alone and that our actions affect others and the environment and the world.

Sometimes though, isn't it okay if we don't know that what we are doing is bigger than it appears? Isn't it okay if we take action just because it is what is right?

Or can we even separate those things? Are they so closely linked - the self + the action + the world - that we can't separate them any more easily than we can distinguish drops of water from the river?

Well, sometimes you can distinguish those things, right? Like when water splashes up and you get hit in the face with spray when you are whitewater rafting? Or when the droplets catch the sun and create a prism?

Sometimes drops of water aren't a part of a river. Sometimes they are part of a rainbow. Sometimes they are a part of a puddle. Sometimes they are part of an ice cube.

My point here is that what you do matters and is a part of something bigger than yourself.  And if you fall in a river, you're like a drop of rain, only you don't blend in as much.

Which is good if you want someone to help you out of that river.

Friday, May 22, 2015


Some nights are made for torture, or reflection, or the savoring of loneliness.
~ Poppy Z. Brite 
- - - - -
One night I was talking to Leslie on the phone.  Actually, that is every night.  Usually right before I go to sleep.  Unless we are in the same place.  Then we don't usually call each other on the phone.
Anyway, in a rather unexpected way - as she is prone to do from time to time - Leslie said a sentence that didn't quite fit with what we had been discussing earlier.  I think we had been discussing race and gender and larger societal issues.
Then she said, "Right now I'm trying to get the curriculum center to order me a female sailor puppet."
And then we said good night.  That was pretty much exactly how it went.
Well, I hadn't shut down the computer, so I went online to see if I could find a female sailor puppet.  All I found were a bunch of Sailor Moon items, but that wasn't what I wanted.
Then other weird things started popping up and before I could stop I realized I had crossed a line.  You know what puppets look a lot like?  Dolls.  Dolls that are made to SPEAK to you.  And some of them are even clown puppets.  The most horrific thing of all.

So now it's after midnight.  And I know that, sadly, I will probably never sleep again.

Thursday, May 21, 2015


When the Day of Judgment dawns and people, great and small, come marching in to receive their heavenly rewards, the Almighty will gaze upon the mere bookworm and say to Peter, "Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them. They have loved reading."
~ Virginia Woolf
- - - - -

I was going through photos and came across this one.  Apparently, Holy God brought judgment day four years ago today.  I know that there are lots of things people mention to me - things I said or did - that I don't remember, but I also don't remember this judgment day.

Now it could be that that thing happened.  The great uplifting.  That's not it.  Not apocalypse.  What is it called?  Not revelation.

The rapture.  That's what I was trying to think of.

Okay, it could have been the rapture happened that day.  If it did though, I'm kind of surprised by some of the people who didn't get raptured.  And I'm not so surprised by some of the rest of us didn't get raptured.

But I think Blondie is still around and they recorded, "Rapture."  Oh, and upon doing a little research I found that they released "Panic of Girls" on May 23, 2011.

So I guess they were not only not raptured, they were still hard at work.

You go, Blondie.  Glad you're still here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


If grass can grow through cement, love can find you at every time in your life.
~ Cher
- - - - -
I like Cher.  I saw her in concert once.  I am pretty sure she didn't see me there and I tried not to interrupt her when she was working.  I don't know why, but for some reason I once generated a list of good last names for Cher.  They included:
Ann Sharalike
Lee Ujest

I try to be helpful and creative.  And if not both, then creative.  And if neither, then - whatever!  If I could turn back time then I believe I never would have started this post until I found someone who would appreciate it.

Incidentally, if she married my brother Erik, I would hope she would go by Cher BoettCher.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


That is the one unforgivable sin in any society.  Be different and be damned!
~ Margaret Mitchell
- - - - -

Last night Leslie was talking about sending her sister's birthday gift.  Granny asked, "What did you send her?"  Leslie said, "All the best movies from 1965 - except The Sound of Music.  I assume she already has that."

"Oh," said Granny nodding and smiling.  "That's nice."

"Like Dr. Zhivago," Leslie added.  "And the others from that year.  I forget now what they were."

"Gone with the Wind?" I asked.

"NO!" retorted Leslie sternly.  That wasn't made in 1965!"

"Oh, that's right," I conceded.  It was in black and white so it had to be earlier."

"What?!" shrieked Leslie.  "It was in color.  Gone with the Wind was in color!"

"I know," I chuckled.  I was just teasing.  "There was a fire and it was the Civil War -- or was it the Revolutionary War?  I forget."

"How can you say those things?" Leslie scolded.  "Don't you know how important that movie was?  It won so many awards and it is very important culturally and historically in terms of what it achieved."

"I know," I said, trying to console her.  "Like the music.  And the dancing.  It won all the awards for that, right?  Is that the movie the Talking Heads wrote 'Burning Down the House' for?  Or was it a different movie."

After that we kind of quit talking about Gone with the Wind. I don't know why, though.  I thought Leslie loved that movie.

Monday, May 18, 2015


We acquire the strength we have overcome.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
- - - - -

When you're with someone for a little while, you talk about all kinds of things. You talk about things like beliefs and interests and your past. Then you talk about the "what ifs." What if you had all the money you ever wanted? What if you could go anywhere you wanted for a vacation? What if you only had one book and one tool on a desert island? What if you found out someone plagiarized your creative work? What if you suddenly grew wings? What if you could become invisible?

Anyway, somehow Leslie and I got on the topic of what if we got into a fight - who would win? She said I would because I am stronger.  I said she would because she is a spy.

Leslie: Yes, but I wouldn't use those skills on you. We were trained not to use them on civilians.

Me: That is so not comforting.

What if I just decide not to ever get in a fight with her?

Sunday, May 17, 2015


Ironically, rural America has become viewed by a growing number of Americans as having a higher quality of life not because of what it has, but rather because of what it does not have!
~ Don A. Dillman
- - - - -
We don't want what we have, and we want what we don't have.  But we also want what other people have as well as what others do not have.
Maybe if we focused on being instead of wanting, we'd be okay. 

For example, if I was rich and focused on being rich, I wouldn't be focused on wanting to be rich.

See how easy that is?

Saturday, May 16, 2015


Strange as it may seem, I still hope for the best, even though the best, like an interesting piece of mail, so rarely arrives, and even when it does it can be lost so easily.
~ Lemony Snickett
- - - - -
I still hope for the best, too. I hope for the "Best Ever Post Card Writing" award.

Not really.  I made that up.  But if there was one, I wouldn't mind winning it.

People like to be the best at things. And people like other people to know the things we are good at.

On the way to Duquesne a few weeks ago, we were behind a car with one of those "26.2" stickers on it.  Leslie said, "Why do people have those?"

I said, "Ego?"

She said, "But that's like a 44 year old man wearing around his sash with all of his Boy Scout badges on it!"

She makes me laugh so hard sometimes.

And also, some guys do that.

Friday, May 15, 2015


The llama is a woolly sort of fleecy hairy goat, with an indolent expression and an undulating throat; like an unsuccessful literary man.
~ Hilaire Belloc
- - - - -

I like learning about Leslie's job. She gets to find and share information with people. She learns about lots of interesting things in her job.

But being a librarian isn't glamorous and exciting ALL the time.

One of the things she does is work as an online reference librarian. I don't fully understand it, but it has to do with being online and getting questions from all over and from all different types of people.  She said, "Most of the time it is interesting and we help people with different things."

Then there are other times.

"Sometimes they call and want to know if the puppet show is still on at their public library.  How the hell should I know? I don't care about the puppet show at the public library!" She added, "Then there are days that third grade teachers just set their kids free on us and we get questions like 'Llamas?'"

I couldn't stop laughing when she said that. I think it was more about the voice she created for the third-grader sending in the question, but I really thought it was funny.

I was actually asking so that I could go in when she was working and ask her random questions like, "Where are the green books?" or "How do I help my community ban books?" or "I am starting to believe everything I read and I need help.  What should I do?"

Instead, now I want to go online while she's working and just ask, "Llamas?"

Thursday, May 14, 2015


Discourse is fleeting, but junk mail is forever!
~ Joe Bob Briggs
- - - - -

I feel like this is how this story started, so it's how I'm going to start this story...

Not too long ago, Jared let me know that Kirk wanted to get famous enough to be recruited by the Scientologists.  I, being the person who often likes to make others' dreams come true, contacted Scientology Central (though I don't think that's what it was called) and suggested they send information to Kirk.

I then contacted the Hare Krishnas and suggested that they contact him, as well.

I was going to contact the Wiccans, but they wanted too much personal information, so instead I tried to think of other things Kirk might be interested in.

When I told Leslie that my next idea was to subscribe him to Tiger Beat magazine, her response was, "Now he's going to wonder why he gets TWO copies."

I really like her.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Out of damp and gloomy days, out of solitude, out of loveless words directed at us, conclusions grow up in us like a fungus: one morning they are they, we know not how, and they gaze upon us, morose and gray. Woe to the thinker who is not the gardener but only the soil of the plants that grow in him.
~ Friedrich Nietzsche
- - - - -
I like that idea of tending to what is planted in us. We can weed out some of that bad stuff or repurpose it to help the good things grow. We have some agency to create change and manage ourselves - our inner lives as well as the ways we engage with the outer world.
But sometimes the fungus that grows in us is morel mushrooms.  In which case - yahoo!
The morel of the story is you can be a fungi or a boring guy. Mush of life is up to us.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


I am sure it is a great mistake always to know enough to go in when it rains. One may keep snug and dry by such knowledge, but one misses a world of loveliness.
~ Adeline Knapp
- - - - -

I don't like it when people tell me I have made some mistakes.  Why are they mistakes?  Why not misterstakes? Am I outraged about the gender-affiliation of the language?


No, I'm angry because I don't like being told I goofed up.

Monday, May 11, 2015


You must empty a box before you fill it again.
~ Irish Proverb
- - - - -
How come boxes are bad? We are always wanting think outside them.  Get out of them. Be careful not to force things into them.
I like boxes.  I like packing some stuff away so it doesn't clutter up the place. Plus, when you open the boxes, they are full of surprises.  Sometimes good surprises.

Sometimes they are full of bad surprises - like your things broke or a mouse got in there and had babies and you have to touch the pink squirmy babies to get them out of that box.

I'm just kidding about that mouse thing. That doesn't happen in a box. It happens in my grandmother's bag of yarn. And my mom didn't see the pink squirmers until she put her hand in the bag. Then she got sick.

So anyway... boxes.

Sunday, May 10, 2015


Mothers are all slightly insane.
~ J.D. Salinger
- - - - -

I am sure my mother is a bit off.  I don't think Erik and Kirk and I would have turned out the way we did if she was normal.  But then there is no normal, is there?  No.  There isn't.

Also, really J.D. Salinger?  Live in glass houses much?

Well, I guess not anymore.

Saturday, May 9, 2015


For email, the old postcard rule applies.

Nobody else is supposed to read your postcards,

but you'd be a fool if you wrote anything private on one.

~ Judith Martin

- - - - - -

So, I have had a collection of SPAM postcards for a long time.  I used to pick them up anytime I was near Minnesota.  They had them in brochures to encourage people to go to the SPAM Museum.  Which you SHOULD go to if you get the chance.  Not right now.  You'll understand why soon.

Anyway, I have moved these postcards around with me a lot.  I decided at the beginning of the year to start sending them to my mom.  I didn't send them all at once.  I spaced them out over a few days.  

Since the postal carriers have already read all of them, I may as well share them with you.

As my mom's birthday approaches, I thought this would be a good time to share them.

The photos above are what the fronts of (most of) the cards looked like.  

Why do I love SPAM so much?  I don't know.  Probably because of the postcards.

Friday, May 8, 2015


Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
- - - - -

The idea of mastery is interesting. It can shift or be taken away in a moment. A change of circumstance. A change in our understanding of the world. A change in what we as a community or culture value.

And what do you do when your mastery is passed? When you aren't as masterful as you once were?

I suppose you try to learn more. You try to grow. Sometimes that learning is formal - education. I guess in those cases you're going for your post-master's degree.

Thursday, May 7, 2015


Humans are pretty crafty but will fold quickly in severe cold.
~ Henry Rollins
- - - - -
I like to think that I am creative.  A creative problem-solver.  Someone who likes to create things.  Sometimes that works against me, though.  Because sometimes I like to create problems for others.  Sometimes I like that quite a bit.
Not quilt a bit.  I rarely quilt problems for others.  Not that I'm opposed to quilting.  Some of my best family members make quilts.  I wish one of them would write a book called, I'm Calling it Quilts.  Because I'd like to see what they say about me and to find out who would play me in the movie.  Of course the name of the movie might be changed to Car Chase Quilters or Quilts of Fire or Quilters Never Win.
I mean, really we have to think ahead to marketing and merchandising, right?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Awesome things come to those who focus on the positive, recognize the blessings, find the humor and never give up!
~ Comic Strip Mama
- - - - -

When I had this journal in class someone asked me if it said "Dr. Awesome" on it.  It actually said, "The Journal OF Awesome."  However, I am creative and resourceful and was able to easily convert the "of" into "DR."  So I did.

Sometimes I worry that me liking to be called "Dr. Awesome" could make me seem egocentric and arrogant and self-absorbed.  Then I realize that isn't the case.  There is space in awesome for both me and we, right?  If that's the case, it can't be all about me.  We definitely make awesome happen.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


Those that despise people will never get the best out of others and themselves.
~ Alexis de Tocqueville
- - - - -

I recently found myself in a cultural immersion experiment.  It was unanticipated but not unappreciated.

Me: Just stopped at nastiest gas station I've been in in a long time.  Worth it though because inside my stall it said, "Vikita + Cody 4ever."  Only "Vikita" was crossed out and someone wrote, "Big mouth [bad word, rhymes with barn door, dance floor or hardware store] who can't back her shit up."  I feel like that guy -- 

Leslie:  What kind of name is "Vikita?"

Me:  I don't know.  de Tocqueville!  That's who I feel like.  I'm the Alexis de Tocqueville of West Virginia!!!

Leslie:  Why would de Tocqueville be in a woman's rest room?

Me:  Did they have indoor plumbing back then?  You're missing my point.

Monday, May 4, 2015


A graduation ceremony is an event where the commencement speaker tells thousands of students dressed in identical caps and gowns that 'individuality' is the key to success.
~ Robert Purvis
- - - - -
You might think that once you graduate, all your troubles are over.  You have achieved that educational credential and now you are ready for a worry-free life.  That is not true.  In fact, if you didn't know it wasn't true, you may not have learned as much in school as you should have.

For example, a couple of years ago when I finished my Ph.D., my troubles were only beginning.  They sent me the wrong sized tam for commencement.  First, I wrote to Ann. 

Me:  Ann, do you know anyone with a large tam?  They sent me the wrong size.
Ann: Tam it!

She made a few suggestions and then added.

Ann: If I see any random tams around, I'll let you know.
Me:  And I'll run by the Tam Shack on Welch and see if they have what I need.

My next attempt was to get another tam from the registrar's office.  I emailed Rose to find out if that would be a possibility.

Me:  How big is Kathy Jones' head?

Rose completely misunderstood my question and went on for pages and pages about Kathy's ridiculously huge ego.  I guess people try to help in their own ways.

But my point is, your problems are just beginning.  They are like wild beasts.  The best you can do is try to tam them. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015


Winter is a season of recovery and preparation.
~ Paul Theroux
- - - - -

Apparently the people in South Carolina are good at stocking up during snowstorms.  I failed to go to the grocery store during any of our two anticipated inclement weather situations this winter.  I have been told that I should go just to watch.  It's on my list of sights to see in SC.

I walked past this sign on campus.  I think that FEMA and the American Red Cross are now using this as their emergency response provisions list.

I could be wrong about that.

Saturday, May 2, 2015


Don't close the barn door after the horse runs away.
~ American Proverb
- - - - -

I think this proverb is about preparation and forethought.  You want to secure things before they are gone or taken or stolen or they run away.  You want to protect them.  Once they are gone, it doesn't do any good to lock them up.

Of course, it could mean that you want to keep the barn open in case the horse comes back home again.  If s/he can't get in the barn, then s/he might run off forever.

But, seriously, I think you're deceiving yourself if you think that horse is coming home again.  It's not.  That horse is going to Broadway to try and star in a horseplay.


Friday, May 1, 2015


You have to have a big vision and take very small steps to get there.  You have to be humble as you execute but visionary and gigantic in terms of your aspiration...  it's not about grand innovation, it's about a lot of little innovations: every day, every week, every month, making something a little bit better.
~ Jason Calacanis
- - - - -
This is a restaurant in Ames, Iowa.  I like it there.  The food is pretty good and I like to eat there and watch people.  Or write.  Well, I did.  It's a little inconvenient to go there now that I've moved.
It made me think though - about how we use months to describe things.  May House probably isn't about the month of May, but we take our inspirations where we can get them.  A few thoughts...
March On
April Showers
May House
June Bug
September Morning
October Sky

A few less common phrases...

January Charley Horses
July Sweatfest
August Discussed Robustly
December Scrabble Tournament

Just you wait.  Give these a little time and I'm sure they may catch on.  And if not, if you give it a little more time, I'm sure you'll forget all about these.