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Saturday, October 31, 2015


An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little 
before it will explain itself.
~ Charles Dickens
- - - - -

I saw this walking home from campus a few weeks ago.  I LOVE seeing things like this.  Really.  I do.  The unexpected.  The surprising.  Something that doesn't necessarily fit with it's environment.  

Just to be very clear, I don't mean I love seeing ghosts.  I think that would freak me out.

But if this was a real ghost, would it be the ghost of a garbage collector?  A person who hunted for treasure in the refuse of others?  A trashy person of some sort?

I didn't speak to this ghost.  I didn't ask it to tell me it's story.  Was it because I didn't want people to think something was wrong with me?  I didn't want to be reported for talking to a piece of wood or art or a discarded beanbag toss game board?  No, that's not it.  To be completely honest, I just don't really like ghost stories.

Friday, October 30, 2015


An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.
~ Charles Dickens
- - - - -

I saw this on my walk home from campus for several days in a row.  It seems counterintuitive to throw out a ghost with the garbage.  Then I realize that this must be the trash pile outside an exorcist's house.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


Not to understand a man's purpose does not make him confused.
~ Kung Fu
- - - - -

I was texting with Kirk right before I went in to see Foxcatcher.  Spoiler alert: This post is about Foxcatcher.  Then I texted Kirk after I saw Foxcatcher.

Me:  You can call me Golden Eagle.  Or Eagle.

Kirk:  Ha!  He was so good in that.

Me:  I feel oogy.

Kirk:  Think about that the next time you see anything DuPont.

Me:  No.  I don't wanna.  I do want a Foxcatcher hoodie, though.

Kirk:  I know, right?

Me:  That would be a FABULOUS group Halloween costume.


Me:  Right?!

Kirk:  You win at Halloween.

Me:  YES!  And more than 10 months early!  I win the GOLD MEDAL at Halloween.  I went to put it in the special case.  Mom won't let me.  She's such a Vanessa Redgrave about my special achievements.

Kirk:  'Cause she loves horses!

Me:  I know.

Kirk:  Stop being such a Vanessa Redgrave, Mom!!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Here today, up and off somewhere else tomorrow! Travel, change, interest, excitement! The whole world before you, and a horizon that's always changing!
~ Kenneth Grahame
- - - - -

Maddie sent me this photo after her summer travel abroad to Hungary.  I put it in my office and sent her a picture of her picture.  She wrote back, "Oh yay!  Looks good!  Looks like a classy looking office!"

I responded, "That's me.  Classy."

And by classy I mean two things...  First, when people give me classy things I like that.  And second I teach classes.  

Oh, three things.  Also, I mean it ironically.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


If human beings had genuine courage, they'd wear costumes every day of the year, not just on Halloween.
~ Douglas Coupland
- - - - -

Rachel:  Good luck with writing.  Have a great visit in Altoona!

Me:  Thank you.  I'd stop by Adventureland and win you a stuffed Elsa from Frozen, but I think Adventureland is closed.  And it should be.  Because it's frozen out there.

Rachel:  Elsa came to the door last night.  Keri told me I am supposed to compliment the costumes - tell the ghoul-y ones they look scary and the princess ones they are very royal and laugh at the funny ones.  I laughed at the huge rope of yellow side braid on Elsa, so maybe I got confused.

Me:  Don't beat yourself up.  Let it go.  Let it go.

Rachel:  We are much funnier over text.

Monday, October 26, 2015


I am not a princess, I don't want to be referred to as a princess - I find that super creepy.
~ Melissa McCarthy
- - - - -

So the other night I was listening to youtube videos.  By that, I mean that I looked up the song, "Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This" by The Shirelles.  Well, then more videos played.  They included, "Mr. Sandman" by The Chordettes, "These Boots are Made for Walking" by Nancy Sinatra and "California Dreaming" by The Mamas and the Papas.  

And then something called "HISTORY OF OIL - Part 1) came on.  That was weird.  I listened through the commercial that came first to see what it would be.  Turns out it was a video about the history of oil.

Now for the creepy part.  It was narrated by the guy who does (or did) the narration on "Medical Detective."  He has the scariest voice ever to me.  Except for the voice of the doll on "Dance of the Devil Dolls" on "The Hall of Fantasy."


WHY do I insist on thinking about things like this late at night?

I am writing this before Leslie has moved to South Carolina.  I will be glad when she's here so that I'm less scared of devil dolls and medical detectives.  Well, I'll still be afraid of them, but she can fight them off while I find a place to hide.

Sunday, October 25, 2015


Pull up a chair.  Take a taste.  Come join us.  
Life is so endlessly delicious.
~ Ruth Reichl
- - - - - 

One day I was texting with Elizabeth and she shared that she was having lunch at school with Maddie (when they were both still in high school).

Me:  You two eat together?  Are you like friends or something?

Elizabeth:  Yes...  And kind of.  It was not m choice, but I'm nice.

Me:  You ARE nice.  That is good  It will help you get what you want in life.


Me:  Well, sometimes.  Sometimes it's just a pain in the butt to be nice.

Saturday, October 24, 2015


People are always afraid of other things, they are never afraid of themselves.
~ Dan Wells
- - - - -

I'm scared of dolls.  And clowns.  

Ironically, I worked for a circus once.  Erik should be afraid of people who go to the circus.  When he was little we went to the circus and he had a root beer.  There was a bee flying around it.  A woman said, "Look out!  A bee!" and swatted at it, knocking Erik's root beer out of his hand and spilling it all over the ground.

The other night Leslie started singing, "Send in the Clowns" all quiet-like.  In the dark.  It was freaky scary.

I should have found a picture of clowns to go with this post.  But I try not to keep those around.

Friday, October 23, 2015


In order to improve the mind, 
we ought less to learn than to contemplate.
~ Rene Descartes
- - - - -

The other day Leslie and I were hanging out with Diane, Robin and Corrine.  Somehow we got to talking about fall (I'm guessing that happened because it is fall).  

Leslie said that it was feeling very autumnal.

So then we talked about the word autumnal.

I suggested that in South Carolina, I think they pronounce it "autumny'all."

We didn't talk about the other seasons.  Those are conversations for another time.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


All life is an experiment.  
The more experiments you make, the better.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
- - - - -

Spoiler alert.

I guess there is some sort of thing where drag queens make over not-so-glamourous women.  A while ago Jared kept sending me photos of them before and after...

Me:  It's like mug shot vs. glamour shot.


Me:  Please don't sign me up for this.  I know it makes sense.  I know that.  But I don't wanna.

Kirk:  That would be amazing!

Me:  No.  (pause)  Wait.  There's a dragulator?!

Kirk:  That's how they get their drag name and look.  From a robot.

(much later)

Kirk:  My sister hasn't written.  She must be way too into the show.

Jared:  She might be putting on drag make up and going to send us pics.

(much later)

Me:  Bianca del Rio won!  I'm like psychic and predicting drag queen champions.

Kirk:  We both were super-impressed when you did!!!

Me:  I continue to amaze us.


Me:  I hate that I can't stop watching it.  It's like a musical train accident with Skittle decorations and puppies.

Kirk:  I love that you can't stop watching it.

Me:  Seriously, though - how do you not look at it?


Me:  I can't go on drag race because I hate glitter.  (pause)  And there are probably other reasons.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Be still and cool in thine own mind and and spirit.
~ George Fox
- - - - -

This person is not too cool for school.

S/he is too deceased for school.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


(photo by Kirk Boettcher)
The limitations in your photography are in yourself, 
for what we see is what we are.
~ Ernst Haas
- - - - -

Kirk:  Want to see something terrifying?  Like you might scream!

Me:  Yes.  Was just thinking that.

Kirk:  One more chance...  You sure..?

Me:  Is it a gross medical thing?  If so, I don't want to see that.

Kirk:  No.  I promise.

Me:  Okay.

Kirk: (posts photo above)

Me:  That's pretty.  Is it your new tattoo?

Kirk:  We went to the seafood market for lobsters today.  This was for sale there.

Me:  Better than going to the doctor's office for crabs, I guess.

Monday, October 19, 2015


The best listeners listen between the lines.
~ Nina Malkin
- - - - -

Things Leslie's mom (Granny) was worried about in January:

* Ebola
* Lint on her robe
* Putin (or maybe getting her "foot in" her slipper)

Sunday, October 18, 2015


De mortuis nil nisi bonum.

- - - - -

Language is always changing.  Slanguage is always changing, too.

For instance, a while ago I was texting with Elizabeth.

E:  Hahahahahaha I'm laughing cause you used "lol" text lingo.

Me:  Lmfao

Me:  I'm multilingual!

Me:  Nbd

Me:  Tool


Me:  Ooops.  Spellchecked me.  I typed "yolo"

E:  Hahahaha oh gosh

It's funny how sometimes we can use the same words but still not quite speak the same language.  Fortunately some people are willing to listen across the divide.

Saturday, October 17, 2015


If you're holding out for universal popularity, I'm afraid you'll be in this cabin for a very long time.
~ J.K. Rowling
- - - - -

Over the Fourth of July Kirk, Jared and Jared's mom spent some time at a cabin.  I asked Kirk where it was and how long they were going to get to stay there.  It looked nice in the photos he was sharing.

NOTE:  The cabin where they stayed is not the cabin in the photo above.  It was a different cabin.  On a lake and not on a disc golf course.  

Kirk: It's about 45 minutes north of us.  It's a congregant/friend of ours.  She gave us a week here for our wedding gift.

Me:  She is nice.  Did she meet me?

Kirk:  I think so.  She was at the wedding.

Me:  Did she tell you she wants to give me the cabin so I can spend a decade there?

Kirk:  No.  She asked that you not spend a decade there.  She's bossy.

Me:  dang.

Kirk:  Right?

Me:  congreCAN'T use my cabin.  That's what I'm gonna call her.  My life is ridiculously hard.

(more banter, about five minutes later this...)

Kirk:  I'M STILL CRACKING UP ABOUT CONGRE-CAN'T.  I'm gonna use that all the time.

Me:  Maybe Jared could use that in one of his "holier than thou" lectures he gives.  Is that what they are called?  I forget your culture sometimes.  The specifics of it.  Your religious practices.  Does he ever mention me in his lectures?  Does he say nice things?

We went on to exchange messages for another 15 minutes or so.  Kirk never responded to my questions about whether Jared mentions me or says nice things about me.

Obviously, I'm assuming the answer to both questions is, "Yes."

Friday, October 16, 2015


All journeys have secret destinations
of which the traveler is unaware.
~ Martin Buber
- - - - -

Recently David and Michael made a road trip to North Carolina.  Well, it was recently-ago as I write this, but if I don't post it for a while it might not be so recent.

That's not my point.

What is my point, you ask?  Be quiet and I'll tell you.

So as they were planning their route, Leslie insisted that they not go "The DC way" because traffic would be too heavy.  They mumbled - I think it was agreement?  It may actually have just been them going, "Mumble, mumble, mumble."  They're the kind of guys who would do that.

About three minutes after they pulled out of the driveway I texted them.

Me:  Are you there yet?

Michael:  Yeah.

Me:  Speeders.  You went the DC route didn't you?!

Michael:  U no it.

Me:  Your mom is SOOOOOO pissed!

David: (four hours later)  We're actually hanging out at Mountaineer Mart like a couple of hooligans.

Kids.  You can't live with 'em and you can't send 'em on a roadtrip and expect them to behave themselves.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


When the tide of misfortune moves over you, even jelly will break your teeth.
~ Iranian Proverb
- - - - -

Rachel:  I am a paragon of truth.  That's my jam.

Me:  It's a good one.

Rachel:  Well...  I also really like mango.  And jalapeno, and blackberry.  But the truth.  Definitely.

Me:  Strawberry rhubarb.  That's the stuff.  And I actually prefer preserves.

Me:  Truth preserves.

Rachel:  You are kinda high maintenance.

Rachel:  With your fruit chunking tendencies.

Me:  Actually not too much.  Most of the time.

Rachel:  Most of the time you prefer your fruit gel-ly not chunky.

Me:  I prefer pie.

Rachel:  Mhmmmm pie.

And this, my friends, is how you blend the fruits of your labor with the fruits of the world to create new meanings.  Creative dialogue which wanders without ever quite leaving its original path. 

Also, the above is not jelly or jam or preserves.  It's super-bubble formula.  That's the kind of stuff I put in Mason jars.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Biology gives you a brain.  Life turns it into a mind.
~ Jeffrey Eugenides

- - - - -

I was reviewing text exchanges recently and I saw this from a conversation with Rachel.

Some of the message below I wrote is spellchecked and some is not.  The parts that are not spellchecked are probably not the parts you would think would be spellchecked. 

It's funny how we have so many tools for communication and yet we continue to misspeak - even when we are silent.  Our verbal skills are now blurred with our hand eye coordination and other motor skills as well as our knowledge of technology.

Anyway, I appreciate Rachel's response to my text.  It shows honesty and a willingness to try and understand how my mind works or what I typed or what I intended to convey.  And that's a gift.  And I'm grateful to her for that.

Me:  Want to fork the last section of Pikachu?

Rachel:  I don't know what that means.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


The clock never stops, never stops, never waits.
We're growing old.  It's getting late.
~ Ben Folds
- - - - -
Birthdays happen.  Some people dread them.  Some people love them.  I make a big deal about mine via social media, but I really don't like to be the center of attention.  I like to be the periphery of attention.
But I do like it when people email me or send me a card to acknowledge my birthday.  I'm not always the best at doing that for other people, but I try.
The other day I was reading a post online.  A woman had thanked her significant other for a birthday gift.  Someone commented,  "Happy belated bs to you!"
I think they meant to say "bd" as in short for birthday, but I also hope that they said exactly what they meant.  The story behind that is probably pretty good.

Monday, October 12, 2015


The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight.  They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.
~ Albert Camus
- - - - -

I saw this written on a wall.  It's kind of inspirational.  No.  Motivational?

It's kind of interesting.

I don't know.  I'm not sure what the purpose of this post is. Maybe it's without purpose.

I guess I will close by suggesting that if you must be futile you can at least try to do it in some way that isn't pointless.

Also, I think the gods condemned Sisyphus long before the rolling rock thing. I think he was kind of condemned as soon as he was named Sisyphus.

Sunday, October 11, 2015


[A]lways get to the dialogue as soon as possible.  I always feel the thing to go for is speed.  Nothing puts the reader off more than a big slab of prose at the start.
~ P.G. Wodehouse
- - - - - 

Me: So this writing project...
Our billion dollar book

Kirk: OH you met my friend Sarah... Right?

should we write about the same topic


we can have your conversation first


yes, I met Sarah

Are you Facebook friends with her?

remind me of her last name

She runs the monster truck



am laughing and laughing at that
No. we aren't Facebook friends.

She textbook broth

she textbook broth?
this is the best


dang it

Saturday, October 10, 2015


I saw a crow building a nest.  I was watching him very carefully.  I was sort of stalking him and he was aware of it.  And you know what they do when they become aware of someone stalking them when they build a nest, which is a very vulnerable place to be?  They build a decoy nest.  It's just for you.
~ Tom Waits
- - - - -

I think this is the day that Mimi and  Mike are getting married.  They like crows.  I know that this is not a photo of a crow's nest.  I'm pretty sure it's a robin's nest because that looks like a robin's egg.

My point is that they are getting married and they like crows.

Crows mate for life, I think.  Or maybe that's penguins.  Or maybe both.

But you know what, crows can mate for life and never get "married."  They don't need to abide by some document.  They know that they're committed to teach each other.  The crows rebel and "fight the man" by not getting some stupid piece of paper.

Plus, without opposable thumbs, crows couldn't sign the paper, anyway.

They couldn't even make a chickenscratch on it.

Because they're crows.

Happy marriage, Mimi and Mike.  You're both smart people, so I won't patronize you by articulating all of the many lessons in this blog.  You can do that. 

I'm busy.

Friday, October 9, 2015


When I walk with you I feel as if I had a flower in my buttonhole.
~ William Makepeace Thackery
- - - - -

Don't lie. 

When you read the above quote, you thought it said "butthole" too, didn't you?

I knew it.

Thursday, October 8, 2015


The fewer the facts, the stronger the opinion.
~ Arnold H. Glasgow
- - - - -
Know how I know Spam is good?  Because Sam I Am never once said "I do not like Green Eggs and Spam."

Of course, Sam I Am isn't the most reliable source.  He would say he didn't like things without even trying them.


Also,  he is a fictional character.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


The sound of colors is so definite that it would be hard 
to find anyone who would express bright yellow with 
bass notes or dark lake with the treble.
~ Wassily Kandinsky

- - - - -

I like that "True Colors" song that Cyndi Lauper sings.  It's nice.  I guess other people have sung it, too.  That isn't my point here, though.

My point is that I just hope my true colors aren't pink and orange because I don't think those colors really go together. Ever.

And I also hope my true colors aren't teal because I don't like that color.

I wouldn't mind if my true colors are brown and gray, but that's kind of sad and depressing and you kind of want to stay away from them sometimes instead of celebrating them.


I bet my true colors are brown and gray.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.
~ Aesop
- - - - -

I took this at a little restaurant where Leslie and I ate a while ago.  It's in Georgia.  It was good.  It reminded me of the Red Cup Cafe where we used to go sometimes.

I wish I was a good cook.  I can make food, but I'm not convinced that is the same thing as being a good cook.  Little known fact... I subscribe to Bon Appetit.  I like to read it.  I save some of the recipes from it.

However, I decided to let my subscription expire because the magazine too often calls for ingredients like oxtail or squid ink or hibiscus flower.  And I don't think you should eat those things.  Wait - I'm not the boss of you.  I don't think I should eat those things.

Of course, I could write a letter to the magazine expressing my concern, but I suspect their response would be something like:

Dear Michelle,

Ever think you may not be our target audience?

Love, Bon Appetit.

Monday, October 5, 2015


Eleanor was right.  She never looked nice.  She looked 
like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was 
supposed to make you feel something.
~ Rainbow Rowell
- - - - -

The other night Kirk sent me a piece of art via text.  No comment, just a piece of art.  It was an image of a woman holding a child.  I wrote back and asked if it was O'Brien from Downton Abbey holding baby Herbert Hoover.  Kirk wrote back and agreed that is what it looked like.

Well, then I decided I wanted to see what it actually was.  I did some research and found out that it was "Mrs. Cephas Smith with Child" by William Jennys (1803).  I could post a copy of the artwork here, but I'm not going to.  You need to take a little initiative and look it up.  I took initiative to figure out what the painting was.  Seriously, I've done the hard part for you.  And seriously, it looks like O'Brien holding a baby Herbert Hoover.

Sunday, October 4, 2015


A kid will run any errand for you, if you ask at bedtime.
~ Red Skelton
- - - - -

Isn't this image of a Cheerio in the rain sad?

Okay, let it go and let's move on...

And don't sing that song.  I know you're singing it in your head.

My point is that kids like things.  They like Cheerios because they can hold on to them.  It gives them some control.  But you want to be careful you don't give kids too MUCH control.

Like when my grandpa left the keys in the tractor and I was four or something and I apparently had watched him turn on the tractor, so I turned on the tractor and started driving it.


I heard my dad tell me that story a ton of times.  I'm wondering now if it's true.  Can a four year old really drive a tractor?  Even one as perspicacious as me?

That's not my point.  My point is not to let kids think they run this place.  They do.  But don't ever let them know that.

Saturday, October 3, 2015


In times of joy, all of us wished we possessed a tail we could wag.
~ W. H. Auden
- - - - -

Parents are weirdos.  I don't think that they think.  I mean, they say and do things and I think they fail to look at their behaviors or listen to their words in a context beyond their children.  

I'm not talking about focusing on things other than their kids.  Kids are important and the future and precious little angelpeople and blah blah blah...

I mean, think about your surroundings and how your comments sound out of context and stuff.  Just think.

Case in point...

The other day I was in target and a toddler and his mom and maybe his grandma? were shopping in front of me.  The kid kept pointing out animals and commenting on them.

Toddler:  Look at the monkey tail!!  Look at the tiger tail!!  Look at the doggie tail!

His mother looked at the grandmother and said, "Yep.  He's a little tail man."

I'm telling you, it just didn't sound right.

Friday, October 2, 2015


Pen-bereavement is a serious matter.
~ Anne Fadiman
- - - - -

This is one of my favorite pens.  I don't remember where I got it.  I used to love having it in my Judicial Affairs office because it isn't very judicial-affairs-ish and I like to play against stereotypes.  I love that pen.  Maybe I got it from Maddie or Elizabeth.  I have looked for more of these kinds of pens, but can't find any quite like this one - close maybe, but not exactly the same.

I like to think that this pen has made a positive difference in the world.  I know it has brightened my days some days.  I signed some pretty serious paperwork with this pen from time to time.  Of course usually in the privacy of my own office rather than in some important meeting with a lot of bigwigs there.

It's funny to me that I used to have important meetings with bigwigs.  I probably would have used this actual pen if they had worn actual wigs.

Thursday, October 1, 2015


You can live for years next door to a big pine tree, honored to have so venerable a neighbor, even when it sheds needles all over your flowers or wakes you, dropping big cones onto your deck in the still of night.
~ Denise Levertov
- - - - -

I am not sure why I like pinecones so much.  I am not sure if it the artistry of their design or the complexity of their form.  They are a single item but with lots of parts and pieces and places.  They are sturdy and have their own armor. 

I guess they are like us.  We are art walking around.  We are complex.  We have lots of parts and pieces and places - many of which most other people never get to see or know about.  We are sturdy.  We have our own armor.

And sometimes we get tired and just have to lie down on the ground.  Sometimes to reproduce, but hopefully not often do we do that in public like the lewd, crude, smutty pinecone.