Archive | opinion

A true egg story

Sandy is an avian American found street walking at night in a lesser part of Sanford Maine. Now she is the grande dame of a small but productive multi-ethnic flock, doing her part to encourage the other hens as they labor.

Let me go back to the beginning: Over a year ago I was visiting my brand new pair of mothers I had just gotten when I found Sandy trying to cross the street at night. No that’s not far enough, let me go back to the VERY beginning . . . there once was an egg, who met a sperm, and they made a zygote. But the egg and sperm were still in high school and the zygote became a blastocyst that would need shoes for the next 225 months. As this was the dark ages of Camelot, the Catholic church got to draw a name of of a hat of a pious yet childless couple and present them with a bouncing demon puddle splasher whose first and only word was NO. Are we far enough back yet?

Flip forward through 53 years punctuated by death, detention, depression and divorce until the Catholics finally offer up my address for an outrageous price to my only non-mother blood relation. Using their outdated and inaccurate mother-data provided me and my incredible stalking superpowers, I managed to locate my biomoms address in less than an hour. Of all the US states in all the world, my biomom had married a woman from Maine and they had moved to less than an hour away from where I would eventually make landfall. Being the instant gratification brat that I am, in lieu of sending them a cablegram, I drove to their house and rang the doorbell. <insert family reunion montage here> Very quickly my dance card went from zero to sixty, with biosiblings and aunts and non bio siblings and other extended relations yielding a Marvel universe worthy family tree.

Back to Sandy…remember Sandy? Every few weeks I take a run over to my mothers’ house to bang some yarn and stock up on eggs. One night coming back I find Sandy wandering around in the bike lane at an intersection. After corraling her into a collapsible cat carrier, I brought her back to my mother’s hen house. With her trimmed beak and wing feathers, she had obviously escaped from a truck taking her to no place good. It took a few weeks of rest and ‘recooperation’ for her to join her new flock where there are no expectations for her to take part in the production aside from moral support. Although every so often she pops out an egg just to prove she still has what it takes.

i knit therefore i am

What did YOU do in the most recent blizzard? I managed to knit a pair of handwarmers. I have done plenty of socks which are more complicated but I only recently learned how to do thumbs. These are still wonky, but if they are like socks, but the time I do number 5 and and 6 they will be a lot better. (yes they LOOK fine, but the place where the thumb joins the hand, is untidy)

On Day Number THREE I had already fallen off this year’s frugality wagon when I stopped at the Local Yarn Store and ended up walking out with a couple of skeins of grey baby alpaca. I was going to start on another pair of socks as I had another two skeins in the wings. I am fixated on this red sock yarn which I have to buy everytime, but I like the way they feel and look. Each pair costs me about $20 in yarn. If I were to BUY a similar pair it would be about $20+. So there’s not much savings there. But these actually fit properly and are better than I can buy.

I need to start using up more of the yarn I already have, I am just not a creative knitter. I’m a subsistence knitter, I just create usable things. I know I can never create things that are as beautiful or complicated as the ones I can buy. I am very happy with the sweaters that I own and right now I don’t feel the urge to waste a lot of yarn trying to make one.  But if I can turn out a few plain scarves, shawls, handwarmers and socks, then I will never need to buy those things.  After I master handwarmers, I am going to do some hats, that should keep me busy. The first thing I will need to do is repair the one I bought that my dog found pretty tasty.

I will say this, I am getting pretty speedy, the handwarmers only took me one knitting day each. A knitting day is one where its snowing too much for me to bother doing anything else

where’d it all go?

Every year I look at the things I bought, most of them were just to make myself happy.  Sometimes they were to replace things that I couldn’t live without, a lot of them were to fix or create other things. Since I buy very few actually NEW things, and almost always from Amazon or Ebay,  it is easy to see what I bought.  Everything else I acquire is from thrift shops or rarely Craigslist. Surprisingly this year, a lot of things I purchased were ones I really didn’t need but thought I did at the time. I also bought a lot of ‘just in case’ things which I apparently don’t need either.  Yeah this was a bad year in comparison to other years, I mostly blame the very bad job that I had, I was spending the extra pay wastefully, probably just to keep from killing people at work. I also took up backpacking\hiking and bought a ‘new’ car which led me down a path to acquire appropriate accessories.

I kept trying used hiking clothing made of all the new and improved fabrics for hiking clothing and finally threw in the towel and redonated the entire lot. I just can’t wear anything made of polyester next to my skin. I bit the bullet and bought a merino t-shirt (although I found a $50 shirt for $20!) I can’t wear it in summer as they claim, but it’s fine for the rest of the year. I will usually only buy clothes on ebay after I have failed to find something I really want in thrift shops. At $50 this Aran Merino hoodie was probably the most expensive item of clothing I bought this year, I also picked up some merino lounge pants and a lightweight merino hoodie at $20 each, both needing light repairs – I write all the woolen purchases off as ‘heating’ expenses. I didn’t buy as MUCH yarn this year as other years, though I did stop knitting in the summer when the weather got sticky. I am going to TRY to use up the yarn cache under the bed, including sweaters I bought specifically to unravel for their yarn.  I wasted at least $60 buying ‘hiking’ socks which I loathe, so I finally mastered knitting my own socks. I may have to add to my needle collection next year, and move onto other things.

This year I replaced the Microwave, the Tea kettle, my watch and finally the Bluray player which had died over a year ago, it was either replace it or sell the last of the bluray discs. On the bright side I have sold off so much of my media collection I am down to just the stuff I really love. I did end up rebuying a few discs I had already sold off.  But I rarely buy them new unless they are as cheap as used.

After going 5 days without power I FINALLY ordered the Mr Heater, which had been sitting on my wishlist for like 3 years. It would have been $20 cheaper if I had picked it up in summer, but I was playing chicken with the climate. Hopefully I won’t actually NEED to unbox it . . . ever. I also picked up a butane stove which I am using regularly instead of the hotplate. It takes way less energy and fits nicely in the cupboard. 

From Craigslist I picked up a dehydrator for less than half price, I was getting a little sick of throwing squash into the compost pile because I wasn’t eating it fast enough. It is also one of those things that if I don’t use it next year I can resell it. I also aquired a couple of roof storage boxes for $25 each for my car, (I miss my truck) I know I only need ONE, but I am hoping to sell one in the spring and cover the cost of both. I also got a kiddie bike trailer for $20 with the intention of taking the dog for a long bike ride… when I am in physical condition for a long bike ride. And I bought a bike rack for the back of the car which I bought new because it was as cheap as used. I STILL need to get a roof rack if I ever want to use the $$$ canoe which is still hanging from the ceiling, although I have seen people simply padding the roof with pool noodles.

The Subaru Forester was probably the biggest expense of the year, though selling the truck covered the actual cost. It does free us up to go traveling, we managed to hike a lot of different places this year. I have intentions of doing a bit of camping or at least CAR camping so I can see the rest of the state. Her K9-SportSak was probably the most used purchase this year..and one of the most expensive at $79, well worth every penny. I did drop a significant amount on a Ultra lightweight backpack that I had my heart set on, though I did some horse trading to get it paid for; it should last me a good long while.

I was a little aghast at the volume of small bits of crap I bought  off ebay this year, I really need to stop doing that. I only bought a handful of physical books to add to the book case (we won’t discuss my audiobook addiction today) I try to keep even those purchases within reason. I did treat myself to a $100 set of Signed James Morrow books, which I see as more of an investment . . . albeit one that brings me joy.

The Ghoul (11/25/1933)

The Ghoul (11/25/1933) The best little horror film Universal never made. Working from a tried and true formula Gaumont gives us a Gothic horror film that could only have been made in England: one lightless, moldering mansion, five sneaky suspects, two naive bickering heirs, one comic relief in need of a slap, one whackjob undead home owner, a dollop of quasi Egyptian mumbo jumbo, and one magic dingus, all wrapped with some creepy atmosphere, and served with London’s visibility limiting smog.

Frosted with decent cinematography and art direction, not to mention Karloff, Thesiger, Hardwicke and Richardson – one would think it would be perfect, but it does have some things working against it. The acting from the juveniles is simply juvenile, what ARE stage actors looking AT when they stare off into the distance emoting? It also overcomes its slightly convoluted plotline where the dead guy isn’t really dead and the dingus tied to his hand has to magically jump into that of the statute, at least I THINK that’s what’s going on. BTW try to follow the magic dingus being punted from servant to lawyer to niece to Egyptian fanatic to spinster to mock vicar and eventually back to the the undead guy. Karloff’s makeup effect although very effective, is utterly unnecessary, as if they needed the poster to telegraph the entire film using only his face. AND for guy who was JUST on death’s door, undead or no, he is shambling around at a pretty fair clip, strangling people and bending security bars like Charles Atlas. Lifting the Egyptian themes from Universal’s Mummy is at once clever, as at the time many an English Gentleman’s home was being redecorated with pilfered grave goods, yet, with Karloff performing another villain trying to appease a long dead god, seems like pilferage of grave goods of a different sort.

On the bright side Karloff’s self mortification scene locks in the first H is for Horror rating ever employed. And reel one gives us a nice little closeup of an absinthe cocktail being prepared. We also get a playful making coffee sado masochistic sex banter, followed eventually by an excellent skewering of the British-fawning-over-any-sort-of-royalty trope and some really great abuse of organized religion which I could watch all day. Whereas US films patronize the woman over and over ‘you should get some rest’, ‘go to bed’, ‘go back to the hotel’, the Brits have no compunctions about patronizing MEN and women, ‘go to the library’ , ‘yes come along.’ and then they go like little public schoolboy sheep. This film is well worth watching if only to give us our second installment in Thesiger’s horror movie hat trick.

Childhood amnesia

For a long time I never realized that other people remember their childhood, I do not. I guess there are a lot of people who have missing memories, for a lot of reasons.  Since I acquired a new set of parents and a new family last year I have spent a lot more time trying to remember my childhood.  Those memories aren’t coming back. But images pop back now and then, like snapshots, nearly always associated with a thing or a place.

I went down the pinterest rabbit hole, assembling all sorts of images that I remembered from back then.  It was more difficult than I had expected, I remember a lot of things from advertisements, things my cousins owned, things that passed through my hands as an antique dealer and collector – in the end I realized I didn’t own as much crap as I thought I did.  I can remember nearly all the books I owned but very few of the toys or games. My other mother was also not one for having a lot of trendy plastic crap, in retrospect she didn’t have a lot of money but she had better taste and avoided faddy thing.

I could only remember one thing I ever got for christmas, a portable television set, and I can’t even remember what year I got it.  I know I got other crap, other years . . .nowhere near as much as other kids, but enough, usually one big thing a few small things and treats.  That used to be enough for any kid.  But the television, that was the best thing ever. It was like giving me a house key, a bus pass and a library card all at once. Maybe I was trapped in that house with the crazy woman for the two decades but with that thing, I was free to go anywhere it would take me.

the Big Watch

While the power was out over Halloween…yes the power was out….five days, but that’s another story…. I culled a LOT more of my DVD collection.  What was once a couple of thousand dvds is now a piddling few hundred.  But it had to be done. That image in Perez-Reverte’s Club Dumas always haunts my life, the collector who had sold everything to keep his collection together, and now sacrifices one volume now and then so that the rest may remain. Through it all, I still manage to hang on to my Universal and other horror and thriller movies, especially those from the 30s.  To justify their existence as more than more things to shift and dust, I started watching them and recording my impressions.

It is actually a sneaky-ass way to push past the writers block that has consumed me for the last few years.  I thought meds could do it, I thought changing jobs could do it, but falling back to my old friends, my old movies seems to have done the job.  Now I can get past the rest of this and get back to something important. 


whack the needle

ok ok ok i made a huge effing mistake when i stopped blathering consistently a year and half ago. sometimes you just you get lost inside your own ennui and don’t feel like writing uninspiring words yet again . I truly don’t think anyone is listening anymore except for two people who whack me on the side of the head like when a needle is stuck in groove.  For those who need a catch up, I was laid off on my birthday the week before Christmas..yes i was…and the placement agency  dragged their heels about finding me ANYTHING at all..which is damn odd, I mean i can still sweep floors. Not to worry I was hired on my first phone call to the 1st job I applied for… but it has been a bear. don’t get me wrong, it is way better than sweeping floors and digging ditches, nice environment, pleasant fellas…and basically all i have to do is type..and memorize….NOT MY FORTE! totally first world problems…it’s not something where i can JUST type and get lost up inside my head, for weeks i had to concentrate on every fucking piece of paper that passed through my hands, it’s exhausting!.. i’m sorry but it IS only a second job and though it is paying better than my last one, they aren’t paying to use all my brain, they are only renting the part that is connected to my hands. But is getting better, my short term memory is for shit, but now that i have been there a few months I am getting better at autotyping when appropriate. This job has more hours to it..gone is my lovely three day weekend…in fact starting next week I am doing an ugly month of double shifts since the day guy is having an operation.. i just keep thinking of all the lovely money..

Until this last weekend I had not done much of anything at all…worked and watched a lot of tv and knitted 2 more pairs of red merino socks,  third pair in process…i’m stuck in a red phase.  I felt the weather change coming and I culled my clothes down to what actually fits and what SHOULD fit if i loose more weight.   I wanted to get out of the winter at the same weight i went in at… alas i reacquired a couple of pounds..i blame the guy next to me at work who snacks all day..  I finally threw open the windows, (and washed them), started a good spring clear out, and made huge pile of lawn debris for a dump run.  I was working through a head cold and this gave me a chance to sweat it out.    I did FINALLY get new glasses, though I am not in love with them I can’t blame everything on the lack of new glasses anymore.  The new job pays enough to afford my first pair of bifocals,  though the rest of my body has health coverage, my teeth and eyes, do not, GEE THANKS OBAMA…

I will do my best not to crawl up inside my skull from hereon out…it’s spring in Maine… the garden is greening up, the wintawoolies are put away, and the winders are thrown open.




a year of comfort reading

In 2015 I started adding audiobooks to the podcasts what I listen to at work ….The day job was logistics/order tracking, I needed to keep part of my mind busy so I could concentrate…go figure. I had to change that sentence to past tense, since I got laid off on my birthday the week before Christmas -(fuck 2016, i mean seriously, what the hell 2016?)  I was happily lost in reading techno and futuristic thrillers.  But after the ‘day the earth stood stupid’ came and went I had to avoid most of my favorite podcasts and retreat into rereading comfort books.   R means a reread…a number of R’s means I’ve read it a LOT.

I’m poking around the place these days finishing up any projects that are underfoot and waiting to hear about other job prospects I have on the backburner. The job I think I am most likely to get, and the one I really HOPE to get, doesn’t sound like one where I will have an audiobook streaming in my left ear. So I may have to ratchet back my book consumption for the new year.

The Accidental Alchemist, Gigi Pandian
Agent to the Stars, John Scalzi
Altered Carbon #1, Robert K Morgan
The Ascent of Rum Doodle, W Bowman (RR)
The Atrocity Archives (Laundry Files #1), Charles Stross
Blood and Circuses (Phryne Fisher, #6)
Bloody Jack #1, L .A Meyer
Carpe Jugulum (Discworld #23) (RR)
Clammed Up, Barbara Ross
Cocaine Blues (Phryne Fisher, #1), Kerry Greenwood
Crooked Little Vein, Warren Ellis
Daemon, Daniel Suarez
The Dark Forest (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #2), Liu Cixin
Death at Victoria Dock (Phryne Fisher, #4)
The Design of Everyday Things
Dinosaur Summer, Greg Bear
Embedded, Daniel Abnett
Equal Rites (Discworld 33) (RRR)
The Everything Box, Richard Kadrey
Feet of Clay (Discworld #19)
The Fifth Elephant (Discworld, #24;) (RR)
Flying Too High (Phryne Fisher, #2)
The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
Freedom™, Daniel Suarez
Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits, David Wong
Going Postal (Discworld) (R)
Good Omens, Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett (R)
Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman (RR)
The Green Mill Murder (Phryne Fisher, #5)
Guards! Guards! (Discworld #8) (R)
A Hat Full of Sky (Discworld #32) (R)
Hogfather (Discworld, #20)  (RR)
Horrorstör, Hendrix, Grady
I Shall Wear Midnight (Discworld, #38; Tiffany Aching, #4)
Inferno, Niven & Pournelle
Island in the Sea of Time, S. M. Stirling, (R)
The Jennifer Morgue Laundry Files #2, Charles Stross
Jingo (Discworld, #21)
Just One Damned Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St Mary’s, #1) Taylor, Jodi (R)
Killing Pretty- Sandman Slim #7, Richard Kadrey (R)
Kraken, China Miéville
Leviathan Wakes (Expanse, #1), James S.A. Corey
Lies, Damned Lies, and History: The Chronicles of St. Mary’s #7, Jodi Taylor (R)
The Light Fantastic (Discworld #2)
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, Becky Chambers
Lords and Ladies (Discworld #14) (R)
The Magicians, Len Grossman
Making Money (Discworld, #36)
The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat: Craig Claiborne and the American Food Renaissance
The Martian, Andy Weir (RRRR)
Maskerade (Discworld, #18) (RR)
Men at Arms (Discworld, #15) (RR)
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
Moon Over Soho, Ben Aaronovitch
Mort (Discworld #4) (RR)
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan
Murder on the Ballarat Train (Phryne Fisher, #3)
Night Watch (Discworld, #29) (RR)
No Time Like the Past (The Chronicles of St. Mary’s, #5) (R)
The Perdition Score Sandman Slim #8, Kadrey, Richard
The Precipice (Mike Bowditch, #6), Paul Doiron
Presto: How I Made Over 100 Pounds Magically Disappear. Penn Jillette
Raising Steam (Discworld, #40)
Ready Player One, Ernest Cline (RRRR)
Reaper Man (Discworld) (R)
Rivers of London, Ben Aaronovitch
Ruddy Gore: A Phryne Fisher Mystery.
Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, Michael Moss
A Second Chance (The Chronicles of St. Mary’s, #3) Taylor, Jodi (RR)
The Shepherd’s Crown (Discworld #41)
A Simple Murder, Kuhns
Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson (R)
Snuff (Discworld #39) (R)
Soul Music (Discworld, #16) (R)
Sourcery (Discworld, #5)
Spinster, Kate Bolick
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off (knitting)
The Stupidest Angel, Christopher Moore (RRR)
A Symphony of Echoes (The Chronicles of St. Mary’s, #2) (RR)
Ted Talks: The Official Ted Guide to Public Speaking
The Thirteenth Tale Diane Setterfield
The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #1), Liu Cixin
Three Men in a Boat, Jerome K Jerome (RRRR)
Thud! (Discworld, #34) (RR)
A Trail Through Time (The Chronicles of St. Mary’s #4) (RR)
The Truth (Discworld, #25)
Unseen Academicals (Discworld, #37)
The View from the Cheap Seats, Neil Gaiman
The War That Saved My Life, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
The Wee Free Men (Discworld) (RR)
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?, The Chronicles of St Mary’s, #6 (RR)
Where’s My Cow? (Discworld, #34.5)
Witches Abroad (Discworld #12) (RR)
Worst. Person. Ever., Douglas Coupland
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeline L’Engel
Wyrd Sisters (Discworld #6) (RR)
Zoo City, Lauren Beukes

new dog smell

thea I was on the fence about getting a new dog for a long time. Once winter set in and I was in the house a lot more, it became much more apparent something was missing. The other fuzzy roommates are fine for having life in the house, but seriously they don’t care about your day and you can’t take them to the beach or to the park. They have their limitations.

I started looking casually to see what was out there. My suspicions were confirmed, there were few dogs that i COULD bring home. I have the smallest house in Portland Maine, a number of cats and a partially sedentary lifestyle, this eliminates most dogs available in Maine and environs. Every few days I would check Craigslist, Uncle Henrys, and Petfinder. Being of the impecunious persuasion I would sort by cost and completely ignore breeders and expensive rescues.

Last Thursday a homely little face popped up on Petfindhelpingmework_edited-1er but not for long, she was only up for about a day and the rescue already had enough applications to remove her listing. I had figured I would apply just to get my feet wet. Luckily I was first in line… that never happens. Then I figured I would just go look, can’t hurt to look right? Of course once I saw her, i wasn’t leaving without her.

Thea..Althea now.. is from Texas, she was rescued and had all her ailments treated and made ready for adoption. I felt the adoption fee, a dear price for me, was a drop in the bucket for the transport and medicals already invested. I can always make more money.

But with this adoption I am experiencing something I never did before, guilt.  I have fostered and adopted hundreds of cats and dozens of dogs, I am usually the one finding homes for animals.  Not keeping them on purpose.  There were five other people after me who could have given this dog a perfectly good life.  What business did I have adopting her?  I am now responsible for giving her as good a life as she would have gotten with any of them.

So far Althea isn’t helping any with the guilt, she is turning out to be perfect.  She fits the house perfectly, the cats aren’t threatened by her and she doesn’t see them as things to chase.  She is reminding me to get off my ass and walk outside a couple of times a day.  She is still a little put out that i have to go to work in the morning but then so am I.  When the weather warms up, we will be going to the farmer’s market, and the dog beach, and other hikes, maybe even ride in the canoe.

new shit i bought this year

For many decades I wrestled with my poverty like an unwieldy python, eventually I started to embrace it. Embracing all the appropriate memes: repair, reuse, recycle, tiny-house living, living within your means, decluttering, anti-consumption. Recreational usage of thrift shops, allows me to upgrade my wardrobe, cupboard and linen closet as needed. But like anything else I live for the loopholes, usually planning out purchases of new non-consumables for weeks before taking the plunge. And in dark of winter when the world breaks out in a rash of holidays, I start rationalizing at warp speed, buying myself the things on my list but skipping the added guilt. It’s not like I’m buying boxes of lottery tickets or artificially priced designer fashions, the most frivolous I usually get is an annual twenty dollars towards my stamp collection.

Leaving aside: books, dvds, knitting needles, and yarn, and other things to fix other things.. these are most of the NEW things I bought this year:

16oz Stanley Classic Vacuum Camp Mug $22campmugDoubles for tea and for noodles. Nice fat handle and a screw top lid.
5 Cup Rice and Multipurpose Cooker $15ricecookerupgrade from my cracked, melted, scratched and abused 3 cup.
8GB MP3 Player with Micro SD Card $20mp3playerto replace the smaller more expensive one i can't find.
1.7-Liter Stainless Steel Cordless Tea Kettle $24teakettleI accidentally smashed the other one to bits, don't ask.
9 Reusable Mesh Bags for produce $12reusable-mesh-bagsI should have bought these ages ago. and more of the small size.
Cat Skeleton Halloween Decoration $13catskeletonWell, it made me laugh hysterically. The only child who noticed it got freaked out.
Handlebar Bike Bag $12bikebagI wanted one to go from bike to canoe...and immediately put them both away for the winter.
Digital Body Weight Scale $19
scaleThis one at least lights up larger numbers, though they are still bloody liars.
Deluxe Map Compass $8compassto replace my other compass, which i found as soon as this one came in the post.
Sole Buffer/ Callus Remover $19bufferbrilliant little thing.
16 oz To Go Cold Drink Tumbler $7togodrinkto be fair i didn't need a second one, but it was always in the sink.
Titanium Eagle Spork $9sporkMy most used utensil, i wanted a second one for work.
Bottle & Tube Brush Cleaning Set $8brushesI'm a sucker for things to fix other things.
3 Piece Ravioli Press $20raviolimakerideal for making my tea pastries.
2-Piece Kayak Paddle $59kayakpaddleto go with the Craigslist canoe
Old Town Pack 12 Royalex Canoe Craigslist $500packcanoeEvery girl needs a Canoe. Seriously used these are like $800
20 Gallon Aquarium $37 one of the few things you can't get economically online. 20gallonthe damned fish won't stop growing

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes