Thursday, March 29, 2007

In Which k Almost Forgets Her Own Birthday. Again.

It was my birthday last Saturday.


Then, later in the day, I remembered again.

Luckily, I remembered it just before Walter called to wish me a happy one. So I wasn't too startled. Then he called a few more times to say it again. Just to be sure.

That night, kdad called too. Scientists don't usually fit that dour stereotype we see on TV. Nope. kdad has a wonderful sense of the absurd.

That's why k has taken to singing *Happy Birthday* to him over the phone each June.

Well...guess what.

Didja guess? Didja?


This time he sang it to ME.

I was giggling so hard I almost choked.

Then I said, --Is this payback time?--

--Payback? What do you mean?--

--For the times I sang it to YOU! Is this why they say, *Paybacks are hell?*--

(see, k has a voice that is NOT a singing one. No. The only ones in her life that ever loved to hear her sing were her cats. And...surprisingly, suddenly, so says her man, too. Hmmm.)

OH, we had a very fine time.

kmom got on the phone and said Happy B-day too. But she wouldn't sing.

Then Walter called again. I told him about kdad singing the b-day song. He decided he couldn't let my dad do that, unanswered.

So Walter commenced to singing the song to me, too.

I had to help him out with the words a little bit. He's Not From Here.

I didn't realize until Tuesday that I didn't get any presents. That was perfectly fine, of course. It was a very nice birthday, and that means a lot.

See, for many years, my birthday was jinxed. Almost every awful event of my life, since the age of 15, has happened on my birthday.

Walter fixed it. When he came into my life, the birthday horrors just stopped. He did some sort of magic there, and gave my birthdays back to me, and every one that passes with no calamity is sweet beyond words.

Like last year, when the lizard hopped up on my shoulder to say *Happy Birthday.* I had opened up a plastic yard bag that was moving around, and out she hopped - I'd unwrapped her, as it were, just like a present.

Like this one, when my dad and my man sang me *Happy Birthday* on the phone, and my mom politely but firmly explained she would not, but Happy Birthday anyway, daughter!

Still and all...I have decided to splurge a little bit and get myself something I really really want, but can't rightfully fit into Mr. Budget just now. So it's going to be a real present. You know. Something a bit naughty budget-wise, a splurge, something I'm dying to have. Something pretty. How a present really should be.

This one's useful, too, but that's just an accident of fate.

Okay. When my neighbor across the street arrives from his long-distance commute - he flies in every Thursday night from Minneapolis - I'll ask him for help with it. I could haul it in my Saturn, especially with my great cargo carrier, but he's got an SUV.

And I'm going to buy about 20 big bags of pine bark nuggets.

I am SO excited I can't stand it!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Scarlet Ibis for granny j

granny j got me thinking about one of my all time favorite Birds I've Never Seen.

So this one's for you, granny j.

Wouldn't you just love to see THAT one walking down the creek bed in Prescott?


There I was at Lotus Chinese Kitchen, innocently minding my own business: meaning, lying in wait for a parking space. I saw a lady come out of the joint toward this car parked right out in front. Perfect parking space.

Whereupon, I noticed her car too. More precisely, its cute cat decorations and that license plate: SASICAT.

I like it.

I got out the camera and approached the car. --Can I take a picture?-- I asked.

She said, --Sure! I explained about the blog and so forth. She told me it was okay and she'd watch for the post. --How long will it be, about a week?-- And in my usual optimism I told her it'd be up in a couple of days.

That was a week ago last Friday.

Yeah, I'm slow...

This nice lady told me her husband had a Boss Cat license plate. He owned a big sprinkler company here - and down here, that is something - so he really WAS Boss Cat. After he retired he gave up the plate, and the beautiful old Lincoln it graced. She tried to talk him into keeping them both, but no go.

She still has her Sasicat plate, though. She says she's not letting it go, not for nuthin.
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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Ibis for Kirsten

And why? Because there are ibis in Egypt, too. They even mummified them, back in Pharaoh days. I hear they're a slightly different species than ours. But I love to see ibis here and know they have kissin' cousins back in Egypt.

Kirsten's in Egypt too. Her sense of humor is ticklish to no end. And she's a wonderful writer with a heart of gold. She feels for those less fortunate, for kids and grownups and animals and everyone. So I was hoping she'd like these guys too.

Living in Florida is such a treat for animal and plant fans. These ibis are also called curlew - maybe because of their curved beaks? They're rumored to be very tasty. Not all water birds are; apparently some eat so much fish, that's what they taste of. Earlier Florida residents ate a lot of these birds. Me, I don't think I could choke one down unless I was starving to death. They're just too pretty.

They flock about and sometimes will land on a lawn, pecking away for food. Grooming that grass. It's good for it.

But they're also cautious.

When I saw this bunch land, kitty corner to the k ranch, I got the camera out. And the first thing I saw in the viewfinder was the lookout they'd posted. See it, up on the electric line? It turns its head back and forth, watching, watching. Seems to take its job quite seriously.

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As I scooter closer, it looks at me. It lets me get only so near. Then, it flew down to join the flock, and explain to them that a Clear and Present Danger was approaching.

When it first landed, almost all the others still had their heads down, munching away. As it communicated, they began to look up and around at me.

Then, with one impulse, they took off. Flew away down the street, to land somewhere else. Someplace that was free of scooterees bothering them at their dinner.

Sure, clicka! If you click on the pic, you can see them much better. Watch the sentry turn its head back and forth, and how it looks so authoritative after landing smack in the middle of its flock, ready to get them out of approaching trouble.

Ha! Trouble in the form of k, scootering away, trying to get better pix on this cloudy windy day.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Happy Critters

Forward troubles Illinois.
Lock the front door oh boy.

Look at all the happy creatures dancin' on and on.
Bother me tomorrow, today I'll find no sorrow...
~~Credence Clearwater Revival

I love critters.

Most writers have certain words and phrases and concepts they revisit. Those become part of our personal lexicon, and sometimes we bore readers with our repetitiveness. Sometimes they enjoy and welcome those returns to the familiar.

You may have noticed I tend to say, *I* pretty often.

It's because I do. There are so many things in life that I love, and because life is short and we - any of us - may get hit by a truck and die tomorrow, I milk every drop of joy out of my life that I can.

Whyever not?

To live any other way is downright disrespectful.

When I first began reading blogs, I was struck hard by all the anger and hatred expressed in this virtual land. Clearly, people were dumping feelings they were bottling up in their Real Lives. Still and all, realizing how common that need was? It was sad. It still makes me sad.

Last year at the Fossil Farm, our distinguished chef said: --k, you always say, *I love this; or, I love that.* Isn't there anything you hate?--

That question threw me, and I've been pondering it ever since.

I'm a slow thinker, me. The annual Fossil Farm visit is coming up again and I'm still not done thinking about her question.

That question is why you'll see me write: --I hate unkindness.-- If I remember, that was the first answer I gave her, last year.

My wondrous nephew, a young man I love and respect and adore, told me not long ago that he has trouble reconciling two aspects of my character: what he calls the cop and the hippie. He watches me run around being *nonjudgemental,* and trying to pass on kindness when I can. He listens to my tales of Bad Guys getting caught and paying some penalty for their misdeeds - whether his auntie's war stories from her Dead Bank Liquidation work, or the true crime shows she sets the TV to. Then he sees me flagrantly break the law myself, trespassing on defunct nursery land to *rescue* plants before the developer's bulldozers come, or picking *Orphan Oranges* from the groves still scattered around Florida.

I tell him, --I never pretend what I'm doing is Right. When I break the law, or a moral code, I agree beforehand with myself that I'll pay the price, not deny my own misdeeds.--

And truly, I try very hard to live a good, a decent life. I'm surely not perfect. None of us are. But I try to do my best. I try to see things clearly, to understand life and people as they are, not as I think they Should Be.

Our human need to see what we want to see, rather than the truth - often it's to see things appear not just innocent, but good, whether that's true or not - is very close to a moral breach, in my book.

Much of the hatred spewed on the Net is by people who consider themselves The Good Ones. Christians. Other religious writers. People obsessed with politics, and the notion that politics can right certain perceived wrongs.

I don't buy it. If you constantly spend your thoughts and words talking about how horrible everyone else is and how you're going to Heaven and they aren't - well, I know very few religions that say, --Oh! That's right! YOU call the shots. YOU decide you get to go to the Good Place. You, not God. And meanwhile, sure, you go right ahead and rip everyone else a brand new one, because if they disagree with YOUR take on Right and Wrong, then hey. They're fair game.

To me it looks like something entirely different. I see a whole lot of people who feel their lives are not entirely in their control, who get aggravated by vague and inarticulated feelings of anger and betrayal and injustice. They don't really know why, but they sure don't like it.

They want these feelings to go away. But instead of examining them dispassionately enough to arrive at as objective a truth as possible, instead, they start from the position that they've been done wrong, and go from there to venting.

I have absolutely no problem with people venting. It can be a very healthy thing. But there's a world of difference between venting, and seeking the truth. When people confuse the two, they'll fail to make those bad feelings go away.

So they get stuck in endless rounds of ranting, and never feel satisfied or calm or peaceful. Instead, happiness becomes the childish satisfaction of name-calling, of hurting others with words used as weapons.

Over and over, they condemn others for Not Taking Personal Responsibility. And often rightly so.

But they haven't removed the log from their own eye first.

Because when you spend your words and thoughts and time on talking about how wrong everyone else is, and how unfair they've been to you, and how the country's going down the drain because of those other people, and there's really no hope for them but at least you know YOU get to go to Heaven -

when a person pretends these thoughts and actions have anything to do with seeking truth and godliness -

They are NOT taking personal responsibility for their own lives.

If your life is not in your own control, it's because you have chosen to abdicate control of your own life.

If you don't like your life, change it.

Change YOUR life. Not the lives of others.

It's both your right and your responsibility to do so.


I don't hate life and I don't hate humanity and I almost never hate individual people. They'll do things I hate, yes. But I never forget the difference.

Our creator made us all. I won't condemn those creations. Not my job.

I will analyze what behavior is right and wrong, because I want to do the right things, and because I want to protect myself and my loved ones from harm.

Meanwhile, I do my own brand of worship. I do it by loving life, both my own life and the lives of all those others around me. The amount of it, the staggering impact of that force of life, makes me feel religious even when I'm not consciously thinking of it at all. The people, the plants and flowers and animals, the very air we breathe permeated with tiny lives...

It's stunning.

How can anyone not feel and worship this enormous force of love?

Friday, March 23, 2007


Yes. It's That Time of Year again.

The pollen count has skyrocketed. Me, I've been breathing it and it acts on me like chloroform. By around 2PM lately, I'm not able to stay conscious.

So I'll be switching over to Night Life pretty soon.

But!!! The good news in that, of course, is that once housebound, I'm far more available to write posts.

Cool, huh?

heh heh!

Right now, I'm heading outside to do some gardening before the meltdown hits. But I have so very much to tell you all! I'll be catching up very soon now.

Happy Friday, all!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

LL, Here's One for You

I just love weird math. This is one I've never even heard of before. And both geometry and differential calc were among my faves.

Never did learn string theory, either.

Well, that's what I get for opting out to Business Math instead of REAL math once I finally went to college. Ah, another misspent youth!...

Unlike math whiz LL's, of course.

Team Cracks Decades-Old Math Puzzle

By Associated Press

3 hours ago

PALO ALTO, Calif. - An international team of mathematicians has cracked a 120-year-old puzzle that researchers say is so complicated that its handwritten solution would cover the island of Manhattan.

The 18-member group of mathematicians and computer scientists was convened by the American Institute of Mathematics in Palo Alto to map a theoretical object known as the "Lie group E8."

Lie (pronounced Lee) groups were invented by 19th-century Norwegian mathematician Sophus Lie in his study of symmetrical objects, especially spheres, and differential calculus.

The E8 group, which dates to 1887, is the most complicated Lie group, with 248 dimensions, and was long considered impossible to solve.

"To say what precisely it is is something even many mathematicians can't understand," said Jeffrey Adams, the project's leader and a math professor at the University of Maryland.

The problem's proof, announced Monday at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, took the researchers four years to find. It involves about 60 times as much data as the Human Genome Project.

When stored in highly compressed form on a computer hard drive, the solution takes up as much space as 45 days of continuous music in MP3 format.

"It's like a Mount Everest of mathematical structures they've climbed now," said Brian Conrey, director of the institute.

The calculation does not have any obvious practical applications but could help advance theoretical physics and geometry, researchers said.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Slowly but surely I'm getting back into my old routines.

Regular life. You know. Before Walter went running around having heart attacks and getting triple bypasses and pacemakers and such.

This week, Wednesday through Friday, was our monthly Plant Rescue Week.

AKA *Bulk Day.*

This is when people put out their big debris piles for The Claw to come pick up and cart off to Mt. Trashmore, the landfill.

Hidden in those debris piles are little treasures. Plants and pots that people are throwing away. Poor orphaned things in need of a good home. Usually, this is a happy time for me.

I went through my pain meds too fast this month, getting Walter out the door and back to work. It was way worth it, of course; but it means I'm moving slowly and gently until my refills next Thursday. So I wasn't doing much actual rescuing this week. More like sightseeing, remembering what my town looks like.

I did find one big pile of empty plant pots. I have quite a collection of them already, of every type imaginable. But these were a good size and nicely stacked, so I packed a bunch in a couple of big yard bags and popped them into the car.

Just as I was leaving, the homeowner came outside. He was clearly a bit of local gentry, of the kind gentrifying our little bungalow community. Well-dressed, very well spoken. Did a great job planting a couple thousand bucks' worth of plants in his newly landscaped yard: good taste, too.

But his news wasn't so nice.

He told me, --Be careful, there's a dead possum somewhere in those pots. I'm glad you're taking the pots, don't get me wrong, but we had to kill this possum and I can't quite remember where we put it. It's in a pot somewhere. So be careful.

I'd noticed a faint odor of decomp, but figured it was just trash stuff from the guy's garbage bags.

Oh, yuck.

Not much bothers me. Even roadkill. Still, I hoped I hadn't picked it up.

I went home and started going through the pots.

Sure enough, I smelled that smell again. And discovered a small possum lying curled up in a pot. Not a baby, more like juvenile size.

Then, to my horror, it looked at me and feebly tried to raise its head.

Oh my God. The poor thing.

That motherfucker had beaten it half to death. And then left it, still alive, to suffer in the heat.

Outraged and grieved, I went inside and called the city for the wildlife rescue telephone number. I called them up; they turned out to be the Humane Society, and they asked me to bring the animal in if I could.

Of course. Of course.

I drove out there with the possum in its pot, and the pot in a plastic grocery bag. The people at the wildlife rescue center were wonderful. They thanked me over and over and were patient with my worries. When I said I didn't think the possum would make it, it smelled dead even though it wasn't, they told me the vet was already looking at him, and he'd be put out of his pain and his suffering if that was all they could do. At least he wouldn't hurt any more.


I am not naive. Sometimes folks get a mistaken impression of me because I say things like, *I hate unkindness.* That doesn't make me dumb. People do good things and bad things and to me, the single most important factor in understanding the world and humanity and what's right and what's wrong is this: First comes reality. As much as we can, we need to understand the facts before we make judgements and decisions. Before. I try to see all things clearly, human nature included.

It doesn't surprise me one bit that many people's instant reaction to seeing any wild animal is to kill it without thought. They even brag about it, or worse yet, enjoy it. Like it takes a Real Brave Person to stomp on a lizard. Gee. What a hero, huh?

This person was not unintelligent. He was just a vicious thoughtless fool.

We do NOT *need* to kill possums. That is false. Untrue. Unreal. With very rare exceptions, we don't NEED to kill anything except food animals. Some people don't even eat meat, at that.

When you do kill something, do it fast and do it right. Don't leave an animal suffering because you were too fucking stupid to finish the job right.

Possums are harmless. All he ever had to do was leave it alone. Barring that? Call animal control, let them catch it or kill it. Clearly this one required a professional, because the homeowner didn't do the job correctly.

I didn't have a very good day, yesterday. But that innocent animal sure had it worse. And if I could, I'd like to have that homeowner feel, just for a few minutes, what he made that creature feel. The terror, the pain, the anguish, the hopelessness. The agony of impending death.

Unlike the possum, he deserves it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

There's A Wild Iguana Living In My Ponytail

Palm, that is.


This is the ponytail in question.

Not really a palm at all, but hey.

k is extremely fond of ponytails.
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See Him Yet?

He's a bit left of center here.

In #2 he's up near the top.

The last two are from January. He's been living in there for a while.

He's not dumb.

He's extremely well camouflaged.

He knows it, too.

Good thing. Cause he's also VERY camera shy.

But he's still my little sweetie.

As long as he stays OUT of the orchid tree.

I'm pretty patient with the needs of my kranch wildlife. But I do get tired of it when the iguanas eat up all my orchid tree flowers. Posted by Picasa

Thank You.

Thank you all.


Those folks who think the internet is nothing but a bunch of childish, selfish, aimless airheads have no concept of the very real good one's blogging circle can do.

Your supportiveness gives me strength in ways that surprise even me.

I just wanted to say so in a post instead of comments, this time. It was more important than the comments section alone could handle.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Don't You Just Hate These Long Good-Byes?

We drove up to Atlanta to take Walter to his *new* truck. In the end it was the only reasonable way to get him there, get him back to work.

We left around midnight Wednesday. I slept in the Saturn most of the trip up there, and all day Thursday, then Thursday night too. By Thursday afternoon his truck was fully fixed and prepped and ready to go, and Friday morning he had his first load, and so...he left.

Me too.

I drove home, dawdling about in Georgia along the way, then barreling back into Florida. Came in last night around 9:30. Miles: 666.2.


He's gone now. Really gone. And I'm home.

He's doing well. Driving well. Finally.


There are so many Useful Things I could do today. Errands, so forth. Chores.

I believe I'll do something else instead. Something that's a chore to lots of other people, but the ultimate escapist Fun for me: go play in my yard.

Yes. I seem to need some yard time.

This house, see, it's just so quiet.

So quiet.

He's gone.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

What the...? A Devil-Tailed Lizard?

Walter's leaving tomorrow. So I'm moping around the yard taking flower pix to cheer myself up. Scootering by an upturned old wheelbarrow, I did a double-take.

I looked.

I looked again.

Now, I've seen lizards with crooked tails before. As you may know, if you grab a lizard by the tail, it will detach the tail and run away. It actually regrows the tail.

Once. It's a one-time thing. If they drop their tail a second time, it won't grow back again.

According to lizard lore, at least.

Sometimes they grow back funny.

But I have never, ever seen one remotely like this before.

It looks like it was either just starting or just finishing shedding its skin. That's the funny whitish stuff on its face, and maybe toes too.

But that tail? Totally intact, fresh and clean and gleaming in the sunshine.

I'll be a monkey's uncle.

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On Tchotchke


*That's all I can say. It's terrible science!*

Sez Walter, the linguist. He's up on his soapbox, all irritated.

This, in response to Wikipedia's discussion of the origin of the word tchotchke:

*Tchotchke (originally from Yiddish tshatshke (often spelled in a variety of other ways because there is no standardized transliteration) (trinket), ultimately from a Slavic word for "toys" ― Polish: cacka, Russian: цацки) are trinkets, small toys, knickknacks, baubles, or kitsch. The term has a connotation of worthlessness or disposability, as well as tackiness. For example, an overly ostentatious piece of jewelry, valuable or not, might be referred to as a tchotchke.*

See, Pretty Lady has this fancy Kleenex box habit. Which confession led to a commenter's spurious and unfounded insinuation of a tolerance by Pretty Lady - whose excellent taste seems beyond question to ME at least! -

- for tchotchke.

Walter's birth tongue was Hungarian; his second language is Slovak. (Yep, he's half each.) The Slovak word for *toys* is hracky (haRATCHky). That's Eastern Slovak dialect. Meaning, we're not sure if it's really Slovak or Ukrainian.

AND, while Polish cacka may have multiple uses formally or in slang, in Hungarian, kaka means one thing only: *shit.*

Slovak, Polish, Ukrainian, and Russian are all Slavic languages. Hungarian is not. Interestingly, Hungarian's only linguistic relative is Finnish. Since these always struck me as hilariously different peoples, especially in appearance, I invented a nice shaggy dog story to explain how such geographically separated tribes ended up sharing a root language. But that's another story.

Walter's main objection is this: If Yiddish is an amalgamation of words from ever so many other languages, what business does Wikipedia have saying any word *comes from* Yiddish? You can say it's originally Slavic, adopted by and widely used in Yiddish, transported to New York, yada yada yada. But you can't say *originally from Yiddish* then *ultimately from Slavic.* That makes no sense at all. Any etymology should start with the ancient tongue and go northwards - or south, as the case may be - from there.

Among the very many reasons I love him so much? This man is Not Boring.

Not even first thing in the morning, when our coffee's barely begun to cool.

A Nice Walrilla Kind of Day

I could really relate to this post of Walrilla's.

So...after getting all charged up happy with our small accomplishments last Monday, and thinking we'd be jumping out of bed at it again on Tuesday...

we basically did this:

Wake up, read a little in bed, take our meds
Wake up, read a little in bed. take our meds

occasionally interspersed with:
Talk on phone for a minute
Watch some TV


Well...because that little bit of activity Monday had Walter zonked. A situation my rheumatologist calls *Working Unconditioned.* You get up finally feeling better after a long convalescence, and want to hit the ground running. So you do. But your muscles are half-atrophied and not ready for heavy work yet. You're supposed to break them in, do it slowly over several days. Boooorrrrring! So instead, you overdo it, and then you Pay the Price.

Me? I've been way overdoing it, knowing our remaining time together is so limited. I didn't even stop when Poor Mr. Foot started doing his Blue Cantaloupe imitation. Which I really should, because in that condition, permanent scarring can occur.

But bodies being what they are, it made up its own mind, and stopped for me. Whether I agreed or not.

We just crashed and burned. For two days.

That's all right. We'll arise from the wreckage when we're ready to go again. Really and truly this time.

And Tuesday and Wednesday were filled with the most scrumptious bouts of sleeping and snuggling and giggling and purring you could ever imagine...