Saturday, April 26, 2008

Book Review: Isolde, Queen of the Western Isle

I said I would post more, but then I got sick. One good thing about being sick is that I actually had time to read a book, even if it was a very quick read.

Isolde is a well-crafted book that is good for a day’s diversion. Set in the reign of King Arthur, it dances on the periphery of Camelot. It is a tale of predestined, if star-crossed love that is helped along by simple-minded aristocrats and magical beings alike. I wouldn’t recommend it for a brain teaser, but it is a pleasant way to spend a day—even if you are recovering from a bug as I was when I read it.

I am really enjoying going through Suna’s library. More books as I have a chance to read them.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Late Again, Naturally

OK. I haven’t had a lot to say lately. After promising myself to write more I got sick. I’m better now. So here’s Friday’s Feast on Monday (but still dated for Friday).

Friday’s Feast

Appetizer: Name something you would categorize as weird.
Weird Al” Yankovic—he’s even got “weird” in his name. OK. Not really. He’s a great accordion player who happens to be really funny. For weird I would have to go with American Dad—one of the animated TV shows the kids really like. It’s not funny, just weird.
Soup: What color was the last piece of food you ate?
Salad: On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how much do you enjoy being alone?
6—assuming that the numbers ascend with enjoyment. I have to have some solitude almost every day to keep my thoughts in order and introspect. Otherwise, I start feeling crowded and defensive. Still, I wouldn’t want to be alone all of the time. But I will say that I like small, intimate gatherings much more than large parties.
Main Course: Fill in the blank: I will _________ vote for ___________ in _______.
I will definitely vote for regime change in November.
Dessert: Describe your sleeping habits.
I don’t know. I’m usually asleep then. I do better with a full eight hours of sleep a night and get grouchy with less than seven. When I know when I have to get up, I try to back-time going to bed to ensure I have enough sleep, but I’m not very good at enforcing that—even when I’m alone.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Grateful Monday

I atually did some work at the Hands on Housing thing.
Photo by: Jon Montgomery
Buddy is such a good boy.

I haven’t been posting much the past week or so. The job has kept the writing part of my brain exhausted. But I have been able to come home and relax a little bit tinkering around the house: building a new flower bed, cleaning, and painting.

And this weekend, I worked all day Saturday at a Hands on Housing event. I met some nice people, and we built a front porch and ramp for a family who couldn’t do the work for themselves.

Throughout all of this Buddy and Rose have been very well behaved. Gwen has been at the top of her game, hardly snapping at Buddy (only once or twice at Rose). Even Scrunchy has been the best dog he can.

So today, I am grateful for all four dogs—even if I can’t honestly say equally grateful for all four. I’m featuring Buddy’s picture here because he has been with me the longest and is one of the loyalist dogs I have ever lived with.

Update, 29 April: Jon sent me a photo of me working, at the HoH thing. So I posted it just to show prove I actually did something. Some of you may not have believed me. <wink />

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bush Administration at It Again

This New Guinea Impatiens isn’t a bush, but it has performed like the Bush Administration. First, it exceeded expectations (because they were set so low) by surviving the winter. Then it has failed to produce a single flower so far, not one tangible result.

I found this article to be particularly disturbing. It shows the current administration’s obsession with border security at the expense all else—including common sense, not to mention economic growth. Hasn’t free trade been one of the tenets of our economic policy for the last few decades?

While the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) hasn’t lived up to the expectations of any of its signers, the Bush Administration should not unilaterally decide to abrogate any of its conditions. But then, when did they ever do anything in any way other than unilaterally? They certainly don’t seem to take the will of the people into consideration in anything they do.

But am I paranoid to think that there is a deeper purpose at work here? Walls and fences that keep other people out, also keep us in. Is this a move to prevent the steady trickle of educated workers who have been moving north for the last few years in an effort to escape the totalitarian tendencies and corruption of Bush/Cheney? Are they trying to force Canada to retaliate by closing its border with the US?

Unless McCain “wins” the election this fall, I will be surprised if the current administration relinquishes power without at least attempting a coup. But I don’t really expect them to do that. It is so much easier to rig an election, as they have shown in the last two.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Gardening Happiness

After work last night, I got a chance to plant the new babies we got at the home center Sunday. In a large green planter that was blocking a hole in the fence, I put:

  • Chives (ajo morisco)
  • Double impatiens (impatiens doble)
  • New Guinea impatiens (impatiens de nueva guinea)
  • Verbena (3 small from a landscape mix)
Suna had also picked out a pretty yellow pot, into which went:
  • Creeping fig (ficus pumilo repens)
  • Coral bells amethyst mist (no genus)
  • Verbena
Finally, I scattered more of the verbena in some other pots and placed them around the patio. I still have some left for the front flower bed. I hope to add some pictures later.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Party Report and Gratefulness

Just because it’s pretty. A geranium blossom fell on Beccano’s pineapple, making it look as if the pineapple is blooming. Later one fell and was skewered by a sharp pineapple leaf.

Trey Bone played last night at the keyboard player’s birthday. It went well, and we were received much better than we deserved—probably because of the twin margarita machines. A singer in a band I used to play with once claimed that the band was sponsored by his favorite brewery. He would tell the audience, “The more you drink, the better we sound.”

One of the highlights was jamming with FRM. Somehow, we never did that when we both lived in the same house.

Another was finding a new nickname for the band. Since “Trey Bone” is a pun on très bon (very good) that originated when the group was officially a trio, we have been trying to figure out how to accommodate the extra member. Last night one of the people in the audience yelled out, “Trey Bonus!” I like that.

Grateful Monday

Today I am grateful again for music. I can’t count the number of times it has gotten me through rough times. Of course, it also helped me get into some of those rough times, but that is a different story.

I am never so comfortable as when jamming with musicians I trust—musically, that is. The intense listening that goes with playing something you are making up as you go is just wonderful. Music becomes a conversation. I remembered some of that last night. It reminded me that I would like to play more and rehearse less.

Book Review: Eldest

Paolini, Christopher (2005). Eldest (Inheritance, Book 2). New York: Knopf Books for Young Readers.
Photo source:

I finally finished reading Eldest last night. It took more than six weeks to slog through this tome—and not just because it is heavy enough to put down a budgie.

In many ways, Eldest is much better crafted that Earagon. The writing is smoother. The plot and character development is more intricate. Unfortunately, it is just not as interesting or as original.

But Eldest reads like the middle book of a trilogy—perhaps because it is. There are long passages of Tolkienesque exposition that lack Tolkien’s imagination or eloquence. When I put it down, I found I had to make myself pick it back up.

Still, I look forward to the third book. Maybe it will be better. Maybe now that Paolini has found his voice, he will remember what he wanted to say.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Strange Yellow Powder

My plants are all covered in yellow powder.
It’s even on this lovely chrysanthemum.
And my chair. But wait! There’s a clue in the upper left corner.

I went outside this morning to water the plants, and they were all covered in this horrid yellow powder.

Is it some new disease, perhaps related to powdery mildew? Perhaps it is some wasting disease of plants—one in which they turn to ash before your eyes.

But there’s a clue on my blue chair.

It’s covered in the same substance, and I sat in it last night. It should be clean.

What’s that on the seat? An oak stamen! There is no fungal outbreak here. The world is covered in oak pollen—just like the cars I spent hours washing yesterday.

Friday, April 04, 2008

A Boney Gig and Feast

The Dung Daisy (Gerbera fecisuu) is one of the most tepid examples of the fictional daisy family.

Trey Bone has another gig!

OK, this one doesn’t count. It’s a short set at the piano player’s birthday party. But there will be real musicians there, and maybe I can get some work out of it. Let’s hope.

Friday’s Feast

Appetizer: Invent a new flower; give it a name and describe it.
The Dung Daisy (Gerbera fecisuu) is a forlorn flower that grows only on well fertilized fields where it is likely to be trampled by herds of muck buffalo on whose bovine byproducts it thrives. The sordid brown flower sits atop a tepid stem that generally sprouts a lone languid leaf. It is pollinated by blowflies, who are attracted to is odoriferous out gassing, for which it is named.
Soup: Name someone whom you think has a wonderful voice.
  1. Linda Ronstadt—I’ve been a fan since I can remember. She continues to grow her capabilities instead of resting on her laurels.
  2. Suna—I love to hear her burst into random song. I wish I could do as well.
Salad: On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how clean do you keep your car?
4. It rains, doesn’t it? And it seems like every time I clean the inside, it gets piled up again before I know it. But I have been thinking about vacuuming it out again. The bike is much easier to keep clean.
Main Course: How do you feel about poetry?
It all depends upon. Some is good, some isn’t. I love Dickinson. I despise ee cummings. I like metered, rhymed poetry that doesn’t necessarily read like it. I despise blank verse. There was already a name for arrhythmic, unrhymed literature: prose.
Dessert: What was the last person/place/thing you took a picture of?
I honestly don’t remember. Probably something on our trip to the farm this past weekend, possibly my dad.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Why Punctuation Is Important

I have seen a disturbing tend in writing lately: ignoring or omitting punctuation. I think it started with newspapers dropping the comma before the conjunction in lists, but modernist writers have taken it to extreme. Some, like ee cummings, even do away with case. Lyrics in album librettos are seldom punctuated beyond line breaks. We seem to have forgotten how important those lovely little unspoken marks are in communication. Here’s an example:

As I was waiting for a traffic light to turn, I noticed the truck beside me. Printed just beneath the store logo was:


Actually, the truck was not being driven unsafely; it was motionless—waiting for the light to change, just as I was. But the first time I parsed the sign, I saw two distinct sentences, “This truck is being driven unsafely. Call…” I’m sure the lack of case affected how I interpreted the symbols. I’m sure that the funiture company meant to say, “If this truck is being driven unsafely, call …” But someone decided it was too expensive to pay for punctuation.

So I want to call and let them know that their truck is telling everyone it is being driven unsafely and asking for help.