Sunday, August 31, 2014


Whatever is out there, must be better than what I have. To envy is to sit apart and stare. To cast covetous eyes upon another life, another inanimate object, and wish bitterly it was yours.
It is human. We envy when life gets hard, when we are tired of the struggle, when suffering painful reverses; that's only natural. It becomes a problem when we sit upon and hatch our grievances until envy takes over our soul.
A cat hunched in a window, a fox looking up at grapes, the images are universal.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


As a sin, Pride has always given us problems. Jane Austen even wrote an entire novel about the perils of justified Pride being confused with inordinate Pride. It is a tricky concept, and that ambiguity continues to dog human activity. We are proud of our accomplishments, yet we value humility. We only give lip service to Pride as a deadly sin because of this confusion. And so it spreads unchecked.

Why is this so difficult? Nikita Khrushchev thunders "We will bury you," yet the Berlin Wall eventually falls. George W. Bush announces in his infamous Mission Accomplished Speech: "The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done and then we will leave and we will leave behind a free Iraq," and another region of the world falls into statelessness. The examples are too numerous to detail.

A better word is Hubris. According to the Oxford Dictionary, Hubris: (In Greek tragedy) excessive pride toward or defiance of the gods, leading to nemesis. Or, as often attributed to Euripides "Those whom the Gods would destroy, they first drive mad."

That is Pride. That is madness. That is the arrogance that leads to first and last voyages.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Seven Deadly Sins

Sins. We don't really think about them anymore, they are old hat, or watered down as cute anodynes to reality. With apathy being our biggest problem, why worry about old bugaboos?

Perhaps in this age of relativity and cultural pluralism we need to worry. Not about specifics sins, after all simony, the selling of ecclesiatical preference for temporal gain, hasn't been a hot button issue for centuries, but about how certain characteristics of Humans are always with us. Maybe that is what pluralism can teach us, sins may have different names, but the underlying concepts are all too human.

Stay tuned, next time we consider Pride.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


I sat on my stoop last night in a light jacket. I drank coffee this morning in a light sweater. It's beautiful. The sky is a crisp bright blue, the air moves with a swirl of leaves, and the birds are mobbing the bird-feeders.

Reality intrudes with talk on the radio "The State Fair opens in Nine Days, what are your favorite attractions?" Wait, that's not possible. I look around and sniff the air. It's got the feel of Fall already, about 2 weeks after the Fair has come and gone. It makes me wonder what the winter will be like.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Resolve Face

It's all set. I am being serious. Somehow I keep flashing on Alyson Hannigan as Willow of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with her "Resolve Face." Possibly because she is battered by life, but still soldiering on.

I did send in a piece to a literay magazine, and the next step, all the professional advice givers on the internet tell me, is to attend a writing conference. I'd rather just keep flailing blindly by myself, as many strangers in one room, with its forced intimacy, requires an effort of will. I can fit in, and even enjoy it, but it is always information overload.

A conference also has the feel of a prescribed initiation credential. In this age of e-publishing, social media, and networking, credentials are becoming more important. I came; I spent money; I mingled. Not quite the impact of Veni, vidi, vinci, but it will do. Besides, if Willow could join a coven, I surely can survive a cluster of authors.

Monday, August 4, 2014


As I sit and knit another Feather and Fan scarf, I think about why. Knitting does that, simultaneously transporting our minds to the past, while our fingers work on the future. I'm knitting for a person I've never met, yet I've chatted to her on-line for years. Our connection is as ephermeral as the waves on a shore, yet as lasting as a piece of handiwork. I know she has a cat, a sense of humor, and a love of books.

In a disconnected world of virtual reality, with messages of support available at the stroke of a hashtag, I'm taking the time to create a tangible expression that the world is a better place because she is in it.

Feather and Fan is perfect for this; An old pattern, sometimes known as Old Shale for the look and feel of waves breaking on a rocky shore. Time and purpose ebbs and flows like the knitting pattern, like the waves, depositing a sense of wonder and warmth that a far away person reached out with a simple gift of beauty and left it on the shore.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Tempests in a Teapot

Pets. Can't live with them, can't sell them for a profit.

They strip us bare, cost too much money, and demonstrate how we (and they) deal with a crisis. There's a cat bug going around right now. First was Rikki, lethargic, febrile, and vomiting. Trip to the vet, fluids and antibiotics. She'll be fine. Then Gracie. Lethargic and grumpy. When something is bothering her, she bites me. Has done this since we got her. Doesn't break the skin, but it is disconcerting. You are calmly reading the paper and the damn cat runs over and bites your arm. You notice. No vet trip, as she got un-grumpy.

Finally, the little drama queen Allie. She was a little off for two days, I noticed. Still eating, acting okay, but not quite herself. Then, she goes off into a corner. Okay, vet appointment later that day. One hour later, we're on our way to the vet early with a cat in crisis. By the time we arrived, she was moaning with whimpers as punctuation. Her temperature was down to 'approaching death' level, and she was unresponsive to normal stimuli. What was wrong? Nothing, really. That's our Allie. A little dehydrated from some bug. She'll be fine. Now.

So what is it about that one cat? Why is her tether to this world so fragile? A common cold can bring you that close, that fast to death? Really? I love her, but she drives me crazy. It's hard not to think she does this for attention. She's always been the odd man out among the cats; the neediest, the most demanding. Maybe I should just find her a feline co-dependancy group, and leave it at that. But only after I've paid the vet bills.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The defamation of Jesse

We've done it again. Shocked the system. Apparently you can defame a public joke that prances around in tights and feather boas. I'd show you a picture of that here, but shoot, if Jesse Ventura will sue the widow of a soldier, he sure won't have any hesitation about going after an un-employed middle-aged woman.

I admit, I was one of the idiots that voted for him in 2008. The two parties each offered us a cynical choice: two hacks with name recognition. They were terrible. Jesse said "Give me a try, I can't be worse." Wrong. Even Republicans voted for him, jumping away from their party. Democrats will do that, but rarely do you see that in Republican circles. I knew how bad it would be that first night when he flew to New York to make jokes on the David Letternman show about drunken Irish-Americans laying out the streets of Saint Paul. And then he attended his inaugural party in a boa, to sing Werewolves of London. (hint, follow the link to the Pioneer Press and at least you will see one picture of another idiot in a Boa)

The damage to the state he caused continues. I no longer get mad every year that my used car pays the same yearly tax as his tricked out over-sized SUV. What's the point? I voted for him, he changed the laws. But I am sorry that celebrity overcame common sense.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


I've been thinking about my worst job lately. I've had quite a few jobs, some I loved, some were just okay. They put food on the table. Teaching, house-cleaning, retail, babysitting, all sorts. All jobs have their triumphs, their trying moments. But what makes a worst job?

Was it the discomfort? Standing in the back of a semi-trailer selling houseplants in a parking lot in the full sun of a hot summer day? No, that was okay. I liked the plants, and there was a DQ in the next parking lot. Was it fear of lurking danger? I had one baby-sitting job where the child was referred to by the mother as "The Monster." My entire responsibility was to make sure she didn't kill her brother while the parents were gone. They also had a psychotic Siamese cat. The cat was fine, as long as you didn't move. Otherwise it would attack and bite. "The Monster" and the cat got along fine; she would deposit it in my lap, and then take off after her brother, leaving me to ponder exactly whose blood did I want to be cleaning up. The pay was excellent. I learned to wear very thick clothing.

So what makes a job bad? Perhaps just the attitude you bring to it, or the lack of respect you encounter. Me, I'm just happy I survived the psychotic Siamese.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Sorceror's Apprentice

Our interface with technology is troubling. Is the flight from our grounded life into virtual reality good or bad for us? Somedays I squarely come down as 'Bad for us!' If I am feeling curmedgeonly I can be quite vehement. Other more reasonable days, no. It's not bad for us, anymore than a chocolate bar is bad for us. One hundred chocolate bars though.., too much of a sugar rush and we lose contact with our own life.

It's also seductive. That sweet, dark sensation of melting softness across our mouth, riveting our attention, momentarily blurring the thoughts of our frantic day, our resolve to 'eat right,' our necessary connections to real living beings perhaps standing next to us. I usually keep a chocolate bar hidden away, where no one can find it, comforted by the possibility of a private solace when everything has gotten to be too much. It's a necessary reset button.

Virtual reality is the same. It promises us a momentary respite, a way out of unresolveable present demands. We all need a way to step back when real life has gotten too complex. And it's free. It's non-fattening. It's informative. It makes us laugh and feel better. And so we can fool ourselves, not remembering that while one chocolate bar is good, five or more will cause distress in the physical body. I cannot imagine how hundreds of 'friends' feels on FaceBook. I think of savoring one chocolate bar, and will stick to my real life friends and be happy at the respite they provide. More lasting, and no overload.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Whiplash and Air-conditioning

I laughingly joked on Tuesday, with highs in the 60s, and lows in the 40s, about how out-of-towners should stick around and see real Minnesota weather. Even I didn't expect a swing of 60 degrees in 5 days. Yuck. Urgent Warning from the National Weather Service on Excessive Heat. Yeah, it's ugly out today. Only 91, but with the humidity, look for a Heat Index of 102. That's where they start telling you check on your neighbors, be careful, la-de-dah.

They are right. It is dangerous, particuliarly after an unusually wet and cool summer. We haven't built up our heat coping yet with a nice slow gradual warming starting in April. Shoot, this April we had 20 inches of snow on the ground. Which brings me to air-conditioning. I hate it. I swear it's the death of American community, as well as a cause of global warming. People no longer sit outside as the weather heats up. They no longer stroll around their neighborhood in the cool of the evening. Instead, everyone is holed up in their closed houses, with the air-conditioning running full blast. We don't chat with our neighbors, or anyone, anymore.

On days like today, I have no problem with that idea. But what of the 75 degree days? the 80 degree days? Even the 90 degree days? I pulled out the window unit this morning, and installed it in the back bedroom. We have an 18 year old cat named Sneaker, staying with us for a while, and I prefer not to take chances with someone else's pet (or grandma, or child). It's beastly hot, the guest cat should be fine in the cooled room, and as for the rest of our household, we'll just move slow, and lounge around a lot. We'll just follow Gracie's lead above.

Friday, July 18, 2014


Writing is a dirty little secret. Just like wearing a spandex shaper (once called a girdle), or drinking alone. Actually, I've never worn a girdle, but if I did, I imagine I wouldn't admit it easily. I've written many things through my life: letters, papers for school, diatribes to politicians. Oh, yes, and the occasional other.

After years of writing in the closet, I am actually taking the plunge and sending off a piece to a literary magazine. Taking action is not comfortable. You can fool yourself by pretending you are merely keeping your light under a bushel rather than admit the fear of exposing yourself to the light of day. In the end, that's rather sterile. So it's time to open the shutters, come out of the closet, step forward and expose my light to the world.

I'm sending a missive out into the world: I'm here, I write, and I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Dog Days of Summer

The All Star game starts today. It's amusing. Living in Minnesota we are all used to silly questions over the years. Usually it's on how cold it gets in the winter: Plenty. And now we are getting questions on the cold summer.
One fact struck me years ago when visiting Washington DC in the summer. I was glad to get out of Minnesota, we were in a beastly heat wave. And yes, it was cooler (and drier) in Washington DC. Actually that fact led the local DC news for two nights running. As if it should be a surprise to anyone that Mid-continent gets beastly heat waves far away from cooling ocean breezes. As if living at the top of the Mississippi River Valley doesn't provide us with muggy weather. Ah well, Climate change is just reinforcing the perception of Minnesota as an ice-box, as extremes get magnified.
Stick around, you visitors, we'll be able to show you our normal weather in a week or so. As for now, I'm enjoying wearing a light sweater. (Although it feels weird!)

Saturday, July 12, 2014


It's a grey day, and perfect for introspection and re-invention. I've decided to take my nose out of my books, my hands off my knitting needles, and venture into the larger world. Oh, and why blue? Becuase it clarifies your thoughts...