Quote of the Day

"Music I heard with you was more than music, / And bread I broke with you was more than bread." -Conrad Aiken

Quote of the Day

"Millions and millions of years would still not give me half enough time to describe that tiny instant of eternity when you put your arms around me and I put my arms around you." -Jacques Prévert


"School is about two parts ABCs to fifty parts Where Do I Stand in the Great Pecking Order of Humankind." -Barbara Kingsolver

Quote of the Day

"Nothing you do for children is ever wasted. They seem not to notice us, hovering, averting our eyes, and they seldom offer thanks, but what we do for them is never wasted." -Garrison Keillor

Quote of the Day

"They will say you are on the wrong road, if it is your own." -Antonio Porchia

Quote of the Day

"Creative minds always have been known to survive any kind of bad training." -Anna Freud

Quote of the Day

"It is not down in any map; true places never are." -Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Quote of the Day

"There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." -W. Somerset Maugham

Things that go bang in the night.

Back when BAH and I were misspending our youths, we bought a house in Pueblo, Colorado. The house was Victorian only in the sense that it was of that age. It was small. It was two stories with a tiny little dirt floor basement, and a garage which was probably once a carriage house. I very much enjoyed that house. No hallways lived in that house, and the bedroom had no door, but just a stairway that ended there, in the bedroom. The result of having no door to the bedroom was that Mr. Kitty would wake me up by smacking me in the face, when he was hungry. He didn't use claws, at least. I would open my eyes in the morning and see nothing but cat, gigantic cat.

There was no air conditioner, just a swamp cooler, which was fine. We left the windows open all night in the summers. And some summer nights, horrific noises would emerge. Sometimes, it was from the railroad yards, this terrible screeching and banging that woke us in the night.

"The gates of hell are opening up again," we would say. Indeed, if there were a gate to hell, it would screech in just that way.

And then sometimes, there were earth-shattering rattlings and explosions heard in the far distance, and those were caused quite simply by the military bombing range west of town.

So, when I heard about the unexplained sounds and rattlings and explosions in Clintonville, Wisconsin, only one reason came to my mind:

The Gates of Hell have moved and taken up new residence in Clintonville.

I think our old friend Strunk is rolling over in his grave when he reads that 71 year old women are saying things like,
"My house shook and it was just like a shock. I got out of bed and was like `Wow.' I thought one of my trees fell onto the house."

Quote of the Day

"Omit needless words. Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts." -William Strunk Jr.

[I think he could have left it at the first sentence.]

Misconceptions about chickens:

1. Chickens are vegetarians. Chickens are not vegetarians, but rather opportunistic omnivores. They enjoy eating bugs, including tics, which is nice for us. I have even witnessed a chicken eating a live baby mouse.

2. Chickens are chicken. Well, sort of, but not really. They do sometimes become afraid over ridiculous things. On the other hand, I witnessed a hawk attack the chickens one day. The Gentle Giant (our rooster) herded all of the lady chickens into the cover of the Jerusalem Artichoke before he himself went to safety- and it was nearly too late. The hawk landed beside him and got him by the tail! The Gentle Giant made a getaway, minus one majestic tail feather. The hawk flew away. So, you see, sometimes they are heroic.

3. Chickens are stupid. While they are not exactly able to read and write, chickens have individual personalities. They look around before going out into the open. They have enough intelligence to forage on their own and develop a pecking order. The roosters have singing competitions. I guess it's debatable if personality is a form of intelligence, but some animals have no individualism. Chickens did not seem especially intelligent to me until I started raising turkeys. Turkeys are truly idiotic.

Of course, none of this explains why those silly chickens always have to cross the road.

Quote of the Day

"Any real change implies the breakup of the world as one has always known it, the loss of all that gave one an identity, the end of safety." -James Baldwin

[Men so rarely smile with all of their teeth showing. I really like this picture.]

Fire and Ice.

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

-Robert Frost

The temperatures here in the Northlands have soared to higher seventies or lower eighties for the past week. To give you perspective, the average high is usually 44. It is beautiful, but strange to sunbathe in March. This is weather usually reserved for June.

Some of the chickens didn't molt until March, because the winter was already so mild, so now they are walking around naked, getting sunburned.

People who don't believe in Climate Change are insane.

Quote of the Day

"I've had occasions where I wondered seriously how anyone could feel as bad as this and live. The answer came back that I was still alive, that's all." -William S. Burroughs


The person who lived the longest ever is (probably) Jeanne Calment. How do you live to be 122? "At age 85, she took up fencing, and continued to ride her bicycle up until her 100th birthday. She was reportedly neither athletic, nor fanatical about her health... She smoked until the age of 117, only five years before her death.[1][14] Calment smoked from the age of 21 (1896), though according to an unspecified source, she smoked no more than two cigarettes per day." (Click here for more info.)

The Earth Gym

Conversation with a friend last night at her country home:

Me: "Ever since I moved to the country, I feel weird exercising - because afterwards, I think, Why did I waste all of that energy and time exercising when I could have spent it weeding or building a fence or doing a million other things? So I guess I just don't exercise anymore. It just seems like a waste of time."

Friend: "I feel exactly the same way. I know people who waste hours a week exercising. Think of all that time! It's ridiculous! But I think working outside is exercise. I call it, 'The Earth Gym'. When other people talk about working out at the gym, just say you went to the Earth Gym today!"

I visit the Earth Gym several times every day. I'm an Earth Gym fanatic!

Common activities a the Earth Gym include weight lifting, climbing, digging, pole tossing, hauling loads, weeding, running from swarms of bees, playing Big Ball, running after turkeys, climbing after turkeys, long distance yelling, professional cursing, and occasionally just sitting around. Special amenities include Flash Outdoor Sauna (burning the field). We don't have any of those newfangled image making machines, but we get good radio reception in the barn, with accompaniment from live turkeys.

Honestly, it's really weird when I go on vacation. I wake up in the morning and get ready to go see the chickens. Silly, I know.

A list of quotes from my daughter which prove she is really an old lady:

1. After insisting BAH come upstairs to talk with her late one night, even crying for him, this was all she said to him, "Be quiet!"
2. "Mother! Keep your voice down! I'm trying to sleep!"
3. In the car, "Quit your whispering up there! I can't hear what you're saying!"
4. Calling from upstairs, "Did you find my slipper yet?"
5. "Put the red suitcase next to the blue suitcase downstairs where my things are."
6. "Let's power walk now!"

Quote of the Day

"Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can decide." -Josephine Hart

Craft Project

She wanted a dinosaur shirt. She drew the picture. I cut out the template and did the actual spray painting. What you can't really tell here is that it's green glitter spray paint.


Even in French, the janitor always called you by the formal, "vous", even when you switched to "tu." He did not switch to "tu", but continued with "vous". The clear implication was that he viewed himself as beneath you in some way.

"Est-ce-que c'est possible de nettoyer les deux cȏtés de tableaux blanc? Et balayer sous les bureaux?"

Things I never have the nerve to say.

Quote of the Day

“In the world according to Garp, we are all terminal cases." -John Irving

Sally and Herbert

Herbert the Lion, that is.

"There was once a little girl named Sally who wanted a baby lion. She already had a doll's house, two dolls, a tea set, and a toy zebra on wheels, but she didn't like any of them. All she wanted was a lion, a real, live lion. So one day her mother brought her one from downtown."

-Clare Turlay Newberry, Herbert the Lion, 1931

(A favorite of Little Z's)

Quote of the Day

"It is only when we realize that life is taking us nowhere that it begins to have meaning." P.D. Ouspensky

What a man. What a mustache.

Correction from Oroboros: "I trust you know the pic is of Gurdjieff? Ouspensky was his student before breaking with him and settling in England with his own circle of students."

Thanks for the correction! See comments for recommended reading list.

Quote of the Day

"There is another world, but it is in this one." -Paul Éluard


I end up watching children's programs on Netflix sometimes with my four year old. In general, they all entertain and educate at the same time. Kids these days know all sorts of things just from watching TV. I guess that's good. But when The Cat in the Hat changes from troublemaker (as he is in the book) to educator ("The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That"), it seems wrong somehow. And then there's Dora the Egomaniac who always wins at everything. And then there's the Dinosaur Train, which is okay until you've see it, "four billion trillion killion times," as Little Z says.

And then there's Kipper. That's Kipper the Dog.

I love Kipper.

Kipper is a British dog with a great outlook on life. Kipper doesn't try to be very educational at all. There's one where Kipper is even visited by aliens. That's my favorite.

Little Z used to like Kipper so much that she would pee on the couch whenever she watched it. She was basically potty trained, but Kipper was so exciting!

We've been on a long Kipper vacation, but tonight she's watching it again. In this one, Kipper's friend Jake has an imaginary friend named Wilbur. Kipper, in usual good sport fashion, pretends to see the friend. What a great guy. Of course, there is a twist in the end, but I won't give it away.

Another thing we need to bring back...

Streetcar in Atlanta, Georgia:

Streetcar in Dallas(?):

Fort Collins, Colorado Streetcar (My landlord in Hermosa, Art Albrecht, famously hit this in his youth and knocked it off the tracks- I rode it once when I was twelve and I think it's still open, actually):

Aren't they beautiful?

Quote of the Day

"The mountain remains unmoved at its seeming defeat by the mist." -Rabindranath Tagore

You're dead to me, Sam.

This image from the Frog Blog reminded me of something.

It was 1993 and I was working at a college book store. My previous gig, which lasted only two weeks, had been to go door-to-door promoting a railway line from San Francisco up into the far reaches of Sonoma County (I believe they're finally building it now). There was this guy I worked with at the previous door to door job, Sam. Sam wasn't that great. He was good at making money, but perhaps more because he was a good swindler more than anything. He was a hard core environmentalist. Idealistic. We all were. But there was something, you know, just a little off with him. He was a big guy and he was much older than I was. He seemed like he had been dealt a bad lot, though I couldn't say how. I only worked with him for two weeks.

Then I was back at the bookstore. The bookstore had a big problem with students writing bad checks, so for every check, we required two ID's. Same came through my line at the bookstore and wrote a check for like $300 or something. I asked him for the two ID's and he didn't have two. He just had his student ID, which everyone knows you just walk up to a pimply dude in the student union and tell him who you are to get it. Sam said I knew him and that was enough. I responded that I didn't really know him that well, and he threw a fit.

It got ugly.

The dude started throwing stuff all over the place and screaming and yelling. He threw some notebooks on the floor. Some pens. He screamed,

"I can't believe this shit! You know me!" and then he just ran away, straight out the door.

He left a stack of books on the counter.

The bookkeeper came out. She was a pretty blond with large (not unattractive) hips. (For some reason, her hips seem like her most prominent feature in my memory now.)

"What was that all about?" she asked with a smile. She was always smiling.

"He didn't have two forms of ID. I mean, he said I knew him, and I kind of do, but he didn't have two forms of ID."

The bookkeeper, knowing how much money we lost on bad checks, totally thought I had done the right thing.

"Well, that's dumb. He didn't have two forms of ID. He should have brought them!"

I wonder if it was a bad check. I knew how poor he was, but still. My BS detector was on ten.

The moral of the story is: Don't bro me if you don't know me.

Quote of the Day

"Compassion has nothing to do with achievement at all. It is spacious, and very generous. When a person develops compassion, he is uncertain whether he is being generous to others or to himself, because compassion is environmental generosity... We could say compassion is the ultimate attitude of wealth: an antipoverty attitude, a war on want." -ChÖgyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Another thing we need to bring back...

... is the Romantic Chicken Hat:

Teresa at the Frog Blog posted these pictures of Alice Delysia.

Yet another thing we need to bring back are romantic names like Alice Delysia.

Godzilla and the Sad Baker

Thirteen years ago today, when Bad Assed Husband was just Bad Assed Fiancee, we were planning on getting married on March 9, 1999- a fortuitous date, or so I thought. We both got food poisoning so bad that day that we had to postpone the wedding! Every year now, we celebrate "Salmonella Day," our doomed didn't get married day.

I like to get a cake for Salmonella Day. This year, though, I almost forgot. I was at the end of my workday, packing my suitcase to leave, and my arbetskomrad was on the phone, and suddenly I screamed,

"It's Salmonella Day! I forgot to get the cake! Oh my god! I have to get a cake! Now!"

Arbetskomrad gave me a polite wave of the hand and a partially suppressed "WTF?" look as I ran out of there.

I went to a small local bakery. I knew I would have to settle for some plain pre-baked cake in the case, with my silly script added onto it. But no! I looked in the case and saw a dinosaur cake! For those of you who do not know, my daughter is a dinosaur fanatic. She said the word paleontologist 34 times on the way home from day care today. She's four. So, at first, I was speechless. A pleasant looking bakery man was standing behind the counter. Our conversation went something like this:

Bakery Man: Can I help you?
Me: I um I yyaaa--- I wasn't actually looking for a dinosaur cake, but I think I'm going to have to buy that cake.
Bakery Man: We don't normally have such elaborate cakes as that one in the case.
Me: It's my daughter. She just really likes dinosaurs. She's four.
Bakery Man: I was just saying, "If nobody buys that dinosaur cake, I'm going to buy it myself and eat it. So much work went into it." We were working on it all day, and the people who ordered it said that it wasn't what they had envisioned.
Me: Well, I like it. I think it's great!
Bakery Man: Good!
Me: There's just one thing, though. I'm going to have to ask you to write something really weird on it.

After he wrote, "Happy Salmonella Day," on it- spelled correctly- a bakery lady came out and they chatted a bit about putting so much work into the cake and how it was so nice that someone was actually going to buy it, after all. Bakery Man reiterated how he was so exasperated, he had planned on eating it tonight.

So, I left feeling very happy about the cake. I couldn't think of any reason why another person wouldn't want it, until BAH said,
"It looks kind of like Godzilla." On second glance, it does. In my mind, though, a cake looking like Godzilla just makes it that much more awesome.

Little Z ate the teeth first, so that we wouldn't be scared of it anymore. The teeth are right in the middle, so I'll just let you imagine the rest of that scene.

Lisa had better not be afraid of needles!

I gave blood today, and Dear Reader, you should, too! You should, except if you have Hepatitis, or you've had a tattoo in the past year, or you are on steroids, or you've spent time in Africa, or you've spent more than five years total in Europe, or unless you are a man who has had sex with another man in the past year, or you're an intravenous drug user, or you have prostituted yourself in the past year, or if you were in prison recently, or unless you've taken aspirin over the past few days, or unless you have an iron deficiency or you've had a brain graft or you've ever had Cancer. Then you shouldn't give blood today.


I guess that just leaves Lisa.

Because pianos are not portable.

I was listening to "Grace Notes" today on the radio. I don't know what it was about. I was driving. But when my brain tuned in after a long break, there was a story about a lady who got really nervous about being on the radio, so she went back to her hotel room and practiced for a few hours. I assumed she was a vocalist, playing in her room for a few hours. But no. She was a pianist! Which means---

There was a piano in her hotel room!

It was eighty or ninety years ago.

I've stayed in some nice hotel rooms, but they never ever had a piano. Hotels cost over $100 these days, if you want a non-sloping floor and an absence of urine stains on the walls, but they never ever have a piano in the room.

This is wrong.

In this economy, we need more do it yourself music!

If you pay one hundred dollars, you should at least have the use of a mediocre piano.

There are many things in this world that have gone wrong.

I propose a new series, which I shall entitle,

" "

Oh, heck. I'm not feeling creative.

I mean to write about a series of things that have disappeared from this modern world, but really should have stayed. It will be about ways that it used to be better, back in the old days. Do you know what it ought to be called?

Credit to Pictures of Detroit for the sad piano photo. It really is in a hotel room.

Bike Route

Decorative Guitar

I made this bookshelf yesterday. It replaces a baby changing table that we were previously using as a book shelf.

No one in this house can really play that guitar.