Monday, June 29, 2009

Fireworks and Finnish Anthems

As my regular readers know, I am a semi-professional musician who makes tens of dollars from playing out. Somehow I am always getting recruited into new bands, and last week I played with one that does hardcore Mideastern music, with the quarter tones and everything. It was so much fun! Then Saturday the folk band I am in drove south one state for a Scandinavian festival in a park. At least we got to sit in the shade as we played, wearing our band uniform of a T-shirt with dancing cows on it. The poor kids who danced around the Maypole (should that be Junepole?) were wearing warm-looking folk costumes and dancing in the sun! Fortunately, not a single one of them keeled over from the heat. The organizers had asked us to play the national anthems of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden so we had practiced them all... and then when we got there, they asked us to start with our own national anthem! Nobody has ever asked us to play "The Star-Spangled Banner" before, but luckily we know how it goes so we could fake it pretty well. Still, it is not nearly as easy to sing as, say, the Finnish National Anthem, which stays in one octave and has only three chords.

Then the kids danced around the Maypole singing songs about how frogs have no ears or tails, and how they (the kids, not the frogs) can play the violin and the flute, complete with actions. We accompanied all those songs, which tended to have two (at the most three) chords and very simple melodies. Hey! Maybe we should change our national anthem from an English drinking song set to a war poem to something much easier and happier to sing. I propose something in G (although C or D are also acceptable) about how our country is so cool because we have tropical places like Key West and Hawaii, and maritime places like New England, and flat places like Montana, and deserts like Arizona, and a football team owned by The People - the Green Bay Packers! That would be much better than a song with notes that only professional singers can hit and words that nobody uses in daily conversation. (Go ahead - use "ramparts" in a sentence when you're talking to your coworkers and see what kind of look they give you.)

I was bummed that we were going to miss the big fireworks show on Saturday just to make tens of dollars playing Scandinavian national anthems and children's songs, but fortunately for me they were postponed because of bad weather until last night. I suggested to Richard Bonomo that we ask to borrow Hardingfele's canoe and go out into the lake to watch the show, but he didn't like that idea. He wanted to bike out to the park, but I didn't want to get home so late on a work night. In the end he, Kathbert, Cecil Markovitch, and I went to the OTHER choir director's house and donned Martin Luther masks Cecil had ordered from some Lutheran gag store, then we knocked on his door and sang him Happy Birthday. (His birthday is today.) He let us watch the fireworks from his pier, but he was too tired to join us. As always, they were very cool, and my two favorites were the smiley faces and one that Rich said looked like a "universe simulation."

Palm Tree Fan lives right near the park where they do the fireworks show, so she just walked out the door to watch them. She was super happy because the F-16s did their flyover right above her head, and she loves fighter jets. You can see that her dogs had a good weekend too. Have you ever seen such happy dogs?

Leo and Buddy Are Happy
(photo credit: Palm Tree Fan)

Eusebius and I are both feeling better, and today we biked to work. Rich helped me change Eusebius's flat tire yesterday, and I am completely recovered, so I am looking forward to many happy hours of biking this summer.

Famous Hat

Thursday, June 25, 2009

True Adventure: Outdoor Concert

Eusebius and I have been practically inseparable the last few weeks, but we had a rough night last night and need to spend a little time apart. It was because of the Outdoor Concert.

Eusebius is my bike. Years ago I had a blue ten-speed I called Boethius after reading The Consolation of Philosophy in college. In my mind, biking was where destiny met free will! Then I upgraded to a silver hybrid and thought of calling it Boethius II but decided instead to give it its own identity as Eusebius.

So last night Eusebius and I went up to the the Outdoor Concert, where we met Rich and some other people to eat food and play card games as music played in the background. (The people who are really there for the music sit close to the orchestra.) Then we headed home, hoping to beat the darkness, since I cannot find the light for Eusebius. Everything was going very smoothly until about half a mile away from my house, when I suddenly heard Eusebius go pfffft fup fup fup. A flat tire, and I didn't have a patch kit or spare inner tube with me! (Of course, it was so dark that patching or changing the tube would have been quite a challenge.) So Eusebius and I walked home... where I discovered that I had painful heat rash all over my midriff. Probably from biking during the heat advisories these last few days, against everyone else's advice. So Eusebius and I are spending some time apart, which means that this morning I had to get going in time to catch the bus. OK, what it really meant is that I missed the bus and had to take the later one in to work.

Not to worry, soon Eusebius and I will be together again. We just need our space right now.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

True Adventure: Best State Welcome Ever

One beautiful fall day a bunch of us, including Rich and A-Fooze and Cecil Markovitch, went to a state park to check out the beautiful foliage. This state park is on the bluffs above the Mississippi River, and on the other side of the river, in Iowa, is a state park called Pike's Peak. (Apparently it is named after the same Pike as the far more famous mountain in Colorado.) We decided to voyage over there and check out the autumn foliage from the other side, which was equally beautiful. Pike's Peak towers above a tiny town called McGregor, and on a kiosk on top of the peak was a poster stating that McGregor had been "Capital for a Day" when the governor had spent a day there.

"Hey, guys," I said, "check it out! The governor came to McGregor!"

From around the side of the kiosk an unfamiliar voice said incredulously, "Really? The governor came to McGregor?" and then a man stepped out from behind the kiosk and said, "Hi! I'm Chet Culver, the governor of Iowa!"

A quick glance at the poster was enough for me to confirm that he was not lying. He warmly welcomed us to Iowa and hoped that we enjoyed our visit there. In fact, our visit of maybe an hour was perfectly wonderful. How many states, I ask you, have a governor who welcomes you the moment you cross the border?

Famous Hat

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hostage Situation Update

The Hostages: Amminadab and Arphaxad
(photo credit: Palm Tree Fan)

So far the animal rights wackadoos have not come for my fish Arphaxad and Amminadab, who live in a bowl with NO toys, only a plant and each other. Even though Arphaxad, the white one with the orange head, is larger, Amminadab chases it around and it never turns around and says, "Hey, I'm bigger!" This weekend my Archirritant asserted that trout are smarter than dogs, but I don't see much evidence that A&A have a whole lot in the way of deep thoughts. They are, however, quite adept at begging. They will be swimming around happily until I pull out a piece of broccoli or a carrot, and then suddenly they are at the side of the bowl, staring at me. You can see what miserable lives A&A lead, between the spider plant and the cycad on the windowsill, overlooking the lake. Poor fishies.

My coworker's hostages, Nemo Two and Blue, are also alive and well as I write this. Once again I am fish sitting them. I was thinking of getting a triggerfish and slipping it into the tank to see if my coworker would notice, but then I was afraid it might eat Nemo Two and Blue. Triggerfish are very pretty, and they are supposed to be hardy and intelligent, good beginner fish for the saltwater aquarium enthusiast. The reef triggerfish has blue teeth, can shoot a jet of water out of its mouth, and can change color like a chameleon, but the single coolest thing about it is that its name in Hawaiian is humuhumunukunukuapua'a, or little pig-nosed triggerfish. I wonder, in a battle of intellect between a triggerfish (or humuhumu) and a trout, who would take it?

At home, my hostages Cashmere, Charlie, and Sylvia are still doing well, although they are very hot. Sylvia has been drinking tons of water and eating only her weight in food every night instead of her usual three times her weight. When the air cools off in the evening I put a fan in the window to draw cool air in, and this morning Cashmere was sprawled in front of it. When I turned it off, she gave me the stink eye, and when I explained that soon it would be drawing in very hot air, she just thumped her foot. I did actually turn the AC on for them today, since the heat index is going to be over 100... and then I boke to work! Hardingfele and Tailor came over to go swimming last night, and Tailor said her summer camp will be meeting inside today because the heat is so dangerous. Hardingfele asked if my pets had nicknames, so here they are:

Charlie - Charles, Sir Poopalot, Buddy, Boy Bunny, Carlito mi Conejito
Cashmere - Little Girl, Cash, Shmere, Girl Bunny, Conejita
Sylvia - Tylvia

Famous Hat

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Chesterton Club

Sorry for the lack of a post on Friday. Thursday night A-Joz, the Fabulous Jackie O, and I went to our condo association meeting and then out to dinner, so I was out kind of late. Then Friday I spent half the day participating in a research study. (It was, alas, not the one where the subjects had to sign the consent forms with magic pens.) So Friday I never got around to posting, and then Saturday I was nowhere near a computer. Instead, Richard Bonomo, Kathbert, and I were splashing through a creek with our shoes off, just like kids. After that we had root beer floats, just like kids. Then Hardingfele and Rockstar Tailor came over and we splashed around in my pool, just like kids. (Of course, Rockstar Tailor really IS a kid.)

Sunday at our church we had a visiting priest who was black and preached like those Baptist ministers you hear on the radio, only he was very eucharistic. We all wished he could be our priest forever. Then Rich, Anna Banana II, and I were at a picnic at a country church, and it was a cloudy day so I took my Famous Hat off and got kind of pink on the cheeks. One of the people at this picnic was a regular at the local Chesterton Club, which brings up the point of this post: everyone should read Chesterton. Why he is not more widely read these days is beyond me. He states everything with such clarity and points out the lack of logic in the most foolish modes of modern thinking. (Oh wait, maybe that's why they don't make you read him in school...)

The Chesterton Club meeting was on Saturday evening by the lake, which sounded wonderful, but I was exhausted after all that splashing around. Too bad, because sitting beside the lake on a warm summer evening, discussing Chesterton while drinking beer and watching one member smoke his ever-present pipe, sounded like a wonderful way to pass the time. In fact, one of the guys at the Chesterton Club, Mr. Icon, told the others a story (which Rich later related to me) about meeting an Egyptian at the zoo who had fallen in love with a tree and was sitting beneath it in ecstasy. Mr. Icon asked him what was up and he explained that trees are so rare in Egypt that they are each registered with the government. However, that doesn't explain why he fell in love with that particular Norway maple, since in my town there is a Norway maple every dozen feet or so, and not one of them is registered, so far as I know. See? This is what you are missing by not attending the Chesterton Club meetings!

Chesterton was, in his day, a well-known Christian apologist, and he had a series of public debates with George Bernard Shaw, the famous playwright and prominent atheist. When Chesterton converted to Catholicism, Shaw said, "Oh Gilbert, now you really HAVE gone too far!" But we in the Chesterton Club are grateful he went that far.

Famous Hat

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Coolest Pen Ever

As all 4.83 of my regular readers know, I have a collection of crazy pens, many of which have been prominently featured on this very blog. Some were sent to me in the mail by vendors, like my #1 pen and my "Genius at Work" pen, while in other cases coworkers have been my enablers, giving me the syringe pen and the light-up pen. One of my coworkers has the coolest pen ever, and she can't give it to me, but she did show it to me. It is like some kind of James Bond pen.

This pen has a camera in the bottom, and when study subjects write on special paper, it takes a picture of everything they write, then my coworker plugs the pen into her computer and it sends the information to someone on the other side of the planet. How crazy is that?? While I agree that it is the coolest pen I have ever seen, it would not be practical for my purposes for the following reasons:

1. It is a very chubby pen and harder to grip than the average pen.

2. I don't have any magic paper that helps it take pictures.

3. I have no need to send handwriting samples to foreign countries.

4. Why do I want someone halfway around the planet to see all the mistakes I make while doing word game puzzles? Because yes, I am one of those crazies who uses pens to do word game puzzles. Maybe it is genetic; my dad recently said of my grandfather, "The SOB used to do the New York Times crossword puzzle in pen!" Yeah, guess what? So do I!

Still, a spy pen is way cool. It really is the coolest pen ever.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ring in the Sky

I have nothing to really blog about today, other than how I transplanted a baby African violet from my "plant nursery" into its own pot for Kathbert, and I tried to separate two Christmas cacti that grew from cuttings my mom gave me, but they had merged so I had to put the whole thing into a bigger pot, and how I moved Dr. Cheung from a five-ton clay pot with no drainage to a bigger, lighter plastic pot with drainage, but my last bajillion posts have been about plants. So instead I will relate a story that was on

A family was at a theme park and saw a ring in the sky, which they filmed. A UFOlogist says it looks like smoke from a ride called the Volcano, but he thinks it is actually a UFO because it matches pictures of other unexplained objects from the 50s. (Presumably they did not have smoke rings in the 50s). The people who actually saw it, however, say it wasn't a UFO but a sign from God, so they went home and prayed. While I believe that course of action is never a mistake, I could buy the ring of smoke theory. Once Tiffy and I went to a 4th of July celebration that included paratroopers jumping from a plane, fighter planes with afterburners flying overhead, and a helicopter that lowered a jeep and then a Howitzer, or some kind of big gun on wheels. They fired the Howitzer, and it made perfect smoke rings that drifted across the sky. If there is a ride called the Volcano, and it lets off smoke in perfect rings, we might as well just accept the principle of Occam's Razor that the most obvious, simplest explanation is almost always the right one.

Then again, maybe it is that Ring of Fire that Johnny Cash sang about.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Little Clover Everywhere

I love to bike to work. I get to see all kinds of interesting things, like an enormous hawk sitting on top of a parked pickup truck, and three little kids waving at me through the moonroof of a car, and mock orange bushes in bloom, that I would miss from the bus. One thing I noticed yesterday as I was biking along is how much clover there is. Everywhere I looked, I could see the sweet-smelling white clover, trifolium repens, and the tiny yellow clover, trifolium dubium. (I did not see any of the big red clover, trifolium pratense.)

The white clover smells good and the red clover is full of nectar that you can actually suck out of the individual florets, much like a columbine, but the poor little yellow clover is pretty much overlooked. Apparently it is an invasive species from Europe, and in Seattle they hate it:

That's OK, I don't much care for Seattle. I don't know why people would dislike little hopclover so much; it's a perfectly good groundcover that requires less maintenance than a grass lawn, and it puts nitrogen back into the soil. Then again, maybe I have to defend little clover because of my heritage. The word for clover in Gaelic is seamair, which I think is pronounced something like "sha-mere," and the diminutive is seamrog, which is of course pronounced "shamrock." Or maybe I just like it because it is small, and small is cute. Maybe I like it because it is the underdog - I mean, what's up with that scientific name? The doubtful clover? What's doubtful about it? It is just a humble little plant that provides food for bees and butterflies and puts nitrogen back into the soil for the other, more glamorous plants. You could say it is the Samwise Gamgee of the plant world, and while other people may say Aragorn or Galadriel were their favorite characters from The Lord of the Rings, I loved Sam. And in the same way I think the little clover is delightful, just going around quietly helping the other plants and animals without asking for any renown.

Famous Hat

Monday, June 15, 2009

Our Cars

This weekend Tiffy, A-Fooze, and I went to the outdoor theater to see a play by George Bernard Shaw. We got rained on but came prepared with rain ponchos and whipped them out as soon as the first drops began to fall; the people to our right said, "You girls have been here before!" and bought their own ponchos during the intermission, while the people to our left simply left. I'm not sure which part of "outdoor theater" they didn't understand...

Saturday my plugged-in Mideastern band had another gig at the Mideastern restaurant. It was also a birthday party for three people, one of whom was turning 92, and a going-away party for a fourth person who was going abroad for a year. The birthday "boy" had a huge sheet of baklava instead of a birthday cake; there were lots of candles on it but I have no idea if there were actually 92. It did light the room up quite a bit, though.

Unfortunately, neither of these activities would have been very easy for me to participate in if I did not own a car. In this culture, it is so hard to get by without one, and the outdoor theater is 45 minutes away while I needed to haul a mandolin and an amp to the gig. It would be wonderful to be one of those people who does not own a car, and I try to minimize my use of it (for example, I do not drive to work), but I have a confession to make: I love my car. Her name is Erin Caitlyn O'Honda because she is green and because I bought her the day after St. Patrick's Day a few years back. I loved my previous Honda Accord, Sydney, so much that my friends practically had to pry her away from me. She was being held together with duct tape, had one of her "monster eye" headlights that couldn't close so that she looked like she was winking, and her power steering no longer worked... but she still ran. Sydney was the first car I ever owned. Tiffy sold her to me and I drove her for ten years, until she was 17. (As Antoshka said, "That car is 120 in people years - it's time to let go!") When it would have cost more to repair her faulty exhaust system than she was worth, I finally donated her to charity for a tax write-off. Good old Syd - even the charity people couldn't fix her, so they sold her for parts. I guess I really did drive her into the ground!

After Tiffy sold Sydney to me, she bought yet another Honda Accord. The color is San Marino red so she calls her car "Dan," although she is not a Dolphins fan.

Richard Bonomo did not own his first car until he was in his 40s. He still has the Bonomobile, an Isuzu station wagon which has suffered much abuse, though most of it not from Rich. Just this past winter, a snowplow backed into it! Yet the Bonomobile still doesn't look as bad as Sydney did at the end. True story: I once ran into a fire hydrant (don't ask) and had to shell out $300 for a new radiator but couldn't afford to fix the cosmetic damage. Within a fortnight, some drunken fool driving his girlfriend's mother's SUV ran into a bunch of parked cars, and so Sydney was fixed and looked as good as new at no charge to me! The only times I really got mad at old Syd were when she sometimes wouldn't start on hot summer days, which turned out to be an easy fix, and toward the end when she would always eat my cassette tapes. She especially liked to eat techno and Baroque music.

Kathbert's car is a blue Honda Fit that looks really small on the outside but very roomy on the inside, so she calls it Tardis. (Since Hardingfele is going to ask anyway, that's a Dr. Who reference.) She used to have a little tan car, I think it was a Nissan, that was 21 before it died.

You may have noticed a pattern here. Yes, my friends and I are part of the problem, not the solution, when it comes to the financial issues of the American car makers. What can we do? We prefer Japanese cars.

Famous Hat

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hardingfele's Baba Ghanouj Flower

This morning I got into work to find this in my email inbox, from Hardingfele: "Here is one, far better than your version. I used Photoshop and actually blended the two flowers. I cannot figure out a way to post the picture though."

Figure 4: Baba Ghanouj Blossom
(photo editing by Hardingfele)

She is right, this is far better than my poor attempt, but I had to laugh when I read the email because it sounded so familiar: kind of like the girl in Scenario #1 in my post about emotional maturity! Had I created this, I probably would have acknowledged the creativity of the person who made the first attempt for having the original idea. I might also have noted that I had access to PhotoShop while she only had Paint, and that I worked on this on my leisure at home while she threw it together on her break at work. But not for Hardingfele are these niceties; no, she gets right to the point: "Mine is better than yours." The subject of the email is even "Better Flower." Funny! But it IS a better flower and so I am posting it.

Famous Hat

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Beautiful Flowering Baba Ghanouj

I apologize for offending all three of my regular readers yesterday by implying that I thought they were emotionally immature; I was only trying to discuss my own "growth patterns." There is, I am sure, nothing wrong with gently correcting someone regarding botanical identification. Speaking of which, as I did mention yesterday, Tiffy always asks me what a particular flower is, and when I once admitted that I did not know, she said, "I'm disappointed! Aren't you going to make something up?" So then anytime I didn't know the answer to her question, I would just say, "Oh, that's baba ghanouj," since we both love Mideastern food. When she went to Hawaii, she sent me a postcard saying there were many beautiful flowers there, "and," she said, "I think most of them are baba ganoosh." (Her orthographic skills are right up there with her botanical identification ones. Kidding! She is usually a very good speller.)

I did once make my own baba ghanouj, grilling a giant eggplant on Rich's tiny grill. Seriously, it was bigger than the grill! Then I threw it in the blender with the other ingredients but managed to mangle Rich's plastic spatula by trying to stir it without actually turning the blender off. Oops! A real blonde moment. (I claim no wrongdoing in the Yorkshire Pudding Pyrex Calamity, also in Rich's kitchen, but that is a story for another blog post.) Anyhow, the baba ghanouj was tasty enough to bring to a potluck party, once I fished out all the little spatula shreds.

When I told Hardingfele about this, she sent me pictures of garlic and eggplant flowers, since they are two of the main ingredients in baba ghanouj. Since they are very similar in color, this inspired me to create a composite: the world's first glimpse of the lovely blossom of the baba ghanouj!

Figure 1: Garlic Blossoms
("borrowed" off internet by Hardingfele)

Figure 2: Eggplant Blossom
("borrowed" off internet by Hardingfele)

Figure 3: Baba Ghanouj Blossom
(terrible photo doctoring by Famous Hat)

Famous Hat

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Late-Blooming Flower

Good news: I did manage to bike to work at least once during Bike to Work Week, and that was this morning. Monday was rainy and yesterday was freezing, but today I woke up to sunshine and a phone call from Hardingfele: "Ready to bike?" So we boke to work! (Richard Bonomo insists the verb to bike is conjugated like this: bike, boke, boken. Makes sense to me.)

Emotional maturity has always been a fascinating topic for me, since unlike most people I have been able to watch mine unfold. The average person started maturing emotionally the day he was born, so the process is probably lost to the fuzzy recesses of childhood memory. (With the exception of Rich, who insists he has prenatal memories.) However, I had no emotional development whatsoever until taking a medication for Attention Deficit Disorder, which must have flipped some kind of switch in my brain. Another thing it did was give me depth perception, which I had never had before; when people used to talk about 3-D movies, I had no idea what they were talking about, since to me the movies were no different than real life: flat.

Since the clock started somewhat later for me, and things seem to be unfolding in real time, that means that I went through the stages of emotional development when I was old enough to remember, if not understand. (It took me quite awhile to figure out what was going on!) At this point I am in my late teens emotionally, which means I don't stand out much from my peers. Back when I was in my early twenties with all the emotional maturity of a toddler, that was definitely annoying to people! I can illustrate with a simple example:

Say a friend (I'll pick on Tiffy) is walking through the woods with me in the spring. First she will take a walk with pre-maturity me. We see some pretty white flowers, and she says, "Those are trilliums. My sister has them near her house." The fact of the matter is that they are May apples. The pre-maturity me would think only of how she had the facts wrong.

Pre-Mature Me: "No, those are May apples." (in a matter-of-fact tone of voice that probably comes across as snotty)

Would this response please anyone? I think not. Tiffy put up with a lot of that from me back in the day, but it drove everyone else crazy, and I was not what you would call popular. Then the maturing process began, and had the scenario happened when I was at the emotional age of twelve, I would have weighed the importance of the facts against Tiffy's feelings and tried to compromise by striking a conciliatory tone:

Half Mature Me: "I think maybe, and I could be wrong, but those could be May apples." (in a highly apologetic tone of voice)

Is this any improvement? Undoubtedly, yes, but it makes me sound weak and vacillating. If this exchange happened today I would weigh the possibility of Tiffy's future embarrassment at misidentifying May apples against the present reality of embarrassing her over her mistake, and I would probably conclude that on the grand scale of things, this is a highly unimportant matter. After all, trilliums do look quite a bit like May apples, and the likelihood that she would later embarrass herself at a cocktail party in front of the company president is slim to none. Now I would probably offer a noncommittal answer along these lines:

Mature Me: "They sure are beautiful." (in an admiring tone of voice)

There. That doesn't say I agree with her, so if she knows me well (as Tiffy does), it opens up the possibility for her to ask me what I think they are. (In matters botanical, Tiffy almost always defers to me.) However, if she doesn't notice that I have not backed up her identification of the flowers, all she hears is an agreeable statement from me that the flowers in question are lovely.

While this may not be the most mature tack (after all, I'm only at prom age, not voting age emotionally), I certainly think it is an improvement, and I have noticed a difference in the reactions of the people around me. What I really wish is that everyone who has the same deficits I had could also have that switch flipped. It is very difficult being the girl in Scenario #1 who simply gives what she views as a factual answer and then cannot understand why others dislike her so intensely.

So if any neuroscientists are reading this blog, get cracking on that already, would you?

Famous Hat

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Holy Trinity

In honor of Trinity Sunday, I am going to blog about the Holy Trinity. It is a hard enough concept for adults to ponder so imagine teaching it to children! When I was teaching catechism, I asked the Holy Spirit for some guidance, and He told me to explain the Trinity like a waterfall. So this is how I explained it to my catechism students, and they seemed to get it:

Imagine there is a very high mountain, so high that we can't see the top, but we know that it is covered with snow. The snow begets a waterfall, which is one in being with the snow. Through the action of the waterfall, the snow creates a valley. Mist rises from the snow and the waterfall, filling the valley and strengthening all the plants and flowers that live there. The closer the plants are to the waterfall, the more they are surrounded by the mist, and the lusher they are.

In the same manner, the Father Whom we cannot see begets the Son, Who is one in being with Him. The Father is not the Son, but they are of the same substance, just as the snow is not the waterfall but they are of the same substance, H2O. (In fact, in nature water exists in three states, which may be an example of creation mirroring its Creator.) Through the Son all things were created, just as the valley is created through the action of the waterfall. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (apologies to any Eastern Orthodox readers, since this is very filioque, but that's how the Holy Spirit explained it to me so I guess take it up with Him), just as the mist proceeds from the snow and the waterfall. And the closer we draw to Jesus, the more imbued with the Holy Spirit we become. The flowers closest to the waterfall have the most beautiful blossoms because they receive the most humidity, and in the same way the soul closest to Jesus bears the most beautiful spiritual blossoms, being most filled with the Holy Spirit.

When I visited Niagara Falls a couple of years ago, I saw for myself how well this metaphor shown to me by the Holy Spirit fits with the reality of a waterfall. The source of the water was too distant to see, but through the action of the falls it created a beautiful valley filled with lush plants and flowers. The air was so saturated with mist near the falls that it almost resembled smoke, and when we took a boat right into the curve of the Horseshoe Falls, the mist was so thick that all I could see was whiteness, like when an airplane is flying through a cloud, and it really did seem to me like we were sailing into Heaven.

I highly recommend a trip to Niagara Falls. Even if you don't find it as spiritual an experience as I did, you will probably still find it incredibly beautiful. However, if you are a religious person, go and see what a wonderful metaphor the falls are for the Holy Trinity.

Famous Hat

Monday, June 8, 2009

Random Monday Post

So it's Bike to Work Week, but this morning it was raining so once again I wimped out and took the bus. That's OK, I only committed to biking three times this week, and what are they going to do if I don't meet my quota, anyhow?

Tiffy came up this weekend, and on Friday night we went to Barnacle Bob's seafood restaurant and sat out on the deck overlooking the lake as we enjoyed coconut shrimp (me) and lobster tail (Tiffy) and brandy alexanders (both of us). It's a good thing we took advantage of the balmy evening, because Saturday it was COLD. In the evening we went to the outdoor theater with Rich, Anna Banana II, and her housemate Jillymoose. We all wore lots of layers and brought blankets, as well as rain ponchos that we didn't end up needing. (Thank goodness!) With all those layers, we were perfectly comfortable, and the cold kept the mosquitoes away. Beforehand there was a huge potluck, since it was the season opener, and then we saw Shakespeare's A Comedy of Errors, which was hilarious! Don't you hate when twin boys and their twin servants get separated just after birth and then meet up years later? It leads to so much confusion... especially when both sets of twins somehow end up with the same names like, say, Antipholos and Dromio. What a wacky coincidence. More coincidences ensued when Tiffy and I decided to purchase some hot cocoa during intermission, and a familiar-looking girl in line asked if I had gone on a Caribbean cruise a couple of years ago. Turns out it was my travel agent! She made a career change and now works at the same software company as the still-available B-Boy (who was also at this show, but he had driven up with Cecil Markovitch), and the next day she was going to Japan... just like Richard Bonomo had! I was beginning to feel like we were in our own farce, and no matter what she thought up next, we would have someone along who knew something about it.

Yesterday Tiffy and I saw Up in 3-D, which costs a little more but was totally worth the price. I highly recommend the movie. Children's movies often are much better than adult ones, because all the time they can't fill with gratuitous sex and violence they use for plot and character development. This one was particularly magical, with talking dogs, colorful birds, and a house carried by a bunch of helium balloons, and the protagonist was elderly. It was refreshing to see a geriatric hero - at a time when many people think life is over, he was just embarking on a new adventure!

This weekend I had the goofiest dream about Early Music Camp, that they handed us our music and my eyes just about popped out when I saw a high E. The other first sopranos weren't too worked up about it, and my OTHER choir director said, "If you consider yourself a real soprano, you should be able to hit an E. Besides, it's only an E flat." Now a high E could be hit by a few sopranos, I'm sure, since the "Queen of the Night" aria from Mozart's The Magic Flute requires a high F, but in reality I rarely see choral music that goes higher than a high A. Anyway, in real life I am usually panicking about how low I have to sing, since I am not an alto but am forced to sing that range in my own church choir, and anything below a low A is a real stretch for me. In fact, in the "Crucifixus" from Bach's Mass in B Minor, I panicked upon spotting an F, and my OWN choir director said, "It's an F sharp," so maybe that was all this dream was about.

Famous Hat

Friday, June 5, 2009

Disgusting Politics

Yesterday I was going to blog about riding my bike to work for the first time this season, but then Hardingfele asked me to blog about the Fish Liberators. Today it is a beautiful day again but I took the bus. Anyway, next week is Bike to Work Week so there will be plenty of time to blog about it then. Today I will instead discuss a most fascinating article Hardingfele sent me.

The article is on Yahoo! News and is called "Conservatives Are More Easily Disgusted." The link to the article can be found here:;_ylt=AjsV0.vA4_Cr28aZzaq.e.J0fNdF

The gist of the article is that people who are more squeamish about "yucky" things are more politically conservative because of a knee-jerk reaction to how "yucky" abortion and gay marriage are. It says a lot of other odd things too. For example:

1. Political conservatives tend to be tidy, with organized offices, but liberals favor colorful, more stylish but cluttered spaces. So then I must be liberal.

2. A large, global study in 2007 concluded that political preference is 50 percent genetic. So then I must be at least half liberal.

3. Conservatives Happier Than Liberals - I consider myself a happy person, so then I must be conservative.

Like many people, I feel my views are too nuanced to be considered either "liberal" or "conservative." You could split the difference and call me a "moderate," but I am not truly a moderate on anything, more of a raving anti-abortion, tree-hugging, social justice wackadoo. The paragraph in this article I found most chilling was this:

Studying the link between disgust and moral judgment could help explain the strong differences in people's moral opinions, Pizarro figures. And it could offer strategies for persuading some to change their views.

Say what? Isn't that what the kids are calling "brainwashing" these days? Can you imagine if a conservative had said this about the liberal viewpoint? I find it alarming that this Cornell University psychology professor is advocating using some kind of behavioral "reprogramming" to change the views of those he does not agree with. How 1984 of him. Maybe he should change his name to O'Brien, although he probably wouldn't get the reference. People like this tend to be well-read only in the sense that they read writers who agree with their preconceived notions, and he would probably consider George Orwell a traitor. "What do you mean, he saw some flaws in socialism? Big Brother always knows best!"

So if you don't like blood and guts and bugs, let Big Brother reprogram your brain so that you will vote the appropriate way. I am not a particularly squeamish person but do tend to be socially conservative, so good luck reprogramming my brain. Then again, since I am messy and love bright colors, maybe they would overlook me in their witch hunt for those vile, squeamish conservative types they are just trying to enlighten.

Famous Hat

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Warning to All Fish Owners

The Hostages: Arphaxad and Amminadab

(I have to post this now because Hardingfele already commented about it on my previous post.)

The following is a real dialogue taken from Librarian's MyFace page. It was sent to me by Hardingfele since, as all five of my faithful readers know, I am the "oppressor" of two very spoiled goldfish, Arphaxad and Amminadab. Apparently there are those misguided souls out there who would like to liberate A&A, as well as Nemo Two and Blue and all other fish held hostage in bowls and aquariums across this nation. I assume Hardingfele is referring to me and my little prisoners when she mentions her friend with the fish with unpronounceable names.

For Hardingfele: that would be [AR-faks-ad] and [uh-MIN-uh-dab]


(Yesterday at 5:15 pm) Librarian is rolling her eyes right now. The animal rights coalition came in to the library today. They wanted us to surrender our goldfish, Moby. Moby is thriving. He is four years old, has the cleanest fish tank I have ever seen. Our head librarian keeps up with the latest articles on goldfish care, and sometimes chops up frozen peas to make sure he has enough fiber. This is NOT a neglected fish. AAAAaaargh.

Friend #1 at 5:55pm June 3
It's sushi night and they were short . . .

Friend #2 at 6:09pm June 3
Did you tell them they can take your gold fish when they pry it from your cold, dead fingers?

Hardingfele at 6:23pm June 3
Geez, dont they have bigger fish to fry :-) sorry I could not resist the pun. My friend's fish with unpronounceable names (she is also on myface) also get peas and actually beg for it. Just dont tell these people where I work.....

Friend #3 at 8:07pm June 3
I hope someone told them where to get off?

Hardingfele at 8:50pm June 3
Um and where would they release Moby. Goldfish are not native MN fish, so they would only survive in an aquarium or become an invasive (they are related to carp). So they would have to put him in an aquarium, which is basically the same situation that he is in now.

Friend #3 at 9:03pm June 3
Or stick him in the freezer for a relatively pain free death to free his fishy soul...

Friend #4 at 9:15pm June 3
Do ya think that "THEY" might need to do a little research themselves about Goldfish??:)

Librarian at 9:41pm June 3
#3: No one told them off but oh god we wanted to. As public servants we had to listen to them. For 45 minutes. Pointing out Moby's health and longetivity had little impact on them. I cannot figure out what set them off. Don't they have more important animal rights causes to pursue?

Librarian at 9:43pm June 3
Hardingfele: They told us they had an appropriate "rescue home" standing by. One with a larger tank, more fish toys and "companion fish." I had no idea before this that there where rescue homes for goldfish.

Friend #5 at 9:45pm June 3
Oh, for crying out loud! Goldfish rescue?? Some people just ain't got enough to do.

Hardingfele at 8:29am June 4
OMG. This deserves to be spread thru the blogosphere. I will do my part. What ridiculous people. Probably the same people who release white mice from labs onto the street where they are promptly hit by cars and eaten by owls and cats.


Famous Hat here again, doing her part to spread the word through the blogosphere. So a word of warning to those of you with companion fish: there are people out there waiting to seize your beloved pets and take them to "rescue homes" with better toys and more fish. So don't walk - run to the nearest pet store and buy your friend some fish toys and a buddy. That may not shut them up, but at least they would have to think of new lame reasons to take your fish away.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Shady Cast of Characters

Now that you have seen the movie of Plant World: Summer Edition, let me introduce you to some of the shady cast of characters. (Do I say that because they are partly shaded on my balcony or because they create some shade of their own? That's for me to know and you to wonder!) This is by no means an exhaustive list of the plantages involved but introduces you to some of the major players.

The Professor - a dracaena demerensis (?) left to me by someone who had gotten her PhD and was moving out of town for a job as a professor

Greg, Lazarus, and The Professor

Dr. Cheung - a spineless yucca given to me by a coworker, who had himself inherited it from a previous coworker named Dr. Cheung

Moses and Dr. Cheung

Jolly Bob - a dracaena of some sort (possibly demerensis or reflexa) abandoned by the side of the road; I found it as Tiffy and I were returning from a Jamaican restaurant called "Jolly Bob's Jerk Joint"

Jolly Bob

Greg - a dracaena fragrens abandoned by my neighbor Greg when he moved to California

Lazarus - a nine-tenths dead dracaena fragrens Hardingfele found by the side of the road and brought to me. Miraculously, I was able to save it

Moses - a ficus benjamina I found in a basket by the garbage can in my condo complex. It had one leaf left at the time, but I felt sorry for it, took it home, and watered it... and now it is covered with leaves!

Baby Girl - an enormous pineapple plant that grew out of a much smaller "mother" plant but shows no inclination for producing a fruit like its mother did (see below)

Mama Pineapple with Tiny Fruit

This does not even mention my Plant World: Work Edition plants, which include a "frosty fern" (actually just a giant moss), a cycad, two pothos, baby spider plants (the mom is in Plant World), a big dracaena marginata left in my care by an insane neighbor who moved to Seattle, and the tiny dracaena one of my current coworkers gave to me, the one I scanned.

This coworker has two saltwater fish which he has never named, so we call them "Nemo Two" and "Blue," and I am currently fish-sitting them. He got them to replace "Nemo," an enormous clownfish that was ten years old. My officemate and I googled clownfish and found out their average life expectancy is six years, so this thing was obviously living on borrowed time. We were a little scared to fish-sit such an ancient creature that could clearly expire at any moment during our watch, but Nemo the First (also not named by the coworker) had the good grace to wait until its rightful owner returned to die on his watch. Hopefully Nemo Two and Blue don't die on my watch, but they are still very young fish.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Catechism Capers

Yesterday Palm Tree Fan was at home with her new puppy, Leo. Partly this was to see how he would adjust, and partly it was to see how her first dog, Buddy, would adjust. Here is a picture of the boys in her backyard.

Leo and Buddy

And this is a picture she took through a knothole in a covered bridge. It has nothing to do with this post, other than that it is a very cool picture.

When A-Fooze and I were proctoring Rich's exam for his Catechism students, we looked over the tests as the students finished. All three children are Mexican, so when Rich wrote one question that said: "Bad angels are also known as 'Vikings.' True or false," they had to ask us what a "viking" was. A-Fooze said it was men that wore hats with horns, and I tried to clarify that it was a Norwegian pirate, but apparently all they heard was "horns," and then they must have thought of demons, because they all said True. Another question they all answered True to was: "There are three types of sin: venial, mortal, and deluxe." (Maybe that falls into the category of Things That Aren't True but Should Be!)

Kids can certainly come up with some interesting answers to questions; when I was teaching catechism and asked the class the first day how many gods there are, I got all kinds of numbers. They also have a tendency to think "God" is the right answer to ANY question. The worst thing is trying not to laugh about some of the answers they give you. Once a little boy told us that the first commandment is: "I am the Lord thy God and thou shalt have no strange gods before me." We were amused by his overly formal language, which led us to believe he had just memorized the commandments and didn't actually understand them. My co-teacher asked him, "That's great, but what does that MEAN?" and he thought very hard for a moment, brightened, and said, "You can only have strange gods AFTER Him!" Another time one of my kids said to another one who kept talking out of turn, "Man, you're the most annoying robot I ever created!" Say what? Of course, this was the same kid who, when another kid forgot to put his name on his paper so that I had to do it, said to him, "Man, you're always making her do your dirty work for you!" However, the single funniest moment may have been when I was giving the kids a test that the catechism director had written, and one of the kids complained about a question on it. I wasn't sure what to say, since the question really was ambiguously worded, and the kid realized I was sympathetic to his complaint so he stood up and began punching his test. When I asked him to please sit down and finish his test instead of beating it up, he replied, "But it said somethin' bad 'bout my Mama!" I couldn't help it - I laughed. And laughed. And laughed.

You will be relieved to know that I am no longer teaching small children how to be good Christians.

Famous Hat

Monday, June 1, 2009

Killing People Who Kill People

I have never been in favor of the death penalty, even for those who commit the most heinous crimes. Now this braintrust in Kansas goes and shoots an abortionist to death in the man's own church. Thanks a lot, buddy. Here are all the reasons this makes no logical sense:

1. You have just punched the entire pro-life movement right in the face. We are trying to change hearts and minds peacefully, like Dr. King and Gandhi, not by terrorizing people a la Chairman Mao or Stalin. And we WERE making slow, steady progress...

2. Now you have just made us look like a bunch of hypocrites. All the pro-abortion people can go, "Pro-life? Yeah, right!"

3. I agree that the abortion doctor was a mass murderer, but now you have stolen any chance he had for repentance. Only God is allowed to judge a man like that; other humans do not have that right.

4. While it does seem odd to me that a man who commits late-term abortions, tearing apart infants old enough to survive outside the womb, would be a devout Lutheran, did you REALLY have to shoot him in his church?? Once again, you managed to make the entire pro-life movement look both insane and hypocritical.

5. Certainly I agree this man had to be stopped from killing, and the law was not helping, but when laws are immoral we should protest using CIVIL disobedience. Being arrested for blocking access to his clinic, that would have been noble and honorable. Shooting the man dead is not only a mortal sin but a very bad public relations move. Though you may possibly have saved a few babies doing this, the damage you have done to the pro-life movement is enormous and will ultimately result in the deaths of far more unborn children.

NARAL and Planned Parenthood must love you. You have done more in a moment to discredit our movement than they could do in decades of lies and propaganda. Please - don't do us any more favors!

Famous Hat