Flying Low


Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.

Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.

-Mary Oliver

Yes.  That.  “I hardly move though really I’m traveling a terrific distance.” Oh, yes.  I know that one.  Periodically, like now, I sort of fold inward and read books, kind of like swimming underwater.  I read and read and read and read and come up for air and food, and submerge back into the book(s) again and read and read and read and read.   I did that with Jane Fancher‘s “Uplink,” “Ground Ties” and “Harmonies of the Net,” reading three rather large books in as many days.  Or rereading all 14 of C. J. Cherryh‘s Foreigner books one right after another, or Seanan McGuire‘s “October Daye” series.  It’s like I’m putting the clutch in and taking myself out of whatever gear of real life I was in, preparatory to shifting into another gear.

As advertised, my cousin drove over from New Mexico yesterday, and we went out to eat at Red Lobster.  The folks and I went with him in his car and my brother drove over from the shop and met us.  Afterwards, the folks and I went back to their house and my mom and her nephew “caught up” on everything.  It was strange to sit across the room and listen to her and him talking about things from her childhood and his. (When I was growing up, she never talked much about her childhood, and it was not something we asked about.)  As they talked,  I found out things I hadn’t known.

Florence age 4 1928
~1928, aged 4

One remark she made really gave me pause.  She said whenever she would get toys, she would never play with them because she didn’t want to mess them up or break them. While she did grow up during the depression, they lived on a farm and always had enough of the things they needed.  And it wasn’t that she didn’t have any toys, because she did.  She just wanted to keep them pretty and new looking.

She still has a little tin turtle she got about aged 2, which her father brought back for her from a trip into town to get supplies.  It was rather poignant to hear her speak of it as her father was killed in 1927 when she was about 2-1/2 years old, and she only remembers seeing him once, just after he died.

EC 1887-1970

My cousin’s mother, SE,  is my mother’s oldest sister, the fifth child after four boys. When SE was very young, she was sickly and because the family lived out on a farm, with nearly 20 miles of unpaved roads between them and the nearest town, her father sent her to live in town with his unmarried sisters, EC and ME, where she could be near a doctor.  SE was young enough when they took her and stayed with them long enough that when she was finally able to return home, she missed them.

ME 1881-1969

She was all right during the day, but in the evenings, she would “pine” for them and her father couldn’t bear to see it, so he let his sisters take SE and raise her.  By then, SE had two younger sisters.  When SE married, she and her husband lived with the sisters until they could save up the money to build a house.  ME eventually came to live with them until her death, and I remember her well as a tall, slender, woman with silver hair she wore in a French twist.  The above are pictures I took of pictures that my aunt SE had.  The originals would have been taken around 1900.  EC worked, and ME kept house.  Supposedly, EC was the first woman ever to work in a bank in the town where they lived, and worked for many years for a state senator.  EC eventually married, but ME never did.

It’s interesting the way faces repeat through the generations.  I can see ME in my mother and EC in an aunt, her daughters and another cousin.


Monday, Monday

Gorgeous day.  Not that much wind (around 14 mph/22.5 kph).  Just stray little tufts of puffy white clouds in a vivid blue sky and the usual scum of clouds low on the horizon.  The predicted high was 89F/32C, but I’d bet we got up to 90 F/32C.  Last week, I finally took the comforter off the bed, and the very next day a cold front came through, although not that cold.  I have a microfiber blanket on under the spread, but I bet next week that’ll come off, too.  I haven’t turned the AC on yet and, touch wood, I can make it into May before I have to. I don’t turn the AC on until the thermostat registers more than 80F/27C inside the house because 80F is where the thermostat is set.

I’m just about to start reading Betrayer, book #12 of C. J. Cherryh‘s Foreigner series.  There’s supposed to be three more, making (fortunate) 15 in all, but the 15th one hasn’t been published yet.

I daddy-sat today with my 90-year-old dad while my mom had some “respite” time — a bridge luncheon.  She’s out again on Wednesday, and I’ll go stay with dad.  Mostly, all I do is keep an eye on him and fix a meal if I’m there at mealtime.  He is what is called a “marginal ambulator” — he has to use a rolling walker and if he falls, he can’t get up by himself. He’s so frail, bless him.  Just skin and bones.  I fixed his lunch today, a serving spoon-full of mashed potatoes with gravy and a chicken drumstick.  He ate some of the skin off the drumstick and two bites of potatoes, and he was ready for his “Little Debbie Nutty Bar” for desert.

Saturday morning, the younger of my mom’s two surviving brothers, who is 92 and in failing health, was put in the hospital again after having cut himself badly enough to require stitches.  He has congestive heart failure, a pacemaker, is oxygen dependent, and can’t do much of anything any more, and he has become increasingly despondent of late for perfectly understandable reasons.

Thursday, one of my mom’s nephews (her oldest sister’s son) is driving over from New Mexico, and wants to take us out to lunch.  He’s 13 years older than I am, is retired, and he and his wife and her mother live out in the country with 2 dogs, 4 horses, and a cat or two.   It’s about a 4-1/2 hour drive from there to here.  He’ll drive in, have lunch, visit for about an hour, then drive back.  Since his wife and MIL (who’s in her 90’s) will be alone until he returns, he’ll be anxious to get back home before dark. I’d like to go see them if I could scrape the money together to rent a car.  I wouldn’t dare take my 26-year-old Toyota Crayola out on the highway, especially across that part of New Mexico.  There are some long (50-60 mile), lonely, stretches of highway between here and where he lives, and the cell phone reception is spotty at best. Basically, you catch Highway 380 at Brownfield (TX),  follow it through Roswell (NM) to Capitan (NM), turn left, and keep driving til you get there. You can’t miss it.  It is, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein, the only there, there. Out here, we measure distances in driving time rather than mileage, but we’re talking approximately 500 miles/804.6 km round trip.  For the UK folk, that’d be like driving from Portsmouth to Leeds, having lunch and a bit of a natter with the rellies, then driving back to Portsmouth, all in one day.

On that note, I think I’ll call in a pizza strike, read for a while, and call it a night.

Dreaming Up a Name


Just woke up from a dream – I’ve lost the first bit of it, but at one point, Sir Guy of   Gisbourne (as played by the late Robert Addie in the Robin of Sherwood series) was carrying about bits of his armor in a clear plastic bag.  He and some same-period soldiers were inside a large bell tower of arched, romanesque architecture preparing to make camp for the night. The Sheriff of Nottingham (as played by Nickolas Grace in the same Robin of Sherwood series) has ambitions to become king.  Apparently, if a man can make the bell in this tower ring three times, he will become king.  The Sheriff has already made it ring twice and is determined to make it ring the third time.


It had to do with tests.  The tester, Snape (as played in the Harry Potter films by Alan Rickman), said in his snide way that the sheriff couldn’t just go ring the bell himself, he had to do something in such a way that the bell would be “moved” to ring.  Abrupt dream shift.


The Sheriff has transmogrified into Jean-Luc Picard (as played in Star Trek: Next Generation by Patrick Stewart) in Hollywood medieval costume, and the tester is now a young dark haired “princess” type dressed in Hollywood medieval costume, and she is the one he must please to get the bell to ring.  Inside, he is seething with anger, but outside he remains quiet and pleasant.  They are in some sort of walled, inner courtyard garden with espaliered trees, and he keeps seeing things in the garden that need to be done, and goes and does them, with the aim of pleasing the princess. Then the princess tells him he must sing the words of this poem about English boarding school boys to a sleeping woman (the fair haired princess), (also dressed in Hollywood medieval costume), but after he entered her chamber and started to sing, the words came out all different, and were actually the words of a love song.  Infuriated, the dark princess burst into the chamber shouting, “Why are you doing this to me!” at the fair-haired princess, who was no longer asleep.  “Why are you doing this to me, Sylfide!”

Then I woke up.  It was one of my typical mish-mash dreams, odd bits stuck to a loose plot line, but, “Sylfide.” Nice name.  That will go in my commonplace book for future reference.

Just as a side note, a “silphide” (French) or “silfide” (Spanish) or “sylph” (English) is an “elemental” faerie of which Ariel in Shakespeare‘s “The Tempest” is an example.  There is also a Ballet, “Les Silphides,” first performed by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, with choreography by Michel Fokine, music by Frederic Chopin, and Vaslav Nijinsky, and Anna Pavlova as two of the three soloists.  You can watch a version of the ballet with Rudolph Nureyev as the male soloist here, or just the waltz number from it with Mikhail Baryshnikov if you’re into that.  And there’s Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo’s version here for completeness.  (We’re real big on culcha (4) here, ya know. All part of the service.)

Just to put this all into real-life context, I am currently reading Deliverer, the ninth book of C. J. Cherryh‘s scifi 15-book Foreigner series (I’m rereading all of the books in sequence to culminate in the just-published book #14, Protector, with one more, Peacemaker, still in manuscript), which has absolutely nothing to do with anything in the dream.  But, the sleeping mind is a vast uncharted land where Dream, the sacred river, runs through caverns measureless to man down to a psychic sea, and no journey undertaken there is ever like the one before or after . . .

The Night Called

a poem

  The Night Called

And he obeyed.
The silken night
Subsumed him into shadows,
Blotted hue and shade into greyness,
Smudging outlines
Into nothing more
Than eyes and darkness
On paws as
Soundless as the fog.

Night exhaled
A sweet, soft sigh
And watched him
With a single pearly eye.
He was
A moment’s silhouette
Atop a fence,
An eye-blink’s worth
Of chiaroscuro,
Not quite glimpsed
Then gone.

He insinuates himself
Through charcoal dusted grass,
Freezes motionless in midstep
Whiskers quivering,
Subsides into a crouch.
And in a heartbeat,
One less mouse.
poem © 2013 The Owl Underground

A Dirigible Named Fungible . . .

Comics are not either frivolous time wasters.  I learned two new words today while reading the comic strips I follow on  So there.

Frazz fungible commodity

Fungible — not a word I’m likely to use in conversation, but an interesting word, and kinda silly sounding.

Nonsequitor poaching lobsters

Anoesis (the name of the boat) –  been there, done that.  Wiley’s comics are both overt and subtle, with little barbs and dings tucked away in the silliness. . . Eddie the fisherman, who constantly has a cat sitting on his shoulder (in lieu of a parrot?).  This thread of the strip takes place in Maine, where the native characters speak Mainage, which is why their dialog is spelled oddly.

The grey one has been wanting attention, climbing onto my chest, butting my chin.  Seeing as how it’s the shedding season once again (when is it not?),  let’s all sing a chorus of, “The world’s awash in kitteh hair …” (Doo-dah, Doo-dah) “Static clinging everywhere . . .(Oh, Doo-dah day. . .)

The white one ralphed a hairball on the other night stand this morning — not the one on my side and not for the first time ever.  There didn’t used to be a night stand on that side of the bed, just a table with a lamp on it, but when I got my new mattress, which was thicker than the old one, I had to get a taller night stand.  The night stand that came with the bedroom suite is now on their side of the bed, where it has been ralphed on repeatedly.  It must have one of those polyurethane finishes; otherwise, I don’t think it would still have one.

I have a loaf of “rustic Italian bread” in progress in the bread machine, which just beeped to tell me I can come take the paddle out if I want to. (I don’t.)  I need to make some biscuits again. Maybe tomorrow.  And find that whole wheat noodle recipe to use up the last of the whole wheat flour, now that I’ve got a rolling pin . . . However, I think I’ll just go back to bed and read some.


They Call the Bees Melissa

They Call The Bees Melissa

The thing about
The busy bees
Is all the bees
That are busy
Are she’s.
There’s only he’s
When they’re
Moving house.
But other than that,
There ain’t no he’s
Among the bees
To put up with
and please,
Just lots and lots
Of busy she’s,
Which proves
That bees
Is smarter
Than we’s.

Poem © 2013 The Owl Underground

One to Share

I follow a blog called “Doodlemum” the blogger of which is a wife, mother and artist — not necessarily in that order. She draws from life — her life — with humor and insight.  She has her own unique style, and she recently had a book of her drawings published.  Her blog might well be called “Life Study: Three Children and Husband with Dog and Cat.” This one just cracked me up.  You don’t have to be a dog lover to get a giggle out of this one.  It’s called:

Run as fast as you can before the dog shakes herself!

Image © 2012 Doodlemum
Image © 2012 Doodlemum

Be Careful What You Wish For

I knew we had a cold front coming through, and I was hoping for some moisture out of it.  I was thinking rain.  We did get moisture all right, but . . .IMG_0884IMG_0883IMG_0885

It’s also 21 flipping degrees out (-6C).  However, the snow didn’t stick to the sidewalk, which bodes well for it melting as soon as it gets warm enough, surely by tomorrow.  Wouldn’t you know my BFF is moving house today.  This is the woman who wears a sweater/jumper, coat, gloves and hat when it’s 70F/21C outside.  I’m serious.  I’ll be in a tee shirt and skivvies, it’ll be 80F/27C degrees in the house, and she’s in a sweater and wearing a coat.  Her internal thermostat is seriously out of whack.

I’ve started rereading C. J. Cherryh‘s Foreigner books from the beginning again.  I’m on #4, Precursor, and I just got my copy of the new one, #14, Protector.  There’s (a felicitious) 15 of them.  She’s still writing on #15. Someone has bought the movie rights to her Morgaine books.  She’s had people option the film rights, to her books before and nothing much ever came of it, except she got a few $ out of it.  This time, however, there have been notices about it in Variety.  (There’s been lively speculation on-going on her blog as to who we would cast as Morgaine and Vanye.) Gate of Ivrel was the first book she published (1976) and the first book of hers I read.   C.J. has published over 60 books, and she has some terrific books out there.  I’ve gotten (and read) every one of them I could get hold of.  I’ll buy a book just because her name is on it, and I can count on the fingers of one hand the authors I trust that much.  If you like the SciFi and Fantasy genres, and you want a book that is well plotted, well written, has strong, well-fleshed-out characters, is not only thought provoking but also a real “page turner,” you pretty much can’t go wrong with her books.  She’s exceptionally good at world building and alien cultures (the Foreigner books being a case in point) and she has some great female main characters, Morgaine being one of them.  In an effort to “thin the herd,” I’ve been listing and selling books on, but hers are some of the ones I am very loath to part with.

Monday Evening Memories

Mr GRSaturday, my mom sent me an email regarding the passing, at the age of 88, of an old family friend, Mr. GR.  He was the man who first got my brother interested in playing violin as a possible career.  He was orchestra director at the junior high school* my brother and I attended, and my brother took orchestra from him all three years.  Since there was no stringed instrument repair shop within several hundred miles of our town,  Mr. GR perforce had to learn how to repair and maintain them, and when he retired from teaching, he opened a shop that sells, rents, maintains and repairs violins, violas, cellos, etc., sells strings, bows, and sheet music.  It is still the only such shop within a several hundred mile radius of our city.  My brother went on to get a degree in applied music, has played in orchestras all over the country and taught strings and orchestra in the public schools for a number of years.

About 14 years ago, at Mr. GR’s invitation, my brother and his late wife moved back here, bought into, and assumed the daily running of the violin shop, making it possible for Mr. GR and his wife to move to New Mexico to be close to their only child and her family.  My brother has since remarried and he and his second wife now own the shop outright, although they have kept the name.  A fitting legacy for a man who devoted his life to music, both making it and teaching it.

*In the U.S., children are entitled to receive 12 years of free, tax-supported schooling, which is divided up in one of two ways:  elementary school years 1-6, junior high school years 7-9, high school years 10-12; or primary school years 1-4, middle school years 5-8, high school years 9-12. How the schools are divided is up to the local community.  Our community uses the first method.

Thor’s Day, and Hammered In the Wallet Again

Well, not actually on Thor’s Day, but Tiw’s Day is when it started.  In a previous post and its sequel, I mentioned that the Crayola recently got a complete set of new brakes to the tune of $940.  I also mentioned that when I picked the car up, I had to refill the clutch fluid reservoir before I could even get it started, never mind drive it off.  That was on Thursday.  The next time I drove the car was Sunday, and I had to fill it again.  I drove to the post office Sunday night, and again on Monday night, and by the time I got home, it was empty again.  I was losing clutch fluid so fast that I had to take it out of gear when I was stopped at a light so I could let out the clutch to keep from squirting all of the clutch fluid out and not being able to change gears.  You can imagine if this happened at a busy intersection, and I had to get out in the middle of traffic, pop the hood/bonnet and refill the reservoir with cars whizzing all around me.

Research suggested it was either the clutch master cylinder, which was what I was filling with fluid, the hydraulic line between it and the slave cylinder, or the slave cylinder that was leaking. I took the car to a local auto shop for them to diagnose the problem.  Turned out I was 2/3’s right.  Both the master cylinder and the slave cylinder were leaking.  They replaced both, $470, thank you very much. We had to wait on parts (don’t you always?) and it was Wodnaz’s Day, before we could ransom the Crayola and drive it home.  I had become so used to a mushy clutch that I’m going to have to reteach my left leg where the engage/disengage point is again to smooth out my gear shifting.  Actually, though, the brake job was the first money I’ve spent for on this soon to be 26-year-old car other than buying gas, changing the oil and filters, and putting on new tires.  Oh, and it’s on its third muffler.

Hopefully, the Crayola is good to go now, although I’ll  have to have my driver’s license renewed in May and I’ll have to go to the DMV in person for that, which means I’ll have to have a new photo.  Driver’s license photos are legendary for being terrible — which I actually think is intentional.  They want your photo to look like you’d look if a cop pulled you over — startled and disgruntled. Before I got my Visa check card, I was always having to show my license when I wrote a check/cheque so the clerk could note my driver’s license number on the check.  As I’d be writing my check, I’d ask the clerk if they needed to see my ugly picture.  Not surprising how many people caught that joke on the first bounce.

The BFF is moving to her new digs next week, and she has shifted into high panic mode.  She is, as they say, busier than a kicked over anthill trying to get everything packed up.  The movers are to come on the 10th.  I’m helping by staying out of the way.  Her current place is not that big to begin with, and now it’s a maze of stacked boxes.  She has enough trouble running the maze by herself.  With both of us in there, would be a classic example of  the hyperdestructive bouncing ball trope in action.

The weather is warming up.  Predicted highs in the 80’s F/27+C with lows in the 50’s F/10’s C.  I’m about to have to take the comforter off the bed and put the spread on.  I really need to get out into the yard.  I have 5 bags of mulch stacked beside the front door that I need to put in the flower beds, plus weed them and clean them up.  At some point, I’m going to have to take all those ^(#$%! little white rocks out of the rain catchment area bordering the front sidewalk, wash them off and put them back.  There’s so many dried leaves and dirt and whatnot in them now that things are starting to sprout, and their rain disbursal ability is impaired — if it actually does rain, that is!

10-2008 What the rocks are for

You can see in the picture the force of the water draining off one particular spot of the eave has warped the brick edging. This has been one of my better ideas.  The rocks absorb the force of the water and the bricks are standing on end with the holes at right angles to the sidewalk, so water can seep into the flower bed.

Speaking of flower beds, I also need to clean out my iris beds and that back rose bed, and do some serious deadwood cutting on the climbing roses.  I also need one of those poles with a pointed nail on the end to spear trash out of the flower beds in the front.  There’s a kind of wind vortex effect that just sucks the trash through the carport and into my front yard.  I’ve got to choose the two best solar powered yard lights, replace their batteries, put them out between the mailboxes, and trash the rest.  I’ve got new yard lights to replace them with to put in.   I’ve got hose/hosepipe racks I need to hang, etc., but next week, weather permitting.  I’ve got to work this week.  I need to make $120 this week so I can pay my water/sewage/electric bill.  That jive outfit I work for only pays $0.50 a minute, which means I have to type 240 minutes of dictation — 25 minutes works out to about 4500 words. You can do the math.  I’ve been trying to do about 50 minutes a day. I try to do multiple short audio files so I can rest my hands in between.

I thought I’d leave you with this little gem: Jimi Hendrix’s 1968 classic  “Voodoo Chile” performed by Luna Lee on a Gayageum, a traditional Korean stringed instrument. that dates back to the 6th century.  Girl be rocking out.

Even if you don’t care for rock and roll, turn the sound off and just watch her play.  Fascinating.