This time of year I think a lot about my grandmother.  She was born into this world and left it during the summer months.

Kiki was a fabulous and funny lady. She taught me lots of things: the names of flowers, my first prayers (“Dear God, Bless Roy and Cathy and Carey…”), how to multitask (she would exercise in the den during Wheel of Fortune), how to drive with my elbows, how to be independent (“It’s my money and I’ll wipe my ass with it if I want”).

She taught me beauty secrets such as taping your face at night to prevent wrinkles. And on that last note, when I came across this funny video today, I immediately thought of her….

 

Flowers!

Flowers!

More Flowers!

More Flowers!

Daffodil Duck (aka Daffy)

Daffodil Duck (aka Daffy)

Lunar Euphoria:

Facebook’s exploits never fail to creep me out…

Originally posted on LibrarianShipwreck:

Have you ever found that you felt rather depressed after using social media? What about quite happy? It is probably no great stretch to imagine that the answer to at least one of those questions is “yes.”

Now, what if you realized that your emotional reaction was not the result of a normal response to the unfiltered content you were seeing, but was instead reflective of manipulation on the part of the website? What if your emotion was a result of those behind the site trying to see if they could swing your mood. If the social network you are thinking of is Facebook, than there is a chance (was a chance) that some of what you were feeling (at least in January 2012) was the result of a psychological experimentone that you agreed to participate in by hitting “I agree” for Facebook’s terms of service.

The…

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Lunar Euphoria:

Debra Parmley gives sage advice for writers and artists.

Originally posted on Threading the Web:

The author reader connection, how do we create it? How do we create any sort of good connection between people? Allow me to teach you what my father taught me.

I am the daughter of a newspaperman. Ink is in my blood.

My father worked all his life for the Springfield News and Sun in Springfield, Ohio selling advertising. I grew up watching him create ads on his drafting board, watching him deliver proofs. Every Saturday he took me with him on his rounds. Sometimes late at night he would take me down to the paper to watch the presses run. Ink is in my blood. From the letters of the typesetter, to the large round rolls of paper, to the production line of folding and inserting the Sunday inserts, all this went into the raising of this author. Even now I can close my eyes to see and hear…

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Dear Far-Flung Family & Friends:

I am alive and well despite my lack of digital communications.  I’m having difficulty facing the screen when there is so much  presently unfolding “out there” in multiple dimensions that is demanding attention. Nonetheless, I miss you! You really should come for a visit.

This month marks two years since we arrived at Peace. Love. Home.  I continue to be awed everyday by the largest and smallest things.  Eggs for instance appear daily, as if by magic, in the dog house.  I could build a pyramid  large enough for all four of the chickens to live in with the eggs they laid this month.  How do all these eggs fit inside these fluffy feathered girls?

all my eggs in one basket

this is not even a quarter of my eggs in one basket

The chickens are comical in so many different ways.  When I go around the barn to tend to the ducks, they try their hardest to spy on me.  They cram themselves in the corner between the doghouse and the fence practically on top of each other as they vie for the best view.  When I walk back around the corner into their line of vision, the chicken totem pole disbands and they scatter as if those nosy girls couldn’t possibly be interested at all in anything I could ever do.

Apparently, word has gotten out that this place is “bird friendly” because we’ve been visited recently by interloping fowl trying to figure out how to get IN on this domesticated action.  The two wild mallards below have been touring the property regularly, checking out the ducks’ pen and the chickens’ digs.

 

june2014 003

Myrtle, Pearl, and Gertrude bow respectfully as they bid the interlopers adieu.

 

There’s also a lone Canadian goose who drops in to check everyone out.  He wanders around in the mornings honking incessantly for hours at at time.  One afternoon last week I spotted a coyote who was drawn in by all this birdy action.

Perfect strangers (of the human variety) have also dropped by this summer to share stories and cry at the kitchen table with me about things that matter, which turns out is quite a lot.

 

While I certainly enjoyed my share of audiobooks during the Hell on Wheels phase of my life, I am mostly a paperback book kind of girl.  The gravity of hardback books is way more than I care to commit to with all the keep-me-pristine-and-put-me-on-a-bookshelf vibes they emit and I have yet to read a complete e-book, though I’ve tried. Oh, how I’ve tried! But I’m a reckless reader with a need to tear through books like the Tasmanian Devil (of the Looney Tunes variety).  There must be spines to break, covers to crinkle, and pages to stain with drops of steaming tea. Yes, I need pages and pages, in between which cookie crumbs are buried.  There must be pages to write on, to highlight, to underline, and to fold….pages to get waterlogged during boat rides and baths. And then when I’m done, the book (well, what’s left of it) can be passed off on a friend or abandoned in a public place, where the story can find its way to another home.

Here are a few more of the books I devoured this winter…

Title: The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

Author: Jan-Philipp Sendker

Synopsis:  A daughter travels to Burma to find the father who abandoned her. What she finds is the beautiful love story of Tin Win and Mi Mi.

Why Did I Read This?  The title captivated me.

Was it Worth It? Yes.

Title: Full Dark, No Stars

Author: Stephen King

Synopsis: Here we have four short stories with mean people doing nasty things.

Why I Read It:  Stephen King’s Different Seasons was one of the first “grown up” books I’d ever read that I wasn’t assigned in school.  I was 11.  This was probably not something 11-year-olds should be reading, but whatever. I went on a Stephen King reading spree at that point and blazed through a buncha his books. Then I got tired of his cheap thrills and didn’t read him for like a few decades.  Then I saw this at the library and it was like seeing an old boyfriend.  I wanted to see what he was up to these days and how he might have evolved as a writer.

How Did the Affair Go?  It was a one-night stand.  We won’t be seeing each other anymore. He’s still into cheap thrills and I’ve moved on.

Title: The Museum of Dr. Moses: Tales of Mystery and Suspense

Author:  Joyce Carol Oates

Synopsis: Here we have four short stories with mean people doing nasty things — nope, that’s not a typo.

Why I Read It: I have this problem.  I really WANT to like Joyce Carol Oates because I feel like I’m supposed to.  She’s supposed to be all literary and stuff, so I keep reading her disturbing stuff and I keep not liking it.  Oddly, I checked this one out from the library the same day I got King’s Full Dark, No Stars.  After reading them back to back I realized that Joyce Carol Oates is the female version of Stephen King.

 

 

 

I think I do more reading in the colder months than the warmer ones, how about you?

My leisure time in the summer seems consumed by flowers, bull frogs, and butterflies. In the dark of winter I will spend hours reading in the bathtub or bed, but in the summer I’m usually too exhausted by daytime existence and heat to read in my usual haunts. Reading for fun happens mostly in little snippets of time, mostly while I’m in transit –  like in the car being shuttled to a family function, or while waiting for someone’s luggage at an airport, or in a too-long line at the bank.

 

If you’re looking for something to read this summer, here are a few Book Quickie Reviews of the stuff that occupied my winter nights:

Title:  Fowl Weather 

Author: Bob Tarte

Why I Read It: It has a duck on the cover! (I’m a bit bird-brained in case you haven’t noticed).  I spotted it on the shelf at the Goodwill.

Synopsis: It’s the memoir of a kindred spirit who chronicals life with his menagerie. In his own words, it’s the story of, “how thirty-nine animals and one sock monkey took over my life.”

Highlights: Bob Tarte makes me seem normal by comparison. He’s funny and taught me a lot about my ducks.

Most Relate-to-able Quotes:  What can you ever say to a dead duck?  

It bothered me that I’d exhibited more patience with a duck than I seemed capable of extending to my mother…

 

Title: Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking

Author: Malcolm Gladwell

Why I Read It: It was a good book day at the Goodwill.  I hadn’t read anything by Gladwell, but I’d heard good reviews about his work. The idea of thinking without thinking was compelling.

Synopsis:  Through a wide range of case studies and behavioral research Malcolm explores the cognition behind “gut feelings.”

Highlights:  I am in awe of Gladwell’s ability to synthesize information from many different lenses into such a coherent picture of unconscious cognition.  He weaves together research and examples from such far flung fields as marital communication to military strategy (actually those two domains may not be as disparate as they seem on the surface) to museum curation.  It was as fascinating as it was well-written.

Recommended to: Folks interested in psychology will love this book. Also, firefighters and police officers, and others who must make quick, high-stakes decisions would benefit from this information as well as educators and policy makers.

Best Quote:

We live in a world saturated with information. We have vitually unlimited amounts of data at our fingertips at all times, and we’re well versed in the arguments about the dangers of not knowing enough and not doing our homework. But what I have sensed is an enormous frustration wtih the unexpected costs of knowing too much, of being inundated with information. We have come to confuse information with understanding….we are desperately lacking in the latter (Gladwell, 2005, p. 264-265).

Title: Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses

Author: Claire Dederer

Why I Read It: Yoga and Memoir – these are a few of my favorite things!

Synopsis: Dederer shares her experience of coming to terms with motherhood and balancing a career with family life through a (sometimes reluctant) yoga practice.

Highlights: I love stories about the transformative power of a yoga practice.  Dederer tells her story with a wickedly funny kick.

What surprised me: I wasn’t expecting from such a funny flippant lady the depth of knowledge and insight with which she wrote about the women’s movement of her mother’s generation and the cultural trends in our own generation.  She challenged me to think more deeply about my own relationship with my mom and the social and political factors that defined mom’s generation and how that might have led to some of her baffling behaviors.

Best quote:

Without our mothers and their mass 1970s exodus to who knows where, we might not have gotten those crucial years of learning who we were.  I am not sure any of the mothers meant to give us this gift, this terrible gift of freedom…they bought our freedom with their courage (Dederer, 2011, p. 297).

——-

Disclosure: I signed up to be an Amazon Affiliate, which means 1.) I can use their book cover images in my posts without having to worry about them suing me, and 2.) if you use one of the links I provide in the blog to purchase the book on amazon.com I’ll get like a nickel or something.  I’m disclosing this so you will be aware that if you click on a book link, our electronic “footprints” will be walking together toward amazon.

 

 

Originally posted on shimmymobmemphis:

FUNd-raising update: We are just $150 shy of our goal of $2000 for the Family Safety Center of Memphis and Shelby County.

Our online campaign lasts until May 31, 2014. Contributions can be made at:

https://fundly.com/shimmy-mob-memphis

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This week started with me falling out of my house.  I fall often and each time I wind up here writing about it. Sadly, I’m not kidding.  There was the  “how-did-I-wind-up-here?” fall and the “fall-and-jump-back-up-nope-nothing-to-see-here” experience and the “fall-wearing-a-skirt-and-cuss-like-a-sailor-while-showing-panties-to-everyone-on-campus incident — all are clickable and readable to meet your schadenfreude needs.  I do aim to please.

Monday’s fall was a new kind for me.  It was the sort of fall that goes on forever –  all slow motion. I existed in a precarious state of unbalance on the threshold between the house and garage for a very long time, knowing the fall was inevitable, but trying my hardest to will it not so. My mind and body finally surrendered to physics. Even after I acknowledged I was passed the point of no return there was time to observe and consider many things.  As the fall went on and on, I registered that the baby ducks’ water needed changing; that my trajectory, if not corrected, would land me in the pile of fresh cat puke at the bottom of the steps; that the glass of grape juice I was holding was lifted up in toast-making fashion (Cheers!); that I needed to swing my satchel across my back so my computer wouldn’t hit the floor.  I  completely bypassed the three steps leading from the threshhold down to the cold concrete ground of the garage.  Grape juice and ice flew up into the air and  then rained down on my head, shirt and pants as time went back to normal at the point of impact.  It was a spectacular descent if I do say so myself - all action movie hero-like. The computer was saved, nothing was broken, and I avoided the cat puke.  My one disappointment was that no one was there to serve as a witness.

There was no where to go from that point but up.

It’s been a lovely week.

Baby ducks Giggles, Olaf, and Chopper are doing well…

got my ducks in a row

got my ducks in a row

Giggles, on the far left in the picture above, is clearly the diva of the bunch.

work it girl!

Giggles – Work it Girl!

 

I finally got around to giving Herman a glorious toupee.  Herman is the planter I made last summer out of a hypertufa concoction.  We went for a punk rocker mohawk style for this season.  Don’t ask me what’s up with the stick. I didn’t put it there. A little friend must have decided his ‘do needed more something….

Herman the Hypertufa Planter

Herman the Hypertufa Planter

 

I also finished an ensemble because Skattur insisted something should be done.  El-D built the boxes from pallets, I mosaiced the middle pot from broken dishes found in the barn, and the doggy on top came from the Goodwill.

 

pallet planters and mosaic pots

pallet planters and mosaic pots

Next week I’m aiming for Faerie Houses….

 

Aaaaaahh!   Another semester complete.

I started thinking the other day that it’s time to start subtracting things from my life again.  And that’s when I lost my keys. They’ve been missing for the last two days, which is perfectly fine by me.

The same thing happened last May.  That time, they went missing for two whole weeks.  When I’d finally had enough of being keyless, I sat down and called my keys back to me.  (I know that sounds ridiculous, but it totally has worked for me with lost keys and cats).  Anyway, a few hours later I got a call from the library – someone had found my keys in the street several miles away from my house.  How my keys wound up in the street is beyond me.  It’s not like I threw them out the window or anything.  I chalk it up as one of life’s great mysteries, kinda like finding not-my-pants in my closet.   Anyway,  the someone who found my keys noticed I had a library card on the keyring so he took them to the library and had a librarian call me to come pick them up, which is kinda funny because I couldn’t pick them up — I didn’t have keys to get there!

When you lose your keys you can’t leave your house unless somebody comes and picks you up.  Hm….unless you have a spare key, which would change everything.  I bet you’re thinking by now that I probably should get spare keys since clearly this is a regular thing for me.  But let’s apply a little logic here:  I can’t even keep up with my regular keys, so how would you expect me to keep up with spares?   Ok so when *I* lose *my* keys I can’t leave my house unless somebody comes and picks me up – or well unless El-D takes me somewhere.  And this is pretty fabulous any way it plays out – either staying home or being picked up.   I love being picked up and taken places. It’s a whole different sort of thing than driving someplace.  I can also appreciate being stranded at home.

I’ve said all that to say this: I’ve been both picked up and stranded the last two days. And it was good.

Here are the beautiful things that have happened on the farm this month:

tom kha with a heart-shaped green onion

tom kha with a heart-shaped green onion

 

Horses ate

Horses ate

 

 

Olaf, Giggles, and Chopper took a bath

Olaf, Giggles, and Chopper took a bath

 

beauty unfurled

beauty unfurled

 

… and who knows when the time seems right I might sit down and call back my keys.

 

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