If A Butterfly Flaps Its Wings In August, Do We Get A Polar Vortex In January?

Look closely.  The above is a photo of a butterfly landing on salvia.  I took it, while standing on our stone path by the side of the house, last August.

Seeing the butterfly then made me happy because I’m working on turning one quadrant of our garden, by the stone path, into a butterfly habitat.  So far, this is a project in its infancy having attracted only a few butterflies.

But I have dreams. Big Butterfly Habitat Dreams.

And now, not to put too fine a point on it, I have a cheerful photo, perfect for sharing here today, whilst we’re in the midst of the Polar Vortex.

People, it is cold outside.

Yesterday it was 7ºF in the early morning and I thought that was cold.  I had to go to the doc’s office for routine blood work so I bundled up and navigated the plowed, but still slippery, streets to get there.

It was an interesting drive.

Today, at the same time in the morning, it’s -3ºF outside and I’m going nowhere.  Nowhere I say.  Yep, I’m staying at home inside, being the reasonably prudent slacker that I am at heart.

Why?  Because I can [the obvious flippant answer that we all know and love].

And because you, my gentle readers, are out there in the world wide web, waiting, I hope, to comment on this post so that I have something meaningful to do with my time today.

What up, kids? Life treating you well?

Links I Love For Clever Beans, Badass Turtles + Other Goofs

… because information is FUN dammit.

 Sometimes you need to remember How To Begin Again.

 Inspiration like the 5 Tips to Trim Down for Trump is why I love the blogosphere.

  Reminding you again How Being Bored Out Of Your Mind Makes You More Creative.

 Taking the What’s Your Closet Personality quiz, learning that I’m a Clothing Economist.

  What say we all try to be a Warrior Not Worrier.

 Knowing How to Enjoy Tea Throughout the Day seems like a good idea.

  Wondering about being a “54” after taking the Do You Live In A Bubble? quiz.

  So The Secret Is Not To Care, huh?

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New goal: Be as badass as this turtle.

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I’m Polar Vortexing Here

AS YOU PROBABLY ALREADY KNOW… this part of the USA, the midwest, is experiencing arctic temperatures.  Records are being broken.  Schools are being closed.  Furnaces are being taxed.  Prayers are being said.  Et cetera, et cetera.

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  1. running water through all sink/shower/tub faucets so that the pipes don’t freeze;
  2. opening and closing blinds/curtains to allow sunshine + warmth, when available, to come into the house;  and
  3. monitoring the thermostat, so that I can fret over the furnace’s every clink and whoosh and thunk as it continues to heat the house.

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NOW THAT I HAVE A BIT OF UNEXPECTED TIME ON MY HANDS…  I’ve started reading three books:

  1. The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance, by Edmund de Waal.  After inheriting from an uncle a collection of Japanese netsuke, the author researches his ancestors and their involvement with these objects.  Fascinating.
  2. One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd, by Jim Fergus.  Using a few pieces of real history, the author creates a novel about a white pioneer woman who, courtesy of the U. S.  government,  goes to live among the Cheyenne, with the express purpose of helping the Cheyenne assimilate into white culture.  Compelling.
  3. Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life, by Shauna Niequist.  By examining the details of her days, the author writes a charming personal memoir filled with gentle guidance for living a better life.  Uplifting.

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OF COURSE LIFE ISN’T JUST SERIOUS PURSUITS… which means that I’m playing Candy Crush Saga as often as the game will let me play.  By using this cheat, I reigned victorious over a particularly difficult level 77 in Easter Bunny Hills, but now I’m unable to progress past level 80, waiting to complete my 3 quests so that I can move across the lake to level 81 and the next episode.  Stuck in the game, stuck in the house.  😉

2 Movies, 2 Books & 1 Complete Blank

As part of my attempt to live a more balanced life in 2013, I have given myself the assignment to watch 2 movies and to read 2 books each month.  Here is my May report.

2 Movies

Small, Beautifully Moving Parts – Clever + truthful.  A pregnant, techie-oriented woman, who lives in NYC, goes to LA so that her sister may give her a proper baby shower.  Once on the west coast, the mother-to-be decides to visit her divorced parents.  Her father’s reaction to seeing her is delight, but her off-the-grid mother’s reaction is alternately hilarious or sad.  Recommended if you like honest characters + quiet triumphs.

Jesus Henry Christ – Tedious + confused.  I wanted to like this movie produced by Julia Roberts, but I didn’t.  The premise is that a brilliant 10-year-old boy, whose mother had in vitro fertilization, decides to find out who his biological father really is– and he does.  But the plot dragged on and the characters were of the over-the-top-but-supposed-to-be-endearing variety so that nothing in the story seemed interesting or plausible or worth caring about.  Not recommended.

2 Books

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Extraordinary + compelling.  Rebecca Skloot tells the true story of how one woman’s cells, taken from her without her permission, came to be first “immortal” human cells grown in a medical lab at Johns Hopkins University.  Plus, Skloot tells the story of Henrietta’s life, her children’s lives and all the subsequent injustices done to all of them.  Recommended if you like medical history + family stories that span generations.

Too Much Happiness – Well-written, but forgettable.  I know that Alice Munro is a writer with an enthusiastic following so I decided to read one of her books.  This book of 10 short stories was, perhaps, not her best effort– or maybe I don’t get her.  I found the stories to be depressing &/or mundane;  so much so that even her smooth writing couldn’t overcome it.  Recommended if you like glimpses into the darker side of human nature + need something to read that’s easy to put down and pick up as need be.

1 Complete Blank

In this spot I like to share something clever or funny that I saw/read/heard during the month, but I’m coming up with a blank here.  Oh well, whatever.  If anyone has something inspiring or cheerful that could be in this spot, just let me know & in it goes.  If not, I suggest that we all be like Quakers at a Sunday meeting and sit here silently reflecting upon the Divine.  The choice is yours, gentle readers.

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[As promised above, I’ve added your ideas to inspire or cheer thus filling in my Complete Blank.]

1) From Polly at caughtwriting, an Emily Dickinson quote:

“Forever– is composed of nows.”

2) From Zazzy at zazamataz.com, an e.e. cummings quote:

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”

3) From Phil at Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge, a Judy Garland rendition of a popular song:

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Things I Love Thursday [Spring Edition]

Sometimes you just have to stop and smell the geraniums, ‘ya know?

Lately, I’ve been feeling that I’m missing the simple things in my life.  That I’m focusing only on complex issues and confused people.  That I am way too much in my head and not enough in my heart.

And this behavior is bringing me down.

So, as an antidote to the complexities inherent in my modern life, I’ve decided that once per season I will do my version of a Things I Love Thursday post.  Here is my first edition.

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•  geraniums  •  faded denim  •  truthfulness  •  the sweet scent of the ash trees in bloom  •  tralfaz  •  home decor catalogues  •  income tax refunds  •  herbed chèvre  •  unexpected friendly emails from old friends  •  laughing  •  sauvignon blanc  •  gumption  •  randomness on my car radio  •  tetris  •  walking  •  the united states of tara  •  rhubarb  •  festina lente  •  no gloves, except gardening ones  •  gratitude  •  paper calendars with pretty images  •  sunshine  •    

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And you?  What are you loving right now?


2 Movies, 2 Books & 1 Delightful Truth

As part of my attempt to live a more balanced life in 2013, I have given myself the assignment to watch 2 movies and to read 2 books each month.  Here is my April report.

2 Movies

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel  – Predictable + colorful.  A group of British retirees decide to move to India, embrace a new lifestyle and live in what claims to be a newly restored Indian hotel.  When they arrive, the hotel restoration is not finished, but the optimistic young man who manages the hotel tries his best to please them.  Some of the retirees adapt to India, some don’t.  The ensemble cast is delightful, the cinematography + costumes are wonderful, but there is a certain old geezer-ness to this movie that is a little monotonous.  Recommended if you like veteran actors and the idea that life is what you make of it.

The Grass Is Greener – Intriguing, albeit dated.  Because of financial problems, a British Earl and his wife [played by Cary Grant & Deborah Kerr, respectively] allow public tours of their mansion.  An American tourist [played by Robert Mitchum] falls for the wife & they have an affair.  Meanwhile, her friend [played by Jean Simmons] playfully tries to seduce the Earl.  On the surface this movie sounds trite, but the ensemble cast + witty writing make this movie entertaining.  Recommended if you enjoy 1960s style, some absurdity and learning about social mores.

2 Books

The Serpent’s Daughter [a Jade Del Cameron mystery] – Charming + clever.  Set in Tangier, Morocco, in 1920, Jade and her mother plan to go on vacation together.  However, Jade’s mother is kidnapped and Jade must find her… in time.  This mystery, by Suzanne Arruda, is campy, travelogue-y and totally fun.  Recommended if you like spunky heroines, fascinating settings and lighthearted mysteries.

A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison – Amazing, but macabre.  In the 1750s during the French and Indian War in what is now western New York state, the Shawnee Indians capture a white girl and her family.  The Shawnee murder her family, but the girl goes on to live with the Seneca Indians.  She marries, has children and adopts the ways of the Indians.  When she is in her 80s she tells her story to a local white man who writes it down– in the flowery vernacular of the time.  Originally published in 1824.  Recommended if you have an interest in Colonial American History and biographies. [Free on Kindle]

1 Delightful Truth

I was surfing the web looking at design blogs, when I came upon this delightful truth by Amanda Hill.  She said: Beautiful things don’t just happen.  If you want something marvelous, you’ve got to make something marvelous.  [Punctuation added.]  

And I thought to myself: that is so true.  What good advice.  I need to take that advice to heart, henceforth.

So I have.

2 Movies, 2 Books & 1 Inspirational Quote

As part of my attempt to live a more balanced life in 2013, I have given myself the assignment to watch 2 movies and to read 2 books each month.  Here is my March report.

2 Movies

Butter – Satirical + jumbled.  With Jennifer Garner, Olivia Wilde, Rob Corddry, Alicia Silverstone and Hugh Jackman in it, this uneven movie has its moments– and those moments are hilarious.  All the action revolves around the Iowa State Fair butter carving competition– and the politics associated with it.  Recommended if you can overlook the mocking anti-conservative slant and want something light [and rather pointless] to watch.

How Beer Saved The World – Informative + upbeat.  This is a short, fast-paced documentary about beer.  The narration is wonderful, the cartoon reenactments of history are delightful and the interviews with academics are great.  Recommended if you like history and smart, happy people.

2 Books

Mad About Undead You: A Zombie Apocalypse Love Story – Clever + unique.  A  mad scientist miscalculates and suddenly San Francisco is overrun with former water drinkers turned zombies.  This is the backdrop for Carl S. Plumer’s fast-paced novel about love.  Yes, love.  With characters that could easily be your friends, this slightly campy novel is a different sort of love story that made me laugh out loud.  Recommended if you like San Francisco and enjoy a modicum of gore.  [H/T to Kristen at Kristen Loves Design for recommending this book– that just happens to be written by her husband!]

Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me – Not what I expected.  I picked up this book thinking that I was buying a book of essays written by British mums a la Listen To Your Mother.  I was wrong.  Instead, Lucia van der Post’s book is a charming, well-written guide to living an upper class, stylish life in London or NYC.  I enjoyed it, but will admit that I skimmed through parts of it that seemed too high brow for me.  Recommended if you want detailed information about where to shop and how to create a glamorous lifestyle.

1 Inspirational Quote

Winston Churchill said: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”  I’m focusing on this quote because March was not the productive month that I had hoped it would be.  In fact, there were a few days when I wanted to crawl into bed and never come out again.  Nothing seemed to go right.  With the weather.  With how I felt.  With what I said.  With what I planned on doing.

In other words, March, one of my favorite months, was a bust.  But then I remembered this Churchill quote and figured that for me the lesson of March 2013 was to just keep going.  Which I did.