Seth Lane, this is for you!

The other day on my Facebook page, this adorable face showed up. I don’t know Seth. I don’t remember which of my Facebook friends posted it. But there he was, grinning from ear to ear in spite of his circumstances. All he asked was that we wear yellow today, March 27, because it is his favorite color.

That’s a pretty easy thing to do, or so I thought, to make a little boy happy. I searched my closet, just in case, not really expecting to find anything yellow because yellow is not my color. I look better in reds or blues or purples or greens. I did have one school t-shirt that was yellow back in the day when I taught art. That shirt must be around here somewhere still. It was for the fine arts department and was chosen by the drama teacher who had bright yellows shirts printed with the fine arts festival logo on the front and STAFF on the back. The students got blue shirts, I think, and we got the bright yellow ones so we would stick out in a crowd, like orange jumpsuits for prison inmates. Where is that shirt, I thought as I dug through the closet?

Nowhere I could find, I decided. So on to plan B. I was going to be out on the 26th to go to my physical therapy and then later to my Spanish class. In between, I would have time for some shopping. I needed to go to Costco anyway. There are some things I always get at Costco like tissues, paper towels, almonds, Greek yogurt–stuff that doesn’t spoil quickly or we use a lot of. I was pretty sure I had seen t-shirts in every color the last time I was there. I planned to buy a yellow one and wear it for work-out days or hiking or working in the yard. Who cared if it wasn’t my color.

So yesterday that was the plan. I packed my freezer bag with those blue cubes that I keep frozen so that I can buy perishable items on longer shopping days and not have them perish before I get home. I was ready for yogurt and t-shirt shopping. I had just enough time between PT and Spanish to get in one store. I was depending on Costco. But you know how Costco has a lot of something one time, but you better buy it when you see it, because it may not be there when you go back, or ever again? Well, I am not blaming Costco, because I may have imagined there was a yellow t-shirt amongst all the other colors. There were t-shirts all right. Several colors, in colors that are my colors, but yellow? Nope. Not one yellow anything for women.

There were kids clothes in yellow. And there was a nice pale yellow and blue striped collared golf shirt for men. I would have bought that for my husband who doesn’t golf but wears the shirts sometimes, but Costco didn’t have his size. I could have worn that one for the picture for Seth, but since neither hubby nor I could use it later, I didn’t think that was a good choice.

Getting desperate, I scanned the big clothing section and sure enough, there across the huge warehouse was something bright yellow, almost neon yellow-green, but yellower than green. I wheeled my buggy through the aisles as fast as I could. Men’s heavy workout pants and hoodies. Not my size, not my husband’s size, not my gender even.

I figured, I am going to let this little boy down and all he wants is my picture in something yellow. I drove my cart around the store dejectedly. There wasn’t time to go to Target or Belk or anywhere else.

Then a brilliant idea popped miraculously into my head. I didn’t have to buy that see-in-the-dark lemon-lime hoodie. I found the one that was closest to my size, pulled it over my head, took this selfie making sure not to show the long sticker that said large, large, large, large, large, large down the front of the shirt, and here it is, Seth, for you with all my hopes and prayers for your quick and safe recovery.

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p.s.I folded the hoodie and placed it back on the stack as neatly as I could so someone who actually fits it can wear it. But out there will always be that hoodie, wishing you well, even if the owner doesn’t know it.

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Our Birds have Minds of Their Own

When we first moved to the Green Forest, as we called our five acres on Settendown Creek, the birds were so used to having the place to themselves that our presence scared them away. The property had been owned by a couple of brothers, doctors who had money to invest in land. The bridge across the creek was washed away and nobody seemed to need it, so the county just let the road stop at the creek on either side. School districts were divided by the creek. People crossed it farther away, east or west. When our builder started pouring the cement for our basement, there wasn’t even power to plug the concrete spreaders to, but that is another story.

So back to the birds, we heard them only from a distance for a year or two. Gradually though, with sunflower, safflower, and other seed bribery, we coaxed them back and now 35.5 years later we have a forest full of birds. Wrens, robins, doves, cardinals, nuthatches, sparrows, hummingbirds, finches, woodpeckers of all sizes, and even Eastern bluebirds, who reportedly prefer meadows instead of forests. There are big birds, too—owls and hawks, and once a wild turkey, who came to snack beneath our feeders.

So in addition to feeders for birds of all appetites, we began collecting a wide range of houses. Nice houses, handmade, fine craft one-of-a-kind houses. Two of them are clay. The red clay one is by a folk artist from the well-known Craven potter family in Gillsville, Georgia. The grey one is by my buddy, Brenda, a fantastic potter and also one of the best art educators I have ever had to pleasure of working with. The third one is by a carpenter, whose family owns the Bottoms Christmas Tree Farm.

Then there’s the one I traded some of my own artwork (fused glass and fine silver jewelry) for at Wildcat on a Wing in Ball Ground, Georgia. It is cedar with a copper roof that has weathered to a nice patina over the years and I am always happy to see the bluebirds return to it in the spring to start another new family! Finally, this year for Christmas, I bought my husband, a volunteer fireman for over 30 years, this fire helmet bird house off the internet.

I would think house hunting bird families would start price wars over any of these lovely houses. I would think bird realtors would make millions on these houses so close to our feeders with water and shade nearby. Wouldn’t you think that, too?

But…as I said in the beginning, our birds have minds of their own. This is what I saw at the end of the driveway when I was headed out yesterday.

We canceled the newpaper for the summer.
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I Though My Scrabble App Was Cheating On Me

You may have noticed, we’ve had some bad weather of late. Ice on the roads here in Georgia, and worse, God bless you people up North. So I have entertained myself and tried to keep my brain from atrophying by playing a lot of Scrabble on my I-pad. I have an app and I play against the computer using the teacher mode, which tells me how dumb I am when I make a three letter word worth five points when obviously there’s a bingo word* for 78 or 90 or a gagillion points out there. I figure I’ll learn something that will up my game when I play against real people so, as humbling as it is, I take the negative abuse, in the unrealistic hope that I will remember that word, if those seven letters ever magically appear on my board again.

Anyway, with this practice I have grown suspicious that my opponent is cheating and there is not even one Scrabble policeperson out there in cyberspace to arrest him, insist that he forfeit the game we are currently playing or, at the very least take away his points for that round. I often check with my Dictionary app, but it is apparently in cahoots with the scoundrel because more often than not, it agrees that whatever the word in question is, it is really a word. To be fair, sometimes it gives a clue that, though it is a word, it is of foreign origin or is the name of a letter from some ancient, long-gone society, or spelled the way those folks across the pond spell it.

So I’m thinking, there are rules, Cheater! I decided to look them up, just to be sure I am not accusing an innocent computer genius, who is obviously Watson’s http://www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/us/en/ibmwatson/  baby brother, unjustly. I found this official Hasbro Site: http://www.hasbro.com/scrabble/en_US/ . Ah-ha! I thought! I’ll show you, whoever you are. I was ready with some of the offending words from my most recent game this morning: jole, Joe, tokay, and of course, qis. Surely at least one of these is against the rules.

This site has a word tester: http://www.hasbro.com/scrabble-2/en_US/search.cfm – dictionary  You plug in the word and it will tell you if it is an officially-accepted, fair word in Scrabbledom. So I plugged in every one of those words I just listed above.

Are you kidding me, Hasbro Scrabble Dictionary, Joe is fair? Yep, it means fellow and joes is plural so you can have as many fellows as you want. Well, what about jole? Uhhuh, it means jowl. Now, isn’t that just bad spelling? Who spells it that way? It doesn’t really say, but it does tell you it is worth 11 points, even if it’s not plural (joles) or on a triple word score or any fancy upgraded space. In fact, all the words in question today are real words. Tokay (12 points) is a Malaysian gecko and qis is the “VITAL FORCE THAT IN CHINESE THOUGHT IS INHERENT IN ALL THINGS. RELATED WORDS: QI.” Also 12 points.

So I guess, except for maybe jole, which I still have doubts about, Watson’s cousin isn’t cheating on me after all. But he’d better be on his cyber toes! I’ll be watching him!!!

p.s. By the way, gagillion is not a word, don’t use it in a scrabble game even if you think it will get you a thousand points on a triple word score. I’ve heard it a gagillion times in my life, but it is not a word.

Somebody needs to update their dictionary!

*word using all seven letters at once—something I didn’t even know about before playing on my app.

Permission to Bake

I try not to bake. I love to bake, don’t get me wrong. But I also love to eat what I bake, so baking for me is like kryptonite. It doesn’t seem fair that a process and a product so enjoyable should be so dangerous, but it is. Apparently anything with carbs is something my body turns into vein-choking, blood-clotting, body-bulging fat. Not muscle-building, bone-strengthening, brain-enhancing, heart-healthy stuff. So I try not to bake.

However, I do love to bake. So I have decided to make a list of criteria to determine when baking is permissible. If I can answer yes to at least 5 of the following questions, then I can bake with an almost guiltless conscience. Here they are:
1. Did it snow?
2. If it hasn’t snowed all winter and it’s been a long time since it rained, did the chief meteorologist say it is going to rain at least all day and maybe more?
3. Is one of the ingredients in the recipe a vegetable like carrots or zucchini?
4. Can I use whole-wheat flour for at least half of the flour called for in the recipe?
5. Can I substitute a healthier sugar like molasses, Whey-Low, or honey?
6. Can I use a healthier fat like olive oil instead of shortening?
7. Can I add nuts, which we all know are good for you, even if it doesn’t call for them in the recipe and can I increase the amount of nuts if they are listed just to up the good-for-me factor?
8. Are there any spices or other ingredients that add needed vitamins, antioxidants, or minerals to the baked goods?
9. Do I promise to give away at least half to a WWII veteran, sick neighbor or homeless person?
10. Will I walk at least a mile a day until my weight is back to my pre-baking day splurge?

Now today almost all of these are a yes and I have zucchini bread in the oven. Yes, one of the loaves is going to a 92 year-old WWII veteran. If you need to use these questions as criteria for your baking, please feel free. Healthy eating, friends!

You’re welcome.

I Fell Back!

Time change? I’m ready, bring it on! And hurry, please…my clocks are set.

This is how it happened and pay attention, people who believe everything you read on the internet. This wasn’t even Wiki-related. It was a reliable-looking website.

You see, my friend was throwing a Halloween party Sunday evening and in the e-mail she asked us invitees if the time was changing. I went straight to the web, google-searched and sure enough, there it was, Time Change Oct. 26, 2014.

I copied the link, attached it to my reply-to-all and got ready for an extra hour of leisure on Sunday. Saturday night I roamed the house, turning back my clocks in every room. The stove clock, the mantle clock, the bathroom clock, the alarm clock, you get the idea.

I was so proud of myself. For the first time in history, I was prepared for the dreaded time change. I don’t like them, neither the Spring forward, nor the Fall back. It just isn’t natural. My body doesn’t agree with a jet lag of even one hour. But the government decrees it and my state complies and even though I am retired, I try my best to be a law-abiding citizen. Besides, I hate being too early or too late to a party.

So I woke up on Sunday morning and my TV had forgotten to fall back! What is wrong with this picture I asked myself? I checked my cell phone, it had also missed the change. I checked my e-mails and sure enough, my friend the party giver had sent an emergency message: “The time did NOT change!”

I went to my sent mail—the one with the link—and that sneaky link had corrected itself between the time that I copied it and Sunday morning. It said Time Change, Nov. 2, 2014. I didn’t even have proof that I had seen the wrong date. It looked like I had made it up!

Thank goodness, my party-throwing friend had read the first link and confirmed that, at least this once, I wasn’t losing my mind. She had also seen Oct. 26 as the time change date on that inaccurate website.

All was well, we didn’t miss the party, but I refuse to change those clocks again! So for this week I have to use my math skills to add an hour each time I look at them or I may be late!

p.s. I admit to a tiny bit of stubbornness. It runs in the family. ☺

Superstition

I wish I weren’t superstitious. I hesitate to say things are going well for fear I will rile fate. You can’t be too careful. That’s what I think.

I don’t know where this comes from. I never heard my parents speak of superstition. I am the only one in my family, as far as I know, that throws salt over her shoulder if it gets spilled. I even throw other people’s spilled salt over my shoulder, just to protect us all.

I try not to step on cracks in the sidewalk, despite the fact that my mother’s back has long since been in danger of my causing it to break.

What am I afraid of? I often walk away from the TV if a team I hope will win is playing. I am afraid, just by the fact that I am rooting for them, they will lose. The jinx of Marie! Beware!

Is superstition inborn? Is it learned? Is it taught? Is it part of a global, or cultural, or societal subconsciousness? Did it skip my parents’ generation like red hair that shows up in grandchildren half a century later after hiding stealthily in the DNA undetected?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. I wonder if any scientist or philosopher has researched it. It would be hard to prove scientifically, I suppose, that exact link on the DNA, a wayward chromosome or some little twist in the double-helix connection that makes a person superstitious. Maybe with better microscopes or some futuristic MRI equipment, a doctor will discover it.

Imagine a Nobel Prize given to the person——oops, I hope I didn’t just jinx her/him—who discovers the superstition twist. You know, just as soon as s/he discovers it, documents the findings, retests with double-blind studies, redocuments those findings, and reports all of it in an e-book for us to download instantly on our i-pads or Kindles, there are going to be a hundred or more companies trying to find a drug to cure it, thinking the first successful one will be richer that those who find an inexpensive solution for male pattern baldness!

But, has anyone ever thought that there might be a positive side to superstition? One that would refute the need for a cure. One that would make superstition desirable.

I’m thinking now of those teams I mentioned earlier, particularly the Atlanta Braves and all the athletes at the University of Georgia, as well as every USA team that is Olympics bound. I’m pretty sure they would be glad I am superstitious and don’t have drugs to cure it. I am almost certain they would want me to walk away from the TV every time they’re up to bat, kicking a field goal, doing flips on the half-pipes….

Even if I am wearing my lucky t-shirt.

Concussions or Carpal Tunnel?

Concussions or Carpal Tunnel?

Robert Morris University in Chicago has got the ball rolling, so to speak. Now kids and parents of kids who hope for athletic scholarships can choose between the lesser of the two evils, concussions or carpal tunnel. That’s right, folks, they are giving athletic scholarships for video game players. See this segment of CBS http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/college-offers-athletic-scholarships-to-video-gamers/!

How do you feel about that? I, for one, am thrilled! What grandma wouldn’t prefer her grandson win a scholarship for something he loves and that builds, instead of destroys, brain cells!

I wish there were athletic scholarships for art and creative writing, two more things that build brain cells. Well, yes, those two also could create carpal tunnel if practiced as much a gamers practice their sport. Still, creativity is a valuable asset that our country could use more of, so I say, colleges, follow in the footsteps of Robert Morris and bring on more athletic scholarships of the brain-building variety! Maybe then, with the improved creativity, scientists, inventors, and doctors will figure out a way to prevent concussions in contact sports and carpal tunnel in gamers, artists, and authors!