Did everyone see this list of cities allowed to complain about the cold? Ok, good. Geographically, I live just off the highway between #1 and #3. Right, that’s just for perspective on what we’re used to.
Yes, the Polar Vortex was quite cold. Folks brought their car batteries in at night, and re-installed them in the -18 degree dawn. Others…didn’t leave their houses, but report feeling quite warm. Then they admit to the long johns, down blanket, in-front-of-a-fireplace style existence and realize perhaps their scale is skewed (me…). But the Polar Vortex isn’t what people are talking about.
This week, we are getting snow. I’ve shoveled about 6 inches in the last 24 hours, in two installments. More is expected Thursday, Saturday, and Tuesday, and Friday. (My cat is stalking my grapes by loving up my elbow. This is hard to write) The snow is what we’re talking about. It’s warm, a healthy 2-20 degrees. But the snow, it keeps on coming.
I was just talking to the lady across the street, while we shoveled out or mailboxes. Our conclusion to the problem of Winter was Shoe Cleats. People fall while they shovel, it’s just not right. Shoe Cleats. Because you might be ok this time, but you. will. fall.
All of this seemed quite sensible to me, until I realized that what I’d really like to do this afternoon is go down to the town pond and see how the ice is. If it’s at all smooth, I’d like to skate!
Skating… by strapping thin blades of metal to my feet and deliberately standing on ice. Then, gliding on ice, and knowing that friction melts the tiniest bit of water in the track of the blade I have strapped to my feet while sliding on the ice. Genius.
I conclude (because the cat is really very much in the way of my post shoveling grape eating revelry). The people who live where it is cold, do not mind the cold. They mind falling unexpectedly.
I speak for myself, and I think likely for Terpsichore as well. Winter car trouble stinks.
In the Spring, the Summer and the Fall, if your car fritzes, you putter around with it and think philosophical thoughts about how life is strange like that, and that everything’s probably ok, because the birdies are still singing.
Birdies. I scoff at you. There are no birdies. And you are now sitting in an unheated car. Wondering why you looked at the frostbite chart this morning. How many minutes was that? Less than 5?
Well, unless your car just won’t start in the driveway. You put in the key, and the car gives one scoffing huff at your misguided optimism and whirs itself back to sleep. Were you going somewhere? Ha. Walk, human. You’ve got legs. In fact, put me in neutral and walk ME into the nice garage.
In the Upper Midwest, some people prevent freezing cars by having some kind of electric plug installed. I don’t know what it goes to in the engine, but it plugs into an extension cord for several hours or overnight. I googled it. Most people who ask about it live in Alaska, but around here, plugs hang out the front of trucks all year round. I want one.
BECAUSE I’VE BEEN IN HERE FOR A WEEK, AND I’M GOING CRAZY. I’M GOING TO START HOME ALCHEMY PROJECTS AND SEE ABOUT PURCHASING BULK CHICKEN WIRE TOPIARY FORMS FROM INDONESIA AND PIN HALF AN OMELET TO THE CHRISTMAS TREE.
Or else, I’ll drink tea and possess my soul in silence. Of which there is plenty. Silence, that is. Tea is limited.
I came across one of the funniest little videos today. A reporter with unusual clarity of mind managed to poke no small deal of fun at the group of people known as Hipsters. Lest you misunderstand, I love hipsters. I would be a hipster, except I disqualified by not owning any flannel. They aren’t afraid to break the mold, they have an interesting culture, and they tend to be just retro enough to talk to each other and make music or jokes or silly songs when they have a party. Many also have interesting hobbies that they pursue passionately. I like the hipsters who choose baking…
But they have a weakness for the undiscovered and obscure. If you know about something first, you are way cooler than anyone else. Which leads to scenarios like this:
Silly, silly people. Do you like the way the smiling children look sage about band names that are clearly invented from whatever was close to the line of sight of the reporter? The Obesity Crisis. Regis and the Philbins. I keep making a popping noise. I think it’s laughter. Would it work for me?
The Angel Follies
The Seashell Creche
Etudes-Caprice Melted Out Candle Wax Cups of China Sugar
Surely that last one wouldn’t pass muster. Or would it?
Because the trouble here isn’t the proclivity to sucker onto the newest, weirdest thing. The trouble is the natural human desire to be cool. To be inside. (of course, re: Mark Studdock) and worst of all, the rooted trouble of humanity, Pride.
These …children… are not wise enough to say “I don’t know.”
Which produces the delightful paradox that makes us laugh. They are so busy trying to look smart that they look dumb. If they had admitted ignorance, they would have appeared so very smart.
I recently met a person of whom I had heard many things, whom I knew to be overwhelmingly intelligent. In the course of an hour, I heard him say “I don’t know.” “I’d have to look it up.” “I don’t remember.” “Let’s check that.” “Maybe.” He may have said some of these twice, but even if he didn’t, every 12 minutes, he admitted ignorance.
On the other hand, I know a person of equivalent intellectual prowess who cannot admit this; and makes the most embarrassing blunders.
Yesterday in church, our pericope dictated that we read of Solomon’s ascension to the throne of his father David. We heard the prayer of Solomon for wisdom. As a confirmed, avowed and unabashed Egotist, I certainly want to be right all the time. But even more, I want to be wise. To be accounted not just fact-clever but insightful. I hear Solomon’s prayer and think “Yeah, yeah. That. yeah.” (I know, so clever.) And, as the question asks, it is answered?
Where do you start?
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of Wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
The root of Wisdom is humility. The spiritual side of this is not my current argument, and as a layman, I am unqualified to comment. However, in a strictly worldly sense, the beginning of wisdom is in knowing your limits and saying “I don’t know.”
So, what do you think of The Ceramic Snows?
We really can’t do without our holidays, can we? All year round, there are lovely times to get together and make good food. Without turning this into a cooking blog, I intend to share some of my favorite things to eat this season.
This fall, having as I do, spare time, I have learned to be confident in caramel making. It really isn’t very hard. Follow this recipe for CARAMEL POPCORN!
Use enough salt; sea salt, if you have it. Salted caramel is the BEST.
I halved this recipe, and my mom, in her rather silly mood, didn’t make enough popcorn. Oh NO! It is extremely caramel. MWAHAHAHA!
Now, I write, and my mom is taking an anatomy test. “What is depicted by letter C? Triceps! Everyone knows that.” When the caramel popcorn is done I’ll stick some in her mouth and that will gum up the whole process. Or, perhaps, provide inspiration. Just bear that in mind if you’re heading toward finals. I’m not sure what the intellectual outcome of this will be.
I am living in my parents’ house. They are living elsewhere (long story), but I have the house. The house with the Books and the Fireplace.
Winter is looking good.
On the other hand, we’re moving in the indeterminate future and the house is on the market, so the bulk of the books are boxed up and shelved with fabric softener (as a deodorant) in the basement.
Winter is looking less good.
The only books that are out are the ones I’ve read so many times I know what’s on the next page, and the next and the next. Now, I like visiting old friends, but to have Poirot and Miss Climpson for house fellows…to never see anyone, Monday through Friday, but your cat, your students, and an imaginary corpse…well, I’m getting paranoid. The fridge cracks, the basement groans, the windows rattle, and I CAN’T SLEEP!
So I have a new plan. As many of you as read this are invited to do this with me. It’s time to meet some new people. To branch out, to fill in gaps in knowledge, to find a new beloved author.
I went to the public library and got 4 new books. Books that people read, books that people should read, books that influence writers. I am going to read these books and tell you, one at a time, what I think. Probably my thoughts won’t be original to mankind, but they will be wildly original to me, and that counts for something because the goal of this exercise is to try something out, and read the words of authors who have formerly had no impact on my thoughts.
I pulled these books nearly randomly from the public library in a small town. I figured checking them out would extend their life on the shelf. I did not pre-judge or select them for any criteria except the reputation of the author and the reach of the influence of either the book or the author. And that I’ve only heard OF these books and not much ABOUT them. Here’s the grapeshot result of my blunderbuss style assault on the A-H row of fiction section.
Brave New World
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Here we go. Who’s with me?
I enjoy thinking about thinking. It’s not epistemology; I’m not thinking about knowing. It’s not a branch of neuroscience; I’m not thinking about biological processes. It’s not philosophy; I’m not thinking about thought.
I’m thinking about thinking. I think about how one thought leads to another and by old habit, long usage, or logic, one thought follows another to arrive at another thought, and so on. It affords opportunity to find holes in the fabric of consciousness, to locate the germ of humor, to question assumption, make new discoveries or fall asleep. All of which are admirable goals.
When I’m under the weather, this happens naturally and subconsciously, revealing well worn misunderstandings that have hovered for years just below the surface.
“A home is just a house without a cat.”
This sentiment baffled my mother and it fuddled me that it baffled her. I’m a cat person. She’s not. I read the meaning as it was intended by the fellow cat person who made me the cross stitch. “A house isn’t much of a house without a cat in it”. 12 years later, I realized my mother read it as “A home is not a home if it has one of those forsaken demons in it.”
Admittedly, this is a sentiment that would benefit from some reconfiguring. However, it’s delightful to note how to thinking people got two different meanings from the same set of words.
“Call me whatever you like, just don’t call me late for dinner.”
To which I always thought I was being quite clever by answering “oh hey, late-for-dinner.”
Yesterday, I was dopey, one quarter sick, and being nice. Quite a lot of exertion. I read this on a friend’s facebook post, and because my usual thought processes were inhibited, suddenly understood.
“Call me whatever you like, just don’t be late in calling me for dinner.”
Or, more succinctly
“Call me whatever you like, just don’t call me late for dinner.”
I welcome Mel’s call to return a bit from wandering. Especially since, of late, I have been absorbed in various and sundry vexations which have tended to rob me (yes, even me) of my precious second sight. Not the witchy Macbeth style second sight. The double vision of a woman who sees the world through a prism, and doesn’t bother with a boring, flat mirror.
So, I will hold up my jeweler’s eyepiece and gaze again at the summer world.
- Garden Weeds
My brother the Dusty Thane used to do yard work for a lady who would mutter “Damn Creeping Charlie” under her breath as she pointed out the days weeding. What I never understood until this week is that weeding is a beautiful thing. I mean, wear gloves and all, since the grubs are still nasty, but weeding is lovely. Quiet, peaceful. The sun and the wind at your back. Slowly, all manner of troubles fall away, and in about 20 minutes, you’re humming.
N.B. Do not reveal that the earth is round. Just that raindrops are. *Wince* But even that is a marvelous thing. A tiny little raindrop (or two, or a million) can fill the entire sky with divided, layered, light.
- People smile at people who are smiling at people who smile.
It is contagious. Especially if you and 6 friends are riding a circular bicycle while singing The Piano Man as you careen through a hoity toity sort of city. Everyone wants to wave and take pictures. Happy people make people happy.
- Live Fire
Do you know what live fire is? It is army artillerists practicing with real ballistics. It is the sound of freedom, and, for me, of home. Late at night in the summer, the threefold shocks roll on.
- Train Whistles
The other sound of home. Lonely, through the winter nights. Lonely in the summer afternoons.
The other sound of freedom. They blaze through they sky and are gone before you hear them.
- Concerts in the Park
It’s not summer unless the city band has a concert on mosquito evening. It’s not the city band if the piccolo player isn’t unexpectedly capable, and the tuba player isn’t slightly overweight. The world is right, that night. The whole town turns out for a buggy rendition of popular favorites. Keep your eyes peeled. Comic things occur at outdoor concerts.
- Roadside Flowers
Specifically, the ones in your home state. The ones you know so well, you know what month it is by what is blooming, sometimes what week of the month. It’s mid-July in mid-Wisconsin. Time for those happy, orange roadside lilies and Queen Anne’s Lace. It’s a dusty riot here. Brilliant colors are gone, but the sun hasn’t bleached everything to August whites and yellows just yet.
- Joss Whedon
The last two summers, it has been Joss Whedon who made me love my life. Last year, I watched “Avengers” about ….7 times…. in the theater (it’s air conditioned…). This year, Much Ado About Nothing captured my heart. How could it do otherwise? My favorite actors, my favorite play to laugh about. Treated tenderly, treated humanly, treated beautifully. Oh, Mr. Whedon. You’ve done it again.
- Nathan Fillion
Secret’s out. Nah, it was never a secret. You=my hero. (not Hero…hero….)