Open Post-It Note to Nosy Strangers

Dear _____________, 

I am from the Midwest. Not the UK. My “accent” is a result of clear enunciation. 

Please stop staring. 




(There, now I’ve said it to the internet, everyone will know, right? I won’t have to give people at the mall/ in cabs/ at the checkout line any more funny looks. I won’t have to try to find a polite way to say I’ve lived in Wisconsin for 20 years, just like they have? Please, internet, make the awkward go away.)

No One Minds the Cold

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.

Cabin Fever: Broken Down Car Edition

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.


Or else, I’ll drink tea and possess my soul in silence. Of which there is plenty. Silence, that is. Tea is limited.

Lies and Humility

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
Teddybear’s Metronome
Felt Nativity
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?

Caramel Popcorn

Dear Friends,

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.

New Territory: A Literary Expedition

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
O Pioneers!
The Plague
Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Here we go. Who’s with me?

Lateral Thinking

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.”