Thursday, October 28, 2010

Friday Follow-Up in Three Parts

Betty's Got Leftover Thoughts: Reduced for Quick Sale

Betty's found a little dough left over from her last post and has fashioned it into a little cookie of a story and then a couple of discussion points we can linger over as we digest and get ready for the weekend.


He's not just Crow Crazy

About six months ago, we were waiting for Sonny Boy to finish up his shopping at the mall, so GOSB (Girlfriend of Sonny Boy) and I were waiting in the car with HOB, talking, enjoying the breezes through the open windows. Then GOSB said, "What's that noise?" I heard the scratching too. It seemed to be coming from above us on the roof. "What is going on?" I said, thinking that small branches were skittering around on the top of the car even there there was very little wind.

We looked up at HOB who was silent, eating nuts, playing it cool.

I listened some more. Then it dawned on me. "Are you putting nuts on the top of my car for the seagulls?"

HOB just sat, chewing, a faint smile playing on his face.

Notice I said we were in my car, not his.

Discussion Point #1

In my last post I noted that we had nicknames for people on our street.

I got quite a kick out of hearing the nicknames that Kathie from Just a Happy Housewife had for her neighbors. She wrote in a comment:

We nickname neighbors we don't know either. There was "mustang guy's house" until they moved...."Hillbilly" and then "brother & sister" because it's a couple and they look like they're brother and sister.

So, Betty wants MORE! Do you have nicknames for your neighbors? Tell me! (Keep it G-rated, my people, and don't worry--your neighbors do not read my blog.)

Discussion Point #2:

Also in my last post I alluded to HOB's facial reaction to my questioning. It's a look he's polished over the years. When I ask about something that he does not want to discuss, he loves to give me a look that indicates complete confusion. Not only that, but it is a look that indicates that he is completely sane and composed and I am the insane nut job who is asking the questions. Then comes the slow repeating of the question I just asked. I KNOW the man is just trying to get away from the original issue, is just buying time, AND is messing with my psyche, trying to get me to doubt my own sanity.


Betty (sweetly): Did you take the clothes out of the dryer before they were dry?

HOB (slightly confused look combined with contrived innocence): What? What are you saying?

Betty (clearly and distinctly): These clothes smell funny, Did you take them out of the dryer before they were dry?

HOB (the SUPER confused look now and a tone of irritation, as though he is trying to decipher a foreign language): Clothes? Dryer? What is it you want to know? Did I take the clothes out from where?

Betty (patiently and sweetly, not a twinge of sarcasm) : I had clothes in the dryer and now they aren't there and these smell funny.

HOB (now getting into the nitpicking so as to avoid larger, vital laundry issue): So you are smelling your clothes and you want to know what?

It goes on from there.

Sometimes for days.

It won't work. It won't. It won't.

SO here's my question to you: Does your significant other have a habit like this, designed to make you crazy? Does he/she have a signature avoidance technique?

Tell Betty all about it! You'll feel better and so will I.

Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Something to Crow About

It's near Halloween and all, but still, the sight of many large crows sitting atop our roof, staring at me intently as I returned from my morning walk bothered me. It was not the first time it had happened. I had noticed them sitting there, about the same time on previous mornings.
HOB had not left for work, so I asked him about it.

"Have you noticed all the crows on our roof?" I said.

"Crows? On our roof? Humm...."

"Well, they've been doing it a lot." I said, "Don't you think it's kind of weird that it's just on our house and not on other people's?"

"I think it's sort of cool," he said, and went about preparing for his day of work.

Now, people have varying opinions about crows. Some think of them as pesky and loud, with a semi-demonic look to them. HOB, on the other hand, reveres crows. Long-time readers will remember the love story of HOB and Edgar Allen Crow, a tale that involves passion, devotion, and just a little touch of freezer burn.

Perhaps, I thought, HOB had some sort of connection with the crows gathering on the roof, and maybe he was, in some way, sending out a psychic energy that made the crows perch on our roof. The Crow Whisperer. Even as this romantic thought and possible money-making opportunity for HOB's own show on the National Geographic Channel, crossed through my mind, another more pragmatic thought came along with it.

In nearly every neighborhood, people refer to houses or families by significant features associated with the house. Therefore nicknames like, "Big Porch House," "Five Car House," or "Troubled Teen House," are developed as shortcuts for addresses or in the absence of/lack of interest in family names.

Suppose that our house became the ominously named "The House Where the Crows Gather?" It would be said in a hushed, foreboding tone. "We live two doors down from 'The House Where the Crows Gather.'" I could see it now: me, happy Betty walking down the street while the neighbors stop, stare, point and whisper, "It's the woman from 'The House Where the Crows Gather.'"

"It's a little creepy," I said the next day when I saw the crows again.

"Oh, it's fine," HOB said.

I noticed when I opened the garage door to go to work, about an hour after HOB had left, that the crows all flew to the roof, staring at me intently. One morning it dawned on me: perhaps I, not HOB, was their intended contact. Could it be I was their channel into the human world, designated by this tribe of noble birds to carry a message from them to my species, a message that would be deep and meaningful--a message that would help save the earth and its people from destruction?

I stared back, trying to understand their missive, trying decipher the vital directive from the natural world, but to no avail. I vowed, for the sake of my people, my country, my world, to keep trying.

Apparently, the vital, momentous, meaningful message was "Seconds! We want seconds."

The whole mystery cleared up the next morning when I heard the garage door open and went out to say goodbye to HOB who was leaving for work. However, I did not find him in his car. Instead, I found him in the side yard, his fist full of dry cat food.

He was throwing it on the roof. And there, lined up like Starbucks customers in their business power-suits on a Monday morning, were the crows, looking down, placing their order to the busy crowista below. "Throw some more!" they squawked. "Do it now!"

"Are you kidding me?" I asked. "You've been feeding them every morning when you open the garage door? No wonder we look like the freak show of the neighborhood."

HOB looked at me, cat food dust still on his fingers and said, "What? What are you saying?" feigning an expression of confusion, like I was speaking a foreign language under water--all in a feeble attempt to buy time. He then looked at his watch and decided he was terribly late to work.

"No!" I said, as he backed out of the drive. "No! You can't keep doing this! It makes us look really, really strange!" I yelled, as I followed the car down the drive. Neighbors, children walking to school, and assorted dog walkers all turned my way.

I stopped, and pretended to be intensely interested in a sprinkler head on the lawn.

When I felt that my ruse had worked, I made my way back to the house, all the while knowing, knowing I was being watched--watched from the roof of "The House Where the Crows Gather."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Poetry Tuesday: "To Imagination" by Emily Bronte with Bonus Betty Remarks!!

Remember this picture from yesterday when I was Colorado Dreaming?

Well, later on that day, I was grading and I looked down to my folders on the desk and this is what I saw:

Can you see it?
There they are!
The aspens, the sky and the pines, right there on that wooden desk.

Wish Emily Bronte were here to pick up an electric guitar and sing this poem at the top of her lungs in a hard rockin' style.

Wait a minute--maybe she is...can you hear her?

Hit it, Emily!

To Imagination

When weary with the long day's care,
And earthly change from pain to pain,
And lost, and ready to despair,
Thy kind voice calls me back again:
Oh, my true friend! I am not lone,
While then canst speak with such a tone!

So hopeless is the world without;
The world within I doubly prize;
Thy world, where guile, and hate, and doubt,
And cold suspicion never rise;
Where thou, and I, and Liberty,
Have undisputed sovereignty.

What matters it, that all around
Danger, and guilt, and darkness lie,
If but within our bosom's bound
We hold a bright, untroubled sky,
Warm with ten thousand mingled rays
Of suns that know no winter days?

Reason, indeed, may oft complain
For Nature's sad reality,
And tell the suffering heart how vain
Its cherished dreams must always be;
And Truth may rudely trample down
The flowers of Fancy, newly-blown:

But thou art ever there, to bring
The hovering vision back, and breathe
New glories o'er the blighted spring,
And call a lovelier Life from Death.
And whisper, with a voice divine,
Of real worlds, as bright as thine.

I trust not to thy phantom bliss,
Yet, still, in evening's quiet hour,
With never-failing thankfulness,
I welcome thee, Benignant Power;
Sure solacer of human cares,
And sweeter hope, when hope despairs!

--Emily Bronte

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Morning Scenery

My Betty People!

Hope you are looking forward to a great week!

Betty is trying to stay one step ahead of grading.

Even now, I am sneaking away from the pile of papers to have a little time with my blogging buddies. It's a jealous, powerful stack of essays though, and it is eyeing me suspiciously, jealously from the desk at this very moment.

(I have told it I am checking my school e-mail for additional papers that have come in online. It is accepting this only because it hopes to add to its towering strength with more recruits.)

Just about a week ago I was in Colorado, enjoying sights such as these:


Wait a minute! What is paper made out of?
It seems the stack of papers is controlling my every move--including the selection of pictures for you this morning.
Oh my....

I'll be back when I am free.
(Now, where is that lighter?)

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Grey Skies Are Gonna Clear Up--Right?

We've had grey skies for about a week now here in normally sunny Southern California.

This is not good.

We like our sun.

We need our sun.

Whoever took it away, really needs to return it soon.

So what's a Betty to do?

Go out on my usual walk, take my camera, and make the best use of that big grey canvas overhead.

I love this giant tree. I think it likes me too. It waves to me when it's windy.

Sometimes if I'm lucky I get to see a squirrel on these wires.

I am currently fascinated with TV antennas. They are endangered creatures around here. Don't tell HOB, but this may mean a hunting expedition in the future to capture more of these! He's my driver on such trips.

These three are looking for the sun too!
Bet they see it first!

Hope you have blue skies wherever you are!
Have a Happy Weekend!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

That Golden Circle

I had a great time in Colorado at the wedding of Jack and Jill. I am blessed with a great family, including four sisters who know how to have a good time. I got to see those sisters, along with assorted brother-in-laws and many of my beautiful nieces and nephews.

My father passed away a few years ago and my mom was not able to make the trip to the wedding, but they would have loved this family ceremony, and would no doubt have looked around with pride at all they started those many, many years ago when they said "I do." They were happy to be married to each other. I remember simple gold band my dad wore with pride.

It was his only jewelry. He wore it to church every Sunday and I'd study it during the service--this rich metal, warm and smooth against my father's rough hands--the hands of a farmer. I loved looking at it against his skin. He would have worn it all the time, but my mother begged him to take it off when he worked around the farm. She was afraid it would catch on some unforgiving piece of equipment and injure him. He complied with her wishes, placing the ring on the dresser in the bedroom.

One day when I was very young, I found the ring there and I was thrilled. Finally, I could explore it fully. I picked it up, held it between my thumb and forefingers and looked through it. I tried it on my little fingers. I turned it over and over, but within minutes, I discovered that the same ring that was so warm and intriguing while on my father's finger,was now just a piece of cold metal. Seeing it there, still and cool to the touch, made me sad. The emptiness in the middle of the circle spoke to me of loneliness. I left it there in the tray, and the next time I saw it on his finger, I smiled and felt all was right again.

I hadn't given much thought to this ring, but at the wedding reception that I found out that my nephew Jack had decided to use Daddy's wedding ring for his own. He and Jill had taken it to a jeweler who had placed two thin bands of silver above and below the gold band. Daddy's ring had fit my nephew's finger perfectly, no sizing necessary. I was not prepared for my reaction when I saw it on Jack's hand after the ceremony. The fact that Jack looks like my dad, that he works in agriculture like my dad did, and that his hands also bear witness to a life lived with nature, all combined to send tears to my eyes when I saw the ring on his finger.

I looked at my proud nephew and at that ring no longer cold and still in a box or a tray, but now vibrant and shining, and through my tears I smiled. The ring that was filled with my father's presence, imbued family history, was now warm and living, and headed into a rich future. The bride had worried that adding the bands of silver on either side of the ring might have bothered some family members. But to me, it was exactly right.

We have our pasts, good or bad, and we build on them, creating our own lives.

If that past contains a ring of gold, and a history of love--that most precious of all elements--then how lucky and blessed are we?

Building on that foundation, adding to that treasure, is both a joy and a happy obligation.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Poetry Tuesday: "Love's Exquisite Freedom" by Maya Angelou

Jack and Jill 10/17/10

Love's Exquisite Freedom

Love arrives;
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain

Yet, it we are bold
Love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
We dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
And will ever be
Yet, it is only love
which sets us free.

--Maya Angelou

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Betty's Report from Colorado

Hello from Colorado!

The wedding of Jack and Jill is tomorrow.
In the meantime, we are enjoying our time here with my sister and her family.
Sister Marlene and Brother-in-law Don took us up into the high altitude to see the gorgeous scenery.

We got up to 10,550 feet and found snow! Betty and HOB, who were at sea level the day before, felt the effects of the altitude, especially when my big, bad sister threw a snowball at me while I was sitting peacefully in the car!

Betty would like to officially to thank the aspens for hanging on to some of their leaves this long. I truly do appreciate it! Hope my you heard my applause!!

I'll check back in later! Hope all is well with you and yours!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Life Lessons We Can Learn From Potato Salad

My People! Betty boards a big airplane in California this afternoon and lands in Colorado tonight for my nephew's wedding on Sunday.

Jack is marrying Jill(ian)!


It should be fun!

I may be scarce around the blog-o-sphere for a few days, but I'll be back! In the meantime, Betty leaves you with these thoughts:

My opinion is we can learn a lot from food.

I have had some fairly deep conversations over the years with various dishes. Believe it or not, French fries are just as friendly and fun-loving as seem, but surprisingly, that kind-looking casserole can be a more than a little haughty. Hot dogs have an inferiority complex and believe me, they let you know about it. For hours and hours….

Salads in general are a happy bunch, but Spring Mix enjoys being with itself a little too much. Fruit Salad talks too much. Coleslaw will be there in the good times, but it falls apart the minute you challenge it.

However, there is one salad that I am particularly close to and have spent hours with. Over the years I have come to learn a lot from my friend and today I pass this knowledge on to you:

The Top Ten Life Lessons We Can Learn from Potato Salad

10. Understand your role at whatever gathering you are at. Don’t overshadow the main dish. Support it charitably and without getting unsavory in attitude. HOWEVER…

9. Be secure in the knowledge that you are more than just a “side dish.” YOU are an essential part of this great feast. It is your contribution that makes the table complete. Be proud of your gifts.

8. Don’t settle. Stir things up frequently. It keeps you looking fresh and appealing.

7. Don’t get too heated up about things. You run the risk of looking spoiled. People may feel a little queasy around you. Some will avoid you altogether.

6. Don’t be insulted if not everyone likes you. You can handle it. Everyone has different tastes and that’s OK.

5. Add spice and variety when you can. Don’t stay the same year after year. Add crunchy, fun ingredients to your life. Surprise people with your hidden, flavorful talents.

4. In life, it is necessary to be both soft and yielding, yet firm enough to hold up when you get shaken up, stirred about. It’s all a matter of balance.

3. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Don’t show up to every small occasion. Make yourself just a little scarce, a little hard-to-get. People will like you better if they don’t see you every day…HOWEVER…

2. Be sure you show up at the big occasions in life—birthday parties, anniversary gatherings. And always, always go to funeral dinners. It may not be fun, but people need you and the comfort you bring to them.

1. Don’t ever forget your roots. Your essential substance comes from the richness of the dark earth, brought into the light, combined with goodness, mixed with love. You were meant to go out and nourish the world.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Verrry, Verrry Interrrresting.

Thanks to all who give me deep insights in their psychological make-up and potential for greatness/criminality via the simple tree test yesterday. I have recorded all of the results in a very large book and will continue to track your progress through the years.

Of course, that's Shaggy from Scooby-Doo!

School's got me on the run.

Poetry Tuesday will return next week!

Hope you have a great day!

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Monday Morning Flower Just For You!

Squeal with delight as you view this flower because it's just for YOU, you special person you!

Through the magic of a new, highly-secretive technology, each person visiting my blog gets his/her own special flower delivered to his/her computer on this fine Monday morning.

Isn't that wonderful?

Even when you view it on a computer belonging to someone else, a special lens automatically tracks and recognizes your unique DNA code and produces the flower that was sent just for you.

Hope you enjoy your daisy, carnation, sunflower, iris or rose.

(By the way, if you received the macro shot of the yellow rose petals, YOU are THE MOST SPECIAL person to come to my blog! If you are this ONE AND ONLY PERSON, please show some courtesy and do NOT brag to others in your comments!)

Many readers were curious about the mysterious third picture on my last post. We were visiting Sonny Boy at his college in June and found lots of bulletin boards, stripped for the summer. I thought they were interesting--the kind of thing that could easily entertain me for hours. Here's another one:

Just to get your brain working this morning--do you see a cartoon character in this tree? Who do you see?

We are all special cases.
--Albert Camus

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Saturday Shots

Hope you are all enjoying your weekends!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

When Migraines Attack

When I get a migraine, it feels precisely like a bird of prey has attached itself, not only to my left temple, but to the underlying muscles of my cranium as well.

The talons sink in deep and I am forced to deal with the bird attached firmly to my head. The weight of it causes me to walk at a slight angle, the flapping feathers cause my left eye to squint, and I continually rub my hand over the side of my head, hoping to loosen the grip of those razor-like claws, but to no avail.

My only hope lies in some small white pills that come packaged with seven pages of scary pharmaceutical language. The pills lesson the pain and, I believe, under normal circumstance would cause me to walk at an exaggerated angle to the right. However, the weight of the bird on my left evens out that effect, allowing me to walk somewhat normally.

Now, sometimes I am fortunate in that a mere kestrel, osprey or a medium-sized falcon comes. They stay only for a day or so and are skittish around the medicine. Occasionally a large barn owl comes, heavy and predicable, extracting his heavy claws after about two days. However, I am not always that lucky. Monday evening, for instance. That was when the Black-Chested Snake Eagle descended from the sky and dug his sharp claws into my head without warning.

Well…OK, there may have been warning, but it came disguised as a good time.

Here’s the way it works:

It started on Monday afternoon in my Intermediate Composition class. During that period of time I believed I might just have been the best teacher on earth. I hoisted that dry-erase marker and began to twirl it around the board, writing out brilliant examples, intricate sentences that I was sure would unlock the secrets of English Composition.

I felt that I had at that moment invented a method that would increase my students’ abilities to learn at an exponential rate. With my proven system, schools could shorten semesters to four weeks each, thereby covering all classes in the English spectrum in approximately one year. I beamed as I looked out at my students who sat, staring at me, apparently stunned by my genius. That text-messaging student in the back row was probably getting in touch with the Nobel folks to say, “Hey! Wait just one darn minute! I’ve got a winner for you!”

I was happy, happy, happy, as I walked back to my office. Did I mention I had also gotten better looking and my stomach had shrunk by about five inches? I went into my office wing and had some incredibly witty banter with my colleagues. Then I went home.

About ten minutes later, I felt the tips of the claws upon my temple.

Damn. Taken in again.

Here’s how it works: I get a feeling of euphoria a few hours before the migraine. Now, you would think that this might be a bit of a bonus and might serve as an early warning system. However, the insidiousness of the migraine is that at the very moment it express ships this little gift of euphoria, it inserts a fun house mirror between the synapses of my brain, so that at no time to do I suspect that there is a migraine on the way.

It blocks all warnings, all thoughts of dread of the approaching bird of prey. Instead, the roses, the champagne delivered at my door, distract me. I sit, still and naïve, playing with the jewels I have found strewn in my path as the bird flaps above, preparing the attack on me, the unsuspecting victim.

The irony is that there are times in my life when I just feel good. Things are going well. I feel unusually witty. My writing is flowing. I look at my pictures and think “Wow! That’s great” and then all the sudden I wonder. Oh no! Is there a migraine on the way? Is this feeling real?

Like the slightly insane man who sits outside the liquor store, I start scanning the skies for imagined winged creatures in the sky. Are they approaching? Is this just another trick? I know that if it were a real migraine, I would not recognize the euphoria for what it is and still I twitch as I search the skies…waiting, watching and listening for the flapping of those terrible wings.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Poetry Tuesday: "Question" by May Swenson


Body my house
my horse my hound
what will I do
when you are fallen

Where will I sleep
How will I ride
What will I hunt

Where can I go
without my mount
all eager and quick
How will I know
in thicket ahead
is danger or treasure
when Body my good
bright dog is dead

How will it be
to lie in the sky
without roof or door
and wind for an eye

With cloud for shift
how will I hide?

--May Swenson

Monday, October 4, 2010

Weekend Update and Monday Morning Flowers

The good news is the plumber showed up on time and I managed to control my urge to kiss him full on the lips out of gratitude and a new-found respect for his profession. He hooked up the vanity and did assorted other repairs that stopped a lot of leaking, seeping, and discharge from various fixtures around the house.

Picture a waiting room at the urologist before and after treatment, and I think you'll get the idea.

SO! We have an honest-to-goodness working vanity AND HOB and I went out and found a very nice, very complimentary mirror. (Tonight it said it liked my hair!!!) AND HOB and I managed to hang the mirror without bloodshed. This is good.

Now, maybe it was the smell of the drill as it went into the wallboard. Maybe it was the sight of plumber's putty oozing out from beneath the new faucets, or perhaps all that pent-up passion I felt when the plumber showed up at my door. All I know is that this weekend, I went into complete, super-sized, nut-job, maniacal, demented decorating/furniture arranging binge from which no one was safe.

Now HOB is a Helper Husband and he has very large muscles that could pass for canned hams, still in the cans. However, what I needed from him was a "Yes Ma'am" attitude and prompt use of those testosterone-injected muscles, NOT a line of questioning about every move of a large and bulky item. We moved A LOT of them this weekend and nearly every single move was proceeded by the following sort of conversation:

Betty (sweetly): "I need this moved from the bedroom to the TV Room."

HOB: "Which room is the TV Room?"

Betty (flatly, valiantly resisting sarcasm): "It's the one with the TV in it."

HOB: (stands back and furrows brow) Have you measured the space? I don't think this is going to fit.

Betty (fibbing just a little. I measured it with my incredibly accurate eyes, but not with the unwieldy measuring tape) "Yes. It will fit. Now, if you'll just lift it up...."

HOB (just standing there): "So you want this piece of furniture in the TV Room? And you've measured the space? I'm not even sure I can get it out of this room. Didn't we just move this not too long ago?"

Now, this is where I start to visit Crazy Town. I hate to say it, but at this point, I do not need his brain. I need the irritatingly-dormant muscles he has waiting there in his arms. I can't lift this piece of furniture. HE can. It's all so unfair. I just want to scream. AND I hate how the price to be paid for this service is (he will not admit this) some sort of subservient behavior on my part. I mean, I can only be nice for so long and then I just want the damned thing moved. No more chit-chat. No more Sweet Betty. However, if I am NOT nice, then he goes away and takes his canned hams with him.


Now, the good news is that by working myself to a nub. driving all members of my house completely insane, and by running all over town, spending goo-gobs of money, I now have a lovely bedroom, complete with fake fireplace, new curtains, new bed, and all new bedding and working vanity too!

Little Betty. Happy at last.

OH! It's Monday so you have dropped by for flowers! Of course! I'll be glad to help!

Now, did you want flowers on THIS computer, or another one?

Did you measure your screen? Because I'm not sure these are going to fit....

Didn't I just give you flowers a couple of weeks ago?

Oh, OK.

Hope you have a wonderful week!

May all those you boss around respond promptly and without questioning.

Only two things are necessary to keep one's wife happy. One is to let her think she is having her own way, and the other is to let her have it.
-- Lyndon Johnson

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Saturday Stacks

Hope you are all having wonderful weekends!