Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Persistence of Pencil

January 9, 1989 Something of a case in point: a childhood journal entry from the 80s, in which the pencil looks as clear as it did the day it was written, though the notebook wasn't always properly stored and the paper has seen better days.

If you'll allow me to go off on a mini rant for a moment here...occasionally I find myself wandering pen forums and get cranky at certain misconceptions.


It's graphite. It is, essentially, powdered rock. You could stick a lump of graphite out in the sun for a thousand years, and it's not going to bleach white.

Pencil *can* smear, of course. Especially if you're using rather soft pencil. If you have very soft pencil on a page that is constantly exposed to friction of some kind, you may end up with smudged, illegible writing. This is entirely different from fading.

Thank you. I feel better now. Carry on.

Monday, July 29, 2013


GROCERY STORE CLERK (to two customers): "I'm sorry sirs, but we're currently out of bagged ice."

CUSTOMER #1 (nattily if eccentrically dressed black gentleman with a fedora sorta hat): "You could just bring out a big barrel of water and let me stick my finger in it."

CLERK (looking utterly baffled): "To--to at least cool off your finger, you mean?"

CUSTOMER #1: "Naw!  To make ice!  'Cause I'm just *cool* like that."

(And you know, he really might have been.)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Week in Review: Be Happy

1. July is almost always a tough month for me. It's silly, really: the days are long and bright, the sun and the warm weather have *finally* arrived here in the Pacific Northwest. Life is good, right? But this is generally when my year goes through a sort of mid-life crisis. I suddenly realize the summer is more than half over and what do I have to show for it?? Also, generally by this point either I have utterly failed to plant flowers or any other sort of garden and realize it's now too late to do much, OR (this is worse) I *did* plant flowers or another sort of garden, and when this dry weather showed up, I neglected to water one or more days and everything is dead and it's ALL MY FAULT. This year, I opted for the former. At least it's cheaper.

To heap on more misery, work has been insane, I haven't been able to take vacation, I feel like everything I do is a compromise between timeliness and getting it done perfectly, and many of my projects are so open ended and moving-target-ish that I don't even get the satisfaction of marking tasks complete. Ugh.

The point is, this is the time of the summertime blues. And this week has been rough. I've ended up in overwhelmed tears more than once.

And then yesterday, out of the blue, the boss handed out blank books to the gals in the office. Mine is this one, with a nice wrap-and-snap closure. It's the usual feel-good sort of store-bought journal, complete with pile of positive pith on the cover...but it still totally made my day. Or week. Or maybe month. I keep leaving it out where I can look at it. Granted, the nice feelings I have while looking at it have more to do with "Oooh, all that blank paper! For free! All for me!" than with the sayings on the cover, but the giant "BE HAPPY" exhortation still makes me smile.

2. In part to deal with my ups and downs, I've been trying to eat better and get regular exercise: lots of seasonal fruits and vegetables, fish, more or less lean meats, and moving more, even if it's just getting out there to walk a bit on the trail most days. I gave up sugar almost entirely about a month ago--I use a teaspoon or so of honey in my coffee or tea once in awhile, but otherwise pretty much restrict sweets to fruit.

My cravings for candy and breads have lessened. But I did discover Thursday that it's still a bad idea to shop while hungry. I ended up with almost all the optional items, including two cantaloupes, a big bunch of bananas, shrimp, rockfish, a large package of steaks, and a Very Large Chicken. And not even a frozen chicken: a Very Large Fresh Chicken. I *will* freeze the steaks, but I feel like I need to deal with the chicken up front.'s just about the hottest week of the year, and I have this chicken that needs cookin' and no grill capable of indirect heat, so it'll have to be crockpot or oven. And it has been years since I last cooked an entire bird. I need to go comb the interwebs for recipes that aren't horribly complicated. Oh dear.

But it seemed like a good idea at the time!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Caffeine AdVisor

That which has been seen cannot be unseen: the cafe cap for my Klean Kanteen looks like a cartoon Geordie La Forge.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


During the summer, I tend to bike the trail a lot more than I walk it, but the last few days, I've had the urge to play pedestrian. One thing I tend to forget when riding is how much more steeped in your surroundings you end up when on foot. You notice more small details along the way: a mole burrowing by the trailside, a jay scolding you from a nearby tree as you pass, snakes coiled in the sun. And you hear a lot more, whether you want to or not. There's no wind whistling in your ears as you cruise along, and encounters with other trail users are prolonged by your slow pace. You end up touched by all the lives around you, unintentionally catching fragments of conversations from other walkers, from joggers that puff by, caravans of cyclists: bits of gossip, parents keeping kids in line, smatterings of philosophical meanderings, scriptural reflections.

Sometimes it gets downright unpleasant. Today I set off on what was going to be a five mile walk, but just after the three mile turn-around point, I ended up behind a couple having a very loud, furious, foul-mouthed argument. I tried walking fast enough to pass them by, but it was taking so long (I think they kept speeding up in their anger) that in the end I gave in to embarrassment and turned back.

Yesterday's accidental eavesdropping was more entertaining, if not much less cringe-worthy. A couple (newly dating, judging from the clues) approached me from behind and then passed me. The conversation as they went by went something like this:

HE: (obviously excited and enthusiastic about this topic they've hit upon) "Yeah, that's great! Keep that up, and the next thing you know, you'll be down fifty pounds, and your heart rate when exercising will be what your resting heart rate is now!"

SHE: (after a barely perceptible pause) "Fifty pounds."

HE: (just the eensiest bit defensive/panicky) " know what I mean."

SHE: (rather coolly)"No. I don't."

(At this point they went by me--she was bit thinner than I am, i.e. within a healthy BMI range, though could stand to lose a *few* pounds and tone up a bit. If she lost more than fifteen or twenty pounds, she'd look sick. He, predictably perhaps, was on the pudgy side.)

HE: (starting to stammer a little) "Well, you know...there are like...long distance runners and stuff who have" Hastily added: "Not that I like that or anything, I'm just saying that--"

SHE: Inaudible.

HE: "OK, well, maybe not so much then. But--"

At that point they drifted out of earshot. Part of me rather wished I could lob some sort of audio surveillance device at them so I could hear if he actually managed to back pedal his way (so to speak) out of the situation. On the other hand, it's quite likely it didn't get any prettier, so maybe it's just as well I didn't get to hear the end.

I mean...dude! I know you meant well

On the bright side, I with my clumsy conversational skillz suddenly feel most suave by there's that.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Perspective Audience

I actually have worked on more serious posts, but they aren't polished enough for me and may never be. So instead, you get this.

More index card doodling: typical default filling of seats for various event types, overhead representational view.

Perpective Audience_0002

(And I illustrate this as the sister of a Highland piper, someone who like bagpipes and who has been to performances populated by people who are as enamored as I. matter how much you love the pipes, them are LOUD. Especially in a small enclosed space.)