Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Joyous Samhain

It's the wonderfulest day of the year. Unfortunately, I don't feel like I have a chance to adequately enjoy it. Recent Halloweens, like this one, end up as a last-minute scramble to carve some jack-o'-lanterns and put candy in a bowl beside the door. I suppose it's like that for most people, and that's all they want; but I want this to be my Christmas. It will be, perhaps, when Erin and Jillian are older.
"Dad, we want you to turn our front yard into a fairy princess pumpkin forest for Halloween."
"OK, girls."
"We also want you to carve fifty jack-o'-lanterns."
"Whatever you say."
"Will you take us trick-or-treating to five hundred houses?"
"Well, girls, how about one hundred houses, and then we come home and give out prizes to the best costumes that show up at our door?"
"Well, maybe."
"We could make the older kids who are trick-or-treating really
earn their candy. Let's build a coffin with a trap door!"

I attended a Halloween party at Pat and Laura's house on Saturday. The theme was Steven Spielberg movies. I went as Schindler's List. My original idea was to go as Schindler's grocery list, but after I thought about it for a while, I decided the Schindler's list was much better. I thought about the events, the movie, and read about Schindler on Wikipedia, then used The Google to find a copy of the lists. It moved me and made me feel weepy and I felt like it would be a fine costume. However--and in retrospect, it was inevitable--the execution just wasn't to great. I copied part of the list (I only got up to the Fs) onto a white shirt and incorporated it into a suit. It was OK.

Lots of nice costumes at the party. Pat was the shark from Jaws and Laura wore a bathing suit. A red sash-thingy around her waist was a nice touch. Pat's costume was made by Laura. It was a shark made from cut-up and painted packing foam. The eyes, which were eery black things that glistened with death in their depths, were simply small speakers hooked to an I-pod that Pat wore and through which he played music (the "Jaws" theme, hip-hop).

There were other costumes that were good, but Chris G. showed everyone up by coming as one of the South American Indians from the beginning of "Raiders of the Lost Ark." He was wearing nearly nothing, had a shaggy black wig on his head, paint on his face, and a blowgun. He was horrifying to look at, and hard to look away from, sort of like a hairy car wreck.

Also, there was good food and good conversation.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Why Must I Be Broken Record? & ATCs

For more two days now, I have had They Might Be Giants' song "Why Must I Be Sad" spinning continuously in my head. I listened to it once a few days ago, and it stuck. It's like one of those flies that circle my head noisily on hot sticky days in late summer. I wave my hands, duck my head, sprint--but just as I think, "Hey, I finally got that song outta my head," it comes droning back. It's not really a very good song. It's not bad, either. At least it's not as bad as, say, "We Built This City On Rock And Roll." Not many things are that bad. "We built this city (bwah-DAH)/We built this city (bwah-DAH)/We built this city on rahhhk n ROOOOOLLLLLOHHHH!"

Oh sweet Mary. I better keep "Why Must I Be Sad" in my head.

And here are the artist trading cards which I mailed a while back:

All 3 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches, india ink and water color.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I have a cold, I think. I don't think it's allergies. It's really dragging me down.

Two days ago I planted some perennials that a coworker gave to me. Peachleaf bellflower, coral bells, evening primrose, and culver's root. I've planted them so late in the year--I wonder if they'll make it through the winter?

I received a note from Jovanna that she received my ATCs. She said she liked them a lot. I will post pictures later.

Last night I had two long dreams. In one, I was with some guy on an archaeological dig. This guy was digging up a hole in the ground. By which I mean, there was a hole in the ground that had been dug by an animal, and he was digging around it so he could have the chunk of earth that had a hole in it. It was an important and valuable hole. But I was hoping to find artifacts during the dig. After a while, a big passage was formed and we could see a chamber. A coworker and I slid down into this big underground room that had been made by an ancient civilization. It was mostly bare. We were amazed as we looked around (I was hoping to find coins), although the room looked little different than many basements I've been in.

The second dream was pretty long, and involved fleeing a huge house before some woman showed up. I was fleeing with other people, but there identies were changing they way they tend to do in dreams. Sometimes I was with Erin and Jill as adults; sometimes Kim was there; sometimes I was just with a bunch of friends. We fled into a huge backyard and got in a fight with a lot of animals. This large combat was a role playing game melee, or at least it evolved into that towards the end. I think we had animals fighting on our side, too.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sparking Greenbeans

Some Canadians told me about Sparking Greenbeans

I forgot to mention that this weekend I made the best darn foccacia I've ever made. I added extra rosemary. It was heavier on the rosemary than the basil, but there was a lot of both. There was also extra garlic on top, was well as sea salt (not extra salt, just the regular amount, but it was still pretty salty.)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Flaming Greenbeans & The Ungoogleables

Maybe I should title all my posts with the names of bands I like to listen to. Or maybe I'll make up band names based on post topics. Maybe there is a middleground.

Last night Kim called me to the kitchen and told me that the green beans she was attempting to microwaver were all lit up like Xmas in July. "Hmm," I thought. "Green beans don't come with foil wrappers."

I tried it, and sure enough, this one green bean that had its point sticking up in the air and was sputtering like a newly-lit match. I pulled it out and inspected it. Nope, no straightpins embedded in the beans. Weirdness. I'll have to research that.

Also, why is my blog unGoogleable? Do I have to change my settings? If I weren't me and I wanted to find Mark Tabler's blog--Oops! I used my real name!--I'd use very telling phrases to track him down. Phrases like "Halloween Parade," "Flaming Greenbeans," and "Haunted by Jawas." But when I check around for me, all that turns up on Google is Kim's blog and Mekimeki's bookmarks.

Kim went on a knitting retreat at General Butler State Park this weekend, and I stayed home with the girls. She had a good time, knitted more than I did, and ate chocolate with the girls. (That's why she's not in the Halloween Parade photos posted below.)

On Saturday evening I went with my parents and my brothers and my offspring to an engagement party in Bardstown. I was fortunate to meet the meganice megafamily of Brian's betrothed, Beth. It was very enjoyable. I was impressed with Brian's future in-laws. I'm not sure I've ever met a more immediately likeable, friendly, outgoing family. And Beth's sister has some delightful culinary skills. Even Erin and Jill had a good time; Erin came out of her shell a bit and ran off to play with a big dollhouse. The evening ended with Beth's nieces and nephews putting on an extended dance performance in Brian and Beth's honor.

Halloween Parade, Part 5

Joyful parade watchers--Brian and Beth with Jill, Kevin, Judy, and Mom & Dad.

Hmm. What are the chances that next year, I'll actually be
in the parade?

Halloween Parade, Part 4

I don't know how long the parade lasted. I guess it was more than a half-hour.

Halloween Parade, Part 3

I like the look of this photo. I must have been moving the camera to keep up with the bike.

Gomez, Cousin It, and some dude wearing Pugsley's shirt

Halloween Parade, Part 2

The Louisville Ghostbusters had a truck. I'm trying to figure out if these guys are a parody of The Louisville Ghosthunters Society.There were three different dance groups that paraded by; I think they were students from dance schools. All three were dancing to "Thriller." This group, which was the first to come past, was the best. Note the red-suited Michael zombie in front.

Halloween Parade, Part 1

We walked up to Baxter Avenue from my parents' house, and got there a bit before the parade started. I wish I'd dressed more warmly. It would not have been too cold if it had not been for the gusty wind. Jill sat on Brian's lap the entire time, and looked very cozy. Erin was in my arms, and fell asleep before the parade started. That's probably just as well. I suspect she might have been bothered by some elements of the gruesome spectacle. Unfortunately, it made it difficult for me to take photographs. It slowed my reaction time, and I think my one-handed-arm-extended photography technique lended itself to overly blurry photos.

Monday, October 16, 2006

I've been occasionally attempting throughout the day to post pictures of the Halloween Parade, but the pictures are loading too slowly or not at all. Perhaps I'll try tonight.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Phillies vs. Broncos; Totally awesome!

I failed to watch "Lost" again last night, but I did get to spend some time watching people at Louisville International Airport. Airports are nice places to watch people. Friendship, family love, businessman seriousness, aggravation, relief, and boredom are all so evident. All sorts of people saying hello and goodbye.

I also got to eat pizza at Tony Boombozz with a significant portion of the Otter crowd, many of whom I had not seen or talked to in weeks.

Unrelated to those previous thoughts: I have found that many political campaign attack ads on TV give explicit reasons for me to vote for the person they are attacking. Sometimes I'm startled by the way someone can nastily say something like, "Igor MacBeth voted against the flag desecration bill fifty seven times!" as if that's a bad thing. But then a few seconds later I remember that the ad is aimed at idiots who want to protect my basic rights as long as I'm a conservative Christian who would never voice an opinion that I didn't hear uttered from the stage at Southeast Christian.

Now I have started posting about what I ate the day before, and commentary on campaign ads. My blog is turning into primordial Web ooze.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Haunted by jawas

Haunted by jawas. Haunted by jawas. Haunted by jawas.

An anecdote: Once, one of our office supervisors paid a window washer five dollars to help with a prank. The window washer, while cleaning windows on our floor (11th story), put a U of L sticker on the office window of another supervisor, who was a huge IU fan. It made him pretty irate, and there was nothing he could do about it.

See, I'm not much into sports, but anything that causes trouble is loads.
How others see me:
How I see myself:

I finished "United 93" last night. It was a pretty straight-forward, powerful movie.

I shake and shiver when I watch films that have a lot of tension, and I tend to watch movies with a lot of tension. I was shaking quite a bit during "Serenity," too, I noticed.

Last night Brooke and her kids came over and I fixed stir fry and pizza. Tonight I will try to watch last night's episode of "Lost" on our VCR, and tomorrow I plan to watch the annual Halloween Parade on Baxter Avenue. I hope I remember the camera.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Yesterday I mailed three artist trading cards (ATC) to Giovanna Venturi in Firenze. This is part of a Halloween ATC swap organized at swap-bot.com. They are just about the only works of art (if I may be so bold as to call them that)I've created in a number of months that weren't made with Play-Doh on the kitchen floor with Erin, drawn on the edges of the bathtub with bathtub crayons, or doodled in the margins of notebooks during meetings at work. They came out OK. I shall post pictures of them in about seven days, after I feel it's likely they've arrived at their destination.

Last night I destroyed a hunter-killer drone that was probably launched from Eyeball III. It's possible it was just a jumping spider, but I can never be sure. It sucks being the heir to the throne of a planet over-run by Reptoids; those levitating jerkos are even more over-bearing than the haute-cuisine chefs of Kanamit. Fortunately for me, the batteries in their assassinbots tend to run down significantly after years of interstellar travel.

Also, Erin, Jill, and I went for a pleasant evening walk while Kim was at band practice. We strolled in the dark down the street and back. It was a very pretty night. The only slight disruption was our encounter with Diezel, a bulldog from down the street, who ran up and sniffily cirled an apprehensive Erin a couple of times, then ran back to his owner. The girls then went to bed at a reasonable time (Erin had actually been falling asleep at the dinner table, while eating. I took video of it. It's pretty funny.) Then I watched the end of "Serenity" on HBO, and the middle part of "United 93" on DVD. I'll try to finish that tonight. I stayed up too late, which I do almost every night.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Halloween Coin Collection

I have now started a Halloween coin collection. This is the first one. I think it's a lovely little thing. This is a Civil War token (CWT), also known as a store card. CWTs were issued during a shortage of small change during the Civil War. Merchants created them to use as change, and also to advertise.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Butterflies and spiders

These are some of my recent garden visitors. Not much of a garden, in all honesty. These little friends just come for the New England asters, which, as I keep repeating, I love. Each day this week that we've had sun in the late afternoon, the asters have been a hub of buggy hubbub. Yesterday, on one of my two patches of asters, I saw six monarchs (pictured at top) and two red admirals (bottom) all at the same time. There were also lots of bumblebees and honeybees, and a few little, fast-moving butterflies whose names I'm not sure about. On the other clump of asters were three or four more red admirals and another monarch.

And I had an embarrassing experience pertaining to those HUGE old barn spiders I wrote about several posts ago. I was picking the last of my tomatoes, and I moved around to the back of the cherry tomatoe plant to get those I couldn't reach from the front. As I stepped between the tomatoe bush and the sunflowers, I felt a thin strand pull and tighten across my wrists and stomach. A series of thoughts raced through my mind in a second, before I looked down: "That's a spider web. It feels like a big spider web. It's probably just a harmless stray stand, or maybe not a spider web at all. It sure feels big. What if it's one of those big orb webs spun by one of those big barn spiders that I just blogged about?"

I looked down.

It was a big old barn spider. It looked like a furry brown golf ball with eight wriggling legs, fighting to get a grip on my shirt. I said to it--and this is a direct quote--"GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARG!!!" Thankfully, I calmed myself enough to quicky reach down, grab the strand of web to which the spider was clinging, peel it off my shirt, and fling it into the tomatoes.

Then I looked around to see who was watching this grown man standing next to his cherry tomatoes, shrieking, and spastically jerking. I only saw Andrel, the neigbor's boy, about sixty feet away in his yard. If he had seen me, he was pretending he had not.

It brought to mind another event from when I was in Wyoming. Once I went for a short hike in the Laramie Range, and I climbed up to the top of a large rock formation. I sat there in the late afternoon sun, up on a rocky ledge, enjoying the fact that it was so very quiet and there was probably no one else within a mile of me. Suddenly I heard this buzz: menacing, low, and unnerving. A dark shape, seeming to be the size of my fist, came zig-zagging through the air up from the rocks below, flying right at my face! I said to it--and this is a direct quote--"GAAAAAAAAAAAAARG!!!" I almost threw myself over the edge in my terror. Then the little hummingbird stopped right in front of my face, realized that the blue flower it was flying towards was actually the hat on my head, and zig-zagged away again. Utterly terrifying, for a split second. I looked around to make sure I had not been observed; I had screamed loud enough that any hiker within a quarter mile was probably calling the rangers for help. Sheesh.

Cousin Nessie

Here's an nice article about an exciting find:
Giant Bones of a Monster!

And included is this interesting bit of science writing:

"Such pliosaurs are known from remains in countries including Britain and Argentina but no complete skeleton has been found, he said. The skull of the pliosaur -- perhaps a distant relative to Scotland's mythical Loch Ness monster-- was among the biggest on record."

Hmm. The writer is saying that the pliosaur, whose previous existence is not in doubt, may be the cousin of Nessie, whom the writer says is a myth. Oops! Perhaps he was speaking of them being conceptual cousins. The jawas of Tatooine are the cousins of both the family of little people who lived next door to George Lucas as a child, and the shaggy smog spirits that Lucas imagined as haunting the volcanic wilderness of his grandmother's native Iceland. Sez me.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Artist Trading Cards; Spider addition

I worked on several Artist Trading Cards last night. Coming along all right. My due date is the tenth, but I really need to get them done earlier because it's likely to be a busy weekend.

According to some bug guy on the Web (I don't recall the URL; go look for it. It's worth the hunt.), those big garden spiders and many other spiders are more evident this time of the year because they have matured and are at their most humongous. I suppose it's possible that those guys were just building smaller webs and weren't as noticable. Perhaps earlier in the year they are just in the corners under the eaves or in the lower branches of trees, but we finally take note of them in October because their webs become big enough to stretch from a tree branch to a driveway fifteen feet below. That was the case with the one Erin and I saw on our walk. The bug guy correspondent on the Web site I mentioned previously says that he watched one spider attempting to build a web from his apartment building to a lamp post across the street.

"If we pull this off, we'll eat like kings!"

Monday, October 02, 2006

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Last year's jack-o'-lanterns; this year's, too.

Another from last Halloween. I'm quite proud of my pumpkins.

I still have some of this year's backyard pumpkin crop. I have about ten very small ones that are just sitting around the house, and two big ones on the porch. Will the big ones make it to Halloween? Not a chance. But I can still carve them early, like the one I carved last week, and have jack-o'-lanterns on my porch all month long. The first one has rotten and I threw it into the compost pile. Friday night was its last night alight. I put a big candle in it (I think the across-the-street neighbor saw me lighting it and figured I was a lunatic, since it wasn't even October yet). Kim left at 7:00 the next morning, and said it was still lit!

Quesadillas, Acorns, Spiders

In honor of the first day of October, I am posting a photo from last Halloween. K. and E. on the front porch. I recall that it was a very pretty night.

Today was a very pretty day. Afternoon and evening were spent at my parents', where we had chicken quesadillas and fruit for dinner.

E. and I went for a walk. This was an attempt to get her to fall asleep. When we go for a walk, she usually ends up being carried. If she's tired, she conks out on my shoulder. We've done this since she was born when we wanted her to sleep but she was unable to for whatever reason.

It worked, but the first half-hour of our walk we had a grand time slowly walking hand-in-hand. We watched squirrels and collected acorns. E. had a pocket full. She would put an acorn in her pocket, then lean over and look at the ground. I could plainly see dozens of acorns lying around, but she would stare intently for a moment, then point at one and shout, "Nother...ONE!" Then she'd pick up the one she spotted.

We saw one of those big old spiders that build the huge orb webs. Those guys, or perhaps more likely gals, seem to be most noticed when they build their impressive webs on porches. I almost never see them any other time of the year. Late September through October, exclusively. Why is that? Where are they the rest of the year? Up in the trees? Do they migrate into the region on the backs of warblers after spending summers catching gulls on the shores of Hudson Bay?