Sunday, November 30

Arcane Knowledge Department: Those Nifty Stamp Books!

Did you know that some postage stamp sets are meant to be made into little booklets? I learned this once from a friendly postmistress. Here is a tutorial:

Wednesday, November 26

Tater on the High Range

Tater often walks up and down the keys, quite deliberately, I'm sure. It's hard to catch him with the camera, but in this clip, he finally did a descending scale, with a nice resolution -- and then one more note.Posted by Picasa
He is accompanied this evening by the radio.
Of course, I can't prove to you that he is doing this deliberately. But why else would he walk down the 88 keys, thunderously, then up again, during certain wakeful periods. Of course, you say, he wants to go out! Just open the door!
But because he's a cat he can be perverse and apparently "indecisive." I doubt that a cat is indecisive at all. He's just weighing the odds that, given the cheddar cheese aroma lingering on your fingers from your snack, you will lead him to the kitchen for his own portion. rather than not.
Tater seems to walk deliberately down and up the keyboard. Sweet Pea, on the other hand, steps nimbly and soundlessly along the narrow edge of wood.

Monday, November 17

Yellow Cat Democrat

For I will consider my cat Tater...

My old yellow cat Tater loves to sit on my lap and read the newspaper, but he also enjoys reading the bits and bytes of news at  This evening we discovered that the "A-V Booth" at Truthdig gives us non-cable-TV households access to some very excellent content, such as this "60 Minutes" program interview with Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.  Tater and I, though we don't go about shouting our our excitements, are thrilled about the election and are very happy that Senator Obama will be the 44th President of the United States. I can't speak for Tater's early enthusiasm, because he missed the momentous speech the senator gave at the Democratic convention four years ago, but I was lucky to be in Rhode Island that week, in a household with cable access, and when Obama made his amazing appearance on the national scene, I thought to myself, this man could be president some day.  I truly didn't think it could happen so soon, but now that it has I am deeply thrilled and joyous and optimistic about the future of this country.  The First-Lady-To-Be is an equally impressive a person, and the idea of those wonderful children in the White House is delightful.  I know there are no instant miracles, and his road will be difficult and potentially dangerous for him, but I hope that the majority of citizens are responding with hope and confidence to the fresh air that is invigorating our country.  And I truly believe that this is not a triumph of "liberals" over "conservatives," because it was clear to me from his first appearance that he is deeply conservative in the values that matter and wise and intelligent enough to govern well and to create an energetic consensus. Please visit the link to see this "60 Minutes" program.

Sunday, November 16

November in the Mountains

It's not mild Portland, Oregon, nor is it the colder southern New England, and there are thousands of microclimates here in the southern Appalachians, depending on elevation and aspect.  In my little yard in town I have differing zones..  Here's some of what's going on in the sunnier areas these days. In this region we plant fall pansies. They are colorful in the fall and hunker down for the winter then come into their own in the spring.

This One's for Members of the Club

Huzzah! Hurray! Long live Honda!
I got in my car this afternoon and noticed this (the picture is after I got home, so subtract a few).  It's hard to read, but Club Members will Get It.
When the wonderful Impala reached 100,000, we were on the way to folk dancing on the Kingsport to Johnson City highway and stopped, as I remember, to celebrate the event.  That was a good old car for its day, but it didn't make it to 200K. My friend Barbara in Massachusetts says she had a Honda that went 300K.  That would be just fine with me.

The mark in the lower left is the ubiquitous pine sap, though how it got INSIDE I don't know.

Sunday, November 9

Reading Catchup

Blame the absence on work, or laziness, or the fact that the cats always try to sit on the keyboard.  It's hard to type when you have to balance the laptop on the edge of your knee.  It's much easier to just READ.  And once in a while I read to the cats. (They love it.) So here are a few booknotes, first on children's books I've read recently.  Now that it's a new school year it's time to read this year's Battle of the Books choices. The most recent is Christopher Paul Curtis's Elijah of Buxton. Curtis has been winning awards for his fine historical fiction, and it's not clear why this one was only a Newbery Honor Book, not THE winner.  It's also a Coretta Scott King winner. 

Elijah is the first freeborn child in the Canadian settlement of Buxton, a real place started by a white Presbyterian minister for free blacks, just over the border from Michigan.  The time is the 1850s, and each family in the settlement has a house and a plot of land. There's an excellent school for the children, who learn Latin and Greek and everything an educated white child would be learning at the time.  When a newly freed or rescued ex-slave arrives in the community, the Liberty Bell (cast in Philadelphia) is tolled ten times in welcome.  Many residents bear marks of slavery, but 11-year old Elijah doesn't really know much about what slavery really was like.  The first half of the novel consists of episodes of everyday life.  Told in the first person in a dialect that's easy to get used to and believe in, the tales of school l and daily life and very funny escapades of Elijah and his friend Cooter constitute a typical children's story, and for a while it seems as though there will be no plot.  But in the second half, the book darkens and becomes a breathtaking coming-of-age story as Elijah travels over the border into to Michigan to right a wrong.  Slave catchers and ruthless people are everywhere, and Elijah becomes involved in a dangerous situation.  Since this is a children's book, the outcome is eventually joyous, but not before Elijah witnesses misery and death first-hand and learns some of the reality of slavery.  His final act before returning home is stunning, and I finished the book in tears.