Monday, June 30, 2014

Sick Poetry: Bolshevik

“Why allow my political opponents to speak against me,”
thought Stalin,
“When I could just have them killed?”
So he did.
No one could say they disagreed with the government
For more than a few days, anyway.
A rival leader, Trotsky, was shot.
He was also attacked
with an ice pick.
An ice pick in the ear.
Dude, Trotsky.

I know that feel, bro.

Friday, June 27, 2014


I love how every one of these tiny owls has its own adorable personality. Each one is different and cute in its own way. It almost makes me a little nervous about putting them all together in one project. Will they be able to be admired when they're all squished into a small space?
Maybe I'll never finish the intended blanket and just go on making tiny owls until the end of my days and pass them all on to my children or my children's children someday.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thursday in History: Ear

It started with Rebecca and Isabela.
Well, to be more specific, it started on Rebecca when she was stopped by Isabela.
Actually, it started when Isabela's captain accused Rebecca's captain of being a smuggler and cut off his ear, vowing to do the same to their king if the smuggling continued.
...Maybe I should go a bit further back.
Spain and Britain had never been best friends, but in 1713 they had settled their most recent war and shaken hands. Spain had promised Britain a lucrative trade deal, which allowed them exclusive rights to bring all the African slaves they could to Spain's colonies in America, along with a certain amount of trade goods per year. In exchange, Britain agreed not to overstep their bounds, and granted Spanish ships the right to make sure of it.
It was this limit on trade goods that sparked bitterness between the two countries again. What merchant isn't going to try to bring in more goods than he's technically allowed to, if he's making money? And what were Spanish captains supposed to do when they found evidence of the British merchants wantonly tossing the treaty aside?
There probably hadn't been anything in the agreement about the removal of body parts, but when the British Parliament were treated to Captain Jenkins' testimony and the sight of his severed ear, they were ready enough to go to war.
And so, in 1731 the War of Jenkins' Ear began.
The British had wrested control of Fort Mose, Florida’s refuge for free slaves, in 1739, since it was along a major thoroughfare and holding the fort secured their interests in the area. Previously, it had provided work for any slave lucky enough to reach it: the women worked in the fields, and the men all served a four year stint in the army.
On this day in history in 1740, Fort Mose was retaken by the Spanish, aided by Seminole troops and the freed slaves who claimed the fort as their home. The fort was destroyed, and the British who were in the area retreated all the way back to their ships. The residents of the fort moved to nearby St. Augustine and enjoyed all the benefits of full citizenship in the Spanish Empire, and many moved back when Fort Mose was rebuilt in 1752.
The War of Jenkins’ Ear was finally settled by the Treaty of Madrid in 1750, and since the War of Austrian Succession had kind of gotten in the way and overshadowed the first sparks of disagreement between Spain and Britain, nobody remembered the reason it had started. Relations improved after that, and though Spain stayed out of Britain’s Seven Years War with France, it didn’t stop them from quietly aiding rebellious British colonists in America.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Writing Prompt: Failure of the Problem Solver

Alex was the best problem solver in the office. Not only did he never ask for outside help with his own projects, but he was able to help others with theirs whenever he was needed. People often asked him what his secret was, but he would just smile, a look which informed us he would never tell. Various people tried to find out, but the only intelligence that several different cube-neighbors had been able to collect was that sometimes Alex muttered to himself in his cubicle.
So it was really a coincidence that I was able to solve the mystery.
I was nearing a deadline and stayed later than usual one night. As I was leaving, I walked past Alex’s desk, and thought I heard him speak. I stopped to listen, thinking he was talking to me.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I don’t know what else I can say, but she said she doesn’t want me to speak to her again, not even to apologize.”
I suddenly felt like I’d intruded in the middle of a conversation. I knew that if I walked away, he would hear me and know that I’d been eavesdropping. I craned my neck to see if he was on the phone, but it was in its usual place next to his computer.
“Alex,” I said softly, “what are you doing?”
He jumped as though he hadn’t known I was there, and I heard a strange squeaking noise.
“Are you all right?” I asked him.
“I was just…” he began guiltily, “I was just problem-solving. Or trying to.”
He spun around in his chair and opened his palm.
This is your amazing problem-solving tool?” I asked.
He nodded sheepishly.
It was a rubber duck. A squeaky, yellow, bath time duck. How could he possibly solve problems with this?
The question must have come through loud and clear on my face, because Alex explained: “When I’m stuck on something, I explain the problem to the duck. By simplifying the situation, I can solve the problem more easily. Simple problems are easy to solve.”
“And… what was this problem?” I asked.
He blushed. “I killed my roommate’s houseplant,” he reported. Then, continuing in a tone of martyrdom, he explained that the orchid had been a gift to her from her grandmother and therefore was irreplaceable. He had only watered it because she was always saying that he didn’t do enough to keep the apartment clean, though he always tried to keep his room neat and attempted not to make a mess in the bathroom and never forgot to take care of his dishes after making a meal. “What more can I do?” he finished, gazing at the duck hopelessly.
I shook my head. “It’s a tricky situation,” I replied. “One that might be hard to simplify, and even if you did, it still might not be simple enough to be easily solved.”  
Alex sighed. “I was afraid that might be my final conclusion, but I thought it couldn’t hurt to try.”
I checked my watch and noted that it was about time that I ought to have been getting home to my wife. I patted Alex on the shoulder. “I don’t have any advice to give,” I told him. “Women are complicated. And I doubt a rubber duck knows any more about them than you or I do.”

Writing Prompt #684

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Adventures in Ice Cream: Reading the Fine Print

If I allow my husband to go to the grocery store alone without a list of four things that he absolutely must come home with, one of the things he brings back is ice cream. But he’s not selfish about it; there’s always one for him and one for me.
Going out for ice cream (to Coldstone or Dairy Queen) means chocolate with cherries for him and vanilla with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for me. Bringing it home from the grocery store, for him, means cherry ice cream with chunks of chocolate in it (the closest he can find to his favorite), which he then immediately smothers in more chocolate syrup. But for me, it’s a little trickier.
In the past, Breyer’s has teamed up with Reese’s to make actual Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream. But they’ve never been able to get it exactly right (in my opinion, anyway). They’ve tried chocolate ice cream with ribbons of peanut butter sprinkled with chunks of peanut butter cups. They’ve tried peanut butter ice cream (I mean, I like peanut butter, but peanut butter ice cream? Yuck) with ribbons of fudge, sprinkled with chunks of peanut butter cups. The only one who gets it right is Denali’s Original Moose Tracks. Denali (which isn’t located anywhere near Alaska but is instead headquartered in a small town just south of Grand Rapids, Michigan) teams up with various ice cream brands to get their product out to the world, so depending on your location, it could be Kemp’s, Meadow Gold, Dean’s, or any other ice cream maker you can think of. (But luckily there’s a handy locator on their website.)
Denali’s Original Moose Tracks ice cream is vanilla (As God Intended) with ripples of Moose Tracks fudge, with little peanut butter cups sprinkled through it. Sure, they’re not brand name Reese’s, but they’re just as good. And no one is trying to make me eat peanut butter ice cream.
I’m not sure if Blue Bunny was ever one of those privileged brands that were honored to sell Denali Original Moose Tracks and then had a falling out, or if they just got jealous of Denali’s success and decided to copycat.
In what I can only imagine was a super sneaky meeting involving all the creative bigwigs, Blue Bunny decided to call their version "Bunny Tracks." And none would be the wiser. It is also vanilla ice cream with ripples of fudge, but you have to be careful when buying. The 1.75 quart paper carton contains the above in addition to little bunny-shaped peanut butter cups. The 1.75 quart plastic tub, however, will try to foist a caramel ripple off on you alongside the fudge, and some kind of cheap chocolate covered peanuts. Not a single peanut butter cup to be found.
Now, don't get me wrong, caramel and chocolate covered peanuts are all well and good in their own particular... idiom, but their place is certainly not in my ice cream. And I think it's a pretty shabby trick boxing two completely different ice cream flavors in exactly the same wrapping but in slightly different shaped containers. But I guess you can’t expect much from a company that is copying coincidentally making a very similar product to that of Denali’s Original Moose Tracks.
So if you ever want to try my favorite kind of delicious ice cream, make sure your husband grabs whatever brand is partnering with Denali in your area. Or give him strict instructions to read the fine print on the Blue Bunny box. Or just send him to the grocery store alone enough times that he knows what to come home with.
That’s what I do.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Picky Dresser

When it gets over 85 degrees around here (which it’s bound to do as early as May), all I want to wear are dresses. Light, sleeveless, who-cares-if-it-looks-good-I’m-boiling dresses. However, fashion seems to be a problem for me. I just want something comfortable. This is apparently too much to ask.
Or maybe I’m being too picky.
I want something with fabric that’s not too heavy. I want something without sleeves, but not something strapless. I want something that’s actually casual, instead of this pretend-casual that’s actually unnecessarily fancy that I’m seeing at every single store.
I’d make one myself, but I don’t sew. A crocheted dress would probably be heavier than I like, but I guess it’d at least be something. Better than a $30 dress that claims to be casual but is actually nice enough to wear to a wedding.
Maybe someday someone will invent a clothing machine capable of making exactly what the wearer wants. Until that day, I guess I’m off to look at dress patterns on Ravelry.

Friday, June 20, 2014


One of the things I do to amuse myself when working on tiny owls is to ponder what kind of yarn I'll use next. I haven't purchased any brand new yarn for this project, so I've been using bits and ends of old skeins. It's fun to try to match the different colors I've collected. I don't have to do it that way, but it makes it more challenging, which makes it more interesting to me. It also has the added bonus of making every single tiny owl unique.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thursday in History: Saunter

There are some days when my father says, “Let’s go for a walk.” We assemble the troops and form a column: my mother and my husband in the front, various children straggling along behind them, and my father and I bringing up the rear. This separation is never intentional, but it always happens. It’s not because my mother and husband don’t like walking with my father and I, but rather because my husband has long legs, and my mother, who always walks like she’s trying to get somewhere as fast as she can, is the only one who can keep up with him. My father and I, on the other hand, just like to saunter.
We like to enjoy the walk. We look at trees and houses, admiring the architecture and foliage. That’s not to say that my husband and mother aren’t enjoying their walk; they’re just enjoying it at a rather higher rate of speed. The kids enjoy running from one set of grandparent and parent to the other and back again.
On this day in history in 1979, W.T. Rabe, a man working at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Michigan, was getting fed up with the recent growing craze for jogging. He argued that it was much better to take a saunter on the hotel’s substantial porch. Sauntering, he argued, gave one enough time to stop and smell the roses, appreciating the various beauties of the world that one would miss if they insisted instead on dashing past them at high speeds.
And so World Sauntering Day was born.
In an interview with NPR in 2002, John Rabe, son of the man who brought this miraculous holiday into being, stated, “Those who are ‘in the know’ on Sauntering say that you’re just born with it.” It’s not hard to see who I get it from.
Hey, Dad, let’s go for a walk.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Writing Prompt: Visiting the Gods

My cousin and I have always been close. We played together as children, and lived together in the same house after we lost our parents. I cooked the meals and kept the place clean while he looked after the animals. I loved our life; I knew it was bound to change someday, but I thought it would be because one of us married or decided to seek our fortune in a faraway land. I never thought it would be because of the Island of the Gods.
About two years after coming of age, my cousin developed a sudden mania for mountain climbing. Luckily for me, there are plenty on our little island, and even more on the larger islands to the north. Our archipelagio is filled with cliffs to scale, peaks to summit, and stunning vistas to behold.
Alas, in several months my cousin and a few of his more mischevous friends had conquered all climbable ranges within walking distance, and so it was time to resort to the boats. I wasn’t worried when they sailed off for the north islands, not even when they were gone for two months. They were experienced enough, in my opinion, to climb all the mountains in the world and come home safe afterward. And as for fear of the water, there was nothing in that. I won’t say that our people can row before they can walk, but the two skills are developed around the same time, and we are just as proficient at one as we are at the other. No, I wasn’t afraid for them in the least. I just didn’t enjoy taking care of the sheep while they were gone.
When they returned, my cousin’s friends seemed to have worn out their fervor for scaling everything taller than the village barns. One of them proposed to his sweetheart, and it was at their wedding that my cousin informed me of his next plan: to “visit the gods.”
It was the first time his new hobby had caused me to fear for his life.
Local legend says that the gods live on the smallest of the islands, the only one not inhabited by people. It’s not hard to see why: the shores are nothing but sheer rock, rising to a peak that has never been seen by man. Clouds cover it morning and night, summer and winter. We can see the island from our village, and though we can observe that sometimes the cloud changes shape or grows smaller or larger, it never moves. What else could be beneath that cloud but the home of the gods?
“The best part is, you’ll be able to stand on the shore and watch me climb!” he declared, in great excitement.
“Watch you disappear forever, you mean?” I snorted. “You know well that any man who has gone into that mist has never come out again!”
He laughed. “What, are you frightened for me, Ebba?” he asked teasingly. “Come, I’ll get Sakaris to lend you his telescope, and you can watch me up the side of the mountain. And if I don’t come back in ten minutes, you can send all the men in the village after me!”
This response was not comforting, but I didn’t have time to argue, as my cousin leaped up and joined the dance.
Three days later, the weather was perfect. I and my cousin’s two friends watched him depart. Sakaris, as promised, had brought his telescope, but had to get back home to his new wife. However, Janus had no desire to set foot on the Island of the Gods, so he elected to stay with me. We walked along the shore together as my cousin rowed out of the bay. As we reached the end of the peninsula, I shouted, “You’d better come back, Teitur Andreassen!” The only reply we recieved was a smile and a wave, and we watched him make his way across the water.
It was very gentlemanly of Janus never to request a turn with Sakaris’ telescope. While my cousin was still on the water, I offered it to him, but he waved it away. “You need it more than I,” he replied. “And I can still see him with these eyes. Teitur is dear to me, but not as he is to you. You have all the feelings of family to feel. Those of cousin, sister, and best friend. I understand; he is all you have in the world.”
I thanked him quietly and turned my eyes back to the progress of my foolhardy cousin. In truth, though I was frightened for him, I had not thought about the situation as deeply as Janus. It was true: Teitur was the only family I had left. What would I do if something happened to him? My anxiety, which was already great, tripled.
Through the glass, I saw his landing. He tied his boat off and started to climb the cliffs. He knew that no one had lived to tell what was behind the cloud, but still he climbed.
Writing Prompt #327
Fifteen minutes later, Janus spoke again. “You know, he is quite good. I didn’t have much of a chance to admire his climbing when I was paying attention to my own, but he really is the best of the three of us.”
I supposed that this speech was meant to be comforting to me, so I thanked him again and kept watching. I didn’t mean to be comforted, but it was easy to see that my cousin was a good climber. I would never have guessed that he would scale the cliffs as quickly as he did. Surprise dulled some of my fear, and relief swooped in to take its place as I watched my cousin flop down at the top of the cliff for a rest.
“He’s made it!” Janus declared, patting my shoulder. He and I sat down in the grass to rest as well. It turns out that half an hour of agonizing dismay is quite as tiring as mountain climbing.
“I’m glad I wasn’t along for any of your other mountaineering trips,” I confided. “How can you stand the stress and excitement of it?”
“I suppose it’s part of the fun,” Janus replied with a smile. “But don’t worry, Ebba. I’m sure Teitur will settle down soon enough. He can’t keep climbing forever, you know.”
Ten minutes later my cousin was up again. He waved at us before starting again, and we waved back. As he began ascending swiftly up the side of the island, I silently thanked Sakaris for his telescope and felt grateful to Janus for staying by my side. I knew that I wouldn’t have been able to get through this adventure without them.
It wasn’t long before Teitur reached the edge of the cloud. He seemed to hesitate for a moment, and then plunged in. It was the worst moment of my life. Without knowing it, I cast the telescope down at my feet and buried my face in Janus’ shoulder.
“He’ll never return, I’ve seen him for the last time!” I sobbed.
A short while later I became aware that Janus was stroking my hair and murmuring words of encouragement. Drying my tears, I thanked him for his help and retrieved the telescope. If my cousin was going to return, I was going to see him do it.
After what I was sure was an eternity, I lowered the telescope for a moment to glance at Janus. He was looking at his watch.
“Twenty minutes,” he reported. “It could be that he has not yet reached the top.”
I chose not to reply and instead remembered my cousin’s laughing face at the wedding feast, when he promised that I could send the entire village after him if he were gone for half that time. “Do you really think so?” I finally managed to say.
“It’s possible,” were Janus’ words, while his tone plainly said, “I doubt it.”
For the next several minutes I allowed my imagination to run wild. With my mind’s eye, I watched myself walking home with Janus that evening and returning to the tip of the peninsula the next morning, as day after day, I waited for the moment that Teitur would emerge from the cloud.
“Thirty minutes,” Janus said, interrupting my visions of the future. I reapplied myself to a closer watch of the Island of the Gods.
I cried out at the same moment that Janus gasped as we saw my cousin’s form emerge from the mist. There was a second when I thought I saw someone with him, but when Janus grabbed my arm, I glanced aside at him to see the look of joy on his face and give him a smile of my own. When I looked back with the telescope, I saw Teitur slowly begin his descent to the cliffs.
As he reached them, I stopped to embrace Janus and thank him for staying beside me, admitting that I would have gone crazy without him.
“It was my pleasure,” he assured me, “I would not have missed your adventure for the world.”
We returned to watching my cousin climb slowly down the cliffs. I knew he still was not quite safe, but my logic informed me that he had climbed up, so there was no way he could fail to climb down. Teitur reached his boat, cast off, and began to make his way leisurely back toward us.
He drew near to our spot on the peninsula, and I called out to him. His head snapped up as though he had heard my voice for the first time, his eyes were wide and staring, with something in them that I did not recognize.
“Janus,” I whispered. “What did he see on that island?”
“I don’t know,” he murmured back. He then took my arm and we walked along the shore as my cousin rowed across the bay, just as he had done an hour and a half ago. Had it only been an hour and a half? I felt as though I had lived a lifetime while I waited, and Teitur looked as if he had.
Janus ran ahead to help secure the boat as it slid up next to the docks, and Teitur climbed slowly out of it. I waited for them on the shore.
“Teitur,” I said as my cousin reached me. He took my hands in his.
“Ebba,” he said, squeezing my fingers, as he used to do when we were children.
I meant to say something else: tell him I was glad he was back, ask that he never do anything like that again, or find out if he was all right, but the words I was going to say got lost somewhere on the way to my mouth and I kept silent.
We walked back to our home together, hand in hand. At the door, I waved goodbye to Janus and went inside.
The next morning, there was no cloud over the Island of the Gods.

Teitur has not been the same man since his “visit to the gods.” He still cares for our animals and takes part in the social happenings in the village, but he has not been on a climbing trip since.
Many people have asked him what he saw when he climbed to the top of that island. Some have jokingly asked if he met the gods. My cousin always smiles quietly when questioned, and his refusal to answer and distracted manner have led quite a few people to regard him as a standing joke: Teitur, the man who strove to visit the gods, and was rewarded for his curiosity with the gift of stupidity. “The gods don’t like unannounced house guests!”
My cousin doesn’t mind the teasing. He doesn’t resent when others ask him questions. Even still, I have never said a word about the whole adventure. The only mention I ever made of it was when Janus and I asked Teitur for his permission to marry; he asked when we fell in love, and we both knew it had been that wonderful, stressful, dangerous day.
On very fine days, a cloud settles once again over the top of the Island of the Gods. Inevitably, on those days, my cousin rows slowly across the bay and scales the cliffs as he did when he was a young man, though he never ventures beyond. Instead he sits at the top of the cliffs and gazes at the village.
And I could swear that there are times when I have seen someone sitting with him.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Review: Widdershins

I love history. I love adventure stories. I love just about any tale in which magic is an everyday, normal thing, accepted by society. I love wacky time travel narratives. And I love webcomics. So when all of these things are rolled up into the same gorgeous package, I can’t resist.
Widdershins is a comic by Kate Ashwin that has been updating since October 24th, 2011 every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Excellently drawn and in full color (except for a few Q&A sketches between chapters), it takes place in alternate reality England, in the fictional Victorian city of Widdershins. From what I can gather, it seems to be located somewhere between London and Manchester (which doesn’t narrow it down much, that’s like saying that it’s somewhere between Los Angeles and Sacramento).
But the interesting thing about Widdershins is that it is the location of an anchor of magic. This means that those who have the talent for magic can perform it more easily there. The academy in Widdershins teaches potential wizards how to draw circles and speak the correct words in order to summon spirits.
One of the wonderful things about the comic is that there isn’t just one main character. One chapter features a wizard and a bounty hunter, and the next, a couple of buskers with unusual abilities. And another stars the most promising cake baker from the year 2013. These characters are not featured in the same chapter, but they do brush up against one another.
The only thing that makes me sad about this comic is that there are only four complete chapters. Of course, I’d be sad if there were fourteen. I could read this comic for years and never have enough. It’s wonderful.
It’s a gorgeous, well written, exciting webcomic, that has everything I love about webcomics. I highly recommend it! And now I’m going to go and reread it. Again.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Birds Know Whether

The neighborhood birds seem rather subdued. It is a lovely morning, but what they don’t know is that the National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for all of eastern Nebraska until 2 pm. They’re hopping around, zooming from yard to yard, and squawking occasionally.
The possibility of large hail got me wondering how the birds would shelter themselves from it. Maybe they’re not worried because of the several large evergreen trees in the area. They are less shake-able and provide more shelter than other trees, and would be a good place to hide from sky projectiles.
Not to mention that the birds that hang out in my neighborhood are the type that can lock their feet around a perch to prevent being blown away. So maybe they’re not worried because they know they’ll be safe around here. Or maybe we’re not going to have a huge storm.
Perhaps the National Weather Service doesn't know what it’s talking about. Maybe weather prediction is for the birds.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Tiny Break

Sometimes it's nice to take an entire week off from crafting. You can spend time cleaning your house, running all over the place, or just veg out in front of the computer playing flash games. Taking a some time away from your projects recharges you for the next onslaught of crafting. It's always nice to have a tiny break.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thursday in History: St. Anthony's Eve

Saint Anthony of Padua is the patron saint of lost items. In Portugal, Spain, and Brazil, there are legends of his aiding those with broken hearts in finding their lost love again. And since the Brazilian Carnival is celebrated in February, they have no time during those festivities to celebrate Valentine’s day. Instead, they celebrate Dia dos Namorados on June 12th, the eve of the feast of Saint Anthony.
Today the World Cup begins in São Paulo. And it’s no secret that Brazil loves football.
Feliz Dia dos Namorados, everyone, and enjoy the game!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Writing Prompt: Pixar Storytelling and Pretzels

Writing Prompt #538
Once upon a time there was a group of young fellows. Every day they took turns purchasing a large bag of Cheetos from a nearby convenience store to share among themselves. One day, their long-patronized convenience store was out of Cheetos. Because of that, they ventured across the street to a different convenience store in quest of Cheetos. Because of that, they encountered a goddess in a red vest. The guy who normally sold them their daily Cheetos had a handlebar mustache and a beer belly. They were not prepared to speak with such loveliness; a girl like her should be on the cover of magazines, not behind the counter at a gas station!
A conference was held in the snack aisle. What should they say to her? Who should speak? Would she think they were weird for sharing a bag of Cheetos together every day? Would she kick them out? These and many more puzzling questions kept them deep in conversation for some time, until finally, they heard a voice: “Hey, if you guys aren’t gonna buy anything I’m going to have to ask you to leave. None of my other customers can get to the pretzels.”

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Ode to the Keyboard

Ahh, a keyboard. You can keep your tablets and your touch screen smartphones. Voice to text doesn’t cut it for me, and even setting pencil to page isn’t as fast as my fingers on the keys. For me, it’s the closest thing from brain to screen.
I can live without a mouse, without a great speaker system, and even without a pristine, unspoiled monitor. I don’t care how many broken pixels there are: just give me a keyboard!
It’s so much easier to be inspired when I know I don’t have to wait long for my ideas to take shape in words. When the words can flow out my fingers, writing no longer seems like a chore, and I can let myself be creative at whatever pace that creativity takes.
Dear Keyboard, I love you. Don’t ever change.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Excuses, Excuses

I've got a lot of excuses today. "I should clean my house; it's a mess." "I'm really tired after working all weekend, I should probably grab a nap." "My computer is being a jerk and won't let me use the internet, so how can I sit down and write something?"

I'm pretty great at coming up with excuses. But I'm the only one in charge of me, and if I have enough creativity to avoid doing what I know I should be doing, then that proves that I have enough creativity to just do it.

I'm always tired on Monday. My house is usually a mess (but I'm working on it!). And my computer has been deteriorating for months. I'm an adult. And I should be mature enough to do the things that need to be done before doing the things that I want to do. Plus, I have the blogger app on my phone, which defeats the "stupid computer!" excuse.

Now I'll go do the dishes. And then maybe take a nap.

Friday, June 6, 2014


The tiny owl project is not one that can be worked on 24/7 without going crazy. If all I did was sit around and crochet tiny owls, I'd go nuts. So instead, I work on it a little bit at a time (or, "owlccasionally," if you will).
One day I'll make twenty owly eyes. On another, I'll attach a zillion buttons, amusing myself by choosing crazy thread colors (like orange!). Yesterday, I spent the whole morning making brand new tiny owls and singing the tiny owl theme song (which is, of course, the Spiderman Theme with my own custom lyrics: "tiny owl, tiny owl, little, adorable tiny owl!").
Too much tiny owl would be too much of a good thing, so it's good that I spread out the love and work on it only owlccasionally.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Thursday in History: Pickles

Off the coast of Cuba on this day in history in 1829, the HMS Pickle achieved its abolitionist objective when it captured the Voladora, a heavily defended slave ship.
But this was not the first of His Majesty’s Ships to be called the Pickle (nor the last!). The first famous HMS Pickle carried its captain home from the Battle of Trafalgar to report the death of one of the most celebrated men in English naval history: Lord Nelson.
When something (a ship or a person) becomes famous, its name becomes famous, too. And the English figure: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. (For example, my middle name is the same as a very famous queen of England.) In all, there were eight HMS Pickles.
A 2005 replica of the first HMS Pickle
photo by wikipedia user Ballista
But they didn’t all start out that way. In fact, the first Pickle was called the Sting (how much cooler would that have been?!). The second Pickle was a captured French ship originally named Eclair. The third Pickle, perhaps the first true Pickle, was the one that so heroically freed slaves in the Caribbean. The fourth Pickle had been a slave ship itself before it was taken and given its new name. The fifth through seventh Pickles passed their lives quietly and without any name-changing or capturing. The eighth and final Pickle was renamed in 1959 when it was given to the navy of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) when they declared their independence from the British Empire.
So why isn’t there an HMS Pickle around today? Ships in action these days are all named fancy things like the HMS Victory and the HMS Enterprise and the HMS Illustrious. There’s no room there for anything cute like the Pickle (oh, except for that patrol boat named after one of Santa’s reindeer). Perhaps the time of the Pickle has ended. But I, for one, hope that someday its time will come again.