The Fridge Finally

Died. The Fridge Finally died died. Or something important gave up the ghost. Every morning, for at least a week, I find a dead fridge. At least twice a day we have had to move the fridge away from the wall and press the little red button that resuscitates the appliance. It seemed to keep the fridge going for the rest of the day. Maybe if we had turned off the ice maker or something like that. But we didn’t. And now when we plug it in and hit the red jig-a-ma-thing, I can see sparks in the second outlet. Not good. Sparks. Inside wall. I think they are sparks. Bright white yellowish momentary flash would fit my definition of a flash.

The thing is only fourteen-years-old. A person at Oldfield’s, a place we used to get our appliances, told Sylvia that fridges these days only last that long. A salesperson. We drug up the little fridge/freezer thing that I had in my classroom and are going to make due with that.

Do fresh eggs have to be refrigerated?

Well, I don’t have much more time before I’m off to singing rehearsal. The Soromundi Lesbian Choir of Eugene is doing a concert with kids of the alphabet-club. Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, Queer or questioning, Bi, and supportive young people can come and join us sing a song or two at a concert. Tonight’s the first night the kids can come. I’ll have to get more details like age-range and rehearsal dates and write another blog.

Watership Down

Watership-Down-novel-cover-150x241I don’t remember how old I was when I read Richard Adam’s 1972 blockbuster, Watership Down, but  I remember loving it. Perhaps it gave me a chance to read about the lives of rabbits that wasn’t a children’s book. Far from it.

But now as I re-read the book, I’m wondering how much I read and how much I skipped. Dense description and words not in my vocabulary has slowed my reading down to a crawl, but there’s a deliciousness in word choice; I get a sense of craftsmanship.

We’re introduced to a pair of rabbits. The first described as having a “shrewd, buoyant air about him as he sat up.” If it hadn’t been for the the previous sentence telling me that “he looked as though he knew how to take care of himself,” I wouldn’t have been able to pinpoint how shrewd and buoyancy go together.

Getting a sense of the first nameless rabbit was helped out by having the second rabbit be the exact opposite in character, afraid of his own shadow. Still no names. The first rabbit was a yearling. The second one, aside from being skittish, was small in stature.

It was a conversation between a black-tipped rabbit and a rabbit named Buckthorn where the jumpy rabbit is referred to as Fiver. Is there a reason why Adams keeps his cards of names so close and secretive?

And then there are the asterisks. I suspect in my younger day I skipped them completely, especially when an entirely new language is introduced as well as odd rabbit facts. Is it true that rabbits can only count to four?

Like a good student, I jumped on the internet. No wonder it takes me so long to read when I really get analytical. My questions as to whether can rabbits count to five pulled up a page that accuses authors of slipping up. If rabbits can only count to four, how could his name be Fiver?

The responses brought on all sorts of questions.

This is not an error. Richard Adams goes on to say that there may have been many more than five rabbits in that litter (I think he mentions the possibility of up to 13 rabbits), and that the rabbit word which he translates as “Fiver” literally translates as “one of many”. There is thus no inconsistency between this use of “Fiver” and the idea that rabbits can only count up to four, unless one insists on interpreting “Fiver” too literally. (

I notice that when I know that the author is English, I expect nuances to divide England’s English and American English. I still to this day can’t remember which grey or gray is “correct.” A student asked me the other day how to spell the color grey, and I had to say that it depends. Did I get it right? So, I’m already doing a little bit of translating as I read, but then there are translations into an entirely different language that I doubt highly that it’s made up. Resorting to the slip-ups again, a responder to the question about Adams mistakingly naming Fourer Fiver.

Fiver’s name is actually Hrairoo (“little thousand”) because he was after four, and anything bigger is “a lot/a thousand”. One of the rabbits knew that 5 was not neccessarially after 4, but it was just plain bigger than 4, hence Fiver, even though there were probably more than 5 rabbits in the litter when he was born.

It helps that the book, the text side of the book, starts on page 17, and even then the test is three-quarters down the page. Impressive to already be on 17 when you have only just turned it right side up thirty-seconds ago. I vaguely recall a table of index. I suppose a good student would take a gander at these pages to create those scaffolding structures in your brain in order to make new facts stick to someone. Without some similar information, my brain is like teflon. A fried egg stands no chance of sticking; it’s just going to slide to the floor.

Watership Down had some impressive maps before the story begins, though a bit blurry. Maybe the rabbits who created the maps had been eating more  carrots than I, but the first time I think I read Watership Down, maps of all nature bored me. I still struggle in identifying North, South, East, and West.  Not really. I have made the West-East flight more times than I can shake a stick, and I’ve been to Washington and California to take care of the other pair. This time around, I probably would pause at the maps, but my old eyes can’t make head nor tail of the print and life would be so much easier if I had a magnify glass. I’d rather live in denial. I also don’t know where it is or even if I have one.

If I had read Watership Down before, I would have thought I would remember that every chapter starts off with some quote that only leaves me scratching my head. The first passage is from Aeschylus in Agamembob. I mean Agamemnon. I go from feeling what in the blazes does this passage have anything to do with rabbits to, I better read this to see what the connection is. I do have a degree in English; I ought to know these things. The sad part is that I’m almost pretty sure that I have read Agamemnon. I’m starting to question my entire reading history, at least the ones I read prior to my subscription to Good Reads. I may not remember what a book is about, but I have definitive proof that I read the book. Maybe speed-reading a book in a couple of days or even a couple of weeks isn’t the best strategy, but it’s not like I am given the opportunity to jump onto a discourse of literature very often. It’s not like a discussion of the sociology and political thoughts within a warren. No, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you that rabbits live in warrens.

FiverWell, I’m just about to the end of my attention span. I have, afterall, read 19 pages in Watership Down.


Nothing Better

Than a good game of hide-and-go-seek with my dogs.

There was a day, not too long ago, when I came home in an exceptional good mood. The first-graders I worked with had inspired the little kid in me. Even though it was rather soggy out, I planned on taking my three Amigos on a walk, but first I had to change into my wet weather gear.
I was in the loft when I realized that I didn’t have any of my velcro dogs around. Velco or dryer anti-static dryer sheets. How can a cloth make clothes not stick together yet not be  keep the cloth from sticking to clothes? Come to think of it, I’ve not used one of those in so long, I don’t know if this story will hold water, but if my recollection is correct, do they make a cling-free cloth for the cling-free cloth?  Maybe I just missed the New and Improved product.
Typically, my dogs shadow me as if they had received a directive to guard me. Sometimes they rotate shifts; they must have a way of communicating the rotations. I believe that I have made it to the ripe old age of almost 56 because of my canine companions. I’m a wild one, after all; I get out of line easily, and my dogs keep me in line or at least put me back in check.
Anyway, back to the story. I was upstairs in the loft of my house and heard some dog nails click clacking on the floor below me. I whistled to them but ducked into my closet, hiding behind my bowling shirts.
More than four paws bounded up the carpeted stairs. Lucy no longer bounds, though she probably didn’t even hear me whistle. If she did hear me, she has gotten really good about taking care of her joints by ignoring me.  I listened to the dogs running up the stairs, into the loft bathroom and then back out. They thoroughly inspected the rest of the loft, though didn’t enter my closet. Too bad I can’t fit under the bed; that would be a great place to hide.
20151112_Abby & RickyPausing just long enough for them to get down stairs, I whistled again.  Since they already checked upstairs, they went down the second flight of stairs into the basement
I don’t know if they  searched high and low, all of the rooms in the basement. I wasn’t in the best of ergonomic positions and I was starting to feel bored. I wasn’t sure whether they were having fun or getting frustrated by my teasing.
To confirm that I was indeed in the house and that they weren’t just hearing things, I switched from a whistle to their names. “Abby. Ricky,” I sang out.
Change of strategy. I was deep into the closet so I couldn’t tell which dog got sent upstairs, but I think it was Ricky, and he almost made the discovery as he entered my closet, but stopped just a few steps from where I stood frozen, holding my breath.
 I suspected it was Ricky rather than Abby since the Rickster is delicate on his feet and prances. Abby’s steps are more like thunder. He was so close. I could see his shadow as he stepped part way into the closet. I focused on not laughing. Good thing I wasn’t a opossum as I would have suffocated. And then he retreated back down the stairs to report to Abby.
Where is she? Where is she? Does this mean we won’t get any more food?
I was having a good time, and to ensure that they would want to play this game again, I had to make it even easier; they needed to feel a sense of accomplishment  rather the defeat of frustration. By this point, Ricky had probably already forgotten what or who he was looking for. And they were getting tired. I could hear them panting. What a great way to exercise dogs. It was also a great way for me to practice being quiet and still, kind of like meditating. Slow, quiet breathing.
Whistling and calling their names, I continued as I heard them at the landing on the way up to the loft. No doubt raced through Abby’s mind as she barreled up the steps two to three at a time to only launch herself in my direction when she found me, knocking me down in a little heap. She was licking me so fast and furious that I had to work hard to get breaths in.
Abby’s a smart cookie, but if I don’t work with her frequently, she forgets. I need to do this exercise more often to sharpen their “find Susan skills.” If I get lost in my woods, I’m going to depend on them to find me. Some concepts need to be reviewed periodically to stay in the groove. Use it Lose it kind of thing.

Life’s Not

Fair. Life’s not fair. That’s not the message that’s put across to Kindergarteners. Share. Be Nice. Help each other.

Maybe if more business practices did this, some things in life would be fair.

This week I had to take on the SkinYouth company. I was one of those pour souls who thought that a free trial product was just that, but I didn’t read the microscopic fine print.

When I got the first shipment of SkinYouth Enhanced and Skin Youth Eye, there wasn’t any receipt of how much the product cost or how I would now be getting the product on a regular basis. Nothing.

Upon the second shipment, I’m on the internet immediately. Cancel please. No problem. When I get the third box, a package I had to go to the post office to get, which should have tipped me off, I called (800) 734-5933. The robo voice said, “According to our records, you have cancelled the services and should not be receiving any further packages. Really? I stay on the line and wait.

I ask the guy why I am still getting packages. He said that the automated system is not equipped to cancel more than one product at a time. This was never stated. And since there’s no packing information on cost, can you please tell me how much this half an ounce of cream just cost me? When he said $91, it felt as though I had been kicked below the belt. Sucker punched. My What that erupted sent the dogs flying out of the room. Mom’s going to blow. And blow I did.

I was still polite when I asked for my money back. If the Facebook add that I mindlessly clicked asking for the sample said something about cost or contract, I certainly didn’t see it. And as I said, there were no invoices. And since I have gone paperless with my bank, I have gotten out of the habit of looking at my charges.

The best he said he could give me  was fifteen percent. That’s not good enough. I was starting to bark, and I added that perhaps my three thousand plus Facebook friends and I could do some campaigning since I know that at least two of my friends have gotten the shaft from this shifty company. Okay, he could give me twenty-five percent back. No. No. No. May I speak to your supervisor. Turns out Frank or Gary or Whatever was the supervisor. Then you have it in your power the ability to give me all of my money back. Back and forth we went. The dogs were in other rooms trembling at this point.

I finally got my $91 back from Skinyouthenhanced, but it took a lot. If you feel like doing some politicking, go to and tell them they ought to stop feeding off of older people who are looking for a youth elixir. According to the internet, the product doesn’t work. I wouldn’t know as I haven’t used any of it. I wouldn’t be surprised if this same company uses animals for testing.

Company number two that has my goat. A friend told me about an organization called DogVacay that could help set me up with my own doggy day care business. I was asked to submit photos of my dogs and my house. I was so excited to think that I could begin this dream a lot sooner than I anticipated.

But I received a letter saying that the their team determined that I didn’t fit their needs. They made sure I knew that by law they didn’t need to give me a reason for discriminating against me. There’s nothing unfair about that, so I wrote back and asked if I could have some feedback. What can I do to improve? Maybe they didn’t realize that my house is extremely spacious and that I have four acres of fenced-in property.

I will say their responses were prompt. The second email, this one from Anthony R:

“Unfortunately, once a profile has been not accepted by our Host Happiness team, they do not allow for reapplication.

With that said, I am not privy to the reason(s) as to why a profile may be rejected, and as we are not obligated to disclose the reason for our decision to decline an application, I can only communicate that at this time our Host Happiness team has determined that your application is not a fit for our community.

I certainly wish I could provide more information, but am unable to do so.”

Instead of making me mad, I’m feeling rather sad. This seemed like a perfect fit. I only wanted to bring in three or four dogs and thought my house and land would be perfect.

I don’t like being told no. I really don’t like being told no without any qualifying reason. As I tell my older kids, Life isn’t Fair. You might as well get used to it. But it doesn’t mean I have to like it.

I think our world would be so much better if we had companies that were willing to put profit aside and work with customers instead of against them.

For those

For those people who know me, I am very afraid of my political shadow. I vote and believe that I have no right to complain the way my country is run if I don’t participate in the Democratic Principal. But politics doesn’t tend interest me. I can’t argue or debate in which candidate is the better. I don’t hold onto statistics or facts. Politics is so personal that it brings out the worst in people. Debates and Discussions soon turn into loud verbal brawls. That’s what scares me.

I can’t tell you why I think that Donald Trump is hurting the United States’ reputation other countries old over us as a greedy nation. It does help that 99.9% of my friends, and hopefully family, detest the man. The only good good that has come from the Trump campaign is that he has woken up lots of people. People are becoming involved. This also scares me and reminds me how desperate Germany was when they let that maniac take over, though citizens didn’t have a choice. What scares me is that we have so much choice. I don’t really want to move to Canada.

As I continue to watch the Democratic debate right before the New Hampshire Primaries, I’m floored at the fact that I am still watching. This is not me. Not even close. Have I been taken by aliens and have been replaced with a clone?

This is the first election that the primaries have caught my attention. Slap in the face. Cold water attention-getting result. Considering politics bore the crap out of me, Primaries don’t hold a chance. Getting my teeth cleaned would be more interesting, especially with all of the idiots on the Republican side. But

The Democratic side has always only had one candidate that is reasonable. I hate to admit it, but sometimes I would pick a candidate that would at least do no harm.

I would love to finally have a woman as president. I’m still holding a grudge that we didn’t get the vote until 1920. (I hope I have the right year.) I can become easily irate when I think of what Suffragettes had to go through to give women a voice. I’m not even sure if they even teach this part of history in public schools. But I’m also realistic that Gender is not a good reason to vote for someone.

I like Hilary Clinton. I think she should ask Michelle Obama to be her vice president or Elizabeth Warren. But I also like Bernie Sanders. I like Clinton’s passion and orating skills. (Is orating the right word?) I like Bernie Sanders story of his dad coming from Poland and combatting discrimination and succeeded anyway. I wonder if being a Senator has enough experience?

I’m realizing that there’s a lot more for me to learn. I don’t like the companies that fill Hilary’s pockets. I think the email issue is a farce that’s never had any burning embers. Smoke screen?

As I wrote earlier, I sometimes vote for the lesser of two evils. My main concern is who is going to beat the Republican candidate. I was amazed that this country voted an actor in. I was extremely baffled each time a Bush took the throne. Really? Are we that desperate?

It’s a good thing that Oregon is a while down the road as I have some studying to do.

The Need to Read

I’ve tried to read A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel a few times, but the foreign or unfamiliar names and places merely remind me of how much I don’t know and that I will always not know more than what I know. It doesn’t help that the list of things that I thought I knew shrinks as the years progress rather than grow. Kind of like my height and the opposite of my weight. Maybe I just can’t bear the load of all of this knowledge. Even the guy holding up the Atlas was a bit hunched over.

Not learning is death. It will be the end of the investigation, the journey. Nothing new will be added except for some hair on my head and finger nails.

I sometimes dream an existential dream in that there isn’t anything after death. We die. Our ashes are scattered or we’re put in the ground, and that’s it. It’s not quiet in the box all my myself. It’s probably even louder as there are no other sounds to distract myself from myself. I can still hear the voices in my head. I’ll be dependent upon my brain to keep me entertained for eternity or until I get a Get Out of Jail Free Card, aka a new life.” I could never hold entirely onto a Existential Thread for very long.

Earlier today I  was reading a report written when I  was four-years-old by Mrs. Parker, my elementary Nursery School Teacher. I don’t know it for a fact that I knew how to read at that time, but with the amazing literary stimulus around me, I highly doubt I didn’t. Books and the secret codes has had my attention for fifty-one, almost fifty-two years. This was especially so when I saw Curious George in cursive for the first time; those letters had to be from a foreign language.

Alberto Manguel believes that Reading comes before Writing. Kind of like the chicken and the egg controversy. Except when I take away words written on a page, the reading of an expression on someone’s face or in the weather reminds me how many way there are to read things. But who was the first one to sniff the air and say a storm was moving in?

After today’s acupuncture treatment, I pulled out two of the hundred of books I am simultaneously reading, A History of Reading and Watership Down by Richard Adams, and started the books from the beginning. Lately I have been chewing up books left and right, but they don’t sit right when not digested thoroughly. I’m the kind of reader that I have to sink my teeth into the text even if this means I have to read and re-read and take notes or at least pause. I’m the kind of reader that can read a sentence and make it sound like I understood every single word, but I sometimes only slightly recognize them, especially when dependent clauses started to have dependents of the dependents. What? Come again?

But that’s not how reading is taught. You don’t back the train up. You just keep going. How people could read a book in one sitting was beyond my imagination. I’ve tried to do that for the past fifty-two years.