31 May 2021

Punch Line: Absence

An old family friend died today. They lived around the corner from us, and when we moved around the block, they lived down the street. 

My father first met Wally when he came around a corner and discovered a guy with a beat up Land Rover and a trailer ... and a boat that had fallen off the trailer into the street. They became fast friends - and remained friends for the next 50 years. 

 Wally was a musician, a raconteur, a delight. He loved to fish; here he is in the Deschutes, with his first steelhead, wearing an inimitable hat.
And he was an inveterate joke teller. Here's one: 

 A guy went to the doctor and said, Doctor, I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but every time I fart, it sounds like the word honda. 
That’s interesting. I've never heard of anything like that before. Do you think you could fart for me? says the doctor. 
The guy said okay and sure enough, the doctor heard honda
After several attempts to figure out what was wrong with the guy, the doctor ran out of ideas, so he sent him to all sorts of specialists, but none of them could figure out why the guy's farts sounded like honda. Finally, as a last resort, someone suggested that the guy see a dentist. 
After explaining the problem to the dentist, the dentist opened the guy's mouth and examined his teeth. The dentist said Aha! You have an abscessed tooth
The guy said Okay, but what has that got to do with my farts?
Don't you see? said the dentist, Abscess Makes The Fart Go Honda.

Wally, I hope you are telling your jokes to the angels.

29 January 2021

On saints and plumbing parts

"Why," asked my husband, "do you have a reducer on your desk?"

Well, it's not really my *desk* - it's really our dining room table, but I have been working from home for ten and a half months and it's not like we're throwing dinner parties, and yes, I had been rummaging around in the bin of spare plumbing bits in the cellar, because I needed something to act as a candlestick. As one does. 

Over time, I've accumulated many many candles - mostly tapers, some pillars, a few in jars or tins. Some I've bought, some were gifts, a couple of dozen were a score from our local Buy Nothing page (a super useful iteration of Facebook). And yes, some of the candle stash came home with me when we cleaned out our mother's house. Since about mid-December, because it's dark and cold out, we've been lighting candles on the mantle almost every night. I have, as a result, been working through the candle drawer. 

Stuffed way in the back was a plastic bag, clear plastic, the long narrow kind the newspaper comes in. (My mother was the queen of reusing every single plastic bag, even the ones that had had newsprint in them and probably shouldn't have had celery stored in them later.) Inside, wrapped in tattered newsprint, I could feel several candles. My fingers knew that they were bigger wider taller than standard tapers, so I've ignored them for years, thinking they were some kind of utility candle. But the other day, I pulled them out and unwrapped them. Huh. Two tapers, and one half taper. The half taper had been sawed cleanly across - so the wick was merely visible in cross section, no little loose bit of string emerged. More mysteriously, all three were stamped STA. ISABEL down towards the bottom. 

And because they were bigger than normal, they weren't going to fit in any candlestick I own. Happily, the reducer worked PERFECTLY.

Many questions remain, though. Where did my mother come by three clearly ecclesiastical candles? Who was Saint Isabel? Why did someone saw the third candle in half? And how did it take me so long to surface these mysteries? 

02 January 2021

Book Log 2020

It is a perennial conundrum that I used to rail about the child's "required" book logs, back when she was in elementary school, and yet I delight in recording the books I've read via my Goodreads account. I *think* I read 68 books in 2020.

Last year, I started tagging books as male/female authors, and fiction/non-fiction. 

It took a little data manipulation to figure out what I'd read, but I can report that I made a conscious effort to read books by women and in fact, did so: I read 46 books by women, and 21 by male authors. (One book was an anthology, hence 46 + 21 does not equal 68.) 

Other stats: I read 19 library books, 7 mysteries, 2 books of poetry, and 2 cookbooks. 11 books were non-fiction, 6 were re-reads, and I abandoned 6. 

I rarely give star ratings to the books I log on Goodreads, and my "reviews" are really just notes to self - they aren't intended to be comprehensive reviews. That said, I did give four stars to these good books: 

And five stars to these: 

The Mendelsohn reminds me - I read Emily Wilson's translation of The Odyssey, as well as Maria Dahvana Headley's translation of Beowulf. And I was amused to find myself shelving the Headley RIGHT NEXT TO the Seamus Heaney translation of Beowulf. How convenient to have the translator's names so similar, so as to make the filing of Beowulf so satisfying. (It is entirely possible that we have at least another Beowulf, but I did not check.) Reading An Odyssey shortly after The Odyssey was good - it gave me a lot of insight into the book. Similarly, I read Headley's The Mere Wife before I read her Beowulf; The Mere Wife is a modern day novel riffing on the Beowulf tale, and helped me figure out some of the bones of the poem. [It occurs to me that I tagged neither Beowulf nor The Odyssey as poetry...perhaps I should have!] 

Possibly the oddest book I read was one on fungi. Funguses.  Merlin Sheldrake's book is called Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures - and it is FASCINATING, so much so that I gave two copies away to friends. If you don't want to read a book about fungi, check out Sheldrake's Instagram post, where he eats his book. There's a fungus among us. 

The last book I finished in 2020 was one I got for Christmas: The Year of Knots. It's kind of a "how to" book - but it's both how to tie (some knots) and how to be more creative in your life. I've now learned to tie three new decorative flat knots, and I've even memorized one of them. I'm not sure that I'll be taking up macrame in 2021, but stranger things have happened.