Jul 31, 2023

Miscellaneous Monday

Nowhere else can one find so miscellaneous, so various, an amount of knowledge as is contained in a good newspaper.
— Henry Ward Beecher

While knowledge is orderly and cumulative, information is random and miscellaneous.
— Daniel J. Boorstin

Miscellaneous Thoughts:
Give me a home where the buffalo roam and I will give you boredom and isolation.
Want to go to Mars? Spend a week in Red Rock Canyon.
Blueberry muffins last longer because you can't tell when they're moldy.
I came in piece, please assemble.

― Kalifer Deil

Normally when I really don’t have much to talk about I just skip this post altogether, but I didn’t want to do that. I may not have something interesting enough to write an entire post about, but I have a bunch of little stuff.

First we have the weather. How crazy has this been?

We’ve had record breaking heat and insane humidity for a couple of weeks now. What rain we were getting not only did not cool things down, but served only to make the humidity worse. How hot was it? Even the squirrels were melting.

Saturday morning we finally got rain that took the moisture out of the air instead of adding to it. It lasted well into the afternoon but then the sun came out and the temperature dopped as well. That night was the first one in weeks where I could have the windows open and the air conditioning turned off.

But seriously, what’s up with the weather? It seems as though if a place isn’t getting record breaking heat, it’s getting forest fires or floods. Sometimes back to back. Nova Scotia went from wild fires to flooding in the space of a heart beat. I hear Florida is so hot, the temperature of the ocean there registered 100 Fahrenheit. There’s concern that the heated water is going to kill the coral reefs. Death Valley reached 138 Fahrenheit. Where's it going to end?

Penelope has had a couple of run-ins with the hubby, but she still comes to visit in the mornings. She was a little stand offish at one point, but she got over that pretty quickly. Usually the squirrels and birds fight over whatever she leaves in her plate. She doesn’t leave much though, so this morning I took pity on them and filled the bird feeder, leaving some peanuts in the shell on the patio.

The blue jays weren’t interested in posing for me, they were more interested in food and wouldn’t keep still.

The cardinal also wasn’t interested in posing, and took off as soon as he saw me with the phone.

And later in the morning I caught this guy doing his acrobatics to reach the seed in the feeder.

And one morning a few weeks ago I caught this guy on the telephone pole. He, also, declined a photo op, and kept circling the pole as he pecked away.

The kittens are still growing. We figure their birthday is mid-August, so I’ll probably wait a couple of weeks and do a proper post about them then. But in the meantime, to give you an idea of how much they’ve grown . . . here’s a picture of Dinsdale as a kitten:

And here’s a more recent picture of him:

And they’re still growing! They’re certainly not babies anymore.

Blueberries were on sale last week, so naturally I bought some and made a batch of blueberry jam. It takes eight cups of berries to make a batch of jam, and I didn’t realize the pints held about a cup and a half of berries. So I ended up with four cups extra. Now, I could have just made a batch and a half, but where’s the fun in that?

After doing much research on the internet to see what fruit paired well with blueberries, I finally settled on peaches, so my second batch of jam was a spiced peach and blueberry jam. This makes six different kinds of jam I’ve made so far this year.

Aside from making jam, I’ve also been working away at my stitchery, but nothing that’s finished enough to take a picture of. And of course I’ve been looking after the granddaughter. Only a couple of days a week so far, but this week I get her every day.

There are three secrets to looking after her: crafts, the pool, and Disney+. I’ve got it covered, easy peasy. :-)

Jul 26, 2023

Acronet Verse Form

This form was invented in 2008 by Patricia A. Farnsworth-Simpson, author of more than 30 books of poetry. And though I can find plenty of information on her books, the author herself remains elusive.

The Acronet is a cross between an Acrostic poem, and a Nonet. It’s comprised of two nine-line stanzas, making it a poem of eighteen lines. It has a strict syllable count: 9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9. You can try to make it rhyme if you want to, but that’s purely up to the poet.

What makes this poem different, and more difficult, is the Acrostic part. The first letter of each line, when written in order, spell out a word or phrase. This can be a bit of a challenge, finding a phrase with exactly 18 words. I’d like to say finding the starting phrase was the most difficult part, but to be honest, the whole thing was . . . challenging.

The Nonet was the easiest of the three poems – I got lucky with it and wrote it pretty much in one take. The Acrostic poem wasn’t too bad either, especially considering I made it rhyme. But at least I didn’t have any limitations when it came to line lengths. With the Acronet, however, I found the shorter the line, the harder it was to keep it making sense. Whew! If you’re looking for a challenge, give it a try!

Chaos Is Raining Down

Can you feel it in the air tonight
heavy, like the coming of rain—
all the words left unspoken.
Often they will collect,
silently hiding
in the corners,
so quiet
ink swirling,
neon sounds with
glimpses of something
dervish-like corkscrewing
overhead, twisting back down
while the words of chaos collect,
never spoken, never written down.

Jul 24, 2023

Everything’s Ducky

The secret of success is to be like a duck, smooth and unruffled on top, but paddling furiously underneath.
— Bill Cosby.

The popularity of ducks— often described as the happiest animals in the barnyard— is increasing in many areas of the world.
— Dave Holderread.

If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands.
— Douglas Adams.

I have a new pet. Her name is Penelope, and she’s a duck.

Sorry the head’s blurry, but she was swimming in the middle of our pool. Ever since our first pool, we’ve had mallard ducks visit every spring. Usually it was just the pair of ducks that wandered the neighborhood, whom we called Daphne and Donald. Sometimes it was Daphne and Donald and a few other bachelors.

This went on for years, even when the coyotes moved into the neighborhood. Then two things happened. We upsized the pool, and my neighbor found the corpse of a female duck buried in her vegetable garden.

For a couple of years we had no ducks at all, and we figured the duck must have been Daphne. Then last year we had a couple of male mallards visit while the cover was still on the pool. There’s usually a few inches of water on the tarp, and they feasted on seeds from the birch tree and probably mosquito larvae. They came a couple of times after the tarp was off, but didn’t really like the chlorinated water. Plus there wasn’t much to eat.

This year we had a new pair of mallards on the tarp of the pool, and sometimes they’d help themselves to the plate of birdseed I’d leave out for the birds on the patio. Sometimes it would be a male and female showing up, sometimes two or three males. But it wasn’t every day.

When they did show up, it was either early morning or late in the day. Once we took they tarp off the pool we were surprised they still showed up because the hubby was pumping the pool full of chemicals to try and get rid of the algae that had formed while it was covered. The pool was the greenest we’d ever seen.

But finally the pool was clean again, and soon only the female mallard was visiting. Then a week ago Friday it was cool enough one morning to have the deck door open. As soon as the female duck, who was having an early morning swim in the pool, saw me there, she hopped up out of the pool and waddled across the deck until she was almost nose to nose with Dinsdale through the screen.

Figuring she must be hungry, I filled a pie plate with bird seed and took it out to her. What surprised me was that she had absolutely no fear of me. She followed quite closely and when I set the plate down, she started gobbling the birdseed up.

And she’s been waited at 6 a.m. at the deck door for me every morning since. I took back my pie plate and gave her a plate of her own, and I named her Penelope. Twice she’s tried to come into the house, and once she started nibbling at my toes because I wasn’t fast enough with the birdseed.

Normally by this time of year, the ducks would have abandoned the pool because it was getting used for swimming. Not only is Penelope still visiting on a daily basis, she began visiting in the afternoon as well, just floating in the middle of the pool. I think she was having her afternoon nap there.

However, this presented a problem on Friday when the hubby wanted to have a swim and did NOT want to share the pool with a duck. A meaner person than I would have taken a video of it and posted it online. It was hilarious!

The hubby tried slapping the water with the pool net, and Penelope would swim out of reach and then hop onto the edge of the pool. So he’d wade his way over to her and splash her to shoo her away, and she’d fly to the other edge of the pool. He shoo her away from there and she’d fly over him and land in the water again. This must have gone on for about fifteen minutes before Penelope gave up and flew away.

She did not return that evening, but she was back the next morning, waiting on the deck. She only stayed for breakfast, she didn’t linger for a bath and a swim like she usually does, but the next day she hung around for a while, having a floating nap, and then jumping up on the edge of the pool to dry off.

I’m thinking there has to be another family in the neighborhood feeding her, I have no other explanation as to why she’s so tame. And I expect she’ll keep coming to visit for the foreseeable future.

At least until I run out of bird seed.

Jul 19, 2023

Acrostic Poetry

You might remember doing an Acrostic poem in grade school, or maybe not until high school. It’s a fun little form that anyone can do.

The name comes from the Greek words akros, meaning “at the end,” and stichos, meaning “line.” Basically, you take a word or short phrase, and craft your poem using the letters in your word/phrase consecutively for the first letter of each line. When you’re finished, your word will appear vertically on the left hand side of your poem.

Here’s the one I wrote when I was in Grade 8:

Frost upon the window pane
Eerie winds along the streets
Blue-grey skies across the lane
Rosey red ‘most frozen cheeks
Underneath the snowy skies
And as thermometers go down
Returning once again, surprise!
Yes, you’re right, it’s Jack Frost’s frown.

Acrostic verse was once written on leaves used in prophecies, arranged so the initial letters formed a word. They can be found in Greek and Latin, and it was popular in Medieval literature, usually to highlight the name of the poet, or their patron. Sometimes they were used in a prayer to a particular saint.

You are limited only by the length of the word or phrase you are highlighting. There is no syllable count to worry about. You can write on any subject you wish. There is no rhyme scheme, unless you’re crazy enough to want one. If you want to make your Acrostic poem even more challenging, you can try writing a Telestich – where both the first and the last letters of each line spell a word or phrase. Do not expect to see one of these double Acrostics here. ;-)

Acrostic verse can be a fun introduction to poetry. Even well-known poets have been known to write an Acrostic poem or two: Edgar Allan PoeLewis Carroll, and John Keats, to name but a few.

I found it interesting that despite my claim you’d have to be crazy to write one that rhymed, my first example rhymes, because all of my poetry rhymed back then. And I guess that’s still my default, because I just naturally started to rhyme my example. Go figure, eh? And I’m cheating a bit with my example. The poetry group I belong to has monthly “poemwork” and this month our assignment was to write an Acrostic poem using the word FIREWORKS. So here it is.


Fireworks behind my eyes –
Isn’t interesting I see them still?
Reality fades from darkened skies,
Ensuing silence is so very shrill
Without the booming lows and highs.
Obligations we’ve yet to fulfill
Remain lost in their disguise –
Kaleidoscope dreams distill,
Spilling down like a cosmic prize.

Jul 17, 2023

Jammin’ It

The way I see it, life is a jelly doughnut. You don't really know what it's about until you bite into it. And then, just when you decided it's good, you drop a big glob of jelly on your best T-shirt.
— Janet Evanovich

Jam on a winter took away the blue devils. It was like tasting summer.
― Sandra Dallas

The jelly, the jam and the marmalade, and the cherry and quince preserves she made. And the sweet-sour pickles of peach and pear, with cinnamon in 'em, and all things rare. And the more we ate was the more to spare.
— James Whitcomb Riley

I can remember my mother making jam when I was a kid. Strawberry jam, as a matter of fact. She even grew her own strawberries, although I don’t know if she grew enough to use only her own berries or not.

A few years ago, the daughter made raspberry jam and I was really impressed. She’s also make dill pickles and pickled beets. Despite all the other things I’ve made from scratch, I’d never tried any kind of canning. It seemed like such a long, involved process that I was thoroughly intimidated.

What I’d like to know is, why did no one ever tell me how easy it is to make jam??

Seriously. Berries + sugar + lemon juice = jam. Easy peasy. Last year I went strawberry picking with a friend and came home with a couple of baskets of berries. I procrastinated long enough that I ended up having to discard about half of them, but the rest . . . I found a low sugar, no pectin recipe online and gave it a try.

Best jam ever. My only regret was that it was kind of late in the season and the only jars I could find were big ones. So I only got like two and a half jars of jam. But I was so impressed with myself that I bought berries from the grocery and made a second batch, which was still good, but not as good as the first batch. My advice? If you’re not picking your own berries, buy them from a farmer’s market.

This year I stocked up on much smaller jars. And my friend and I hit the strawberry fields much earlier and came home with three baskets each. But seeing as I still had strawberry jam left over from last year, this year I decided to try something different. I also had a bunch of rhubarb, and who doesn’t like strawberry/rhubarb? Well, besides the hubby.

So the first batch of jam was strawberry rhubarb, and I have to admit I was kind of surprised at how well it turned out. I don’t like real chunky jam, so I used an immersion blender during the cooking process and that made it a little smoother.

I still had plenty of strawberries though, so the next batch was strawberry pineapple. I would have never thought of combining strawberries and pineapple on my own, so thank you Google. I ended up making a second batch of this one, which is a good thing because this is one the hubby likes.

Then I went to lunch with a friend, who asked if we could stop at one of the orchards on the way to lunch because she wanted to buy some strawberries. Unfortunately, the orchard was out of strawberries, but they had something called haskap berries.

I’d never even heard of haskap berries before, but my first thought was, would they make good jam? Turns out, they do. Eight cups of berries and four cups of sugar equals twelve little jars of jam.

But wait, I’m not finished yet. It’s raspberry season now. Having seen raspberries selling for much less than the strawberries in the grocery stores for the last several months, my friend and I were a little taken aback at how expensive they were, even when we picked our own.

I’m thinking the raspberry crop isn’t that great this year, because the berries we picked weren’t all that great. Still, I had enough for a batch of jam, and that’s what counts. Raspberry jam is the hubby’s favorite, and I’m very tempted to go pick some more to make him his own batch. But it’ll have to be soon because berry season doesn’t last forever. The strawberries are already done, and this is the second week for raspberries.

But unless I find more raspberries, I think I’m done making jam for a while. It’s been really hot and humid, and cooking jam on the stove doesn’t make it any cooler. But there’s still lots of other fruits out there, and I haven’t tried making jelly yet.

In the meantime, guess what my family’s getting for Christmas this year? LOL

Jul 12, 2023

Nonet Verse Form

The origin of the Nonet appears to be shrouded in mystery. It seems to be a fairly new form, but no one seems to know who created it. The name Nonet is shared with the term for a group of nine musicians, so it’s suspected that its origins have something to do with music.

It is a poem of nine lines and each line has a strict, descending syllable count. The first line contains nine syllables, the second line contains eight, and the third line contains seven, and so on to the last line, that contains one syllable.

It can be written about anything you wish, and it doesn’t rhyme.

The schematic is as follows:


I gotta admit. This was kind of a fun form to work with. And it allowed me to vent about something that’s really been frustrating me lately. ;-)


“You must upgrade your phone,” they told me
by which they meant “buy a new one”
so I did as I was told
and have had nothing but
trouble ever since
I hate this phone
and want my
old one

Jul 10, 2023

Father/Daughter Ball

The theme for this year’s Father/Daughter Ball was “Disco.” When I think of disco, I think of Saturday Night Fever and the dresses Stephanie (Karen Lynn Gorney) wore. I think there were two of them – one pale pink, and the other red – and they both had a wide ruffle at the top with one shoulder bared.

When I did a Google search for “disco dresses” I got a lot of 60s dresses come up in my search. They were mostly short, mostly shapeless, and a lot of them had long sleeves that widened considerable at the elbow. There were also a considerable number of pantsuits and jumpsuits, very tight fitting, which not only flared out at the elbow, but at the knee as well.

Didn’t exactly scream ball gown to me. Disco party, maybe. But not a formal affair. However, this was the picture I was sent to create this year’s dress. The only other input I got was that the granddaughter liked sequins, it should be blue, and maybe have more of the underskirt showing.

I found some stretchy, sequin encrusted material in blue, and some navy satin to line it with. Later, when I was looking for the netting for the underskirt, I found some rainbow coloured chiffon that I knew the granddaughter would love, so I got some of it too. Apparently I forgot how much I hated working with chiffon. You’d think after last year’s dress it would be engraved on my brain.

Anyway, I spent a lot of time researching how to work with sequin encrusted material, and the best advice I came across was to use a leather needle on it. I had to come up with my own pattern, and the granddaughter was very patient with me as I used her as kind of a living dressmaker’s dummy. LOL First I fitted tissue paper to her to make a pattern, then I did a mock up of the top part of the dress to make sure it was going to fit.

I still didn’t like the idea of a short dress for a ball, but it was disco after all. We decided to make the asymmetrical top shorter, to show more of the skirt. I made the top part with the sequins as a separate thing, and attached the skirt inside at the waist.

Well . . . when I tried the finished bodice on the granddaughter, it fit great, with room to spare. But the skirt . . . oh, man, the skirt was one of the worst sewing disasters in history. To make it more flared at the bottom and less bunchy at the waist, I decided to make the skirt circular. I should have known better.

Hemming chiffon is a pain at the best of times. This was a very lightweight chiffon, and it was in two circles joined together. It was so thin you could easily read through it. So what colour thread would you use on rainbow chiffon? I settled on a turquoise, very close to one of the colours in the print. And if I hated the way the seams showed through, I absolutely loathed the way the hem turned out. Worst. Hem job. Ever! But there was really no other way to do it.

Finally, I sewed the skirt to the bodice, and made the sash to go around the waist. The dress was done.

It didn’t look awful . . . while on the hanger. But when I took it over for the granddaughter to try on, the added bulk from the skirt made the whole thing bunch at the waist, plus unless we could find some kind of matching hot pants for her, the skirt needed to be lined – which would add more bulk.

I have never been so disappointed in a sewing project in my life. And I was very happy I finished the dress a couple of days early in case adjustments needed to be made. Thank God for Amazon Prime. The daughter whipped out her phone and started looking, and found a beautiful dress, which I happily paid for. It’s not exactly disco themed, but it is a sparkly ball gown.

Looking back, I think where I went wrong started with the sequin material I bought. After studying the original picture more carefully, it appears the sequins are embedded on netting, which is lined. And the bodice and skirt are two pieces, not one, with the skirt gathered at the waist. Had I found the proper material, and maybe lengthened the underskirt instead of shortening the bodice, things might have turned out differently. I guess we’ll never know.

But when all is said and done, I actually enjoy the challenge of creating a dress with nothing to go on but a picture. I used to do that with the granddaughter’s Christmas dresses. And while I’m bummed that I failed to meet this year’s challenge, I can’t wait to see what next year’s will be.

Hopefully it’ll be a better theme than this year, because everyone knows, disco sucks!

Jul 3, 2023

Vacation Time

After careful consideration, I've decided to take a break so I can focus on other things this week. See you next Monday!