The Expression With No Name

Today’s post is from Bill.

I’ve been bothered lately by the appearance of a new facial expression, at least it’s new to me. I don’t recall ever seeing it on a human face until the last few years and never on a normal person in real life. In this expression, the lips are pressed tightly together and the mouth is bent down sharply at the corners. But I wouldn’t call it a frown– there’s no participation in the expression by the eyes or the eyebrows or any other part of the physiognomy.

You will have guessed by now that I’m describing Senator Mitch McConnell and he is certainly the primary practitioner of that facial gesture, although I’ve also seen it on various other politicians who have been caught embarrassing themselves. I’ve tried to make the expression myself and it isn’t that easy to maintain. It seems to be Senator McConnell’s default expression, so maybe we don’t need a specific name for that look when it happens on his face, but when it is adopted by other public figures, how should we describe it to someone? I suppose we could say, “He (or She) McConnelled”, but that’s too much McConnell for me.

Still, without an apt descriptive word for it, our ability to communicate is hobbled. I don’t think that expression is going away anytime soon.

So what should we call it?

Complaint Department

I spent part of Friday looking up the online recipes for a new diet I’ve been trying, and printed out a few of the recipes for my collection. I finally gave up on one recipe, however, when I read that I should “In a small saucepan, whack honey with liquid and simmer till sauce thickens slightly.” I realized after reading the next sentence “Take off heat and whisk in mustard” that the author meant for us to “whisk honey with liquid”, not whack it. (!)

In the next paragraph I was told to “mix sugar with nest and chile powder”, but I’m on to them now, and after consulting the ingredient list, I understand that oddly enough, instead of nest, they meant lime zest.

I want to write to them with my rant – “What is wrong with you people? Have you no editor? Since I’m doing it anyway, how about if you pay me to be your editor?” but there is nowhere to write that would bring satisfaction.

When have you lodged a complaint with the appropriate party, and did you get satisfaction?

You Can Retire….

This weekend’s post comes to us from Jacque.

Recently I received the content below as an email from a friend who lives in Florida:

You can retire to Phoenix, Arizona where …

      • You are willing to park three blocks away from your house because you found shade.
      • You’ve experienced condensation on your rear-end from the hot water in the toilet bowl.
      • You can drive for four hours in one direction and never leave town.
      • You have over 100 recipes for Mexican food.
      • You know that “dry heat” is comparable to what hits you in the face when you open your oven door at 500 degrees.
      • The four seasons are: tolerable, hot, really hot, and ARE YOU KIDDING ME??


You can retire to California where …

      • You make over $450,000 a year and you still can’t afford to buy a house.
      • The fastest part of your commute is going down your driveway.
      • You know how to eat an artichoke.
      • When someone asks you how far something is, you tell them how long it will take to get there rather than how many miles away it is.
      • The four seasons are: Fire, Flood, Mud and Drought.


You can retire to New York City where …

      • You say “the city” and expect everyone to know you mean Manhattan.
      • You can get into a four-hour argument about how to get from Columbus Circle to Battery Park, but can’t find Wisconsin on a map.
      • You think Central Park is “nature.”
      • You believe that being able to swear at people in their own language makes you multilingual.
      • You’ve worn out a car horn. (IF you have a car.)
      • You think eye contact is an act of aggression.


You can retire to Minnesota where …

      • You only have three spices: salt, pepper and ketchup.
      • Halloween costumes have to fit over parkas.
      • You have seventeen recipes for casserole.
      • Sexy lingerie is anything flannel with less than eight buttons.
      • The four seasons are: almost winter, winter, still winter, and road repair.
      • The highest level of criticism is “He is different,” “She is different,” or “It was different!”


You can retire to The Deep South where …

      • You can rent a movie and buy bait in the same store.
      • “Y’all” is singular and “all y’all” is plural.
      • “He needed killin” is a valid defense.
      • Everyone has two first names: Billy Bob, Jimmy Bob, Joe Bob, Betty Jean, Mary Beth, etc.
      • Everything is either: “in yonder,” “over yonder” or “out yonder.”
      • You can say anything about anyone, as long as you say “Bless his heart” at the end!


You can retire to Nebraska or Iowa where…

      • You’ve never met any celebrities, but the mayor knows your name.
      • Your idea of a traffic jam is three cars waiting to pass a tractor
      • You have had to switch from “heat” to “A/C” on the same day.
      • You end sentences with a preposition; “Where’s my coat at?”


FINALLY you can retire to Florida where …

      • You eat dinner at 3:15 in the afternoon.
      • All purchases include a coupon of some kind – even houses and cars
      • Everyone can recommend an excellent cardiologist, dermatologist, proctologist, podiatrist, or orthopedist.
      • Road construction never ends anywhere in the state.
      • Cars in front of you often appear to be driven by headless people.

What area would add to this list?

Take My Watermelon…. please

As anyone who entertains these days will tell you, the RSVP is a hit-or-miss art. I lucked out on my party last night – everybody who showed up had RSVP’d.  There were a few folks that I didn’t hear from at all, but for planning purposes, I assumed they were not coming.  But even so, trying to figure out how much food to prepare for a large group can be a little like trying to figure out how many jelly beans are in the jar. Advanced degrees might help, but just a little.

Last night I did pretty well. There is a little potato salad left, a few helpings of the ramen salad and enough of the 7-layer dip for a lunch or two. There are still quite a few goodies left, but to be fair, we started with A LOT (the peanut butter cup cheesecake bites that YA wanted were extremely rich so I cut them into small pieces – a lot of small pieces)!

The one place I didn’t estimate well was the fruit salad. I made a watermelon bowl, which means on top of the fruit salad, I have all the watermelon that I had to remove to make said  bowl. And I made a huge amount of fruit salad as well.  Even if you freeze the leftovers for smoothies, it’s still quite a bit.

Normally when folks leave one of my gatherings there is the usual exhortation to take a small plate of food home; last night it was watermelon. I sent home at least six containers of watermelon – but I wonder what people think when the last words they hear from their hostess as a begging “take some watermelon… please take some watermelon”!

What’s your favorite leftover?

Artistic Temperament?

I planned a surprise activity for Nonny this morning. I knew I wouldn’t be able to really describe the experience well and she might not be excited about it, so I just sprung it on her. This turned out to be the perfect strategy.

We went to Simply Jane’s, a non-profit art studio just across the parking lot from Wiseacre (the restaurant that replaced our beloved Liberty Custard). They do amazing work at Simply Janes: art camp for kids in the summer, art therapy for the disabled. They hire the disabled when possible and go out to hospitals for those who can’t get to their storefront for an art outing. To raise the money for these services, they have a “drop in and paint” program.  There are many canvases of different sizes with various simple art pre-drawn in black marker; you choose the one you want, they provide the paint, the brushes, even the paint smock.  They even have master classes if you want to do a more complicated painting based on, well… the masters.

Nonny, who will repeatedly tell you that she is not artistic (hence the ‘spring the experience’ on her) chose a dragon and I chose a dolphin. Mine was a little bigger but since I had been to Simply Jane’s before, I thought I would be able to get mine done without having to make Nonny wait.

We had a great time – after we were done, the staff went over our paintings with a sharpie to make the initial lines distinct and then shellacked them for little more shine. Nonny asked lots of questions and took some of the literature with her. My guess is that she’ll look for something similar in St. Louis.  She’s thinking of where to hang her little treasure now… at dinner she said “I guess it’s too big to hang from the rear view mirror in my car”!

What would you like to draw for art therapy?

1-2-3 Strikes You’re out

There was:

  • a human bowling game – someone in a huge plastic bubble running toward 6-foot high nerf “pins”
  • an obstacle course for two teams each with a stretcher and a patient. I’m glad both the patients were mannequins
  • a back to front race in which two strangers were tied side-by-side, but one facing forward and one facing backward. The winning team went pretty fast considering
  • a tire race. Let’s face it, the gentlemen took this one by a landslide
  • an eye ball race – two kids, each wearing a huge eyeball costume. The brown eye won.
  • t-shirt launching into the crown
  • tiny tykes racing teeny motorcars – this makes it clear why five-year olds don’t have licenses
  • a drone contest that made it abundant clear that flying these things isn’t as easy as it looks
  • an adorable big wearing a large pin bow

Oh – and then there was a baseball game. Great seats, perfect weather, no one truly obnoxious sitting anywhere near us, a pedi-cab ride all the way back to where the car was parked.  We lost but it was still a wonderful evening!

Do you root for a home team?



Thursday night we attended the 11th annual Minnesota Orchestra Concert down by Lake Winona, which officially opens the 2017 Beethoven Festival. It was a delightful concert, and got me thinking about some differences between Outdoor and Indoor Concerts:


  1. There may be a little rain an hour prior to concert, but hey, it blows over. (This has happened for the past two years.) The breeze makes the musicians find a way to secure their music to the stand.
  2. You bring your own chairs (or blanket), a picnic supper, and have a glass of beer/wine if you are discreet.
  3. The orchestra is seated on a platform, and you are on the ground below, so for the most part you can only see the string players. (It would be a good idea for the horns to stand when they have a prominent part, but I haven’t told them this yet.)
  4. A little girl in a green dress runs around (and around…) her parents’ chairs during the Tchaikowsky Polonaise (and beyond). Kids are swinging as high as they can on the adjacent playground, while the orchestra plays three of Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances.
  5. You can kick of your shoes and let your feet feel the grass.
  6. You get to watch a really cool sunset while listening to the music.
  7. You can hum along with John Williams’ Raiders of the Lost Ark theme and no one minds.
  8. If you see someone you know, you can wave wildly, and easily find them after the concert ends.


  1. Weather is not an issue once you are in the venue. Musicians’ music usually stays put on its stand.
  2. You have prepaid seating; refreshments can be purchased at Intermission, and must be consumed before returning to the auditorium.
  3. The venue is designed so that much of the audience is looking down on the performers, and can see most of the players.
  4. Children are regularly hushed and shushed throughout the concert, and will run around only at Intermission.
  5. It’s probably best to leave your shoes on your feet… they’re hard to find in the dark if you need them.
  6. The lights will go down when the music starts playing, and you will sit in the dark.
  7. If you talk or sing during the concert, you will most likely get stern looks from those around you.
  8. If you see someone you know, give a polite wave and hope they see you; perhaps you will find each other in the milling crowd at Intermission 

When and where was the last outdoor performance you remember attending?

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