Space Cadets

Astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly are no longer identical twins. After almost a year on the International Space Station, tests have revealed that some of Scott’s chromosomes have been altered – becoming longer.  He is also about 2 inches taller.  Medical science is not sure if these changes will be permanent.

You just came back from space. What change would you like to experience in your chromosomes?

Hello, Spider

As I was waking up this morning and staring at the ceiling, I saw a brown spot start to move. I watched the spider crawl along, defying gravity with what I assumed were its eight “sticky paws”. Suddenly it wasn’t there, and I thought, “Uh-oh, now it’s on the floor and I have to kill it.” But I didn’t see it on the floor. I looked up and there it appeared on the ceiling again. I finally realized it was dropping down, either by accident or design, on a spinner thread, then crawling back up. It’s apparently building a web. Watched this until s/he went behind a blade of the ceiling fan, then I lost him/her. Now see it some days, not others.

You can tell it’s been a long winter when I’m so hungry for watching wildlife that a spider is a big deal. (I am, happily, not especially unnerved by them.) I started wondering:  how the heck do they stay up there, anyway? Went to the web, and found a site for kids under 10 years, called Ask a Grown-up:

“If you could take a really close look at a spider, then you would see that their feet are covered in tiny little triangular hairs. They look a little bit like paddles on the ends of stalks, and they give the spider a much bigger surface area. When the feet make contact with a wall or ceiling, they create a force – a temporary attraction between the bottom of the spider’s foot and whatever surface it’s on (the grown-up name for it is van der Waals forces).”

I see while searching that I’m not the only one curious about this. Here are other questions being looked up:

Can spiders die and still hang on the ceiling?

How do spiders walk on walls/ceilings without falling off?

Why would a spider spend days in the same place on the ceiling?

How do I get the spider off my ceiling?

How do you feel about sharing your home with critters?

What wild life are you looking forward to seeing as we edge (ever so slowly) toward spring?

As Easy as Pie…

For many years my company was closed on Good Friday. Five years ago they made the decision to be open on Good Friday but they didn’t want us to feel like we were being gypped out of a holiday so they gave us each a “floating holiday”.  I use my floating holiday every year on Pi Day, March 14 (3.14….).  I refer to it as my geek holiday.

This year’s menu:

Dutch Apple Pie
Key Lime Pie
Amish Sawdust Pie
Chocolate Whoopie Pies
Crack Pie
Tangerine Raspberry Pie
Blueberry Pie
Carrot Cake Whoopie Pie
3 Musketeers Pie
Buttermilk Pie
Banofee Pie
Peaches & Cream Pie

It was a stretch to have all these pies on the menu but I couldn’t decide what to cut so I decided to go for it. I always start with the hardest, putzy-est recipes and this year it had me a little panicked at 10:30 when I had a HUGE mess and not much to show for it yet.

But I did get it together… phew!

When have you bitten off more than you could chew?

Settle Down, Now, Lady

Sandy spent a couple years saving up money for new living room furniture. Our foldout couch crowded the living room and was breaking down, and a chair was looking a bit old. They were still good enough for a local charity to haul away to sell. In January she chose a love seat and a chair in similar designs. Theoretically I had a say in the choice. However, design is her joy, which I leave to her.

When Sandy told her dear friend, whom I will call Lady, she had replaced some furniture, Lady said, “I hope you got rid of that old wooden bench.” She pronounced the word old as if it meant ugly. Lady is like that and you ignore it. She is actually an outstanding person, a long-time successful speaker for those on the margins, for instance getting shelter for the street people of Mankato. Because the Salvation Army does not provide beds or food for women on the streets, five downtown churches take turns offering food and beds, each church serving a week in turn. But that expanded into providing space for men. The SA now requires people who sleep a night there to be sober, to attend church, and to attend Bible study. Sort of conversion by the bed. My cousin who ran the mission in downtown Seattle for years would be horrified, as they would be in Duluth, unless they too have changed. While the churches struggle to provide food and space, the SA has only a small fraction of its 25 beds in use. In a recent modest storm, they closed! Three of the churches opened in a rush. Lady not only offers financial support, at the age of 78 she also often washes the linen and cooks for the meals.

I should tell Lady that the old wooden bench, which is called a settle or settle bench and is a standard fixture of British pubs, has the official British seal of approval. My English aunt came into our home 35 years ago and spotted the bench and exclaimed, “Oh, a settle!” She ran her hands over the top and said, “It is almost perfect, but it needs to be older.” The last part was her joke. She spent the visit sitting on the settle and drinking the Twinings tea we had on hand. A couple years later an English exchange student was at our house and had a similar reaction.

A few years ago Lady told Sandy that she should put this away, meaning after Christmas, but her tone was that it should be put away permanently.

Lady has good taste in clothes, which are often in marked contrast to the tens of carats of diamonds she always wears. When she dresses to the nines, the carat load rises. I imagine that many people think it must be costume jewelry because of the volume. I admit I have a bias against diamonds in droves.

Yes, our furniture and accessories are a mishmash. As you age you shed style in exchange for memories. Lady’s large living room is its own mishmash of stuffy small town museum and waiting room for businesses of dubious merit.

Because they often stay with us, especially the kids, we discussed this change of furniture with our daughter and family. They said the foldout bed was getting too uncomfortable and they could bring blow up mattresses. Last week ninth grade grand daughter out of the blue announced that we were not to think that she and seventh grader Mr. Tuxedo were not coming to stay with us a few times this summer as they always have. She and her brother had many plans for their stays. That was a warm moment, to think they have not grown out of staying with us.

Do you have a name for your interior design style?

Blowing Things Up

I commented a few days ago that my cousins and I liked explosives when we were children, and  used homemade beer can cannons and fireworks to lob things at younger relatives.  (We were thoughtful, though, and  gave them helmets to wear.) July 4 was a big holiday in my family. Most of my cousins are boys, and they started to collect firecrackers and other fireworks as soon as they could, saving their money for the purpose for months. It was handy that we were so close to the South Dakota border and had easy access to firework stands.  I still really love fireworks, but I don’t shoot them at people any more.

I don’t  know what has got into me, but for the past few weeks one of the first things I do when I get home from work it to put a recording of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture on really loud, and wait with gleeful anticipation for the cannons at the end of the piece.  I love those cannons.  I wish I could be the person in the orchestra to set them off.  My recording is by the Kirov Orchestra conducted by  Valery Gergiev.  The liner notes say that members of the Royal Dutch Marine Band also performed, and I assume they shot off the cannons and artillery.  What a great job to have!

What music would best reflect the state of your life right now? What music helps you cope?


Waits, Waits, Don’t Tell Me

The Bible gives us a metaphor about those folks, those confounded ten-talent people. You know them!

Jesus tells a metaphor about using money expressed in talents, which has turned into a metaphor for the fact that we have varieties and numbers of gifts, that is talents as we use the word today. The parable tells us that some people have ten talents. You know them!

My sympathies are with the timid one-talent guy who comes off so badly in the parable. (Matthew 25:14–30, in case you want to look it up.)

Bill Bailey is a favorite of ours on British television, excepting that fact that he has many talents. Some of you may know him as Manny, the flaky assistant in the wacky Black Books. As well as an actor, he is also a stand-up comic, a writer of comedy, and deeply gifted in music, skilled at improvisation in music and in comedy. We know him for QI and others of the many British TV panel comedy shows. We love him especially for his part in Walks with My Dogs, a show in which various British celebrities walk famous trails around Britain with their dogs. The show is laid back, slow-paced, calming. Bailey’s unassuming manner is perfect. He rescues dogs. Of course, he does. He is also a sort of PDQ Bach comedian, working with orchestras, for one thing with his Odd Guide to the Orchestra. His piece about bassoons is hilarious.

Here he is doing a send-up of Tom Waits.

Forty years ago I had a student who was a true ten-talent person. You could count them. Despite her modest and warm manner (people skills was one of talents), she aggravated her friends to no end for it, especially since she found the talents a burden at 16-18 years of age. I would like to tell you her name, such a delightfully Norwegian name. But I will not.

A few Babooners have more than one talent, a couple at least approaching the metaphoric ten number. I, for one, am a wannabe. I am certain that most Babooners move in circles that include a ten-talent person or two. Oh, yes, you know them!

Tell us about ten-talent people you know and how well they have managed them.

Do your multiple talents distract you?

Waffle Kindness

In world that sometimes seems cold and heartless, where bad behavior gets rewarded too often, it’s wonderful to see the story of a waitress who was given a $16,000 college scholarship for being kind to an elderly gentleman who needed help cutting up his breakfast.   The story speaks for itself.


Has some ever been kind to you?











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