Category Archives: Mysteries

Parental Psychology

I never took any Psychology classes during any of my college years.  I have nothing against Psychology (and have benefited from it greatly during my life) but I just wanted to get my science requirements out of the way and Psych wasn’t offered when I needed a science class.  Most of my psychology education comes from various Scientific American articles I’ve read over the years.

I think it’s safe to say that as a parent, one REALLY needs psychology.  You just can’t make it through parenthood without figuring out your kids AND figuring out how to get your kids motivated to do what they need to get done.   YA is almost 28 and I still struggle with this occasionally.

One of the things I have figured out is that sometimes you have to come at her sideways.  She is too cool to get enthusiastic over some of my projects; when I brought home the haunted house kit (see photo above), she turned up her nose at it a bit.  If she had been with me when I purchased it, she would have indicated it was not a good idea.  But a few days ago I said “I’m going to do the haunted house tonight if you want to help”.  She responded with a non-committal grunt but when I got everything set up on the dining room table, she showed up.  And she did most of the decorating herself.   This works pretty much all of the time… Easter egg dying, jigsaw puzzles, yardwork, cookie decorating.  It even worked once on a snorkel sail when she was crabby and I said “Fine, you don’t have to go… I’ll see you later.”

If you take this route though, you have to be prepared to do the project by yourself; I think you really have to believe this or they hear it in your voice and then you’re sunk!

How to you talk your loved ones into things?

Bob’s Your Uncle

You all know that I am a little obsessed with Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie.  Just recently I finally splurged and purchased the David Suchet as Poirot version of Death on the Nile. I’ve watched it repeatedly since it arrived and despite having seen it previously, I was surprised to find the Simon Doyle character saying “Bob’s your uncle” in the market scene.  From context it clearly meant “there you have it” or “easy peasy”.  I was fascinated so headed to the internet to figure out exactly what it meant and where it got started.

The more prevalent explanation is that it came about when Robert Cecil, the Conservative British prime minister appointed his unqualified nephew Arthur Balfour as Chief Secretary to Ireland back in 1887.  Since Arthur was clearly not fit for the job “Bob’s your uncle” became the explanation about his selection.  Of course, this account is controversial as the phrase can’t be found in any print reference until almost 40 years later. But this is the etymology that I like.

So imagine my surprise when just two weeks later, in a restaurant in Chattanooga (during my trip to Nashville), I stumbled upon Bob’s Your Uncle Hard Cider on the menu.  I almost never do alcohol at lunch but I had to make an exception this time.  I even managed to remember the source of the name.

And as if “Bob’s your uncle” hasn’t fallen into my path enough, last week one of the YouTube channels that I follow did a list of popular idioms and it was titled “Bob’s Your Uncle”.  Apparently the phrase is fairly common in Britain, but crossing my path three times in a month seems remarkable. I keep telling myself it’s just a coincidence but….

What could the universe be trying to tell me?

Where in the World is VS?

A friend of mine recently re-located here and just moved into her new townhouse; she invited me to come down for a few days to visit.  Although I have been to this state, I’ve never been to this city before, despite having sent a few groups here over the years.  I’m looking forward to a few relaxing days of sightseeing and entertainment.

    • The city is named after a Continental Army general during the American Revolutionary War.
    • The person who first called the U.S. flag “Old Glory” lived here.
    • The largest songwriter’s festival in the world is held here.
    • There is a full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon in this city.
    • President Theodore Roosevelt coined the phrase “good to the last drop” here.
    • This was the first city in the nation to be granted an FM-broadcasting license.
    • The first seeing-eye dog training school in the U.S. was founded here.

Where am I?  And if you know, what should I see while I’m here?

Bonked

On Sunday, I texted a friend to see if I could drop off a book for her.  I knew she’d be there but figured I should give her a heads’ up anyway.  She returned my text and asked if I would mind helping her with a quick project when I stopped by.  I said “sure” because any time she does ask me for assistance, it’s not usually much assistance.  And, of course, my schedule is now “fluid”….

The project was changing the lightbulb in an outdoor light fixture.  Sounds easy enough but the light fixture is above the side door, which is itself at the top of four stairs.  We needed the tall ladder for this.  Opened up the ladder didn’t fit on the top step.  It didn’t fit over the steps either.  Leaning the ladder up right under the light fixture didn’t seem like a good idea since its full weight would be on the glass of the side door; we ended up shifting half of the weight to the left door lintel (is that the right word?). 

My friend was nervous about this procedure and although I volunteered (it wasn’t quite high enough up to trigger my fear of heights) she insisted.  Unfortunately it did frighten her and her hands shook enough that she dropped the screw a couple of times.  After the second drop we decided we’d better test the light before trying again.  She came down the ladder and I swiveled it out of the way so she could go inside to flip the light switch.  It was then that I got a very hard and painful thump on the head – she had left the screwdriver on the top of the ladder and it tumbled right off onto me. 

It broke the skin and my friend was really worried that I’d been stabbed with the business end of screwdriver (it was a Phillips).  We applied a paper towel and a small ice pack.   I was sure I’d been thumped by the handle.  There wasn’t all that much blood and a good stab would have bled more.  The physics were also on my side.  It was about a 4 foot drop from the top of the ladder to my head and the weight of the handle was enough that, like a cat, it would have righted itself and hit me handle first.

After a few minutes we finished up the job.  Fourth time was a charm; I tried again to take over the ladder climbing but after I’d been injured helping with her project, she was adamant that I stay off the ladder. 

No headache, no pain, no other symptoms.  I do have a scab now that I’m trying to avoid with the comb and the shampooing but my brush with the screwdriver doesn’t seem to have damaged me permanently. 

What hand tool would make the best weapon if you needed to protect yourself?

Kitty Lit

Photo Credit:  Alice Feigel

Nimue is not a super-cuddly kitty.  She comes around for treats and most mornings and evenings, she’ll curl up next to me on the bed if I’m watching tv or listening to a book on tape.  Very occasionally she’ll actually climb into my lap for cuddles. 

But if I want to guarantee her attention, all I need to do is read a book.  Every single time.  Doesn’t matter if I’m upstairs or downstairs, sitting on the sofa or laying on my bed.  I’ve seen her sitting in the back window watching me when I read in the yard.  She needs to be touching the book and preferably laying right on the book.  She doesn’t like to be nudged off when I have to turn the page.

I know this isn’t unusual but nobody seems to know why they do this?  Do kitties actually know how to read but can’t get the books off the bookshelf themselves?

What do you think?

Astonishing

As you all know, one of our family traditions is apple-picking each fall.  It’s just one of many places that YA and I enjoy going and things we enjoy doing together.  Zoos, petting farms, state fair, museums, apple picking, tree selection, shopping, gardening. 

You’d think that I’d be overloaded with photos considering all the things we do but you’d be surprised.  YA is very resistant to posing for photos.  If I’m lucky, I can get one photo per “out and about”, but that’s not a guarantee.  I plead, I wheedle and sometimes I bribe; these attempts don’t always work.  I don’t know why she resists.  

Yesterday we headed out to the orchard and after we’d filled our first bag (Sweet Tangos), she asked me to take her picture with an apple tree behind her.  I was surprised but took a few photos.  Then she wanted photos in front of a different tree.  THEN she wanted photos in front of the corn maze.  Now I was practically in shock.  When I asked why, she said she wanted to have pictures to show she had been on “an outing”.  At first I thought this was some feature of Instagram or Tik Tok or even the activity app she has through work but it turns out it’s nothing official.  She just wants photos in case she decides she wants to post somewhere. 

Lots more photo sessions ensued including the big adirondack chairs they have in the orchard and the most surprising of all, next to the dinosaur sculptures up near the barn.  I would have bet money she would refuse those but she happily posed.  All these photos were taken on my phone and she spent the miles back home looking through them and sending many of them to herself.  I was a little concerned she might delete them off my phone when she was done, but she left them.  I’m still in shock.

Anything extraordinary or atypical in your world lately?

Falling Weather

The weekend Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

Rosie and Guildy are still good. They look like they’re finally growing. They’re still spending most of the day hiding under something, but they do come out and go in by themselves morning and night so that’s progress.

We lost one of the creamy colored adult ducks. Still the two black and white, one creamy, one poufy, and 6 mallards. And two guineas. And roughly 52 chickens. Daily egg count is somewhere between 7 and 12, down from summer peak. Newest hens haven’t started laying yet; late October they’ll be 6 months old and they start laying somewhere in there.

This is Rooster #3 — Kelly calls him ‘Top Gun’ because he thinks he’s hot stuff.

Some of the latest batch of chickens have more black around their eyes than other years. They are ‘Black Australorpe’ breed and they have good longevity, but they can be kind of ornery. I like them. Most chickens in a close up just look ornery.

I’ve been busy at the theaters this week. The HVAC being installed brought in a scissor lift and I use it when they’re not. Replaced a bunch of non-functioning fluorescent lights in the theater with LED retrofit kits. Pulled down all the cables for the stage lights so we could redo them. (It just turns into a rat’s nest after a while. Good to pull down and start fresh.)

Created some new doorways and redid other odds and ends over the summer break between shows. On Saturday all the platforms for the seating are going back in place so I must finish the bulk of the work that I want with the lift before that.

I’ve been saying there’s not much happening on the farm. That’s not true. I’M not doing much on the farm, but there’s a lot happening. The corn and beans are both maturing and drying out. Beans are losing their leaves and drying down, corn is turning brown, maturing, and drying out. Birds are migrating, bees are busy, deciduous trees are turning colors, the world rotates, planets are moving, the moon changes phases… there’s a lot happening. Just not by me.

I watch some youTube farming channels; they’re busy getting things ready for harvest. Soybeans could be going in our area in another week or two.

The pod right in the center of the photo has 4 beans in it. BONUS! Most only have 3. Four isn’t unusual, but it’s not the normal either. See the pods at the very top of the plant? Those are the ‘bonus’ pods. Not only because the deer didn’t eat the buds off the top, but the plant develops from the bottom up, so the better the conditions, the better resources the plant has, the more pods it can create. It’s looking like a pretty good year for my crops. Knock on Wood.

WHO HAVE YOU KNOWN, OR DO YOU KNOW, THAT LOOKS ORNERY BUT WASN’T OR ISN’T? 

OR ARE THEY?

DO YOU HAVE AN “RBF”?

Dog Beds

Guinevere has multiple beds.  YA can’t resist them so there is one in her kennel in the breakfast room, one in my room and one in YA’s room.  Recently we’ve changed up sleeping arrangements; during the day Guinevere and Nimue pretty much ignore each other but nighttime is a different matter. The last month or so, Guinevere has moved from my room to YA’s room at night.  Every day YA moves the dog bed from my room to her room because “Gwen likes that bed during the day”.   I noticed today that both of the upstairs dog beds are still in YA’s room. 

Beds & Lambies

In addition, Guinevere has FOUR lampchop chewy toys.  This is in addition to a huge basket full of other balls and toys, but the lampchop ones are definitively her favorites.  YA and I used a giftcard last spring and bought several of them, so we have extras on hand if the current flock gets nibbles too much.

Guinevere is also refusing to eat her kibble this week.  This happens every couple of years when she just decides that her currently dogfood isn’t fitting the bill.  While YA and I are both fine with changing her food, neither of us is willing to throw out half of a large bag of kibble.  I voted for letting her go hungry on the theory that she won’t starve to death and eventually she’ll eat what we have.  YA is frantic about the non-eating.  So far this past week on different occasions I’ve seen lots of delicacies added to Guinevere’s dish: peanut butter, vanilla yogurt, maple syrup, pumpkin and also some very smelly dog sauces in pouches.  Each of these items worked moderately well but we’ve still got at least 2 weeks before we’re ready for a new brand of dry food. Good grief.

Have you ever had a hand in spoiling someone?

Can’t…. Stop….

I decided to put the egg table up Sunday afternoon (since I had to skip Blevins due to continuing cough).  This just involves setting up the candle, cutting wax into teeny bits, lining up the kistkas that I’ll need for this year’s design and also making the dyes I’ll be using.   The actual set up takes less than an hour but there’s a 24-hour lag before I can start working on eggs.  The dyes need to be completely cooled and the eggs need to be room temperature.

Yesterday when I woke up at 5:30 (about the norm), it was all I could do to keep myself from going downstairs, firing up the kistkas and getting started.  I know myself well enough to know that the minute I start, I’ll be obsessed until I’m done.  Sitting in that chair for too many hours in a day just makes my back and shoulders hurt so starting at 6 a.m. is not a good idea. 

There are very few things that I get this obsessed about.  In card-making, I don’t have any problem putting things away at a good stopping point.  Jigsaw puzzles can keep me busy for quite some time but I do tend to run out of puzzle steam after 3-4 hours.  Reading is a passion, but except for the rare “I just have to finish this book right now” situation, I can stop when I need to.   (I do occasionally have to throw YA out of my room if I’m down to the last few chapters of something I’m really into and I was once late to work!)   But once I start the first egg, the decks need to be cleared because I want to keep going and going.  In prior years (before retirement) I used to take the egg week off from work because I’d end up sitting at the table until 2 and 3 in the morning.  Several years ago when I didn’t take the week off, I ended up pulling an all-nighter; that was ugly.

Waiting until 7:30 to go downstairs was a good idea.  I ate all my meals at the table today and except for an hour when there was a tradesman here measuring stuff, I worked straight through to 8:15 p.m.  Then I hobbled upstairs and headed straight to the ibuprofen bottle!  I figure, based on yesterday’s work, I’ll have four more days before I’m done. 

What do you obsess about?

Dish Drainer Jenga

I saw a funny picture on Facebook last week – dish jenga.  I laughed because it’s true – at least in my life.

Usually it doesn’t come to this but on Monday, it was the perfect dish drainer jenga storm.  YA took the last brownie to work – an empty Tupperware.  Cooked down the last of the raspberries into a sauce. Made a bundt cake – mixing bowl and then bundt pan.  Three jars of pesto – that was a biggie as it uses the salad spinner and most of the food processor and accessories.  Then add in the dishes from breakfast as well as all the measuring cups, spoons and spatulas for all the morning endeavors and I was well and truly jenga’d. 

If the dishwasher were working I suppose I could have filled it up instead and if I’d been willing to get out a dishtowel to dry, I could have put things away as I was working.  But for some reason, while I am willing to stop between steps of projects to wash things, washing AND drying doesn’t seem like a good use of time when I know dishes will dry on their own.  I’m guessing this is the kind of thought process that results in most folks who end up with dish jenga.

I’ve never liked the actual Jenga game very much.  The groups I’ve played in haven’t managed to keep the game going very long and it’s not that much fun when you are constantly having to pick up all the pieces.  And life-size Jenga is terrifying; I only played it once on the beach in St. Thomas and it gave me nightmares.

What are your favorite board games?