Friday, October 31, 2003

Classic Face

The temperature rose to about 75 today and the sky was blue. I bought a pumpkin on the way home from school this afternoon, and carved it on the back porch – it was just that beautiful an afternoon. I did get two mosquito bites, though. (We did have some nights around 40, just last week, but no hard freeze, yet.)

I did a quickie job on the jack-o-lantern, because of my delay in purchasing a pumpkin. I usually have one for a week or two, and consider carefully whether it will have a Classic face, Scary face, Surprised face, or Happy face. Hmm. Not much of a repertoire. I’d call it a Classic face: triangle eyes, points down; a rounded chevron-shaped nose (sort of like the emblem on a Enterprise crew member’s shirt); and a zigzag mouth.

The seeds are toasting in the oven, the rest of the goo went to the compost pile, and I placed Jack on the top step. I swept off the porch, and put the Twix bars in a bowl. Bring ‘em on! Let’s start the ritual of bribing the local young uns with sweets! Every year I imagine it really will keep them from throwing too much trash in my ivy; that it will encourage them to go easy on the Civic when they play football in the street. Plus, it’s part of the social contract. I scuffled all around River Oaks (giggling with Leanne and Susie, many years) to beg strangers to give me candy; now it’s mine to turn to feign delight in costumes and pass out sweets. It’s fun.

Happy Founder's Day, Girl Scout friends! Everyone else: read about Julitte Low here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

"We’ve Been Getting HBO Since the Last Time Lightening Hit the House."

Mitch laughs at me in only the best-spirited, most affectionate way when I call or e-mail for tech support. This morning, while using e-mail, the computer crashed twice. Turning it back on brought up the most alarming Microsoft “we’d like to send this problem to ourselves” dialog box. The word “dump” was in the line of language about the problem. This scared me a lot.

All day, my computer couldn’t find the Verizon server. A little yin yang icon spins while it looks for mail, etc. It would spin and spin, and eventually announce it was “tired of looking for the server.” I wondered if uninstalling the e-mail program, then reinstalling would help. I found the right place on the Control Panel. Stupid AOL was hiding out there, so I thought I would “practice” by uninstalling it. I did; I restarted. I highlighted Eudora, clicked Change/Remove, got the Are You Sure message – and chickened out. I checked Eudora again. The little yin yang spun for a moment, then the blue bar appeared! I had three or four messages! Yippee.

I answered a few messages, then popped around to favorite sites and blogs, pausing to check for comments on mine – and, lo! My archives links, invisible to me alone for weeks and weeks, were there. (Shout out to Bill, here, who gives me a little tech support with Blogger – though he was stumped by why I couldn’t see that list.)

So what’s an internet-ignoramus to do but assume that deleting AOL fixed both problems?

(In a slightly more probable instance of cause and effect, I came home from college once, turned on the TV and was surprised and delighted to watch a movie without commercial interruption. At the end, I found I had been watching HBO. When she came home, I asked Mom. “How long have you and Dad had HBO?” Her answer, of course: since the last time lightening struck the house.)

Monday, October 27, 2003

Can You Draw Me a Picture?

I subbed for an elementary school clinic attendant today. No Ritalin, but some Albuteral inhalers. Destiny went home, but drew me lots of pictures with hearts and stick people. Jami drew me a picture with an airplane, trees, and what appear to be goalposts. Ariel needed her infected earring holes cleaned. I think it was Mikal who poked himself with a pencil and needed a bandaid. Uzhari didn’t look too good, but he didn’t hit that magic 100 degree temperature, so he had to go back to class.

Did I mention that This End Up seems to have been the official supplier of furniture for teacher’s lounges in Henrico County? What did surprise me, when I went in for Halloween treats, were Sally and Jack figures, from The Nightmare Before Christmas, among the smiling, wooden witches and ceramic pumpkins.

Capital City weather: rain

Tuesday, October 21, 2003


I haven't got his book, and he claims to have writer's block today, but it seems to me Wil Wheaton can write just fine (10/21 entry).

Fall is strolling into Capital City in a gap-toothed way: rows of fluorescent maples have been broken up by the punch of Isabel.

In my Information Sources and Services class, we take turns presenting a reference book to the class. I drew "history" from the hat. I did bring down a nice encyclopedia of American history, but I really took the opportunity to sing the praises of The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. What other single volume offers entries on "quadroon," "Lost Cause," "Maggie Walker," and "Moon Pie"?

Sunday, October 19, 2003

My alumnae quarterly has a small feature called “Alumnae Abstract” that notes recent research by grads. Nicole Gilbert ‘99 looked into Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and constructing gender. She found that “[t]he two holidays are events in which ‘society’s normative conceptions of masculinity and femininity’ play out in the family home, even among families that might disagree with those conceptions.” She also learned that “Mother’s Day celebrations last two hours longer than Father’s Day celebrations, yet mothers tend to be less satisfied with their special day.”

Also in the mail from Mount Holyoke, something with a feature called “Faculty Voices” with a piece from Penny Gill, Mary Lyon Professor of the Humanities and professor of politics, on identity. She writes, “. . . MHC is probably so ‘old fashioned’ as to once again be ‘avant-garde’ about the politics of identity in the postmodern culture wars.” Gill notes that at MHC, the curriculum and cocurricular activities offer opportunities to explore and understand identities. Gill concludes, “[t]here is a marked tolerance, even appreciation, when we’re at our best, for a certain kind of conceptual and political ‘messiness.’ (I thank Lee Bowie for having celebrated messiness in his baccalaureate talk in May 2003. . . .) We teach our students explicitly and by example to avoid reductionist and over-simplifying language, to pursue complexity and to try to articulate it with respect. The meaning is often to be found in the details – a gesture, a breakaway case, a stubborn piece of data, even an unexpected silence. . . . So, I appreciate Mount Holyoke for its encouragement to me, and to all the rest of us, to become who we truly are, in all our complexity and multigiftedness and sheer stubbornness of character and possibility.” Yup, I feel stubborn of character and messily complex.

Capitol City weather: clear and not quite 70.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Dates to Note

Goodwill to Others, November 1. A special Girl Scout drive that results in vouchers given to social service agencies for use in Goodwill stores. Plus, the girls help you unload the car. At far left on this home page, click on "2003 Spectrum" under "Program" then on Community Action Resources. Goodwill is on page 9 of that Adobe file you'll get.

Friends of Richmond Public Library Book Sale, November 7 and 8.

Open House at West End Antiques Mall, November 8 and 9. Most dealers offer 20% off, plus, there's food.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Here's some good stuff on libraries and access to materials.

Many street lights came on, tonight. It'll be nice to have the usual dim light leak in the house again should I need a late night bathroom visit, or if Catly wants breakfast before the sun comes up. One morning last week, I missed the last step when I went down to pour her food.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003


Since the moon is waxing towards full, we hardly miss the streetlights at all, here in Capital City.

Something I noted in at least one or two places around town: the tops, the pinnacles, of the upright lampposts that fell to the ground after the storm, just sitting next to the post. No one stole them. On the one hand, why would someone take them; on the other, why would someone graffiti tag a building or drive by rural route mailboxes and smash them with a bat?

I see from the Post that Bob Bobb, our former city manager, has been lured away from his post in Oakland, California, by D.C. He’ll be “chief administrator” for Washington. VCU’s Bob Holsworth gives him a positive review on Sunday’s editorial page, including Bobb’s appointment of Chief Oliver, who did not receive universal praise.

The Nephew and his mom and I went to WorldCup today: he blinked and nodded at the lights and ceiling fans and brightly painted walls. Really, he fit right in with the regulars. Why do babies look so deep in thought?

At the Bryd: Finding Nemo.

Monday, October 06, 2003

How 'bout that Kerry Wood?! (Actually, I had a few people over to dinner and only watched the end of the game, so it's mostly hear-say.) How 'bout this pic of Chipper Jones? Wasn't he one of baseball's cuties? And "Braves Heartbroken Again"? Please. If they'd put some heart in it, maybe we'd see the World Series again.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Maggi posted pictures both artistic and typical of post-Isabel Richmond, on 9/30.

beautiful lemon-orange sunrise this morning, full of streaky clouds. Good thing, too, with nary a streetlight operational in town, I find getting up at o'dark hundred for the bathroom or for the starving cat quiet challenging.

I'm up early for a big GS event. I started to say it'll be the first kid-filled event I've gone to since I left, but I am forgetting Camp this summer. Of course, I had Mitch for that, so. . . . Anyway, in anticipation, of this activity, I had all sorts of low-level anxiety dreams about GS events at "camp" that left me feeling less than refreshed this morning. The dreams were very dull, for stress dreams: I was running something at "camp" and nothing was going quiet how I wanted, or -- as often happens -- the geography / topography of "camp" changes to the annoyance and confusion of all. (Sorry, no rich details like Mitch writes about, just need to clear my head.)

Capital City weather: cool, but getting into the 60s and increasing clouds.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

At Regency Square today I noted: that they re-imaged themselves with new signs, lots of very 1990s club chairs and sleek blond tables in the walkways, and colorful new tables in the food court; missing stores; and new stores ( ""? Come on.). Also, Land's End goods for sale at Sears; Sears-like clothes for sale at J.C. Penny; beautiful blue Ralph Lauren cords at Hecht's. I had already tried Target and Old Navy as part of a two-day quest to find an un-branded baseball cap for a tot. None of the department stores had anything in the way of accessories in between caps for infants and tacky pink frou-frou for 8-year-old girls. Poor little boys don't seem to be allowed even a belt until they are 10, much less a cap. It's just socks and underwear in what should be the accessories space. It turned out Gymboree, a source of tasteful gifts in the past, had just the thing. It even reverses, denim to red.

Now, I did read Gopnik I guess it was on the demise of the department store. Also, Mr. Gibbs has a few things to say. I know that a traditional department store's version of "everything under one roof" is no longer what "we" crave. I know that "we all want" either Wal-Mart or Just Bulbs. And yet after tons of potentially cute duds all marked OLD NAVY, I felt sure that a department store was the only refuge. I felt sure that's where those sweet "Lil Slugger" jackets and hats used to come from. So, I was wrong.

Happy play-offs season -- now, where's my Cubs cap?