Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The sol sticks around . . .

 5:36 to 8:37, that's sunrise to sunset today.  

If you include "civil twilight", it's 5:03 to 9:10.   I love the sunshine of solstice.

Behold, the view from my front porch at 9 p.m., still light out.   

It'll be light at 5 a.m. tomorrow, too, long before the road crews show up to do that work that their sandwich-board signs indicate they're revving the jack-hammers up for.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Miser Family News, eventful week full of events.

Life continues to be rich and full in the Miser Family Household.   It's been an event-full week for me, meaning I've been attending a bunch of events. 

The kick-off came with an outdoor concert in a parking lot, 200 people in B.Y.O. lawn chairs, rocking to a tribute to Queen and Journey. For an outdoor concert on a pop-up stage, there were some amazing costumes, and stunt bicycle (as we sang "I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike"), and a singer in a sky lift and lots of dry ice and amazing lights.  

Two hundred people singing along with familiar guitar riffs is a fabulous thing.  We sang, among other songs,
  • Any way you want it, that's the way you need it, any way you want it . . . 
  • We will, we will Rock you (thump)! Rock you (thump)!
  • Under pressure!
  • Loving, touching, and squee-ee-eezing, another
  • crazy little thing called Love
  • Nothing really matters, anyone can see . . . nothing really matters . . . to me . . . 
and of course
  • We are the champions, my friend!!
Yeah, baby!   (For I-daughter, this was but one of many theater related events she went to; she's in seventh heaven now that things are opening up, and she's purchasing tickets to things left and right.)

My other event was a scintillating conference on research compliance protocols, done via an app that used -- but is much more difficult to navigate than -- Zoom.  This conference was to prepare me for my new role as Associate Dean, and mostly what it did is convince me that I do not want to dedicate the remainder of my life to research compliance.  For example, I attended one session on "Data Integrity" that had, I have to admit, lovely graphs and charts that would make any 16th-century cartographer or natural philosopher proud.   I asked the organizers how an actual dean might use the various taxonomies, and they explained in all seriousness that I could help my faculty and other stakeholders realize the value proposition . . . so, that was kind of the end of that presentation for me.  

I *am* glad I attended; I learned a lot about how other people think, and I also learned a little bit about ways I might do stuff in my new job.  So good, but not going back to that particular conference again.  At any rate, most of my week was full of that particular event.  Event-full, indeed.

Oh, we also had an awesome party (my annual Purple Dress Dinner, in honor of my $1 yard-sale-purchased purple dress that I don't have any other reason for wearing besides having a dedicated party for the dress). We held it outdoors in our local rose garden, and the weather was amazing and people had a grand time eating and chatting and smelling the roses and listening to the music trucks hauling live bands around the city streets -- because yes, that's one of the wonderful things about the city I live in --- and I completely neglected to take pictures.

N-son has, for reasons that make good sense but I won't go into here, given his two-weeks notice at the Domestic Clutter Emporium.  We're working on figuring out what will happen after this; there are lots of different paths we're considering and really aren't sure which make the most sense right now.  

And my guy continues to go to protests (two this week).  The summary: voter suppression sucks.  

On a peppy-er note, L1 asks me to remind people that, "With Amelia’s book available for purchase now for about a month, would you mind mentioning it in the family newsletter?" Indeed, I'd be delighted!   More info:

The website to purchase is:

It is also available on Amazon. And if any of our family members want to, they can follow her and her brothers on Facebook or Instagram 

And that's the news from our family, which continues to be wealthy in our adventures.  May you and yours be similarly prosperous.  

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Miser Family Update: ferry nice trips, birthday llamas, and photo haiku exchanges

Life continues to be rich and full in the Miser Family household.  This week has been particularly rich and full with celebration, song, and poetry.   For song and celebration, take a gander at this peppy picture of N-son dancing with joy.  He and my guy took a trip to New York, where (my guy tells me) N-son was "so ferry happy" riding the ferry that they did it twice.  

While N-son was  frolicking to the rollicking waves, B-daughter was clicking her odometer over from "months" to "years".  K-daughter hosted a fabulous back-yard birthday party with grown-ups sitting in the shade and 6-year olds on a slip-n-slide and the guest of honor in a new themed dress.   It was not a pajama party, but it was a llama party.   And I have to say, the table decorations and food they made were amazingly adorable.  There was llamanade to drink, and llama/cactus themed cupcakes and pretzel sticks that were almost too adorable to eat (but people ate them anyway).  Happy first birthday, B-child!

And that was just the beginning of the week!  We closed out the week by heading together to a movie theater (remember those?)!  We saw In The Heights, and about that movie, I just have to say . . . wow.   There were teary sections (I delegated the weeping to I-daughter, who is much more proficient than I am); there was dancing, so much dancing (all of us, scootching our bums in the chairs); there was amazing singing and drumming (N-son went kinda nutso next to me).  And there were great shots of actual streets in Washington Heights, causing my guy to avidly detail for me each of the streets there he's bicycled through and how the traffic on the roads compares to the movie version. 

At the theater with my family.  I am wearing my kitty cat mask,
the one that drives my husband so wild with passion
he has to beg me to take it off so he can focus.
(Or maybe I just like it more than he does).

During the week, other cool things happened.   Like, L2 is very happy with her motorcycle and is making the most of her new license.   Do you want to see the photo of her motorcycling around that she sent me?   Do you?  

. . . so would I.  Send a photo, L2!

Other family members did ping me with photos, in conversations that were almost (but not exactly) like haikus.   Here, to catch you up on other family doings, are four Photo Pseudo Haikus.  I gave them titles, to make them seem even more poetry-esque.

1.  Car Dashboard

SIL:  Meanwhile in Las Vegas: 

Me:  Wow!!!   We thought 93 was bad (well, for us, it is . . . )

SIL:  Next year we will head east earlier.  This is crazy hot. 🥵 

2.  New York Restaurant

My guy: Dinner at Mr Wasabi

Me: Yum . . . but you can tell N-son he missed my spinach/mushroom salad for dinner here in [our city].

My guy:  Crying 😢

3.  Pantry Pleasures

K:  My favorite space in our baking/ spices/ dry food cabinet😍

Me:  Looks like *my* food shelves!

K:  I knew you'd understand 😂

4.  I-daughter is Allowed to be Loud

I just got to sing!
With the chorus! In person!
At my full volume!😄

And that's the news from our family, which continues to be wealthy in our adventures.  May you and yours be similarly prosperous.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

How my life is coming apart, but on purpose

I'm slowly and methodically cleaning out my math office, getting ready to move to our big old administrative building.  And as part of this cleaning, I'm going through my 5-drawer filing cabinet, trying to think about what papers I might realistically actually ever look at again.

The answer seems to be, if I do think about it, "not a lot".   I've been teaching math here for almost three decades.  I've saved syllabi, grade sheets, exams, worksheets, . . . will I ever look at any of these again?  Probably not.   I've been on committees that wrote reports.  I've led workshops for other mathematicians.  So much paper from my past, paper that's not realistically likely to be a part of my future. 

So I've been cleaning out my file drawers, bit by bit.  Because it's me, I can't just chuck it all: the idea of creating so much trash would wig me out.  Instead, I've been pulling apart my life, little by little, separating things into piles.

Here's the main sorting center. 

Going clockwise-ish around the photo from the bottom left corner I see:

  • a chair for sitting in,
  • now-empty hanging folders,
  • now-empty manilla folders, in good enough shape to reuse,
  • colored printer paper with one side blank for reuse in other projects
  • a six-inch stack of white printer paper with one side blank for reuse in other projects (ah, "precyled" paper!)
  • an amazing collection of paper clips and binder clips, 
  • a box of to-be-recycled printer paper (both sides already used)
  • a small bankers box of paper that I might actually want to look at again, so I'll move it with me.
Not pictured is another box of mixed paper to recycle, and another giant box of to-be-recycled printer paper that already filled up, so that the photo above shows the second, not first, such box.  

Also not pictured is a pile of my past calculus exams, which I'll gift to our new visiting faculty members, which they can use (or not) to come up with exams of their own, or to offer to students as study guides.  I feel like that might actually be a helpful gift.  

I've finished about half of the filing cabinet now, maybe a tad more.  I'm about to get to the section with papers I've written, which will be a little bit harder to pare down, but still has vast potential for winnowing.  (I really, really, do not need draft copies of papers that I have final, formal versions of.  I probably don't even need paper copies of the final versions, but I bet I'll keep a copy of each paper anyway because . . . well, not sure, but I probably will).

This sorting, not surprisingly, takes a bunch of time.  But it feels good to do it.  It reminds me of what I've heard about something called "Swedish Death Cleaning", which I admit I don't actually know very well so I might have the description wrong, but what I seem to have heard is that this is the cleaning that elderly parents do of their own homes so the kids don't have to go through so much stuff after the parents die.  For me, this paper sorting feels like I'm saving some as-yet-unknown person (a family member, a colleague, who knows?) a bunch of headache of having to wonder which of these papers might be relevant to anyone else.  

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

money well spent . . . ceiling fan fixture

 Here's the view from my bed this morning, looking up.  

The ceiling fixture used to be a dim little light fixture whose power cord was threaded through a little pencil hole in the plaster, and that was screwed directly into the plaster.  Last summer, I kept my room cool (?) with a window fan, which was noisy, and promised myself I'd install that ceiling fan soon.   But that was before I realized there was no fixture box up there.

At any rate, I hired my favorite team of household do-everything guys, Nate and Todd.  They sliced holes in the plaster, installed a solid fixture box that wouldn't come crashing down on my head, ran a few modern wires through the ceiling, installed a new switched outlet and switch in another part of the room so we could add reading lamps, and repaired the plaster.  Oh, and then they hung the fan because even though I could do that part, they were already there.  

It was a bit pricey (almost, but not quite, $1000).  But I love my ceiling fan; it's beautiful and quiet and makes sleeping in hot weather so much nicer.  

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Miser family update: insides and outsides

Life continues to be rich and full in the Miser Family household.  

My own main event this week involved getting ready for, and then recovering from, a doctor's visit this past Tuesday.  Moses, they say, almost got to look upon the face of the Lord, but it was too bright and brilliant for him to look at, and so he had to head back down the mountain.  Apparently my doctor says that I myself am beautiful on the inside, so much so that he sent me home and said I don't need to return for another five years. As a souvenir, I got a monogrammed paper bracelet with my name and birthdate to commemorate this occasion.   And to emphasize just how lovely everything is, here's a picture of me from the outside . . . .   

. . . in this picture of me, I am doing my favorite things, enjoying life under the bowl of a blue sky and golden sun, walking past the flowers through the flaming red grass.   (Maybe I need to bring home a few more colors of chalk).  

Once I got past the doctor stuff, I started working on a math paper that includes, as one small part, a geometric concept called "ruled surfaces".  These are curvy things (like Pringles potato chips) but that are surprisingly made of straight lines that interweave in nifty ways.  This reminded me that when I was a kid, my parents built me and my sisters a fantastic club house with a jungle-gym roof that was a fabulous example of a ruled surface.  I asked my dad if he had pictures of these, and he sent me about a dozen of the project in its early construction stages.  
In this next photo, I think my mom looks so much like the person I grew into . . . 

And I love the greenery in that photo.  (We had an awesome backyard as kids, really.)  Speaking of greenery, these days we're really hauling in the greens from our weekly farm share boxes.  So much that it's a challenge to figure out how to eat it all.  It's a great challenge to have!

On a different challenge note, I-daughter tells me she looked over the next round of Sock Madness and is especially glad she got out when she did.  She says that the current sock has a boxy toe she doesn't like and post-knit embroidery.  So, THAT is a hassle she doesn't feel obligated to deal with.  (Me neither; I'm not doing boxy toes or sock embroidery, either.  Let's all not do it together).

My guy is doing his usual stuff:  biking up and down hills with abandon (and sometimes with his bike buddies); attending Tuesdays with Toomey protests (this week's theme: trans rights); visiting far-flung friends.  In fact, as I speak, he and N-son are taking a journey up to New York for adventures involving driving and trains.  

A-child, having recently turned 6, apparently discovered right on schedule how to chop off her own hair.  (It seems to be a family tradition to do so at right about that age).  I don't have photos, but I do know that K-daughter borrowed my clippers in hopes of affecting some semblance of repair.  B-child will turn 1 very soon, and so she has another half-decade before she lops off her own hair, I figure.

And that's the news from our family, which continues to be wealthy in our adventures.  May you and yours be similarly prosperous. 

Thursday, June 3, 2021

blanket words

The other night, I was lying in bed with random thoughts flitting through my brain -- the way they do when my brain has decided that it's worked hard during the day and gets to have a party for a little while --  when my brain seemed to seize hold of the realization that the word "blanket" must come from the root word for "white" (Spanish: blanca/blanco;  French:  blanche/blanc).  When we put a blanket on a bed, are we white-washing it?  A blanket of snow seems so much more meaningful once you can think of it as "a whiteness of snow".

The next day, with my brain back in service to the rest of my body, I did a bit of etymology hunting.  It turns out that, indeed, blankets were originally made of all-white linen, there being few ways to dye cloth back in the day.   So, we'd say something like "throw that white thing on the bed", and "that white thing" became every other thing we'd cover ourselves with at night.   When he was very young, N-son (who didn't watch TV then) saw a red stuffed animal that someone told him was "Elmo", and from then on he named all stuffed animals "Elmo", including the beloved black-and-white panda bear he still has now that he's 21.  If Elmo can be a panda, just about anything linen can be a blanket.

"Linen", by the way, comes from the same word that gave us "line": ropes and thread were made from flax (Latin: linum).  

Maybe I was thinking about this because my sister recently gifted me with a quilt she'd made herself.   ("Quilt" comes to us from Middle English and before that Latin, culcita, the same root word that gives us cushion; indeed, "quilts" have moved up in the world, having originally been the mattresses/cushions we slept on rather than the puffy blankets we lie under).   This quilt is anything but white; it blankets the bed without being anything like a blank canvas.  

Prewash lies on her own "quilt"; a linen blanket that
I sewed into a pocket cushion stuffed with two old pillows.  

Our mother, when Alzheimer's disease started affecting her, responded by labelling everything-but-everything in the house with helpful sticky notes.   My sisters and I found these everywhere as we helped my father clean up her thing after she died.  These notes were a testament to her powers of organization and attention to detail, as well as a sadly comical picture of the losing battle:  "a green necklace from our trip to Alaska; no longer in this box"; "Pieces of string too small to save".   My sister named her quilt in homage to that last sticky note; she describes it as a quilt made of "pieces of fabric too small to save".  

It's the perfect quilt for a treasure hunt when my kids or grandkids come over.  Can you find . . . the super hero? an owl?  roses? horses?  butterflies? monkeys?  hearts?  And it's so cheery.  Cheery enough that when my body starts going to sleep but my brain is still partying, apparently that's where my brain goes to hang out.  Thanks, sister!

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Did I fix my bricks? I don't know . . .

I guess I'd be in trouble if the Big Bad Wolf came by, since -- even though my home is made of bricks -- huffing and puffing seems to be bringing it down.  Or, rather, one part of one brick wall inside my house has been flaky for a while. 

Here's the wall: it's in a room we call The Library; it's a wall we share with our neighbors (an interior, not exterior wall, therefore).   Clearly there's some kind of difference between left and right, and I don't actually know the architectural reasons for why those two sides are different.*   

*update:  It's possible there's a moisture source we'll have to fix --- I just double-checked, and it turns out that that portion of the wall is actually shared with my neighbor's porch, not interior space, so there might be a longer term issue.   Eh, we'll figure it out.

At any rate, the right side seems generally fine, but the left side has been gently crumbly for a while now.  Above and below are photos I took last September (2020).   It looks like someone tried to seal the brick with some kind of (varnish?) something, and it was flaking off, and the bricks underneath were likewise kind of soft and crumbly.

I send these photos to my favorite home repair team, Nate and Todd.  Is this something they felt comfortable dealing with?

They referred me to one of the masons they work with.  I forwarded the pictures along to the mason, who came over sometime early fall 2020 for a [pandemically moderated, masked] in-person inspection and consultation.   He suggested I could probably take care of it myself.   I should sand the bricks down ("like, with my belt sander and regular sandpaper?"  yes), and then paint the bricks with a sealant from the local stone supply store. The dust from the bricks would be a hassle -- cover everything, open the window, grab a big fan, wear a mask, etc.  ("Ooh, I already have masks!").

Nate and Todd agreed this job could well be feasible to do on my own.  They suggested wire brushes instead of a belt sander, and they regaled me with the proper use of multiple drop cloths and ways to seal off the room from other, cleaner, parts of the house because of brick dust.  I stored away the knowledge and thought about dealing with this between semesters, in December . . . but December came and went, and so the project lingered, and the brick flaked gently, and we eventually arrived at May.

Last weekend, fully vaccinated and having a bit (= a lot) more freedom in my schedule than I did during classes, I finally went to the stone supply store.   They scoffed at the idea of sanding or scrubbing the brick, and offered me a slightly different kind of sealant than the mason had suggested.   I felt like a patient getting second and third opinions.

You know how sometimes you put something off forEVER because you think it's going to be a major project, and then it turns into Not a Big Deal?  I think, all told, working on the wall took a bit over one hour, maybe 2 hours, tops.   Much better than the 2- to 3-day project I'd envisioned.

A bunch of that time was spent hauling stuff around.  Our home is very linear, so getting stuff from the basement up to the second floor involves a lot of walking --- zigzagging, but in an upward direction, as we walk long hallways from one stair to the next.   I brought up the shop vac, and a step stool, and a bunch of painter's tarps.  

I started by reading the instructions on the sealant, and then started gently removing the most egregious flakes.  It didn't take long before I realize  that opinion #3 wouldn't cut it; the wall still had layers of flaky white varnish that were incompatible with sealing the brick.  Since I didn't have wire brushes, I grabbed the belt sander, put tarps all-the-heck-over-everything, and got to work removing the flakiest stuff.  The dust wasn't nearly as miserable as I'd feared it would be, and the shop vac was a champ at cleaning it up.   And then I sprayed the sealant on, and let it dry.  Then I packed everything up and zig-zagged it back down to the basement.

Will this work?  No idea.  The wall definitely looks much better right now than it did a few days ago, and it's not snowing on the bed anymore.   

* Now that I know the exterior side fo the brick needs work too, I'll get back in touch with the mason again.  In the meanwhile,   $80 worth of sealant and a few hours of my own time seems like a reasonable first attempt to avoid a more costly and elaborate procedure. 

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Miser Family update: May, Socks, and new doctor edition

Life continues to be rich and full in the Miser Family household.  This last week of May has brought a roller coaster of hot/cold blazing/pouring calm/stormy days, and it's a bit like the rest of my activities are similarly difficult to categorize.  I did math, and brick repair, and long walks with people who have advice for the next Associate Dean, and things like that.  

In the same paradoxical vein, I-daughter is relieved/sad to not make it to the next round of Sock Madness.  She made the most of her extra time to read an awesome book just in time for her book group, and also mow a lawn that needed it.  This is the farthest she's made it in Sock Madness in many years, so even though she's kinda sad not to move on, she's also pleased with how well it's gone and with the extra time she'll have in future weeks.

Really, the big news in our corner of the word is about Y . . . who is now Dr. Y, thank you.  

Y joined our household the year after she graduated from college.  She lived with us for a year and a half, and became a big part of my weekly "chopping up the farm-share vegetables" tradition.   It was good to work together!  While she lived with us, she ran the InterVarsity Christian group on our campus, and she studied for the MCAT.   If A-child becomes a doctor too, it might be because Y described physiological intricacies to her by way of studying aloud.

Apparently, describing things to babies works, because Y made it happily into med school.  She calmed our family down when we were in a bit of a tizzy over N-son's diabetes diagnosis; she continued to trade bad puns with my guy, and she has some of our most creative Family Fun Foto contributions!  She'd come back to visit people in our town, and she'd play (awesome) piano in our church (below is a screen shot; I still attend church remotely).  

She's very much committed to medical mission work, and last weekend our church prayed for her as she heads off to her residency in Georgia.  

And then Monday, she officially graduated.  

She tells me, "I am Dr. Y [FamilyName] now :) I did not attend graduation on Monday but rather did a "photoshoot" with 2 roommates... We had so much fun together! And it was special b/c I really saw Christ in it- the Doctor of PT has been such a loving Christian sister to me, and the Doctor of Pharmacy is a Muslim woman who sought shelter at my house for the last 2 weeks. PLUS, it was special to be 3 Asian female doctors in today's times."

Heck yeah!  We're all so proud of you, Y!   And I'm so glad I got to be part of the exciting story that Y has been living out. 

And that's the news from our family, which continues to be wealthy in our adventures.  May you and yours be similarly prosperous.  

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Covid-19 in my corner of the world

In my little city, the number of daily deaths is now down to "only" about one or two a day, and the number of new daily diagnosed cases is in double digits, down from triple digits.

One of my running buddies is from a family that is highly vaccine hesitant.   She was a bit uncertain herself, and so she decided to talk to her doctor about whether to get vaccinated.   (I have to say, I'm really impressed that she decided to go that route instead of chasing internet stories or friend-sourcing her info; it's so easy to fall into confirmation bias, especially these days.)

After the conversation with her doctor, she made the further choice to stop talking about vaccines with her mom until she herself had made it through the process.  She got both shots with almost no side effects, and as she rounded the plus-two-weeks corner, she was getting ready to tell her parents about her experience.   But then both her mom and dad came down with Covid-19, and her dad's case is severe enough that even after being released from the hospital, he's still on oxygen at home.  So she figured now isn't exactly the best time to say, "hey, mom and dad!  Guess what I did in spite of you?".

Her dad, after a week or two, is slowly coming off of full-time oxygen needs.  My friend just did her second half-marathon this month. Not like those two things are related at all; I'm just so impressed with her stamina and with her ways of navigating choices in the world.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Window shade thingies

Here's the latest installment of "stuff made out of other stuff".  I keep being amazed at how incredibly satisfying I find it to solve a problem using a bunch of creativity (and also a bunch of scrap that happens to be lying around), and this is my most recent problem-solving happiness.

Here's the problem to solve:  the main window in our Kitchen of Many Delights faces west, which means that during about seven months each year, the evening sun shines right in and blinds the cook.   When I'm the cook, I don't mind; I love having the sun in my face, even if it's so intense I have to squint and turn away.  But my husband, not so much; for him it's like being interrogated by enemy operatives about where the Resistance is planning to sauté onions next.  Or something.  At any rate, my husband is the main Dinner-Maker these days, and it seems unfair to have him tortured just so he can get noodles and salad on the table for his loving wife.

The main window in the Kitchen of Many Delights is very oddly located in a well that sits behind the kitchen sink.  It means that we can't easily get to the window.  In fact, in order to hang a curtain there last summer, I had to get a step stool, climb up onto the counter, and then balance carefully while I reached across the well beyond the sink.  Hanging a curtain is possible, but it's not a feasible thing to open and shut a curtain often; adjusting the curtain requires step stools and clambering.

Last summer, we just hung a curtain all summer long, which suited my husband just fine, but left me a bit sad, because I'm such a sunlight fanatic.  

Okay, so that's the problem.  Ready for the solution?  Scrap lumber, leftover paint, and a bunch of nails rescued from some trash-picked furniture that I'd disassembled.  I used these to make shade thingie.  (I'm sure there's a name for these, but I haven't been introduced, sorry).

Here's the new view from inside the Kitchen of Many Delights, looking out.  

These slats block the sun from shining straight in like a torture-interrogation device, but they let light in indirectly.  Lovely!

Here's the view from the outside.   Can you tell that every individual slat come from a different kind of board (they're different thicknesses, different textures, etc)?  I bet you can't.  And since this is on the side of the house that no one can see from the street, I bet no one else will be able to tell that either . . . not that I'd care if they did.  The side bars were a large rescued former fence board that I zig-zag cut with the jigsaw; you can see that I ran out of material for the bottom slats, but the slats that are already there are quite enough to do the job, so I'm fine with stopping there.

And that's my latest happiness project, costing $0 and giving me the chance to make a mess with a few of my power tools.  Yes!

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Miser family update: school, socks, voting, travel, and a good-bye or two

 Life continues to  be rich and full in the Miser Family Household.   We've come to the end of an era here.   Anyone remember this photo collage?  

It's from a year ago, our very first themed "Family Fun Foto" collage together.  I've loved pulling these together, but I also knew we'd not want to do this for the rest of our lives, so instead of pulling together a collage, I'm using the one-year mark as a decision point for pulling the plug.  Good-bye, Family Fun Foto series! That was a lot of fun while it lasted.  

There is still interesting news coming from the family, though.   For one thing, K-daughter successfully closed out another semester of college . . . it's looking like she has one more summer's worth of classes to take, and she'll be done.  This is a huge accomplishment, what with two kids and a pandemic and such; at least that's what I think.   

She says, "Recycled my large pile of articles for my thesis because IT'S SUBMITTED and spent today relaxing, watching A-child play her tournament! She actually did well and hit a few balls!"  K-daughter also showed me her (excellent) grades for the semester, and I wrote back to say, "As a professional educator, I am supposed to say, "It's not about the grades, it's about your awesome effort and perseverance, and about how much you've grown through this process." But as a mom I am going to say . . . . YYYYYAAAAAYYYYY!!! Go you, K-daughter!"

My paperwork push this week included voting in the primaries.  We ordered mail-in ballots, and then we dropped them in the polling box, and got a helpful email to assure us the process had worked properly:

Your ballot has been received by LOCAL County on 05/17/2021.

Your ballot status has been updated to reflect your official ballot has been received timely and recorded.

Please note: You are no longer permitted to vote at your polling place location now that you have returned your ballot timely.

If you have questions about your ballot, please contact LOCAL County at (xxx) xxx-xxxx.

Thank you

I-daughter did me one better, and spent election day helping to staff the polls.  This photo above is not the place where she volunteered, and it's not even the place where I would have voted, but it's conveniently located on the 4-block walk between my home and office, so I stopped while wearing my "I VOTED" mask to get a photo anyway.

While sitting around waiting for people to come vote, I-daughter knitted, but of course.  She's currently in Round 4 of Sock Madness, and displayed her sock-in-progress for me earlier in the week.

What is even more impressive than the sock is the number of strands that make it up.  See all those stripes heading up the sock?  They're called "vertical stranding", and they form a pretty significant crowd of strands of yarn!

You can see this a bit better here, with I-daughter revealing a skewer of yarn butterflies that her knitting team calls a "shishke-butterfly".

My guy and N-son did their usual stuff during the week (protests, biking, working at the Domestic Clutter Emporium, hanging with friends).  This weekend, they jumped on an airplane bound for Minnesota to collect interesting stories -- no doubt forthcoming --  and to see L2's Trifecta of (1) getting baptized in the Catholic Church, (2) celebrating one year of sobriety, and (3) getting her motorcycle license.  Y'know, how they do.

Finally, we end with a somber note and big hugs for L1.   We knew this day was coming, but it was still heartbreakingly sad to have to say good-bye to Amelia Dog.  She'd been with L1 for a year, initially as a foster dog, but then when the diagnosis came, L1 made the decision to keep Amelia with her and keep her as happy and comfy as she could.  L1 wrote, 
She let me know it was time, and made it clear. her final moments were peaceful and She was surrounded by love and ate steak and treats till her last moments. She left this earth with a full belly and happy heart.

We're all very sorry, and also grateful for the year L1 and Amelia got to have together, taking care of one another.

And that's the news from our family, which is all done with foto collages but which still has been wealthy in our adventures.   May you and yours be similarly prosperous.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Three thoughts on . . . binder clips

Thought number one:  A single string and a bunch of binder clips team up to make a pretty good substitute for a bulletin board. 

I have an exposed brick wall in my Command Center, and I don't really want to cover it up with a bulletin board, but I also want a place to post things. So for the past few years, I've had just a single strand of rope across the wall, and I've "pinned" papers to that with binder clips. You can still see the string underneath my twine-bulletin board below.

Binder clips are not only good for paper, they're also good for grabbing onto things that normally don't hang (like a tube of toothpaste or a stuffed animal), and turning it into something you can hang from a hook, if you like hooks . . . which I do, as you can tell from this old "hang it all" post.

Thought number two: Thank goodness that binder clips don't snag on other papers (like paper clips do), or let things fall out (like file folders do). 

I really like using binder clips to organize related stacks of papers --- for example the first set of student essays, the second set of student essays, etc.--- and then lay these stacks flat on a shelf.   In the place of a file folder tab, I just label another small scrap of paper that I fold over the exposed edge, like a mini wrapper, and attach it with a binder clip.

Thought number three: binder clips are almost indefinitely reusable. 

I guess being me, I kind of had to say that. Hooray for things you can use in multiple ways, and use over and over again!

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

My dog doesn't eat my shoes

Our previous dog, Miser Dog, ate bike gloves (not the cheap ones, but my husband's expensive $50 gloves, but only the right hand.  Always the right hand.  My husband was left . . . so to speak . . . with a bunch of "on the other hand" gloves).  Miser Dog also loved destroying my undergarments.  Oog.

Prewash chewed up a bunch of things when we first brought her home four year ago . . . the toilet plunger was her most exotic chew toy.  But she's morphed into a particularly non-destructive pooch.

Here, for example, was the photo I snapped as I woke up one morning earlier this week.  She was contentedly snoozing near my bed, half on her own bed, with my completely un-molested pandemic slippers lying near by.   

There are so many things we take for granted in life, and it's good to pause every once in a while to remember to be grateful for those things that seem unremarkable . . . and this morning, I'm remembering to be glad that my dog doesn't eat my homework or my shoes or my underwear.   In fact, even the toilet plungers have been spared in recent years.  

Life is good.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Miser Family May Monarch update

Life continues to be rich and full in the Miser Family Household.  This week we are regally rich . . . with May Queens, May Kings, May Monarchs . . . 

Last week was I-daughter's birthday, and we took advantage of our several vaccinations to have dinner at a friend's home . . . the first time we've eaten not-at-our-own homes in well over a year now.  It was one of the most wonderful birthday presents ever!  The first two photos are from that event.  And to prove that I, too, am a tiara possessor, I add a photo from last summer's "Purple Dress party" that we had in an outdoor rose garden with the requisite masks.   I-daughter comes right back with a Princess Leia-style May Queen pose, and of course Amelia dog makes her regal appearance. 

The rest of the family is, alas, tiara-less, but no less ready for the theme.  N-son proudly demonstrates that he is the King of Shoes, and Y is "Mayking memories- last roommate date to get a Lebanese chai lattes."  Not to be checkmated in the pun-king arena, my guy is May King several phone calls.   And my sister-in-law proves you need neither tiaras nor puns to do it up regally: "I don’t have an actual crown photograph but I DO feel like a Queen in the picture."

May brings all sorts of wonderful breezes and temperatures and effects of sunlight.  Following the April showers, we revel in May Flowers, and for reasons that I don't entirely understand but that intrigue me, L1 and N-son decided he needed to go flower fishing in a bowl.   Want to know how to do this yourself?  Observe!

What do you catch when you go flower fishing, you wonder?  Why, flowers, of course!

So now you know.  If you need more explanation of how and why to participate in something similar yourself, you need to ask N-son and L1.

I-daughter has been involved in a different kind of plant-related endeavor: round three of Sock Madness involved an incredibly tricky two-yarn ivy theme, and she successfully finished the round using a pair of yarns from her stash appropriately named "Ivy League" and "Poison Ivy".  Aren't these socks beautiful?

As for me, the official transition to summer began this week.  I submitted final grades; I dealt with students complaining about their grades; and then I helped to marshal and read names at our Commencement ceremonies.   

I'd actually given the faculty Convocation address when this class of students entered the college 4 years ago; instead of doing the usual "take chances! get involved!" talk that goes with convocations, I decided to describe the mathematical definition of "Chaos", and explain why their lives at college should be chaotic.  Whoops -- I guess that goes to show I need to be careful what I wish for people!  Still, given that rather dubious beginning I foisted upon several hundred people, it was nice to be able to read their names as they walked across the stage or waved via Zoom, and to see the students I had welcomed into the college thrive in spite of it all. 

And that's the news from our family, which continues to be wealthy in our adventures.  May you and yours be similarly prosperous.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

A twine bulletin board

For the latest installment of "Stuff I made with stuff I had", I bring you a twine bulletin board.

I had been helping N-son clean out a rather messy situation, and decided it was time to retire a painting that one of his older sisters had given him more than a decade ago.   It was one of those canvas things stretched across a wooden frame, the kind you can buy in any art store or craft store, and in N-son's case, the canvas had acquired punch holes and rips.  

So, I removed the canvas from the frame with my staple remover.  I stuck the frame in a corner for a few weeks pondering what to do with it, hoping that a useful inspiration would strike.   

Eventually, inspiration did strike, and so I grabbed my beloved cordless drill, and made holes in the frame every 1.5 inches.  I had happened to have a large spool of garden (?) twine that had been sitting in my "useful junk" box for years.   I threaded that twine through the holes, doing my best to keep things tight, and . . . 

. . . Voila!  I have a bulletin board that complements my brick wall really nicely.  (Instead of push pins, I use binder clips).  

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Miser family update; may the fourth be with us all!

Life continues to be rich and full of force in the Miser Family Household.  (Does your family celebrate May 4th as Star Wars day, too?)

A few years back, my college had a "Jedi mediation" day on May 4, which was supposed to be for stress reduction but was actually fairly unfocused and weird.  The organizer asked people to dress in their best Jedi outfits, and one math professor actually obliged.  Ah, well.   

Nonetheless, May the 4th be with you is a great day to celebrate with Vegas Leia donuts that have Oreo hair buns ("Sometimes I do a Las Vegas interpretation of our weekly theme. This week I did not disappoint. Yes, they are donuts.").  I-daughter, born to this holiday a prime number of years ago, demonstrates her R2D trashcan and Baby Yoda toilet paper cozy, and adds in her collection of movies for good measure.  L1's husband, Peter, had a perfectly themed cake!

As for the rest of my family, it's a good thing they're very flexible, because they really stretched to reach this theme.  My guy says, "The forth that propels my bike is me," and L2 adds "Although I hope the force of Christmas spirit remains, the force of my Christmas tree finally is out of my apartment as of this morning 😂🤷‍♀️".  K-daughter kinda switched months: the four members of her family marched forth on a church mission event.  Y brings the theme home, so to speak, "May The Fourth... or the fifth be with you! My house received a fifth (temporary) housemate this week, who is leaving a bad home situation. We love her already and feel grateful for how God is at work in her life." (faces covered with flowers to protect privacy).

If two seconds make a fourth, then we ought to also count that K-daughter and I both got our second shots!  She had a much worse time of it than I did; I had a slightly sore arm for one day, and then ran slow the next day (but that could also be because I gave blood earlier in the week, and it could also be because I just am darned good at running slow).

I got a really nice letter from a former student of mine, with lots of back and forth, but with one especially adorable side conversation.  She says, 

I  realize I didn’t mention, but you might enjoy the fact that I also adopted a puppy this year, and her name is Pi!  She’s great, and is good company during this whole pandemic thing.

Pi is a really sweet little girl, she just turned 1 and is full-sized!  I rescued her from a shelter, because somehow someone gave up this perfect little puppy.


As we emerge back into sociability, thanks to good vaccines, a few of us got to go see a softball game.  Here are a few photos of my favorite little slugger in action.  

And me, I was happy to get my hands on my youngest granddaughter, reminding her that she's got a great future in this family.

And that's the news from our family, which continues to be wealthy in our adventures.  May you and yours be similarly prosperous.