Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spring Springs

I spent about half of my day, today, thinking "I should say that in my next post." And then I drove home after work and thought "No. I should say that in my next post!" Of course, at neither of those times was I able to sit down and actually write my next post.

Much like that dream that haunts you when you wake up, but you can't remember anything beyond a vague impression, by the time I turned on my computer this evening I had no idea what I wanted to say.

So I give you the following observational facts:

The Jasmine plant which we brought in over the winter - and which has been dropping leaves for the past month or so - is currently blooming. Although the leaves are a little thin (we're hoping it perks back up once it goes out into the now-glassed-in breezeway), it has little white star-shaped flowers all over it. It's giving off a faint, sweet, floral smell. It smells of warmer climates and summer and maybe even drinks out on a patio.

Outside, the irises are in full bloom. We've got a bunch of what are called Siberian irises, they're not all that tall, but they bloom incredibly early and are massively prolific with dark purple blooms. I transplanted a section of them out of an overgrown section behind the garage, and they're all over the yard now. They're also standing straight up mounted in an antique ceramic frog in the middle of a shallow Loso bowl on the buffet. (Remember last summer's tale of Loso pottery? It's here.)

In a pan in the basement, which is sitting in a south-facing window ledge, I'm attempting to get marigold seeds to germinate. Hopefully, within a couple of weeks, I'll have plants to transplant so that we'll have yellow and orange blooms in the gardens all summer.

It may only be three small things, but they are making spring an amazing place to be in Minneapolis this year. It may not be the ultimate blog post of my dreams, but this spring stuff isn't so bad, all told.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tips for Memoirists

Having just finished work on the first round of edits for my... ummm... something like my 7th or 8th memoir in the past year, I would like to offer the following tips to any of you who might be considering writing one:

1) Although inside jokes and asides might be interesting to your close friends (and might be perfectly good fun in a free blog, even... ahem...), they probably won't make any sense to people who don't know you. So don't make 25% of your book things that only people who already know you will understand. It's just not a good marketing ploy.

2) When an editor (or someone paid to assess your work on any level) says to you "This needs to be double-spaced, and your paragraphs need to be standardized before editing can happen," don't simply hand it off to the editor without making any changes because you think it fits your personal style better. Until you've become a national best-seller, you're going to have to follow the rules. Which means that - if you haven't already corrected all of that stuff - your editor is going to have to correct it for you. It can take a lot of time for us to do all of that formatting for you, and, frequently, it's not in our job description. And, to your detriment, that extra work will probably make us editors cranky when we're finally doing the editing. Yeah. You know that's not a good thing.

Which brings me to...

3) Be ready to take criticism. Let's face it. Aside from actors and NFL quarterbacks, pretty much no one gets criticized as much as authors. Even politicians usually have one full half of the audience on their side. But authors - and especially those writing "their own stories" - have to learn how to stand alone, take the comments, and move forward. I really really really hope the guy whose manuscript I just finished working on understands that part. Because, otherwise, when I have a phone conference with him in a week or so it's going to be kinda uncomfortable.


4) If you think you might have a memoir in you, by all means WRITE IT. I'm not saying that you should go out and publish it. But I'm definitely saying that if you have a story to tell then you should tell it. Tell it to your kids. Tell it to your spouse. Tell it to the people at your next dinner party. Tell it to the kids down at the school when you go in as part of an inter-generational learning event. There are amazing stories out there just waiting to be told. Whether they're about bee-keeping or college boarding houses or meeting Debbie Reynolds, they should be told. And shared. And relived and enjoyed.

And, by the way, if you need someone to edit them when you're done, let me know.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Catch It Before It's Gone

I fully realize that my taste in TV shows can sometimes be a bit suspect. I probably enjoy Phineas & Ferb more than I ought to. I obsess a bit over The Amazing Race. And there are shows I watch just because there's nothing else on - but don't we all?

Last week, however, Christopher and I tried a new show which is in direct competition with one of our other favorites The Big Bang Theory. Big Bang Theory was showing a repeat, and the new show is a comedy starring Alyssa Milano, whom I've always enjoyed watching.

So, with CBS out of the running, we switched to ABC and tried Romantically Challenged last week. The cast is decent. The show had its moments, but it was doing that "new show" thing and trying WAY too hard to be funny. And, yet, at the end of the episode, we kind of looked at each other and agreed that, if it made it to a second week, we'd try it again.

I just finished watching the second episode a couple of minutes ago, and I'm glad I did. This time around the show was a little more relaxed. The comedy wasn't as forced. The laughtrack wasn't as invasive. I laughed out loud a couple of times. It's definitely on the right track, but I'm still afraid it will be gone in a week.

I hope it sticks around, though, even if it is opposite Big Bang Theory.

And thank God that I can record at least one of them, because it's going to be a difficult decision in weeks to come.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

They Double Down Dared Me

I admit it. The advertising got to me. Or, rather, the anti-advertising got to me. All those people saying that it was the first sign of the Apocalypse.

Honestly, I was perfectly fine with ignoring it, but then everyone was talking about it. Even the folks at the "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!" blog talked about it. So you know I had no choice but to do it.

Even so, I did it surreptitiously, with no one around. I stayed in my car so no one would see me. And when I got home, I didn't even bring it into the house, but stayed outside until I could destroy the evidence.

The truth? It wasn't as bad as I expected. I didn't even feel that dirty afterward. Unfortunately, as with many clandestine things, it also wasn't as good as I'd hoped.
Maybe it was simply the thrill of doing something so wrong that got me going. Or maybe it was knowing that I would probably end up hating myself in the morning that made me wonder if it was worth it. No matter what, it had to be done. I couldn't just live through hearing about it from other people about it any more.

Yes. That's right. Today, after running a bunch of errands, I went to KFC and ordered a "Double Down Combo Meal."

I'm sure you've seen the stories, or the ads, or the "anti-ads," about the new "sandwich" from KFC. It consists of two slices of bacon and two pieces of Monterey Jack cheese slathered in "the Colonel's Sauce" and squashed between two Original Recipe Fried Chicken Breasts. That's right - there's no bun. Instead, it comes wrapped in this little envelope of paper which I guess you're supposed to use to protect your hands as you pick up the chicken to bite into it.

I couldn't get that paper wrapper to work, though (it kept sticking to the cheese and I came dangerously close to eating some of it), so I took that off and just held the two chicken breasts with the oozy goodness in my hands. And it was oozy. And it was good.

The chicken was chickeny. The cheese was cheesey. The "Colonel's Sauce" (although it sounds kind of R-rated), was appropriately spicy. The bacon was... well... it was there (probably the main weak spot in the meal - bland bacon).

I know (because I looked here before getting one) that the thing has more than 1/4 of my recommended daily calories. I know that it's got something like 32 grams of fat. (Which is why I opted for the cole slaw instead of the fries. Although, c'mon, who am I kidding if I pretend that the slaw is good for me?) People are right to point out those things. But, oddly enough, although I tend to have a squeamish stomach for many things high fat, this hasn't made me sick. (Not sure what that means, really.)

One thing I am surprised by, however, is that no one is really complaining about the sodium in the Double Down (it is listed on the website, though). It was almost inedibly salty. It was so danged salty that I've been drinking water at every chance for the past 2 hours, just to avoid a "dehydration hangover."

Would I order it again? Probably not (but, then, this was my first trip to KFC in about 8 months).

Am I glad I tried it? Heck, yeah. If nothing else, it was a whole lot more fulfilling than "Avatar" - and it cost me a lot less.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I Declare You Gotta See This!

I got this from a friend of mine, today, and I'm pretty much blown away by it, and wanted to share it. And, even better, I think I've finally figured out how to embed a video into my blog.

**Sidenote** I just saw an ad on TV for a new CD by Justin Bieber. I have no idea who that is, except that he has a CD and he looks like he might be 12. And that the morning crew on one of the radio stations I listen to laughs about the fact that one of them actually asked him if she could help him find his parents when she saw him in the hallway. (He was there for a promo tour...) Makes me think I don't have to feel so bad about not knowing him. **End Sidenote**

But, anyway... Here, hopefully, is the video I really want you to see:

Isn't that just cool? Makes me very happy to work with words.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

World Dichotomies

I ought to be working, so I'm going to keep my post short, and simply refer you to a couple of other things to look at. You have to promise me that you'll look at the other things, and then come back here and comment. Can you do that for me?

**Sidenote to my folks: To comment, you can log in as "Google ID" and then fill in your email address as the user ID, and then your password. That should allow you to leave a comment without always being anonymous.**

(Everyone say 'hi' to my folks!)

But, to the news of the day.

As far as I can tell, it was a very "One step forward, one step sideways" day in the world of gay news.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America made the huge decision to... well... to treat Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transgenders, and all the rest of us like people. I mean, really, that's what deciding not to discriminate is really all about: Treating people like people. Read a longer article here, and then go out and hug an Evangelical Lutheran!

Of course, if you're paying attention (and I'm sure you all, because I heard you all saying hello to my folks), you know that there was also some oddly not good news in the world of equal rights this week.

It seems that Cyndi Lauper (who is currently on "The Celebrity Apprentice") has been getting bashed for being an advocate for gay rights. Apparently, as part of the show, she helped some people makeover their singing careers (or maybe just their looks), and the proceeds from their songs are going to be going to a charity which promotes understanding and tolerance of other people.

But there are some folks who don't seem to like Lauper's politics (that whole "love one another" thing can be so pesky), and so they're boycotting the sales and posting some downright nasty comments online attacking her. I don't think I'm explaining this well. Go here for the full story.

Wow. All that stuff in such a little space. I guess I'll have to save my link to the Muppet version of Queen's song (which is up for a Webby award) until later this week.

Monday, April 19, 2010

It's A Dirt-y Job, and It's Great

Although we've been having a much warmer-than-usual spring, my rational side knows that I shouldn't plant things out in our yard until after around the first of May. With that in mind, yesterday I finally got around to buying some marigold seeds and potting soil so that I could get them started in the house.

In the meantime, though, I've been going out most mornings and checking the entire yard and garden. Our tulips are blooming around the yard, and the irises are going gangbusters. The clematis are starting to shoot up, and the shrubbery (a word which really has to be said with a Monty Python accent) are leafing and growing.

I'm especially excited to say that the lilac in the sheltered corner of the yard is taking off this spring. It's the second spring in the yard for the lilac (it came in during the summer of 2008, I believe), and this year it's really taking off. Most of the stalks have shot up at least 6 inches, already, and - for the first time - we have buds showing up. Yes. That's right. This year we'll have lilac blooms!

Our other excitement is that we've got a bunch of new plantings in the yard which were transplants from Missouri - brought to us by a friend of ours. We're really not sure where everything is in the yard, but I've spotted a few new lilies coming up that don't match our old ones. I can't wait to see what the spring and summer bring.

And, with that in mind, I spent some time putting marigold seeds into little fiber pots and watering them. They'll be in the basement window for the next week or two, then - depending on the weather - they'll go out into the breezeway or into the ground. Then, in about a month, we should have great blooming bunches.

In the meantime, I'll have to live with the springtime scent of the dirt.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Eye'm Not So Sure

I really wish I could say that I was busy spending this weekend with my unexpected guest from Idaho, which had caused me to not blog for a day or two.

Or... wait... I don't want to say that I wish she was stranded in Minneapolis. That's not exactly true. I really wish that she had been able to fly over to her conference in Belgium. But, on Friday, she never even left Idaho. After being assured by her airline (no naming names, but let's call it "Schmelta") she left home at 6am and drove 2 hours to the airport, where the Schmelta representative informed her that they had already rebooked her on a 6:50am flight through LA.

I know what you're thinking, because I know you're all good at math. You're thinking: She left home at 6am, and it was a 2-hour drive, so she missed that 6:50 flight. And you'd be sort of right, because she did miss the 6:50am Friday flight. But the 6:50 flight they had re-scheduled her on wasn't going to leave until TUESDAY, getting in during the afternoon on Wednesday. Why hadn't Schmelta told her this when she called in before leaving home? Yeah. We're not so sure why they didn't do that, either.

So, instead of hanging out and playing, I spent all day, yesterday, working on some freelance editing. It's a full-length manuscript. And, although it's full of interesting stories, it's also full of some huge problems. When I wrote up recommendations for the author to address before the edit, I pointed out a number of formatting things that needed to be addressed. Some of them were simple (like changing the single-spacing to double), and some was more intense (for no obvious reason, he's got all sorts of random words both bolded and italicized, which have to be addressed word by word).

How many of those things did he address? Let me put it this way: NONE.

After spending 10 hours (I almost typed "years") on it, yesterday (and I had already done the massive formatting previously), I'm still less than halfway through. By the time I gave up, I had taken a couple of small breaks (about 45 minutes for a trip to the Post Office and Grocery store), and my eyes were beginning to burn.

Waking up this morning, my eyes were still burning and itching. I was about ready to blame this on the editing. Or the volcanic ash. But then I found out that we're in a "Very High Pollen" alert for trees right now.

Even so, I think I'll blame the ash and editing. After all, pollen is so mundane.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Think Clean (Air) Thoughts

Have you seen in the news how there are volcanoes erupting in Iceland? Apparently, along with causing flooding (because of rapidly-melting ice and snow), the ash clouds are disrupting flights all over Europe.

Well, here's the thing. Christopher and I were talking about travel, yesterday, and I was thinking "Wow. It's a good thing that we're not trying to fly to or from Europe, right now." I was seriously thinking that I feel bad for anyone getting trapped because of the ash grounding flights all over the place. And I was also feeling incredibly relieved that I didn't know anyone in that predicament.

Then I got a phone call this evening from a friend of mine who lives in Idaho. She was making pasta (yes, from scratch) while we were on the phone, and was calling to say that she has a layover in Minneapolis tomorrow. Sounds pretty good so far, right?

Her layover is a three-hour stop prior to flying to Amsterdam on her way to an international journalism conference in Brussels. Okay. Yeah. Not so very good at this point.

Of course, now that there's pretty much just one airline that goes over there from anywhere other than the Coasts, she's spent tons of time trying to get through to Delta. Delta, being the customer service powerhouses they are, told her that her flight isn't urgent enough (after all, it's not until 10 tomorrow morning), and then they hung up on her.

So... Until mid-afternoon tomorrow, I won't know whether she'll simply be "visit adjacent" or stranded in Minneapolis for a few days until she can find a flight either to Amsterdam, or back to Idaho. Of course, I'd love to see her, but I know that she'd really prefer to be in Belgium, instead of Minnesota.

Which is why I'm asking everyone to think clean (air) thoughts. If we can all focus positive energy, possibly we'll be able to get enough of the ash cleared out that she'll make it to Brussels. Let's hope.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mid-week Malaise

This has been one of those very strange weeks. Weeks when time seems to go oh-so-slowly for about 12 hours, and then fastaslightning for the other 12. Actually, more precisely, it seems to be alternating between those two about every 3 hours.

The past three workdays, I've thought, at about 1pm, "Gee, this day has been really busy, it's flying by" only to look at the clock two hours later to find it's actually only been 30 minutes.

At least I've known which day of the week it was all week. I haven't had any of those days when I get to work thinking "Great. It's already Thursday!" only to find that it's Monday or anything.

On the other hand, tonight when I'd been working for a while and thought it was about 10:30, it was only 9:30 (Hurrah! Extra time!). Then, when I sat down to write this at what I thought was about 10:30, I realized it's actually 11:30 at night. How did I lose not one, not two - but three - hours?

(See, I'm going for three because I started work around 8:30. And now it's 11:30. That's three hours. And, well, it also just looks so much more dramatic with both the comma AND the two dashes, doesn't it?)

Okay. Yes. I spent the past 30 minutes or so writing a cover letter. And the 30 minutes before that re-working my resume. And the hour or two prior to that working on other job-search-related items. But that doesn't explain where all of the time went.

Oh. Wait. Yes, it does. But, anyway, what was I talking about...?

It's been nice out. We've had some rain. Our tulips are blooming, as are our irises. The grass is green. The willow tree and lilac are leafing out. Spring is springing all over the place.

And I'm kind of afraid I'm going to miss it, at the rate my days have been going.

Yeah. That's where the malaise comes from. I knew I'd get to my point eventually.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sometimes, Not Working Works

My goal this weekend was to make a whole lot of headway on an editing assignment. And while I did make a small amount of headway, I also made a decision today that put me further ahead than the editing would have.

You see, it's been a gorgeous weekend. Sunny and warm. I wandered around the yard probably more than I should have. Tonight I'm watching Amazing Race. And this afternoon I made one of my best decisions in quite a while when I decided at the last minute to put off my work. What did I put it off to do? To go to "The Dining Room."

No. I didn't go sit at the table and eat. I went to see the play by that name (written by A. R. Gurney), which was being directed by a friend of mine from college (who, as usual, will remain nameless because I didn't ask her if I could put her name in here).

Here's the thing - I haven't seen her since college, about 21 years ago. We've been in touch, lately - she lives in the metropolitan area - but we haven't actually seen each other. So this could have gone either way, you know. We could have stared at each other with nothing to say. Or we could have just fallen back into conversation.

Luckily, it was the latter.

We had a great hug in the lobby before the show, followed by a conversation. She came and sat with me during intermission and we talked. And, after the show, we talked some more. Sure. There was a little smalltalk, but there was also plenty of just plain talk. It was great.

Definitely a better way to spend the afternoon than editing a thoroughly mediocre manuscript.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Color Me Confused

I really thought I had posted something, yesterday, but I just looked and found that my last post was the one about my rather amazing drive home the other day. Hmm...

So... What have we missed in the past couple of days?

The contractors haven't been back to work on the changing of our screen porch into a three season room. I guess, maybe, they're waiting for the windows to come in, after all.

I saw another bald eagle, today. This time it was while I was running errands. I was distracted enough that I missed my turn-off and had to drive an extra half-mile, then make a U-turn. Today's eagle sighting wasn't as dramatic as the last one, though. This one was simply circling above the traffic. That's why I missed the turn-off - I was looking up and watching. (At least I wasn't texting...)

And that pretty much gets us back up to speed on this gloriously sunny Saturday. I guess that wasn't so confusing after all!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Things You Don't Expect To Say While Driving

There are plenty of things I say fairly regularly while driving. I say things like "Oh, COME ON!" and "What the...?!?" and, especially - as many of the people who ride with me can attest - "Duuude!" (which is remarkably multi-use depending on inflection and intonation).

At the same time, there are a number of things I don't really expect to say while driving. For instance, I don't see myself using the phrase "Please don't drive, yet. I would prefer to sit here stopped now that the light is green."

I also don't expect that I'll be saying "Don't worry about your phone usage. Really. I'd rather you stay on that call than look at the road."

Today I got to say something I absolutely never expected to hear myself say. Especially not on my commute home from work. Let me give you some context:

I was about halfway home, driving around the west side of Lake Calhoun, just about to curve around the south side. Calhoun is a lake in the middle of Minneapolis. It's surrounded by houses and streets and people. But the lake is big, and there are often wildfowl around. The curve of the road goes between the lake (to the left) and a small pond off to the right of the road.

The past couple of weeks I've seen the ice come off the lake. I've seen ducks in the pond. I've even seen some herons (maybe cranes? I have no idea) go back and forth. Today, however, I looked to my right and saw something different in the air above the pond.

When I looked out the righthand side of the windshield, I saw something that looked like a snowball attached to a brown-ish kite. It was moving toward me fairly quickly, though, and as I kept watching it got bigger. It got bigger FAST.

Within a split second, the wings flapped and I saw a white flared tail behind it all. And the snowball became the head of a bird. A big, white-headed bird. At which point I whipped my head around to take another look and yelled to no one in particular (since I was alone in my car with the windows rolled up) something I really never thought I'd yell in my car in the city: "That's a frickin' Bald Eagle!"

I slowed down (there was nowhere to stop) and watched the eagle cruise across the walking paths and along the water's edge toward the east. I'm amazed that more people didn't stop to watch it go by. As I turned away from the lake, the eagle disappeared from sight.

A frickin' Bald Eagle! Duuude!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ins and Outs and Doorbells

Do you ever have one of those days where things mostly go right, but - somehow - things just seem a little off? Today was one of those days.

As I was getting to work this morning, I walked into the building with one of my co-workers. He's not someone I talk to alot (we work on completely different projects), but we've collaborated on a couple of things. More importantly, we've commiserated about a few situations (and people) from time to time. He's one of the few people in the office who is older than me, and I think the fact that we are each old enough to be considered to be in a different generation than the rest of the staff... well... that was a bonding thing. Anyway, as we were walking in today, he commented that today was his last day. Not his "giving notice" day, but his actual last day.

He said his good-byes around lunchtime and then just kind of left. So, of course, after he was gone I went into his old cubicle and took his chair. It's basically the same as mine, but my old one kept trying to push me forward, while his sits up normally. Heck it even lets me lean back and slouch a little. It made for a nice afternoon.

See... That's the kind of day it was.

After work, before meeting a couple of friends for dinner, I ran to Restoration Hardware to buy a new doorbell for the screen porch (which is being modified into a three-season room). You see, the renovation guys were able to come right on time, and there was a chance that they would need the doorbell tomorrow or later this week (instead of the originally predicted next week). Christopher and I had found a style we liked a week or so ago, but didn't know when we'd need it.

So, no problem. I ran to the store to buy it. I found a staff guy who was available immediately and pointed out the one I wanted to take home with me. Who knew that Restoration doesn't keep them in stock? You have to order them so that they'll be delivered to your home in 3-5 business days. Of course, when I got home after dinner, I found that they had already installed a little basic doorbell. Okay... yeah... the wiring is moved, the doorbell is much more visible than it used to be, and we're good to go. Except that we still want a different doorbell.

Like I said. One of those kinds of days.

I think I might need to go to bed before I have anything else to add.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Seasonal Sustenance

Ah. Spring. The flowers are coming up (we have tulips budding in the yard!), the grass is greening. The allergies are flaring.

And there are things in the grocery store that you can only find seasonally. Things like asparagus. And other spring fruits and vegetables. You know, like Peeps. And Cadbury eggs. And Russell Stover marshmallow eggs. And Reesester bunnies. And all of the other amazing foods that are only available for about a month each year.

Christmas candy is great and all, but - aside from the preponderance of peppermint - most of the candy available around Christmas is available the rest of the year. But not Easter candy.

Easter candy is only around at Easter. Once the Cadbury mini eggs and Robin Eggs disappear from the stores, they won't be back for at least 11 months. So you have to savor what shows up in the Easter basket. After a few days of chocolate-coated and sugar-filled meals, the binge-ing will have to end in a fairly "cold turkey" fashion.

Which, considering that shorts season is coming in the near future, might not be a bad thing.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

It's An Easter Miracle! (Maybe Two!?)

(Okay. I admit that there are a few people in the world who may not find this funny. I, however, am not in that group. I suspect that many of you also are not in that group. Or at least I hope so.)

This morning, when my father went down to have coffee at the bar/cafe, he found out that a local woman, who is really very nice, had passed away. For the sake of argument, we're going to call her Estelle. Estelle Branch. Estelle was a very nice woman, and, although she was right as rain just a few days ago when my parents saw her, she apparently died in the night. Possibly in Sioux Falls. So my father, having come home from learning this news, phoned his good friend - Estelle's nephew - to tell him the sad news. It made for a melancholy Easter Saturday lunch.

However, about an hour later, the phone rang. It seems that the men's gossip newsline had gotten it wrong. It was not, in fact, Estelle Branch who had died last night. It was Estelle Schwerner. And Estelle Schwerner had been ill for a while, culminating in a stroke just a few days ago. No one knew why she was might have been in Sioux Falls. Although this is definitely sad news for the Schwerner family, it's much better news for the Branches. So Dad picked up the phone, again, to call his friend and let him know that his aunt is, in fact, alive. Again, sad for the Schwerner's, but good for the Branches.

Except that, as we learned just about an hour ago, it wasn't Estelle Schwerner who died. Estelle Schwerner, just like Estelle Branch, is still alive and well. Although, possibly not quite as well as Estelle Branch, considering the stroke and all. You see, it wasn't Estelle Schwerner who died. It was actually Estelle Schwerner. I mean. Umm. Another Estelle Schwerner. An Estelle Schwerner who lives in Sioux Falls, whom no one around here actually knows, and is simply someone that somebody in town is sort of related to.

Need a score card? Here you go:

Estelle Branch. Dead? Only for about 3 hours in gossip-time. Currently alive and quite possibly kicking.

Estelle Schwerner. Dead? Only for about 90 minutes in gossip-time. (Although possibly not kicking so well after the stroke.)

Estelle Schwerner. Dead? Sadly, yes. And we feel really sorry for her family - whoever they may be.

Estelle the half-tabby/half-pure-white cat who lives down the street? (Seriously. I kid you not. We just found out that was the cat's name this afternoon in the midst of all of this death and un-death.) Still has all 9 lives to work with, as far as we know.

Overall score: 1 alive (nine lives to go); 1 dead (again, sadly); 2 alive after amazing resurrections.

And neither of them even had to wait three days.

Now that's an Easter miracle.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Climate Change 101

I know that there's a whole lot of debate over Global Warming and Global Climate Change and all of the other buzzwords out there.

It's not like we're having consistently warmer temps year 'round. Minnesota definitely had plenty of cold weather this winter. Enough frigid temps that the snow pack we built up starting in October never really settled at all. (Usually, there's a kind of shrinking of the snow as we have a January warm up and then we get a bunch more snow.)

This year, though, the snow was around so consistently and for so long, that when it started to disappear a few weeks ago it left behind the largest amount of "snow mold" that we've seen in years. Honestly, I'd never heard of snow mold until this year when I heard about it on the news. I simply looked out one day and thought "Wow. I didn't realize there was so much frost last night" and then realized that is was only on the grass. It took a few days for the mold to go away - in some shaded areas you can still see traces of it. (Gee. Do you suppose this has anything to do with everyone having cold and allergy symptoms the past few weeks?)

Of course, March is typically the snowiest month of the year, which might explain why we don't usually see much of the mold. On the other hand, this year, for the first time since weather records have been kept in Minneapolis, we had no snow. Not a dusting. Not a flurry. Not a flake. (Not even really any rain, if you want to get down to it.)

On the other hand, we've had days in the 60s, when our average highs are supposed to be in the 40s. At the end of the month, when highs should be in the 50s, we were hearing predictions of 70s and even 80s.

On my drives home, I've been watching the ice come off the lakes. And I've seen the clothes coming off of the people running and riding around them.

Don't get me wrong. It's been a wonderful early spring, so far. Tulips and irises are up higher than usual. We've gotten to drive with Christopher's sunroof open. I've gotten to wear my "in between" coat about twice as long as I have the other years I've been out here.

It's been great.

But... Yeah... Anyone who says there isn't some kind of climate change going on really needs to look outside.