Monday, December 29, 2008

dewey and marble

I just finished a book which had been on my Christmas list -- Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World.

Dewey had a rough start in life. He was abandoned on a bitter cold January night in 1988 in the book return box of the public library in Spencer, Iowa. The kitten was quite frail with little frost-bitten paws when he was found, but he was cared for (and then adopted by) the librarians. Dewey Readmore Books (so named in a write-in contest in town) lived at the library for 19 years, where he was basically a goodwill ambassador and impacted the lives of many people.

The book is very engaging. However, about 2/3 of the way through I started to worry that the author (librarian Vicki Myron) had run out of material because she began describing the cat's constipation in much greater detail than I needed. However, she got her literary second wind and the book finished strongly.

I was happy to learn that the book will be made into a movie, and Vicki Myron will be played by (drum roll please.......) Meryl Streep. Should be good!

In any event, this book inspired me, and I am now thinking of writing a book about Marble. (I may lengthen his name to Marble Spraysmore Chairs.) And I can picture the cover now...

(Marble knows I'm only jokin'.)

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Hubby, Offsprings #1&2 and I drove to Portland yesterday. The only challenge was getting out of our neighborhood because the streets were thick with slush. Once we hit the more heavily traveled roads we were fine.

In the evening we saw Doubt, a movie about a nun who confronts a priest suspected of an improper relationship with a young boy in their parish and school. You've probably all seen the trailers. Meryl Streep plays the accuser, Sister Aloysius, a strict disciplinarian (yet definitely not a one-dimensional character). Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the accused Father Flynn, a friendly priest who is trying to help modernize the church. Amy Adams is Sister James, an optimistic and impressionable young teacher who is caught in the middle. Her flip-flopping of opinion on the priest's innocence vs. guilt is representative of the audience's uncertainty.

Of course this doubt is the whole point of the movie, and the best advice I can give you on seeing the film (not that you need my advice) is to avoid getting caught up in the "did he or didn't he" question. Instead consider the bigger themes. There is obviously the tension between doubt and certainty (and Fr. Flynn's sermon on doubt at the film's beginning contrasts to some degree with the type of doubt with which Sr. Aloysius is wrestling at the end of the film). There is also the whole appearance vs. reality question (not only with Hoffman's character but more subtly with Streep's character.)

And there is the theme of the ambigious nature of morality. I won't do a plot spoiler, but this is highlighted in how the boy's mother handles the accusation. (And here I'll mention that Viola Davis does a wonderful job playing the role of Mrs. Miller. Her anguish as a mother with limited options for her son is gut-wrenching.)

Of particular interest to me was the handling of the topic of 1960's sexism -- part of the priest's anger at the nun's accusation is that she had the audacity to step out of her 'place' and make the charge at all.

Then there's the whole tradition vs. modernization of the church angle.

Anywhoo, there is a LOT to ponder in the movie and a LOT to like about it. In short, go see it!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

white christmas

This is our first white Christmas here in the PacNW in a l-o-n-g time! There is a lot of snow on the ground, and it is currently snowing!

On Christmas Eve, even our icicle lights had icicles...

(top photo near our backyard by Offspring #1; bottom photo out our front door by me)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

but on the up side...

After we ordered that new roof, we went sledding at twilight (not the vampire movie; the time of day).

The main trick was stopping BEFORE one went into the lake...

And the Christmas lights were real purty:

Now it's off to the clinic for half a day of work. It's snowing again, so not sure how many patients will brave the weather to come in.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

on the down side...

The down side of having all that pretty snow on our roof is that (as it is slowly melting) we have developed a roof leak. And, as it turns out... we need a whole new roof. So the new (and might I add spendy) roof will be done next week. In the meantime, here's Offspring #1 and me INSIDE the house.

Monday, December 22, 2008

'tis the season...

...for loud holiday clothing.

Every year (for a lot of years now) my family gets together with the Dust Bunny family for a gift exchange. This year we decided to notch up the silly level by all dressing in either tacky Christmas clothes or ugly holiday sweaters. Here we are (actually on Dec 18th):

Unfortunately my arm was covering the obnoxious Santa face on my sweater. You can get an ever-so-slightly better look at it below. This is where we are playing holiday charades (using teams of two). Here's Dust Bunny and me, obviously quite amused with ourselves.

'Tis also turning into the season for snow here! Looks like we are going to have a white Christmas, which is quite rare for us. Today Hubby, Offsprings #1&2, and I took a walk on the snowy dike road. Here I am (and Mr. Ed is in the background.)

I started off using the snowshoes, but ended up carrying them (because I could go a little faster without them!)

all photos by Offspring #1

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Christmas Card for YOU!

It's Day 2 of being semi-snowed in. (We can get out, but we're just not getting too frisky on the roads...) So, I had time to create a video Christmas card for my blog readers, with a special tip of the holiday hat to my 'regular' readers. Check it out!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

the persistent mr. tumnus

Marble is less than pleased with the presence of Mr. Tumnus in our home. But Mr. Tumnus is trying his hardest to win over Marble.

It is snowing and icy out today, and we're sort of stuck at home -- so what else am I going to do but make a grainy home video with footage of the cats?! (Video was shot with my little Olympus camera.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Five: Countdown to Christmas Edition

Songbird writes: It's true. There are only five full days before Christmas Day, and whether you use them for shopping, wrapping, preaching, worshiping, singing or traveling or even wishing the whole darn thing were over last Tuesday, there's a good chance they will be busy ones.

So let's make this easy, if we can: tell us five things you need to accomplish before Christmas Eve.

Alrighty then. I present my five!

1. Buy some stocking stuffers.
2. Send out a few oops-they-weren't-on-our-list-but-we-got-a-card-from-them Christmas cards.
3. Finish wrapping presents.
4. Watch The Snowman. Mandatory Christmas viewing. In a good way.
5. Repair the snowman that tragically took a carrot-nose dive in our backyard.

To be more accurate... supervise the repair of the snowman.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Yep, we got snow today! I get a little excited because we don't get a good snowfall too often here. I managed to get off work a little early, but while I was at the clinic...

Mr. Tumnus donned his holiday cape and went out to play in the snow.

And Offsprings #1&2 built a darn fine snowman.

While Tumnus loves the real snow...

Marble prefers the phony kind.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

weekend checklist

* Offsprings #1&2 and the incomparable Mr. Tumnus home for Christmas break: check
* Hubby home from California: check
* House decorated inside and out: check
* Tree up and decorated and cat-proofed: check
* Presents bought: check
* Presents wrapped: partial check

And now it's off to bed (Offspring #1 & Mr. Tumnus are sleepy too...)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Friday Five: Windows of the Soul

This Friday Five on eyes and vision was inspired by Sophia's husband's Lasik surgery yesterday...

1. What color are your beautiful eyes? Did you inherit them or pass them on to anyone in your family?
My eyes are brown, a color both inherited and passed on. (It's a dominant gene, what can I say?!)

2. What color eyes would you choose if you could change them?
Hmm... I kinda like my brown ones (see bonus question below).

3. Do you wear glasses or contacts? What kind? Like 'em or hate 'em?
I usually wear glasses, but have disposable soft lenses for sports. I like 'em -- especially the glasses since they have transition lenses which change tint depending on lighting levels.

4. Ever had, or contemplated, laser surgery? Happy with the results?
My vision correction is pretty mild, so I'm not motivated for laser refractive surgery.

5. Do you like to look people in the eye, or are you more eye-shy?
As an optometrist, I look people directly in the eye alllllllll day long!

Bonus question: Share a poem, song, or prayer that relates to eyes and seeing.

I present Van Morrison's classic Brown Eyed Girl!

sketch of eye up above from here

Monday, December 8, 2008

pic o' the day

My current feelings regarding the holiday season:

yep, googled it

Sunday, December 7, 2008

short short, big big

Today was the second meeting of the Short Short Book Club, where we have a short discussion of a couple of short stories. My contribution is to write the discussion questions, and I usually throw in related pictures to spice things up a bit.

One of today's stories (A Change in Fashion by Steven Millhauser) dealt with the excesses of the whole fashion scene, and at one point in the story there was a dress as big as a house. Yep, that big! In looking for a picture to go with my questions, I googled "big dress" and here's what came up:

Bride's big day

A bride's dress was so big it got stuck in the church door.

Carly O'Brien's 25 stone dress was 8ft wide and cost £25,000. It took twenty people an hour and a half to push 16-year-old Carly through the church door and up the aisle followed by her 60ft long train.

The 30-layer dress, covered with 3,000 Swarovski crystals, diamond head-dress and train meant dad Frank, 40, had to walk in front as there was no room alongside.

Carly, who spent nine and a half hours getting into the dress, was so exhausted when she got to the altar in Gloucester that the groom, Michael Coffey, 17, and 14 relatives carried her out.

Sister Crystal, 20, said: "Carly wanted her day bigger than Jordan's. She got it."

After seeing this monstrosity, I guess the dress-as-big-as-a-house indeed appears to be the next logical (or illogical) step...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

It's that time of year again...

...when Presbyterian Gal and I get on our elf costumes and dance! This time Robert Redford asked if he could join us, and of course we said yes...

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Sunday, November 30, 2008

the birds

I'm hoping it's not Hitchcockian, but...

birds seem to be attracted to Offsprings #1&2.

When Offspring #1 lived in the dorm, a pair of robins built a nest in her window. She watched the entire process from nest building to the baby birds finally flying off. Here is one of many pictures she took:

Now an owl seems to have found Offspring #2. He took this awesome picture from the kitchen window of his apartment.

Perhaps I should ask Tippi Hedren when one should start to worry.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving with Tumnus

We consumed too much Thanksgiving turkey, and so did Mr. Tumnus. After doing this...

Mr. Tumnus now looks like this:

OK, actually that is a fat cat in the U.K. who is going to be placed on a 100 day diet and fitness program. Mr. Tumnus is still svelte. Although perhaps I might benefit from that 100 day diet and fitness regime.

And, yep, that's a new blog header from Julie Neidlinger at Lone Prarie Art Works. I'm a fan of her work.

Friday, November 28, 2008

as promised...

Here's the picture taken at the 2nd Annual Thanksgiving Pie Fest with the Dust Bunny family.

I think we all look stylin' in our turkey hats.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

The turkey is in the oven, the parade is on tv, Offsprings #1&2 are home... and so is Mr. Tumnus! Yay! Although Marble is less than amused by the presence of Mr. Tumnus...

Later today we will get together with the Dust Bunny family for our second annual Thanksgiving Pie Fest. Last year we dressed as pilgrims and Native Americans. Here's Dust Bunny (at right) and me:

This year we will wear turkey headdresses -- stay tuned for the picture!

Monday, November 24, 2008

weekend recap

I am back from my "almost in Mexico to almost in Canada" weekend. The service for my father-in-law in southern California went well. The rabbi really did a wonderful job. Hubby is still down there, but he gets home tomorrow.

We are inheriting lots of old pictures. I stuck this one in my purse and brought it home early because I think Hubby looks so darn cute in his cowboy hat:

On to northern Washington...
I enjoyed seeing Offsprings #1&2 in Bellingham. Offspring #1 was hilarious in an adaptation of Sleepy Hollow. She played "Isabella" who, along with her sister "Rose", could best be described as 'man-hungry'. Offspring #1 has great comedic timing (and I ain't just sayin' that because she's my daughter!)

Tip: Do not try to surreptitiously take pictures in a dark theatre. They really don't turn out.

(Actually this picture is probably a good example of what uncorrected astigmatism looks like!)

Friday, November 21, 2008

this just in...

Garbage Puff spotted in California.

He fancies the palm trees.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

stay tuned

"Gracious!" thought Barbara, "This busy itinerary surely will not leave much time for blogging. Oh well, at least I look snappy in my smart new dress."

During the next few days I will be traveling over a good hunk of the West Coast... from Long Beach, CA up to Bellingham, WA. Dust Bunny promises to watch Marble while I'm gone.

I will check in with everyone when I return!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

on a lighter note...

I really like my next-door neighbor, Wayne. Whenever he sees me outside, he usually runs over to show me something -- a toy, his haircut, whatever! And if he can do a demonstration of the thing, so much the better! He also likes to tell me (in great detail) about what's going on in his life. Wayne repeats some things from home that I find uproariously funny (although I don't know if his parents would). :)

Today Wayne was excited to show me his new scooter. Motorized. (Hate to be a fuddy-duddy, but I'm thinking a regular scooter would be better exercise!) Anyway, he looked very cute in his helmet and shades.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

the two dads

I lost my dad in June, and today Mike's dad passed away. Both had been in declining health with diminishing quality of life, so for both it really was a blessing. Of course it is still always difficult.

I was looking through some old photo albums this evening.
Here's Mike (far right) with his dad and brother, 1968 vacation in Big Sur:

Here's me with my dad and brother, 1972 vacation in Minnesota:

painting update

I finished painting the kitchen yesterday. Aargh -- so many annoying little nooks and crannies! At one point I had the idea to dip Marble's tail in the paint and let him get into some of the tight spots. Here was his response:

Yeah, he's like that.

I was contemplating finishing the laundry room today, but I think I will remain in 'contemplation mode' and finish it another day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sunday, November 9, 2008

sunday snippets

Today was the first meeting of my brainchild, "The Short Short Book Club". The idea behind the club is to get together once a month for a short discussion of a short story (or two). Really low key! A short cup of coffee is also included, and so far the membership list is short as well. (But enough with the word short!)

The book we are using is The O. Henry Prize Stories 2008. The first meeting was fun! If you want a low stress book club (low prep time!), short stories are the way to go.

In other weekend news...

I painted! I did the downstairs bathroom, hallway leading into the kitchen, and started the laundry room. Used a color called "Soft Brie". Yummy. :) Next weekend I'll probably complete the laundry room and tackle the kitchen. On the down side, it always takes longer than I anticipate, but on the up side, everything is looking clean and fresh.

all pics googled; top one is a composite which I played with a bit...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

what to do now...

As I mentioned in my "Tina Fey plays Sarah Palin" posts, I love a good parody. And that's why I'm posting this. It's funny!

As you all know, Obama wasn't my first choice. *Sniff* Hillary was. But this is not meant to insult anybody who was a big Obama supporter. Again, I just find it funny!

Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are

I am a migraineur...

Yep, I get migraines. I think I had my first one when I was in junior high. For me, migraines usually start as a small bright spot in my vision which gradually grows into a shimmering, jagged semicircle. This disruption in vision lasts for about a half hour and looks something like this:

After the vision clears up, I get a headache. I am lucky in that the headaches are usually not that bad, and my migraines are infrequent. Now I'm finding out I am even luckier than I thought, because a recent study links migraines to a lower risk of breast cancer. According to Reuters, "overall, women who had a history of migraines had a 30 percent lower risk of breast cancer compared to women who did not have a history of such headaches." (Full article here.)

It should be interesting to see future research on both health issues. In any event, next time I get a migraine I'll probably have a slightly more positive attitude about it. :)

migraine art from here

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Friday Five: Funny Papers

This week's Friday Five is courtesy of my good blog pal, Presbyterian Gal. She writes: After an exhausting election here in the states it's time for some spirit lifting! Join me with a nice cup of tea or coffee or cocoa and let's sit back and read the Funny Papers!

1. What was your favorite comic strip as a child?
I'd have to say Dennis the Menace, and I also liked the tv show. (In retrospect, Margaret probably got a bad rap!)

2. Which comic strip today most consistently tickles your funny bone?
I like things that are a little twisted, so Off the Mark is a good one...

3. Which Peanuts character is closest to being you?
I'd have to go with Marcie. (And it's cool because Offspring #1 had the role of Marcie/Marcy in the play Dog Sees God.)
Here's me reading in bed...

4. Some say that comic strips have replaced philosophy as a paying job, so to speak. Does this ring true with you?
I think that many cartoonists are philosophers (at least quasi philosophers). And some are theologians. But they have limited space so the most they can do is spark some interest and get you thinking.

5. What do you think the appeal is for the really long running comic strips like Blondie, Family Circus, Dennis the Menace as some examples?
They are like comfort food!

Bonus question: Which discontinued comic strip would you like to see back in print?
The Likable Adventures of Likable Mike -- all about this cute and (of course) likable optometrist:

Yeah, you're right... I made that up.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

time for a 'toon!

(I wish I had thought up the character Timmy Tofu -- that's something I could actually draw!)

dig those savage chickens

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hillary weighs in too...

From the Associated Press:
November 04, 2008
Hillary Clinton Casts Vote for Obama

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has cast her vote for Barack Obama, saying that voters understand that the nation needs "a serious president for serious times."

Clinton voted Tuesday with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, in their hometown of Chappaqua in New York's Westchester County.

The senator was asked if she felt sorry that her name was not on the ballot. She replied: "The personal honor and privilege I had of being a candidate and coming so close is something I'll always be proud of."

Sen. Clinton said she hopes "to be part of what I hope will be a great next couple of years for America."

She added: "I feel very good about what's going to happen today."

Sunday, November 2, 2008

theatre arts majors are creative...

For Halloween this year, Offspring #1 and her boyfriend Doug dressed as Juno and Paulie Bleeker. Offspring #1 sent me their picture (which she inserted on the movie poster background via photoshop). I thought it was too good not to share:

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Today is wedding anniversary #28 for Hubby and me. (Where did the time go?!)
Anywhoo, I did a little video slide show of the 'early dating years' during our optometry school time in Oregon. (Yep, it includes Mount St Helens blowing!)