Thursday, July 31, 2014

When and Where Will the Politics Come Back?

Last winter this web site announced that, because reading over our Yearbook convinced me that our Politics Department was eating the rest of the site, we'd be moving the political content to some other location, then undisclosed.

A hater at the Huffington Post, imaginatively picturing me as something that "has nice fingernails but lives in the ocean and wants to destroy Japan," inspired me to set up a Live Journal site as Priszilla. I have nothing against Japan. As a cyberspace entity, I'm more interested in destroying a virtual construct, the La-La Land of the Loony Left (where Obamacare would work and gun control would reduce violent crime and taxes on soda pop might even make people slim and beautiful).

However...I discovered that other Live Journalists are called Priszilla. No pun intended by them. That's the standard way the saint's name is spelled in some Slavic countries.

Slavic the two that the U.S. hoped to enlist as allies, but are now trying to drag us into their war with each other?

Live Journal was founded in one of those countries, and if my country's diplomatic relationship with those countries is going to be affected by what I as an American perceive as a tedious boundary dispute they ought to be able to settle all by themselves, then Live Journal may not be a good site for discussions of U.S. politics.

Neither, apparently, is Blogspot. The computer consistently shows that this blog is read by about as many Russians and Ukrainians as Americans. As long as those countries were at peace with us and each other, that was fine...but I don't want to hand information about my country's politics or politicians to a country that's become our enemy.

So, the Politics Department of this web site will be migrating to Freedom Connector. I'm still not sure exactly how that will work. I've neglected Freedom Connector because it bans fundraising, and the original purpose of this web site was to raise funds for a legitimate, writer-owned writing site that could replace the original, healthy Associated Content that sold out to Yahoo...remember? Since we receive such masses of political content free of charge, the Politics Department has no real fundraising needs. It can move to a place where everybody pretends we don't need any more money than we already have. The format will change, but at least it will be easy for congenial people to comment and interact with each other and let me know whether anybody's reading, liking, or understanding any of it.

I'm not sure exactly when it will happen, either. As discussed on Bubblews, I'm now posting from; when we get more funding we'll have multiple computers that connect to the Internet here, but currently only Tree's computer is connecting. I'm not sure how many cookies this little laptop thing can handle. I'm not worried about using it to process material from elected officials, and Freedom Connector itself has seemed to be a fairly safe and stable site...I know I don't want to expose this computer to The Blaze, any more than I'd want to expose it to the Huffington Post; those sites drop too many cookies and attract too many angry people.

Meanwhile, back at Blogspot, I'll be checking out how the "pages" thing works these days and possibly having a Books Page and a Miscellaneous Page...but not a Politics Page.

Russian, Ukrainian, and other readers around the world will remain welcome to build their English vocabulary here and communicate (via e-mail to salolianigodagewi @ if necessary) with us about books, recipes, weather, nature, history, crafts, charity, animals, and gardening.

Stop the Texts, Stop the Wrecks

(Reclaimed from Bubblews.)

Well, now I'm seeing a variety of ads on Bubblews...but all day I've been seeing those public service ads. "Stop the texts, stop the wrecks." Why am I seeing those ads? How do they relate to the Bubbles I'm reading, or the ones I've written?

Maybe in an offsite way...I have a Blogspot blog. For most of the year it's supposed to be about vintage books and hand-knitted items you can buy by e-mailing the blog. In January and February it's supposed to be about the Virginia General Assembly. We take sides for and against specific proposed legislation, although last winter nobody felt terribly passionate about any of it. Anyway, one bill we passionately supported, which has been enacted into law, makes it illegal to talk or text on a hand-held phone while driving in Virginia.

If you are familiar with the S-shaped curve of Route 23 as it passes under that narrow railroad bridge between Gate City and Clinchport, and if you have ever been in a car with someone who was steering through that curve with one elbow while checking the caller ID and deciding to answer a cell phone call, and if you have ever imagined walking under that bridge at the same time that that car was on the road, you'll know why Gena Greene, Grandma Bonnie Peters, and I all felt we needed a law against Distracted Driving. The part of Route 58 known as the Bristol Highway in Gate City and as the Gate City Highway in Bristol is another road that ought to make our position clear to anyone who thinks about it. So is the road between Gate City and Nickelsville. Actually, Virginia has a lot of roads like that.

We are not opposed to people talking on cell phones while they are stuck in traffic for 45 minutes on Route 66 outside Washington. The law says nothing about that. It bans talking or texting while driving a moving vehicle. Explaining why your vehicle is not moving is legal.

We heard one valid complaint about the ban on Distracted Driving from a mother trying to talk a teenager through a difficult situation, while both of them were driving to the same place from different directions. "I can't hear the speaker phone from the seat," the mother said. We usually say "Pull over and talk, or hang up and drive. Choose one," but if you anticipate a need to use your phone to steer somebody through an unfamiliar neighborhood, I recommend buying a headset phone. They've been around long enough not to be terribly expensive, but they're still cool.

Chatabout: Another Scam After All?

Well, it looks as if is going down the drain. It was too good to last.

The idea was that if advertisers wanted to learn more about what we really think, they could pay to advertise on a site that paid us for cheerful friendly "chat." It was great fun while it lasted. The rules clearly stated that the amount one could earn from actual "chats" was capped at a dollar a day, so a reasonably efficient typist could earn a dollar in an hour or two while checking up on e-friends, putting in good words for deserving stores or books or whatever and warning people off bad ones, and admiring people's vacation pictures. Chatters earned a penny per Chat and could watch the meter tick over as we Chatted.

Yesterday, suddenly, for no obvious reason, we were all notified that the price had just been unilaterally dropped to half a penny per Chat.

The horrible thing was seeing all the Chats from people--I hope they were merely in denial--who typed that they'd "just get used to it." Hello? This is not like, say, changing a nice-looking woodgrain background to an ugly orange background, or a tidy row of pictures and/or headlines to a messy-bulletin-board effect. We're talking about people who've probably put in ten or more hours' work to earn five dollars, who've suddenly been told they have to put in that much more work to get their five dollars. If you actually read some of these people's Chats, some of them are talking about living with major disabilities during the year or two (on average) it takes their claims to be processed before they start collecting a pension. Some of them may actually be hungry. Some of them are wheelchair dwellers. We're talking about a corporation grabbing the lunch money out of the hands of wheelchair dwellers. This is not something decent human beings want to allow ourselves to "get used to."

How is this happening? Well...two other writing sites, Yahoo Voices and Helium, recently crashed and burned (because they had been cheating writers). So there are a lot of displaced writers on the Internet this summer. That's unfortunate. At Bubblews I'm seeing a lot of gibberish that's obviously been run through translation software, and today I saw gibberish that had obviously been copied from a magazine article and run through translation software so that it came out garbled enough to squeak through the plagiarism detector...but many of these displaced writers are competent.

There are ways the corporate writing sites that can already afford to pay us, without asking for donations, could address this overpopulation problem.

They could have "levels," as Associated Content had before it sold out to Yahoo, or as Hirewriter has, where short Chats or comments on other people's work are good for a penny, blog posts might earn a nickel, short informative articles or pictures might earn $5, and actual research or reportage ought to earn the $50 (or more) our time is worth. Of course, this would involve some actual editing, but (hint, hint) most competent writers are at least competent to sort documents for editing, if paid to do that.

They could limit the amount of time each person could invest in Chatting. Bubblews allows people to post up to ten mini-articles ("Bubbles") per day; if someone has written more and wants to download it into their Bubblews account, the site now allows extra writing to be stored on a "Drafts" page that's not available for public view. Chatabout is supposed to allow people to post up to a hundred Chats per day, although I have watched the meter fudge over into "Bonus Points"; the limit could be enforced, and in view of the number of people who want to Chat the site could even have pushed excess Chats into a "Drafts" page, too. I see some conversations between people who have obviously formed a real bond, who are Chatting each other through life crises, who really would like to stay in touch even if they weren't paid to do so, and those people could be gently prodded to take their conversations into private e-mail.

They could shut down the whole site "for maintenance" every few days, thereby indirectly reminding online writers to maintain real lives. Bubblews does that.

But if you've signed a contract to pay the amount X for the product or service Y, and you then try to alter that contract so that it binds you to pay 1/2X for Y, I think you should be shamed and shunned and shut out from the company of decent human beings until you have crawled your way back into society by paying everyone at least 2X for Y, plus late fees. What? You're a corporation that's over-invested, and can't afford to pay what you promised to pay? Er, um...where in the Bible or the Constitution does it say that you have to eat? Better to starve like a human being than eat like a cockroach.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ivy Returns: Social Problems Facing Social Cats

(Reclaimed from Bubblews, The site destroyed a more recent photo of Ivy, but this, her first picture, had been saved at Blogspot first.)

Yesterday I was worried that my lovely photogenic cat Ivy had been lost, strayed, or stolen. The other cats didn't seem worried...I think I figured out what happened from their behavior and evidence. I think it may interest those who are interested in social cats' behavior to know how I deduced the following Cat Sanctuary Interview, too...

PK: Ivy, I was worried about you! Everyone was worried about...when they were going to get their dinner, anyway...

(Hard evidence: I don't serve dinner until everybody's there.)

Ivy: Well, they have only themselves to blame. They've not been very nice to me!

(Hard evidence: Irene and Ivy hissed instead of kissing before they ate dinner.)

PK: Who wasn't nice to you and why?

Irene: She...brought...her disgusting mate, who I'm sorry to say is my father...into your house! And he behaved...disgustingly!

(Hard evidence: Irene and Gwai pointed to a tomcat stain on the wall behind my cats' litter box.)

PK: Ivy, how could you? Why did you? It's not as if you were even in heat...are you? Wasn't that last week?

Ivy: It's not merely a matter of being in heat. I love him! I know Heather hates him, and Irene doesn't appreciate him, but I love him!

(Hard evidence: Ivy always lets me know if this tomcat is staring at him like a lovestruck teenager watching her favorite movie star. Heather consistently avoided him, even while in heat.)

PK: Well, er...he's at least half Manx, and all the kittens he gave you and Irene died, and this year he doesn't seem to be giving anybody any kittens...and I don't believe he's a social cat, is he?

Ivy: How could he have learned to love anybody when no one else has ever loved him? And if he's not giving anybody kittens, is that his fault? Don't we have enough kittens?

PK: Ten kittens was certainly enough for one year. I hope there won't be any more before May! Nevertheless, Ivy, I'm puzzled. Most cats don't encourage visiting tomcats to hang around if they're not trying to have kittens.

Ivy: I am not "most cats." I'm a cat you don't meet every day. Most cats don't take turns watching over their nieces and nephews. Most cats don't show their humans where trespassers have been. Most cats don't even listen to human words. I do those things so why shouldn't I love my mate as much as any other animal does?

(Evidence: pair-bonding is sometimes observed in social cats, although total monogamy is rare.)

PK: What were you doing? Why was he here?

Ivy: Sharing food of course. Don't friends always share food? So I brought him inside to share our food, and then, finding everyone here so unfriendly, he invited me to his house to share his food. You see, he's learning our kind of manners!

(Hard evidence: they were in the Manx tomcat's neighborhood.)

PK: Sometimes when cats visit other humans on their own, without their own humans, the other humans try to keep them.

Ivy: They'd have to catch me first!

PK: I've tried posting pictures of you on the Internet so that good, well-meaning humans will know you're not a homeless cat. But of course that makes you a bit of a celebrity, and that might make nasty humans want to cat-nap you more than ever. Ivy, please don't go to visit anyone else without me.

Ivy: I want to be with the one I love, and by now he knows very well that nobody else here likes him.

PK: You cats will just have to settle that among yourselves. For starters I'll go back to putting your food out in the yard, now that the kittens are big enough to use the cat door. Then nobody will have any reason to bring any visiting cats indoors, will she?

Ivy: Well...not unless it snows...

Heather: Or unless they're wounded and need help.

Ivy: Or unless their humans have gone away and left them.

Irene: Or unless you bring them inside.

Heather: And what about Ivy's and my uncle Damian? He's really part of the family too, even if he lives down the road...

(Hard evidence: this cat family have in fact demanded that other cats be fed with them under these conditions. They do this by soliciting food for themselves, then calling their chosen friends to eat it. They don't invite any and all visiting cats to eat with them, but they've invited several.)

Local lurkers, please do not take this as an invitation to abandon any other cats at the Cat Sanctuary without giving fair warning to the humans here! We are not the Humane Society! We do not have masses of rich sponsors to send us tons of kibble! We do not have dozens of cages, and wouldn't cage dozens of unknown cats in one room if we did. So please ask before you drop off any other animals! Yes, this includes mice!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Happy Post for July 29, 2014

(Reclaimed from Bubblews, where this post was the first of a series where the site provided a patch of color for the mandatory image. Can we do better? Yes, thanks to Pippalou from Morguefile, here's a real summer-sky picture.)

I'm happy because I'm a person who does not filter everything through the kind of emotional mood swings some people seem to need. This is definitely true, because, when I think about what else to mention in the Happy Post, all the recent news in the past 24 hours seems not to fit in it.

My beautiful, photogenic cat Ivy may have been stolen; I didn't see her at all yesterday, and no, she's not been pregnant.

A friend has been in the hospital. The staff say she's doing well, but their expectations for 89-year-old cardiac patients are low.

Nobody's come into the store and bought $500 worth of jewelry. I've spent the whole day reading and writing, which is fun but won't pay the bills.

I could fudge a bit and post about my 96-year-old great-aunt's fortieth anniversary celebration at the women's urban mission she launched in her church, which was by all accounts spectacular...but that happened two or three weeks ago and hundreds of miles away.

I'm just happy because I've been working productively all day, the weather's not bad, and I'm not ill. I am naturally cheerful and easily pleased...but not easily satisfied.

Do You Suffer from Attention Surplus Disorder?

(Photo credit: if you're seeing a ghastly shade of gray rather than the Bubbles logo, it's mine. Topic credit: AndyLeeParker , who posted .)
Attention Surplus Disorder is a whimsical name for the sense some of us get, during a hard day's Bubbling, that we're spending too much time on too many short whimsical insubstantial thoughts. Almost as bad as watching commercial television. Some people would rather engage with an interesting topic and explore it for more than five minutes at a time.

Sometimes I do that with my Blogspot and Live Journal blogs. At home I write short reaction, opinion, and review pieces while eating (yes, I eat at the computer; yes, I've spilled food on my clothes or the floor but have been careful and never spilled food on the computer). I've written whole children's stories that way, and one weekend I wrote the adult-length collection of stories for adults, "Alley Cat Tales," which is available as a $20 fundraiser. More often I'll pick out one or two pages' worth and add them to my file of things to post on a blog, some day, if I ever run out of things to post on blogs.

Because looking at a computer is so hard on our eyes I like the idea of writers using the Internet as a place to post short pieces, blurbs and teasers, limericks and haiku, as a way to market longer writing that really should be printed out so people can read it. We can get to know each other by Bubbling and thus decide whose books we want to buy. Some Bubblers have written books, like "Angels Watching Over Me" ( ).

Maybe instead of buying a book, you'd rather just read a longish, serious-ish poem by someone who's posted light verse at Bubblews or on Chatabout's "Doggerel" page? Here's a sample of my brain under the influence of Ronsard: .

Lots of people who write Real Books and Plays and so forth also write blogs. In addition to the Ozarque blog I just mentioned, here are a few more blogs by writers I met first through their Real Books:

And that's just three Real Authors, the first three off the top of my head, who frequently post substantial full-page thoughts you can find online, free of charge, just to help you become a fanatical fan and buy every single one of their books.

Are you still reading this, even after links to other good stuff have passed before your eyes? Are you a Bubbler? If so, you may be a Real Writer who's published more substantial things than Bubbles. Would you like to tell us where your printed work can be found?

The Pumpkin Turned Into...

Topic credit: Grandma Bonnie Peters, in real life.

Subtitle: How to Check the Codes on Canned Goods

GBP shared the cautionary tale of a lady who bought several big cans of Libby’s solid-pack pumpkin in 2009. Being aware that canneries stamp different codes on canned goods to indicate when the food was packed, she thought it was safe to stock up on enough pumpkin to meet her family’s needs through 2013, since the numbers on the cans began with 9 and ended with 13.

Apparently nobody complained about the pumpkin in 2012, but in 2013, when the lady started her Thanksgiving baking, the contents of one can of pumpkin smelled just like an old, corroded can. So she called the NestlĂ©’s and Libby’s hotline to report that the pumpkin had not actually lasted until 2013.

“What’s the number on the end of the can again?” asked the company employee.

“They have different ones,” said the lady, reading off two or three numbers.

“Oh my!” said the employee. “The numbers begin with ‘9’ because they were meant to be eaten before 2009!”

One can never simply assume that a number that looks like a date, stamped on a canned food product, really is a date. The numbers could have begun with "9" because the pumpkin was canned at Site #9, or on the 9th day of the month.

In a supermarket the employees are supposed to monitor how long cans have been on the shelves for you, but if you want to buy lots of cans at one time, it's helpful to contact the manufacturer to learn how the date stamp code works.

How You Said It: Sneaky Verbal Attacks in English

(Reclaimed from Bubblews. Photo from Morguefile. Topic credit: the Bubbler known as Kitkatviolet posted .)

BubbleWS is a wonderful place to study English, and even to learn about foreign languages by observing the way some Bubblers overseas write English. However, one aspect of speaking English is hard to learn from a computer: the "intonation" pattern of words in a sentence.

Everyone can hear, and every book about English as a foreign language mentions, that in a spoken English sentence some words and parts of words receive more "stress" than others. Normally, if the sentence is a statement, the heaviest stress comes near the end of the sentence. English also has "emphatic stress" placed on a word that might be unfamiliar or unexpected or otherwise more important, and "contrastive stress" placed on a word in order to remind people of the opposite idea.

"I love you" means "Never mind about other people--I love you in a special way that's different from whatever I may feel for them."

"I love you" means "I'm not just another friend," or "I'm not sending you to school or the hospital as a punishment...I love you."

"I love you" means "Someone else doesn't love you, but I do." In some situations "I love you" could be considered verbal abuse.

Many books could be written about the ways contrastive stress can be used to turn an innocent-looking sentence into a sneaky verbal attack. More than a dozen of those books *have been* written by the retired blogger known as Ozarque ( ), under the name of Suzette Haden Elgin. The "Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense" series was a series of slow steady sellers, and used copies are seldom hard to find online.

These books discuss exactly why "A person who really wants to make maximum money on Bubblews will keep this site on his or her computer all day, check the notifications, read all the Connections' Bubbles, and post something approximately every two hours throughout the day" is a harmless description of how people use this system...while "A person who really wanted to make money on BubbleWS would at least visit this site every day," although also true, will be heard by almost all English-speaking people as "You didn't visit this site every day, therefore you don't really want to make money on BubbleWS and you were lying when you said you did."

Although she was a full professor of linguistics and her books have been helpful to many people, Ozarque never considered her understanding of "Verbal Self-Defense" to be completed and carved in stone. Before she became a blogger, she talked and wrote to hundreds of Americans (and some Canadians) about the way we speak English, and over the years the G.A.V.S.D. books reflect the observations of all those readers. So slight changes were made, the "updated editions" of some of the older books read like completely new books, and the discussions continued at the Ozarque Blog. At her Live Journal page, Elgin even collected a few bits of information about how sneaky verbal attacks work in other languages besides English. So, no matter how many of the books you already have, it's worth reading the others...and the blog, with its links and comments.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Phenology: Heavy Rain, More Flowers

(Reclaimed from Bubblews, where this "Bubble" appeared on 7.28.14. Dayflower image from Xandert at Morguefile: Black-Eyed Susans from Keencarlene at Morguefile:

Phenology report for July 26-28, 2014:

Weather: Saturday was not really hot but extremely humid. Sunday afternoon and evening were one long sequence of thunderstorms with high winds, hail, and heavy rain. Monday morning was cool and pleasant.

Flowers at the Cat Sanctuary: The not-a-lawn is full of dayflowers. There are different species of dayflowers (genus Commelina). I just searched for an educational site with a good clear pictorial description of how to tell these pretty little wildflowers apart, and didn't find one. The flowers technically have three petals, two bright clear blue and one white. In "Asiatic" dayflowers the white petal is easy to see; in native dayflowers a person who wasn't looking for it might not recognize the white petal as a petal. "Asiatic" dayflowers tend to grow taller and brighter blue.

Flowers in town: Not far from the colony of sweet peas, along Route 23, there is now a well established colony of Black-Eyed Susans. Their dull orange color is not what I would have chosen to put next to hot-pink sweet peas. The plants must have been growing last week but the flowers have only just begun to bloom.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Had to Play with Pixabay

Reclaimed from Bubblews, and does this one ever need updating. As of July 25, 2014, I expected the worst of Pixabay. By now I can tell you that the worst never arrived. Pixabay displays ads, yes, but I've received no spam or adverse consequences of using this site. It's a respectable alternative to Morguefile. If you don't find the free image you want at one site, you may safely look at the other.

Yes, Gentle Readers, I finally let Bubblews goad me into checking out Pixabay. I have to admit I like this cat image...I think this is my all-time favorite online cat image. It doesn't quite look like the Cat Sanctuary's real founder, the cat called Black Magic, but it does look like Viola the Cybercat, who got into my Blogspot a few years ago. (Viola was an indoor cat who learned to play with a laptop that had a touch pad instead of a Real Mouse.)

Here's the warning I wish I'd had before I visited Pixabay. Whereas Morguefile really lets people download pictures for free, Pixabay demands that everyone join the site and then says they'll stop advertising at you when you've uploaded ten photos. Uh-oh...the photos on the site meet high standards. And then after you've signed up they spell out what those standards are. And let's just say they're very unlikely ever to be met by anyone using a cheap camera phone.

I did not know this. But now you will.

And, huzza...unless you spend hours on end choosing images, it won't matter much!

Phenology: Mixed-Up Wildflowers

(Reclaimed from Bubblews, now with a picture of the honeysuckle discussed below, Lonicera japonica, courtesy of Mrmac04 at

This morning I walked all the way to the store. I thought I really ought to go to the Friday Market, because this is the last Friday of the month. Retired and disabled people get their pension money on the first of the month, so on the last Friday people who earn money throughout the month by working really should go in and encourage the vendors. But I figured the owner of the store would be in the Friday Market already, so I'd better hurry up and open the store.

On the way I noticed an unusual combination of flowers. Earlier this spring, stupid people sprayed poison on the wildflowers along Route 23. (Apparently the men hired to add grooves to the sides of the road don't know how to recognize poison ivy, nor do they have boots and gloves as most laborers do, so they have to destroy all the plants within ten yards of anywhere they work. I don't know why anybody would hire laborers like that.) Many flowers died back and failed to bloom earlier this summer. Then the polar inversion brought cool weather and encouraged some autumn flowers to bloom a little earlier than usual, and now some of the flowers that failed to bloom in June are trying to bloom. The result is a combination of wildflowers that a little child might try to paint, while an older child would "know" that these flowers don't bloom at the same time.

Except that, this year, they did. What caught my eye was early summer honeysuckle and late summer jewelweed blooming on the same bank. The other wildflowers now blooming along Route 23, all at once, are red clover, thistles, Queen Anne's Lace, daisies, fleabane, chicory, sweet peas, milkweed, morning glories, and a mimosa tree.

I'm not seeing butterflies along Route 23 at all, and I'm seeing an unreasonable number of dead birds of different ages and species. Living birds I saw, above Route 23 up in Wise County, were a robin and two vireos, but closer to home all I'm seeing are crows and pigeons. What a lot of beauty and richness we lose when people are too lazy to protect themselves from their pathological fears of poison ivy, or of snakes.

It is something, though, to see honeysuckle and morning glories in bloom on the same bank, on the same day. Or fleabane and jewelweed.

Four Generations of Jim Reeves Fans

One of the first of those long ten-dollar articles I published on Associated Content was prompted by "List your Top Ten Songs by any one of up to five different bands or singers." That's a lot easier for me than trying to pick a favorite song.

And the singer that came to mind first was Jim Reeves, who died in a plane crash a few years before I was born...because, at the time, my family had been three generations of Jim Reeves fans.

In fact, the smooth-voiced singer from Panola County, Texas, actually helped confirm my parents' interest in each other. Dad was a student renting a room in one boarding house near a university. Mother was not a student, but had gone to trade school at night while going to high school by day and launched her own business at age eighteen. Since her parents managed another boarding house on the same street, they had seen and liked each other, but weren't sure that they'd really be compatible at first. One of the things that convinced them was that both of them were claiming Jim Reeves as their favorite singer.

They bought all of his records, and my grandmother, who had also grown up in Panola County, mentioned that she used to baby-sit a "little Jimmy Reeves." When the memoir-album "Yours Sincerely, Jim Reeves" came out, Grandmother was sure the singer was her old friend. So he became her favorite singer too.

My parents had all but one of Jim Reeves' LPs, up to half a dozen copies of some of them because LPs wore out fast. We listened to those LPs until my brother and I knew most of those old 1950s teen-romance songs by heart. One effect of this was to immunize us to teen romance by making us notice how idiotic it seemed to anyone not suffering from it at the time. Another effect was to give these particular songs nostalgia appeal for us too.

A sub-genre of "country" music, as founded by the Carter Family, is associated with my part of the world. We didn't get television broadcasts until 1977 or 1978; before then, singing was what people did in the evenings--and a lot of people made money at it. My parents and teachers took music as seriously as they did math and English. Dad had some hearing loss and often coached us to "Notice how he enunciates every word so that the song sounds pretty, but you can still understand every word of it. Most singers don't do that." Especially not on monaural records.

As we grew up my brother's voice started to break and he stopped singing in public. I sang with school groups and church groups, and eventually did make money at it. When I sang for old people, in their homes or in hospitals and nursing homes, the songs they requested included several I'd learned from those Jim Reeves LPs.

My natural sister was born a better singer than I was--until she was six years old, when she had severe hearing loss (and became depressive) after a fever. She says that she doesn't hear most of the notes women sing. I didn't expect her to like music, as an adult. It was a surprise to find out that my nephews were also familiar with the cassette tapes we made from the old LPs, and they, too, are now Jim Reeves fans.

It was also a surprise that there are a lot of us in cyberspace. I don't remember offhand which ten songs I listed as favorites. I remember that they were some of my favorites to sing, not the ones that had been the best-selling singles, and some people thought this made the list "strange." I also remember that although I was unknown when I published the list and attracted several regular readers while writing for AC, "Top Ten Songs of Jim Reeves" *remained* the most popular article I ever wrote for that site. Other things peaked and declined; people kept reading that one.

This is already a long post for future Bubbles I may post more about the individual songs.

I Just Sold a Book Outline

(Reclaimed from Bubblews)

While browsing the Internet this week I saw an offer for people to write children's stories. Someone was hiring a lot of people to write a lot of different short-short scripts for picture books.

I sat down and wrote the script to go with a picture book I would have wanted to read when I was six years old. Then I sent the person the bare-bones outline of that script.

Well, they bought the outline. I don't know when or where it will be published, or under what name, but that doesn't matter. The outline will make one of those pocket-sized picture books that I liked when I was three years old. The story will be a "chapter book" for primary school students, and I kept the rights to *that* book.

I'd like to do what Golden Books used to do and tie the two books together--the full-length book being a sort of sequel to the itty-bitty one.

The topic? There are lots of books for children about pet cats, dogs, and goldfish. What I actually had, and would have liked to read about, when I was six, was chickens. So this is a book about keeping chickens as pets.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bubblews Happy Post: Kid Things

What I'd like to share today is the image that's taped to the wall above this computer. One of those stick-figure drawings children do. "I Love you mommy and Scamp" (the drawing makes it clear that Scamp is a dog's name). What would the world be to us if children were no more. But that image would not come through if I tried to post it, so here's my official protest photo, taken by me.

Anyway, this was meant to be today's Happy Post (credits to Bubblews' Theresa Wiza for this idea) but it's just not going that way. The post about the wildflowers will have to be the Happy Post. Still, a thing that makes me happy is children. I feel energized by their energy. The Nephews are growing up and it's pleasant to have children here at the store. Even when they turn up the sound on the television and leave model cars and planes all over the floor.

One of the children who's been here is a mislabelled disabled child. In the U.S. schools collect a little extra money if they can say they're working with a child who has a disability. Sometimes school staff don't know how, or don't take the time, to find out what a child's disability really is, but just slap a label that sounds trendy on the child and thus condemn the child to years of inappropriate "treatment" for some condition the child does not have. This child has a painful neck injury; sometimes pain and/or pain medication distract him, at school, so he's been mislabelled attention-deficient. I have been watching him. He has a *long* attention span, for a ten-year-old boy.

I'm glad that it's still possible, although there's no rational way to say it's likely, that this child will be able to start school in August at a small private school where he'll have a chance to catch up with his schoolwork and get rid of that trendy but inaccurate label. Who knows, he may even have a chance to get rid of the pain and the pain medication.

If anyone out there feels moved to help give this child the chance he needs...I'm glad that I was brought up to be the kind of person who, reaching the end of the month when people are trying to avoid spending money, with $5 in my pocket and no guarantee of paid work all week, can still feel free to care about the education of someone else's child. If someone were to hand me cash and say "Take this to the private school and apply it to that boy's tuition," they could call the headmaster the next day and verify that I had delivered the money. About that, at least, I'm happy.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Personal Moth

(Reclaimed from Bubblews, now with a Morguefile photo by Mary B. Thornton, "Puravida," showing a pair of giant silk moths that might be Eacles imperialis, or they might be something else; without size and location information I'm not positive.)

Long ago, a nickname for a person who kept following someone else around, in the absence of any encouragement, was "personal moth." Many moths are attracted to light (some scientists think they're trying to navigate by moonlight and other lights confuse them), and your personal moth is attracted to you in a dizzy, confused, sometimes self-destructive way.

During the past week I had a personal moth that really was a moth. I'm not sure of its species identity--something in the very large Geometrid family, all of which, except the Tulip Tree Beauty, I have to look up to identify. It flew into my bedroom one night while the light was on. It stayed while the light was off. It didn't do much flying at all, but when it did it always seemed to want to fly right at me--as if to tag me in a game--just once every evening.

I had some idea why the moth wanted to make itself a nuisance in that way. It, probably she, had found a territory in which its subtle scent could be detected by other moths. (Most animals other than moths don't notice moths' scent, but moths use scent to find each other.) It was trying to attract a mate. Possibly it even had an instinctive urge to "tag" anything in its territory that moved about--tree branches, large animals, whatever--in order to broadcast its scent further and attract a moth of the opposite sex to its territory.

One year, long ago, this strategy almost worked for a rare and showy moth, Eacles imperialis, and a couple of Eacles became my personal moths.

This started when I was at the home of friends on the far side of Kingsport, Tennessee, almost twenty miles from my home. Someone went to the door and screamed. "Eww, what is this thing on the screen door! Is that some kind of butterfly, or is it...a...bat?" She was obviously afraid of bats.

I recognized it at once as the female Imperial Walnut Moth, the second or third largest moth found in Virginia and Tennessee. At the time I had a copy of Paul Villard's book, Moths and How to Rear Them," which described the habits of Eacles imperialis. So I knew that, although the moths are enormous and have proportionately large and hungry caterpillars, their population is very well controlled and they don't become pests. In fact, in most of their range, they're seldom seen; even the adults in that house hadn't actually seen one flying about.

Populations of Eacles imperialis are controlled by the same things that control populations of most of the big silk moths. The moths don't eat, and have less than a week to live on their body fat. Flying about in search of mates shortens their life expectancy, since it takes considerable energy to carry their relatively heavy bodies. Most individuals never find mates. When they do, Villard reported, Eacles like to enjoy their day or so together in privacy, and may snuggle all day.

"Well, take it away! It's so big and ugly!" the teenager screamed. So I released Ms. Eacles, not at the Cat Sanctuary, but into some pine trees outside my geriatric patient's catless home. The caterpillars of this species eat pine needles, although this web site lists a variety of other things on which they may be able to survive:

About a week later, I found a male Eacles imperialis clinging to the door of the Cat Sanctuary. He didn't move when I approached, nor did he protest when he was scooped up in a box and taken to the pine trees. Anyone would have thought he knew where he was being moved to, and why. Quite possibly he did.

And for the rest of his short life, Mr. Eacles remained a personal moth. He spent nights in the pine trees. As the sun rose, he would come to the door or window and wait to be let in. He spent most of the day sleeping in an empty vase in a closet. Around sunset, he would fly up out of the vase, circle the room once or twice, find the window, and flap against the pane until he was let out for the night.

He was no trouble at all, but he aged visibly every day and lived with humans for only five nights.

Nice clear pictures of the male and female Eacles, showing how easy it is to tell the sexes apart, are found at the Wikipedia page:

...but those pictures don't necessarily prepare people who see these moths for the sight of a native North American moth whose wings spread out more than wide enough to cover most women's hands. This moth is completely harmless to humans at all stages of its's only surprising.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Forgiveness Sequence

(Reclaimed from Bubblews, where it originally appeared with an original photo of my display of secondhand books; the photo is lost.)

Uh-oh...a Bubble I just dashed off posted twice. I don't want to post identical content in two places, so let me quickly dash off a different Bubble...

This one's about some books I have for sale here in the store. As before, the books have not been arranged by topic or style, but just by author's name, since there are so few of them. Full-length reviews should be available online later this week (if the computer doesn't block up again). But I just noticed, looking at this photo, that these books do reflect a theme.

Lloyd Douglas' Magnificent Obsession is an early twentieth century novel about some bright young atheists' attempt to reframe Christian beliefs as "spiritual laws." One of these beliefs is forgiveness.

Billy Graham's Living in God's Love is the souvenir book containing the sermons he preached in his Last New York Crusade. These sermons were the basic Christian message presented to people who didn't know it. That message is about God's forgiveness.

Diane Hampton's Imperfect Mates Perfect Marriage is a book about how the author and her husband were able to stay together. One of their secrets was, of course, forgiveness. (How could anybody stay married without it?)

Ursula Hegi's Stones from the River is a novel, not a huge seller, so people may wonder what it's about. Well, it's a well-written novel with lots of themes and sub-plots and fun stuff woven together, but basically it's about a girl growing up in Germany in the early twentieth century. She's bullied because she's short and stout. One of her first friends is a boy who joins other boys in humiliating little Trudi. In order to protect herself Trudi grows up mean; by the time people are becoming infatuated with Hitler, the only Hitler Jugend type Trudi knows is properly scared of Trudi, which allows Trudi and her neighbors to help other people. Trudi has another friend who is Jewish, whom she tries but fails to help during the war. After the war, in order to grow up at peace with herself and her friends...once again, forgiveness.

Then on the right-hand side of the picture we have a volume from Jerry Jenkins' Left Behind: The Kids series. I have mixed feelings about giving these novels to kids. Maybe for the kind of teenagers who like grim, violent, scary stories that make them feel tough just for reading the book. Anyway, although the series is about as "noir" as a series of novels can get, in each volume somebody explains the Christian message to another character. Once again, it's about forgiveness.

I didn't plan to set up a display that might be captioned "Five writers from different times and places consider forgiveness." In fact, because books come and go in a store, that's not even the way the display looks today; it's the way it looked last week. But I'm bemused by the way it *could* be described as a discussion of different kinds of forgiveness.

Phenology: Katydids

(Morguefile photo donated by Cohdra.)

Maybe it's due to the unusually cool, pleasant weather we had around the first weekend in July...during the first full week of July, I started hearing katydids chirp.

Their common name in English comes from the fact that these insects usually rasp their legs and wing covers together three or four times, making noises that sound to some people like "Katy did" and "Katy didn't."

Where there are a lot of katydids, it's often possible to identify individuals who chirp more or less actively. If the norm for katydids is to say "Katy did" or "Katy didn't," then some katydids say "Katy..." Some say things like "Katy did indeed," or possibly "Katy never did," and one year the individual closest to my window rasped triumphantly (and repeatedly), "Katy never would have done!"

Where there are even more katydids, the individual voices get lost in a general buzz. I don't often hear that but I've heard it this year...and in most years, katydids wouldn't even start chirping for another week or two.

These insects mature and make themselves heard in late summer. In the North, the saying is that they chirp six weeks before the first frost. In Virginia, twelve weeks before the first frost is more typical, but they're still predicting an early frost this year.

Some people have wondered about this apparent debate about Katy, whoever she was and whatever she did. Do males take one side and females take the other? No; apparently only the males chirp, and they chirp in different sound patterns to help females pick them out in the crowd. 

And a Hummingbird Image

(Reclaimed from Bubblews.)

The flying hummingbird, photographed by Pippalou at, did not originally appear with the Bubblews post. The bird at the feeder did:

(Photo credit: mensatic from

This one is just for the reader who commented last year that she would have liked another post about hummingbirds. Here's a Morguefile photo, donated by Mensatic, showing this little bird the way most North Americans actually see it. There are photos of the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, Archilochus colubris, sitting still at and other educational web sites.

Males usually do show bright red patches on the throats. As with many wild birds, females are less colorful than males. I'm not altogether sure of this specimen's species identity; there are other species of hummingbirds in the Southwestern States and in some other countries. However, female Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds don't necessarily show any red feathers.

Hummingbirds usually visit my part of the world in July and August, when the wildflower called jewelweed is in bloom. We most often see them near streams where jewelweed grows profusely. 

(Jewelweed photo by Gracey at Morguefile.) However, the birds appreciate any kind of sweet nectar, and people who take the trouble to set out feeders stocked with sugar syrup often see hummingbirds as early as June. Nectar and syrup are their only foods; they don't eat solids. Very patient people have semi-tamed the birds; hummingbirds never become real pets, but they can be persuaded to come close if they're quite sure a human is not going to make any sudden moves.

Their wings really do hum, and vibrate faster than the eye can see, to keep the birds hovering in the air. They can be mistaken for large moths. I have no hope of being able to photograph a hummingbird that can be recognized with my camera phone.

Hummingbirds spend most of the year in Central America. Though most fly across Mexico, the ones who spend the summer on the East Coast have been known to fly across the Gulf of Mexico, from Florida to Guatemala.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Happy Day Post

(Thanks to TheresaWiza for prompting this one with her "Happy Days Challenge" series...)

This is not, frankly, the sort of day on which I'm most conscious of a happy (eupeptic) mood. This is the sort of hot, humid day Virginia normally gets in July. I woke up around 2:30 a.m. feeling as if hot, damp towels had been draped over me. That hadn't happened. It was a sheet. After throwing off the sheet and sitting naked in front of the Lasko fan for an hour, then lying down with my head right in front of the fan, I finally dried off enough to go back to sleep.

The air quality did not improve by morning, though. Who was minding the store today? I hoped someone else was. I called the store. Nobody answered. I walked out toward the store. My clothes started to stick to me before I reached the paved road. There I met the person who I'd hoped would have picked up the phone when I called the store. Well, at least I got a free ride to the store.

I am pleased, though, because the store is so cool. Local lurkers, if you are sweltering in houses that don't have air conditioning, or worried about how to pay for your air conditioning, swelter and worry no longer. The air conditioning in this building is so efficient that the other person who's been in the store today has complained about feeling cold! (I love it.) 

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Pets the Breeders Reject

(Reclaimed from Bubblews. Thanks to &TheresaWiza for suggesting this topic. Photo by Hamia at

If you like cats, dogs, horses, chickens or other lovable animals, these days it's hard to like the American Humane Society: their goal is now to "humanely" eradicate these species by demanding that all pets be sterilized. Commercial breeders aren't much nicer about animals that aren't up to specifications for whatever peculiar genetic combination they're breeding. Manx cats who have complete tails are lucky--though not "show quality" they're the ones whose weaker form of the Manx gene allows them to produce viable offspring, so they're likely to be allowed to breed. Siamese cats who don't show color points, or whose color points aren't one of the four classic combinations? With luck they might be neutered and given to friends, or perhaps sent to Humane Society shelters...

About twenty years ago, I visited a cat sanctuary in Tennessee. About thirty free-range cats were doing their things outdoors; when their humans drove up with a visitor, these cats' "thing" was to gather around and check out this situation, nonverbally asking "Who's *that*, where is it from, when will it be going back, and meanwhile, did it bring us anything interesting?" They all seemed to know that they were up for adoption, and they all seemed to be reserving judgment! Then there was the house cat who escorted us inside and greeted me in the friendliest way, obviously secure in the knowledge that *she* was not up for adoption.

She was a Siamese Tabby, pale warm gray with conspicuous tabby stripes on her "points." She obviously knew her name, and her humans thought she knew several other words. They said she was absolutely, beyond question, the best pet they'd ever had--and before and after they married each other, both of them had lived with lots of pets.

Without much encouragement, they told this cat's story. Technically they had picked her up at the local dump, but they had recognized her distinctive coat and personality. She had been born at the home of someone who was trying to breed Siamese cats. Although some people like the Siamese Tabby look and have tried to establish this genotype as a breed in its own right, to the Siamese cat breeder the Siamese Tabby kitten was a disgraceful throwback to an American Shorthair somewhere back in a supposedly "pure" Siamese bloodline. So at least they hadn't drowned the kitten--just thrown her out to take her chances in life.

Luckily this particular Siamese Tabby was adopted by people who appreciated her. She had house privileges and veterinary care. She'd been allowed to have a few kittens when young and allowed to keep one of the kittens as a companion after the barn started to fill up with homeless outdoor cats. At the time when I met her she was about ten years old.

Sometimes when we see really bizarre-looking animals in shelters or otherwise up for adoption, they turn out to be perfect patterns of some strange breed. The first time I met one of the dogs currently living with another real-life friend, I said, "Wow...what breeds went into that one, or does anyone know?" They did; it seems the dog's wildly, asymmetrically spotted coat, which looks like something Kaffe Fassett might have knitted, is a distinctive feature of a breed of Australian sheep dogs. But then again, sometimes a funny-looking animal has been rejected just because it didn't have the special look somebody wanted.

Palomino horse breeders used to have a terrible problem. In Marguerite Henry's Album of Horses, the problem was explained to children entirely from the human perspective. About half the time, instead of being "gold," a new Palomino foal would be...white! With blue eyes! What a disappointment! Ms. Henry didn't linger on the question some children might have asked--what then became of this foal? You didn't see a lot of blue-eyed white horses...Over time, horse breeders have identified Palomino genetic strains that are more likely to "breed true" and produce Palomino rather than albino offspring, but there's still a high rate of unpopular albinism in the breed. Not surprising, since the Palomino color is an effect of partial albinism.

Sometimes an animal's personality can be affected by its genetic quirks. Dysfunctional genes may cause pain, weakness, or disability. Many albino animals are also blind or deaf. Sometimes having a peculiar look causes other animals to misinterpret an animal's body language, as when other cats think Scottish Fold cats' ears are "folded" as a display of hostility, or other chickens think Araucana chickens' extra-thick neck feathers (hackles) are bristling as a display of aggression. Most domestic animals can become good pets if well treated, but sometimes a peculiar-looking animal needs a little extra care or attention.

Other times an odd-looking animal, like that Siamese Tabby cat, can be described as just like other pets...or perhaps a little nicer. Adopting an animal that doesn't fit the standard specifications for any of its ancestors' breeds can be an excellent way to get a lovable pet at a bargain price.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What Color Is Sisawat?

(Reclaimed from Bubblews, where a blurry but color-true photo of the kitten Sisawat originally appeared with this post.)

My half-Siamese kitten Sisawat started out looking as if she were going to become a classic Blue Point Siamese, at least as far as her color was concerned (she's certainly a mixed breed). Did not happen. Her coat darkened rather evenly, and although I can still see the "points" in some lights, basically she's the sort of uniformly dark gray cat that's called "blue" (defined by cat fanciers as "diluted black," meaning she's inherited one gene for black fur and one gene for partial albinism or "color dilution").

Someone asked whether the color was called Lilac Point. I've heard that expression and never been sure of its precise definition, so today I looked it up at

It seems there are four official Siamese cat color patterns recognized by the American Siamese cat breeders' organizations: Seal Point (dark brown), Chocolate Point (lighter brown), Blue Point (dark cool gray), and Lilac Point (defined as a paler, warmer gray). Flame Point, Red Point, Lynx Point, and some other mutations are recognized as color patterns that American Shorthairs can have, but apparently they're considered to involve too much crossbreeding for cats that are shown and sold as Siamese.

Sisawat is the kind of cat that tends to be abandoned (or even euthanized) by breeders of pedigreed cats because she's not a perfect specimen of a special genotype. Luckily for her, all I ask her to be is a good pet, social cat, and if possible a good hunter. She doesn't have to be beautiful--although she is.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Vegetarian Swearword Analogs (Update)

(This post has been reclaimed from Bubblews, where a reader overseas asked for more of the vegetarian swearword analogs. U.S. readers may want to fill in the ones I've left out...)

At the Seventh-Day Adventist college I attended before getting into Berea, "vegetarian meat analogs" were offered at almost every meal. Most Americans are familiar with some of these products, such as Morningstar Farms Breakfast Patties. Adventist stores sell, and Adventist schools serve, a much wider assortment of "meat"-like products made from wheat gluten and/or vegetable protein. (Some also contain milk and egg protein; most don't.) Eating these products actually made me sick, but I didn't realize this right away and actually liked the flavor of most of the "vegetarian meat analogs."

Students familiar with these dishes extended the marketing concept further to describe our use of not quite profane words. We used "vegetarian swearword analogs."

Some of my favorite "vegetarian swearword analogs" in U.S. English are "drat" (I think it may derive from "God rot" but modern English speakers don't recognize it as meaning anything), "blast" (again it could be a curse but then it could also just refer to a harmless little blast of annoyance), and "dang" (sometimes used like a profane word, but it derives from a French word with a meaning similar to "crazy"). These three words are widely used and understood in the U.S.

However, Americans who use "vegetarian swearword analogs" sometimes just invent them on the spur of the moment. My husband often used strings of nonsense syllables that sounded vaguely Indian, or maybe Spanish, or possibly Hebrew. My middle school class had a substitute teacher who was famous for inventing things that sounded rude, but couldn't really be called offensive since they had no real meaning, like "Good google-loogie." (Actually, if either "googol" or "Google" had been in the dictionary back then, it would have had a meaning, but a fairly nonsensical one.) All sorts of odd and obscure words have been used as "vegetarian swearword analogs"; some people like "spraints and fewmets" as a scholarly substitute for the S word, because these words were apparently never considered obscene--they just dropped out of the ordinary language.

Then there are words found in Middle English and Late Latin that became obscure because they used to be considered so obscene that they just weren't said or written much, so that, by now, some people get away with using them because most people no longer recognize them as obscene...I don't recommend this.

Here are a few more of the words that are usually recognized as expressing anger, without being profane or obscene enough to be censored...

1. Cottonpicking: The supersensitive may interpret this one as suggesting racial or regional prejudice. Some White Southerners use it among ourselves where ruder people would use other "-ing" words. So far as I know, Ozarque was the only person who used "cottonpick" where I would have used "drat" or "blast."

2. Lily-livered: Descriptive of someone as weak, stupid, and cowardly, this phrase may be heard as a challenge to fight but is more likely to be heard (by sober people) as a reference to cowboy movie slang. 

3. Ding-blasted: Used like "cursed." Also "ding-fizzled." Other words descriptive of a condition into which people want not to get, like "flea-bitten," can be used the same way.

4. Confounded: Literally means "confused," but used like "cursed."

5. Deuce: Literally means a playing card with two of something on it, as in "the deuce of clubs." In the eighteenth and nineteenth century it was sometimes used as a substitute for "devil." 

6. Fiddle-dee-dee: Onomatopoeic for a snatch of music. As used by Scarlett O'Hara and by real people, expresses something like "I give up, angrily."

7. Bosh: Expresses something like "What's being said isn't even intelligent enough to be wrong."

8. Balderdash: Same as "bosh," but also found as a common noun referring to the idea that's not even worth refuting. Nobody I've ever asked has understood this to refer to the historical datum that some Norse people used to worship a god called Baldr or wanted him to "dash," or bash, or smash anything. 

9. Twaddle: Same as "balderdash."

10. Dreck: From German, literally means "garbage, junk, compost, trash, and/or filth." 

11. Rot: As a verb, heard as expressing intense anger and ill will. As a noun, same as "bosh."

12. Honey: What old-time slaves called the masters' children. What outhouse cleaners call the stuff they remove from outhouses. Northerners like to think that Southerners address human beings as "honey" when they're being "friendly." Well...yes and no. In my experience this word always has a little sting. Even when used to address the speaker's child, it always seems to mean "my beloved child whose stupidity is annoying me."

13. Dastard: What English-speaking people nearly always mean when they misuse the word that sounds similar. Piers Anthony wrote a whole novel that basically defines this noun. "Dastardly" is the adjective. It basically describes a man as mean, useless, no-good, very-bad, etc. As in the novel The Dastard, when used to refer to a woman it suggests that she's not acting like a woman at all.

14. Smut: Literally means a kind of fungus, but widely used to refer to obscenity and profanity. "Smutty" is the adjective.

15. Drivel: Refers to unbearably bad writing or speech. "Drivelling" describes a person who utters drivel. 

About one-quarter of Mary Daly's Wickedary discusses neologisms that fit into this category. I don't often use most of them, but "snool" seems to belong on this list, although it's an uncommon word. 

Phenology: Incredibly Pleasant Fourth of July Weekend Weather

(Reclaimed from Bubblews. Photo by Dantada at

The Fourth of July weekend is a festive time here in the U.S. Many people plan vacations around it. (For example, my family rent a good-sized park space for the extended family gathering on the Fourth of July weekend.) 

The traditional expectation is that July will be a month of very hot weather for all of North America. Most years, this expectation is abundantly satisfied in Virginia. Afternoon highs in the nineties or hundreds (Fahrenheit; forties Celsius), overnight lows in the seventies (not much below 30 Celsius), and high humidity until September, is our norm. Only people taking blood pressure medication look forward to July.

This year, July started out as expected, but then took a sudden turn for the better with temperatures more typically found in May or September. Daytime highs in the seventies, overnight lows in the sixties, low humidity, and sunshine are what we've been enjoying all weekend.

Swimming may not have been as much fun for some people as it is most years, but being on dry land has been heavenly. Even walking to and from work hasn't been bad...and today, though still unable to connect my laptop and forced to use a fellow Bubbler's laptop (I hope this won't affect our payouts), I'm online from the Tree of Fashion store! Hurrah!

The Fourth of July is traditionally when we celebrate our independence as a nation, after a hundred years or so as British colonies. Traditionally the Declaration of Independence is read aloud in a public place, and fireworks are set off afterward (usually around sunset) as a safe, wholesome commemoration of the war that followed the original Declaration of Independence. Lemonade is the traditional drink...sometimes tinted pink, and sometimes enlivened with soda water or alcohol. Dinner is likely to be grilled or barbecued outdoors. Ice cream, and cupcakes with red-white-and-blue icing, are part of some people's celebration of the Fourth of July.

This year, though, just being able to *enjoy* being out in the sun was something to celebrate.