Monday, December 30, 2013

Ha ha HA to all of you

This year I went on a very creepy scavenger hunt.

For addresses.

not at all creepy
It was inn (heh) order to spread Christmas cheer, mind you, but it was sort of creepy nonetheless.  Because, really, when a person can go on the internet with some bare essentials of a person's where-abouts (now hyphenated for your convenience) and come up with their street addy (Google's street view is helpful), it goes from the 'friendly White Pages scopeout' to 'possibly oddminded and should be evaluated' kind of scavenger hunt.

I hope none of you who received a holiday greeting from me mind being stalked.  I did it with the best of intentions. :}

Those of you who did NOT get a greeting, please leave your name and address below and I'll, uh, get back to you.

Sheesh - I'm going to need a bigger pit...and another case of lotion.


Pit-digging aside, we had a lovely holiday.  And you?


I have this week of from work (come visit me, you know where we live).  It is filled with such festivities as 'do laundry,' 'find all relevant tax information,' 'get car fixed,' and the Big One 'have HVAC serviced.'  SO JOLLY, and relaxing.

But no beans for us.

Southern traditions + one Tiny House and 4 people in it?  NO.


Hopping John, you can hop right over our house.  I shall not be shut in with 2 teenagers in a 1000-SF house the day after beans.  It will not be done!!


So, if you have a NYE traditional food item that is beanless and you'd like to share and that I can fix tomorrow, do share.

Remember, no beans.

That's important.


Tiff out.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

It's important to let you know

So, There's this list on Gawker (I know, it's a silly place, but often amusing) that 'ranks' (heh) 22 of the worst writers of 2013.

I am pleased to report that I am not on that list.  I think.  I didn't actually read it all the way through.  It was kind of boring.

Want to know why it was so boring?  It's full of 'writers' I've never heard of.  EVER.  And they get paid, presumably, for being writers.  THAT I'VE NEVER HEARD OF.  Or seek out.  Or, obviously, care about.

This either means that 1) I've chosen my reading material well by avoiding the bad writers of the world (or, maybe just the United States), or 2) I'm woefully unread and do need to extend my daily ration of ingo to include some of the sites or publications mentioned in the Gawker article.

However, having read samples of some of their work via clickthroughs, I'm thinking that option #1 is the more likely scenario.  Or maybe it's simply that  I don't really  care about people's opinions.  That what they care about and pontificate on is dead to me in a way that is so unimportant that it doesn't raise even the smallest of pangs that I don't know about it.  Like I'm some kind of 'care-less' monster with a black heart and chitnous shell off of which bounce op-ed pieces, advice columns, political diatribes, tech blargh, and nearly everything that's not actual news or humor.

And you know what?  I'm OK with that.  I have my own opinions, and having someone who is not me try to convince me with the powers of their internetly godliness or otherwise supposed 'influence' is a waste of everybody's time.  It's like when guests on a radio talk show start arguing: I just switch to the classical music station.  Easy peasy, and better for the blood pressure, for certain.

But am I alone in this?  Are there opinion sponges out there who are familiar with all the names on the Gawker list?  Do you make the rounds of popular websites and gobble up the tender goodness of someone else's take on things?  Or are you like me, a happy hermit of the mindset to which you have become accustomed?


I think I'm getting , or already have, a cold.  I have sneezed a dozen times in the last half an hour, and my nose is all stopped up.

Just in time to travel to a family wedding tomorrow, and spend time with a lot of family.

Boo, yah.


I hope everyone who chooses to celebrate Christmas had a good one yesterday.  Right now my feet are encased in the fluffy goodness of a pair of actual UGG slippers, and it is wonderful.

It seems like each year we pare down the preparation and celebration, but this year was quite possibly the most sparing yet.  We didn't even decorate the tree until Christmas Eve, and got take-out Chinese food for dinner.  It was rather delightful, watching "The Princess Bride" while scooping luscious noms someone else made into my face while reclined in a comfy chair wearing comfy new slippers. It should be a new tradition, all that comfy.

And, because it's highly likely I won't write again soon, I send my very best wishes for a Happy New Year to all 5 of you who will read this.  My best wishes for prosperity, good health, and peace in 2014.

Tiff out.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A guessing game

Today, I had an experience that stretched my ability to not stereotype, paint with a broad brush, make assumptions, etc.  It was a challenge, but I worked on my understanding and forgiveness skills until I saw the thing that clinched my belief in my powers of insight.  Let me set the stage:

I was having a bit of a shop in the spice aisle, picking up whole cloves and cinnamon sticks for some spices cider I was planning to take to a small gathering later in the day.  Being mindful of the other shoppers, I maneuvered my cart over to the side and began to reach for the tubs of splendor I needed.  Just then, a woman approached from the other direction, parked her cart right in front of where I was reaching, began picking her own things out and didn't acknowledge me even for a tiny second because she was busy gossiping on her phone about some dude who caught caught with his pants down.  Full voice, names and all, right there in the store.

It was pretty clear almost immediately from her demeanor and accent that she Wasn't From Around Here, but then again a lot of people aren't, and one cannot go around making assumptions about other people's areas of origin based purely on one incident and the recognition of their vocal affectations.  So I didn't.  Simply chalked her rudeness up to assuming she was in a rush or so caught up in licking all the luscious details of scandal from the skeleton of someone else's pride that she was lost in her own world (or, more correctly, in someone else's, poor chap).

Then, I espied her in the checkout line, still on her phone and still audible from 50 feet away.  Not once did she look at the cashier or return their greeting.  Not for a minute did she stop talking, not to make the financial transaction, not to answer the Bag Question (paper OK?), Not to say 'no thanks' to the offer of help getting her groceries out (they always ask that at our local food shop, and I like it.  So Southern).  Just blah blah blah yammer yammer, all the way out to her car.

She talked through the process of stowing her goodies in the car, she talked through the process of  shutting the trunk, she talked through the process of walking her buggy to the space in front of her car. She talked through leaving the buggy there when the buggy roundup was an incredible ONE SPACE AWAY.  She talked getting in, starting up, and I imagine driving away thinking herself pretty freaking smart and better than all the rest of us because she was talking about some Very Important Issues, like who can't keep his hands to himself and what color lipstick she thinks would look good on Snooki for the wedding.

Did you catch that part about leaving the cart anyplace other then in the roundup area?  The ultimate in rude, I think you would agree.  Particularly because it was ONE SPACE AWAY and she couldn't be bothered to walk all the way over there to put up that cart, oh no.  She was too busy talking and having bad hair and a grating accent and poor manners to do such a thing.

It was all explained when I noticed her license plate.  Not North Carolina.  I give you three guesses where it was from.

No, I won't, I can't wait that long.  It's too obvious anyhow.

That's right, friends, New Jersey tags were on that beatermobile.  New-Freaking-Jersey.  So fresh off the boat the tags hadn't been changed, which would have at least allowed some mystery as to where this horrorshow came from, because it MIGHT have been New York (downstate), but no.  Clear as a bell. NJ all the way.

I'm guessing somewhere Hoboken-adjacent, but that might be an insult to Hoboken.  Maybe to the whole state.  Pretty sure that mindset is what happens when people aren't allowed to pump their own gas.

Not to be unChristian, but I hope she breaks a nail and gets a scalp burn from the next bottle of Clairol Natural Black #122 she uses, then gets rear-ended by someone else's rogue runaway cart in the grocery store lot on a hot day in August, causing her to drop a bottle of Chianti on her toe.

Not too much to ask, right?

Bah, humbug.

Tiff out.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Someone turned off the heat all up in here

North Carolina is generally a wonderful state to live in, weather wise (we shall not mention politics here, for it is crazy-making and anger-producing, in large part).  Temperatures through November usually stay pretty dang balmy, no jacket required.  Why, one year we were still mowing the yard well into December, so much was the balmy.  Now that is a fine Southern Winter, as it should be and never ever change.

However, just recently the temp settings have been switched from balmy straight into ‘chilly fingers,’ with very little in the way of quantitative easing to be had to soften the frigid blow.  Adjusting has been hard.  I’ve had to put on a scarf, for Pete’s sake, to ward off a chilly neck!  That usually doesn’t happen until December!  Add in the overcast sky and a slight drizzle, and what’s happening outside is EXACTLY what happened almost every Thanksgiving of my youth.  I know this because almost every Thanksgiving of my youth was spent partly in a car driving to the relative’s house on Long Island, looking out the station wagon windows at NYC in the overcast and cold drizzle.  Every single year (or so it seemed)

As it should be - Outdoors!
But NC isn’t NY, is it?  NC Thanksgivings are supposed to be warmish-weather affairs, with jolly families celebrating over their deep fryers in the back yard while a cheery fire crackles in the outdoor fireplace and Mom has to shut the windows so the smoke smell doesn’t get in the house, funking up the allspice and cinnamon Renuzit theme she’s working in preparation for The Big One (Christmas).  Thanksgiving in NC isn’t cold gray rain and freezing fingers, it’s not hunkering down over the stove trying to trap the rising heat while ol’ Tom bakes to a crispy-skin perfection and the green bean casserole bubbles over slightly making the house smell of burning cream-a soup!  That’s NORTHERN Thanksgiving!  That’s how the YANKEES do it!  We proud Carolinians shouldn’t be reduced to the ways of our forefathers, most of whom came from the North (as some of us also did, but whatever), granted, but whose blood thinned almost instantly on arriving in the land of the 100-degree summer!  We need sunshine and some touch football and to prune back the mums on Thanksgiving! 

But, of course, you can’t fight the weather.  It does what it wants, even if that involves delivering icy blasts of arctic air straight down our plus-fours or up our petticoats, causing a communal shiver of regret that we didn’t all play outdoors more when it was nice out last month.  My hope for an Indian summer isn’t totally lost, but fading fast.  It’s a little late for all that, what with it being nearly December, and thus it might be time again to think about maybe, this year, actually purchasing a coat if Winter is going to start this dang early and with such vigor.

And perhaps some gloves as well.  Can’t hurt to take that extra step.

A very happy Thanksgiving to all.  Take some time to count your blessings and share the love with those who could use it. 

Tiff out.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Because, sometimes, sadness

Someone of great worth recently made a dreadful decision that can never be undone.  I've been pondering on it all week. My pain is slight compared with that of family and dear friends, so of course I can't pretend to feel what they do, but instead mourn the loss of someone who mattered and will be missed.  

So I wrote this.


Shrug off the burdensome world
That weighed so heavy
Slip off the yoke of worry
To rise, light, away
Say farewell to strangeness
And care, and desperation
Slide, nearly weightless
Into what's to come

Gone is trouble
As you are gone
The body heavy and still
As the soul sails on
Slipping fast toward forever
Your last moments sliding too quickly
Into memories and grief.
The great question of
‘What if’ can never be answered,
Even as ‘why?’ can never be
Fully known.

Be well on your journey home
Be favored in the vast beyond
Know that the hole you left
Is impossible to fill
The void of your absence
Fits you alone
Never to be another
A person-shape loss

One spirit-weight lighter.


Tiff out.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I have my rapper name

So sometimes I comment on blogs.

You remember blogs, don't you?  Charming things, really, and some were actually good.

Others were wicked, and I liked those best.

But enough about me.

I commented ON A BLOG today (OMG, so 2006!), and it was one of those with the coolio 'type these two words to get permission from the blog overlords to allow what passes for your wit and/or wisdom to be scattered about the vast ether like dust off a cat's back who has just gotten very dusty indeed' blogs, and my 2 words were so cool I need to start to develop a sense of rhythm and rhyme so I can bust a move and sling some sweet rap to my homies and home-etts.  That name is:

2 dBlergh.

That is my rapper name!

2 dBlergh.

I'mma go buy some oversized NFL shirts and a grill right now.  This thing can't lose!


Here on the blog and very oftentimes in written communications I start whole thoughts with "so."

"So, the thing is, what you sent me yesterday as your 'deliverable' could pass for a piece of crap only if you Scotchguarded it after washing off the bits of sorrow and inadequacy hanging from it."

"So, I was kind of late with this and it's not my fault the cafeteria lady couldn't open the drawer when I asked for money back from my debit exchange for cash off my 2 dollah salad so I could pay my 'contact' for a finished document while I played Candy Crush in a meeting room at work while pretending to get stuff done."

"So sometimes I comment on blogs."

"So, that thing you do?  Keep on doing it."

Like that.

And thus, (oh NO! Starting a sentence with a conjunction!) it might shock you that I am the biggest hate-nerd in the world when I HEAR people saying things like this even when, in my writing, it seems totally OK.

Especially when guests of shows on the radio (Hi, Diane Rehm!  Love you!) do it for each and every time they're asked to expound on a subject.  And (oh!) especially especially when those persons are physicians and are SUPPOSED to be be talking knowledgeably about subjects of import such as rabies/the omnosphere/baldness/drone strikes/old moms/pie baking/relevant flu-related items/the Big Boing/nematodes/crap we left on the Moon/sea monsters/cancer.

In that order.

It's like what they mean to say is: "Diane, the transport of intracellular vescicles to relevant subportions of the cell occurs along microtubules by the kinesin molecule, which uses the intake and outflow of ATP and ADP to regulate structure such that adherence and release from the microtubule is possible through a rapid reconfiguration of electron attactiveness and side chain structuring, the result of which we think looks a lot like a walking behavior.  Ye gods science is amazing!"

But when they start out with "so"?  It sounds like this:  "So, there are little walking things IN YOUR BODY that drag around balloons of stuff by marching around on these tracks and they're like in your cells and OMG YOU HAVE A SKELETON IN YOU RIGHT NOW."

So, totes annoying, right?  AMIRITE?  LOL.


Except about the kinesin thing.  I'm in a little love with that li' marching dude.  (and it's in me right now!)

Tiff out.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

In which I get very very angry.

This is a true story, sadly.

It was a busy day for Biff and me, one of lots of fun things, some practical things too, and which culminated in a trip to the grocery store for meat and chocolate chips (primary on the list but not the ONLY things thereon).

The temps were a wee tad high, in the high 80's to low 90s, so some of the effort-requiring things did cause one to break out in a bit of a glow.  Thank goodness for air conditioning!

Anyhow, on our way out of the store and as we were packing the van with the delicious nom-makings, we couldn't help but notice a woman standing oddly next to our car looking into the one next to us.  You know what I mean - she was all lookee-lou into the next-over car, and it was quickly evident why:  There was a young boy of maybe three years old strapped into his carseat in the backseat, fast asleep.  Next to him was in infant carrier wit ha baby in it, also fast asleep.


And alone in a locked car with the windows shut tight.

Did I mention the temps?  This handy infographic might inform as to what was going on inside of it.  Notice how, at 10 minutes, the inside of a car that's sitting in the sun as this one was would have an internal temp of almost 110 degrees.  In 10 minutes!  In 20 minutes? 119F.

From the time we noticed, at least 5 minutes had passed.  Heat building every moment.

Because nothing was hapening very fast on behalf on those babies, I went in to notify the store manager.  She very quickly got all the info I know and then she made a storewide announcement I heard LOUD AND CLEAR that the driver of a Red Toyota should come to the service desk immediately.  Repeated it twice.  I made sure to stay for that.

Returned to our van, where Biff was standing watch over the babies.  Five more minutes passed, nobody's doing anything about the kids trapped asleep in the heating-up red freaking PRIUS.  The store manager comes out, looks very concerned, and seems to agree to call the cops then returns to the car.

At this point at least 15 minutes have gone by after we noticed the kids in the back of the car, possibly getting their brains stewed.

Nobody has yet come out to go 'oops!  Forgot the kids were with me because they were so quiet!  My God I hope they're OK!' or even just to open the damn doors and turn on the A/C for them so they don't experience heat shock.  NOTHING is happening to get those kids out.

We back then van into a spot not directly next to the car and decide to wait and see if the cops come.  5 more minutes go by.  Nothing.

I am next to being ready to bust out the windows with the hammer that I KNOW is in the back of the van when a younger man, perhaps in his early 30s, approaches the car.  He goes to the back of it, then opens the hatch to put in his groceries.  Not once does he look in the car.  Then he steps to the front door, unlocks it, gets in, and PUTS IN FREAKING EARBUDS immediately, never once turning to the backseat or otherwise visibly seeming to check on his children.  From what I could see, there's no way he could have known what the condition of the baby was - the toddler was easy to see.  No checking.  Not a word said.  Nothing.  He was the king of Don't Give a Damn, and he clearly wasn't going to give up that crown.

Keep in mind that about 20 minutes had gone by since we noticed what was happening.  Never mind that someone could have come by and STOLEN those children, who knows how long the kiddoes had been there prior to us noticing?  At 30 minutes of exposure that car would have been at 124F.  A greenhouse, if not a bakery, and not any temp I'd want to spend any time at.  How long would Lord Moron have wanted to spend in that car??  Not nearly as long as he expected his kids to, I'm sure, I'm sure.

But dude was casual, easy-breezy, hey-the-kids-are-quiet kind of earbud-wearing asshole who locks his kids in the car on a hot Southern afternoon and goes to do his shopping because it's awesomely easy to do without kids and man they need their rest, right? kind of jerkface obtuse child-endangering fuckwit who shouldn't be allowed to have a pet FISH much less children of his own loins as his legacy that makes the blood of concerned parents boil and their souls flame when they know they can do almost nothing except maybe punch him the virtual face every time they think of what happened and howclosetheywere to smashing out the windows of his car to get those kids to some of the AC that Daddy was enjoying while he was shopping for his pita chips and IPA.


And so, if I ever see that car with the license plate I've memorized around town, I'll be real careful to pray for that man and his need for wisdom and that he needs to be aware that that he is the loving protector of his family and should always put them ahead of himself.  Because otherwise,  I might just jump out my car and slap some sense into that smugmug.


Tiff out.

Friday, October 04, 2013


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’d only go back to being 20 if I could take all the life experiences I have now with me.  Pretty sure most of you would say the same thing as well.  Even so, there is much to learn about how to ‘do’ life, some of which is hard and some of which is a happy accident.  Relationships mature, life situations change, income and outgo are always in flux, people leave or new ones arrive, and all along are lessons, lessons, lessons.

One valuable lesson is that failure to plan is planning to fail.  Nowhere is this MORE true than in the workplace, where foresight and planning are absolutely essential to success, unless what you do is meant to turn out a chaotic mess.  I don’t care WHO you are or what you do, some amount of planning is completely indispensable to creating a decent, if not stellar, end product.

Believing this is one thing, doing it is quite a different thing altogether.  Having said that, it should therefore come as no surprise that I suck at planning.  It is a daily struggle to make a plan and stick to it.  It’s more of a struggle to make a long-term plan and stick to it.  It is nearly impossible to make a far-reaching plan and do anything remotely like sticking to it.  The horror of this is that I’m currently in the middle of a VERY long-term project and would have already failed in many spectacular ways if we didn’t have a project planner assigned to it.  This is a marvelous happenstance, and I am trying my best to learn from what she does and how I can apply it to what I do.  Except…it takes discipline.  Discipline and attention.  Discipline, attention, and rigor.

Yeah, pretty much I’m sunk.  Aside from a severe deficit in the planning department, discipline, attention, and rigor aren’t my strong suits.  I’m more seat-of-the-pants, really, or generally just allow entropy to do its thing and simply disappear into a puddle of bland lack of definition or energy.

So if I could go back to being 20, I’d have to be hard on myself and shout the planning mantra long and loud and often so that I would look occasionally beyond tomorrow into next month, year, or decade.  God only knows (it’s true) where I would have wound up today if I’d had the discipline, attention, and rigor to work past my inner sloth to give my future its due.  Not that I’m unhappy with where I am, but that now, through a series of life lessons, I know I could have done so much more.

Ah well, I suppose I’ll just have to struggle along with my cushy desk job and then go home to MY house and decide what I can pull out of MY pantry to do the kind of planning I do best: what’s for dinner (that I bought with the money from that cushy job).  Such a heavy load of first-world responsibility!!

Oh wait.  It’s Friday.  Pizza night!  *whew!*  Just dodged that planning bullet!

Therefore, I beg of you and answer to this question: What would you tell your younger self if you had the chance?  Surely you have SOME wisdom to impart!

Have a great Friday and a lovely weekend - Tiff out.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Going postal

Because it's delicious
I am heartened by the seeming resurgence in old blogger friends reviving their blogs, and would encourage more of you to do so if you feel even the least little bit inclined.  The Twitter, Facespace, Reddit, Pinterest, and thousands of other ways to waste time on the internet are all great if you choose to participate, but is a PICTURE OF FOOD going to tell me more about you than a topical (or rambling!) post?  Is a ‘tweet’ about how mad you are at the government/cancer/people who abuse animals/your dog to pooping on the rug/idiots of the opposite political party/WalMart going to inform us of WHY you’re so ticked off?  Is a FB post about how much you love your church going to serve as the moving invitation you’d like if you can’t go into some depth about your feelings and the greatness of the people who attend First Apostolic Church of the Teddy Graham (or similar).

Short answer: No.

Let me repeat.


So, all y’all who are, like me, hiding out on ‘social media’ while wasting time during the day or trying to get to sleep at night – go back and blog.  Put those words down.  Show us a slice of your life.  EXPRESS YOURSELF.

For instance: My left ear is ringing like I stood in the bell tower of Notre Dame on Christmas Eve during the midnight service.  I can’t hear hardly at all out of it, and if I accidentally put the phone to that ear during a call the voice on the other end is wispy and tinny at the same time.  The ringing has been around for a couple of days and has happened before but usually would be gone in a day or so.  I am not of fan of this ringing.  It’s bad enough I have tinnitus in both ears at around the 8000Hz level, but now this added slap?  Not awesome.  And I hope not permanent. 

Just move on along, persistent pesky ear ringing.  I have better things to do than be ticked off by you.

Also:  I just had lunch with Biff, and was reminded of how he hates the sound of fingers being noisily sucked clean (because I apparently do it JUST TO BUG HIM!), which was after I begged him to not put a paper napkin on his teeth because I hate the possibility of there being that horrible slip-scrape sound if rubbed just the wrong way, and it kind of dawned on me that we might be a little bit weird.  So might you, so I ask – what things set you off to nutsoland?  Sure, things like ‘styrofoam robbing together’ might be one, but I’m shooting for the truly unique thing that bugs you but doesn’t seem to affect other people.

Leave your contribution below if you’d be so kind (all 4 of you who still read blogs), and have a nice day.

Tiff out.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Here it comes…

In the latter half of last year a giant project descended on my place of work, settling over the horizon in a vaguely threatening shadow, a portent of many dark days in the distant future.

That future?  Is now.

For months I’ve known it was coming, this specter of a bloated messy dossier looming around the edges of reality.  For months I’ve done a pretty good job of not freaking out about it and the chokehold it was bound to have on my life and the lives of all of us working on the project, and even now when I’d like to freak out it’s not an option because there’s just so much to do that freaking out would make me lose track of what it is I have to keep control of, so NO FREAKING OUT.

And, if predictions and history hold true, this is only the start, so freaking out at this point would be laughably premature.

Is it possible to schedule a nervous breakdown for sometime around next May?  Because from now until then, I’m going to be one barely-contained sweaty bag of not NOT FREAKING OUT.


In other news, I have stopped listening to new radio or NPR when the news is actually, you know, ON.  I can’t stand it, all this Syria.  I’d have an opinion on sending in trains, planes, and automobiles to ‘intervene’ (OH HELL NO!) but of course I don’t understand all the complications and political mess and global implications of a squirrel passing gas in the Golan Heights, so will refrain from pretending  know what’s going on (but still, OH HELL NO!), and thus have stopped trying to keep track of who is tickling who behind the back in exchange for certain future favors/not being wiped off the face of the earth.

It’s much more important that I fret about the upcoming cubicle move at work, and who is getting the good spots and who is getting screwed.  My move is kind of lateral, though I will be sitting one cube toward the walkway (on the end of a 3-fer instead of in the middle) and more toward the front of the building but about equidistant from the coffee area so nothing really gained or lost.  At least I’m not IN the hallway right in FRONT of the coffee area like they wanted to put me in last time.  Because what could be a more perfect place to stash a writer than that, eh?  Just the noisiest place of all, and this cube had the added bonus of being right outside a conference room!  SWANK!  So, I guess this move could be worse – there wasn’t even the barest whiff of being co-located to the fishbowl this time.

In a show of I-don’t-know-what, all the bigwigs at the front of the building who have big offices with doors and everything are being relocated to what were formerly small conference rooms, and their offices are being converted to conference rooms.  This is like all the way to the TOP kind of relocation, with some folks giving up offices that equal 6+ cube spaces (about 6x8 each , if I’m any guesser) with a space that’s essentially 2-cubes big.  Still with a door, so there’s some vestige of hierarchy remaining, but oh, what a comedown for some of them, I"m sure.

We are teetering one step closer to just going full-bore open plan, but in the bright-side way of thinking, we’re not there yet.


I’ll leave it there, with my tales of work woe (and remind me to tell you about a very nice award recently received).  Just wanted to get it here for posterity and future memory-jogging.  And also because I wanted to complain to someone.  Anyone.  Even you.

Tiff out.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Not saying you should be me, but...

I have ones of readers, a happy life, smoking hot shoes, the best singing voice within a block of here, and a bet with George Washington that I can hold my breath longer than he can.

Currently, he is winning.

No matter, I don't mind.  He's had lots more practice than me.  Just wait up, George, and see what I'll be able to do in 30 years or so!

There is writing kicking around in my head.  Creative stuff.  The starts of many a story are whirling around.  Things like:

  • The trouble with Gabriella was that she wouldn't pay attention, even when struck.
  • Anymore, the chance to play hooky was slight and dangerous.
  • One time I caught a bug so amazing I kept its feet between my fingers while staring down all the rivulets of struts on its transparent wings.
  • A spider laid its eggs on our front porch last night.  She's much thinner now.
  • I don't get surprised by this, it's just a thing that happens before the police are called.
  • Old Charlie called me from the ditch, a wet brown shag rug of love.

That's a sample, a start.  They all have stories, but I've not yet started 'em.  Ought to, now that fall is coming on.  That's a good time for telling tales.

Just putting it out there.

Tiff out.

Monday, September 02, 2013

So, this is tough.

This past month has been a circus of the odd, as far as life passenges go.

My former MIL died, and now my former Prof at JMU. Hell, I'd add in David Frost, but because i'd never met him in person I suppose that's too reachy for a sad post.

At this moment, sad to say, I'm more torn by my horn teacher.  The news is more fresh.  The memories more far-reaching.  The audition before freshman year, the offer of a scholarship if I'd become a music major, the years of lessons, the constant coaching, the good humor, the consistent expectation that we are always better then our last performance (even if you're playing horn 8 parts), all those things I'd never intended to leave behind and now bring to the fore to remember again as if I was 20 years old and hungry for everything.  It's good to remember how that feels, that strong pulse to creativity, that surge, that freedom, that possibility.

Damn, Doc.  I miss you, and I haven't even spoken to you in half a lifetime.  Godspeed to you in the next, and much love to you on the way.


Also, to Sara - I had my first wedding rehearsal in a polka-dot dress, so I guess you know the answer to that question.  I love you still, and always will.


To David Frost  - I got nothing.  You did it all.


Tiff out.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Today I am wearing a shirt that is almost work-appropriate

It’s been a rough couple of weeks at the Tiny House.  As I wrote about starting way back on 07 August, a little over 2 weeks ago Biff came down with a thing, which I then got the next day.  The thing required both of us to go to the Doc for meds, which in my case meant a Z-pack and an albuterol inhaler.  If you know anything about medicine, you could likely have devised from those meds that I had a respiratory thing, and you’d be right.  This particular brand of thing involved the following: wheezing, chest rattling and squeaking, mucus, phlegm, paroxysmal coughing, snot, fever, chills, and sore throat.

Among other symptoms.

It is now over 2 weeks later and I am still experiencing what are called ‘productive coughs,’ term that means exactly what you think it might.

So, at least I can say that for over 2 weeks STRAIGHT I’ve been productive.  It’s a new world record!

A week and a half ago the Things were in SC attending their paternal grandma’s family’s reunion.  The aunts and uncles and cousins (LOTS of cousins) and associated and affiliated kin gather to eat and chat for a couple of hours, then disperse.

They don’t need a whole weekend, really.  They pretty much all live next door to each other.  It’s really more of a chance to get the few out-of-towners into town to evaluate their fashion choices and make the eat okra.

So, the Ex and boys drove down in their fancy clothes in order to impress the SC contingent with their urbanity and to visit with those family members they recognize and to try to avoid eating okra.  It was a good time and they enjoyed themselves as you do at those things.

Four days later, their grandma had a stroke.  Her friends at the retirement place got worried when she wouldn’t answer her door to go to breakfast.  There’s no way to know how long it had been since she’d had the stroke, but the films didn’t look good.  It was a big one, in a bad place. 

She passed away Monday morning.

Now, I’ve told stories on her here before (she of the polka-dot dress comment), but always with love.  She was a true southern woman, the unofficial mayor of Dover Delaware (where she will be put to rest next to her husband), a lover of family and friends, a dedicated supporter and employee of the public schools, warm and inviting, and will be missed.

Turns out, 82 years isn’t really long enough to be alive, after all.

In happier news, we had a visit from Biff’s daughter and fiancĂ©e this past weekend.  Quick in and out, with hardly enough time to lie around and watch movies.

Oh wait, we did do that.

We also went out and heard Biff’s band play on Sat night, which was fun and better because it’s always more fun to go out with other people.  Then Sunday we went mini-golfing (I won, I’m sure) and ate barbecue the right way with slaw on top, then they flew back to the airport (literally, in a little plane!) and that was that.

Raleigh put on such a great show Saturday night that there’s talk of them coming back for her 21st birthday this fall so they can ride the Trolley Pub and visit all the cool clubs around town.  Believe me, you could ride the Trolley Pub for hours and not hit all the clubs and venues Raleigh has to offer.  It’s like Little Wisconsin or something down there, with the booze and bands and such.

Then the next morning we’ll take them on a Segway tour of downtown.  Heh.  Hungover on a Segway.  Now that’s good times.

That’s about it from here.  Monday starts school again for Thing 2, so there will be much prepping going on this weekend, I’m sure.  At the very least dude needs a shearing…that moptop look he’s sporting went out years ago.

Tiff out.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Random chunks

The last I wrote, we were anticipating Thing 1's maths placement test at the CC he will be attending for the next couple of years.  If he didn't do well, he's have to take remedial math (credits for which I don't think transfer to the 4-year programs).  Being as how math is not a strong suit for him, there was some range of possibilities about which classes he would be signing up for.

I am happy to report that there was no need to worry, he did great, and is therefore in college-level math.  And a history class, and a music class (some band thing or another, which is great), and some other things I've not yet had a chance to look at, as this all happened yesterday and it was a Dad day not a Mom day, because while it was supposed to have been a Mom day, Mom was home being sick nighe unto fractiousness and wasn't up to carting young men all over town.  Long story short, I have yet to look at the paperwork, but as he had an advisor helping pick the classes right after his test grade came in, I'm sure it's fine and he's going to start his post-graduate education off on the right foot.


What a big step this next one is.  I'd thought that I would have been more maudlin about it, weeping over baby pictures and the souvenirs of his childhood I've kept, wondering where the time went, but no, not really.  I am very excited for this next step!  It's thrilling to see the kids grow and mature and reach out to grab that next branch up the ol' tree of life.  We are lucky to have children who are able to do this, who are healthy and smart and sociable and so I celebrate this wonderful cocoon-shucking for him.  It had to happen sometime, and  think the next couple of years are going to be so very important for him.  When put against the backdrop of the previous 13 years of school, the constant nagging and talking and guiding and, let's face it, yelling, that we did to and with him about school, I can say that making it to this step is VERY exciting.  Now there's a goal - to get the next 2 years done and transfer to the 4-year college he wants to attend to get the BS degree.  A GOAL!  How energizing.

And it all starts next week.

Aside from the truncated summer, I don't think it's 'too soon' at all.


In other exciting news: we are having a Michigan visitor or 2 next weekend!

I hope they don't mind wearing their sunglasses inside, because there's no way this house would pass a white-glove inspection right now and so the sake of appearances they're going to need to obscure their vision somewhat.  Either that or I can maybe convince them to rub a little sunscreen in their eyes?

So much to be done, and that's just on the inside.  The sunglasses, I hope, will take care of most of the outside imperfections.

It will be a quick visit, and will likely take us a long to prepare for it as it will last, but that's what visitors are for, right?  To get you to clean up your shizz so they think you're perfect and have it together?  Well, at least the first time they visit.  Subsequent visits allow for more relaxed appearances, I think we can all agree.  Without that little social 'out,' I'd never have people over in the first place.  That 'first visit' kind of organization and deep cleaning  is kind of like the first drink you have at the Tiny House: I'll get your first one and ask if you want a glass with your beer and it will be perfect and so very much the right thing to do, but you are on your own after that because I can't be perfect twice in a row and thus have given up trying.

Bonus: now that Biff and I are both feeling well enough to DO some work around the house, It. Is. On.


Lots and lots happening around here - how's your world?

Tiff out.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick BOOM! You're dynamite!

Hey y'all, it's been a while.  What have you been up to?

Me, I'm just plugging along, doing life, going to awesome concerts (Ben Folds 5 and Barenaked Ladies in the same night!  With the Things!), not going to church (seriously, July, what happened?), being grateful for good health and general overall Okayness of my life.  Like, nothing major has happened, much, which I suppose is fine.

Thing 1 starts college in just over a week.  Did I mention that?  Yep - college.  He's going to get an associate's degree, then decide if he wants to head on into a 4-year college.  I'm thinking yes, but he needs to conquer the A.S. first.  I have confidence that he will land on his feet wherever he goes, and hope that he finds his niche.

Speaking of, does anyone know of a local jazz band or orchestra a young man can play in?  Because, apparently, music is what he's going to miss the most.  I understand this, and hope also that he can find something in the area he can participate in that will whet his appetite for creativity.  I told him that if he can find something, he should START something.  A nice brass quintet, surely there must be other students who have a love for music and a need for an outlet?  Plus which, they can gig at holidays and such to make some money.  Money always good, esp. when there are books to pay for.

He and I had a conversation the other day about college and costs and if there was a college fund for him.  Well, there is, of a sort, but nowhere near what I'd like it to be.  So I told him what my folks told me: college is paid for, don't worry about it.  It helps that he's going to a community college first, which will cost a grand total of $1400 bucks a semester if he takes 16 credit hours. Not including books.  I can do that price for a couple of years...then get him applying to scholarships like mad in the meanwhile.  I appreciate that he's concerned, and love that he raised the issue, and hope that him knowing it's paid for will help him reach farther than he might have otherwise.  We will make it work.  Of course, I made it clear he's going to an instate public college, because ain't nobody got the pockets for Duke around heayah.

Then there's the matter of braces. And wisdom tooth extraction.  And HS starting up again, and schedules that need to be changed, and testing to be done so placements can be made, and it's a wonder how people with actual hobbies besides drinking can stand it.  Summer is so fleeting, so calm, so rampant with idleness that its very briefness is to be celebrated in the most low-key way possible.  Mostly that involves watching terrible movies and forgetting bedtimes.  Life is good here in this time, even if I have a fever and snotty nose and headache and clogged up chest.

Because I do, but why write about that temporary state of being?  With enough pharmacology in me I'll defeat the monstrous germs and be back to well-being before too long.

But now I must go.  All this typing and thoughtiness has exhausted me, and I need to go think about Christmas.

Tiff out.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Title goes here.

Ah, vacation.  A week of 2 days’ worth of real relaxation.  Isn’t that always how it goes?

Saturday is travel and settle in day, with check-in at the inconvenient time of 3 p.m., ensuring that by dinnertime you’ve only just been able to sort out who is sleeping where and how many bags of ice you need to run out an get so the coolers stay cool and that all involved parties have adequate beverage available for at least the first 3 days.

Sunday is grocery  hop and get the boat day, both of which are done by noon which leaves many hours to decide how best to start relaxing.  Boat and float begin.  Someone cooks dinner, which cuts into the boat and float but is an accepted part of this self-catering holiday.  Someone, who might also have cooked dinner, has to do something for work and try to find a wifi signal to send some email, which finds her parked in front of her brothers’ lake house (which someone else is renting) gobbling up whatever thin weak strand of connection to the glorious internet there might be.

Monday.  More errands, as someone forgot to do a few things on Sunday and needs to go out, again, in the car, which is a shame.  The afternoon, though, is glorious and spent in much vacationing.

Tuesday and Wednesday, mercifully, are nothing but lounging.

By Thursday, though, someone needs to go to the grocery, the realization that Friday is really the last day of vacation and that’s tomorrow hits, there’s a crazed attempt to jam in more boating and floating, some familial misunderstandings (almost a full week of living with people to whom you are related but with whom you are not used to living with anymore will do that), and another dinner to cook are part of the later-week vacationer’s ‘to-do’ list.

By Friday, the thought of having to pack up and be out by Saturday morning at 10 a.m. looms large and thus the day is crammed full of boating and making to most of those expensive toys you’ve rented.  Also, don’t forget to break them while you’re very far from home.  That adds value, especially when there are no taxies in the area and therefore no other way to get home than pray that the marina has a mechanic and that the problems can be fixed (which there was, and they were).

See how quickly a week can go by, and how few actual lose-yourself moments there are?   And this is vacation without a script!  I can’t imagine doing some tour or Disney thing where each moment is preplanned.  The week would go by so much more quickly in that case, and it goes fast enough for my taste already!

One week ago today I was on my second day of no errands, no cooking, no plans.  I’m sure I woke up late, lounged over coffee while gazing at the lake, swam some, and boated some, but the memory is specifics is a little hazy.  Which is as it should be for vacation days.  Very little actual anything should happen, but you should probably be tired at the end of it.

Have you taken vacation yet this summer?  Was it wonderful?  Do tell, and have a wonderful Wednesday afternoon.

Tiff out.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

As good a day as any, I suppose

I'm generally not one of those curmudgeons who goes all 'well, we didn't really do MUCH on 04 July 1776, because John Adams blah blah blah something about signing the declaration and how it's not really the FOURTH that should be celebrated, but the SECOND, or August 21st, or sometime in November (or was it August) when Cesar Rodney finally hauled his cancer stricken body to the chambers to scrawl his name,' (Aside: actually, it was last signed in 1781 by Thomas McKean, and Caesar apparently didn't even have cancer OF THE FACE at the time of the signing) but around 04 July I do feel it's incumbent on all of us to recall just how long those men struggled to do this thing that was inevitable and how rancorous the debates were and how many families were split and just how dangerous secession was for them and anyone associated with them.

Far more than a 1-day effort, but we are short of attention and oh our lives are so hard that to simply track the events leading up to this 'not a holiday,' holiday, would be something well beyond our scope.  Who had TIME for all that?  Not me, certainly, as I've never purposely followed all those events but I have seen '1776' a time or 2 and so have a better appreciation (through the power of song!) of what Hollywood thinks happened those fateful days before air conditioning in the HOT of summer.

Because, think about it.  Undershirts and overshirts and waistcoats and topcoats must have been flung to the side in the heat of battle as party after party spoke their piece, sometimes at length, fighting to get this small group of men to agree to whatever this country was going to do next and how it would all play out once the British and their mighty armies got wind of the stink we young Americans were raising.  Oh, how the King would roil and gnash his teeth at the utter stupidity and hubris of that colony, the leech on Great Britain, that full-slobbering bunch of know-nothings with no good appreciation for their forebears and rulers to whom they should be grateful to pay taxes, taxes, and more taxes simply for the privilege of being called 'colonists,' implying of course that at some future point they might actually get to enter the Union, Jack.

But of course the colonists, at least the loudest of them, did scoff loudly and harshly at this bit of pudding-like thinking, objecting to their place on the chain of command, wanting to rule their own country, a place the King didn't ever set foot but instead sent his barking minions to seize the prime pieces of meat from the colonisits withered and grasping hands, never satisfied with what was provided and always pressing and pushing for more.  Well, NO MORE!  They had had enough.

MOST of them.

Some took convincing, and that took time.  From the first moment of foment to the last signature took far longer than can be appreciated now, and given the pace of procedure and communications in those days, took even LONGER than we can imagine now.  People wrote letters in those days, which were carried on horseback, so a single exchange of information between a member of the first congressional congress (or whatever it was called at that time) and his wife could take a week.  A week!  Just to say 'hello dear, how is it going up there in Philly?  Hot enough for ya?  Send pins.' and hear back 'Yeah, it's going all right.  Franklin's a pain in the arse, and it's hot as the hinges of Hades, but that Eldrige Paine is a real starter.  Oh, and pins are 10 pence a hundred, see the ladies save all they can, here are 200 and I hope it's enough because they're almost unfindable now.  Love you!'  So yes, lots of time.  It was, as we say, a process.

In very very dankest heat of summer.  God Lord, what a monumental effort it must have been.


And I in my air-conditioned home in this gorgeous country do moan about having to go out and weed a garden planted strictly for looks when it's nearly 90 F.  In nothing resembling a petticoat, corset, undertunic, overskirt, bodice, hat, and gloves.  Because if I had to do THAT?  There'd be another revolution.

Thanks, Forefathers.  You've saved many an innocent from sure slaughter, and not only because of the foresight you put into the Great Declaration, but all the other foresight you had to secure the freedoms you expected for this country and ensure some framework on which the country could move forward.  We're still using what you decided upon and documented, so 'good job y'all.'  IF it ever comes time to re-do what you did, I hope we have the sophisticated and forward-looking arppoach, as well as imagination, that you did back in the days of the infant republic.

Ya done good.  Thank you.

Tiff out.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Who would YOU be?

Greek philosopher 101 - fabulous beard.
A friend sent me an email out of the blue with the single line:

"If I were a Greek Philosopher, my name would be Mediocrates."

And oh, how I did snigger aloud.  Because that's pretty imaginative and funny, right?

Got me to thinking.  What the heck do I know from Greek philosophers?  I mean, I get the Mediocrates is a play on Socrates, so that made me feel smart, but to do my OWN play what would I have to know?

Another Greek philosopher, that is NOT Plato, because it's hard to play on Plato, amirite?

Of course I am, so I did the most natural and right thing in the world and Google'd "Greek philosophers" (as ye do) which came up, of course, with this.

That's right, a giant honking list of Greeks who thought philosophistry was their bag, man, and somehow got captured in the annals of history (ew!) to the point that sometimes they reached the pinnacle of record keeping and somehow their birth AND death years were recorded! Yowza!  What a legacy.

Naturally, some were more memorable than that, if only for their names, no play on 'em necessary.  To wit::

Antipater (3 of 'em)
Cassius Longinus
Crates of Athens

And the list goes on and on.  Some so famous as to have been visited by Plato!  Some so infamous as to have, still, the note on their permanent record as 'founded a school; it did not go well.'

Some converted Christians, some deniers of any incorporeal beings, some imagineers of oxen-shaped gods (dreamt up by the oxen themselves), some Epicureans, some cynics or skeptics or Pythagorists, all plucked from the pages of history and arranged for our reading pleasure, in alphabetical order.

Mmm, alphabetical order.  It's what makes sense when nothing else does.

Hey - wasn't it Alphabeticus who said "life is best when Omega Follows Alpha, thus shall it ever be"?

Pretty sure that's right.  I should go look it up.


If YOU had a Greek philosopher's name, what would it be?  Mine's moving toward Spaetius, a little closer every day.

Tiff out.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Oh, my.

(Read this in a Scottish accent, please)

I just watched this thing and I loved it and so I wanted to post it to Facebook but I've posted there too much in the last hour and then I remembered I have a BLOG and so am posting it here because it's awesome and so why should a couple of hundred people read it over there when fully TENS of people can read it over here?


Here it is.

Watch all the way through for the twist.  Most excellent.


(Stop with the Scottish now, please)

Are the Scottish very polite people?  I do not know.  Perhaps they are.  I've not been there, and don't know any, and anyhow an N of 1 is a suck population to study, so I wouldn't know even if I did know one.

They must be polite though.  We hardly ever hear about them in the news n' all.

Therefore, I vote we all move to Scotland and proceed to make merry.  I'm sure they will enjoy that.


Spider season is upon us in NC again.  Why, just this evening I had to body-battle a quarter-sized garden spider for a patch of porch while I tried to finish my latest book, and it was BRUTAL.  Several swats with a garden shear didn't dissuade it, the bold beggar, and thus I had to flick it with IMPLEMENTS to get it off my dang porch.  IMPLEMENTS!

Which included a cat.

I'm sorry, Eric.  It was the only way.


 Eric is absorbent, and did not seem to mind.


And that is all.  I'm sure you have better stories to tell about what close calls and daring escapes you'd have recently.  Do tell if you like, but don't forget to do so in a Scottish accent.

Moge het beste dat je ooit zag
Het slechtste zijn dat je ooit ziet
Moge een muis nooit je haverkist verlaten
Zonder een traan in z'n oog
Moge je altijd sterk en gezond blijven
Tot je oud genoeg bent om te sterven
Moge je altijd zo gelukkig zijn
Als we je wensen altijd te zijn

Translation here.


Monday, June 17, 2013

60 to 20

'Never, ever, get famous.  Not even if your 13-year-old self wants it MORE THAN ANYTHING in the whole wide world and would never ever ask for anything in the world ever ever again if she could just be one-name famous, like Cher or Twiggy.  That I not the kind of famous you want to be, ever (EVER!).

That kind of famous is a presence that cannot be escaped until such time as you realize it’s going, and then you want it back.  That sort of fame is the puppy at your heels, or the cat in your face, always wanting something but it’s hard to tell what so you are by turns playful and engaging (for the puppy fame) then aloof and reserved (cat-like fame behavior).  You don’t know whether to court it or kick it, and either way whatever you decide will be wrong as the day is long, especially when the puppy keeps getting kicked and the cat keeps getting petted.  You will be wrong about fame, no matter what.

You think that have the flash of cameras in your face at big events would be great, and it is, but then you’re blinded and everyone is covered in tiny white bulb-burst dots for the time it takes you to recognize the really GOOD gossip columnists from the tacky ones, and by then someone else has taken your arm and is dragging you around down the red carpet while fans try to grab a strand of hair (ouch!) or a picture or get an autograph or stick their slimy hands on your body in places for which they’d be arrested if it lasted longer than the time it takes for the big moolah guards to whisk you away from the bright lights.  You can’t get to enjoy that kind of fame, really, ever.

REAL fame is a sad state; having the world at your fingertips but almost always out of grasp, you know.  If you’re really really good you can balance it for a moment or a season, but it never is fully within your power to control.  Being really famous lasts only as long as it takes for some ‘new you’ to come along and flutter their cheap little eyelashes at some producer who puts them in a show for a tenth of what it costs for you and if they’re any good at all, then BOOM!  There goes fame, bouncing down the hall toward that cheap floozy like a puppy after a kitten.  Then you’re left with nothing before anyone else knows that fame isn’t in your reach anymore.

That’s the kind of fame that’s both a blessing and a curse.  Shining and bright and irritating as all hell when you have it twisting and flipping around you, the best thing ever for a girl for that instant when’s worth it to the crowds; darkly ominous and melancholic when receding into someone else’s future, a mirror no longer reflecting your once-brilliance.

Nope – fame isn’t worth chasing.  Not that kind.  Better to be infamous and live on and on than be famous and be forgotten one the lenses are on someone else.

Guess what I’m saying is, give up the stage and take up the pen, kiddo.  You might not make the front page of the Life style section of the local rag, but you will be able to make all those pretty little birds who do, crow your lines in whatever way you want.   That’s infamy.  That’s fame.  That’s where the real power lies.  Fame can't hold a candle to that.'

So sayeth I, Tiff.