Friday, August 31, 2012

Once in a Blue Moon - August 2012

A Blue Moon isn't actually blue, but doesn't this look pretty?
Tonight there will be a Blue Moon.  It's the last blue moon until 2015, or there's another one in 2013.  And if you look, you'll notice the moon isn't colored blue at all. Confused? 
If the answer to your question is "once in a blue moon" you probably figure that it's going to be a long, long wait.  But depending on the definition of "blue moon" you subscribe to, they might be more common than you imagined. One definition of "blue moon" is the second full moon in any month.  We had a full moon on August 1, and now we will have a second one on August 31, thus making tonight's full moon "blue".  The next blue moon of this kind will be in July of 2015.

But there is another definition of "blue moon" and that is when there are four full moons in a season.  Each season normally has three full moons, but if there are four full moons in one season, the third full moon is called the "blue moon".  I have no idea why the third moon is blue and not the fourth, sometimes these Old Farmers who make up Almanacs don't make a lot of sense.  This type of blue moon will occur next year, in August of 2013.

So, if you are waiting for a blue moon to see your dreams come true, don't despair.  They happen all the time.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Going Wild

Summer always sneaks up on me.  I always have big plans for pots of tomatoes or flowering beds, but they never come to fruition (no pun intended).  This year, I just barely managed to get a few flowers potted in time.  Next year, I always say.

My big plans for next year are slightly different than in past years.  We have a lovely stretch of wild embankment that borders the property.  The wildflowers and weeds grow unmolested.  But I think it needs more color.

When my petunias ceased flowering, I noticed little black dots on the leaves.  After some searching on the net, I discovered that these were, in fact, seeds. I then set about collecting all the seed pods (once I had found out what they looked like) and have a baggie full of petunia seeds.  I plan on finding some other seeds of flowers that grow without much encouragement, and when spring has warmed the ground enough, I will send The Boy to walk along the trail, sprinkling seeds as he goes.

I should probably just congratulate myself on learning what petunia seeds look like and how to collect them.  As I said, I make big plans and very little ever comes of them. But if I were to actually put my plan into action, imagine the lovely show of color we'd have throughout the summer months!

In reality, I am just at odds with the town's parks department which insists on widening the pedestrian trail by slicing through the wildflowers and weeds until there's just a strip of them left on either side.  There's so little nature left anywhere but why not let it grow undisturbed along a nature trail? The brush and undergrowth are home to rabbits and other small wildlife, birds, butterflies... the list goes on.

So let them come to mow down what they can reach with their machines of destruction.  I will simply increase the plant life on the sloping bank that they cannot reach. Nature must be allowed to grow wild, and if necessary, it should be encouraged to grow wilder.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

More Crimes of Fashion

For years now, women have been dismayed with the fashion industry and the publishers of womens' magazines for their unrealistic portrayal of female beauty.  While waif-like women with shoulders like coat hangers who look more like stick figures draped in fabric (and not much of that) than women decorated the pages of every periodical aimed at womens' interests, young girls were dying to look like these underfed models and mature women were made to feel invisible in a world meant for air-brushed anorexics.  But reality never imitated art as obesity became more of a problem.  Meanwhile stricter standards that regulated just how skinny models were allowed to be have been put in place in many cities that host fashion show events.

You won't be surprised to discover that fashion photographers are still air-brushing models.  But you may be surprised why they are doing it.  They're adding fat.

Yes, of course. You see, curvy is back in style.  But they haven't got many curvy models, they've spent the last 20 years or more convincing these models that they must starve themselves to ultra-thinness in order to get work.  So, now they have to add curves.

I am glad to find that the fashion industry has decided to accept the fact that real women have breasts and hips.  I will be pleased if they stop encouraging young women to endanger their health just so they can fit some impossible ideal. 

But I will be more pleased when the fashion industry recognizes that women come in lots of shapes and sizes.  They're not all skinny, they're not all curvy.  It's okay to be stick thin if that's your body type, but it's not healthy to diet your way underweight just to be stick thin.  It's okay to be curvy if that's your body type, but it's not necessary to obsess over your imagined shortcomings to the point of having dangerous procedures.

It's okay to be who you are, really.

Fox News: Fashion magazines now airbrushing models to make them look ... fatter?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

With just a couple of weeks to go, the countdown to the first day of school has started. It's the day all mothers look forward to, the day they bustle the children off to school.  The Girl asked me why I was so excited about it, what do I get out of it?

 "Six hours a day, all to myself", I replied.

Honestly, I do understand how they feel.  I remember being a kid and how those last few days of summer crept up so quickly, just as you were settling into a nice leisurely summer routine.  In fact, even as an adult I have noticed the differences that signal Autumn is on the way, despite the continued hot and sunny days.

Even though this transitional time from carefree pursuits to tightly scheduled days and homework can be downright depressing for kids, the beginning of school is an exciting time as well.  I remember the thrill of new pencils and pens, the crisp, clean sheets of notebooks as yet unsullied by note-taking and doodling. There's an undercurrent of excitement in packing up the schoolbags, deciding on the exact right outfit for the first day, and hoping that this year will be better than last. For there's always that rush of organization and good intentions at the beginning of September, even if it starts to fade by November.

I know that I will miss the full house for a few days.  I will worry about how they are adjusting to new classes and teachers.  I will be waiting by the door when they come home.

But I will also be enjoying six hours a day, all to myself. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Never Do a Dish Before its Time

My mother was a stickler when it came to housework - she liked to make sure her children were doing a good job of it.

Whenever my siblings get together these days, each of us tries to outdo the others with our stories of waxing floors, doing laundry and being the indentured servants working our way to adulthood and freedom.  And although I often join in with exclamations of "yeah but I had to do three days' worth of dishes every morning!", I am actually grateful to my mother for being so gracious as to delegate these menial household chores. 

I am grateful, foremost, because I learned a lot. Unlike an entire generation that came after me, I know how to wash dishes by hand.  I still hate it, and I still make the job last far too long by instituting a strict and unchangeable algorithm for dish washing designed to ensure the cleanliness and greaselessness of every glass, pan and lowly spoon. I realize also why I never actually finished doing dishes then and why I still almost never have them completely done.  I hate doing the silverware but even more, I hate pots and pans.  I usually get as far as the silverware these days, but I always have a few pots left over to "soak" until a bit later.  Then later, when there are more dishes to do, I take the soaking pots out of the sink and start washing the dishes in order again - plates, bowls, glasses, silverware - until it's time to put the pots back into soak.

I get further these days because, well, we use many fewer dishes in my small family than we did in my mother's house with five children.  And I don't "scald" the dishes anymore (although I sometimes entertain the thought).  Scalding the dishes was my mother's way of eradicating any nasty germs that might have survived the washing and rinsing process.  She'd heat a kettle full of water on the stove until it was boiling and pour it over the newly washed dishes.  My mother was always good at adding one step to any already too long task.

I have to get back to the kitchen, now.  I have the pot from yesterday's beef stew soaking in the sink.  Oh, I am not going to wash it just yet.  I am going to get a cup of coffee.  We'll just let that pot soak a wee bit longer.  It may be ready to wash tomorrow.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Insect Encounters of the Third Kind

On warm summer evenings we have taken to sitting outside on the rear porch, enjoying whatever cool air and breeze may be available.  There's a remarkable difference between August nights and those of June and July.  Of course, darkness falls much earlier but other things change, imperceptibly at first, then markedly.  I am always amazed at how much I didn't know about the wild world of nature just beyond my back door back in the days when I never had time to just sit and watch and listen.

I noticed that the fireflies have gone.  For weeks we watched their flashy dances in the brush and over the lawn.  Taking their place of evening prominence is the less flashy - indeed invisible - but much louder, cricket population.  Their nightly symphonies, the desperate calling of one to another, are often background noise, barely noticed.  But once noticed, the cacophony becomes an insistent ringing in the ears.

We sit in the dark, enjoying the solitude and the cover of night.  However, on evenings when someone is expected home, the porch light is switched on.  I don't care for having the light on.  For one thing, I don't enjoy being in the spotlight and have no wish to attract attention to myself.  Worse, there are the bugs.  The poor moths, completely befuddled by this infernal invention of Edison, flutter about the light, asking directions, trying to navigate by a moon that has suddenly grown exceedingly large and fallen from the sky onto my porch.  The beetles fling themselves against the siding, making a pinging noise and then fall all around and in my hair.  At some point, we must navigate our way inside through the door without allowing our new-found friends to accompany us.

It's not unusual to hear the occasional buzzing of a mosquito, taking a reconnaissance flight round my ear, looking for a succulent spot to sink her proboscis into.  Buzzing I can handle.  But  the unearthly sound that met my ear last night still makes me shudder.

I was slipping through the open door when a terrible whir and screech sounded by my right ear.  I yelled calmly asked "What's that?" while waving a useless hand by my head, having no idea what I was trying to swat.

I cannot describe this sound.  It was like no other bug that was ever heard to whizz by my head.  It was a high-pitched sound that looped and paused and swept up and down some musical insect scale.  It was like a tiny voice crying out some great secret that I must be told before some unknown and menacing fate befell me.

Then I realized what it sounded like.

The Fly.

Not the Jeff Goldblum fly.  Not the Brundlefly that retained Jeff's voice and form  and Geena Davis as a girlfriend, while growing bristly hairs and spitting on its food.

 No, the other fly.

The fly with the tiny human head and the tiny human voice, squealing "Help me!, Help me!".