Thursday, May 19, 2011

16 questions

Following our narcissistic blogging theme, today we publish Artax's response to 16 questions, selected from personality and family history surveys.

1. What is your favorite color?

Probably orange, although depending on the day and my mood, I might pick any warm color.

2. What is your favorite holiday?

Today, I would say Independence day, because it is celebrated while the world is warm and green. At least in the USA.

3. Do you have a favorite number?

My favorite number is 22, because it is a nice shade of yellow. What is the color of your favorite number?

4. What is your favorite smell?

Rain on the pavement in the desert. If they made that into a perfume, I would wear it. Except that perfumes make my husband sneeze.

5. Do you remember your great-grandparents?

My mother's father's parents died in a car accident long before I was born. My mother's mother's mother died when my grandmother was a little girl. My mother's mother's father was Albert, and he and I shared a birthday. We have a very dark, blurry photo of Albert and me on my eighth birthday, and his eighty-somethingth. He lived in a house somewhere in this town of mine, but my parents haven't remembered where. I wonder if I would recognize it if I saw it?

My father's mother grew up without a mother as well, and her father was dead before I was born. My father's father's parents also died long before I was born. So I just had the one great grandparent.

Thinking about it, I'm feeling a little left out with this question.

6. Do you remember your first date?

I think his name was Kenny. I was pressured into attending Jr Prom, and my cousin lined me up. He was a nice guy, and we had some interests in common, but that one dance was the only date for us. No sparks. And I was painfully shy.

7. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I remember telling my 2nd grade friends how I would run the 2nd grade classroom when I was a teacher. In retrospect, five days each week of pajama parties probably wouldn't have worked out educationally.

In 8th grade, for a class project, I was supposed to research three careers that interested me. I chose illustrator, writer, and choreographer, classical ballet. I didn't grow up to be any of those things.

8. How tall are you?

I am 70 inches tall in the evenings. In the mornings, I am 71 inches tall. Most people only shrink about half an inch over the course of a day, but a few years ago, Tim and I measured, and yup -- my height varies an entire inch each day.

9. Shoe size?

11 womens, extra narrow. Kind of a tricky size for someone who often commutes by walking.

10. What color are your eyes?

Hazel. Dark blue on the outside, brown on the inside. Some days it blurs together to look dark green. My eyes are really cool. Wish they were a little bigger so you would notice.

11. What major illnesses or health problems have you had?

The regular migraines are the biggest problem, although I'm better now at managing those. The migraines often come with depression, which is not as easy to manage, but typically endurable, especially when I recognize it as part of a passing migraine. Most of the time.

That's about it. I'm lucky enough that I've never been hospitalized, except for childbirth and recovery. As far as I know, I haven't even broken a bone, although a doctor once suggested that my repeated sprained ankles probably started with an un-diagnosed break back in elementary school. No problems there now.

12. What do you do regularly for exercise?

I walk to/from school, and to/from work. Unless I bike to work. Then we count that. Sometimes, I like to play Dance Dance Revolution for exercise.

13. What are your hobbies?

Hobbies come and go. In a past life, I used to sew, and play the piano, and dance on my toes. I painted, with oils. I would take up oil painting again, if it weren't for the toxic chemicals and the huge mess to clean up. And the general lack of time. I guess I write this blog now, as a hobby.

14. Is there anything you have always wanted to do, but haven't?

Well, always is a long time to have wanted to do something, so I would have to say no. However, I have wanted, for example, to finish writing a novel for a long time. But lately I haven't really cared enough to do the writing. So still no. There are a few things I'd like to do in life before the end, but they aren't the always kind of things.

15. What was your bedroom like in the house you grew up in?

I shared a small room with two younger sisters. When I was about eight years old, I had the chance to move to my own bedroom, and I ruined it. I was afraid of the dark, and asked to move back with the sisters. Within a couple of years, I began rearranging the furniture to put furniture walls between my space and my sisters' space.

When I was about 12, my mother gave birth to a baby boy, and soon after I got to move into the sewing room with the baby. Within a couple of years, that baby moved downstairs and the new baby moved in. Then, when I was 16, we hosted an exchange student my age from Germany, and she and I shared a room. When she left, I kept the room on my own, all through my senior year in high school. I so much enjoyed having the room of my own that I lived at home for three more years in college. That was a mistake.

16. Is this post finished yet?

Almost. It turned out longer than expected, eh? I had meant to spend my free evening playing video games. Oh well. Perhaps there is something here for posterity. Or for an upcoming smear campaign. Whichever comes first.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

On the mistreatment of spring gardens

Yesterday, the grounds people at my university dug up the spring gardens. I arrived on campus to find a mob of gardeners, wielding shovels, digging up tulips roughly and chucking them into the back of a truck. Some of the tulips had begun to fade, but many were still colorful and pretty. The pansies hadn't even reached their peak. And by dumping tulips in the back of a truck, the grounds staff have prevented them from soaking up the sun, nourishing their roots, allowing them to grow back first thing next spring. And the next. And the next. When treated well, tulips give back beauty for years.

I'm always disappointed to see the spring garden treated so poorly in May.

This morning, I noticed that the summer garden has been planted. Where yesterday there were pansies and tulips, this morning there are geraniums and petunias. Last night, a cold front moved in, and the temperature dropped twenty degrees. Geraniums don't like that. The pansies would have been happy and beautiful even in the cold.

Me, I biked home in the pouring rain.

And I thought while I biked. I thought about how biking in the rain is more dangerous than biking on a dry road. Visibility is somewhat reduced, for me and the other traffic. Brakes can be slippery. Water falls in my eyes and beads on my glasses. But for all that, thought I, I was well prepared with rain jacket and waterproof trousers. I had an extra fleece jacket to keep me warm. In spite of the very small amount of increased danger, I knew I would be fine.

But that didn't prevent me from being disappointed. Sad, even. Wanting to curl in a ball and cry a little bit, even.

What could the spring gardens have done more? They were colorful, healthy, beautiful. Growing exactly as expected, blooming even longer than expected, because of the cooler weather this year. And yet they were dug up, because of some numbers on a calendar.

In July, the summer garden will have matured, and it will be beautiful and colorful. And with a head start, it will be healthier, stronger, better able to withstand the heat of the sun. And honestly, I know the spring garden wouldn't have looked nice into the heat of July. Surely the grounds people know this. They are thinking of July as they fling tulips into trucks.

But it still hurts to be a tulip.

And no, this isn't really a post about gardens.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

It's raining in Michigan

The card on the tack board in the hotel room reads, "It is important that you know the exact location of this hotel so you can know whether a severe weather alert will affect you. This hotel is in Lansing, Michigan, Ingham County."

That's all. No instructions on where to go or what to do during the severe weather. Michigan counts as Midwest, right? Don't you think they should have tornado shelters? Does this hotel have a tornado shelter? And where would I hear about severe weather? Clock radio? TV? I don't see any weather radios in this hotel room.

In the event that this thunderstorm turns severe, and the tornado comes plowing through my window, I will be able to state confidently that Lansing is in Ingham County, Michigan. Just in case anyone wants to know during a tornado. Do you think I could stop a tornado, by knowing something like that? It must be important, or they wouldn't have tacked it to the board in the room here.


Solo trips for business are very good for getting work done. But I miss my comfy sofa at home, and my own bed. And my boys. And tornadoes almost never happen in the West.


Last night, a woman pounded on my door after I had put my pajamas on and was settling into bed to work.

"Is there an alarm on in there?"

"Uh... No," I called from inside, peering out the peep hole.

"I hear an alarm -- a buzzing sound -- in my room. Will you turn it off?"

"Uh... I don't hear anything. Try the room on the other side?"

A few minutes later, my reading was interrupted by the hotel phone ringing.

"Hello, this is the front desk," said a chipper voice. "Another guest is complaining about an alarm going off in the room next door."

"Yes, she already contacted me. It isn't in this room."

"You're sure? You don't hear anything?"


"Do you hear it in the hall?"

"I'm not in the hall. I'm not going out into the hall to check. Maybe you should come down to see if you can hear it." (Can you tell I was getting annoyed? I have no excuses. Sometimes I am not a nice person.)

"There's not a fire alarm going off in your room?"

"I think I would notice a fire alarm."

"OK. Well thank you."

Tonight there is still no alarm going off in this room, although I hear the thunder approaching, and the rain bouncing off the window. It's actually a soothing sound, if I ignore that card tacked to the board over the table.

Ingham County.

Good to know.

I'll be back home tomorrow. I can't wait. Meanwhile, I'll try to be nice.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Syrup, grade A dark maple, has been seeping into my left ear all night long.
Oozing down the ear canal and then falling --
drip, drip, drip
against my right temple.
drip, drip.
Sliding downstream and pooling in my chest.
And I wake up to this sticky mess, cold black pond, and

Monday, May 2, 2011

Springtime in the garden

For your viewing pleasure, I have pulled together some photos from our garden over the last few weeks. This is a musical slideshow, but you need to hum along on your own. I have interleaved the lyrics with the photos so that you will get the timing right.

Ready? Here's a note: Hmmmm.....

When it's springtime in the Rockies.....

March 12, 2011

I am coming back to you.....
Mar 12, 2011

Little sweetheart of the mountains.....
Apr 3, 2011

With your bonny eyes of blue.....
Apr 3, 2011

Once again I'll say "I love you"....

Apr 4, 2011

While the birds sing all the day.....
Apr 28, 2011
Apr 28, 2011

When it's springtime in the Rockies.....
Apr 28, 2011

In the Rockies, far away.....
Apr 30, 2011

... Ah, springtime.