Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for Zany

Z is for Zany or Crazy

So when I did T for Toes, I talked about pedicures and how many people got one. This was brought about by the news that Kate (of British William and Kate) had had her shoes off in public and revealed that she had bare toes. Oh, the horrors according to much of the press.

Well, a couple of days after that, more news surfaced about the new fad in pedicures--individual, painted toes on stockings. Since it's on the stocking and not your toes, you can change it out every day. Apparently, it's all the rage in Japan and is spreading to the rest of the world. As fashion fads go, it's pretty cheap selling for $15.  (Now whether it's worth that is another question.)

From Belle Maison 

As long as we're on the subject of stockings, there is another questions that my inquiring mind wants to know. When did panty hose become a bad word and have to be referred to as stockings or tights? Only having boys, I missed the transition somewhere along the way. When I learned those words, stockings were individual hose that were held up with a garter belt. Panty hose were stockings where the legs were connected to a panty that eliminated the need for the garter belt. Tights were opaque "panty hose" that little kids wore to keep their legs warm under dresses. Now I am looked at strangely if I say panty hose. What words do you use for this kind of leg apparel?

So many questions, so little time. I haven't even delved into the bare legs trend yet. As for the pedicure stockings, do I think I will get some? If you look at the title of this post, I think you can guess the answer to that.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for Years

Y is for Years, Five Years that is

April marks the 5th anniversary of writing this blog and I am amazed that I've been doing it for that long. When I first began, I wasn't totally sure what a blog was except it stood for Web log. I just knew that I walked around with stories in my head that I wanted to tell, and a friend encouraged me to start a blog as a place to record them. Funny thing about that. Once I got it going, I realized that this was not the place for those stories, so I wandered around other topics and tried to find my blog's voice. I'm still looking for it just like I'm still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

However, there is one area that has found a place here. That's my Second Looks. They are one of the best things that have come from my blogging experience. I have learned so much and really enjoyed my time exploring my yard each week.

Also, there's a question I have often thought about. How much of my world do I reveal? You really don't know where I live, what I look like, or the real names of anyone. You don't know about the intimate conversations I have with my friends and family. You don't always know what keeps me awake at night.

But on the other hand, you know many other things. You know that my father died and my mother's in a nursing home. You know that we are empty nesters, and there have been many health crises with close family members. You know where we have been on vacations and what food we've wasted. You know that I don't like to spend time in the kitchen and we have cats. And you know I don't get pedicures.

At various times, I get bored with this blog and feel like I don't have anything else to say. I think that I need to change things up with both content and appearance. But those things never make it to the top of the To Do list. So for now, or least until I recover from this A-Z Challenge, I will keep blogging in the same way and share a little of this and a little of that with you, my wonderful friends, that I have found during this blogging experience.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for X

X is for X, the unknown variable

The other day Miss Landers was telling me about something she thought was really interesting. She had heard an explanation about how the unknown variable in algebra became symbolized by the letter X. She told me just enough to confuse me but also pique my interest. (Yes, we may be a little nerdy here.)

After poking around, I found a TED talk by Terry Moore that I think Miss Landers had heard.
In the talk, Moore explained algebra was developed by the Arabs, and in the original algebra text, the variables were called unknown things and that word started with the sh sound. Algebra made it to Spain and when the Moors translated it to Spanish, the sh sound became the ck because they had no sh sound. That was represented by the Greek chi, which was represented by X and later a small x in Latin. Or something like that.

While this is a nice theory, there are other opinions. First, others contend that there is no proof for the phonetic switch idea. They propose that the x symbol comes from DesCartes and his use of letters from the beginning of the alphabet (a,b,c) for known variables and letters at the end of the alphabet (x,y,z)  for unknown variables. And as time went on and more things were printed, typesetters found it easier to use the x instead of y and z. Or something like that.

So if you haven't gone to sleep yet with these explanations on a topic that you aren't interested in, here's the part I found interesting. For some reason, even though I knew that x was used as the unknown as algebra, I never connected it as representing the unknown in other things.

For example:
x-rays-- Roentgen didn't know what he had, so he called them x rays
Malcomb X-- calls himself that for all of his unknown ancestors from Africa
X Files--They worked on strange cases with unknown origins

So I had a light bulb moment with this, and I'm going to put my new awareness to good use. I think dinner tonight will be known as Dinner X. :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W is for Weeds

W is for Weeds
or A Second Look featuring 
the Weed, Garlic Mustard.

This is the second year of growth for these garlic mustard plants.
By definition, a weed is a plant that is growing where you don't want it to. So what is a weed in one situation, may be a flower in another.  However, there are several plants that most people agree are weeds because of their invasive nature. From time to time, I'm going to showcase one of these invasive weeds in a Second Look as a heads up. Meaning if you see one of these in your yard, pull it. If you don't, it will take over. Unfortunately, I've learned this the hard way more than once.

Today's feature is garlic mustard. It's a biennial that was brought to this country 150 years ago as an herb. Like most invasives, nothing likes to eat it, so it can spread to its heart's content crowding out native plants along the way. In places, it covers entire forest floors. The best way to control it is to pull it getting at least some of the root. Mowing before it can form seeds also helps. Control has to be repeated every few years because seeds can be viable in the ground for five years.

Here are some other things
 I saw this week during a Second Look.

Most of the trees are well on their way to leafing out. Here you can see a Japanese Maple, Sweet Gum, Dogwood (leafing and blooming), another kind of maple, and pine trees.

Yellow swallowtail butter fly on an azalea that is starting to bloom. 

Cherry laurel. The blossoms aren't big, but they have a great smell.

Goldfinch. It has its full summer/mating colors now.

Mating crane flies

Pink Dogwood

White Dogwood

Light pink Dogwood. And here's another example of why I take a Second Look. It wasn't until this year that I realized that these dogwood blossoms were a different color than the others we have.  They are a beautiful, delicate pink.

The bluebirds have laid more eggs for a total of five. 

Squirrel enjoying sunflower seeds. It put on a good show for the cats.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V is for Vote

Today is election day here and I'm faced with some difficult choices. However, I may just vote for Jon Rogers--for all offices. At least we know that Jon has a good sense of humor--not a bad qualification to start with.

This is a sign I saw last time I visited my mother. It was in the middle of several signs for various candidates.  

Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for Under or Over

U is for Under or Over
or How does your toilet paper roll?

I've spoken about this issue before--how do you install a roll of toilet paper?  Do you put it on so it unrolls from the bottom or unrolls from the top? This seems to be an issue that generates much argument.

Google patents
Recently "new" data has surfaced* that some claim has important bearing on this under/over argument. The information comes from the original patent application for a roll of  perforated toilet paper by Seth Wheeler in 1891. The perforations were seen as an inexpensive way to help prevent the waste of paper. Before this, waste prevention was done by expensive holders that were awkward to use.

But it seems that no one these days is much interested in Wheeler's clever use of perforations to tear toilet paper. Everyone seems to be interested in the pictures that went with the patent. In those pictures, the paper is rolled from the top. The proponents of the over method say that this is definitive evidence that over is the correct way for a roll to flow.

However, the under proponents are holding fast to their beliefs. They are making arguments that the way the pictures were oriented was only to demonstrate the points of the invention and aren't necessarily an endorsement by Wheeler.

So the debate continues. Which side are you on ?

*Recently, I have seen this picture on several social media sites. This also happened last year at this time. Of course, it's not new data since it's been around since 1891.

Two posts do not make a trend, but if I keep this up, I may have one going. That is, a trend of posts about unimportant things that people care about. Yesterday was about pedicures and today is about toilet paper.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

T is for Toes

William and Kate touring the museum housed in Old Birla House Delhi and paying their respects at the place where Mahatma Gandhi was killed
Photo source
I was talking with Miss Landers recently about the royal visit of William and Kate to India and Bhutan, and she filled me in on the hoopla about Kate's toes. Apparently, Kate took her shoes off at one point and the photographers zoomed in on her feet. Now the world is abuzz because Kate did not have a pedicure. I'm guessing that her plain toes generated so much talk because, let's face it, just about everything else is perfect with her.

The nude of her sheer tights slightly masked her toes 
Photo source
And all of this toe talk reminded me of something I was wondering about last summer. Does every other woman but me get a pedicure in the summer? I painted my toenails a few times in my younger days, but haven't for years. It's just not something that makes it to the top of my list of things to do. While I do wear sandals in the summer, I mostly wear running shoes which work best for my feet.

At some point last summer, I noticed that everyone around me had a pedicure. I was surprised about this, so I spent the next several weeks making a note about how many women had pedicures. I looked at people's feet everywhere I went. (Sounds a little strange, now that I write that.) And the result of that was I saw only one person that had unadorned toes. However, there were many that did not have a manicure.

So is this a regional thing? Do most people have a pedicure in the summer where you live? Do you always have a pedicure when your feet emerge from winter wear? And do you think that this should be the year that I join the rest of the world with a pedicure, or do I march to my own drummer and remain with Kate and her plain toes?

Friday, April 22, 2016

S is for Swamps

S is for Swamps I have known
or S is for School Days

Well, today was going to be about swamps with an Earth Day theme, but I've run out of time to develop that post properly--meaning I haven't written it and I can't find my pictures to go with it. The earlier parts of my day were spent either at work or the dentist. (Still biting my tongue at this point. Can't wait for the numbness to wear off.)  And, I have to leave for my book club meeting in a few minutes. So I've decided to go into the files and revisit something from the past.

Below is a post that I did during the School Days series and this one happens to be about my dad. When I did this interview, he was was in the early to mid stages of Alzheimer's. However, since older memories are often the last to go, everything he told me was right on and I had a very nice time talking with him. I am so happy I did this.


School Days--Earl
School Days is a reoccurring feature in which I ask people about their early memories of school. Everyone has a story to tell about this and I hope to give them a voice here. 

Here is today's story.

Earl started school in 1932 when he was six years old. His school was in rural West Virginia. 

Tell me about when you started school.
I had just turned six. I started with my older sister. They held her back so we could start school at the same time. We went to a one room school a mile or less from our farm house. I used to run all of the way there and all of the way home.

What was your school like?
It was a one room school with one teacher. It had a gas heater and had no pump for water. We had to carry our water.  On the playground there were teeter-totters and the big kids would try to knock the little kids off.

Did you like school?
No, I couldn't wait to get away from there. There were too many restrictions.
Did you get in trouble because you weren't used to so many restrictions?
No, they just ignored me. I didn't do much including applying myself to my studies. I wasn't much interested in what they were teaching although I could hold my own in most areas. My sister applied herself and did well in school. My favorite subject was freedom when school let out.

What did you do for lunch?
We took our lunch. I made my own because my mother was too busy with the rest of my brothers and sisters. We usually had biscuits and sandwich spread. I've had enough sandwich spread to do me for a long time.

Another time, I would like to hear more about your school days.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

R is for Rainbow

Today... I am going to remember
 that after a storm, there can be a rainbow.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Q is for Qualifications

Q is for Qualifications

Although it's said with tongue in cheek, you hear people saying all the time, "if it's on the internet, it must be true." I guess that includes what I put out there too. However, I have no qualifications to be an expert on anything I write, except perhaps a personal anecdote. And even then, everyone has a slightly different view of the same event.

So while I try to be correct in whatever I post, I don't always succeed. Remember in last week's Second Look when I said that I was trying to learn to identify different sparrows. Well, apparently I needed more work because a friend pointed out that I made a mistake with the sparrow identification. (I have since fixed it.) I think with this week's Second Look I have everything correct, however I don't have expert qualifications to guarantee this. That means, kids, don't use this as a reference for a school report. :)

Here are some things I saw this week 
during a Second Look.

Spring Star Flower


Variegated Vinca

Red-winged blackbird. However, on this one you see a white stripe instead of a red one.


Emerging leaves on a sweet gum tree.

The squirrel has not been able to open the suet feeder with the bolt.
It's still eating the suet, but it's not carrying the whole cake away now.

Male cardinal eating suet that the squirrel dropped.


The sparrows and bluebirds have been laying eggs this week.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

P is for Play

P is for Play
or I Went to See A Play

Last weekend, Ward and I went to the local theater and saw a play. When we made the reservations a couple of months ago, the weather was cold and snowy and spending an afternoon watching a play was appealing. However, on Saturday when there was beautiful spring weather, I was not so sure that I wanted to spend the afternoon inside.

But it was well worth it. We saw Dial M for Murder and thoroughly enjoyed it. Dial M was written by Frederick Knott and was first preformed in England before Alfred Hitchcock made it into a movie in 1954. We both had seen the movie, but had forgotten many of the details. So we were on the edge of our seats much of the time as the story unfolded . In fact, the over 2 hour play held my attention the entire time. A rare occurrence for that length of time.

If you haven't seen Dial M for Murder or haven't seen the movie in a long time, I recommend you watch it. It plays frequently on TV or pick it up at the library. I just put a hold on it at my library so my kids can see it.

We make it to a play a couple of times a year and find it is a nice break from our regular routine. And this time was no exception.

Monday, April 18, 2016

O is for Only the Red

O is for Only the Red M&M's Taste Different

One day at work, a friend commented that she didn't like the red M&M's as well as the other colors. I said they all tasted the same and she insisted that the red ones were different. Well, I thought this comment definitely needed further investigation.
Do the different colors taste different?

Off I went to get a bag of M&M's. I carefully tasted each color and indeed, the red did taste different. Must be something with the dye, I thought. But did the red just taste different because I expected it to? Next I tried a blind taste test and the results were not as conclusive, but still there could be something there about the red ones tasting different.

After that, I enlisted the help of my husband and son. I had no problem getting their help when I told them all they had to do was eat M&M's. Again, the results were inconclusive, but there still was enough of a trend to warrant more examination.

Then I sat down to design an experiment to test the theory that red M&M's taste different than the other colors and to get more data points. As it turns out with so many different colors to work with, the design got quite complicated. In fact too complicated to carry out the experiment in the casual way I wanted. That meant I simplified things, so that I was no longer using journal-worthy test methods, but I proceeded anyway.

I went to Aldi's to get a couple of large bags of M&M's to start setting up the experiment. Well, one thing led to another, and it took me several days before I got a chance to get much done. And I think you can guess what happened next? I ate all of the variables (M&M's). A couple of weeks later, I got more M&M's to try again. And guess what? I ate them before I got the experiment set up.

So what were my conclusions? Maybe the red ones do taste different, but more work needs to be done to know for sure. However, more conclusively I proved that I like M&M's and have little self control when they are around.

Have you ever noticed that one color of an M&M tasted different than another?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

N is for No Pencil

N is for No Pencil
or Multiplying Negatives

I was in Mrs. Weekly's sixth grade math class and we were learning for the first time that when you multiply two negative numbers, you get a positive one. This was a concept I just couldn't wrap my head around. How in the world could two negatives make a positive? I questioned the teacher endlessly and her explanations never made sense to me.

Then one evening I asked my sister, Martha, how could you get a positive number when you multiplied two negatives. Without missing a beat, she simply said, "I don't have no pencil. Do I have a pencil or not?"

I thought about it for a couple of minutes, and then it was all crystal clear. She didn't have no pencil, so she must have a pencil. So that's how two negatives could become a positive. So simple.

Martha had a knack for saying just the right thing to make sense to me.  She seemed to speak my language, so I often went to her when I had a question about something. And she never disappointed.

Did you ever have someone who could explain things that made sense to you? Someone who spoke your language?

Friday, April 15, 2016

M is for Malignant

M is for Malignant

Ward has a malignant tumor. Or in other words, Ward, my husband, has cancer. Those are hard words to hear and hard words to say. But with an early diagnosis, the future looks bright. Right now we are in a round of doctors' appointments trying to determine what is the best course of treatment. Luckily, he has options.

Life is always changing. You just never know which direction it is going to go.

Blogging from A-to-Z Challenge 2016

Thursday, April 14, 2016

L is for Listening

L is for Listening

Do you think you're a good listener? I used to think I was because I was always ready to lend a sympathetic ear to someone who needed it. But am I actually listening or am I thinking about what I'm going to say? Well, upon examination, I realized I'm thinking my own thoughts as much as I am listening to the other person. I started to consider this after a conversation I was in recently.
Image result for free clipart images
Is she really listening? Or thinking about
what she's going to say?

Ward and I were at a doctor's appointment to discuss various issues. We had talked beforehand about some questions we wanted to ask. The appointment was going along well (not a doctor who rushed, yea!) and Ward asked about one of the things he had been wondering. The doctor answered the question, but didn't give the information that Ward was looking for. I waited a minute for Ward to do a follow-up and when he didn't, I jumped in.

Later, I asked Ward why he didn't follow-up and he said, "I was trying to hear everything the doctor had to say without thinking about what I was going to say next. I was going to clarify things. I just hadn't yet." Hmmm. That was exactly what I had been doing--thinking about what I was going to say next instead of giving my full attention to the doctor. That's why I was ready to jump in before Ward. In my thinking ahead, I wonder how much I missed.

After that, I started to pay attention to the way I listened. I found that most of the time, when a person was only partially through what they were saying, I was already thinking about what I was going to say next.  There always seemed to be a thought triggered by one of their comments. Sometimes, I was so interested in saying what I was thinking, I had to bring the conversation back to a former topic so I could say it.

Now I knew that my mind wandered sometimes and I wasn't always a good listener. There were certain topics of discussion (say, economics or often told family stores, for example) where my mind wandered every time they come up. However, I didn't realize how much I was thinking about what I wanted to say, instead of real listening much of the time.

I think, to some degree, everyone does some partial listening. Perhaps there's a gender component to it. In general, studies have shown that women are more verbal and want more social connections than men. So thinking ahead may be a way for females to keep the conversation and connection going. There's probably more than one PhD dissertation out there on the subject, but I'll have to research that another time. Now it's time to think about the letter M.

How good of a listener are you?


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

K is for Kitchen Window

K is for Kitchen Window or
Where I did a Second Look from this week.

Well, actually I did go outside this week for a Second Look, but I also did a fair amount of looking through my kitchen window because of the weather. It has been cold, windy, and wet including some snow. Despite the more winter-like weather, everything is continuing to green-up. In fact, we cut the back forty last week, and the front of the yard could also use it's first cut. Maybe when it stops raining we can get to it.

Here are some things I saw this week 
during a Second Look.

Bleeding hearts

Bluebird pair. The bluebird nest continues to grow.

Tufted-Titmouse. Notice the bolt that Ward installed on the suet feeder. The squirrels had gotten into the habit of opening the door and carrying the entire cake off--even after we wired it shut. So far, they haven't been able to open this arrangement.

The peach tree blossoms are almost gone.

The woodpeckers have started on a new tree this year.

House sparrow

Spring wildflowers (otherwise know as weeds in some places). Dandelion, violets, dead nettle, chickweed, ground ivy.

Turkey vulture

Sunrise out the Kitchen window.