The folly of youth…

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Her joints ached as she eased her way down the stairs, giving her a second moment of annoyed realization for the day. The first happened just minutes before. The flutter in her belly, a blend of anticipation and angst, made her sleep fitful through the night, turned the glaring red numbers on her nightstand into the enemy. She had determined to rise early, and was quite sure she did so when she opened her eyes to find the demon clock gloating. She had fallen back asleep, the only true sleep she got all night, right when she needed to be awake.

As she placed her foot on the last step, her knee made a pop in protest. It was the result of an old injury, one she foolishly decided to treat herself in her younger days. Physical therapy was just a racket, after all, where pseudo doctors charged exorbitant fees to tell their patients to walk. What kind of moron couldn’t figure out how to walk? It annoyed her every single day that she couldn’t go back and smack her younger self upside the head. Maybe if she had just paid to learn the fancy, healing kind of walk, she wouldn’t have to scramble to catch herself at the bottom of the stairs every morning when the knee decided to simply not work.

She shifted her weight to the other foot and closed her eyes, flexing the leg with the bum knee until a louder, far more painful pop could be heard. The pain was bearable. The idea of having to crawl to the bathroom and pull herself up to reach the cupboard where she kept the knee brace was not. Not today. She could not be down for the count today. With her still shut and her lips murmuring a hopeful mantra, she placed her foot back on the floor and gingerly tested her weight.

It held.

Relief washed over her and she shook her head. Even just a few years ago, this wouldn’t be such a grand production. Getting morning coffee would have been simply that and nothing more. She would have gotten up, walked down the stairs without having to grip the handrail for dear life, and made a cup of joe.

She wasn’t young anymore.

She wasn’t all that old, either; certainly not as old as she hoped to be one day. But age is a funny thing. As Marma had told her, it’s not about years, it’s about perception. Experience. And…

She stopped, her hand reaching into the cupboard to grope for her favorite mug. What was the other thing? Perception, experience…and…

Dammit. She couldn’t get a decent night of sleep, her bum knee was beyond hope, and her memory was going. She’d have to try and remember to tell Marma the new symptom later.

She poured the dregs she’d left in the pot the day before and set a fresh batch of coffee to brew. She briefly considered microwaving the old coffee, but decided that if she was in a desert and came upon a watering fountain, she wouldn’t let it run in the hopes of it getting colder. She chugged the first cup right there in the kitchen, hoping the little caffeines would speed to her brain and wake everything up. She needed to be awake and with it when Marma arrived.

She placed her empty mug next to the coffee pot to wait for a refill, then shuffled into her den to wake her computer from sleep mode. It was off. There must have been updates. She sighed heavily, because of course there would be another annoyance on such a tense morning, and hit the power button. While it loaded she tapped her fingers on the desk, wondering if she should take her shower now, or if she could push it to a bit later. Marma didn’t say what time she’d be there, after all.

On the other hand, it had been a full seven and a half hours since she had checked her Facebook feed. Someone could have been kidnapped. Or had a middle of the night existential crisis. Or just stirred shit up. Any of those things needed immediate attention. A shower could wait.

The coffee pot beat the computer in the performance race and a beep of completion sounded from the kitchen. She hoisted herself out of the computer chair with a bit more energy now that the front line of caffeine soldiers had been deployed, and the knee hardly protested at all. She poured herself a new coffee and flexed her leg again. No, there was no pain.

As it had since she’d contacted Marma, the little voice of doubt started chiding her again.

“See?” it said, picking up the script right where she had shut it down some time around three a.m. “We don’t need it.”

“I do need it,” she muttered to herself, trying to quiet Doubt once and for all. “If I don’t do this now, it’ll be too late.”

There was a slight swish, an icy little breeze that tingled up her spine and set her teeth to chatter in fear. Her hand stopped dumping too much sugar into the fresh coffee and she froze, her feet rooted in place and her heart pounding painfully.

“I’m glad you’re an early riser.” The alarmingly sweet voice of Marma always terrified her. It had since the beginning. It was kind, like the voice she remembered coming out of her grandmother when she was a child. And yet, there was always a dark note. It was threatening in its ability to so completely soothe, as if Marma was casting one of her spells every time she opened her mouth.

Perhaps she was.

Marma slipped her bony hand over the woman’s shoulder and gave a little squeeze.

She turned then, her trance broken. “Marma! I’m so sorry. I didn’t think you’d be here this early and I didn’t even get to shower yet. Would you like some coffee? I’ll get you a cup. How do you like it? Sugar? No, black. I’m guessing you’re the type to take it…”

“Hush,” Marma commanded.

She stopped speaking instantly, embarrassed that once again she had no control over her mouth when Marma came around.

Marma slipped her hand up the woman’s jowly neck and curled her palm around the soft cheek. “There is no need to be this nervous,” Marma said, watching the woman’s eyes dilate. A thrill shot through Marma. Marma could do anything she wanted in this moment and the woman would not only obey, but would welcome even the most outlandish requests. “We are just turning the clock back, after all,” Marma said in her syrupy tone.

“Yes, Marma,” the woman agreed quickly. “Should we begin?”

Marma chuckled. “You are too impatient. But, I like that. I like my clients to be eager. It is your life. You should be eager to make it better.” Marma released the woman’s cheek, and the trance was broken. Marma watched this process with interest as well. Marma saw the moment the woman’s eyes focused again, the blood rushing back to the cheeks, the brow lowering slightly in confusion. Marma liked that, too.

She blinked quickly, her mind racing back from wherever it had just been. Marma was there, in all her terrifying glory. How had that happened? When had that happened? Did she let Marma in? Was there even a knock? She didn’t remember one. But wasn’t that the whole point? Wasn’t that the reason Marma was going to make her young again? She was losing things, losing herself, growing older and sorer and forgetful and…

“Stir your coffee,” Marma commanded, interrupting the woman’s racing thoughts. Marma watched with an inner glee as the woman obediently complied in spite of her obvious confusion. “Sip your coffee.” Marma smiled as the woman burned her mouth on a swig of the piping hot brew. Marma had to hold herself back from commanding the woman to take another sip. Marma could make the woman do anything. It was tempting to play some more.

Focus, Marma insisted of herself. There must be focus.

“It’s time,” Marma pronounced.

She swallowed the burning coffee, tears in her eyes, and turned to Marma. “I forgot what you said about age. It’s perception, experience, and…” Her voice trailed off, waiting for Marma’s response.

“And self control,” Marma said, guiding the woman into the other room. Marma heard a noise from upstairs, her mood quickly changing. “Who is here?”

She glanced up the stairs as they passed. “My family,” she admitted.

“I told you to be here alone,” Marma hissed, her fingernails digging into the woman’s soft flesh.

The little voice of warning sounded in her brain. It warned her to run, to call out, to do anything to get away from Marma. She did not listen. “My sister couldn’t take the kids after all, and my husband’s schedule got changed at the last minute.”

Marma knew then that there were outside influences trying to intervene. It had happened before. In most cases, Marma easily won. Instead of scaring Marma, it gave her an odd sense of power. For whatever reason, this pathetic woman held court with forces she probably never even realized were around her. It gave the morning a challenging twist, and Marma had to stop herself from laughing or rushing. Marma could not afford to do either. A laugh would do as the forces planned. The husband would wake. Perhaps a child. Either would cause the interference that would ruin it all.

Yet Marma couldn’t rush. Things had to be done in a certain order, at a set pace. One small change would make all the difference. Marma smiled an eerily familiar smile. “Then we’ll just have to be quiet,” Marma soothed. Marma placed a hand back on the woman’s face and watched the pupils go impossibly large. Marma never liked to control them for long. It made the process feel hollow if they weren’t completely willing on their own. However, sometimes control was unavoidable. This process had to happen, it had to happen today, and if a little personal elation was lost in the deal, so be it.

When Marma’s hand was on her cheek again, she suddenly wanted to lay on the couch. And so she did. She was vaguely aware of Marma’s hand caressing her cheek right before the urge to lift her shirt was too strong to ignore. She heard Marma begin to mumble words she didn’t understand, but since Marma had already explained the ritual, she knew to expect them. She felt detached as she became aware of a pain in her chest growing heavier and hotter, as if she was watching it happen to someone else. Her mind began to argue with itself.

“I told you we shouldn’t do this!” said the voice of warning.

“But this will make us young again,” she said as she became aware of Marma’s fingernail digging deeper into her breast.

“No it won’t, you fool! It’ll make her young again!”

She watched the scene below, above, around, a fish-eyed lens focusing on Marma from somewhere and everywhere. Indeed, the little voice of warning that had been screaming at her all night seemed to be right. The once soothing Marma had changed, her incantations revealing the inner hag.

And yet, she could do nothing about it.

In fact, even as she had the most important realization of the morning, she found she didn’t even want to do anything about it. She wanted whatever was going to happen to happen. She wanted Marma to receive the gift she sought, no matter the personal consequence to herself. She was a sacrifice. She knew it then, and instead of being frightening, she welcomed it. She was going to watch her own life bleed into Marma, and she felt a nearly euphoric sense of accomplishment and pride.

Marma placed the long fingernail of her other index finger into the hole the first one made in the soft breast. She watched with fascination, knowing full well what was about to happen. Perhaps Marma was letting her know. Perhaps she had known all along. Once the proper words were spoken, Marma would begin to pull. The fingernails would move in opposite directions until the tear in the skin was large enough for more fingers to fit inside. There would be a frenzied heightening of excitement from Marma as she pulled and ripped until she could fit her face in cavity.

She knew this. She knew everything that was coming. And she didn’t care. And the little voice screamed itself hoarse, and she knew damn well it was right. And she could not find it in herself to care or fight or do anything but accept the future with open arms.

Marma could feel the heart so close under her fingertips now. As it always did at this point in the ritual, Marma’s own heart began to pick up the pace. It called to the new sacrifice, beckoned to join with it and become something so much more. When Marma was younger, before the years of experience under her belt, this was the point that would have been her undoing. Like a teenage boy on his first intimate journey, Marma had frequently gone too fast, rushed ahead, ended the experience too soon in her excitement, rendering the whole thing pointless. How many had Marma lost that way?

Ah, but that was when Marma was young. Marma was no longer young. This was no longer a practice, as it had been all those years ago. This was necessary for Marma’s survival, and that knowledge kept Marma in check. Patience. Marma had to remember patience. Words fell from her lips, ancient and powerful, spoken in exact time with the progress of Marma’s fingers into the flesh of the sacrifice.

The body on the couch twitched and Marma paused the incantations to soothe. It always annoyed Marma that a sacrifice had to be calmed from time to time. “You’re doing well,” Marma promised the whimpering woman. “In a few minutes, it will be over, and you will be young again,” came the lie.

She knew it was a lie. Her head nodded anyway. The cold from the tears dampening the hair by her ears let her know she had been crying. Of course she had. Her chest was being ripped open. Her mind processed these things logically. Her mouth opened and a laugh came out. All of her signals were muddled, confused. And when Marma’s lips spread into a smile, the woman on the couch, knowing her fate full well by this time, laughed louder with an honest glee that shut the internal warning voice up for good.

“Quiet,” Marma commanded.

She quieted.

“Move your hands,” Marma snapped.

She became aware that her hands were trying to cover the now gaping wound. She didn’t mean for them to do any such thing. She didn’t mean to fight at all. She tried to move her hands, to do as Marma wished. She was there only for that singular purpose, wasn’t she?

“I said move them,” Marma ordered again, suddenly feeling a prickle of apprehension.

“I’m trying,” she insisted.

Indeed, she was. Marma watched a struggle taking place in front of her. The woman, she wanted to sacrifice herself. She wanted to give her life over to Marma. Of that, Marma was certain. There was a disappointed panic in the woman’s eyes that matched the wave Marma felt rolling through her own body. “Fight for me,” Marma hissed.

She tried. Oh, how she tried! Her hands wouldn’t obey. She tried to make them move to her side. They moved forward. She tried to fight her fingers from closing around Marma’s hands. They refused to listen. She truly, deeply, honestly did not want to pry Marma’s fingers from her chest. “I’m not doing this,” she whispered through fresh tears. “Finish it!”

Marma could not.

It was ruined.

If Marma kept fighting, the most that would happen would be that the woman before her would die. Though Marma didn’t have compassion, there was hope. This time the sacrifice was unsuccessful. But as Marma looked into the woman’s disappointed stare, it was clear that maybe there would be a next time.

“There will not.”

The voice sent and icy chill up Marma’s spine. Marma whipped around. A small boy stood at the base of the stairs, his eyes boring through Marma and making her shrink inside herself.

“You!” Marma hissed.

The boy’s lips twitched. He wasn’t scared. He knew this enemy and he would win. He took a step forward, doubting that he’d have to prove himself to her yet again but fully prepared in case his old adversary had grown foolish in her advanced age.

Marma’s head began to ring. A piercing light flashed through Marma’s brain and the hag withdrew her bloodied hands from the sacrifice to grab her hair, as if Marma could pull the agony away. The boy advanced. The pain increased, and a deafening squeal began to blot out all thought. Marma felt the hand of the sacrifice grip her elbow. Marma was vaguely aware of the woman’s pleas, knew the willing victim still begged Marma for completion. There was nothing Marma could do.

To their shared grief and anguish, there was simply nothing Marma could do.

Wrenching away, Marma moved as far away from the couch as the boy would allow. Marma would have left if he released her. But he wouldn’t do that, not until he was ready. Marma would be forced to watch her failure and his success. The pain and light and noise subsided to a dull throbbing hum and Marma suddenly felt every single one of her hundreds of years weighing down upon her. Marma turned her bleary eyes to the couch.

The boy approached the sacrifice. He shook his head at her tear-streaked face. He was disappointed in her, but only as a residual symptom of his current form. He ran a hand down her cheek and saw the anguish in her eyes change to hope once again. For her, there was hope. For her, there was still a promise to be useful.

Marma watched as the boy so easily turned the woman. Bitter rage roiled in her belly. “How?” Marma croaked through her anger and pain.

The boy turned his head toward Marma and leveled his unflinching stare at her. “I have always been better than you,” he stated with cold accuracy. “Now leave.”

“She’s mine!” Marma shouted in her desperation. “Do you know how long I groomed her? How difficult it is to get one these days? Look at you! You’re young again. You’ve got ages to find one and…”

“Leave.”

The word held every possible threat, and Marma knew none of them were hollow. Marma allowed herself the torture of one last look at the open breast of the sacrifice, so willing, so ready, so…

“I said leave.” It was his last warning and they both knew it. In fairness, Marma understood that it was probably more than she deserved. Marma had the inkling of an urge to fight, but knew it would be futile. Time was running out. They both knew it, and while he laughed, Marma left, desperate to find another before it was too late.

The boy knew the instant Marma was gone. If there was one thing he could count on, it was Marma’s predictability. She just didn’t have it in her to fight him. She was weak. And that’s why she had never figured out the secret.

The woman on the couch moaned. The boy remembered his task and slowly drew his hand over the wound. It closed. He pulled the shirt down to cover her up, then pulled a blanket over her to tuck her in.

“What are you doing?” she whispered.

“Shh.” He placed his hand on her forehead.

“I was so ready,” she said on a sob, feeling a sense of loss and exhaustion wash over her.

“And you will be again,” he promised. “But for now, go to sleep.”

She bolted awake with a start, her heart pounding in her chest and the vague feeling of a nightmare tingling the hairs on her neck. She looked around quickly, feeling an overwhelming disorientation as she realized she was not in her bedroom. A blooping sound from the television drew her attention, and it took a second to register the video game on the screen. She turned and saw her son sitting at the end of the couch.

The boy turned his head and he made himself smile at his current mother. “Mornin’ Mum,” he said cheerfully. “You fell back asleep in the couch so I covered you up.”

She blinked, then blinked again. Everything was confusing and muddled. There was a nagging feeling of dread and disappointment and an underlying fear that something had gone wrong, or that she slept too late, or that she missed out on something. She sat up slowly, her bleary eyes seeking out the clock on the mantel. “I think I’m late,” she mumbled, her brow set deep in a frown as she tried to hold on to a memory that was just outside her grasp.

“Late for what?” her son asked, twisting his body in response to the action happening on the screen.

“I don’t know,” she said quietly.

Unsettled for no discernible reason, she rose from the couch and winced as her knee popped. A desire to turn back the clock and be younger rolled through her as it always did as she made her way into the kitchen for some coffee. There was an ache in her chest and she rubbed at it absently as she stirred sugar into her cup. She took a sip, then padded back to the living room.

She sat on the couch and watched the television screen without really seeing any of it, the sense of dread and loss holding her captive.

“It’s okay, Mum,” her son said. “It’ll work out next time.”

She whipped her head around to look at her son, his words panicking her, yet, soothing something somehow. “What did you say?”

He mashed the buttons on his game, making certain to keep his knowing smile to himself. “Aw look at that!” he said, pointing to the screen.

She wanted to ask him what he had meant, but she couldn’t say the words. She wanted to ask him what he knew, but she couldn’t speak. He meant something, he knew something, he was the key to the vague upset that still hovered at the edges of her consciousness. She was certain of it. He had answers for the questions she was quickly forgetting how to ask.

Her son turned. His eyes bore through her as he held her captive with his gaze. “Watch the screen, Mum,” he said in a voice that sent shivers up her spine.

“Yes,” she said, unable to force herself to do anything else. Her son released her, shifting his concentration back to his game.

She turned her face to the screen. The clock on the mantle ticked. The sound of her husband stirring drifted down the stairs. The ache in her chest faded. Everything seemed like a normal Saturday morning.

And the little voice of warning in her head began to scream.

Thus concludes a spoooooky tale of terror for Halloween 2015. I’m off to create a scythe for my little trick or treater. Let’s hope he doesn’t use it on me… MUA-HA-HAAAAHHHH 

An eerie sounds rolls through the cold, dark house…

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Mornin’ all.

If you were sitting in my house right now, you’d be breaking out the ghost hunting supplies. There are spooky, eerie moans coming from the other room. It sounds like a tortured soul trying desperately to make contact with anyone who can right the injustices of his former life so he can finally traverse the mist and enter the white light.

Oooooh. Scary.

In actuality, it’s simply one of the teens. He sleep groans. It’s kinda like talking in his sleep, only far more hilarious. At times like this, he sounds like a ghost. Think hokey sheet with two eyes cut out and banal level prankster underneath waving his arms and saying “wooo-oooo-oooo”. It’s exactly like that. At other times, he sounds like a chain saw in the distance. He’ll start really low, then go up in pitch, then back down.

See? Comedy gold.

His teen roomie doesn’t find it so funny. But that one snores, so I don’t really think he’s got a leg to stand on.

Say, remember when I went to the uppity dump the other day? Well, I went again yesterday.

“Hoping to hear more about Hillary, Bethie?”

Nope. I’m excavating a closet I haven’t touched in probably six, maybe even seven years, and who knows how long it’s been since I’ve been all the way to the floor? We’re talking cretaceous period, folks. I’ll let you know if I find fossils.

ANYWAY, I went back to the transfer station with a load of cardboard for recycling. I dumped it in the container, then broke down the box I carried it all in to add to the recycling bin. A snotty ass woman comes up to me and said, “It was good of you to break down the box first and be considerate of others. Good for you.”

Let me paint the picture. She had a stack of six tupperware totes by her car. Each tote was labeled. Each label was written in loopy cursive. The labels were laminated.

The woman herself was probably around my age. She wore a pink vest even though it was only 30 degrees. She had fingerless gloves on. She wore a sweatband as an ear warmer. Clearly this is a woman who has completion issues.

Before she approached me, she was sorting her recycling, which was silly, since it was already sorted and cursively-labeled. Trust me. Anyone who takes the time to loop and twirl the esses in “glass” has then filled said container with the intended material. So what she was actually doing was making a show of looking like she was sorting her recycling.

“Look at me!” she all but screamed. “I care so much about the environment that I refuse to waste material on silly things like fingertips on my gloves or sleeves! And I don’t just recycle…I DOUBLE recycle!”

You know the type.

And then to turn around and be condescending to me? Gah. What a self-righteous *grumble**mutter*… People like that really piss me off. I get it, lady. You’re recycling. Good for you. Want a fucking medal or something?

No, wait. She doesn’t get the medal. I get the medal in that scenario because unlike her, I brought my recycling to the dump in a recyclable container.

“OOOOOOHHHH!!!”

WUT. *drops the mic*

…*pics mic back up, brushes it off*

Seriously. What a douche.

I was also bemoaning the lack of interesting/joke-worthy headlines when we last spoke. Apparently the internet heard me and responded loud and clear. Or maybe it was just the full moon. Whatever caused it, I’m happy to say….

Strike up the band!

*catchy theme music playing in a minor chord to indicate that it’s almost Halloween*

Oooh! Nice twist! Okay, cue the go-go dancers!

*ladies come out zombie-style, lurching across the stage to the eerie beat*

I am LOVING this! Can we do it every day? …no? Okay, well, then, let’s enjoy it while it lasts, because it’s time for a….

*** HEADLINE ROUNDUP !!! ***

*spooky unresolved chord at the end* *zombies all moan “Brains”*

Bravo! Brava! Brav…whatever you say for a zombie! Everyone give that five-star performance a round of applause!

Yes, it’s time for a Roundup. For those who might not know, a Headline Roundup is exactly that. I scour the internet for news headlines that strike my fancy and round them up. Maybe they’re poorly written. Maybe they’re confusing or misleading. Or maybe the editor did the best with a bizarre situation and they leave you with a vague sense of “WTF?” They’re treasures, every one. And like always, they are 100% real. I just supply the wise-assery after. Those are the rules. Step on up and let’s play!

– Victim of UConn Mac and Cheese Tirade Says He Does Not Accept Apology

In fairness, do you know how cutting mac and cheese can be? Some side dishes take it way too far.

– Massachusetts Witch Takes Warlock to Court Over Harassment Charges

Now that’s a sign of progress. Wasn’t that long ago witches weren’t that keen on stepping foot in a courthouse.

– Possible Carcinogen Seeps into Well from Animal Burial Ground

“…homeowners were told immediately to stop drinking the water.” THEY WERE DRINKING THE WATER!!!! ZOMG

– Celebrity Fears, Phobias Revealed

Because the one thing modern celebs absolutely needed was another way for people to torture them over the internet.

– Owner Hears ‘Kaboom’, Finds Car on Roof of Michigan Home

Pea shooter –> potato gun –> punkin’ chunker –> automobile cannon… What did you expect? It’s basic evolution, folks.

– How to Survive Daylight Savings Time and Shorter Days

Finally, a way not to die every single year.

– What Your Least Favorite Chore Says About You

It says doing chores sucks. Does this really need to be an article?

– Environmentalists Warn Snow Leopard Could ‘Vanish’

They’ll melt from the global warming.

– Trump Begs Iowa Voters For Support

And so the desperation phase of the election cycle begins…

– Homeowners Faced with Big Bills to Fix Dams Deemed Unsafe

That’s what happens when you try and upstage the Joneses. Trust me, stick with a moat. Way less upkeep.

– Deer Looking for Love Collide with Cars Instead

Dammit Michigan! Stop firing the auto cannon at the stag clubs right now!

– Prep School Kid and Sis Robbed Drug Dealers

Moral…compass…going…haywire…

– Black Market Butt Fillers Ruined Her Life

…gonna be honest. Once again, I’m having a hard time deciding whether or not to feel bad for anyone in this scenario. You’re confusing me today, MSN.

– Tractor Beam Uses Holograms Made of Sound to Move Objects

YASSSSSSS.

– Rare, Earth-Bound Space Junk Offers Rare Opportunity for Scientists

Oh sure. It’s a “rare opportunity” when THEY go through a pile of junk, but it’s “hoarding” when I do it. Pfft. Double standard much?

– A Scientist Built an AI Computer to Figure Out How to Take Better Selfies

FIRED. You are now officially FIRED FROM SCIENCE. Please pack your bags and head to the bubble gum pop section of humanity immediately.

– Dog Named Trigger Shoots Owner

A woman walks into the bar. She slaps her hand on the counter and says, “I’m lookin’ for the paw that shot my man.”

– Annoying Teddy Bear Sings Until You Destroy It

Heh heh heh. It honestly does. It sings a high pitched, awful version of the birthday song until you actually physically break it. Where can I buy one?

– Singing Teddy Bear Draws Ire, Outrage

The gist is that people believe that creating a bear that must be destroyed is going to turn kids into serial killers. Damn. Looks like they might not be on store shelves anytime soon. Bummer. I had such plans…

– See How This Pricey Cracker Survived The Titanic

My guess is that it was savvy enough to get to the head of the line at the life boats promptly to secure a seat.

– See How This Pricey Cracker Survived The Titanic

…ya know, reading the headline again, unless you saw the photo of an actual saltine-like cracker, one might easily take this as a really cutting jab against all the wealthy folks who were given priority on the life boats over the rest of the passengers…

– Chewbacca Arrested for Driving Darth Vader to the Polls

CHEWIE NOOOO!!!! How could you switch sides?

– Missing Cat Found With Wine Hangover

…how do they know it was wine?

– Russian Police Find Half a Ton of Caviar in Speeding Hearse

Of course they did.

– Student Scores in Reading, Math Drop

Your common core, not hard at work.

– Two People Dead After Explosion At Oregon Gun Range

People died at a gun range? What is this world coming to.

– We Can’t Eat Our Way Out of the Invasive Species Crisis

Duly noted.

– Ford Responds to Trump: ‘Facts Are Stubborn Things’

Oh snap. Need a little aloe for that burn, Trump?

– Ex-cop Gets Year in Jail for Asking to Lick Woman’s Feet

Texas, not Florida. Yeah, I know. I was surprised, too.

– Idaho Agency Finds Historic Footage of Parachuting Beavers

I KNEW IT. They tried to cover it up, but I friggin’ knew it! You watch. Area 51 footage is next. #thanksSnowden

– Feds: Company Put Cheddar, Swiss in “Real” Parmesan, Romano

Holy shit. No wonder the mac ‘n cheese was so testy. I guess we learned a valuable lesson here. There’s always another side to the story.

Thus concludes a Roundup for Wednesday, October 28, 2015. Costume making today. I’ve only got one to make this year, and he wants to be the Grim Reaper. You know, keep it light and happy this Halloween. I’ve got an old rusty sickle I think I can turn into a kickass scythe, but I’m on the fence about coating it in fake blood or glowing paint to make it eerie…hm…

Is it worse to glam up Mary, or to shit next to a manger?

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Mornin’ all.

It’s retro music time. “House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals is on at the moment. I can’t think of any other song where the organ upstages the guitar. Shred that organ, man.

“Crimson and Clover” is next in the queue. Pardon me if I pause to rock the hell out from time to time.

This has been a nostalgia week in general, though mostly the not good kind. You know how sometimes you get into one of those fuzzy-camera-lens periods where the sun flares rainbows over all your warm memories to the backdrop of autumn leaves tumbling down a country lane?

Yeah, not that.

This was one of those “THINK OF EVERY WAY YOU FAILED LOSER” journeys. You know what I mean. Sometimes your Memory gains control and is all, “Hey. Hey, bud. Psst. Over here. Remember in sixth grade when you were super happy to wear that new green striped sweater because you didn’t realize it made you look even fatter or that the green was the wrong shade of green? Good thing you had a classroom full of girls who would point it out to you! Hey, did you ever get over the embarrassment of crying in front of them? Lemme go ask Emotions how she still feels about it…”

You can see why I had to break out some old classic rock. I’m hoping the smokin’ organ riffs and ripping guitars can end my trip down memory pain.

I went to the dump the other day. Oh, sorry. I mean, the transfer station…which is just a high falutin’ dump. While there, not one, but TWO campaigners for Hillary Clinton approached me to try to entice me to vote for Clinton.

Campaigning at a DUMP??

I know they want to reach a large audience, and the fancy dump here in town is THE place to be on a Saturday morning. But, it’s still a dump. It’s the place you go to get rid of all your stinky garbage. Why in the hell would Clinton want her name tied with that mental image?

There’s a lot of psychology involved in getting votes. When it’s time for casting, the last thing the Clinton campaign wants is for people’s memories to conjure stinky garbage when they look at the little box next to her name. It’s just baffling why they thought it was a good idea.

Besides, they were so very out of place. That aspect alone made it uncomfortably comical. Close your eyes and picture a Hillary campaigner. They were both exactly that. Now, put those thirty-something yuppies in a redneck dump. Surrounded by rednecks. And trash. It was honestly like something out of a bad sitcom.

One of them asked me, “Can I speak with you about Hillary Clinton?”

I said, “Nope.”

What I should have said was, “Lady, I’ve got the week’s worth of stink in my wagon and I’m just trying ditch it and get away from my family’s refuse as fast as possible.”

NOBODY wants to hang around a dump and chit chat about foreign policy.

Teen Prime said, “Now, if it was a Trump campaigner, that would make sense.”

And it would rhyme, too! Oh the fun you could have. Dump for Trump. Dump with Trump. Trump at the dump. Be a chump with Trump at the dump. There are just so many ways you could go with it, and all of them would make the ferret headed man-child pat-a-cake with glee. Maybe I should email the Trump campaign and pass on the idea? I bet if I said, “Hillary is totally smoking you in dump polls,” they’d be booking themselves some stinky stomping grounds before I could even finish the sentence.

“In A Gadda Da Vida” now. It’s a bit weird listening to it at 5:00 am with coffee in my hand instead of vodka and no one telling me they love me, man…nah, like, for real…but it’s still a good song.

So I went on to read the news. I wanted to maybe do a Roundup, because it’s been awhile, but the headlines were all either lame or about death and murder. I do have lines, as nebulous as they may seem at times. However, one article did catch my attention.

“Barbie as Mary Gets Argentinian Artist Duo in Hot Water”

Oooh. Gotta be good, right?

The Argentinian artist team of Marianela Perelli and Pool Paolini have created an art installation of Barbie dolls that are dressed up as famous religious figures. To be clear, the dolls are one-offs for a display, not being mass produced, and, at this point in time, not up for sale in any way. That needs to be said, because a big part of the controversy seems to stem from people thinking the artists have plans to pump these Barbies out left and right.

Though other religions are represented in the display with figures such as Buddha and Kali, it is certainly a Christian-centric art installation overall. That’s no surprise. The overwhelming religious majority in Argentina is Catholicism. The Christian figures span the range from what I’d consider classic nativity characters, to Joan of Arc and Spanish Crusaders. Here’s an example of what we’re talking about:

barbiecontroversey1

It wouldn’t be news if it wasn’t considered controversial. Religious leaders “around the world” are upset. So upset, in fact, that this is the second attempt at holding the exhibit. The first one closed before it ever opened due to death threats deemed “very significant” and “highly credible” against not only the artists, but the owner of the previous venue slated for the display.

People, forgive the expression in this circumstance, but…what the hell?

Why are people so upset?

Let’s see if we can dissect this.

The vast majority of the public outcry is coming from Christians. In fact, while a Hindu group spoke out against the display, they also spoke out against the threats that the artists were receiving. They don’t like the installment, stated their feelings, and are willing to simply not attend.

The Christians were not of the same mind.

In fact, it is widely accepted that it was a group of devout Catholics that issued the very real death threats the first time, backed by the local authorities. No, for real. Instead of offering the artists protection, local law enforcement and government officials made public comments against the artists, saying that the artists were making a mockery of religion and that they should have petitioned the government for a permit to make something so controversial so the government could tell them not to do it in the first place.

Political speak for “GIT ‘EM!!!”

Since the majority of the outrage is coming from Christians, specifically Catholics in Argentina but all sects globally, let’s take a look at their main complaints. Ooh! I know. Let’s make a list. We like lists!

Reasons that Christians want to Kill Artists Over Barbie Religious Figurines:

1. They make a profit off religion and that is a no no.

2. By turning important figures into toys, the artists have made a mockery of Christianity.

…er…that’s it. I guess we didn’t really have to do it in list format, huh?

I’mma go ahead and get that first ridiculous, insane, stupid reason to be up in arms about this out of the way in two words:

Christmas decorations.

Actually, why stop there? Not just Christmas decor…ALL religion-centric home decor. Velvet Jesus posters, praying Mary hands, light up crucifixes, decorative rosary beads, cross necklaces, “Jesus Loves Me” embroidered pillows… I could go on, but I don’t think I need to.

“Okay, Bethie, but Argentina is far more devout than the admittedly lax US. Surely they adhere to a more strict observation of the tenets of…”

Near Buenos Aires is a town called Lujan. In Lujan, there is a statue of the Virgin Mary, the only woman the Catholic church ever considered to be important. People not only flock to the church that was built to house the statue, but they walk away with souvenirs from the many gift shops. Mini copies of the statue, Mary necklaces, photos of the statue and church, prayer cards…

Prayer cards.

They SELL PRAYERS. If that’s not profiting off a religion, I don’t know what is.

“Yes, but the Barbie artists do it by making a mockery of Christianity. It’s not the same.”

Isn’t it, though?

Let’s take a look at the nativity portion of the installation. Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph. Now, let’s look at some other nativity sets that are commercially available.

barbiecontroversey3

Wait a second. That’s…that’s a nativity set made out of children’s toys. Someone has already taken a very serious, deeply important Bible story and make a toy set of it? Where’s the outrage? Where are the death threats? Where are the authorities up in arms about such a vile mockery?

That set has been sold for years. It’s got 4.5 stars on Amazon, with many ecstatic reviewers saying it’s a great way to teach the Bible story to kids.

Here’s another.

barbiecontroversey7

Uh…ducks? That’s, um…different.

barbiecontroversey2

My initial reaction to this was to balk, but then I realized it’s a Canadian set. Can’t be controversial if it’s Canadian, right?

In fact, none of the above sets have raised anyone’s ire. Well, maybe people were upset with the ducks, but that’s probably because they’re so poorly rendered. Look at it again. What the hell are those wise men offering for gifts? Cheese and a turkey leg? And what’s with Mary’s hair? Yikes, lady. It’s not a 70’s swinger party.

My point is that people have been adding their own twist to religion for years. Yes, even Christianity. ESPECIALLY Christianity. People do this to create a personal bond with the stories they’re reading. They’re trying to relate, and to put the story in relatable terms for their children.

Balloonman Jesus is a-okay.

barbiecontroversey5

Claymation Joseph is a bit of a dick for ignoring Mary’s suffering there, but this figure set is still okay.

barbiecontroversey4

Snow globe head Mary is, frankly, a hot mess…but okay.

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And it all HAS to be okay. Because if one is acceptable, they’re ALL acceptable. If you let your kids play with the Little People nativity set, you cannot pretend to be up in arms about Mary Barbie. You just can’t.

Now, I’m not into the whole WWJD thing. But I can guarantee that WWJ-NOT-D is issue death threats against an artist turning the most popular doll set to ever exist into classic religious figures.

I think all the outrage is silly. In a world where Caganers exist, and have since the 17th century, free from controversy or zealous religious ire, there’s certainly room for Barbie Mary.

…you’ve never heard of a Caganer?

Here. Without my help, see if you can spot the oddball in the mix.

barbiecontroversey8

Okay, so maybe there’s a bit of prompting on my part. And no, that’s not someone’s idea of a funny holiday prank. In the general France-y area of the world, it’s a tradition to place a shitting figurine in the nativity set.

And no, that’s not a typo. The dude is taking a shit.

“…uh….Whaaaa???”

Yep! And it doesn’t have to be a little elf. In fact, it’s very popular to get figurines in the likenesses of favorite leaders or celebrities taking a dump for Christ. Google it. I’ll wait.

“…HOW…”

I see you now have the glazed look of someone who has seen too much. Glad we’re on the same page!

The tradition began around the end of the 17th century and is loosely supposed to be about the Caganer nourishing the earth.

…at least that’s the bullshit reason they give now. I believe it probably started out as a political commentary and spread in popularity as a way to subtly stick it to the man. You know, relegating a recognizable politician or leader to the same status as the ox and pigs in the barn. That makes a hell of a lot more sense than the current popular explanation given by the French when a confused visitor sees someone literally shitting on Christmas.

So before you get mad that two artists have turned a popular doll into symbols of different religions, just remember that somewhere across the sea right now, someone is standing in a shopping mall Noel store trying to decide if they should buy the Kanye Caganer, or if Kim would be more appropriate to shit next to the baby Jesus this year.

Perspective, folks. It’s all about perspective.

Thus concludes a Musing for Monday, October 26, 2015. I’ve got housework on the docket today. Boo. Maybe it’s time to break out the big guns go full “Nights in White Satin”…

Do you think the junkyard will let me play Taps when they crush it?

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1 Effective Way to Say Hello

Mornin’ all.

I was just trying to look through the news, and it hit me that even mainstream, “serious” news sites are now clickbaiting with numbers.

10 Times the IS was More Terrifying Than Hitler

14 Ways Hillary’s Policy Changes Could Affect Everyday Life

5 Reasons You Need to Pay Attention to the Refugee Crisis

Gah. Is this really what we’re becoming?

…and is it a bad thing?

3 Important Points to Ponder While You Drink Your Coffee

1) Humans are lazy. We are extraordinarily lazy. In the animal world, we take the cake. It’s this laziness that makes us evolve. There is a constant push, our only true innate drive, to be creative and think outside the box for the sole purpose of coming up with new solutions to get our asses out of as much work as possible.

The sharpened stick was invented because killing dinner with a dull thud of an unsharpened stick was slower than killing it with a pointy stabby stab.

The wheel was invented because Caveman Ugh was sick of busting his caveballs trying to tug and pull and lug that stabbed dinner back to the cave.

Horses were tamed to do all sorts of neat things that allowed our ancestors to sit back and let someone else do the work.

…and on and on and on. Every invention we’ve come up with has been designed with one purpose: Make life for humanity easier.

Is it any wonder, then, that the news would eventually be presented in bullet point format? It’s quick, it’s efficient, and it speaks to the deep laziness in all of us.

2) News sites are lazy. Dude, it is SO much easier to make a list than it is to sit down and write a coherent article. Plus, in a bullet point style presentation, things like grammar and syntax are apparently unnecessary.

3) Reading a condensed list makes you feel smarter faster. I don’t know if the PuffHo really put much thought into this trend it widely started. I’m sure bullet pointing the news started out as a way to save space and time. I highly doubt they ever really put much thought into the psychology. However, they stumbled on a real way to make people feel more confident and sure of not only the facts of a situation, but their overall retention of knowledge afterwards.

It’s an unintentionally brilliant way to make people keep going back to their website, I’ll give them that. I’d much rather keep reading news on a site that makes me walk away feeling like I learned something, even if I didn’t really learn a damned thing.

Which leads me to…

3 Ways Bullet Point Reporting is Ruining the News

1) Bullet point news would work well if the information presented was accurate…

2)…and well written. There is no need to forgo grammar, spelling, and proper framing of a coherent thought simply because there is a number in front of the sentence. Gah. This is dumbing us down. This aspect of this style of clickbait reporting is making the average person feel smarter by making them dumber. And it’s all because…

3) HUMANS ARE LAZY. Modern reporters are lazy. Modern editors are lazy. And all this laziness sucks because people have been programmed by clickbait “journalism” to expect yet another fun filled list of anti-facts NOW NOW NOW. It’s too much work to be fast, efficient, AND accurate. Jeez. What do you want from reporters? It’s almost as if you expect accurate, reliable, dependable summations of important events that could have an impact on the world around you. Pipe dream much?

I think it’s going to stay around for awhile, so I suppose we best get used to it. Life swings on a pendulum, though. There will come a time in the not-so-distant-future when post modern hipsters will find the old style of reporting the news through well-researched, carefully crafted essays just the bees knees. It’s a cycle. We just have to wait until the pendulum swings the other way.

Until then, I suppose we must embrace it. Here goes.

1 Thing That Epically Sucked in the House of Bethie This Week

Muh car died.

The first one that I really lead the resurrection team to bring back to life. *sniff*

Here’s the sad tale of woe. The Mr. took Soppy to work.

(Er, that was the car. We named her the Sopwith Llama. A Sopwith Camel was an old timey fighter plane before new fangled fighter jets flew onto the scene. But, the kids like llamas, soooo…)

He called me from his business of employ to tell me that “Sop’s acting weird.” We hoped it was a momentary lapse in functionality, or that she was just feeling annoyed.

“Uh, Bethie. I hate to interrupt…”

Liar.

“…but, it’s just a car. It can’t feel anything.”

Yes. Yes it can. And anyone out there who doesn’t think that cars have moods, including temper tantrums and hissy fits, simply hasn’t been paying attention to their car. Shame on you. Go out and sit in your car and apologize for ignoring it all this time before it proves me right. It helps if you rub the dashboard, but don’t take it too far. Don’t make it weird, bro.

Anyway, my guy came home late. That was probably the only reason he made it home at all. There was a distinct lack of traffic and, for the most part, he had one clear last run with Soppy. Before he left work, he checked the fluids and the oil. Everything looked good under the hood. Proper fluid and oil levels. So he wished on a star and headed home.

He got within a couple miles of our house and “running rough” turned into her dumping all her coolant into the oil and seizing just as she pulled into our drive.

As far as close calls go, it doesn’t get any closer than that.

Soppy didn’t go quietly. The tail lights were upgraded LEDs that were insanely bright, a modification we did because it was a black car that was driven largely at night, and the Mr. was sick of drunk rednecks riding his bumper. She also began to belch huge plumes of thick, white smoke of doom. The bright taillights caught in the billowing clouds like Soppy was spewing forth the fires of hell itself. The Mr. told me that when he looked in his rear view, all he could see was a fiery wall of clouds.

Man I wish I was there to see it!

What we had was catastrophic parts failure. The head gasket went all at once. At that point, there was no saving her.

Oh, I know we could have (and still technically could) take her to a shop and have them completely go through it cleaning out the cappuccino colored oil/coolant from the engine block, retool the head, and replace all the gaskets. Or, we could buy a crate engine to drop in. However, it’s not worth it. I love that car, but there comes a point when the cost exceeds the value.

She’s done for. And today I must strip the parts to sell. I must rob the grave of my beloved beastie. As difficult as it is, I know it’s for the best. Through organ donation, Soppy can live on.

*hats off in a moment of silence for the brave and noble sacrifice of my Sopwith Llama*

*clears throat* *wipes tear*

Yes. Well. Moving on.

We picked up a cheapie from craigslist yesterday. Boy, I don’t know what folks did before craigslist when their cars shit the bed. The Mr. got his automotive shake-up at about ten on Thursday night. By eight Friday morning, I had already made arrangements to go see a $500 hoopdie that’ll get us through until we can really find a good replacement.

It’s a VW wagon. It needs stuff. It comes with most of the stuff it needs. The guy selling it was in the middle of repairs when a buddy offered him a Jeep that he really wanted. Nice guy…he threw in all the parts, including a new hood, for free. The engine has high miles but sounds so quiet that my guy kept thinking he stalled it…always a good sign.

Today, my tinkering cohort (our youngest) is going to help me strip parts from Sop, then pep a few things up on the newbie. I think the hubby is leaning toward the name Hobbes for the VW. Why Hobbes? We had a $400 Neon once that lasted us THREE YEARS that we named Calvin, and after the 45 minute drive home yesterday, he got out and said, “Boy does that remind me of Calvin!”

Of course, you can’t call two cars the same thing. And if you do “the second” or “junior”, the auto is instantly insulted. Rightfully so!

The only thing that’s giving him pause about the new moniker is that he feels the VW is female. I asked him why he must saddle the name “Hobbes” with gender constraints. He gave me a *blink**blink*. Heh. I love it when he has no response.

Sop gets dissected today, and Maybe-Hobbes gets spruced up. It seems a bit sadistic to fancify Hobbes next to Soppy’s corpse, but really, what can I do? I have to get one ready for the scrapper and one ready for the road.

It’s the circle of life, friends.

Hukuna machina.

Thus concludes the Musing for Saturday, October 17, 2015. Holy shit. I babbled so much about other things that I never actually got to talk about what I started writing to talk about in the first place. Damn bullet pointing getting me off track. Eh, it’s probably for the best. It was a fairly controversial point of view that would most definitely NOT win me friends or influence people. It would have been fun, though. Hm. Guess I’ll save it for another day…

A sick kid, a dead mouse, and a broken window walk into a bar…

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Mornin’ all!

I got up to one “awwww” thing today, which was so much better than the not “awwww” thing I found when I woke up yesterday.

The awwww thing today was a note pinned to the hallway outside my bedroom from my 9-year-old. It said, “I threw up in the night. It did not feel good. 😦 ” Now, why is this “awwww”? Because he could have just knocked on my door, ya know?

But that’s just so him. Everything about it was my little MacGuyver. He had no paper, so he snipped open a toilet paper roll and flattened it out to write the note on, found a thumbtack somewhere in his room, and pinned the note right at my eye level where I’d see it when I opened my door.

Again, he easily could have just knocked.

Ah, but he’s one to take care of things himself. Poor little guy. Guess my plans are scrapped for today and I need to run for ginger ale before the teens head out for school.

The not awwww thing was a gift from kitty. Dead mouse (not to be confused with deadmau5… *glow bracelet fistbump*). She left it at the bottom of the stairs for me, presentation style. It was sitting in the middle of a plastic grocery bag (her favorite thing in the world) with a black sock placed right next to it. I’d like to think that the smelly, dirty black sock was an intentional artistic addition to underscore the fetid morbidity of Death. As soon as I heaped on the praise, though, she sat down and started licking her ass, so she’s probably not a deep artistic thinker after all.

ZOMG. WAIT! Maybe the ass licking was a living art piece, a biting commentary on the entire event summed up in one controversial and provocative performance? I mean, when you think about it, could there really be a more succinct statement on the terrible emotions one must deal with when there’s been a death than the horror of licking ones own ass??

MY CAT IS BRILLIANT.

I’m glad we have a mouser. It’s getting colder, and the mice are getting bolder. The cold weather is kicking off some deep instincts, not just in the mice and Rembrandt Kitty.

*author’s note: Yes, I, too, found it a bit odd that I went with “Rembrandt Kitty” when I easily could have taken the opportunity for punnery. I’m not saying that “Picatso,” “Meownet,” and “Renrawr” weren’t given serious consideration. In the end, though, I decided that if Kitty was going to be all high brow, then perhaps I, too, should take the more mature route.*

Around these parts, the first time you see your breath in the morning, something deep inside says, “SHIT! WE WASTED SUMMER!!!” You start looking around in a panic at all the things you can’t do once the snow flies. You can’t fix that car. There’s no way in hell you’re getting concrete poured on the one stair that mysteriously disintegrated once it’s sitting under six inches of snow. The garage still needs cleaning. The deck is a mess. And let’s not EVEN talk about the plans you had for that broken window.

The cold hits the ancient internal “go” button.

That’s good in a way. I mean, the shit really does have to get done. It’s not about the beauty of the home…it’s about the knowledge that if a foot of snow lands on that deck, you won’t have a deck once it melts. These are NECESSARY repairs, not weekend do it yourself projects to give the joint more curb appeal. These things have to happen, and time is tickin’.

On top of that panic, there’s the incessant obsession to gather in a hoarder such as myself. I’ve mentioned before that the apples highlighted my hoarding thoughts. It’s so much worse when it turns cold enough to wear a cardigan in an un-ironic manner. The empty spaces in the cupboards fill me with a sense of dread. It doesn’t matter how much food is around those empty spaces. There are EMPTY SPACES people! It’s a CRISIS. We will STARVE if I don’t cram those cupboards!

This year it’s particularly bad.

I think since the man’s schedule is still all up in the air and there are many changes afoot, my system is trying to compensate by over-controlling other aspects. Food is only one of them. Then there’s just the general need to acquire and prepare for the times when we “can’t.” Can’t afford, can’t get to, can’t find…

See? I get it. I know and understand my compulsions. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t giddy as a schoolgirl at her first dance when the junk shop heaped tons of shit in the free pile across the street yesterday.

“…oh, Bethie. *sigh*”

I got tiles! TWO boxes of them.

“And what are you going to do with two boxes of tiles?”

Look at them. Have them. Know that they’re there in case I need them. Oh! And a fun crate! It’s got such a cool shape.

“Did you need a cool-shaped crate?”

Actually, that one I can legit use. It’s very wide one way, and tall and skinny the other. It’ll be perfect for holding the paintings I’m doing, a place to safely store them before sale. So *pfflllbttthhh*.

The urge to get the rest of the stuff from the pile was almost overwhelming. There was a chair that has just a bizarre vibe that drew me to it. I kept staring at it. No, I did not go over and get it. No, I won’t today if it’s still there. I’ve already got one chair project going, and don’t really have the space for the that. I don’t need/can’t fit another. There was also a pile of unusually shaped cinder blocks. I have never seen cinder blocks that looked like them. I couldn’t think of a real purpose for those, so they, too, stayed put.

I’m trying, folks. I really, truly am. I blew it on the tiles, but the crate will honestly help with an organizational problem I’ve been having.

I got the first layer of concrete poured on the stair yesterday. I need at least one more layer, but I thought it best to do a series of thin layers since it’s cooler out, and since I really don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Landlords didn’t fix it, and I was sick of turning my ankle every time I left my house. Three of the household guys suggested I use the tiles on top of the stair and make it look fancy, because:

a) they get me…

b) they know how hilarious fancy stairs leading up to our just-this-side-of-a-tar-paper-shack house would be.

Could you imagine stepping onto icy tiles, though? Yikes. I’ll have to find another way to make an ironic statement about my home.

When I was a kid, I saw a house that was decorated with political messages. Not in my town. Over towards where my grandparents lived all the way on the other side of the state, a good two whole hours away. The owners would paint huge messages on the clapboard siding.

Shit. Was that over by my grandparents? Bah. Who knows. I was a kid. Somewhere in NH there used to be a very political house.

…or was it in Maine? Ya know, it could have been Maine…

Anyway, I could do that. Instead of going with the ironic fancy route, I could be more blunt and write things like, “I refuse to live my life under the imperialistic constraints of a straight roof!” or, “Is the foundation really warped, or is YOUR perception of it the problem?” You know… make people think.

“Wouldn’t your landlords object?”

Well, see, here’s the thing. The house has been peeling for years. It should have been painted at least five years ago. They ignore the problem by refusing to walk over to this side where the damage to the paint is very apparent. True story. That way they don’t have to look at the paint and can pretend it’s still perfectly fine. What they can’t see, they don’t have to fix, right? I think that’s how landlording works.

In order for me to make tall statements on the clapboards, I’d need to first prepare the surface. And that would mean a free paint job for them! If they don’t care about piles of peeling paint, I highly doubt they’d give two shits about a few words.

There’s a flaw in that plan, though. I could paint all the words I wanted and the real statement would be totally lost on the Landlords. They wouldn’t get it. They honestly would just be jazzed that they didn’t have to hire a painter after all.

Someone’s already done it, too. That’s another drawback. Someone else has already painted their thoughts and feelings on their house. I guess if I’m going to passive aggressively shame my landlords in a manner that would go completely over their heads, I should at least be original about it.

Maybe I could do inlaid tile work around the broken window? It’s facing the road so everyone will see. I’ll lay the tiles out, then surround them with gold painted filigree work to highlight the absurdity. Picture it. The paint will be peeling all around it. The window broken and askew in the rotting frame. And yet, a peek of Taj Mahal level opulence…

“Whoa. I’m not a home improvement expert, but wouldn’t that take a lot of time and effort?”

Yep.

“…for what is essentially an inside joke that pretty much no one will ever understand?”

You do realize that all you’re doing is talking me into the idea, right?

“*shakes head* You have issues.”

So, so many.

Thus concludes a ramble for Tuesday, October 13, 2015. It’s light out. I’m not going to look across the street and see what’s still left in the free pile. I don’t need it. Right? I mean, who wants a stupid chair, anyway? A stupid, unusual, different, captivating chair. Heh. *breaks out into a sweat*

The Eye of Bessie sees all…

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Mornin’ all.

Crazy week here. Seems like we’re in the middle of a run of them. I’m hoping things will slow down soon. I hate not knowing one day to the next where things are heading!

“Don’t tell me you’re having a problem going with the flow. I thought you were a hippie, Bethie?”

I am. I’m just not that good at it.

One upside is the hectic, electric vibe. While it sucks for sitting down and concentrating on writing, it’s fantastic for other projects. Over the past couple weeks, I’ve bastardized a Renoir print, updated an Italian classic, and am currently working on a third lamp. Pretty soon I’ll have enough to stop selling on ebay and Craigslist and actually give Etsy a try.

“*gasp of horror*”

I KNOW, okay? I already KNOW I’m a sellout. I don’t need you telling me that. I get it.

I want money from my crafts. I AM a sellout.

Look, I write when I need to get things out, when I want to create worlds, when I have a group of characters that just want to *be*. I make stuff out of my junk to give me $$$. That’s the difference between one type of creating and another. I truly enjoy making stuff out of my junk pile. But it’s not the same as crafting an entire universe with words.

My point is that I can sell my bastard crafts with impunity and without guilt. IF I can find the right market.

Locally, I’m not so sure I’d have an audience. I think I may have mentioned once or seventeen dozen times that I live in a small NH town. The local craft fairs largely focus on hand spun fibers, woven scarves, plaques with “home is where the heart is” inked over smiling heads of a rudimentarily rendered bovine. Painted saw blades are popular, but not quite as in demand as knitted toilet paper covers. That makes sense, since in these parts, toilet paper spoils quickly if not properly stored.

When I was a kid, a popular item at craft fairs was a disco ball…type…thing…made of Christmas bulbs and garland. ALL the rage at the annual Christmas Bazaar in the St. Stanislaus church basement (which, of course, was known in OUR household as the Christmas Bizarre. What? Not all jokes have to ooze originality.).

Also hot with the choir member crew were those creepy half-Barbie doll half-crocheted southern belle skirt abominations. You know the ones. Some sick old grandma chops a dollar store Barbie in half and glues it to this crocheted pillow that looks like a large hoop skirt. They then tat little doilies to drape over the whole deal in an attempt to make it look fancy enough for the casual observer to ignore the sadism.

You didn’t fool me, Grandma. And while I was too terrified to ask 33 years ago, I’m asking now.

WHY DO YOU CUT OFF THE LEGS???!!!

It seems like such a needlessly violent step. Couldn’t you just crochet a skirt!?

I can just see some cackly old granny, popping off the Barbie’s legs, muttering about how great her own gams used to be with a scratchy record player skipping its way through “The Jitterbug” in the background of her single bulb-lit, sepia-toned room…

Freaky.

…oh. Oh gawd I just thought of something. What if they use the legs for something else!?

*shudder*

Though the times have changed, the crafts of the area largely have not. If the showing at the craft area of the Pickle Fest was any indication (and I see no reason why it shouldn’t have been) then the local population still has an affinity for the classics. One lady was trying hard to break the mold and sell clay magnets, but the villagers drove her out with pitchforks, as well they should. Everyone knows magnets are witchcraft and have no business in a bazaar. OUT YE VILE TEMPTRESS! We put OUR important pictures and turkey-hand drawings on the fridge with Scotch tape!

Mile-high hair bows were aflutter in the afternoon breeze at one stall. Those aren’t new. They were popular in my elementary school when I was a kid. Someone had the brilliant idea to tie colorful shoelaces together and stick them on clips to make ugly, loopy hair bows. The trend died down when people realized they looked like idiots, but this year, the bows were back with a vengeance. I’m not sure if the vendor was trying to recapture her glory days, or if the bows are actually making a comeback. Several people were walking around in acid washed jeans, so who knows? The one thing I will say is that at 7 friggin’ dollars a bow, that lady was DREAMING.

Honey, no one’s going to pay $7 to put shoelaces in their hair, even if they are day-glo pink.

And if they do, I don’t really think that’s my demographic.

Now, I really might be selling my town short. There may be people ravenous for a change in the craft scene. I don’t have the money to pay for a booth to risk it. If I had hand painted pig figurines or lace-trimmed toilet seat covers, I’d go for it. That shit sells itself. But my stuff?

Besides, if I wanted to really break into the scene at a fair larger than a church basement bazaar, I’d have to go up against the old guards.

I love crafts. I love the crafting community…in general. But anyone, ANYONE who lives in a crafting area knows that it’s run by a core group of people. Around here, most of the big craft shows are juried. This means that before you’re allowed to buy booth space, you have to submit samples of your products for a group of other crafters to judge. They get to determine whether or not your crafts and art are good enough for the show. And, unfortunately, the same group tends to judge the majority of fairs in the area. Basically, if you piss one off, you’re never, ever getting a booth.

Again, a booth that you would pay for.

It’s a weird system that creates a lot of questions. Why does there need to be a jury if you’re paying for vending space? Isn’t that level of subjectivity pretty contradictory to the basic tenets of the crafting world? Why does a group of old hags (and usually one grandpa…he’s the saw painter) get to decide what’s art? Who elects these folks? Who gives them such power?

It’s a head scratcher, that’s for sure. It’s been rumored that there are Illuminati dealings, but take that with a grain of salt. Every clandestine group is rumored to be affiliated with the Illuminati these days. I’m, personally, more apt to believe there’s a secret crafting synod run by the dairy conglomerations of Vermont.

“Uh, Bethie? You okay over there?”

Think about it. Why else would there be cows on EVERYTHING? I’ve seen members give a milking motion handshake on the sly when they didn’t think folks were watching. They have a secret sign language which matches the cud chewing patterns of common Holsteins. And if you look closely enough, every member has the Eye of Bessie tattooed on their neck, just below the hairline, almost invisible unless you know what you’re looking for.

How can I possibly break into such an organization? Especially since I’m on record as saying that I prefer Wisconsin cheese?

“Oh, Bethie… *shakes head*…”

It was a great plate of nachos. I was young and naive, and surrounded by peers all hyped up on football. I had no notion of the life-long ramifications. Ah, the folly of youth. You can see, though, why my hands are tied as far as local sales go.

Etsy has their own clandestine operation going, though I’m almost positive that one IS run by the Illuminati. The Illuminati like odd stuff, though. And they don’t care a whit which cheese I prefer. It’s my best shot at a broader audience that’s not stuck under the oppressive hoof of the Ruminati.

I’ve been playing around with LED lights. Boy are they neat. We’ve refitted all our house lamps with them, and three years later not a single one has burned out and it really did drop our monthly electric bill by a significant amount. I had never tried wiring my own up before this week, though, like taking bulbs and stringing them together how I want to make my own light display.

Incandescent bulbs are easy. Connect them together with a positive wire, add a negative at the end of the string, stick it on a plug, et voila…light. LEDs use so little power, though, that they need to have “x” amount of resistors added to the lineup, depending on how many bulbs you have. If you just wired it straight to a plug, they would burn out. There’s a learning curve, and it’s a bit more work, but the benefits of the LEDs in crafting terms are worth it. Not only do they take very little energy to run (you can plug into one outlet and run 43 50-bulb strings in tandem! OFF ONE PLUG!!!), but they never get hot.
THEY NEVER GET HOT!!

This means you don’t need ventilation, you don’t have to stop and consider the fact that the entire metal sculpture is going to become a very interesting branding iron if you aren’t careful, you don’t need to put wattage warnings on them, and you can wire the bulbs near flammable glues, laces, paper, etc. and not have to worry. Little LED bulbs themselves are plastic, so breakage isn’t an issue, and the bulbs last a whole lot longer than incandescents or fluorescents. Not to mention the fact that they are so very bright that you can use about half as many to get the effect you want.

“Bethie, are you working for an LED light bulb company?”

No, but if they wanna kick me a little something for gushing, I wouldn’t be opposed. We’ve already established that I’m a sellout.

The lamps I’ve made this week all have LEDs. The discount store downtown sells LED Christmas strings dirt cheap and I keep buying them. I wonder what the owner thinks I’m doing with them all? Eh, so long as I’m not chopping Barbies in half, it’s all good. I keep hoping that my interest in his stock of them doesn’t drive the price up. It has to, though, wouldn’t you think? He’s selling them many dollars cheaper than anyone else in the area. Eventually he’ll wake up and realize he could be making so much more money off me. I best pick up some more today, just to be safe.

It’s not hoarding if I’m going to use them, right?

“Uh, I don’t think that’s how it works…”

Oh! I forgot to mention! I have quince.

STOLEN quince.

AND my hands are completely and utterly clean in the whole deal. Er, except for the fact that I knowingly received stolen goods, I guess. I had cohorts, and they stole quince on my behalf. I’ve got a whole box of them in my kitchen. I was going to cook them up this weekend, but they smell so damn good. They give off this fragrance that’s like flowers and pears. Smells a whole lot better than solder and flux, let me tell you.

I suppose I should find time today to cook them. The good thing about quince is that they’ll last a really long time. The bad thing is that you can’t tell they’re going until they’re already gone. They’re so hard and the only time they turn soft is when their insides have already rotted.

So that’s what’s going on in the House of Bethie. Crazy schedule, madcap crafting antics, laundry, and processing my pirated quince. Not a lot, and yet so much.

Thus concludes a rambly Musing for Tuesday, October 6, 2015. When you’re cruising the autumn craft fairs, remember to look for the signs of the Ruminati. The only way they’ll be defeated is if we make sure not to support them. Do it on the sly, though. Always remember that the Eye of Bessie is watching…