The Cats Are Driving to Work
(they told me this is what they think about).
The Cats Are Driving to Work
When I was going through my parents’ effects late last summer, I came across my mother’s “button jar.” She, like other women of the time, kept left over or stray or spare buttons of all kinds, generally in a large (empty) (mayonnaise) jar. Whenever a coat or shirt or blouse or pants or whatever needed buttons, she would pour her collection out on the table, select one that most closely matched the original, and sew it on post haste.
I thought this was the normal order of things until we came across any numbers of new buttons in the sewing department of Murphy’s one day. “Look at this, Mom! Have you ever seen such a pile of buttons? They’re beautiful! Can I get some for my shirts?”
“Because I’m not paying 59 cents for buttons when I can match them for free from my button jar.”
My mother’s used button habit was not that unusual, and I have a suspicion she could have bought all the buttons she wanted to. She just didn’t want to. And so she continued on happily in the world of buttons, picking up strays when she saw them or taking them off old shirts that soon had a new life as rags. It was recycling before recycling was cool.
We as writers have our own button jars–ideas, expressions, words and phrases that we keep in the mental button jar we carry around. And when it’s time, we pull out just the right one and put it to use. And that’s a satisfying feeling, like finding just the button that matches the ones already on a garment.
May your mental button jars increase!
Another Time: Velcro: A Promise Unkept, and Yet Another Time: A History of Buttons and Other Fasteners
My Dad had a cardiac pacemaker put in about seven years ago now and no one around him knows he has one. It works 24/7/355, giving him very mild electric shocks, and he takes having one as matter of routine. And, as a matter of routine, the battery is going to need replacing soon. We’ll schedule the procedure and it will be done in the doctor’s office. I think it’s pretty good for a battery to last seven years. I have a suspicion it ain’t an EverReady.
There has been considerable progress made in the area of pacemakers, I am told. They
are smaller, more powerful and last longer. Their installation procedure has been, realtively speaking, simplified, and the pacers themselves are more reliable.
I was thinking at the same time about some of the improvements made with cell phones recently. While they are smaller, more powerful and easier to operate (maybe), I would venture to say that they have not improved a the same rate as pacemakers. Maybe that is because it is demonstrably more important to keep grandma’s heart beating than it is for Muffy to text her girlfriend. Still, yet another errant thought led me to consider whether cell phone technology could be combine with implant improvements.
I think I can sense some resistance to this idea, but please hear me out. The cell phone could be made small enough to put under the skin. It wouldn’t have to be replaced (or the battery, anyhow) for seven years. Dialing could be done by speech (already possible) or perhaps soon, thoughts. It wouldn’t be much different from Blue Tooth, except the phone couldn’t get lost, and neitherr could the earpiece.
I think this will be an option in the next ten years. It’s not for everyone, and while I have to frankly admit that having a phone in touch with me 34/7/3565 (under my skin!) gives me pause, it might an idea whose time has come for certain people. Don’t sign me up yet, but keep me informed.
I was zipping up something the other day when the zipper stuck. I would have to say that this rarely happens any more, but since the location of the zipper was such that it had to be zipped up more or less completely for me to be considered part of polite society, I worked with it until it came unstuck and all was right with the world again. I won’t mention the location of the aforesaid zipper, but I know that Biscuit City readers (and especially the gentlemen) are familiar with the location of this most important closure.
This quickly resolved bump in the road got me to thinking about zippers in my usual random fashion and I began wondering about the origin and history of zippers. I delved into Wikipedia for some answers and you can do the same (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zipper ), but I wanted to pu the description of a zipper here just to show how complicated these things can get:
The bulk of a zipper consists of two strips of fabric tape, each affixed to one of the two pieces to be joined, carrying from tens to hundreds of specially shaped metal or plastic teeth. These teeth can be either individual or shaped from a continuous coil, and are also referred to as elements. The slider, operated by hand, moves along the rows of teeth. Inside the slider is a Y-shaped channel that meshes together or separates the opposing rows of teeth, depending on the direction of the slider’s movement. “Zipper” is onomatopoeia, because it was named for the sound it makes when you use it, a high-pitched “zip!”
And just becausd I can’t leave well enough alone, I want to note that “onomatapoeia” should be “onomatapoetic” and the use of “you” in the last sentence is weak. I think “named for the sound it makes when used: is better. (Someone stop me! I’m having an editing attack!)
For one, I am glad that good old Gideon Sundback (doesn’t his name sound like he could have played for a baseball team of the time? “Batting ninth and pitching, Gideon Sundback!”) perfected the zipper around 1917 based on previous less effective fasteners.
I’m sorry to quibble with my good friends from WIkipedia (again!) but the memories I have as a lad of zippers are that they were anything but “perfected.” I have been traumatized by a succession of jackets whose zippers stuck part way, leaving the wearer to do the Stuck Zipper Dance and wriggle out of the garment, only to repeat the process in reverse later on. Zippers really didn’t improve until they were made of plastic, about the time Velcro came on the scene. I think zippers were intimidated by the unique qualities of Velcro and decided to clean up their act. And so, by and large, it has been jam-free sailing for users of zippers, which is most of us. So, today, if you are wearing a zipper, zip up! (Or zip down! I don’t care) and enjoy jam-free(with a few occasional exceptions) openings and closings!
Later on in Biscuit CIty: Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?
|Pilgrim Monument, in Provincetown, Massachusetts, one of our undisclosed locations this past week.|
All right, now I can reveal the undisclosed location I was at last week. Actually, it involved several locations. See, I lied about having a staycation in last Monday’s Biscuit City. I did this to protect my valuable goods. If I had any, that is. Probably my most valuable “possession” is Nacho the Cat whom I will be glad to see and she will be over the moon to see me. Hang on, Nacho, Daddy’s coming!
Last Thursday we got up about 5 AM to be taken to Dulles Airport by Nephew Josh who did yeoman service driving the mighty Impala and depositing us at the airport at 6:30. We thought there wouldn’t be that many people afoot at that early hour but there were teeming hordes of them. We had checked in online so we put our bags in and went through security, arriving at the terminal gate about 8 AM for an 8:30 flight. We grabbed a breakfast sandwich and boarded the flight which was a turboprop.Please remind me to check the flight equipment before I book a flight.
So, we were on our way to Raleigh-Durham Airport or more specifically to Durham to visit our friends Ed and Marji Bratcher. Ed was pastor of our church for fifteen years, and we have kept in touch with them. If you know them, they are both doing well. The assisted living facility they live in is amazing, and the food is wonderful. If I lived there I would weigh about 400 pounds.
Item two on the agenda was a choral music reading conference sponsored by Hinshaw Music. If you’ve never been to a choral music reading conference, don’t go. (Little joke, there, Becky!) No, in this activity each participant is given a packet or several packets of music (all published by the company putting on the reading, strangely enough) and then everyone reads through the anthems. There were about 300 people there, including a lot of choral directors, so the group sounded good even though we were sight-singing.
|A rather distant shot of John Rutter, directing. The man is a genius.|
The reason there were 300 people at this event (which typically draws about 100) is that John Rutter, the premier choral composer in the world today, led one of the segments. He is witty, charming, tells great stories and can write the stripes off a zebra. I got him to autograph two anthems, one that was sung at William and Kate’s wedding for Alyssa and one for Amy, “Look at the World,” which is about the wonders of the natural world, including animals which her students are fond of.
After the day’s events, we went back and had dinner with the Bratchers and headed out for an evening concert of the choral music we had gone over, done by some fine singers who had actually rehearsed it. John Rutter conducted several of his pieces for the second half, and they were glorious.
We left the assisted living facility the next morning about 4 AM to make a 6:05 flight to Providence, RI to be picked up by our long-time friend Jerry Cerasale. The flight, which used a jet, stopped at Dulles so we could say hello to Northern Virginia. We walked up to the connecting flight’s gate and walked right on the aircraft. Jerry picked us up at 9:30 and we were on our way to the house on Cape Cod (Eastham) the Cerasales own and will eventually retire to. They are models of hospitality. Jan puts together gourmet meals and we had many good and deep conversations. Cape Cod has historic and natural wonders, and we sampled both. And oh, yes, the shopping, as Becky will tell you, is marvelous.
So, Jan drove us back to the Providence Airport Thursday afternoon and we got into Dulles about 4:15. It was a busy time away; it was good to get away, but it’s always good to come home. Amy and Alyssa came Friday, keeping up the more or less steady presence of Verners at the Cerasales.
I hope you have as restful a vacation as we did.
That’s spelled V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N, and that’s where we’ll be, so we’re shutting down the glass-enclosed observation post here at Biscuit City Enterprises and are scattering to the four corners of the country.
DV is going to have a staycation and work on catching up on old issues of National Geographic the way his hero Andy Griffith used to do on his vacation.
Chief of Staff Molly Bolt is leaving for an undisclosed location. Word is she needs a break from her sister Dolly Grip, Holly Berry, and Jolly St. Nicholas since they have been staying with her for the past month. Molly seems exhausted and we hope she can rest and recharge this week.
Harrison Bergeron has a pile of books to review so he too is sequestering himself as well. There is probably no truth to the rumor that he and Molly are off together. It’s just a friendship, folks.
Nancy Whiskey will go back to Florida to compete in the Amateur Beach Volleyball Nationals following her release from her suspension for hitting too hard in the games this spring. Harrison Schmidt will be going to keep score for the girls. He says he likes their uniforms.
B. Russell Sprout will visit Belgium to see some family, mostly cousins. We hope he brings back chocolate.
CEO NK will work on undisclosed projects designed to bring Biscuit City Enterprises continuing honor and glory. She’s a worker, our Nancy!
Enjoy your week off folks! We’ll enjoy ours!
Demeter in the Supermarket
She stalks across the parking lot
And maybe it’s a trick of light
In the heat distorted air
But it looks like she is walking above the surface.
At the cart line, she jerks one loose:
It has one stuck wheel
And another that just spins stupidly
But the rest are no better.
She begins her tour of the aisles,
A goddess among mortals
Someone runs a cart up on her
It’s enough to make a
Silencing a child’s tantrum in the cereal aisle
With one frosted look
She peruses the grains before
Settling on some nice quinoa,
Shudders through the frozen foods
(She doesn’t like the cold)
Moves inexorably toward
The produce section
And there she stays
Looking at the pomegranates
Trying to remember.
My father was a heck of a carpenter until tremors in his hands made it difficult for him to build as he used to. I helped him on a number of jobs and learned a lot about the trade, although I will never be a furniture-grade artisan. I’m more a treehouse/doghouse level practitioner of the art. My tightest tolerance is 1/2 an inch, in a field where tolerances are zero inches. You get the idea.
Nonetheless, I enjoy building things and doing projects using my skills, such as they are. Recently (since last August) I have been converting our security fence that used to be around our swimming pool (which was filled in several years ago) into a nice picket fence. My dad sometimes comes to watch and advise me. Now, I prefer to use a tape to measure things. He swears by a rule, which I am not comfortable using. I’ve tried using one, and folding and unfolding one seems to be too much work. A rule does have the advantage of not flexing back on itself and collapsing like a tape, but, hey, I can work with a few collapsed tapes.
Here are a couple of shots of my fence project, which is about 40% complete:
|Here’s a shot of a partly completed section of the fence with my yellow cat litter tool bucket in front of the fence. That’s my shed that needs painting in the background. The pile of lumber is discards from the old fence.|
|Another shot of the fence, showing a part near the house. You can see the old security fence in the background, and the new picket fence to the left. Progress is being made.|
Here’s a nice picture of a Stanley tape, just like the one I have: