Archive for ‘Huh’

March 17, 2016

Erin go bragh

by Janie Jones

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Now, normally everyone would celebrate by embracing the color green, but, according to my March 2015 Better Homes & Gardens magazine (which I didn’t read until well past last year’s St. Patrick’s Day, and have been saving this tidbit ever since), prior to 1798 the original color of St. Patrick’s day was blue.

blue shamrocks-edit

Just doesn’t seem the same, does it?  However, there is apparently a type of shamrock that does have blue flowers:

 

Parochetus communis, aka africanus

Shamrock Pea, Blue Oxalis

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January 10, 2016

Ottoman Upholstery

by Janie Jones

I actually enjoy giving old stuff a face lift and making it beautiful again.  While I don’t like being called a dumpster diver, some of my favorite furniture pieces were things people were going to throw away just because they had a rip in the fabric or were outdated.

About eight years ago I inherited an ottoman that some people were going to throw away.  It was covered in a beige vinyl faux-leather and had been in a flood so it was discolored and moldy.  But it was sturdy so I peeled off the vinyl and underneath it looked like brand new wood with nary a hint of decay or warping.  I put on new batting, a pillow top and some new beige fabric with a pretty burgundy and gold braided trim.  I even hammered in some decorative upholstery tacks.  It was lovely.  For about two days.  Then the spud, aged 3 and a half, scribbled on it in black magic marker.  I got some of it out.  Then she pulled off the braided trim.  Then I cried, put it in the basement and figured some day I would try again.

When I moved to the Big City in the fall of 2014, I brought it with me to use in my room in town.  But it was ugly.  Last year after Christmas I splurged and bought some new blue velvet foot stools and the ugly ottoman was relegated to the living room with all the ugly, beat up, old furniture left by the owners for common use.  However, I have been meaning ever since I moved to town to fix it up.  First I thought I’d just buy a slip cover.  But they seemed ridiculously expensive, and none were appealing.  So this winter break I determined to reupholster it.  Yesterday, armed with a 40% off coupon I went to the fabric store and found a lovely caramel-color wide wale chenille corduroy fabric.  I got enough to cover the whole ottoman for less than $6 (slip covers tend to run for at least $30, by the way), paid about $3 for a box of staples, and reused the batting, pillow topper, and some of the decorative upholstery tacks from before.  In about an hour the ottoman was transformed.  A decorative throw from Ecuador (a gift from a friend) on top makes it look amazing.

Ottoman Before

The sad, pathetic ottoman destroyed by the Spud.

Ottman After 4

Pay no attention to the ugly sofas in the back ground. …

 

Ottman After 5

Ooohh. Aahhhh. What a lovely ottoman you have, Janie.

And, to think:  Someone was going to throw this ottoman away, when all it took was a little thrifty shopping, an hour or so of time and less than $10 total for supplies to make it beautiful.  Some people….

January 6, 2016

Do you ever wonder?

by Janie Jones

So I have a class this spring where I have to read some historical fiction novels about epidemics. To hopefully ease into the spring semester, I read one of the books already. It is “Nemesis” by Philip Roth.

As literature goes, it was okay. Not great, but okay. I liked the first half pretty well, but then the author does something with the main character I did not particularly like. Whatever. It was a short book and read quickly.

What did stand out though was that throughout the novel, which is set in during WWII, the characters refer to Frigidaires. Not refrigerators, but Frigidaires. Now, where I come from we pronounce Frigidaire as fridge-id-air. However, though I am familiar with the brand, I don’t recall ever actually seeing a Frigidaire brand refrigerator in anyone’s home before. Weird? Yeah, probably.

I have often wondered why where I grew up people called refrigerators “fridges” despite the fact that it’s not really short for refrigerator. For as long as I can remember I would try to phonetically spell refrigerator as refridgerator even though there’s no “d” in refrigerator. Although I know this now, I still sometimes try to spell it that way. But, since reading this book I wonder if the slang “fridge” didn’t come from a bastardization of Frigidaire instead of refrigerator.

So, are you all wondering why the H-E double hockey sticks I am babbling on about this?

Good question.

I have no good answer. I’ve just been thinking about it.

December 23, 2015

A little biochemistry on the brain

by Janie Jones

You know you’ve been studying a little too much when you start seeing obscure science-y stuff in every day life.

Take this advertisement for boots I got in my email:

WINTER AND SNOW BOOTS

 

I don’t know why the company calls itself UGG Australia.  But after 16 weeks of biochemistry, genetics and virology, when I see UGG my mind immediately goes to the DNA sequence abbreviation for Uracil, Guanine, Guanine which is the codon for the amino acid tryptophan.  But that’s just me.

16 weeks earlier, my mind would just have gone from UGG to ugg-ly.  And that context is perhaps more fitting.

 

November 2, 2015

Well, now that was $5 bucks that didn’t go to waste…

by Janie Jones

Well folks, it’s the end of an era.

One of my two vintage alarm clocks went dead.  I don’t know what happened to mine personally (it might be buried in the spud’s room at the farm) but I inherited a similar one from my ex.  Mine was purchased somewhere circa 1980s and had a small faux walnut case with red digital numbers, and I suspect the ex’s was of a similar vintage.

I remember when my mother bought it for me.  It was the year my parents bought their first house.  I was almost done with seventh grade, so I’d have been 13 I think.  I was kinda disappointed because I wanted one like my grandparents had.  You boomers remember these?

vintage alarm clock

I was fascinated by how the numbers would flip.  I also wanted a radio alarm instead of that hideous beep the cheap alarms made.

I cannot tell you how I hated that beep.  I developed an honest to Pete anxiety trigger to it.  It got so bad that if I’d hear that alarm sound anywhere at any time my heart would race and I’d start to panic.  So when DVD players became affordable, many years later, I bought a new alarm clock with a CD player that I could set to wake up to a certain CD.  Oh, that was like waking up to a whole new world.

But.  There’s always a but isn’t there?  I actually grew to like the red number readout.  Over the intervening years no matter how many different alarm clocks I’ve been through, I always kept my first alarm clock with the red numbers just as a clock.  When I moved to my tiny room in the Big City, I went back to using the red number alarm clock I inherited from the ex as a clock by my bed (but now I use my cell phone with a pleasant, cheerful chime with bird chirping in the background to wake me) because it shed less harsh ambient light but was easy to see without glasses or contacts.

Finally, after some 30-35 years of service, however, it ceased to keep time.  It has no moving parts, and runs on electricity, so I ‘m not sure what wore out.  Maybe some circuit finally degraded.  It had been not very accurate for a week or so, slowly losing time so I had to re-set it frequently.  Then, the time discrepancy got greater and greater until finally, when I came home from the farm it was so far off the time it was useless.  I had to unplug it and throw it away.

Oddly, I feel sort of lost now.  No red numbers to warn me of the time through out the night when up for trips to the bathroom, no numbers to comfort me with the knowledge that I have two more hours before wake up.  No more of old reliable who I once hated then came to prefer.

*Sigh*  Life is strange.

But, I see I could get a replacement with one of those retro flip number alarm clocks that always fascinated me…

October 12, 2015

Very strange thing to dream…

by Janie Jones

Last night I had a dream where I went to the veterinarian’s office to schedule an appointment for Rupert to get his rabies shot.  While I was there my Biochemistry professor gave me the shot instead.

Then I went to class and everyone was getting rabies shots.

Afterward, we all had these amazing cheeseburgers.  I kept eating burger after burger thinking I should stop because I was going to make myself sick, but I never felt full so I ate until my alarm went off.

 

 

September 4, 2015

The gamble

by Janie Jones

The house that I am renting a room in in Big City sits in a very non-homogenized neighborhood. It has a lot of wooded lots, no sidewalks and a lot of non-uniformity between it’s level of posh-ness.  Some people have shacks with little more than gravel drives while others have huge privately wooded lots and fancy houses and paved driveways.  It is definitely an area which used to be rural and grew up very eclectically, probably over a very long time, on a long street that connects two major thoroughfares.

Despite being a rather busy street, or perhaps because if it, it has very few other “connections” to the rest of the roads in town.  Normally to get to school I just turn left out of the driveway and zip down the street and make three turns and in less than 10 minutes I’m at one of the Stickittoyou U parking lots.  If I want to shop or visit friends I just turn right from the driveway and in 10 minutes or less I’m most of the other places I want to be, so the location is pretty convenient.  I also like it a lot because , even though it is smack dab in the middle of everywhere I want to be, it doesn’t feel downtown city like; there are no bus lines and no businesses anywhere near my place, so there is a much lower number of random people wandering about that don’t belong.

As I believe it is an old neighborhood which used to be unincorporated, the road itself is not in super great condition and, following the major flood from a few years ago, many of the drainage culverts and sewer pipes apparently needed fixing as well as the road itself.  So, starting early in August, Big City began road work on my street.

At first they placed big blinking “road closed to thru traffic” signs and some barricades on both major ends of the street as well as at the few connecting side streets but only totally blocked of the “right” end of the street by taking a huge hole of pavement out.  But that wasn’t so bad because there were a few side streets you could turn off on before the big hole in the road and detour around it.  However, yesterday they tore a big hole in the “left” end.  That’s the end I need to go down to get to school.

Now, it happens that there is only one other way to get out ‘to the left’ from my place to Stickittoyou U and it takes you through a very convoluted series of residential streets and adds, I kid you not, about 10 minutes to my drive depending on whether you make a couple of lights.  You can access this other route from three side streets off my own street, some are a little less twisty than others, but all of them must be turned on fairly well in advance of where I need to make my first turn off my own street.  Or I can go the other long way and go ‘to the right’ which also adds about 10 minutes to my drive.

Are you still with me?

So I tell you all these things so you will appreciate this.

I came home mid afternoon on Wednesday and turned onto my street from ‘the left,’ weaving around the “road closed to thru traffic” sign and barricades as usual.  But then, yesterday, at 6:45am I left for school.  It was very, very foggy and hard to see far in the dim morning light, especially the grey road, other cars, and street signs.  I get almost to my turn and see the traffic light is green through the fog, but I also see other lights on construction trucks.  I am trying to figure out what is going on in the fog, and preparing to weave around the blockades to make my turn when, HOLY CRAP!  THERE IS NOW A HUGE HOLE IN THE STREET!

Thankfully, I had slowed way down to turn, so I was able to stop before being close enough for the hole to eat my car, with me in it.  But then I sat there a few moments stunned, as a herd of construction trucks moved around me, wondering what the heck I was supposed to do.  I could possibly turn around, but now there were trucks and workers all over behind me.  Where had they come from?

Then as I was fixing to back up, a guy came over and moved some equipment so I could get on the shoulder between the curb and a big pile of the material they pulled out of the big freaking hole and he waved me through to make my turn.

I tell you I felt kinda stupid, but those crews, man, they move freaky fast.  Kudos to you for efficiency.  Dudes.  You are amazing.  I definitely applaud your speed and skill at moving massive amounts of earth and rebuilding in a matter of a few hours.  But.  It is a pickle for me, and all the other people living on the street and having to use it every day, never knowing what the situation will be.  What route should I use today?  Will I be able to get through?  Things change quickly from day to day even from one hour to the next.  It often happens I leave and they are tearing up a hole, but a few hours later it’s filled in and that section of road is drive-able again.  Which is what happened with the big freaking hole that almost ate me in the fog yesterday.  When I drove home expecting to have to take the long convoluted detour from ‘the left’ end the hole was already filled in.  Scary, amazing, wonderful and frustrating.

It kinda blows me away that the city and construction company aren’t in better communication with the residents on the street.  I mean, not knowing where a new hole in the road is going to pop up could be dangerous.  Especially on a low visibility day.  And you would think they wouldn’t want you in their way either.  Is it that expensive/time consuming/or otherwise difficult to put up one of those big signs that blinks messages and say :

Attention local traffic: new work ahead, no outlet to Main Street today, detour around.

Is it too hard to change the signs as work progress advances?

So now I am wondering, what will I encounter.  Will I be able to go the normal route this morning?  Should I chance it?  Or should I double my commute time and go an alternate route?

It’s a gamble.