29 October 2012

NANO RHINO: Mostly Weekly Images ~ Three

The time is nigh and the Typewriter Brigade are about to begin their mad journey into that creative place where metal, ink, and mind come together.  The NANO RHINO mascot is their loyal companion.  Here are the latest memes I've made in support of it all. 

There has been joshing debate and no small amount of trash talking with regards to the writing tools used by the Brigadiers.  It matters not as long as writing happens.


Something entirely goofy called The Shakespeare Insult Kit 
inspired a meme based on a beastie called a hedge pig.


There is always a discussion about the opportunity to expand one's NaNoWriMo word count by padding the tale.  It was pointed out that our old friend, the thesaurus, can do wondrous things.  For instance, that paltry 3-letter word few may be expanded exponentially with the following:
exiguous, few and far between, imperceptible, inconsequential, inconsiderable, infrequent, insufficient, lean, less, meager, middling, minor, minority, minute, negligible, not many, not too many, occasional, paltry, petty, piddling, rare, scant, scanty, scarce, scarcely any, scattered, scattering, seldom, semioccasional, short, skimpy, slender, slight, slim, some, sparse, sporadic, stingy, straggling, thin, trifling, uncommon, unfrequent, widely spaced.


In the final week leading up to the November 1 -- Opening Day -- excitement began to build.  Typewriter choices were lauded and flaunted.  The energy was infectious.  The time was near.


Write-Ins (the meeting up of novel writers to share the fun, lift morale, and encourage writing) were discussed.  One Brigadier noted that his/her write in group did not welcome typewriters.  And a mighty rumbling was heard upon the land.

And so it begins . . .

25 October 2012


As kids, my siblings and I much enjoyed The Rocky & Bullwinkle animated TV series.  One of the segments in the show was the ongoing saga of Dudley Do-Right. 
"Dudley Do-Right is a dim-witted, but conscientious and cheerful Canadian Mountie who is always trying to catch his nemesis Snidely Whiplash, more often succeeding by pure luck than anything else. He romantically pursued Nell Fenwick, the daughter of Inspector Fenwick, the head of the Mountie station." [from the Wikipedia article]

My late brother, The Captain, was inspired by this when he wrote this postcard to me back in 1998.


Dear Mom and Dad,

I know you taught me to be evil and mean is the real joy in life but Dudley keeps rescuing Nell from the tracks and I am really getting depressed. I am thinking of giving up evil to open a beauty shop: "Whiplash Eyelash So Fast."  What do you think?  Should I give meanest one more try?

(your son)

22 October 2012

NANO RHINO: Mostly Weekly Images ~ Two

Well, the big news over at the NaNoWriMo's Typeriter Brigade this week was that Mr. Clemens' rhino broke out of its paddock and briefly infiltrated the AlphaSmartees turf.  It was a bit noxious over there for awhile.

For those who are puzzled, you can learn all about stuff here:
  • What IS a NANO RHINO?  Who or what is the NaNoWriMo Typewriter Brigade? My recent post contains that info and links. 

Meanwhile, I posted a few more NANO RHINO memes for the entertainment of the Brigadiers this week.


There was some trash talk of the "don't be talking about my mother" variety this week.


It's been observed that PIE and CHOCOLATE seem to be critical components of the Typewriter Brigade's Food Pyramid.


The dreaded WD40 beast raised its nasty face and Brigadiers were quickly reminded to avoid it at all costs lest it cause their machines to seize up down the road.


Music hath charms they say. A certain vintage tunes streaming radio station was commented upon and the NANO RHINO was inspired to break out its 45s and bust a few moves.

17 October 2012

A Poignant Postcard

As part of the non-fiction book I am writing, I've been reading this book by Thomas J. Schlereth. (ISBN-13: 978-0065023695)  I'll be reporting on it here more at length when I've finished it - it's that fascinating! But it is also quite sobering in places.  He writes of the time in America just after the Civil War and before World War I: two wars which decimated whole countries and served as terrible demarcations in terms of what was and what came next.

One thing that was far more commonplace and visible on a daily basis was death.  With the Internet and social media scene we are seeing a kind of resurgence of the willingness to see death and experience it (or at least memorialize it) in a more public fashion. Still, it gave me considerable pause to come across this postcard in one of my favorite antiques shop the other day.


Thursday, September 10th, 1908

Dear Cousin Agnes:  With sorrow must say that sister Mary's darling Esther died this morning and will be buried most likely Saturday.  Your cousin

With postal games like Postcrossing, and even my own Fictional Correspondences, the use of postcards in play has been revived.  But it was not always so that a postcard was for fun.  Postage costs and custom in earlier times might mean very serious information traveled by way of a postcard rather than an envelope-enclosed.  Here a family's loss is briefly shared.  

The choice of card is a curious one. It was the ornate image that first caught my eye in the very full box of cards.  How very tender it was to hold in my hand a missive -- 104 years old -- of such personal nature. Requiescat in pace little Esther.

13 October 2012

NANO RHINO: Mostly Weekly Images ~ One

It's that time of year again . . . when a happy group of people take up the  challenge to write a novel in 30 days. It's called National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo.

Among that adventurous crew is a subset of real loonies: The Typewriter Brigade!  Not only are they challenging themselves to write 50K words, they are going to do it using typewriters!*

Their mascot is the NANO RHINO . . . a meme and image created by the intrepid (some would say slightly insane) Mr. Clemens of ClickThing.  It happened most serendipitously when a typecast of his met a very puzzled OCR program.  You can read how it went down at his post here.

This year Mr. Clemens is wrangling and wrassling another round of Brigadiers as the start of NaNoWriMo looms large.  Because he apparently has no job, no family, and  no other responsibilities to impede his authorial mandate, he has gone and committed memeification once again.  (He labels this waywardness of his Ceratomorphic shenanigans. Read about it here.)

Rhino Curse

I, on the other hand, am an immensely responsible human being (shut up, Clemens!).  Although longing to someday join that crazy conglomerate, that silly syndicate, that punch drunk passel, that affected accumulation, that bonksnickers bunch . . .

 . . . I, on the other hand, provide good cheer, sympathy, and virtual chocolates and pies by way of the sidelines.  Following my mantra -- to entertain the world, I make pictures for the aforementioned typewriting troop.

I post them over on the Typewriter Brigade's NaNoWriMo Forum.  You can see the gallery of my images from last year at my post here. (The folks at NaNoWriMo sweep the forums clean one month before the new November's challenge begins, no doubt hoping that the frenetic faction that is the Typewriter Brigade will somehow go gently into that good night . . . Ha!)

Because not all of you might want to brave the clackety clique (and because I've never been one to pass by my own good copy!), I shall be posting this year's images here as well.  Once a week I am hoping, but it will depend on the vagaries of that aural-instigating aggregation as many of the images I make are in response to their often off the wall forum natterings.

Here, then, is the first round.



It has been said that every time a Brigadier reaches 50,000 words a Rhino gets its wings.  Alas, as has been noticed, the wings are lost come next year's Autumn chill.  The Clemens reminded all (in his gracious manner)  that 'tis but the way of things.


The Typewriter Brigade consists of many responsible adults who know that they must occasionally lay down the law to young rhinos.


*  It has been noticed by more than one that the Typewriter Brigade is as much a state of  mind as it is a conflagration of clicking contraptions.  There are some whose typewriters are at home whilst they are at university.  There are some who desire a mechanical writing device but whose budgets limit this desire.  There are those with wee bairns and/or beloved partners and/or housemates who require sleep and so must limit their metallic ink-slinging ways to certain hours of the day.  There are those for whom pencil and/or fountain pens are the way to true writing.  

All of these persons are welcome and welcomed into the Typewriter Brigade.  It is, as The Clemens has said, "the thought that counts."  Thus spake the Great Rhino:  "If you get to the end of a sentence and say or hear DING! verily, thou art a Brigadier and thus I say this to be true."


10 October 2012

VIDEOS: All Fall Down

I don't do Mondays.  That is, I don't do cranky Mondays.  Most Mondays are just like any other day to me.  But recently I had a very cranky Monday and friends, I didn't have the time for such maunderings.  So I went foraging for something fun and funny to make it all good again. Also drank a bunch a water cuz I was seriously dehydrated.  So, moral of the story: drink water and watch colorful things fall down . . . then all better.

Thanks to Joe at It's Okay to be Smart for bringing this one to my attention.

I love the way it sounds like rain when they fall!

I heart FlippyCat!

06 October 2012

A Service for Those Who Serve(d)

Today's post is a Public Service Announcement.

My sister Cee is a Registered Nurse and Licensed Acupuncurist.  A health practitioner for many years, she recently started up a free acupuncture clinic for veterans, their family, and active service personnel.  I was honored to be asked to create the website for the project.  We went live with the site this past week.


The clinic is affiliated with the group Acupuncturists Without Borders.  Here is the informational text I posted on the MVA site about this.
"Acupuncturists Without Borders (AWB) was founded in October 2005 in response to Hurricane Katrina.  Over 25 teams of AWB practitioners traveled to New Orleans and delivered free ear-points acupuncture treatments to evacuees, displaced residents, relief workers, emergency responders, and many others.  AWB collaborated with mental health organizations, free medical clinics, homeless shelters, New Orleans firefighters, police and SWAT teams, the military and Coast Guard, FEMA, and a variety of recovery groups.  All told, nearly 8000 people were treated.

The AWB vision to help veterans and active duty personnel suffering from stress and trauma was born from the huge impact that acupuncture had on the healing of the people of Louisiana.  For more information about Acupuncturists Without Borders, see their website at www.acuwithoutborders.org."

The AWB protocol uses 5 ear "acupoints" only.  The process is painless and both calming and effective.  Here's the link to the MVA website and to the specific page that shows you what a typical day at the clinic is like.

02 October 2012

Urban Farming - Second Summer - How It Went Down

This is what my porch garden looked like back in June.  Oh I had great hopes for a bountiful harvest.

And here's what the porch looked like this past weekend after decommissioning.  The clay pots will be moved down into the basement while the plastic ones, still filled with dirt, will be stacked and covered with tarpaulin.

Some hopes were fulfilled, but - sadly - many were not. We've been having a drought in this area for over a year now.  Last winter was mild with very little snow.  This Spring was relatively dry and the summer saw successive heat waves without much by way of rain in between.

This was as large as the beans ever got - then they faded.  Two thirds of the seeds never sprouted. 

The two pots of basil grew half the height of last years' crop and looked pale and thin all summer. The pepper plants -- on the left in the above and below pics -- looked like something out of a Dr. Seuss story by summer's end, and birthed only 5 scrawny peppers (that tasted bitter).  The rosemary (right below), being heat loving plant, did pretty well though it didn't grow too high.

The only plants that did well were the tomatoes.  I forget what varieties they were -- both "dwarf" brands for porch containers.  They loved the sun and the heat, but were utter water pigs when it came to hydration.  We had tasty, though small, tomatoes from late July until last weekend.

Ann Z., who stopped by to read my urban gardening posts, had some questions about the tomatoes.  I said I'd answer them in this post.  Here's what Ann asked:
"Does the chicken wire work well in both keeping the squirrels at bay and staking the tomato plant? I've been fighting squirrels all summer and am looking for a new way to protect my tomatoes next year. Also, I live in an apartment complex so I want to make the chicken wire look as neat and nice as possible and not be an eyesore for the neighbors. Yours look very cute, do the wires look as unobtrusive in real life, or does the camera make it look not so bad?

"Great, also, if you don't mind letting us know how you manage to reach into the cage for pruning or to harvest tomatoes when they're ripe. Thanks!"

First, thanks Ann for your interest! I had midland success with my potting/staking/protection plan.  Here's what I did [Ack! Just noticed the misspellings! It's late as I wrote this post! ;-) ].

Here's what that looked like early in the summer. It looked tidy and not too messy. Initially, I'd made separate covers of chicken wire for the tops and held the wire cases down with wooden stakes. Inside I used traditional tomato cages.  The chicken wire alone was not strong enough to hold the plants up.

Later in the summer, though, the plants got big, and very top heavy.  I had to remove the tops of the wire cylinders to give the plants room to grow.  I saw no evidence of squirrels until the very last 2 weeks. Whereas I noticed frequent diggings in my flower pots along the front wall of the porch.

The tomatoes ripened one at a time.  To harvest the earlier, lower-down fruit meant I had to remove the wooden stakes and raise the chicken wire enough to reach under and clip the individual tomatoes.  By the end of the summer, I wound up having to "crush down" the wiring - both to get at the fruit and to give the plants more growing space.  

And that's when I saw the first evidence that a squirrel had visited.  Interestingly, it didn't take any tomatoes.  But it did dig a small hole and half bury a chestnut podlet from a neighbor's tree!

So Ann, since the tomatoes grew so well I want to try them again next year, but this is what I will do differently:
  • Use pots with straight rather than slanting-in sides.  As I noted in the schema above, the tines of the inner cage hit against the walls of the pot higher up in the dirt.  It meant the plants didn't have strong support when they got bigger and needed it. Ditto for the wooden stakes that held the wire frame down - there wasn't enough room for me to implant them firmly into the dirt. I may plant tomatoes in the big blue plastic tubs instead. 
  • Squirrels did get into the wire mesh cylinder - but they didn't do anything to the tomato plants!  Still, I might do the same thing I did with the other flower pots that were dug up - which is to lay down a circle-shaped piece of chicken wire or old window screen around the base of the plants as a block.
  • Harvesting was a problem.  When I assembled the chicken wire cylinders I wasn't thinking that I might have to take them apart later to get at the fruit. I thought I could just lift them up.  But the plant grew into both the inner tomato cage and the chicken wire framing - so lifting them up didn't work.  I ended up having to disassemble the whole kit-n-caboodle by the end of the summer.  Moral of story: somehow create an easy-open feature - maybe by using twist ties to hold the edges closed instead of using the wire strands created when I cut the chicken wire.
  •  As for looking nice for the neighbors . . . well Ann, that may be something you'll have to navigate with them.  Vegetable gardens start out cute and small and then get rangy and sprawling once they start producing.  There's no way to get around that.  Maybe if you use all the same style and/or color of pot, or put pots of flowers in between to "prettify" the layout.  Or invite the neighbors to plant something in one of the pots so they feel invested in the project!

Cages and chicken wire -- the latter rolled up to use again next year. (The brick is to keep them from blowing off the porch.  We had some very windy days last week.)

And here's the last look - including the remaining flowering plants: the hardy geraniums, the plant-with-no-name (nice purple fuzzy blooms though!) and  happy, fat mums, compliments of our landlord upstairs!

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