musings, thoughts, and writings of Barbara W. Klaser

December 11, 2008

Doing laundry

As I get further into middle-age, I’m sure I’m not the only one who questions now and then how good my memory still is. At one point today, while doing laundry, it occurred to me how many details we remember about something as simple as laundry, with all the clothing items we own and the differences in how best to wash them.

There’s a lot to remember while doing laundry. Each item seems to have its unique quirks, and I remember them all, once I’ve washed the items once or twice. I always dread washing a new item the first time. Washing instruction tags are sometimes dead wrong. You never know what will happen. When washing something new, all standard sorting rules apply, and then some. Once I get to know an item I can relax certain rules.

I remember it all, from washing day to washing day. Which items can be washed together? Which need to drip dry? Which are safe to bleach, and with chlorine or the other kind? And so forth. I remember long past laundry errors, such as washing a bright red shirt years ago with some whites and winding up with lots of pink. I remember exactly which red cotton shirt did that, because I loved it and refused to get rid of it even after it ruined other things. (I only washed it with black clothing from then on.) I wore it until I wore it out.

I remember that this red t-shirt I own now can be washed safely with almost anything and at almost any temperature, and I shudder to think what chemicals or polluting processes were used to get it so colorfast. I also sometimes worry that I’ll grow so complacent about that shirt’s colorfastness that I’ll make the red shirt error in the future with another red shirt. I remember where I bought certain clothing items, how long I’ve had them, and in some cases who gave them to me. I have some pretty old clothes, so that’s some fairly long term memories. I remember to turn one particular shirt that I hardly ever wear inside out to dry it, because otherwise the metal buttons will make so much noise in the dryer that they drive me to distraction. I remember which item is made of so clingy a fabric that it has to drip dry, or it will pick up every speck of lint in the load, even with an anti-static dryer sheet — even if I don’t cut the dryer sheet in half to save money. I remember which wool socks are the type of wool that won’t felt, and I happily toss them in with everything else.

As I finished loading the dryer for the last time today, I thought doing laundry provided a decent test of my memory, and I felt great about the state of my memory. I felt great, that is, until I paused before closing the dryer door, and couldn’t for the life of me recall whether I’d tossed in a dryer sheet.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 3:59 pm PST, 12/11/08

December 9, 2008

Plane crash

It was much smaller in scale, in terms of lives lost, but the F/A-18 crash in University City yesterday brought to my mind another crash, while I watched the news on TV yesterday, horrified — the crash in North Park in 1978, when a Cessna collided mid-air with PSA Flight 182. Both happened in residential neighborhoods, and there were many witnesses, including this amazing account by a mail carrier, to both planes going down right over homes. No one who lived in San Diego at the time could forget that other crash 30 years ago, and the one yesterday touched many people deeply as well.

My heart goes out to the family and friends of the four who died yesterday, a mother, grandmother, and two baby girls, as well as to those who’ve lost homes or sustained other damage, to the neighbors and students at nearby schools traumatized by the incident, to the pilot, and to all the rescue/emergency workers who responded. It could’ve been much worse, but that doesn’t change or lessen the impact of this tragedy on so many lives.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 5:28 pm PST, 12/09/08

November 27, 2008

Thankful for rain, I think

Yet another weather blog. That seems to be all I have to write about recently, for which I apologize.

There’s an old saying about rain in California, that it doesn’t rain but it pours. Last night and this morning are a perfect example of that, here in my vicinity, and a day or two earlier with the evacuations of burned areas north of here for fear of mudslides.

After Election Day — the results of which pleased me extremely on the presidential front — we settled into another hot, dry spell with high temperatures in the 90s for too many days to count. I’m trying to put them out of my mind now, but I think this was the first year I ever used the air conditioner here as late as the third week of November. October is supposed to begin our rainy season.

Now the rain. No, now the RAIN. Last night it was so loud it woke me three different times, and once scared the cat so she wailed something about whether the sky might be falling and needed to be reassured. I gave her a hug. (I needed a little reassurance myself.) It wasn’t windy. The noise was just rain. Lots of it.

This morning it’s still raining, but it’s a less frenzied kind of rain. There seems to be less rush to dump all the moisture in the sky on us at once. My estimate is that we might have gotten two inches last night. But I don’t have a rain gauge, so I’ll have to verify that. It sounded like two inches!

And yes, I meant what I said in that last post. Now Tara is nearly 8 months old (Saturday the 29th), and this is her second rain. It’s her first really big rain, since that Election Day rain turned out to be merely a wimpy drizzle after all. And now our fire season is officially over — until the next long dry spell, which hopefully won’t begin until July. The reservoirs are low, so we could use quite a lot of rain this year in Southern California, as well as a nice thick snow pack in the Sierras. Besides, our amazing, intrepid firefighters need a vacation.

In spite of this being a much bigger rain than I hoped for, I’m grateful. The sun is peeking out between clouds now, and I’m wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

Wherever you are and whoever you’re with, have a wonderful day!

— Barbara @ rudimentary 11:06 am PST, 11/27/08

November 4, 2008

Wishes granted

I have lots of wishes for this Election Day, but the wish that was granted as soon as I woke up has nothing to do with elections. I wakened to the sound of gentle, steady rain on the roof, and this being our first big rain event of the season, it also signals the end of wildfire danger, for now. Hurray! It seems to have settled in for the day. That should wet everything down nicely.

Tara has never seen rain. She’s watching water drip off the roof onto the ground outside her favorite window, and it rivals birds and butterflies for novelty.

We’ll see how the rest of today goes, especially election results, but it’s off to a good start for me. Now where’s that umbrella? I need to go vote!

— Barbara @ rudimentary 9:44 am PST, 11/04/08

October 27, 2008

Have we been teleported to Phoenix?

It’s still hot here, 92 degrees Fahrenheit today. I haven’t lived in Phoenix since I was five years old, and then only for a couple of months. But I’ve visited there a few times since, and right now I’m starting to wonder if we’ve switched to a similar climate. We had heat in the 90s here in March and April this year, and now all through October. Sounds like Phoenix or Palm Springs weather to me.

I feel as if I’m right in the thick of global warming, at the moment, and I don’t like it! McCain and Palin seem to want to “drill baby drill” their way to even more warming. I shudder to think what the world will be like in 2018 if they’re elected.

Right now I’d love to hear some rain baby rain on the roof baby roof!

— Barbara @ rudimentary 2:08 pm PST, 10/27/08

October 16, 2008

Dry weather musings

It’s dry here, desert dry, with humidity in the teens. When it’s hot and dry like this, black widow spiders come out to catch droplets of water from the hose, as the sprinkles shift strands of their webs in the rock wall in the lower back yard.

The other night, a few miles away, people were evacuated because of a brush fire threatening homes, an untimely reminder of last October and our four-day evacuation. I slept lightly, when I slept at all that night, worried we’d get a reverse 911 call, should the Santa Ana winds shift. Now that fire is well contained, and the sky is blue. Yesterday some high, wispy clouds stretched thin feathers across it, so high up we didn’t feel any moisture from them. At least they were pretty to look at.

The cat keeps getting charged up with static electricity when she plays. Then she touches me, gets a shock, and thinks I’m being unreasonable. But she’s a forgiving soul. As soon as the air conditioner chills her, she decides some lap time might be in order. Tara’s coat, which has fluffed out again after a few months in which we thought she’d grow up to be a shorter haired cat, now suffers from static cling, crackling close to her body as I stroke it. Her glorious, bushy tail picks up everything. It’s better than a feather duster.

Last night she cozied up to Barack Obama during the debate. I had the little desktop TV on, and she sat right in front of him, blocking my view, gently patting his face now and then. She completely ignored John McCain. I think Tara has cast her vote.

I’m still inner focused and in reading mode, sometimes online, sometimes in books. As soon as I post this, I’m off to read some more. Someone let me know when autumn starts for real around here. In my experience that’s around Halloween, so maybe my “autumn’s here” notice will be a knock on the door by little goblins.

I would be envious of people like Marion who are expecting snow soon, if I didn’t realize how many months of it she’s in for, away up there in Canada. Extreme weather for months and months — or just weather that’s too extreme, period — isn’t fun, at either end of the spectrum. I wish us all longer, gentler autumns and longer, gentler springs.

Kitten pictures follow. (Click on thumbnails to view larger images.)

The first two are from 3 months ago, when Tara was 3-1/2 months old and Indi was still with us — um, training her? Apparently they didn’t find anything good in the trash that time. In the second one, that was my clothing Miss Bigfoot was digging her claws into with the look on her face that said, “Gotcha!” She’s usually gentle with her claws when playing now, though she has yet to completely understand about not biting. Maybe when she’s finished teething in another month and a half. She’s gradually getting gentler altogether when we play, because she knows if she gets too rough, playtime ends, and she would prefer that it never, ever end.

Anything good in there?

The next two are from yesterday, at 6-1/2 months. I caught Tara in a quiet moment lounging on an office chair that she’s not really supposed to be on, but I’m just happy if she doesn’t claw it. The first shows a glimpse of her fluffy tail.

Bushy tail What again with the camera?

She’s starting to settle down, except for her desire to climb every mountain, which involves knocking things off high shelves. I have most of my breakables put away safely now, so if she doesn’t kill herself dragging a heavy, blunt object onto her own head, we’re all safe.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 3:22 pm PST, 10/16/08

October 6, 2008

Summer drags on

We’re still in summer here, though we had a couple of days of delicious fall weather, and even a few drops of rain. But tomorrow is expected to hit the mid 90s again, and I’m tired of summer. Anyone need some warm air? Can I ship it to you by overnight express?

Oh well. Provided we don’t have wildfires like last October, I’ll be happy and relieved to just need to wear shorts a little longer.

I’m not sure what’s going on with my not blogging more. I hope you keep checking back in case I have a burst of inspiration. There just hasn’t been anything to post that seemed as if it would interest anyone else. Heck, some of it didn’t interest me.

I have been reading a lot that interests me, mostly nonfiction, and most of it of little general interest. I’m a bit eccentric in my tastes, I think. A few weeks ago I enjoyed an excellent book of slightly more general interest titled, Inner Work: Using Dreams and Active Imagination for Personal Growth by Jungian analyst Robert A. Johnson, on dream work and active imagination.

I’m sure I’ll get gabby again one of these days… Until then, take care.

Gone fishing reading.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 4:15 pm PST, 10/06/08

September 13, 2008

Shelob is dead, but Ike rages on

Yesterday I killed the largest black widow spider I’ve ever seen. She was beautiful, but … she had to go.

Sorry to write such a Halloweenish blog so early. But the weather has been cool and cloudy here the past three days, making it possible for me to do a little gardening again, which makes me happy. I’m afraid in the hottest weeks of summer I don’t venture out much (or blog much, apparently), except to throw a little water on things to keep them from dying. Unfortunately weeds don’t seem to need much water to keep them from dying.

I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those people with a perfectly manicured and landscaped yard. But maybe this suits my personality better — you know, finding huge creepy spiders, growing a forest of weeds as prolifically as anything else, trying to figure out what to do with monster sized zucchini after zucchini, wishing a certain gopher would move elsewhere and that the neighborhood outdoor cats would stop killing my lizards and pooping in my flower bed. Story of my life. But it makes for more drama, perhaps, than a perfect yard.

Tara is growing up fast. She got spayed last week, which set her play time back some, a setback which had to be forced on her because she can’t seem to sit still for more than five minutes. People are such wusses after surgery, compared to pets. It makes one wonder why we’re the dominant species on the planet.

Now Tara’s making up for lost time!

My thoughts and prayers go out to those in Texas, where Hurricane Ike seems to be acting up much worse than my little terror of a kitten could dream of doing. I hope Ike doesn’t give her any fresh ideas.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 10:38 am PST, 09/13/08

July 29, 2008

His name was Independence

because we brought him home on the 4th of July. But we always called him Indi. I started out spelling his nickname Indy, while his “dad” started out spelling it Indi. But it always sounded the same to him.

We never called him Independence, and come to think of it he wasn’t independent. He made friends everywhere he went, and in his first obedience class he was voted No. 1 Puppy. He never chewed up anything he wasn’t supposed to, but he knew what to do with a rawhide bone, and in his prime he could demolish a large one in short order. As a puppy he surgically removed squeakers from toys, and wore out several plastic balls until they no longer squeaked.


Green was his favorite color. I know dogs are supposed to be color blind, but Indi always preferred the green balls to the blue ones or red ones. We tested this, several times.

He liked to be wherever we were, and most recently he was my gardening buddy. He wanted to follow me outside whenever I worked in the back yard, even when he was too old and sick for it to be much fun for him.


Indi died last night, after 10 years of faithful, loving companionship. He was the best dog we’ve ever known, and we feel honored to have had the chance to live with him.

We miss you, dear friend, and we won’t be at all surprised if you’re voted Number 1 Puppy in Heaven.


— Barbara @ rudimentary 6:46 pm PST, 07/29/08

July 14, 2008

The best laid plans or happy accidents?

I had great plans for today, because I got so much done yesterday morning, outdoors. I finally got more seedlings in the ground — not the easiest task for someone with arthritis and fibromyalgia, who’s out of shape, and who’s working in hard, rocky soil. But I paced myself, got a lot done, and I felt good about it afterward.

I was so happy with the result yesterday that I planned to do more of the same today. Then I wakened later than usual, and not in the best mood. I dealt with kitty behavior issues right away, then I went to the store instead of starting work in the yard. Finally I came home to a hot late morning promising an even hotter day. So I canceled my plans to do more spading and planting, and here I sit indoors with the air conditioner on, wondering why that seems to happen so often. Not the hot weather. That’s to be expected this time of year. But I’ve noticed with many other things I do that when I make specific or detailed plans, they often fall through. Not just gardening tasks.

I realize now that even though I fooled myself for years, dutifully planning my work, both on the job and off, I’m really, at heart, not a planner at all. I’ve told my husband time after time how I like to plan things. But truth to tell, I’ve never actually been much for committing to anything. What I was really saying was probably that I didn’t like anyone else to make plans for me that might keep me from finding my happy accidental tasks. I think it’s because plans seem so often to change — and often for the best — that I’ve discovered this. Plans change. So why bother planning? Of course in the workplace that wouldn’t have flown. In any cooperative effort, plans make sense, because we depend so much on others getting their work done on time.

On my own, who needs plans? Maybe it’s something to do with being a generalist, not a specialist. But in a way I’m like this little cat, self-directed and easily distracted — by the right distractions. Those distractions often become momentary passions, obsessions that frequently happen to turn out really well.

Yes, I could tell myself, “Just get out there and do the damned gardening, like you planned.” But then the joy wouldn’t be in the effort, and instead of feeling good about what I accomplish, I’d be dehydrated, overheated, and feel terrible the rest of the day, possibly tomorrow as well. I know better. So I threw some water on the little transplants, and came inside. Maybe tomorrow morning. . . .

Still I wonder. Why do I get the most done when I don’t plan to? When it’s a spur of the moment, “I think I’ll do this right now” kind of thing? That’s what yesterday’s effort was. I woke up, got dressed, and started right in, because that was exactly what I wanted to do that morning, as soon as I woke up. I woke up inspired. This morning I didn’t. At least not with that inspiration, not with the one I expected.

I notice this is especially true with creative work of all kinds, and with learning, where it’s not the weather that changes things, but something unknown. Just when I wouldn’t think I’d even be in the mood for it, I get a whim and do that different thing, whatever it may be, and that’s when I get the most out of it. I seem to be most productive when I haven’t planned anything at all, when I pay heed to momentary flashes of inspiration or that sudden opportunity. Happy accidents and spontaneous productivity. Do you have them? My life seems full of them. They’re what makes me happy.

Here’s the real mystery: I don’t think it’s just about my mood or how I’m feeling, or the weather. It sometimes seems almost more like a synchronous universal dance of some kind. Sometimes all the pieces are in place, inside me and outside of me.

And it’s not just me. I think there are lots of people, like me, who’ve struggled all our lives to conform to a world that likes plans, schedules, rules. So much so that I grew up, and spent thirty years of adult life, thinking I was more comfortable with plans, schedules, and rules. Actually, as a kid, I never felt right about it. As an adult, I bought into it. Had to, to keep a job. But if that’s the way we should live life, how does one explain all those happy accidents by inventors, scientists, and discoverers through the ages? Granted, a certain amount of preparation took place before those historical happy accidents occurred. But many important discoveries in history weren’t planned. Not the way they turned out. Someone happened by chance to be in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing, or paying attention to what turned out to matter most.

Were they in tune with the synchronous dance of the universe?

For some people, I know this doesn’t work. Planning works for them. That’s great, more power to them. We need planners in the world, and maybe that’s their part of the synchronous dance. Someone has to read the music and keep the time. For me, not planning works. It’s about time I realized it.

Instead of gardening today, what will it be? I won’t know until seconds before I start, or perhaps after I’ve already begun.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 12:10 pm PST, 07/14/08

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