The New Craft Hotness At Nogglestead

A number of years ago, my mother-in-law gave us a decorative wine bottle for Christmas. It had a madonna-and-child painted on it and a string of Christmas lights in it through a hole drilled in the back. I kind of tut-tutted it when we got it, but in the years since, we’ve taken to putting it onto the mantle in our family room. We’ve also taken to leaving it burning all night, which served as a nice navigational light in the dark. We liked that so much so that I bought a Tiffany lamp for that spot so we could have that navigational light all year round (was that only March of this year?).

So I’ve been interested in wine bottle art for a little bit. I once bought a glass cutter on a compass so I could cut the bottles, thinking I’d make candle holders by cutting the tops off, but I never perfected that.

I did, however, buy a diamond hole-cutting drill bit with the intention of making the lights/lamps like the one we received as a Christmas gift. So I saved a bunch of wine bottles up, built a template to steady the drill, and bored a hole through a pile of bottles with varying degrees of success.

Once holed, they sat for a while, as I, like my sainted mother, do not like to rush into things. I painted some with stained glass paint and didn’t really like that look 100%; the new lights I bought have white cords, and the cords are very visible through the bottle instead of just shining some light on the bottle.

So I got some diamond etching tips for my rotary tool (a gift from the aforementioned sainted mother, a gift that I thought I would never use for anything), and now we’re talking.

That’s the first one I’ve done, a winter scene probably because I just read Little House in the Big Woods. You can really see the cord in that one.

I’m pleased how the etching turned out, especially since I did it freehand, which is unlike how I do my wood burning.

So I know what everyone is getting for Christmas this year, and I have enough bottles saved that perhaps I’ll have some things for the craft show I’m going to someday participate in.

Point/Counter-Point Starring Claire McCaskill

Joplin megadonor is workers’ ‘No. 1 enemy,’ McCaskill says at Springfield Labor Day event:

A Joplin businessman and megadonor is the “No. 1 enemy of working labor” in Missouri, Sen. Claire McCaskill said Monday while urging pro-union supporters to give her a third term in Congress.

Group gives $3 million to Missouri minimum wage campaign:

A Washington, D.C.,-based nonprofit donated $3 million during the weekend to a political action committee supporting an effort to increase Missouri’s minimum wage to $12 an hour.

. . . .

Supporters of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, are hoping the issue will increase her chances in a tight race for re-election.

Sweet Christmas, she is a plucky heroine, ainna?

I was out working in my garage over the holiday weekend, and another group was running “educational” spots every commercial break about how Josh Hawley wants to suffocate type 1 diabetes sufferers with a sofa cushion or something.

It’s certainly a good time for me to have discovered streaming music from my phone instead of listening to the radio.

Book Report: Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1932, ?)

Book coverIt must be my year for catching up on my old-timey children’s books. Early last month, I re-read Me and My Little Brain from The Great Brain series, and now I’ve read this book, the first in the Little House series (not, as one might assume because the television series bore the title, Little House on the Prairie, which is the third in the series, and I think I have all my commas right between the parentheses here, but I cannot be sure).

As you might know, gentle reader, if you’re over forty years of age or if you’re a school child who has grown up within field trip distance of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s last home in Marshfield, Missouri, these books tell the story of young Laura Ingalls and her family as they grow up on the frontier in a variety of locations during the late middle part of the 19th century.

This book takes place on the western edge of Wisconsin over the course of a year. The chapters are little vignettes of things that happen, starting in the winter with Pa hunting and storytelling by the fire in the long winter evenings, through the emergence of spring and maple syrup season, to the work in the summer (and no meat–as Pa does not hunt during the summer so the little deer and whatnot can grow up) to the harvest and the beginning of the winter. The author touches upon the isolation–it’s several hours ride to their relatives’ homes, and Laura has never seen two houses near each other until she goes to town for the first time–and the amount of work and the frugality (dare I say it, sustainability) the family practices.

The book includes a couple of primers on how to make butter, maple sugar, and various other necessities, so in addition to your Foxfire books, you might want to keep a set of these books around in case TEOTWAWKI teotwakis (because, let’s be honest, it should be a verb by now).

The difference between this book and the aforementioned Me and My Little Brain are separated by a mere twenty some years (that is, the distance between the dot com era and now), but the differences are vast–the world of Adenville, Utah, and the Big Woods. It’s not so much a difference of the decades, although some of that is true–but it is a difference between town and country that was far greater than it is today, although the differences definitely exist. The practices in this book are close to those found in Nebraska after the turn of the 20th century as found in Over the Hills and Past Our Place or even the 1940s in Missouri in Growing Up In The Bend.

I saw a link on Instapundit to an excerpt entitled The Unbearable Darkness of Young Adult Literature that talked about how children’s and young adult literature is currently preoccupied with After School Special parables about the politically favored lifestyles and problems, and I contrast this Man (Child) versus Society (Squares) focus with the children’s books I grew up with that were very much conscious of Man versus Nature and Man versus Man. Most of the contemporary titles won’t have much to say to kids a decade or two from now, not like books about the 19th centuries could speak to child readers in the end of the 20th century. I just hope kids can still relate to these stories.

I can, but I’m a late twentieth century kid whose reading of these classics has been displaced a couple decades.

Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that I heard the television theme whenever I picked up the book.

The next book in the series, Farmer Boy, but it deals with the young Wilder boy whom Laura would later marry. I don’t have it, but I do have Little House on the Prairie which I will undoubtedly pick up before long.

Because I have fallen behind in my annual reading goals this year, and I don’t think looking at cartoon books during football games is going to catch me up. So I must rely on children’s books and religious tracts. And, maybe, counting comic books after all.

Frank Versus Perry: A Musical Throwdown

So I listened to Perry Como’s By Request, and it has the song “Once Upon A Time” as the lead song on side 2.

And I thought, You know who else does this song? Frank Sinatra.

You know, I think Frank Sinatra is best when he does songs of reminiscence and regret; this song appears on my favorite Sinatra album, September of My Years, a platter full of reminiscence and regret.

You know, Sinatra’s got that that pathos going on, but on balance, the richness of Como’s voice outweighs it in this instance, at least as far as I’m concerned.

I’ve no evidence that Eydie ever did this song, so I must give the MfBJN Musical Throwdown award to Perry Como on this one.

I must be getting so old now that I’m passing out of Sinatra appreciation into Como appreciation or something.

Book Report: A Woman’s Work Is Never Done by Greg Howard (1988)

Book coverSally Forth has been around a while now, as this book (and the Wikipedia page) indicates. The book is set at the end of the yuppie era; the parents are busy career professionals, and the title character herself is a career woman offering an empowered heroine at a time, youngsters, where there weren’t that many women executives. I know some would say there aren’t enough now, but back then, there were not any (and as far as how many are enough, gentle reader, I say “enough” is “as many as want to be and are competent to do so” which is not a scientific law measurable with a simple percentage).

At any rate, the two business professionals have a single child, a daughter named Hilary. Where they warning us? Not likely. So you get a crossover of business humor, family humor, and parenting humor, but no sibling rivalry humor. Which keeps the cartoon fresh, I reckon, as it switches contexts. You get some storylines that carry over a strip or two, none of the longer conceits that would stretch weeks like you see in Dilbert.

I mean, it looks to be standard funny pages filler, but I laughed out loud at one of them, which is something I rarely every do. And I remember the era where the topics were current, so it’s got a little nostalgia to it. I see from the Wikipedia page that the cartoon has carried on, so it’s probably also contemporary, so less meaningful to me now. And carried on by others than the original cartoonist, although the strip never broke out of the papers into films and television like some others did.

The Third Best Thing About Running 5Ks

As I have mentioned, over and over, in an effort to humblebrag my way to your respect, gentle reader, I run a number of 5Ks in the autumn and winter.

This is because my boys are in their middle school cross country program, but since they go to a small school, their cross country events are not actually meets with other schools. Rather, they run 5Ks in their school uniforms, and once they started doing so, I started running as well because physical self-abuse of distance running is easier than making small talk with the other parents or just lingering around the event venue awkwardly without making small talk (my preferred option of the two).

As I’ve entered my third year this season, I’ve come to appreciate the finer points of distance running. To whit:

  1. It feels so good when I stop.
  2. I don’t have to make small talk with the other parents and embarrass myself.
  3. I get to make quips as I’m running.
  4. There are free bananas at the end.

Perhaps the last thing is the best thing. Like, on Saturday, when I crossed the finish line…

…I said, “I’m pretty tired. I think I’ll go home now.”

Come on, that’s from Forrest Gump:

I had to explain that to my wife. Come on, the film in only twenty-four years old now, old man. Surely you remember it?

I’ve also used the line noted as number 1 above, which is from an old joke: A doctor asks a man why he keeps hitting himself with a hammer, and the man says it feels so good when he stops.

At any rate, the highlight of the run for me is the things I quip at other runners and volunteers on the route.

I try to keep my breathing such that I can shout out good morning to the volunteers along the route, pointing us in the correct direction, or to people who come out in their front yards to watch us go by. But I like to crack wise as well.

Some of my favorites include:

  • It’s a lovely day for a walk.
  • There must be some mistake. I signed up for the 100 meters.
  • Are you in my age group? Good, I don’t have to pass you.
  • Can you get me an Uber?
  • Are we there yet?

Or whatever fool thing comes to mind. Of which there are plenty, because 5Ks give you a lot of time to think, and they give me a lot of time to think fool things.

The quipping keeps me from thinking of myself as a serious athlete or runner, that I focus on the wisecracks instead of Peak Performance. I could probably shave a minute off of my time by taking it more seriously, but that would be less fun than running already is not.

The cross country coach referred to these events as races which would put a little pressure to, you know, win if I took him seriously.

Instead, I’ll continue to think of them as moving open mic nights.

So I’ve Read That Metal Is Family

I read in Metal Hammer magazine that metal is family, but I found that hard to believe. When I was growing up, the kids who listened to metal in our trailer park certainly didn’t treat the awkward, small younger version of me like family at all. So I’ve been skeptical of the claim even as I’ve outgrown being small.

However, stories like this make me reconsider: After a fan’s death at Milwaukee show, metal band Ghost coming back to finish concert in his honor:

Theatrical metal band Ghost’s sold-out show at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee on May 31 came to an abrupt and tragic end when fan Jeff Fortune collapsed at the venue and died that evening.

* * * *

The band also will be selling an exclusive shirt at that show, with an illustration of band frontman Cardinal Copia and Fortune wearing Michael Myers costumes from “Halloween,” with all proceeds being donated to Fortune’s family.

Ghost recently came to my attention because the local radio station has been playing their new song “Rats”, and I liked the sound of it:

I recently considered picking up their latest album Prequelle, but I opted for Apex from Unleash the Archers instead.

But you can bet that Prequelle will find its way to my mailbox soon.