Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October Twenty-Fourth

Greetings, everyone! Once again, I must apologize for my absences. As in the past, absence from blogging means that I've been preoccupied with something else. For the past month, in particular, Sue and I have been busy with one of our cats, Genji, who is struggling. Actually, he's doing pretty well, considering that his illness will eventually (and possibly soon) mean the end of him, but his relative comfort these days is due in large part to the efforts of Sue and me. We use a miniblender to liquify canned food, and we try to feed him just about whenever he's hungry. Then, we wipe his mouth, shirt front, and the kitchen floor. There is pain medicine twice a day. And well, you know . . . we're simply keeping an eye on him, and offering him a lap when he wants it, and trying to make sure he knows he's cared for, and that we love him.

When I get behind in my "journal-journal" (the real one, that's made of paper), I have traditionally used a technique I call "Newsflashes." It's a silly but effective way for me to cover as many subjects as possible, giving myself permission to treat each subject as a "headline." (I'm really not fitted for this Internet-Twitter-ADHD-cursory-shallow style of writing.) So maybe I ought to try that today. I'll omit the silly little lightning-bolt "icon" I would draw beside each statement, if I were writing in my actual journal. Here goes.

TODAY IT'S MY BIRTHDAY. Forty-seven! As Rose O'Neill remarked on her sixtieth, "How roguish!" Well, I'm just glad we have nice weather, that water flows out of the tap today, and that we're going out somewhere for dinner. I don't even know where yet! (I get to decide!)

GREAT NEWS ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI PRESS. All summer long, people have been outraged about the efforts by a few at the University of Missouri to hijack and dismantle Missouri's number-one book publisher, which happens to belong to the people of the State of Missouri. Fortunately, after months of receiving all kinds of public pressure, the administrators have--amazingly!--reversed their decision. But a great deal of damage was done. Press staff numbers are at an all-time low, and the disturbance in operations means that they're scrambling to rebuild their forthcoming list of titles.

I was looking to see if I had any pictures of the press or its staff to share with you. Most people don't know what "book publishing" looks like. Really, it's a bunch of people staring at computers. But to give you an idea of the change in the press in the past few years, here's a picture of the staff as of 2008, before nearly all the layoffs and downsizing began (copied from p. ix of University of Missouri Press: 50 Years of Excellence, 1958-2008). As far as I can tell, the total staff today numbers seven. Seven!!

But yes, the most recent news about the press has been particularly encouraging, so I'd like to encourage you to contribute to the press's future. Here's a link for making a tax-deductible donation. (Yes: My birthday wish is that you'd send a check to the University of Missouri Press!)

Also, browse their catalog and buy a book! Indeed, the books are available in print or electronic formats, and have been for years.

YARD WORK: MOVING THE IRIS. This has been my project the last few weekends. The catalyst was that my dad gave me a bushel of surprise lily bulbs: "If you can't find places for them, just throw them in a compost pile." (As if.) Back when Sue and I got our beloved privacy fence, we moved a bunch of iris to a less-than-optimal place under a tree, right on the corner. (I told you about our hardy heirloom irises.)

My plan was to remove the irises from under the tree and put the surprise lilies there. Those irises, then, could go into an expanded existing (more appropriate) iris bed. (It was expanded because of our new sidewalks and driveway--remember?) The iris, I think, will do well in their new location.

I also rescued some poor little iris bulbs from one of the local nonresident landlord's properties. They'd been mowed off regularly by his "lawn-scalper," but I think they should strengthen and revive. I look forward to seeing what color they are, once they're able to bloom again!

And you know how bulbs are--they always take up more space than you think they will. So I ended up digging up about a half of one of our backyard beds, too, and--sort of--reorganizing it, including some of the extra bulbs: Regular irises go "here," surprise lilies go "here," and Siberian (or are they Japanese?--oh, whatever!) irises go "here." And I made an attempt to segregate that variegated "bishop's weed" stuff (Aegopodium podagraria). We'll see how that goes!

THE NEW SIDEWALKS: UPDATE. Yep, they're lovely, all up and down Broadway. Despite the months of bare dirt due to the construction, heat, and drought, the grass they planted (once it started raining again) has taken off. It's looking really good! Compare the pictures below to the ones I posted earlier!

BREAKING NEWS: PHIDIPPUS AUDAX OBSERVED IN HOME OFFICE! Or, as they say in the guidebooks, a "bold jumping spider." I love the scientific name, though. Phidippus sounds like some Classical Greek playwright, and audax stands for "audacious." And these little characters are audacious! I get the idea they're as curious about us as we are about them. Naturally, I carefully trapped him with a cup and a piece of junkmail and escorted him outside. Below are a few pictures of a P. audax I took in 2008, while it perched on the hood of my car. Aren't the iridescent green chelicerae nifty? What a cool little fella!

If you're a regular reader, you know how I've grown to love spiders!

Well, that's enough "updating" for now--I have plenty more I want to write about, but I have a bunch of other stuff I want to do today!

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