My Commonplace Blog

Bits of info in bytes


April 2016

Smarty Pants Fridays: A Little ‘Splainin’


If you have to explain. . . I’ll explain anyway. Triumph of the mundane is the tiny bit of joy/humor felt when little things in life go well. Like figuring out a tailoring trick to make jeans fit.

The accumulation of these exceedingly minor triumphs adds up meaningfully, making the effort worthwhile. The Bhutanese get it, I’m trying to learn it.

The Cats’ Turn

Diana says post more about the pets. Since the dogs have had their days in the sun, time for the cats to shine. Or not. They’re cats. They really don’t care. And that is why I adore them so.

Their quirks, however, are undeniably charming. For example, here are the two older cats Citrus and Zebra (the ears on the left).

Citrus and Zebra 2

Zebra does not like to nap in contact with the other cats. Come to think of it, she doesn’t sleep in bodily contact with us either. But put her under a blanket and all species can crowd around.


And if she can peek out, all the better. Something tells me this little cat would have done just fine in the wild.

The Happy Road to Nowhere


The rice-and-beans budget means travel is mostly a dream state. But back in the day I traveled a fair amount for work, and these tasty little cookies were a favorite. Recently found them at Costco and they don’t disappoint. Perhaps because most trips were nothing glam: puddle-jumpers to Milwaukee or 18-hour-days to California and back. These cookies were the highlight of some trips. Not kidding.

Now I can have a quick mental getaway mid-morning without the lines, sleep deprivation, or smelly travel companions.

I’d really like to take these little mind trips a bit further afoot, maybe to Europe. Hmmmm, have to ask Chad to bring back a big box of assorted Digestives next time he’s across the pond. . .

The headline extolls this method for dealing with cranky coworkers, but those of us with a nicely well-rounded case of randomized general anxiety can use it for keeping cool and collected anywhere, anytime, possibly even daily. Because my stress level is surely not optimal. Great, one more thing to worry about. . .

Almost enough to make me shout Perkele! Click for an explanation and more Finnishisms.

Spring in Her Step

Our pup Iko is a tad over a year. The little black fuzzball next to her is the neighbor’s Shih Tzu pup Delilah, not quite half a year. The big difference in weight class, currently 44 lbs and about 6 lbs, doesn’t hinder the scrum.

Iko and Delilah 2

Both being young and fresh, and reasonably well mannered, play time is everything. Now that the sun is out and the temps are just right, play dates happen frequently. Delilah is fearless, as is the nature of a young pup. And Iko is relatively gentle most of the time, always backing off when told or when there’s even the slightest yipe. Then the roughhousing continues, frequently with Delilah picking up a stick to instigate the chase.

After an exuberant 10-15 minutes, the play goes into an ebb and flow for another 15-20 minutes. By then the pups have run out of energy and the people/referees have run out of  conversation.

Iko green feet

Everyone retreats indoors with a happy little memory that lingers for the rest of the day. Like the grass stains on Iko’s paws.

5 + 2 = Hangry


Oh, that ugly little bit of dietary anti-heaven is making the news again! Fasting diets. Recommended as a way of life, this approach can, in the short term, make a person hangry.

More than two years ago, the hubs and I watched a BBC program on fasting diets. Very well done, seemed to make scientific sense even though we’re not scientists. So we decided to give 5-2 fasting a try. Eat normally five days a week, eat a very-low-calorie diet two days a week. We picked Monday and Thursday.

Stuck with it for about a year and a half, then all heck broke loose in our lives and that plan went by the wayside. The very-low-cal days became lower-than-usual-cal days. Cake was occasionally allowed.

With fasting back in our faces on the news, last week we decided to get back to it. I forgot how miserable fasting days are. Every minute has to be booked or all I’m thinking is Food, Food, Fooooooooddddd!

My hair stylist is on an unrelated diet, and she was extolling the virtues of jicama. Anything low cal to quell the hangries.

I’m not holding out much hope, but let’s see how the day goes.


Shopping isn’t a priority these days, but looking is still free! I found two clothing sites this week that have some oooohhh, aaaahhh items.

Reformation has clothes I love to look at however aren’t suitable for me.

The shoes at Veja are a different matter entirely. I’m saving up for a pair.

Instant Access to Memory


The oft-cited example is Proust and his d@#m madeleines. Those sights/smells/things that sometimes unexpectedly but with surety when encountered emotionally transport one back to childhood in a flash.

Letting down the hem on a pant leg (yes, that’s what this odd picture is) recently triggered it for me. In particular the tell-tale white line of the old hem took me back without warning. My mother made dresses/jumpers/pants longer, anticipating an extra season or two of wear by letting down the hems. She covered the scar of the old hem with a trim. I remember a burgundy corduroy jumper with two rows of trim. Money must have really been tight because that hem was no more than a narrow turnback of fabric.

For an instant that fresh-faced child was looking at the ironing board. . . ironically a pair of glasses fitted with progressive lenses sitting right there. Past and present accounted for.

I’ll skip covering up that indelible white line with rick-rack. No need to get carried away with that reliving one’s youth business.


Ah, Savory Mystery of a Spice

A few months ago, I bought this. Several weeks went by before I opened it.

mystery spice 1

That’s when I discovered all is not what it appears to be.

This is what’s inside.

mystery spice 2

Doesn’t look like cloves. Doesn’t smell like cloves. Doesn’t taste like cloves.

Since we can say with surety what this isn’t, a second-rate parlor game around here is guessing  what it is: When there’s a lull in the evening’s conversation, out comes this little gem, conveniently stored on the counter.

By now I’ve asked pretty much the full contingent of people likely to stop by, thus the game is drawing to close. Only the neighbors kids think this game has legs. The best guess is that Tone’s was cleaning out the pipes, as it were, and this is some sort of savory sludge.

Time to season the compost bin. Even though we’ve not determined what this is, it has provided a reliable source of lively conjecture and a few laughs. I shall miss this little guessing game.

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