Saturday, January 19, 2019

What makes you giggle?

Ah, Tim-my-brother. Years ago he worked as an attendant for a local gas-and-go convenience store, and one day when business was especially slow he filled out a fake gas theft report for his own amusement.

I saved it. Because come on, I had to.

For those who can't read his handwriting:

CIRCUMSTANCES: Someone decided not to pay for gas, so I destroyed them with balefire.

CAR DESCRIPTION: Charred smoking mass

LICENSE NUMBER: I didn't get it before I reduced him to a cinder


Every time I read this piece of paper, I laugh until my stomach hurts. Every. Time. It's helped me kick minor bouts of depression, it works so well. I can't even explain why I think it's funny, except the first time I read it the whole thing was so random and unexpected that it hit the sweet spot in my particular sense of humor, which I've observed reacts pretty positively to ideas that come seemingly out of nowhere.

What kinds of things make you laugh? Have you noticed how your particular sense of humor works? (And if someone decided not to pay for gas, would you destroy them with balefire?)

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Complete! Yay!

In the interest of full disclosure (and shameless bragging rights), I have finished another scarf. And it is a non-Red-Scarf-Project scarf, even.

Nope. This one is, selfishly, for me.

This is a multidirectional diagonal scarf, knitted in one piece from variegated self-striping yarn, using short row shaping. I've been working on this thing on and off (mostly off) for the last five years without finishing it, mostly because the last triangle to be completed has a fiddly bit of knitting that I was worried about screwing up. (I actually did screw it up on the first try and had to rip it back and give it another shot, whereupon it worked correctly.)

Let the record state that this puppy wraps around my neck TWICE and still has plenty of dangle left over. It is eleven feet long and soft and full of rainbow colors, and it is glorious, my friends. I am SO pleased with it.



Thursday, January 10, 2019

You complete me. Please.

OK, as part of my "do the hard things" resolution, I'm looking to finish a lot of stuff this year. Like most people on the ADD spectrum, I'm really, really good at starting projects, but somewhere along the way my interest peters out, I get distracted by something new and shiny, or I get concerned that I'm going to screw it up somehow, and I abandon them. As a result, I don't need to start any new projects right now, as I already have kajillions of projects around the house in various states of incompletion.

This shall not stand. Most of these were good to great projects before I let them down. And I'm finding that once I go back to work on them, especially after a long breather, I have renewed motivation to see them through to completion. So far I've got three red scarves ready to put in the Red Scarf Box for next year, a fourth scarf so close to done that I can see the finish line from here, and... well, at least three others that will have to wait while I finish a cross-stitch project that's about 60% complete. After a multiple-month hiatus, I've also started writing the next chunk of Moving House. I may even get some forward movement on Unseen (though I'm loath to promise anything concrete on that project, as it's given me a fierce case of writer's block).

It's hard, but I can get things done. I WILL get things done.


And look good while doing it!

Tuesday, January 01, 2019


So, just for the sake of public scrutiny/accountability/all that sorta thing, here are my resolutions for 2019:

Read at least 12 books this year.
Work out with weights at least once a week.
Visit a museum (regardless of where I am on earth) once a month.

Most of these are, I think, self-explanatory, and few of them (with the exception of working out) are much of a stretch for me. But the point isn't to stretch super hard -- it's to achieve the doable. Then what was super hard this year might be within achieving distance next year.

The only resolution that really scares me is the one about working out with weights. My ARNP and I had a chat last month where she gave me the "dude, do you even lift" spiel and encouraged me to start lifting weights, recommending the routine in a specific book (which I received for Christmas -- thanks, fam!) But the last time I spent any serious time inside a weight room, I was on the high school swim team. To say that I don't know what I'm doing doesn't even begin to cover it.

Then, too, I'm not keen on being the fat lady at the gym. Yes, I know I've lost some weight, but I'm still well into the obese range, and gyms with real weightlifting equipment are not generally known for their friendliness toward pudgy people. I keep telling myself that the people who make huge positive changes in their lives are the ones who successfully ignore the haters, but I've also got a fair amount of verbal bullying in my past and I'm not keen to endure regular snickering again.

Right. I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Looking through the window

[First published 2005]

OMETIMES the Internet provides a kind of permeable window into other lives. I don't know how accurate that window is, but it's nonetheless interesting to observe.

I've been lurking in an online forum where atheists support and encourage each other in their lack of belief. They've had a number of things to say to each other about lack of faith, about people of faith, about where one finds strength, and a number of related issues. The thing I find most fascinating is that the overwhelming majority of atheists on this forum really do believe in God, or at least the concept of God. But they think of God as a bully or a rampant egotist, and therefore they refuse to believe in Him. Their feelings actually bear closer resemblance to a parent who has disowned a child, pretending that child is dead, than a person who has never had a child at all.

I know there are probably atheists who have a clearer, more structured concept of God than what I see in this forum -- people who came from a background of faith and who later discarded that faith in favor of materialism. But of those who are currently posting in the forum, the overwhelming majority seem to have a concept of God that is, to coin a phrase, proto-theistic. Their idea of who and what God is has not advanced much further than the teachings of early Roman Christianity -- a God who created everything ex nihilo, including our spirits, and who is therefore responsible for all the wrong choices we might make; a God who tries to bully us into worshiping Him and who offers as our ultimate consolation an eternity of like worship; a God who visits cruelties upon us, providing the primary source of our pain and anguish in life. All I can say is, if I believed in this same kind of simplistic concept of God, I'd probably be an atheist too.

The teachings of my faith paint a portrait of a God who is both easier to understand, and incredibly more complex of a personality, than what is reflected in the comments of the self-styled heathen in this forum. I wish I could find some way to tell them about the God I believe in and love -- a God who created spirit bodies to house our intelligences, which have always existed and have always had the agency to choose; a God who provided a way for us to gain physical bodies and to experience mortality for a season; a God who created a beautiful cosmos, filled with miracles, for us to explore and enjoy; a God who loves each of us intimately not only as we are now, but as we were truly meant to be; a God whose work and glory is to help us become like Him. But I think that to understand these things, you must practice a different way of seeing -- and at least part of that way of seeing involves dropping your learned prejudices and preconceived notions and hurts and angers against what you believe God is. Unfortunately, I can't make anyone do that. It has to come from inside.

Friday, December 21, 2018


In addition to being a solstice, a full moon, the first day of winter and all other sorts of fun things, today is Captain Midnight's birthday! Today he turns the big 52!

In honor of this milestone, should I make him play 52 Card Pickup?

Nah, that's just mean. Instead, in the time-honored tradition of his family, I think I will send him on a Birthday Chase! Where have I hidden his presents? NO ONE KNOWS.

Well, almost no one knows. Maybe Roxy knows.

But cats are subtle, wise and wily creatures. Also hard to catch if they happen to be Roxy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018


This is my daddy, Danny Lee Buck.

He was born in small-town Indiana in January 1942, during the early days of the United States' entry into World War II. He was a Midwest child of Southern parents, the youngest of two boys. Entries in the archives of the local newspapers will inform you that he received public honors for his elementary school grades, that he played tennis and croquet, that he took a date to the high school dances. They will not tell you that he had a lifelong struggle with depression and anxiety, and self-medicated with alcohol in high school.

Next, you will find him in the 1960s archives of the Banyan, the yearbook for Brigham Young University. These archives reveal that he was politically conservative and heavily associated with the printing and graphic design studios at school. The photo taken above was in his junior year, when he began to go by "Dan L. Buck" rather than his given name of Danny, in an effort to sound more professional. It will not tell you that he joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in his early twenties, nor that he took a few years' time off from school to serve a mission for the Church in the Pacific Northwest. It will also not tell you that in the late 1960s he was set up on a blind date with a Northern California girl named Karin, nor that the date went significantly better than either of them had expected.

There is a marriage certificate on file dated August 1968, indicating that Dan and Karin were married in Salt Lake City, Utah. It will not tell you that they were actually married twice; since Dan's parents were not Latter-day Saints and therefore could not enter the Salt Lake Temple, Dan and Karin were married in a civil ceremony the day before their sealing so his parents could attend their wedding.

There are multiple California birth certificates on file starting in 1969 and running through 1978, as Dan and Karin's six children were born in the East Bay Area. They will not tell you how the family struggled to live on a freelance graphic designer's salary, how they had to live as frugally as possible; they will not tell you all the ways two inventive parents came up with fun free or low-cost family activities; they will not tell you how often during the 1970s the parents sacrificed precious time and money to cross the country with a half-dozen children in an orange VW bus, even during the throes of the gas crisis, so the kids could get to know their relatives in Indiana.

And then there's the death certificate, dated December 12, 1981. It states the deceased was 39 years old; that the cause of death was a one-person car accident. It does not state what the police believed, that the old orange VW bus slid off Bailey Road and over an embankment to try to avoid another car that might have been playing "chicken" on the dark, wet road. It does not state that Dan had been out that Saturday afternoon painting holiday windows for local businesses in an effort to pick up a little more money for Christmas. It definitely does not say how a local police officer panicked on the phone, bluntly stating "no, ma'am, he's dead," when he called my mother that night to inform her of the accident.

The obituary printed in the Contra Costa Times states that Danny Lee Buck was buried on December 16, 1981. It mentions that he left behind a wife and six young children. It will not tell you how many people, most of them total strangers, read that obituary and spontaneously decided to give his surviving family the best Christmas Day they had ever experienced.

There are all sorts of documents recording milestones in my dad's life. They can give you many facts and figures, and they're helpful for determining where he was living and what he was doing at various times. But they cannot tell you about how gentle he was, how much of a mental burden he placed on himself to excel, all his goofy dad jokes and extemporaneous parody songs, how many times he took his children for hikes along Lime Ridge, or the glorious mess that was his design studio. They cannot tell you how essential his faith was to him, how spiritually sensitive he was, how he would come home and swing his kids around by their arms in a dizzying circle in the back yard, how he could barely cook, but had the ability to eyeball a design paste-up to within a sixteenth of an inch, how he couldn't write legibly, but created the most beautiful hand-drawn calligraphy, how much fear and stress he kept bottled up over the years. Documents can give you facts about a person, but they can't give you essentials about who that person really was.

And there is no document anywhere that can tell you how much I miss him.