Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Saint Jerome

When I said that I rarely heard about the saints in real-life I forgot about Saint Jerome. He is the patron of libraries & librarians & today is his day. But more to the point, he comes up at the very beginning of the first Ghostbusters movie (which is how I heard of him in-real-life).

According to Saints Index, he is best remembered for his bad temper; I am sorry to disagree but he is best remembered as the delusion of Alice the Librarian's Uncle. Before that, he was the 'bald man' trigger in the movie Compromising Positions that solves the case. Two 1980s movies with people who either think they see or are Saint Jerome & since then nothing, so far as I have come across.

I probably should not be so delighted with myself for remembering Saint Jerome. Or rather, not-quite-contemporary references to Saint Jerome. But along with himself, libraries have been lost in the digital shuffle. Or have they?

Earlier this year, there was a vocal minority (I think it might just be one person) who was advocating the dissolution of the our local library on the basis that books are cheap & so is the internet, the money & volunteer hours would be better spent elsewhere. Sure it has won awards & is so well supported by community donations that there has been money to spare helping Katrina-victim libraries & other projects, but why not toss the whole thing & free up that valuable downtown real estate? If you want to ruffle feathers in a college town, suggest closing the public library.

This is not the first asinine library encounter I have had. Several years ago I was doing work for a large government institution in Ohio & my contact person there was a librarian. The title on his paperwork was something else, but his nature was librarical (that's right: librarical. It is like rabbinical only librarical), making him very well suited to his job.

He also volunteered at his local library & he told me the following story: a group of people who thought they had more public support than they actually did made a move to ban Harry Potter books from their library shelves. The first books had been ordered but had not yet arrived (did I mention this was a while ago). They lost, but enough influence was brought to bear that the order was canceled & the district did not feel they could purchase the books: funds were limited & would be better allocated to more widely circulated materials, blah ba blah bablah. They would however be happy to accept them as a gift.

Talk about a flood. Many members of the community decided to take this opportunity to stock the shelves with books that had been left off previous purchases without any discussion. I personally donated a copy of what I fondly call The Users Manual & I hope it is still there today.

Even further back, I was once sitting at a fund raising table for a library, in front of a grocery store when I got an earful on the topic "public libraries are communist institutions". That I gave as good as I got (our first library was founded by that well-documented capitalist Ben Franklin & so forth on the history of the American Public Library) remains a shining moment in my self-aggrandizing memory.

I have a bad librarian story, too: my high school librarian Sophie Brophy (not quite her real name) refiled all the Mark Twain books under Samuel Clemens because That was His real name. At least I think that is why.

She also used to sneak up on me when I was tutoring, jumping out from behind whatever she was hiding behind & scaring the crap out of me. In retrospect I realize she was trying to catch us making out (we were not, I would tell you if we were) but at the time I thought all the henna & home perms had rotted her brain.

Saint Jerome, as I believe I have already alluded, was bald. & I take it back about him not being remembered as difficult. Every librarian I ever encountered was difficult, just usually in a good way.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

In the year 5768

The first big thing I did this past year was break my leg walking out my front door around 8/8:30 on the morning before Thanksgiving. No I was not drunk.

My parents had taken A's car to Orlando for a heart-breaking family errand & we were taking my truck to campus, where I would leave A & pick him up later. He had turned around in the yard (we have no driveway) & was zooming towards the gate when I stepped out, turned to pull the door shut behind me, felt & heard a *pop* & hit the ground.

I had planned on shopping for last minute Thanksgiving dinner ingredients. A had planned on reviewing a grad student's thesis & finalizing an exam to be given the following Monday.

Instead, we went to the ER. & then to my own GP. & then back to the ER because somehow, they had given me crutches for a person shorter than me (I was like a dolphin with crutches, just sort of flopping around).

The orthopedist was not available until the following week (there was one in the hospital, but as it was not a life-threatening break he was not called) so I went home with an elastic bandage & a splint for five long days. Although some family members filed strenuous objections, this turned out to be a good thing. If they had to decide what to do while I was still swollen, I probably would not have been given a walking boot.

This one event has more or less defined the year. When I have not been in recovery: no walking, no feeding the animals, no carrying anything, no nothing but sitting around, climbing the walls-in my mind of course. In reality, no climbing.

Although the bone was declared "mostly healed" (I swear, that is what the man said) in late March, I find I am still living with the fallout: I rarely sleep through a night - this was never a problem before, but now I wake up when it would be time to take a pain pill. Which I am not still taking & did not take after the first 48 hours. Me & pain pills & crutches even of the correct size were just not a good idea; I lose my balance every day several times a day, just standing there & when my muscle tighten, they lock for several seconds in panic. This whole physical-panic-thing is new for me. & I am not enjoying this window into my life when I am in my 80s.

The reality is that with discipline I will be my same physical self again. After the break, I never had to cope with the loss of my income because of this injury. No animals went unfed & if chores did not get done it is entirely possible I would not have done them even if I could have. & still, I look back on this as a disruptive, destructive, year-changing (if not truly life-changing) event.

I am sure other things happened, even to me, this year, but right now I am having trouble remembering any of them. I broke the small tip off of a small bone. It was not fun. It slowly got better.

Shana Tova Umetukah

Friday, September 26, 2008

The return of White-trash

Months & months ago, we had problems with a large white tom-cat. By we I mean ourselves & W***** next door.

We both have cats that live in our barns, but we treat as inside animals: unlike our neighbors, we get them spayed, we give them inoculations, in inclement weather we might even bring them inside for safekeeping, on a day-to-day basis we will probably talk to them, scratch them, hold them. Trust me when I say this is not the norm for our neighborhood.

We had caught glimpses of White-trash for months, but he mostly left our cats alone (it is hard to seduce a cat that has been spayed), but something made him come closer for a look & that is when he learned the astonishing truth about us: we put food in bowls on the back step. Cat food. For cats. It was like manna for White-trash.

First he tried muscling in at W*****'s, but after the first night, her cats united against him & he was driven off. Not before he had given one of them a puncture wound, though, that required a trip to the vet.

At our house things were both easier & more difficult. Katje & Bianca are not fussy who they eat with. More than once I have opened the back door to find two cats & an elderly possum waiting for me. We are quite sure the armadillos bring their babies through the yard most nights. More difficult because we actually check up on the eaters. If you are as people-wary as White-trash is, seeing a human face at the window can be quite alarming. White-trash decided he would prefer to eat next door rather than risk being seen.

The brawling with W*****'s former-toms was a daily adventure & we had to do something. The humane trap was cleaned out, a can of cat food was purchased & in the end, he was caught here. He had taken to lounging in the tea olive tree outside the front window, lolling around, putting his paws on the glass & looking serene & driving the dogs inside out of their minds. It was easy enough to set the humane trap & he was plenty big enough to spring it. & spring it he did around 4pm one afternoon.

At first he did not care much. An entire can of cat food was like a dream of heaven to him. He ate & ate & ate. He put his paws into it & licked them clean. He thoroughly cleaned the underside of all the edges. & when we was done, he turned around to go back out the way he came in & learned he was TRAPPED!

It was a long night. He yowled, he prowled & while he prowled, he rolled the trap with him. It was like an large angry hamster in an over-long, squared-off, cage-ball.

By dusk the whole neighborhood knew he was there. By bedtime, every animal he had wronged came to call. The cat-traffic through our front yard was too much for the dogs & no one got much sleep.

Around dawn, I met W***** at the top of the driveway to hand her the cage (she was dropping him at the vet on her way to the farm) . When she picked him up on the way home he was a new man. I set up a nest of old towels in the barn furthest from the house & put food out to lure him in; we wanted to be sure he had a safe place to rest up. I knew when he did spend the night there by the odor in the morning (did I mention he had a strong man-cat smell?). When he did come to the house, he ate & left no fighting, no courting. Eventually, we saw less & less of him, only glimpses of a large white cat sitting on a distant fence.

Until last week. The heat has peaked. It is 9:38am as I type this & only 69F. & White-trash has returned from his summer home & is lounging again in the tea olive tree. The dogs cannot take their eyes off of him. Or his buddy. He has brought with him another male cat I am calling Bib&tucker because he is all gray with a white bib & a small white stripe that wraps almost the whole way around his neck. Tuck seems like a gentleman & is quite clean & silky, so I am fairly certain he has a home & is just slumming for fun.

& what could be more fun than driving large house-bound dogs out of their minds?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Why I stopped making big family dinners

The thing about my In-Laws is they are from another country. And they are everything that means. They talk funny & eat strange foods & most of all know 1,000 people who all talk like they do & get sentimental about that food.

Food is often a stumbling block for us. It is not that they keep kosher, they do not. I have a suspicion I know the food laws better than they do. If they did wake up one morning & decide to keep kosher, that would be probably easier than the system currently in place.

The first time I made dinner for A's parents & aunt & uncle, I learned his uncle was a diet-controlled diabetic about three hours before they showed up. Apparently it was a secret so no one was permitted to discuss it. Everyone knew, of course, but it did not occur to them that I might not.

When they arrived, I had just returned from the grocery store & was only starting to prepare a second dinner. It turned out not to matter much: I had mentioned in passing that I needed the oil changed on my car & A, being action man, decided that dinner-delay was a perfect opportunity to do that chore. I was just glad I was able to get to the store & back before he began to pull out the filter & oil pan. Sometimes I toy with the idea of telling him some chore that needs doing during sex (telling him during sex, not the other thing), but I am too afraid.

The 2nd-to-last-time I made Thanksgiving dinner, I culled through the menu, eliminating anything that had caused offense previously (sweet potatoes), added what had been demanded when it was missing (bread; I had thought stuffing would be an adequate 'bread course'. It was not) & the only comment on the food I can recall is my father-in-law extolling at length about how much sweet potatoes revolted him. Those of you reading closely might have caught that I did not actually serve sweet potatoes. Their absence though, was not enough. They had been there the previous year & the memory lingered...?

I am sure everyone said thank you. I do not remember it, but they must have; they are not cave-dwellers, after all. They just have no idea how much their complaining makes me want to send them to a soup kitchen next time.

Some of their complaints start innocently enough: A's mother was on a strict heart-healthy for years & unlike his uncle, everyone was allowed to know. This meant, however that a separate portion of many dishes had to be made just for her (it really was that strict). I am still not sure how, but when they saw this, other family members decided that they would have preferred to have been offered a choice as well. Now we take them to restaurants.

In fairness, some of their food completely grosses me out as well. Not just veal (the idea of which repels me, although I did avoid talking about it, I just declined a serving). But also other traditional dishes, like mămăligă. I accept that thousands of people love this dish; I think it looks & tastes like hot vomit. A's mother has a special variation: she stirs in feta making it....hot vomit with cheese. I know A misses it & would love to have some; he can go to his mother's for that. Although, they tend to take us to restaurants as well...

//I have been reading quite a bit of Eudora Welty lately. Does it show?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Magnolia bombs

Our back yard has two large magnolia trees (Magnolia grandiflora if you are curious) & when they are both in bloom & the air is humid & heavy, it is overwhelming.

Now the blossoms are over & the seed heads are dropping & I can no longer sit in the swing underneath the northernmost tree. When those things fall, they make quite a clunk.

The taller of the two trees is in the yard next to the emu yard. I have seen it drop bombs on unsuspecting birds & that can be quite a show. Emus, while birds, do not observe the world in many multiple tiers (they pretty much have only two levels of observation: standing & sitting). They rarely leave the ground (& then only in ungainly, loquat-grabbing leaps). They do not look up.

& so when magnolia bombs fall, only the impact registers. One moment everything is dandy, the next a large, velvety-&-yet-somehow-prickly pod is resting in the divot it just made in your abdomen. That's right, the sky is falling.

The dogs have learned to listen for the rattle of the leaves. I am fairly certain they can even tell where the bomb will come down; I cannot, hence the avoiding of my favorite swing. Sometimes, though the dogs will run towards a landed bomb, expecting something else (perhaps a chicken, perhaps an egg; yes they will lay eggs while high upon a perch).

With all these bombs, we have never had a single seed sprout. I am told this is not unusual. Our neighbor had a tree that did not even flower for years (it had, interestingly enough been the result of the single seed that did sprout from a tree in her father's yard). Finally, one year it made one blossom. We lauded it. She pressed the flower & I soldered it between two pieces of glass to enjoy for years. Now it flowers like all the others; many bombs but no seedlings.

I do not know what it is about magnolia that makes them so reluctant to reproduce; I only wish they were so careful with their reproductive organs. Seriously, how would you like to be knocked unconcious by someone else's ovary?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sunburst pie

The weekend before last, W***** mowed our big pasture again. She actually apologized for not having gotten around to it in the past few weeks. This past weekend, as a Thank You, I made her Sunburst Pie.

Sunburst pie is not my original recipe. It is based on a favorite quiche recipe from my favorite cookbook from a restaurant that will never be again. The changes I have made are not to the ingredients (I use more or less the same ones in the same proportion) but to the preparation.

It started by accident because I have access to real farm-fresh, still-warm-from-the-chicken eggs. These eggs are bigger & have more moisture (not just because they are big but also they have not been bleached, oiled, shipped & stored). Unlike other eggs, it takes just the littlest bit of wrist action to fluff them high.

With these eggs, my quiches began to have a souffle quality. The secret to a souffle is easier than you think: eggs that have never been refrigerated (as in the coolest temperature they reach is the one on your kitchen counter) & spotlessly clean cookware. Everything else is optional. I say my pie has 'souffle quality' because that whole SPOTLESS thing still hangs me up (they look clean, they ARE clean, but there might be a little hard-water residue & that is all it takes to keep the souffle from scaling up the sides).

Then I started taking the broccoli stalks, peeling them, chopping the soft centers & adding it to the eggs.

Shredded cheese just was not fine enough. I grated a large block & then chopped that & added it to the egg&broccoli glop.

As a result, I could layer the vegetables in the pie shell & then pour the mix over them. Instead of sitting on top as another layer, it filled all the gaps. & when it cooked, it rose up above the edge of the pan & hung there.

& finally one day I was feeling snazzy. I made the pie & saved some of the ungrated cheese, cut into long rectangles. After I had mixed the dried herbs & waved them over the top, I put the rectangles on the surface & so they baked a sunburst into the top.

When I left the pie for W***** I did not go into the whole story, but I hope she thinks this pie at the end of a long line of lesser pies is equal to one days hard labor. Maybe I should have made more pies.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Saint Roch

Somehow, I do not know how, I missed the feast day of Saint Roch, the patron of dogs & dog lovers. It was August 16.

He is also the man you go to when you have been falsely accused, or have a skin ailment, or the plague. Further, he is the patron of bachelors. Yes, dogs & bachelors.

Finally, he is the patron of dealers in second-hand goods. This works for me, because all my dogs are second-hand. & while A was definitely a bachelor when we met, he was also a dog & therefore, arguably, second-hand himself.

Our first dog is still with us. She came from a shelter in Texas (we lived in Houston at the time). Unlike our subsequent dogs (& horses & goats & emus, oh my!) she had no real baggage; she was a puppy, born at the shelter with no history of abuse. Megan is without question the most disfunctional of all our pets.

Because of Megan's extreme lonliness, we got our second dog. Rather, she got us. Josephine followed us home, submitted to a bath, ate a healthy dinner & slept soundly for what was probably the first time in months. Farley also came from a shelter, Florida this time. He & one litter mate survived a nightmare situation; the rest of the litter & their mother did not.

Becca (horse) & Amy-dog (dog) both came as a result of divorces, Anton & Cleo (emus) because their owners were too old to care even for themselves. The Henriettas (the first batch of Rhode Island Red chickens) were found at a gas station in Georgia; they had fallen out of over-packed crates headed for a factory henhouse.

Golda & Black&tan (goats) were de-facto ours for years before they became ours. They belonged to our neighbor & came through our common fence to join our goats. Once together, they did not want to seperate. G*** had Parkinsons & was less&less able to live the way he wanted. One awful day he shot himself.

Coco (horse) was born at a pregnant mare urine (used to manufacture Premarin) collection facility. She was one of many foals sold for meat & shipped around the world.

Back to Saint Roch: there is some question apparently as to whether or not he is even one person. That is, more than one story seems to have morphed into his. Generally agreed upon is that he was released from prison, contracted the plague, gave away his substantial inheritance, was set-upon by his own relations & went to live in the woods in a hut he made himself, not necessarily in that order. A local nobleman's dog brought him food. The nobleman followed the dog, discovered Saint Roch & the rest is history. Or not, as the case may be.

The last thing you should know about Saint Roch is that he is not a saint. While there are churches in his name from Lebanon to Staten Island & Manila to Minsk, in the late 15oos someone dropped the ball & his official saint-hood was never confirmed.

& so he is, a not-quite saint, for anyone whose first chance does not have to be their last.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Gregarious goats gather in the garden

It is not so much a garden as a yard. & they do not so much gather as elude. But because they will take every opportunity to eat my ornamentals, I have become more selective about what I grow, even in the livestock-free zones.

I learned this lesson the hard way when our first two goats got into the front yard & made a snack of the azaleas. Our vet could either see them after he had finished his in-clinic shift in several hours or I could bring them to him. Bring them I did. Two nubian goats in the backseat of a Toyota Camry (A had the truck on campus & a switch was just not possible).

When goats vomit, they turn their heads at a 90 degree angle to their bodies & shake them vigoursly from side-to-side (which is effectively up&down in this position). I never did get all that nasty yellow foam out of the ceiling of my Camry & I am sure it is still there today. Fortunately this car had power windows so I could easily roll the back windows down enough so they could stick their heads out & then up again to trap them outside (without endangering them I promise).

I do still grow the original azaleas, but I dig up their babies & give them away. Ditto most of the sagos. Those that stay are well away from any accessible fence-opening ('gate' being a fluid term for a goat). Newly planted ornamentals are of edible varieties: ginger, mostly; aloe & prickly pear, edible even as they are unpalatable; sunflowers while they lasted; banana; etc.

Getting goats out of the yard is tricky. They are herd animals & most of them want to be where the others are; lead one out & most will follow. The exception is our grande dame Cinnamon Girl. She does not mind being alone in the yard, the better to eat it all herself. But she does mind getting wet.

Goats in general abhor getting wet. I have seen them fight with a horse who would kill them with one blow rather than leave a stall & go out into the rain, or even a light mist. Feeding on rainy days can be challenging, as the goats must be removed before I can put feed in the buckets & lure the horses in.

To get Cinnamon Girl out of the yard, we turn the hose on her & drive her around the yard until she gives up & goes back through a gate. Getting goats out of a stall is more of a wrestling match. & once out, they cling to the wall, trying to keep all of themselves under the slight overhang that protects them from that horrible, horrible water-from-the-sky. This makes it hard for me to walk this path keeping the feed in the buckets dry.

But nothing would induce me to live without Cinnamon Girl (although I know Mother Nature will intervene eventually). She is a gentle animal with sweet grassy breathe, who likes to rest her head on me, her chin pointing towards mine. & best of all, when I call her she runs to me looking like nothing so much as a maroinette, all ears & strangely jointed limbs, flying flying.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Please, please go away

The door-to-door G*d salespeople have been out in force. They exhaust me. First of all, we have way too many inside dogs (who do not always use their inside voices), for anyone expecting conversation to knock on my door & then hang around. "Deafening" does not really cover it.

& when I said knock I meant knock. The doorbell died years ago & it took us a long, long time to notice. That is how much I want to talk to someone who does not know better than to come to the front door.

The truth is I KNOW when someone is there because I can hear all that barking, too. You don't have to bang on the door, lean on your car horn, shout loudly over THE BARKING DOGS. The barking dogs are the clue to your presence.

It is always possible I am not there to hear the dogs, in which case banging on the door, honking your horn & shouting almost certainly will not work. If I cannot hear the dogs, I cannot hear you.

But there have been stalwarts who insist on waiting & waiting & waiting until the noise of the dogs is more than I can handle & I answer the door. These people always want to talk about Jesus. Funnily enough, no one tries that hard to deliver a package or the word of Muhammad (or Abraham or Isaac or Jacob for that matter). It is always Jesus.

After years of my saying "no thanks" & A saying more (any mythology outside of Sinbad movies holds no interest for him; I once had to explain to my book club that he thinks there is just the narrowest of gaps between people who go to church on Easter to humor their mothers & snake handlers), the door-to-door G*d salespeople stopped dropping by.

True story about A: he was stopped on campus & asked if he would accept a copy of the New Testament. He said no & then asked if the solicitor would like a copy of The Origin of the Species? He said no, too. Then A asked if he thought he should be illegally taking up a parking space that people pay $100s of dollars a year to use? That is stealing, right? One of the big Ten? Believe it or not, the guy packed up & left.

But I digress. I was saying the door-to-door G*d people are back. Some time ago, the pastureland across the street was earmarked for luxury homes. Four swanky models went up, the swankiest directly across from our driveway & listed for up to 1.4 million. We laughed our asses off. Until someone bought it.

Who would buy a 1.4 million dollar luxury entertainment-style house in the middle of nowhere? Why the pastor/deacon/whatever of a large new-testament-is-truth, we-go-to-heaven-faster-if-we-convert-more-infidels style church. Apparently, Jesus wants you to have the coolest pool party in the neighborhood.

& then they were back. Every week or so, a pair of little old ladies would stand on our front step, waiting to be torn apart by mad dogs. & this is how the conversations would go:

"Good morning"
"Have you heard the word?"
"The word of G*d?"

At least I think that is how it went. I really could not hear much over all that barking. I would toy with the idea of letting the dogs escape, but I do not want to get charged with assault or my dogs destroyed (although if you are standing on my front step, trying to talk to me about Jesus & my dog attacks you, isn't that a Sign?).

Seeing as how I got e-mails for the entry about saints & shoveling horse-sh*t, I am sure to get e-mails about this. In my defense, at least I am not standing on your doorstep reciting this to you.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Survival of the cricketest

There is a cricket in my bathroom. I do not know how it got in, but we live on a farm; bugs get in. He sang on& off most of the night. When I go in & turn on the light, he gets quiet. I say he because he is; so far as I know female crickets keep quiet.

In Waiting for Aphrodite, Sue Hubell writes about a species of cricket that got cut off from their fellows . By a glacier, if I recall. It has been a while since I read the book or since a glacier came through the Ozarks. I do not think there will be a my-bathroom version of the camel cricket. Not just because the bathroom is not a hospitable environment for cricket evolution, but mostly because there is almost certainly no lady cricket or he would not still be making such a racket. As I told A this morning "that cricket really needs to get laid".

Ordinarily, I find the sound of crickets soothing. I do not mind the cicadas, the tree frogs or even the sounds the gators make (actual alligators, I mean; football fans I could live without). But this cricket is a bit loud, although that might be because he is lost. One of the calls crickets make is to establish territories & define them for other male crickets. It seems in the absence of any other cricket territories, the lone cricket has no territory either.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Chicken picken

Everyone-of-a-certain age remembers the day the Sears Holiday Catalog arrived. Page after page of not-ever-gonna-happen wardrobe fantasies (I was always partial to the majorette costume myself).

We have that here, too: the day the hatchery catalog arrives!

It would be impossible to imagine how excited I am. This catalog will be my constant companion through mid-January (when I will place my order).

On Monday, Linda returned my chicken tractor so I can plan on more peeps than ever before! Oh Joy!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Shine on, you crazy carbon

When we met, A was finishing up a PhD. I do not know much about his thesis. I do know about the equipment he used to do his research, at least I know what it was called: a diamond anvil cell. It was years before the diamond part of this registered.

Later, when we went shopping for my engagement ring, I began to have a clue. I had seen his electronics shopping technique. He rifled through the NY papers (we lived further north in those days), or the Bergen County Register to find advertised prices lower than was available at the Wiz, a Circuit City/Best Buy type warehouse that would not be beat price-wise (I swear the radio ads screamed "Nobody beats the Wiz") & would give you the difference +10% if you could find it lower elsewhere. As a rule, he made a profit on birthday & holiday gifts (which is how some family&friends have come to say "A beats the Wiz").

But our marathon march through the diamond district was like nothing I had been through before.

I had few but specific requirements in an engagement ring. I have small, strong, broad hands & a large ring would only emphasize their lack of elegance. Even when I still had an office job, I worked with my hands. The summer we shopped, I grew my first tomatoes on the balcony of our New Jersey apartment overlooking the parking lot. I knit for years before I ever met A. I needed a cut & setting that would not catch, or worse cut, long fragile fibers, & that would be easy to clean. I did not want a ring I could not wear while living my life. & for whatever reason, I wanted a diamond solitaire. Which diamond was immaterial to me.

A delivered. He tortured jewelers throughout NYC. They would turn to me for relief: what did the young lady want? Something sparkley. & not to have to think too much (this along with being able to spend the entire day in jammies remains my lifetime . Also I would like to keep as many of my teeth as possible). I was useless to them & happy to hand the whole decision off.

The following year, my mother & I attended a knitting conference & the story of my ring (& it's knitting friendly design) made the rounds. I learned how rare true happiness is with this particular piece of jewelry. My aunt had the stone from her ring made into a ring for her husband; it caught on everything, including her children's skin & spent most of it's life in a box in her dresser. At least two close friends have confided they actually dislike their engagement ring. One from day one but "there was no way I was giving it back" & the other after the stone fell out of fashion. I still love my ring, I still wear my ring (but not I admit when shoveling out the horse stalls).

This past spring I decided the time had come to acquire a pair of grown-up formal earrings. The traditional standby of gold knots had become too young & frankly too conservative for those few occasions when I do 'dress-up'. Diamonds again.

A looked himself & then brought me in for the final consult: I really am a pain the ass when it comes to this not-thinking thing. Also, I have the attention span a site hound, any motion out of the corner of my eye & I am OFF. I am delighted with the earring he bought me.

I will never ever have a chair at 'the big rock table', but this lucky chance of a diamond expert in the house means my little rocks are quality.