Tag Archives: Steve

#WordlessWednesday: Have Bear, Will Travel

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19 April 2017 · 16:34

On Trolls and Blankies

We’ve got the flu in the house. I wasn’t quite sure if I was coming down with it or not, so I cancelled today’s scheduled event (didn’t want to spread the love around, dontcha know) and spent the morning parked on the couch.

I intended to have a nap, but instead I got sucked into spending a whole bunch of time and mental energy on People Being Stupid On The Internet. (Maybe you have to be German to understand how intensely irritating that is, and how you’re practically forced to do something about it? Or maybe not. But Germans are especially good at it.) In this particular instance, there was a guy who was dissing Duolingo in favour of his own (expensive) language program, and in the comments to his article loudly objected to anyone disagreeing with him, telling them they’re “disrespectful” (yeah, he’s German too). Boy, did I light into him! I slew him, I flattened him, I completely out-argued him in an extremely eloquent and lengthy rebuttal of his post. Hah, take that! It was quite satisfying.

Oh, you want to read my amazing piece of the debater’s art? Sorry, I didn’t actually post it – I typed it out, and then deleted it. I just needed to get it out of my system, but I didn’t want to actually engage with this troll. The Nanny Goats Gruff, unlike their brothers, the Billies, figured out long ago that the creek is quite shallow and you can simply wade across it – in some places, hop over in one short jump. No need to even use the bridge, let alone tangle with the troll; it takes far too much energy and is really pointless besides.Rear view of a Toggenburg goat looking away against white background

However, this being, as I said, a couch day in which I’m a little short on energy, I guess I kind of missed my footing. The road to the bridge is the widest and most obvious; the little path to the ford needs more discipline to find. So I went the easy route today, and before I knew it I found myself spending a bunch of my time and energy on something as useless as shadow-boxing trolls.

Well, maybe not entirely useless – it was an exercise in articulation of thoughts, fairly successful, at that. And I did lie on the couch while I was doing it.

Speaking of couch, INFJoe had a great post yesterday:

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I quite relate to this. Except that I, of course, still have a teddy as well as a book. Maybe if I’d have stuck with Steve, book, tea, and blankie, I could have saved myself the effort expended on trolls under the internet bridge.

Steve & Clive

Steve riding to the rescue on Clive the Moose

Ah well. I’ll know better for next time, I suppose. And now I can go back to practising Duolingo, which (contrary to the troll’s claim) is very educational. I already know how to lie in Spanish by saying “Soy un pingüino” or “Soy una vegetariana” (saying that I’m a penguin or a vegetarian, respectively, which are equally untrue); and if I ever see my cat sleeping on top of a monkey, I can describe it in detail (“El gato duerme sobre el mono”).

Life, the Universe, a Couch Day and Bridge Trolls. El oso Steve duerme sobre el Clive.

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Happy Christmas!

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24 December 2016 · 08:00

Favourite Mugs

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Here is Steve, mugging for the camera. Well, he’s guarding my new favourite Christmas mug, which I got for all of 35¢ at the thrift shop the other day.

I already had a collection of Christmas mugs (most of them hand-me-downs), so I really didn’t need another one. As a rule I avoid buying knick-knacky things – they’re fun to get as presents, but I’m not going to spend money on them; I’m trying to have less “stuff” in my house, not more. But there was something that struck my fancy about this mug.

I picked it up, cupped it in my hand, turned it around a few times, put it back on the shelf (between the other two Christmas mugs identical to one I have at home), walked a couple of steps away, turned around, and went back to pick it up again. Repeat process a few times… There was no price tag on it, but finally I decided to just do it. As it turned out, it cost even less than I had expected, so, bonus.

I’m not quite sure what it is about this mug that makes me like it so much. It’s the cheerful, bright yet not-kitschy colours that got my attention at first, I think. The design isn’t exactly high art or great taste, but the Frosty is kind of cute in a folksy sort of way.

But the real selling feature was the shape and size, and the feel of the handle. I like mugs that I can fully wrap both my hands around, and the size of the handle loop makes a big difference. I don’t have huge hands, but I like getting three of my fingers crooked through the handle at once, for full support of the hot cup, and a lot of mugs have handles too small for that. The other thing that matters is the thickness and shape of the handle – not too thick (again, crooking my fingers around it) or too thin (in which case it feels too flimsy to hold that full heavy mug of hot tea), and it needs to be nicely rounded so it doesn’t cut into your fingers.

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A collection of favourites: Gifts from friends with bookish sayings or fun pictures, a homemade one, and one of my ordinary everyday cobalt blue ones.

On the last count, my own homemade pottery mugs (e.g. the one in the front of the picture) actually fall down. I pulled the handles (which is a vaguely indecent-looking process in which you hook your index finger around a stubby sausage of clay, gently squeeze down on top with your thumb, and pull it out into a longer, flatter shape), and me being not the most expert of potters, they have high ridges that are a tiny bit uncomfortable on the hand. Another thing I don’t like as much about my own mugs is the thickness, or rather lack thereof – I’d like them to have a bit more heft. I’m going to have to see if I can remedy those issues next time I make it back to my long-neglected pottery shop.

The other thing that matters is the shape of the mug itself. I like mugs to be fairly straight-sided, or at least not too narrow at the bottom – they have to be sturdy, so as not to tip over and inundate my computer, lap, or plate of sandwiches with a flood of hot tea. And then there’s the rim. The feel of the lip of the cup against my, well, lip is really important. I know a lot of people like a thin cup lip curving outward, but my preference is for a fairly thick, round edge. What I really don’t like is mugs that curve in at the top – how can you sip hot liquid from something like that? As for the material, ceramic or thick glass are the only options for good mugs. Not metal – definitely not metal! And plastic is only tolerable in travel mugs (which are in a category all by themselves).

The funny thing is that some of my favourite mugs are my most ordinary ones. Not the one-of-a-kind artisanal hand-thrown pottery from my own shop, or fancy gold-rimmed designer porcelain. No, the simple set of cobalt blue mugs with white speckles, which I got as hand-me-downs quite a long time ago and then found more of in a thrift shop a few months ago.

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They’re plain, straight-sided, and fairly heavy. The lip is thick, round and smooth, the better to sip you with, my dear (tea). The handle is round, and rounded (not attached in that half-heart shape that even my handmade mugs have because it’s the easiest way to attach handles), which makes it perfect for sticking three of my fingers through (with the pinky wrapped underneath) and then cupping my other hand around the belly of the mug, absorbing its warmth as I stare out the window at the cold grey winter’s day, musing on the vagaries of life.

Tea is, of course, the elixir of life, but the right mug to drink it out of makes a difference, don’t you think?

Life, the Universe, and Favourite Mugs. What’s your preference?

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This, That, and NaNoWriMo’s Over

I was going to write an erudite and contemplative post for you today. It was going to be all about why I do NaNoWriMo, even though every year I just about lose my marbles with the stress of trying to finish. Or maybe about some more editorial pontifications on Point of View and Tense (first or third? past or present?). Or about the wonders of community (which actually ties right in with point #1).

But I tried to write, and it just wasn’t coming out right – I was sounding way too preachy, or, conversely, too trite, even to my own ears. I think I might have used up most of my words on my story over the last 32 days.

So I thought, forget this nonsense; I’ll just show you a few pictures. You know, worth a thousand words, blah blah.

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That’s what it looked like, my computer.

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A marble that wasn’t lost.

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Making tracks.

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Louis watching his first snowfall.

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Steve. And my tea.

Life, the Universe, and Five Thousand Words Worth of Pictures. Happy December!

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Introducing: Molly

me & Molly

May I introduce Molly? Molly, Reader – Reader, Molly. Molly just arrived in our house by way of a Mother’s Day present from the Oldest Offspring, he who also gifted and named Steve some years ago. Molly came complete with name, as well.

She’s very soft and has extra-floppy ears, which, she tells me, are what makes her a music lover. Her favourite songs are in minor keys, and she was pleased when I told her that “Moll” is German for “minor”.

Steve & Molly

Steve is quite smitten with his new friend; at the moment they’re stuffing-deep in a discussion of the relative merits of the Beatles’ lyrics vs. the poetry of William Blake. Just wait until Horatio gets in on the argument – it won’t be more than a minute before he’ll be quoting “Tyger, Tyger burning bright” (being a stuffed tiger, he’s biased).

Life, the Universe, and Molly. Happy Mother’s Day!

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The Editor Pontificates: Lies, All Lies

Here we go with some more editorial pontification, about another issue that I’ve noticed while editing: the pesky and much-confused issue of “lie” vs. “lay”. I’m not talking about “lie” as in “telling a falsehood” – you know, “He’s lying like a rug.” Though, wait – actually, that latter example, yes, we will be talking about that. But not in the “falsehood” sense.

What this is about is the verb “lie” as in “to be in a horizontal, recumbent, or prostrate position, as on a bed or the ground; recline”. And then, “lay”, as in “to put or place in a horizontal position or position of rest; set down” (definitions courtesy of dictionary.com).

And there you have the difference in a nutshell: lie and lay are both about flat-on-your-back-ness, but the difference is who is implementing it. “Lie” means “to BE on your back”, “lay” “to PUT on the back”.

To demonstrate: Here’s me, laying Steve down:

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And here is Steve, lying down:

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So, picture 1, I lay Steve down, picture 2, Steve lies down. “Lay” always has to take an object; there always has to be a “whom?” or “what?” with it. Whom or what do I lay down? My stuffed bear, Steve. And once I lay him down, there he lies (no object) (also not a lot of initiative; he’s a bear, he’s too lazy to move).

You know the little children’s prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep…”? That one can really throw  you off, because you’re talking about yourself here, your own flat-on-your-backness. But note it doesn’t say “Now I lay down…”, but “Now I lay me down…” Whom or what do I lay down? Me, my tired body. And once I lay me down, there I lie. Technically, the poem should say “Now I lie down…”, but that would screw up the metre, so, “lay me” instead of “lie”.

That’s also where “lying like a rug” comes in. If you say someone lies like a rug, that means he’s a really bad liar (I mean, a good liar. He’s really bad because he lies, but good at it. Umm – whatever.). A rug, by definition, lies flat on the ground, it’s the ultimate in passivity. You can’t get more lyingly lying than a rug. The rug lies – not lays.
Laying is something a hen does, with an egg – laying hens lay eggs. Whom or what do they lay? Eggs.
So, a rug lies, a hen lays (eggs). Easy, no?

But here’s the wrench in the works: “lay” is also the past tense of “lie”. So, yesterday, the rug lay on the floor (curse its woolly hide). But the hen, at exactly the same time, laid an egg.
“Lay”, “to put down flat”, is a regular verb; its past tense (and past participle, which you use in the past perfect) is formed by adding -ed, or in this case, -id: lay, laid, had laid. Today I lay Steve down, yesterday I laid him down, the day before I had laid him down.
But lie, the “be on your back” version, is an irregular verb: lie, lay, had lain. So Steve, having never got up when I laid him down, still lies there; just as yesterday, he lay there, and the day before he had lain there.
(The “tell a falsehood” version of “lie” is a regular verb – lie, lied, lied: today I lie, yesterday I lied, the day  before I had lied – that’s where the rug simile breaks down, because you can’t say that last week Joe “lied like a rug”.)

So, one more time: “lie” stands on its own, it’s something I do, myself; “lay” needs an object, it’s something I do to another person or thing. The hen lays an egg on the rug that lies on the ground.

Now, before you’re comatose with boredom (as your lying on the floor with your eyes glazed over indicates), I’ll stop laying down grammar laws. But don’t say I never told you nothin’ – that’d be a lie.

Life, the Universe, and Lies, all Lies. Uh, I mean, Lie vs. Lay. Now you know.

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