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IN THE HOT SEAT


For lack of a better titla we’ll call this one “Spring Melt”

We in the Bay Area are not accustomed to triple digit weather, in fact the average temperature has been touted as being near perfect year round. Not so for the past few years, but the thermometers are currently ridiculous. The thought of an icy stream in the shade of tall trees is appealing.

A man at the gym in Seattle became dehydrated and hit the floor with a bang, putting him into bed for a few days, which tells us to drink more water. Even our pets are drinking and stretching out on cool tile floors.

Dr. A has been boosting the color in the rear garden. I am amazed at his industry. Since I told him I find it hard to see darker colored flowers, he has been busily planting pale beauties in large pots. After he removed my cute white fig tree, he replaced it with a rather large flowering plum. Harvey, our paraplegic rabbit, found a new home among pots of pelargonium at the base of a bird bath. He peers out with indifferent eyes at the feathered invaders above him.

Our president tells us their is no such thing as climate change; it is just “weather”. Well yes, of course it is weather, and weather has waxed and waned throughout history, but if there is a change and we are encouraging the change, I think it is time for us to bite the bullet and begin thinking of the generations to come. Several years ago a friend who farms blueberries in Chile, told of the hole in the ozone layer which greatly contributed to increased heat. I have no argument with people who agree with the current President, only time will tell if he was right.

In the meantime, I ponder the variety of delicious and nutritious cold dinners. Our granddaughter, who has been living in London for some time, has recently moved to Barcelona, where the temperature this morning was 8l degrees, which in her case was desirable. She said the Spanish custom of tapas and sangria makes for a delightful dinner, after which a midnight swim under thousands of stars was just about perfect.

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HAIR OF THE DOG


It is no laughing matter. We have hosted many varieties of canine throughout our nearly 71 years of wedded bliss, during which time I have been more or less on top of the cleaning game. The Health Department has never visited our home with poor housekeeping complaints in hand.

However, we have been “done in” by a Jack Russell Terrier, whose shedding has caused us to purchase several vacuum cleaners in the past few years. The last one was a lovely Dyson, which was difficult to care for. Our handyman was able to unclog Charlie’s hair, so we gave it to him and bought another simpler machine.

When I was a girl, my Grandmother did not have a vacuum cleaner. We used a Bissell carpet sweeper, and she hung smaller rugs on a line and beat the dust out. Auntie had a vac, and taught me to sweep over each area 7 times. (She may have taught me to chew my food 30 times since that was a new fad in the ’30s, brought about by Dr. Kellogg of corn flake fame. We have had many vacuum cleaners through the years, including a heavy and expensive Kirby, which came our way when I bought it from a door-to-door salesman. It was the best one we ever had, but I was a lot stronger in those days.

To solve the seriousness of our problem, I also bought a tool called a “Furminator” to brush Charlie. It worked fine, but I neglected to use it during a period of malaise. It somehow disappeared, so I have purchased another. I will hide this in a better place.

“A Gentle Descent” watercolor by kayti sweetland rasmussen

This painting has absolutely nothing to do with dog hair, but it was relaxation after all the vacuuming. The mountains are gently draining a spring thaw into a deep, dark and mysterious pool. To give the sky some tactile interest, I sprinkled canning salt over a coat of paint.

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OF FIG TREES AND PARAPLEGIC RABBITS


“HARVEY”

Harvey came to live with us a few years ago, claiming his spot in the jungle of our back yard, with long ears peeking over a small azalea bush which refused to bloom, and giving Charlie something else to worry about in the garden.

Harvey had an insouciant air about him which belied his somewhat physically challenged body. After all, a rabbit with only one leg faces certain defeat in a hopping contest.

We saw Harvey standing at the side of the rode one morning, alone and obviously forgotten by those who had chosen to discard him. As we tucked him into the backseat of our car, we couldn’t help noticing that along with his missing leg, Harvey had lost both arms. Believing strongly that everyone deserves a second chance, we christened him “Harvey” in remembrance of the famous six foot rabbit of movie fame, and propped him up under a small fig tree.

Though I have been a fig fancier since early childhood, Dr. A has never developed the same urgency for them. We planted a black fig tree many years ago which has become a wonderful shade tree, but through unfortunate trimming does not produce figs at the correct picking level. We planted another fig several years ago with lovely soft green fruit. However, it became a rampant grower, sending limbs hither and yon, and sending Dr. A into a tither.

Gardens are forever evolving, and one morning last week Harvey took a catastrophic spill, and both of his lovely ears broke off. Now you might say Harvey had served his purpose in life and deserved a quiet end, but I know there is more to Harvey’s life than we have seen. Dr. A has performed a bit of glue surgery and with a little more help, Harvey will again grace our garden.

However, Harvey will no longer sit in the shade of the small fig tree as it amazingly disappeared a few days ago after Dr. A stepped out with his pruning shears.

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OUR MOTHERS


“PERSEVERENCE” watercolor by kayti sweetland rasmussen

Just as the tiny tree in this painting struggles through rocky soil to reach its independence and achieve its potential, we too struggled to loose the loving bonds of our mothers.

We spread our wings and announced to the world at large “Look! We have listened; we have learned; we can survive”

We have been blessed, and we are grateful.

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SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION


“#number 007” kayti sweetland rasmussen

Wouldn’t you know it? I thought the leg surgery last year was the cat’s meow, and would enable me to reengage in all sorts of former activities. Though it was apparently successful, things gradually went wrong during the year and it seemed we were back to square one.

It’s amazing the things the medical profession keeps learning. They soon discovered that the new vein wasn’t as good as they thought and was blocked again in a different place.

I went in for a procedure last week for angioplasty where they were able to open it once more. They don’t call these things “surgery” anymore” as procedure sounds much better.

The group in the radiology room were in high spirits. They had all attended the “Commi-Con” affair in San Jose where people buy, sell and trade comic books. I believe it was started some time ago by Steve Wozniak, the genius who will Steve Jobs, created Apple. I could be wong of course, but I do KNOW for a fact that Wozniak is the sort of person who would do this. During the procedure I asked one of the techs how large his collection was. He said “It depends on how large you think large is. Mine is 21,000 books. The other great conversation was devoted to the rattlesnake bit someone got the day before on top of Mission Peak when putting his hand beside the rock he was sitting on. Naturally the rattlesnake shook hands with him and a helicopter was called to haul him down to civilization. I know for a fact that he was on top of the peak, because I’ve hiked there, and that is where rocks large enough to sit upon are located. Last time I was there an illusive tiny blue butterfly was sunning itself.

Now surely this takes all your concentration away from what is happening to your body, along with the melody playing on the tape, which happened to be “A Horse With No Name”. I’ve always liked that song, though I can’t recall all the words or who did it.

Right after arriving home however, I discovered a large painful area around my middle which was black and blue. Turned out it was a “hematoma” and when I reported it, they sent me immediately to the emergency room where I lounged around in great comfort all day—from noon till eight o’clock, taking cat scans et al and they finally determined that it is resolving itself, so go home with no more worries.

The emergency room is an interesting place. It was Sunday when most people should be out enjoying the sunshine, but there were so many, lying in beds out in the halls, walking around wearing the cool robes which open in the back, visiting, etc. and of course, some who were really sick in the cubicles divided by curtains which can be closed for privacy. A few doctors trying to divide themselves up into many, and many nurses moving from place to place. A busy place indeed.

From the cot that you are placed on after dressing in one of the cool robes, they send you to various places for tests, in my case the room containing the huge cat scan machine. It takes quite awhile after the doctor determines the best way to go, for someone to wheel you down dimly lighted halls, which are vacant on a Sunday. After finding my self parked alongside a lonely wall I was reminded of a favorite trick in the auto repair business of giving someone a “wall job”; by parking your car alongside a wall to take a turn which may take a long while to accomplish.

After my wall job they completed a scan and wheeled me back to my cubicle. We had arrived at noon at the advice of 2 of my doctors, and by now it was mid afternoon with no apparent food or drink in sight. However the woman in the next cubicle was being fed spaghetti and meat sauce which smelled delicious to my hungry self. I plaintively begged for a little snack, but they said no food in case you need surgery. I went to sleep to forget the whole thing, and the young doctor came and said they were going to do another scan. Naturally I asked what they had seen that made them think they needed another one. He seemed surprised that I should ask, but I calmly explained that if I were making a dish of food or baking a cake and it didn’t turn out right that I would have to do it again. My cynical thought was CYA which as you may know means “protect yourself in case something goes wrong”. The carpentry and sewing businesses also have a saying: “measure twice, cut once”.

It was, all in all, an enlightening day, showing the dedication of so many in the medical profession, giving immediate care to so many unfortunates. On the other hand, I think if I were a doctor, the emergency room would be a never ending source of interest.

And a note to Mr. Trump, we are getting the same good care as we have had with Obamacare, so he doesn’t need to worry about us.

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ANYONE WOULD KNOW


NUMBER 004, watercolor by kayti sweetland rasmussen

Well, it’s apparent that we all see things differently.

Many of you readers know that I am a retired sculptor, art teacher, who also painted for most of my long life. I have never been a landscape painter, nor has the sight of a perfect hillside set my fingers a-twitter to paint it. On the other hand, the tilt of a head in the sunshine, or the eager excitement in a child’s eyes made me rush for a paint brush.

Now that the passing years have diminished my eyesight, I again have the urge, but no longer see things in the same way.

I find this challenge exciting because I am no longer constricted and can follow my own advice to former students: “Remember, a straight line doesn’t always have to be straight.” Unlike a portrait, perfection isn’t a valued commodity.

My husband, paragon of artistic expertise, is a great critic while peering over my shoulder in the studio. “What’s it supposed to be?”

Well, anyone can plainly see that it is a picture of clouds, rocks, and a tiny tree making its way up through the cracks, seeking the sun.

“But where are snow covered mountains?”

Well I might have taught YOU snow covered mountains, but I’m not ready for them yet. Meanwhile I’m going to continue making wiggly lines.

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WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?


The gardens are bursting into bloom and leaf with more rain in sight. The old song “Wishing Will Make It So” has proved once more that someone is listening.

Small words are usually harder to define than long ones. I recently read that a group of lexicographers were revamping an obscure dictionary and found all the short, throw-away words like “a”, “the” “as” etc., were difficult to define in a simple way, but the long hard to say words were easy to break down. I am reminded of Bill Clinton’s use of the word “is” in his defense: “It all depends on the meaning of the word “is”. What does that mean? What’s wrong with “if”? “If only I hadn’t taken that position.” Well, History will debate it for a few years and then forget about it.

Dr. A once told me that he couldn’t decide whether I was clever or smart. Either way I was in trouble. A rat can cleverly avoid capture in a trap, but does that make him smart? If he was smart he would eat the large block of cheese in the cupboard before it ever got to the trap. We once had one who quietly ate an entire gingerbread house without disturbing the box it was in, and leaving one piece of candy as a parting thank you. If I were clever I would invent ways of doing simple jobs in a simpler way. If I were smart, I would be rich and famous and wouldn’t need to worry about being either smart or clever, because I could hire it out.

Our use of words is important. Some words often mean one thing to one person and something entirely different to another. A young girl dating a hormonally active boy may say “NO”, but the boy hears “YES”, to her dismay. Today we sometimes sprinkle our conversation with words from another culture. Our son-in-law instructed the Mexican gardener to remove some moss growing in his flower bed by saying “No Mas” which the gardener rightfully heard as “No More”, and took our the entire bed.

My husband refers to one side of the house as “the front yard, but clearly the address in on the other side of the house which makes it the front yard.

Mark Twain was a pretty good wordsmith and story teller and modestly claimed to know how a story ought to be told, being frequently in the company of other writers and story-tellers. Their use of words was their livelihood.

According to Mark Twain there are several kinds of stories, but only one difficult kind–the humorous. The humorous story is American, the comic story is English, the witty story is French. The humorous story depends for its effect upon the manner of the telling; the comic story and the witty story upon the matter.

Already we can see there is a difference between humor, comedy and wit. Yet they all amuse.

“The humorous story may be spun out to great length, and may wander around as much as it pleases, and arrive nowhere in particular; but the comic and witty stories must be brief and end with a point. The humorous story bubbles gently along, the others burst. The humorous story is strictly a work of art—high and delicate art–and only an artist can tell it; but no art is necessary in telling the comic and the witty story; anybody can do it. The art of telling a humorous story was created in America and has remained at home.

The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it; but the teller of the comic story tells you beforehand that it is one of the funniest things he has ever heard, then tells it with eager delight, and is the first person to laugh when he gets through. And sometimes, if he has had good success, he is so glad and happy that he will repeat the ‘nub’ of it and glance around from face to face, collecting applause, and then repeat it again. It is a pathetic thing to see.

“Very often, of course, the rambling and disjointed humorous story finishes with a nub, point, snapper, or whatever you like to call it. Then the listener must be alert, for in many cases the teller will divert attention from that nub by dropping it in a carefully casual and indifferent way, with the pretense that he does not know it is a nub.

But the teller of the comic story does not slur the nub; he shouts it at you—every time. And when he prints it, in England, France, Germany, and Italy, he italicizes it, puts some whooping exclamation points after it, and sometimes explain it in a parentheses. All of which is very depressing, and one want to renounce joking and lead abetter life.”

(Parts taken from “How To Tell a Story” by Mark Twain)