More Footle and more Grok

I’m making changes to the website.

I was talking to someone about this blog, and I commented that I’d done more than 400 posts. It turns out that I’ve done more than 800 posts. I had no idea. Since I have no intention of stopping Footle and Grok, I’m going to make some changes.

On November 1, the domain name is going to change because I’m switching from a free WordPress site to a self-hosted platform. So, will be Better, right?

There is one thing I need you to do. If you want to keep getting my daily posts in your email I need you to go to and sign up again. There is a subscribe box on the sidebar. While there, look around and see what you think. I’d love to hear your opinion.

When I started the blog, I was experimenting with my writing, so I made the site barebones simple. I’m still having fun with my writing, but now I want to experiment with the site. I want to attach pictures when it improves the story (I won’t add too many kitten photos, I promise.) I want to add widgets and plug-ins that will make my site easier to find and subscribe to. And I want to have a better URL. (I plan to start a Footle and Grok podcast in December, but that’s another story.)

I hope you’ll like the new site. I’m just footling around, so I’d love to hear what you think works and doesn’t work. I appreciate everyone who has stuck with me for over 800 posts. Here’s to the next 800.

Have a happy Halloween and enjoy my new website. I want it to be a treat for everyone.

I’m a tough pumpkin

I walked a virtual 5k last Sunday.

That isn’t that unusual, but this time I did it while carrying a pumpkin. It’s called the Tough Pumpkin Run. I received two medals and an awesome pumpkin face tech-hoodie. If you want to see my spooky shirt, I’ll post pictures on Facebook.

I’ve never run with a pumpkin before. I didn’t get a big pumpkin. It was about eight inches tall below the stem and taller than it was wide. I wanted a challenge, so I didn’t buy a mini pumpkin.

Some people who did this race put the pumpkin in a backpack. I didn’t do that because it seems too easy, and I was afraid the squash would bang against my back. That could injure both me and the pumpkin.

It wasn’t my fastest time at all. But it was fun. I’m sore today, which is not usual. Maybe I used new muscles carrying the pumpkin. I guess that makes me a tough pumpkin.

Google it

I like learning new things.

When I read, watch a movie, or talk to people, I often google words and ideas that I am unfamiliar with. I do this partly because I like to learn and partly, so I don’t look stupid. I think everyone should use Google daily so we can all become smarter.

I had an excellent Google moment last night that I wanted to share with you. I was reading the third Last Apprentice book to my hubby and the cats when I encountered a new word. I’m pretty good at guessing how to say words, but this one was unusual. The word was clough.

A clough is a cleft in a hillside found in England. The book described the feature perfectly, but there was no hint as to how to say clough.

I pronounced it like “plow,” but that just didn’t sound right, so I googled the pronunciation. It turns out it rhymes with “tough,” which makes sense. I continued reading with more confidence.

When I return to England and encounter a cleft in a hillside, I will know what to call it. In the meantime, I will enjoy my spooky book and my googling habit. Better safe than stupid.

They’re so fluffy

Do you have stuffed animals?

I just turned forty-six, and my stuffed animal collection is growing. I keep saying that I’m going to stop buying new ones, but they’re so cute and fluffy.

When I went to Disneyland in September, I bought a Cheshire Cat with a really long tail. A friend had bought one a year before, and I’d wanted one since I saw it. Now he stares down at me when I work.

Why am I admitting to having a lot of stuffed animals? Because it’s Stuffed Animal Lovers Day. Where most people have glass vases or serving dishes on top of their hutch, I have stuffed animals. Some of these (like my Cookie Monster) is as old as I am. Some of them (like the dinosaur I named Neil that I bought at FAO Schwartz on Fifth Avenue in New York City) are newer.  I love how they look down on everyone who has dinner with me instead of being hidden away.

Paul Taul and Trefoil live in my bedroom. Paul Taul is a chimpanzee, and Trefoil is a small tiger. I’ve had them for a very long time. They traveled with me for decades and were even at my wedding. They’re part of my family.

Do you love stuffed animals? How many do you have? Unlike some people on Facebook that have rooms with hundreds of stuffed animals (sometimes the same one), I’m not a crazy stuffed animal lady. I only have thirty or so, and they all have a home. But I do celebrate Stuffed Animal Lovers Day every day because what if Toy Story is correct?

An excellent time travel movie

There are a lot of time travel movies out there.

Most of them, though good movies, have big problems with their time travel storyline. However, there is one movie that, while corny as all get out, has a solid handle on time travel. Of course, I’m talking about Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

I got this from the library because I’d been watching the John Wick movies (I’ll write about that after I see the third one) and I wanted to see other Keanu Reeves movies. I remembered Bill and Ted being really cheesy (and it is), but it’s also clever. If you’re looking for a fun film that doesn’t make you think too hard, I recommend it.

More importantly, the time travel premise is so simple that it’s easy to follow and doesn’t have a lot of holes in it. Plus, it has a happy ending. Most excellent.

Reading the Scottish Play

I enjoy reading Shakespeare’s plays.

I like watching them too as long they’re in the original form and not an adaptation, like the West Side Story. The Taming of the Shrew is my favorite play, although I like lots of others too.

But I’d never read or seen Macbeth.

Since it has witches in it, I thought it would be a good Halloween book. It took a while to find a version that wasn’t a young adult retelling or a graphic novel, but thanks to my personal librarian, I now have a copy.

It’s a great read. One of the things I enjoy is the footnotes that define the words I don’t know, or that have changed over four hundred years. Also, it’s not a long story. Thanks to the editorial write-up at the beginning, I know that it’s a third the length of most of Shakespeare’s tragedies.

Perhaps you haven’t read his plays since you were forced to in your high school English class. I think you should give them another chance now that your grade isn’t dependent on it.

And if nothing else, you could read the graphic novel.


I’m double lucky

Are black cats good luck or bad?

I think most people would automatically say bad, but that depends on the culture. In Egypt, England, and Japan, black cats are good luck. But in medieval Europe, black cats were not just bad luck, they were thought to either be witches or associate with witches, and they were killed en masse. How depressing.

The old-time ideas of black cats were brought to the United States, and that is why many people are superstitious about them. But that’s silly. I have two black cats, and I feel fortunate.

Six reasons black cats are good luck

  • In Scottish lore, if a strange black cat arrives at your house, you will prosper.
  • In Japan, a woman with a black cat will have many suitors
  • In Germany, a black cat that crosses a person from right to left is bad luck, but left to right will bring good fortune.
  • In England, a black cat crossing your path is a good omen.
  • A black cat is considered the best ship cat because it will bring good luck. It’s only good, though, if the cat stays on board.
  • If a black cat walks toward a person, they are bringing good luck

Surely, all that good outweighs the bad. The next time a black cat crosses your path, I hope it is from left to right.

Watch out for flaming pumpkins

I love “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

I’ve seen the Disney cartoon more times than I can count. It’s a very faithful retelling of Washington Irving’s spooky tale. I might even say that it is better because some things, like life-or-death chases through cemeteries, can be hard to describe. Still, the book is excellent.

I listened to it on Audible and loved this Americana tale all over again. If you are looking for a short spooky story to read or listen to, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is a winner. A lot of narrators have recorded this story on Audible. I chose Tom Mison, and he did a great job.

I also like the Johnny Depp movie and the TV show, but there is something special about listening to (or reading) the original. I hope you’ll give it a try.

“He (Ichabod) would have passed a pleasant life of it, in despite of the Devil and all his works, if his path had not been crossed by a being that causes more perplexity to mortal man than ghosts, goblins, and the whole race of witches put together, and that was—a woman.”

Washington Irving

Let’s dig out a mole

Did you catch my punny title?

Today is Mole Day. The number, not the furry burrowing animal. A mole (also known as Avogadro’s number) is 6.02214076×1023. Today is October 23 (10/23), so it is Mole Day.

I’ve never really understood the point of a mole, so I went looking for some enlightenment. There are lots of dense videos out there, but I found two that try to make it clear.

The most straightforward explanation is that a mole is a name for a certain number. In the same way that you can have a dozen (12) eggs or a pair (2) of socks, you can have a mole ( 6.02214076×1023) of some item. The average person never uses “mole” in everyday conversation because it is such a large number. However, chemists use it when talking about atoms and molecules.

For a better explanation, watch Part I and Part II of these videos. They are short, and it’s always fun to learn something new.

Do something satisfying

I excel at procrastinating.

Sometimes this is a good thing, but sometimes it’s frustrating. I needed to fix the broken shelves in my pantry and organize all my food. It was stacked on the counter and in boxes on the floor. I had no idea what I had or how to find it. This is was a project I really wanted to do, but I kept postponing it.

I decided that I would complete this satisfying project on my birthday. I could have gone to the movies. I could have had a party. Instead, I set all my food, cans, boxes, jars, and bottles in different piles and then proceeded to put it all where it belonged.

My hubby was a big help. We had to go to Home Depot for boards to fix the pantry (those shelves are NEVER collapsing again), and he cut them all to the right size. I had a lot of fun organizing everything, and even though it took a couple hours longer than I planned, the results were worth it.

Learn from my procrastinating ways. If you have a job to do that you know will have satisfying results, don’t delay. Schedule it into your life and get it done. I promise it will be worth the effort, and you will feel even better knowing that you kicked procrastination to the curb. This time.