Yesterday evening we had this spectacular show of sky and color and general awesomeness. 



We all dashed outside when my daughter noticed the light coming inside through the window looked a little strange. It is probably one of the most beautiful rainbows we’ve ever seen. 

If you look a bit to the left of the main rainbow you’ll see a faint second rainbow. And we even saw a little third rainbow that was quite unusual too — it was right next to the main rainbow but the stripes were thinner and maybe the colors were reversed. So possibly it was like a reflection of the first rainbow? It was really hard to capture that in a photo. But Dave got a close up where you can kind of make it out. 

The way the light reflected off the clouds just made it that much more amazing. The photo here is right out of my phone with no Photoshopping. It doesn’t do it justice. I might try to bring out the other rainbow in Photoshop, but you just can’t really capture the feeling on “film.” It was huge. You could see the rainbow stretching over so much of the sky. Amazing! Photos are just souvenirs of this rare and spectacular show. They will have to do for now. 

Same rainbow but on the right side of the sky.


Catch Up – Red Tie and Rangers

Our nation is on week two of the 45th Presidency. It has been interesting … I still feel like we’re all stuck in an alternate universe. Three years ago watching a few episodes of The Apprentice, no way would I have imagined Donald Trump to be president here in 2017. But it happened. And I gotta say, it’s a little stressful.  I’ve been craving yoga and chamomile tea.

At his inauguration our new president wore a very large red tie. I guess that’s one of his signature looks except that I hadn’t watched enough television before that to know. So I saw it and thought, “wow, that is one ginormous tie.” And I wondered if I was the only person on the planet to notice the tie. I Googled it. Then I wondered if I was the only person on the planet not privy to the fact that this was his “signature tie.” Then I wondered about some other things  because …

The president talked about how the people were taking control of their government again — a very populist sounding speech. But it would be more accurate to say that about half the people were “taking control.” No wait, maybe about 35-40% of the people. Because while he has some very loyal supporters (whom you may have missed if you live in a big city like L.A., Chicago, or New York), there are also people who voted for him who simply didn’t want to vote for Hillary or any third-party candidates. And, really, it’s not like any of them are really in control either.

A few spotty protests took place during his inauguration.

There was dispute about how many people attended Trump’s inauguration. I don’t know why this is a thing. It shouldn’t be a thing. I would absolutely expect Obama’s inauguration to draw more crowds. He was the first African-American president, it was a very historic moment.

A huge Women’s March took place the day after. Women and men around the world marched for women’s rights. The streets of D.C. were positively flooded. Many expressed their anger over some of the president’s past comments about women and worried how they may be treated as a whole by the upcoming administration and its policies.

The throngs were speckled with pink hats. I hadn’t read much about the march ahead of time. But that day I saw all kinds of reports on costumes, signs, and on what the hats were. The hats were usually a bright pink and had two protrusions — one on each side. Were the hats supposed to be lady parts? Ovaries? Uteruses? Some folks dressed up as those things. I thought, “those hats don’t really look like lady parts; they look more like kitty ears.” “Ah ha!,” I thought. They’re pussy hats!

Some folks who marched or spoke were loud, in your face, and used a lot of language probably not suitable for children. Some people were offended, some thought it was a great expression of the hurt. Basically, the marches remained peaceful and non-violent. So that’s good.

The president announced a hiring freeze on government employees, and later I saw reports that the National Park Service, NASA, and other federal organizations weren’t allowed to Tweet or send out press releases without first having the information reviewed by the administration. Basically, the reports said these science agencies had been given a gag order.

Then I saw Press Secretary Sean Spicer at a press conference saying that the order did not come from the White House. That there were already rules about what could be sent out, so that reports of a gag order from the White House were wrong.

So whom do we believe? As usual, I’m sure there are lies and misunderstandings on both sizes of the political spectrum. It is always that way. Though neither side usually admits it.

Regardless of whether there was really a gag order or not, these are the days of the Internet and Twitter and instant everything. So the National Park Service went “rogue.” They set up an Alt National Park Service Twitter account and started Tweeting about the environment and how a wall between the U.S. and Mexico will affect the wildlife that lives in that area (and I don’t mean the people). NASA and several other departments of government also set up rogue accounts on Twitter and Facebook.

Officially, these accounts are not set up by the Park Service or government agencies. But unofficially the accounts are probably set up by park service and other similar employees on their own time.


I generally like parks and go camping in them, so this was an interesting turn of events. I would love to see this as a movie. There’s something reassuring about park rangers.

Then I saw the president on the news saying he was going to ban “catch and release.”

Now here’s where my brain does what my brain does and uses past experience to make meaning of the present, and I think, “he’s going to ban catch and release? Does that mean we’re going to have to eat all the fish we catch?”

But no, immigration is what he was talking about. He wants to change current policy.

He signed papers to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. And lots of people thought, “But there’s a hiring freeze. Who’s gonna build the wall?” Days later he signed executive orders banning folks from 7 mostly muslim countries from entering the U.S. for a period of 30 to 90 days depending on stuff. People who had already been vetted to enter the country were stopped mid-travel at airports. I mean, I would have been pissed. Tickets paid for, flights flown …

This made quite a few people furious because it stranded a lot of good people including women and children and people with paperwork saying that they could be here and live here.

There was a lot of confusion. (Which may be the understatement-of-the-day.)

But other people were like, “hell yeah!” Because they don’t want terrorists to enter our country and they see this as a move to prevent that.

One side sees Trump as evil incarnate —a budding fuhrer. Forbidding specific ethnic groups along with a gag order on scientists only fueled that fire. But did the president even issue a gag order? Maybe yes, maybe no. Some reports said that everything that happened with the park service was nothing more than standard internal procedure during a change of administration — happens every four years, give or take four years. They were just doing their thing.

But once these ideas spread, it’s hard not to have them stuck in people’s heads. And I mean, ROGUE PARK RANGERS! That’s like rogue Bambi or superhero cottontail bunny rabbits. How cool is that?

But rogue scientists or not, there are a lot of people who are thrilled that they have a president who actually follows through on his campaign promises.

I’ll give them that. Good or bad, there aren’t many politicians who’ve attempted to do so much of what they said they would do in so short a period of time.

But plenty of people didn’t like what this man said he would do in the first place, and he could really use some lessons in diplomacy (oh look, another understatement). He issues his own brand of rogue, ego-fueled Tweets.

We tend to hear more from people who are mad — happy people don’t usually complain so much. But there are a lot of mad people right now.

With some people loving what he’s doing and some hating it, straddling between is a challenge. There’s hardly a middle-of-the-road anymore, it’s more of a suspension bridge.

Cabinet members have been nominated and mostly confirmed. Some love them, some hate them.

There are enough protests going on that I’m pretty sure there must be clandestine operations taking place that we may or may not hear about later. (All these protests are the perfect cover and distraction.)

At least a few things probably aren’t even the way people think they are because that is how it works. Rarely do we ever get the whole, real truth, and rarely is one side all right or all wrong. Though sometimes things can run 60% – 40% or even closer to 90% – 10%.

I would love to have a good, reliable source for news and analysis, but I’m not feeling that right now.

The best I can hope for is to read and listen to what both sides have to say and hope some of the truth is filtering through.

It is so very early in this presidency. What will happen today? Tomorrow?


iTunes Shuffle Seasonal Disorder

I suffer from iTunes Shuffle Seasonal Disorder, iSSD. (Or should it be iTunes Seasonal Shuffle Disorder?) I should probably join a support group. But I doubt there are any. I’m probably the only person on the planet who can’t get this right.

My problem is that I can’t get my iTunes shuffle to stop playing Christmas music for the ten months of the year that I don’t want to listen to Christmas music.

I know I can make playlists and leave the holiday tunes out. But that’s not as easy as it sounds.

My phone often ignores my previous playlist and plays whatever the heck it feels like. Then I end up with holiday music in March … July … August … again and again. Until, by Christmas time I’m not sure if I even want to listen.

I’ve tried deleting the Christmas music from my phone, but it keeps coming back. How does it do that?

The family is not fond of the holiday music in July. In a fit of frustration, Dave once tried to permanently delete a particularly energetic and cheerful Barry Manilow Christmas number from my whole iTunes account (not just a phone or iPad).

I was a little upset at first because about once or twice a year (total times, not months) I liked listening to it. I think I got it for free back when iTunes had lots of free* stuff.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure one of my devices played the “permanently deleted” Barry Manilow song again this season. Or possibly I have a second Barry Manilow Christmas song that I didn’t know I had.

Barry Manilow sings Christmas

In January it’s a little better. Last year I discovered that I like Disco music in January. Don’t laugh. Okay, laugh. I probably deserve it. (I probably shouldn’t even admit to it. Send an S.O.S. Don’t leave me this way.)

But January is gray and cold. Disco music is relentlessly energetic, sunny, and cheerful even about broken hearts and breakups. (It is hot stuff.)

There’s nothing like a little ABBA to counter the grayness of midwinter. So I have a Disco Playlist (not its real name) that has zero holiday music. I play it a lot this time of year (thank you, also, The Martian soundtrack).

ABBA in January and maybe February and a little in March

But often I want to listen to random music too. A mix. A heavy does of alternative, some soundtrack, then a smidge of country,disco, and something metal in between (like a palate refresher). Birdy, Mumford & Sons, Howard Shore, George Ezra, Sia, John Williams, Disturbed, Johnny Cash, Thao, Abba, David Bowie, Donna Summers, Fall Out Boy …

But then here comes Barry Mannilow’s Bells again. I scramble to fast forward except sometimes it will be followed by Silent Night from one of four different artists (how do I even own four copies of Silent Night?).

The Christmas music keeps sneaking in.

It’s especially annoying when my phone reverts to playing songs from my entire collection thus ignoring my most recent playlist preferences. (Maybe it doesn’t like the Disco.)

The iPhone-with-a-mind-of-its-own will play songs from any that I own including but not limited to holiday songs. So if I’m not careful there will be Christmas music right around the corner. Any corner. Any time. (Plus I think it’s becoming contagious — my daughter sometimes sings Christmas carols in seasonally inappropriate months.)

And I can’t seem to make it stop. I can only skip to the next song and hope I can avoid another. Help?

I’d really like an iTunes setting to play-all except the holiday music. Or a setting that allows me to play Christmas music in only November and December. Until then, I’ll try to delete the holiday music from my phone again and be ready to skip a track once in a while too.

*Free songs: U2 maybe-kind-of ruined that for everyone with Songs of Innocence. I liked the free stuff, but I didn’t want to auto-download an entire album, thanks. I liked one of the songs a lot though. It would be nice to have a free song-of-the-week again, iTunes. Thank you.
Copyright 2017 Debora Kapke

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Calling Wildfire in Gatlinburg

Firefighters are struggling to put out wildfires in Gatlinburg and Sevier County, Tennessee tonight. High winds may return overnight after a calmer day. Sevier County includes the popular Great Smoky Mountains tourist spots Pidgeon Forge and Dollywood. 

The fires may have started last week. But a mix of dry weather and extreme winds last night spread flames so quickly that many residents and tourists had little to no warning before buildings began to burn.

I spent my teen years near Nashville, Tennessee. Like so many area families, my family spent many long weekends in and around Gatlinberg. It was always a beautiful area. 

In August of this year I drove through to my High School reunion and stopped for a wee bit in Sevierville. 

It’s hard to see videos and pictures that show so much of the beloved vacation spot in flames or blackened. 

My heart hurts for all the families who had to leave their homes with no time to save more than themselves and the clothes on their backs. Many of them had to leave pets and animals behind. 14,000 people were evacuated.

I’ve always told my daughter that if we ever had to evacuate our building due to fire, we may have to leave the kitties behind. Not that I would want to, but I’d want my daughter to get out in an emergency. I hope I could always make the right choice myself, but can’t say for sure what I would do. (I’d want enough time to save our kitty.) So my heart just breaks for all those families who had to make such difficult choices.

And I’m especially sad for those who have lost their life, are injured, or lost a family member. Right now only three fatalities have been reported. I hope that’s it.

I know it might be cliche to say, “thoughts and prayers,” but sometimes thoughts and prayers are all we can do. I’ll send a lot of them to Tennessee. I’m sure there will be more in the coming days.
— update —

Fixed the spelling in my post. Sorry about that. 

Also note that I read reports yesterday of the fire starting last week (November 23) in the Chimney Tops area and then spreading explosively on Monday into Tuesday. Other reports say the fire started on Monday. Certainly addition spot fires started on Monday as the hurricane force winds sent flames and sparks flying into dry brush and trees. Addition fires may also have started from downed power lines. I’m sure investigators will reveal more information in the weeks to come. 

Many prayers to all involved. 

Consider donations to the local Red Cross, rescue and emergency organizations, and area animal shelters. Folks in the general vicinity may make immediate donations of clothing and supplies. 

This post is also for NaBloPoMo.

Vote Kodos or Kang*! (Actually, no. But please vote!)

This year I feel like I (along with the entire country) have been transported to an alternate universe. Somewhere around here Spock must have a goatee. And Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are our major-party candidates for President of the United State. Many of you who are registered to vote have decided on a candidate and will vote for that candidate. Yay, you! (I’m not going to try to change your mind.) 

But if you’re even remotely thinking of not voting, I’m writing this for you. If you don’t like either choice … can’t find the time … don’t think your vote matters …

Please vote any way.

Today is the last day to register to vote online in my state. The same may be true for your state, so check it out and register if you haven’t already. 

Some people say that both candidates are bad. So they say they won’t vote. As if that will show them. As if not voting somehow sends a message to Washington.

“Bob Smith didn’t vote; we must be doin’ somethin’ wrong,” said no politician ever.

The only message sent by not voting is one that says that you don’t care enough to vote. Status quo is okay with you. Let other people pick your leaders.

There are men and women in other countries who fought and died to be able to vote in their elections. Ladies, remember when it wasn’t legal for us to vote in the United States? Neither do I. Yay! Now, use your right to vote. 

You may think that you don’t have a choice. That you must pick either Donald or Hillary. But you can vote and still not vote for Hillary or Donald if you want to. Just be sure to vote.

There are some who may tell you that you’re throwing away your vote if you don’t vote for a Democrat or Republican (depending on whom you ask). When folks feel that way, some of them end up not voting. But the only way to throw away your vote is by not voting at all.

You can vote 3rd party.

You can vote via write-in.

You can vote in the congressional, senatorial, and local elections, but then not vote for a President if you wish. 

Just please vote! (And really you should still vote for a President. Even voting for Kodos* or Kang* is better than not voting at all.)

Make your voice heard. It may be a small voice, but it is an important voice. It is your voice.

If we see a record number of voters voting it says that people care enough to spare a bit of time to have a say. It tells Washington that you’re paying a little bit of attention. (Well, a record high number of voters is good. Record lows. Not so good.) 

And if this election sees a record-high number of write-ins and 3rd-party votes, that says something too. It sends a message (even if the person you voted for doesn’t become President). 

I know I won’t change anybody’s mind about whom to vote for. I probably don’t want to change your mind about some things, and I would love to change your mind about others. But I’m happy to agree to disagree as long as the voting happens.

Mind made up? Mind not made up? All fine. Vote!

*Kang and Kodos are aliens as depicted on the TV show The Simpsons usually showing up on the Halloween episodes in some form or another. I don’t really want to elect either one of them President. (I could say the same about some real, live humans.) But I do think voting, even for creepy, green aliens is better than not voting. 

Snowzilla! And sleeping cats.

Our little section of the country just had a blizzard, dubbed Snowzilla, that lasted 36 hours. We had hours and hours of snow and wind then sunshine enough today to make the snow glisten and look BEAUTIFUL. Digging out will take time.

It’s hard to tell exactly how much snow we got since the wind was a-blow’n and made some gargantuan snow drifts. (Is that a car or a snowdrift or both?) But as far as I can tell our area got 25 inches of snow. My mom’s town, an hour away, got 38 inches. That’s just crazy snow. I don’t think I’ve seen quite this much since I lived in a suburb of Chicago back when I was a kid. (I’ve seen close, but …)

No school for the kids tomorrow and no school on Tuesday either. The county rarely (if ever) announces two days, straight up, in a row. No announcement about Wednesday yet.

Metro (our subway and bus system) has been closed since Friday evening. That’s practically unheard of. They need to clean the subway/train tracks as well as more of the roads for the buses. I think they’re hoping to open again Monday, but I’m guessing full service won’t be back until Tuesday? Wednesday? Who knows.

In our humble abode we’re well stocked on food, but I wish I’d shopped for a shovel earlier last week. By the time I tried to buy one there were no shovels to be had. I would have looked sooner and harder if I didn’t think I had a garden shovel in storage. But when I went to fetch the shovel I realized the shovel wasn’t so much a shovel as a flat edger for trimming grass next to a sidewalk. Why do I even have that? It’s not going to move much snow. We’d do better with a large pot or even a cookie sheet.

I ended up using a piece of cardboard (folded slightly origami style) to shovel a section of balcony near our door. I didn’t want too much snow falling back into our home when we opened the door to go out. But I’d really like to shovel off more of the balcony as a whole because there’s a lot of snow. That’s going to melt, and it’s going to have to go somewhere.

This morning, after the snow had stopped, our cat Mojo for the first time EVER in his entire life climbed up onto my lap and went to sleep. He’s never ever done that before in our 15 years of being his family. So much for teaching old dogs (and cats) new tricks. He taught himself.

He climbed up while I had my legs stretched out under a blanket. First he tried to get comfortable on my shins. Then he shifted and found my lap more comfortable (it’s a lot softer). He curled up and finally went to sleep. A total first. I hated to have to move him.

He loves sitting next to us on the couch. But sitting on us has never been his thing. He was a feral cat before we adopted him from an animal rescue group. Terrified of people, we couldn’t even pick him up for YEARS after we got him. So maybe today he felt cold and wanted some extra warmth, but it’s not like it’s never been cold in here before. This was a landmark move for our skittish and brave boy. I’ll be curious to see if he does it again.

Our totally laid back cat Fletcher slept by my feet the entire time. It was kitty heaven.

So today we all watched Interstellar. We haven’t sat as a family and watched a movie often enough recently (except Star Wars but that’s Star Wars so …). Dave had seen Interstellar before, but Sara and I had not. It’s a long movie. But by the end we were all in tears. Then Dave was laughing at all of us for getting so emotional over a movie. But MOVIE! We liked it and would like to watch it again because it glossed over some details that we’d like to catch next time around. It really had to gloss over some of the details because otherwise it would have been, like, a five-hour move. But we liked it. We were all warm on the inside with all the beautiful sparkling snow on the outside. It was nice.


149,311 Goodbye Golden Car

We got our Saturn 10 days before September 11, 2001. Saturn was a revolutionary company at the time.

Their slogan was:

A Different Kind of Car Company. A Different Kind of Car.

And it was.

It was the no-haggle car company. You paid the same price as anybody else who purchased a Saturn. It was supposed to be the American answer to the Japanese competition. They built them differently. The plant was all new.

The doors and side-body panels were made of polymer instead of steel. This made the car lighter in weight which gave it better gas mileage. But even better was that the entire outside of the car was like one giant bumper. So your car didn’t suffer the normal dings and dents in parking lots. And rust was never an issue for the panels.

My 2002 coupe had a cool little side-door that opened backwards— a “third door,” they called it. It made life about 1000 times easier when my daughter was a baby. It was super easy to get the car seat in and out. The leather seats made it easier to clean up vomit. No need to cave and purchase a mom-car. We were even able to fit a large TV in the car one time because of the cavernous space created if both the regular car door and mini car door were opened at the same time.

We almost drove it all the way to Chicago in the days after September 11. We were supposed to fly on the 14th for my cousin’s wedding. But flights were cancelled. Rescheduled. Cancelled.  Along with all the sorrow of the disaster and the joy that I looked forward to at my cousin’s wedding, I was worried about driving my brand new car the more than 700 miles to Chicago. We scored train tickets. The car would go on to last for many many miles.

It was the most reliable car I’d owned.

But recent years were not as kind.

Perhaps because my Saturn was lower to the ground and less visible than all the SUVs around here or because so many drivers are distracted these days, other drivers kept crashing into me. Rather, into my Saturn. Stop lights. Parking lots. Somehow, drivers managed to hit me in ways and at times that I could not avoid.

Then the basic repairs started coming. Nothing that wouldn’t be expected from a car pushing 150,000 miles. But it adds up.

It was time.

Thanks for carrying our family so far!

Good bye.

I Should Just Get Out And Walk!

Some days, “I could get out and walk faster than this,” is just an expression–exaggeration uttered for dramatic effect to convey frustration over the lack of forward motion in a bad traffic situation. Often, people even add the word, “literally,” to bolster the dramatic effect. Most oft it feels like you could walk faster, but, in fact, at some point your car-driving self would pull ahead of your pedestrian self and might even smirk a little. Today is not one of those days.

I left my office at about 3:10 pm and it is now 5:57. My normal commute lasts about 20 minutes. There was no snow on my car when I left–just rain and pellets of frozen rain that had begun to enchrust my vehicle. The light shell was easy to brush away. Now I estimate there are a good three+ inches of heavy snow on top of my car. Traffic is at such a stand-still I was able to stop my engine and hop out to clear snow off the windows and lights without ever leaving the main thoroughfare. I’ve cleared my side-view mirror five times. The woman in the car in front of me has cleared her entire car twice. The road itself has somewhat less snow–certainly, less than it would have had, had there not been miles of nearly-stopped vehicles shielding it from the full on blizzard-like conditions. Hot engines melting copious little snowflakes before they could flutter to the ground. I have seen lightning twice (at least, I think it was lightning–either that or blown transformers) and the woman in front of me just got out and cleared her car for a third time. I fear I may run out of gas. I am STILL not home, but I am close now. Close enough to know with absolute certainty that I could, indeed, walk home faster than this. 6:09.

6:20 I pull into my garage. Home!

[Adding a footnote to this. While I was relatively stressed and actually shaking by the time I got home, sitting in traffic for so long gave me some time to do a little reading, blogging, and briefly chatting with my fellow traffic sufferers. It could have been worse. My short (in miles), but time consuming drive yielded a solid 4-5 inches of heavy snow on top of my car. But I would later discover that some folks in our area would take over 13 hours to get home. There were kids stuck in daycares most of the night as their parents trudged through the slow moving traffic to reach them. I have to say, I had it pretty darn good in comparison.]

Word Disease of the Day: periphrasis.

Wow, if this word were a disease, I think have it—especially when I talk. The good thing about writing is that I can go bad and read and find that, “wow, I could so use fewer words to say that better.” But when talking my mouth just keeps on going until I finally manage to get out what I want to say, but by then most folks have that glazed expression…

December 9, 2010 Word of the Day: periphrasis

noun: A roundabout way of saying something, using more words than necessary.

Via Latin, from Greek periphrasis, from periphrazein (to explain around), from peri- (around) + phrazein (to speak, say). First recorded use: 1533.

Overheard today: brows and twins, Adams and that guys…

Overheard today at home:

“Celine Dion gave birth to twins at age 42. There’s hope for me yet!”
“Better start singing.”

“You still love me even though I have a 4-inch eyebrow hair, right?” “Right?!”

“What she needs is more…”
“Adam Sessler?”

“Is he somebody famous?”
“Well, he looks like that guy in that movie.”
“Shia LaBeouf.”
“Yeah. … Good job.”