Proof That Emojis Are More Ancient Than You Think!

People think that emojis are this new thing, but I have a hunch they’ve been around for a while. It’s just that maybe they used to be a little more physical. For example, one year, at Previous Church’s annual Holiday Fair, someone donated this antique emoji-transmitting device:


At first glance, it just looks like some sort of oddly proportioned babydoll. But don’t be deceived. Take this baby for a spin and…


…it might fall asleep on you.


Did you find that upsetting? Sorry. I find it pretty creepy, too.

But this is not the only evidence of the age of emojis. A few weeks ago, while beach-combing on Cape Cod, I discovered a rare artifact. I haven’t gotten this appraised or anything, but I think I might have found an emoji device from the Stone Age. I call it the Emojistone. (Harry Potter’s life would have turned out so differently if he had been looking for one of these instead of the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone.) Behold.


Here we have what looks to be a cheery, if rushed, or maybe overly enthusiastic, little rock-character. But (also by spinning) he can also express anger/outrage (how relevant he is!):


…and sad/upset/despairing/Edvard Munch:


I’m pretty excited about this discovery. Imagine if people had to express emotions in some other, more complicated, intimate way–like with our faces…


For the genuinely curious, evidently those holes in the rock are created by mollusks called “piddocks“–and indeed, there were tiny little mollusks inside this stone when I first found it. 



I Meant to Write

I wrote that last disclaimer post when I did, because I thought I was ready to write the post that I actually wanted to write, but even though I graduated with a Master’s degree in May, it turns out I still have homework assignments, and plus the BroFam showed up, and I’m sorry, my friends, but they take precedence. Also, I turned another year older. Also, sometimes when I mention other people besides myself in a blogpost, I feel the need to run the entire post by them before I post it, just to make sure they’re okay with their representation.

I find myself mildly entertained by the idea of turning this entire blog into a series of disclaimers about why I’m not really blogging, but I think that would get old pretty quickly–not only for you, but for me. But in the meantime, while we’re waiting for the okay on a post I have actually finally written, there’s this.

It's tough to blog with all these minions. (Also, this illustration is an attempt to really get on the nerves of a specific blogging friend I know.)

It’s tough to blog with all these minions.
(Also, this illustration is an attempt to really get on the nerves of a specific blogging friend I know.)

This Happens Every Time

It happens every time life gets really really Interesting, I mean. (I also might mean Interesting-Like-A-Trainwreck-Is-Interesting.)

When life gets Interesting, even if I already had some things I wanted to post about here, I get overwhelmed by trying to express what I mean, and so I just don’t. And then, having already Not, and life getting more and more Interesting, I find more and more things to write about and get overwhelmed about and I keep not writing about them. Then I stop venturing over to WordPress at all because I feel somehow like I’m letting the Internet down, which is probably really self-aggrandizing … Then I realise I’m ready to blog again and I have no idea how to get started back up.

This is obviously not the best way, but I felt the need to disclaim (make excuses?), and I don’t want the disclaimer to take over the posts I actually want to write, so–you get a whole (but fortunately very short) post of disclaimer. Yay!

I’m not even totally sure what I’m disclaiming, really, but here it is anyway. Hope you’re still around. I’d love to hang out here with you again.

That's a Jenn Story

Not Dr Watson

You know when you come upon something, or it comes upon you, and you’ve never seen it before, but you immediately think it must be that thing you read about in a book?

You don’t? Well, let me give an example. When I was fourteen, my family and I went to Europe together for the first time. During the last week of our trip, we went to London. To my fourteen-year-old, baptised-in-Narnia-and-Masterpiece-Theatre imagination, real 1980’s London was a little bit of a shock and disappointment, although at least it prepared me to relocate there quite happily a decade later. On that first visit, I kept looking for things I had read about in old books, and fortunately on pretty much the first day, I saw a large crow-like bird, except it wasn’t a crow, because it was black and white. I had an Elsa Beskow book with illustrations featuring a bird that looked like that, and Grandma (who translated Elsa Beskow books for me before they were available in English translations at all) had always translated it as crow. But for some reason when I saw one on the London pavement outside our holiday garden flat, I thought, magpie. “Is that a magpie?” I asked my parents. I’m not sure they knew, but it was okay, because I did. It was definitely a magpie.

And so it was.

And so it was.

This morning, I am sitting with my coffee and my notebook and my computer by the upstairs window, looking out over the pond. About half an hour ago now (because it took me forever to find just the right magpie picture) I happened to glance out and see another bird, much larger than a magpie, flapping slowly across the pond. We get lots of unusual birds around here, and I didn’t recognise it as any of the usual unusual customers.It wasn’t the Bald Eagle (who we seem to have missed this season) because it was the wrong colour and shape, and the flapping was wrong. It was built, and moved, much more like a water bird, but it wasn’t any water bird I have seen here before. It wasn’t the Blue Heron, because it was still the wrong colour and didn’t have those long legs and neck. It wasn’t the Kingfisher because it was much too large and slow, and not at all colourful. It wasn’t a Pelican, which we’ve never had here but I’ve seen before. It was all white, but it wasn’t the Swan, because–well, I already mentioned the short neck thing. The bird I’ve seen that it looked most like was a seagull, and we do get the occasional lost seagull around here, but it seemed to be larger and slower than one of those, too, and the first thing my brain said when I saw it was Albatross. 

I have never seen an albatross before, so I looked up “images of albatross in flight.” None of the images were as pure white as that bird I saw this morning, but the profile was pretty similar.

Like a seagull, but not a seagull. Know what I mean?

Like a seagull, but not a seagull. Know what I mean?

Then I watched a video of an albatross in flight and … I guess the bird I saw wasn’t an albatross. I know albatrosses (like magpies) have kind of negative connotations, but The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is seriously one of my favourite works of literature, so I really kind of wanted it to be one. Plus I like being right, especially when it is solely on the basis of intuition.

In fact, though, I probably wasn’t even right about this thing being a water bird. And to be honest, I wasn’t close enough to see a beak. Perhaps it was just a Snowy Owl, out too late partying on the weekend, and returning home to sleep. Snowy owls are pretty cool, too, I guess …

Although, I'm still not convinced that's what it was, either.

Although, I’m still not convinced that’s what it was, either.

Facing Reality

Warning: this will be a whingy post. If you’re not into reading other people’s whinges, I won’t hold it against you if you skip this one.

That's a Jenn Story

But I’ll bet because I just posted a classic illustration from the Wizard of Oz, you won’t.

I wasn’t ever supposed to look old.

In fact, I think I might have subconsciously anticipated a sort of Benjamin Button-like existence (except that I’ve never seen that movie so I don’t really know what I’m talking about). When I was in Junior High I was so tall that new students occasionally thought I was a teacher. In my 20’s in London, people frequently assumed I was in my early 30’s. But when I moved back to Our Fair City and started working with other actually 20-year-olds in my 30’s, I was constantly assumed to be somewhere in the 25-27 age range.

I know. You’re thinking, but are too polite to say, that everyone in my 30’s was also being too polite to let on that they knew I was in my 30’s. And I suppose there must have been a few of those. But genuine astonishment is sometimes discernible and it happened so often back then that I have to think that for the most part, I looked younger than I was. My hair was greying, and I’ve had a crease between my eyes at the bridge of my nose forever because I squint, but I imagined that somehow I would continue to have this otherwise youthful face, which would just make the grey hair kind of cool.

Now I am … no longer in my 30’s. Although there have been some “life hiccups” in recent times, overall I am happier than I ever was during that decade, so I feel like I should look younger than ever. But this week I started my CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) program and we had to get badges made for the hospital. I sat down in the chair, tried to smile at the camera, and what came out was … a picture of this typical middle aged New England woman, not quite smiling, with the beginnings of jowls. No. Not okay! I was finally starting to get rid of my double chin through my workouts and Shakeology, and the acne I’ve had since I was 13 has never fully gone away, so I feel that Jowls should have to wait a decade or two. And why the heck isn’t P90X3 helping with them??

I had actually already noticed these to my horror in a few other recent, less official photos, but now every day I have to wear this thing that looks like me, except I’m not willing to acknowledge that I look like that. I want my new colleagues, and maybe the patients I’m going to meet next week, to be mystified as to how old I am … which probably definitely has nothing to do with being a good chaplain. Now that I think about it. Okay, I’ll shut up now. Off to have some warm milk or whatever old people do on Friday nights …

Actually, I've liked warm milk my whole life. What if that's the reason I have jowls?

Actually, I’ve liked warm milk my whole life. What if that’s the reason I have jowls?

Stuff I Think About

Wwwednesday – Wondering

What if the power of suggestion was only part of the reason you yawn when you see someone else yawn? What if the other reason was that, because they were expelling more carbon dioxide at once, and you were inhaling it, you needed to yawn both to take in more oxygen and to expel the excess CO2 yourself.

Of course, the fact that you just yawned after looking at this picture kind of negates that possibility.

Of course, the fact that you just yawned after looking at this picture kind of negates that possibility.


Today my Paul and I went to local orchard to get our first cider (not the hard kind, but Europeans, it really is still cider) of the season which, at this particular orchard, you can get for five cents a cup out of a barrel stuck in the wall.

Yet another reason why New England in the autumn is awesome.

Yet another reason why New England in the autumn is awesome.

You can also buy it in gallon containers, of course, but why would you go anywhere else if you can also get instant gratification like this?

Right next to the spigot was an upright glass refrigerator selling all kinds of cheese, including this one:

We get a little bit confused about our r's heah in New England.

We get a little bit confused about our r’s heah in New England.

Armish? Is that like the slightly more warlike cousins of the pacifistic Pennsylvania Dutch? We may never know . . .


On the way home from the orchard with the cider spigot and the Armish blue (not bleu) cheese, we saw a woman dancing her dogs. I mean dancing. She had two dogs on leashes, and earbuds in her ears, and she was literally dancing down the street. My Paul and I both burst out laughing and then remarked to each other how refreshing it was to see an actually happy person acting happy. In public. Which immediately made me wonder what it says about our society when the first reaction at seeing someone acting uninhibitedly happy is to laugh at them. Or is it our society? Or is it just me?

The Cucumber Patch

Family Friday

It’s kind of too bad Friday doesn’t begin with a D. Or that Domestic doesn’t begin with an F. Because it seems that most of my Friday posts have to do with domesticity more than family, per se–plus I can talk about courgettes or zucchini, for example, without telling tales or offending anyone. But Domestic Friday doesn’t alliterate, and ever since I discovered what alliteration was, as an approximately four-year-old, I have had a need for things to alliterate. Particularly titles. (It might also be genetic–pastors are known to alliterate their main sermon points, and I have a lot of pastors in my family.)

Anyway. Today I mostly just wanted to update you on the state of the garden. Every year we have some crops that are dismal failures (usually because other animals enjoy them at less mature stages than we do, and so we don’t get to them before they have been gnawed into nonexistence–but sometimes because that crop and our soil just can’t seem to get along), and some crops that provide a delightful but fairly unmanageable overabundance. It’s kind of like a surprise party every summer, because, while there are one or two things we persist in trying every year which never really take off (onions, mostly), usually the failures and successes are different every year. This means we never know ahead of time what we’re going to end up buying at the supermarket after all (onions, mostly), and what we’re going to have to find creative ways to preserve and/or offload share. For example, last year, you may recall, we had a table-full of bell peppers (also known as capsicums). And carrots (pretty much universally known in English as carrots). This year we have one carrot, and the peppers have all but died . . . although our first attempt at cayennes appears successful.

After that first garlic disappointment, I went online (because why would you take the advice of a garlic farmer in front of you when you can get it off the internet?) and learned that it might be better to harvest in July rather than in June, so when all the travels and visits in July were over, I pulled the rest of the garlic out of the ground, and what do you know? We got some!

Garlic on pallet. We also have a pretty enormous pallet harvest this year, but that, as you may recall, is because of the turtles.

Garlic on pallet. We also have a pretty enormous pallet harvest this year, but that, as you may recall, is because of the turtles.

Actually, I think I picked it on the day we had our big 12-hour family cookout, which didn’t exactly lend itself to garlic braiding, so I did that about two weeks later.

Probably not THE most beautiful garlic braid you (or I) ever saw, but considering I had no idea what I was doing, it's not so bad.

Probably not THE most beautiful garlic braid you (or I) ever saw, but considering I had no idea what I was doing, it’s not so bad.

I thought it was going to take us forever to go through that much garlic, because we don’t usually, but I wasn’t counting on the cucumbers.

I also wasn’t counting, since I am new to preserving and this was the first year that cucumbers were our bumper crop, on the fact that pickles often require garlic. I was very proud that my first batch of dill pickles were made with cucumbers, garlic, and dill from our very own garden. Then I made a batch of bread and butter pickles. Then I made another half batch of dill. (That time we had to buy dill seed from the store, because although our homegrown dill did very well, there wasn’t a lot of it.) In total I made 32 jars of pickles.

We have also eaten many cucumber salads, fried cucumbers, tossed salad with cucumbers . . . I’m getting ready to experiment with cucumber parmesan, and I was kind of wishing for the opportunity to dump some Hollandaise sauce on the cucumbers so I could say we had a Benedict Cucumberbatch.

Gratuitous brooding Cumberbatch photo. You’re welcome.


But we have no Hollandaise sauce and I wasn’t really going to make any just for the purpose.

After all that, we still have (and I know this, because I counted them this morning) 30 cucumbers without a determined destiny. And two zucchinis. Which, by the way, are also known as courgettes.

How to Do Something I Heartily Recommend NOT Doing

Wwwednesday: WTHeck?

In 20 simple steps:

  1. Park your car in the sun on a hot summer day.
  2. Make sure the windows are rolled up tight.
  3. Leave an unopened 12 oz. can of seltzer in a cupholder.

    It’s a good seltzer. You should try it. Just not this way. (photo credit: Mike Literman, I guess, who doesn’t agree that it’s good.)

  4. Go to work for 7 hours.
  5. Get back in your car and drive home with the air conditioning on for 15 minutes.
  6. Drop your dog off at home.
  7. Drive back to work for a meeting.
  8. Open the can of seltzer, reasoning that you don’t mind warm beverages that are meant to be cold, and that surely 15 minutes of air conditioning should be enough to make the seltzer drinkable.
  9. Take a sip.
  10. Open your eyes in amazement at the unique sensation of hot fizz.sun-in-blue-sky
  11. Note that the heat makes the added natural flavours “pop.”
  12. Decide to write a blogpost recommending trying this experiment at least once, for the totally legal yet entirely unique sensory experience.
  13. Take some more sips.
  14. Note that it doesn’t taste so good anymore.
  15. Keep drinking it because you don’t like to waste anything, especially water.
  16. Note that actually, it’s starting to taste and feel like drinking fizzy metal.
  17. Wonder if it’s possible for the aluminum to leach into the seltzer under pressure at high temperatures.
  18. Revise blogpost in head.
  19. Leave the half-finished can in the car.
  20. Go to your meeting.

There. Now you know what that experience is like so you don’t have to try it. You’re welcome.



The Tuesday Reblog

Tomorrow’s my birthday so I guess I can reblog myself today, right? Here’s a little tongue-in-cheek grumble I wrote back on the Old Blog:




Possibly, if you were not born in July, you have never noticed this phenomenon. But calendar-makers quite typically save all their worst photos or illustrations for that month. Perhaps they think everyone will be on vacation, will not give their wall-calendars so much as a glance, and will therefore not even notice their laziness.

But I notice. Am I the only person who opens a calendar directly to her birth-month page to see what is represented there? Quite often I am tempted to make my calendar-purchase decisions based on the picture staring at me out of July. Often, but not always. If it were always, I would never buy any calendars at all, because July calendar art is usually ugly, or boring, or tritely patriotic, or a bad guy. This year I bought a Beatrix Potter calendar on sale in mid-January, partly because it was on-sale in mid-January, and partly because even though the character respresented on the July page is a fox (one of the bad guys, though I do not recall from which story), it’s an engaging illustration. Sometimes you have to settle.

Roommate-Rachel, however, has saved the day. (Or the month.) She has a Lord of the Rings character-portrait calendar on which we write our weekly work-schedules, hanging in the kitchen. Staring mysteriously out at us from behind her glistening white hood is Galadriel in all her elvish glory. I have always like Galadriel. I’ve pretty much always liked elves, too. I fully endorse this calendar.

Except when I googled "lord of the rings calendar 2011," some of the calendar pictures came up, but not the Galadriel one. So here's the worst picture for THAT month. It was October. Sorry, October.

Except that when I googled “lord of the rings calendar 2011,” some of the calendar pictures came up, but not the Galadriel one. So here’s the worst picture for THAT calendar. It was October. Sorry, October.

Thanks, Deviantart.

Thanks, Deviantart.


Saturday Snippets

It’s awesome when you take three teenagers away for an overnight at camp on the first day of summer and at the end one of them says,

“I had fun. If summer ended today, I could say, ‘This summer I spent some time at a camp on a pond. I went kayaking and swimming and hiking–up the Biggest Mountain in the World.'”


View from the Biggest Mountain in the World (photo credit LS)

View from the Biggest Mountain in the World (photo credit LS)

Three Teenagers

Three Teenagers