We have a covered patio on one side of our house which is accessed by a sliding glass door. I use it most often to let Goldie in and out of the house to the backyard. The patio was used for exercise equipment by the previous owners, and they left a small, simple hook sunk into the ceiling — kind of like this one:

Hanging hook

Hanging hook

In fact, that photo is probably close to life-sized. It's not a terribly big hook or anything — small enough that, say, wasps or something had filled in the hook part with enough material to form some sort of pale gray, blobby thing resting in the arch of the hook. My assumption was that it was some sort of nasty bug, so I was keeping half an eye on it to know whether they were coming back this year or not — we sure don't want a wasp's nest right next to the sliding glass door, after all.

As it turns out, it's not bugs at all — it's a hummingbird! She's nesting quite assiduously, though she really doesn't like it when we use the sliding glass door. She zips off immediately when we come out that way, scolding us with sharp little chk! … chk! cries that sound much louder than her tiny little body looks like it could produce.

We're using the other doors now to access the patio, to give her a bit more privacy… and I confess I am somewhat excitedly wondering if I could sneak a webcam out there too! I would absolutely love to watch baby hummingbirds being hatched and fledged, after all.

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Several times recently I've been in a place where I had to listen to the folks around me admiringly discussing rich people. Their eccentricities, the weirdly frivolous ways they spend their money, the issues they ignore in order to have fun, the vast amounts they spend on things that could easily be bought for far less… these seem to excite and fascinate people, such that they listen with rapt attention and seem to find it a wonderful story to hear.

Is it just me that finds stories such as these incredibly sad? All the good these people could do! But instead they're spending their money on personal toys, on antiquated games for which they are nostalgic, on things that entertain only them, on having a fun time… on remaining children, emotionally.

Do they ever read the news? Do they realize they're part of the 1%, or that they're contributing to the financial problems not just of the US, but of the entire world? Do they even care?

Worse: why do ordinary people seem to treat them with near-hero worship? These obscenely wealthy individuals are not worthwhile role models. If anything, they're parasites on society. I wish there were some way to reach such people — to ask them if they would like to do something really amazing, to help people and to make a better world. Or perhaps the issue is that there are too many trying to do that to them — and all with a wildly different idea of what a better world should be.

Nevertheless, as rational people, and at the very least, surely it would behoove us not to idolize the stupidly wealthy? Maybe I'm overreacting… but still, profligate waste makes me feel bad — both for those who could really use that wastage, and for those who're foolishly throwing good things away. I find those folks really sad.

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I'm slowly making progress on my plan to turn my bedroom into a steampunk zeppelin's cabin! I've stained the inside of all the doors and doorframes that face into the bedroom so they look nice and brown. I'm going to put a porthole into the one that leads to the rest of the house. There are two porthole frames — one for each side of the door — and they look rather like this one:

Porthole example

Porthole example

Like the photo, mine need cleaning rather badly! They also have a pretty blue-green hard plastic window, rather than being clear — which is perfect for my needs.

Next, I think, are the long curtains which obscure Engineering — the nook in the room where all the filing cabinets are. They're simple purple IKEA curtains, but I intend to put a fringe on the bottom, and some sort of drape at the top so they look more Victorian.

Having an artsy project like this one is really helpful as a break from dissertation writing. I give myself one day a week to just relax and make things, and that makes a huge difference to my sanity! I'll post photos at some point when I have more to show.


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