Category: Musings

Oct 21

She was a dilly of a girl – Modern Nursery Rhymes

2015-10-18 1 Dill1

She was a dilly of a girl

was Dilly.

Skirts swinging around

muddy knees.

The wicker basket

cocked on her hip

full of fruits

and roots for dinner.


Jun 27

Where in the world is Malarkey Pie?

… Or Further Adventures in “Who’s wearing my t-shirts today?

There is something extremely satisfying in creating a thing and having people like the thing you have created. This is especially true for something as intimate as clothing. I mean, every morning, you wake up and decide who you want to be that day and then you don the costume that tells the world about your decision.

Where in the world are people wearing Malarkey Pie?

Where in the world are people wearing Malarkey Pie?

When I started making the t-shirts to sell on Cafepress and Zazzle around seven years ago, it was just a way to express a creative side that had been set away during graduate school. It later developed into a way to help pay down my student loans faster. And that part is working! I’ve paid off one private loan and will soon stick a fork in a second. Only $100,000 left to go between my federal loans, private loans, and Parent Plus loans, because student debt is now multi-generational.

Recently, I became curious as to where my designs were being worn splashed across the chest. I mapped the locations and found that not surprisingly, most of my sales where in North America. But I am tickled to no end to see just how far afield my snark extends. [insert evil laugh here] Seriously, someone in Ireland is probably drinking Guinness right NOW wearing something I designed!


They are wearing Malarkey Pie in IRELAND!


So I began to dig a little and found sales to Australia (It figures that THEY get my sense of humor!), all over Europe, China, Tunisia (Really?), and the United Arab Emirates. Check out the Google map and see where fine and intelligent people have purchased my snarky designs for yourself.

Malarkey Pie truly is an international purveyor of fine snark for the discerning taste.

Malarkey Pie - International purveyor of fine SNARK for the discerning taste


What to get some Malarkey Pie for yourself? Check out my shops!


Mar 17

Auntie Thea’s Safe Driving Tips – Coming to a full stop.

Good morning safe drivers! Today’s driving tip from Auntie Thea is about “stopping”, as in the physical action of coming to a full rest, absence of motion, lack of forward momentum, as in “stop the hell right there”.

Auntie Thea's Driving Tips

Auntie Thea’s Driving Tips

A “stop” does not mean “slow down and THEN blow through the red light”. A stop is a very simple concept. It means just…. fecking…. stop. Period.

Drive safe out there, boys and girls! I love you and want you to get to where you are going. Remember, kids, life is not about the destination, it’s about not killing a family of four on the journey.

Comments Off on Auntie Thea’s Safe Driving Tips – Coming to a full stop.

Mar 15

Buying a home? Think natural hazards.

My husband and I are beginning the process of buying a house. The last child is out of the home and we will no longer have her as a tax deduction. While I do acknowledge that children do have their uses other than as tax deductions, this is a really big deal. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind paying taxes as I feel it is important to have good roads and a populace that are not un-educated dolts, I just don’t like spending money I don’t really need to.

So, I naturally started looking on-line for information on buying houses. And went to Pinterest, as you do. And I found all sorts of really good information that prompted me to start my own Pinterest board on this subject that I so cleverly named “A home of my own”. And I began reading all of the really good tips, infographics, and blog articles. And I learned some useful stuff, but as I read, I realized that no one was addressing the role of natural hazards in home buying. And being an emergency manager who works in the world of natural hazards I thought that this needed to be rectified. So here is my blog post on taking natural hazards into consideration.

Because no matter where you live, you will have natural hazards to deal with. It’s not something we as humans like to think about. We live in a shiny happy bubble, right up until the earthquake shatters your chimney, the tornado rips your home off the foundation, or spring floods carry it away. It is something we need to think about and prepare for so that when it happens, we can back to normal life as soon as possible.

And you need to think about it especially when you buy a home. While bad things can happen at anytime, we want to have some reassurance that we will have a home to go to after the bad thing happens. So do your homework about natural hazards just like you would in vetting a realtor, or mortgage agent, or any other of the many things you need to think about in buying a home.

What do you need to know about natural hazards before you buy a home?

What do you need to know about natural hazards before you buy a home?

So let’s talk about natural hazards. The most common are flood, fire, weather-related, and earthquake. There are more fun games that Mother Nature can share with us, but we’ll concentrate on these.

  1. Flood.

Flooding happens when water rises high enough to reach normally dry land. It can happen because of rain, or tsunami, or hurricane. It can happen suddenly in a flash flood, or slowly as rivers rise in the spring thaw. But the flood zones are fairly well mapped so you can find out if the home you are interested in buying is in a flood zone.

River Flooding

Go to FEMA’s National Flood Layer Map and type in your address to see if the home you are looking at is in the flood plain.

If the home is in the flood plain, your mortgage company will likely require you to buy flood insurance. But thare is a lot that you can do to mitigate flood risk. Check out to get more information.

Hurricane Storm Surge

Hurricane storm surge is ocean water that is pushed on land by the force of the wind. It can reach up to 30 feet high and run miles inland. Remember Hurricane Katrina? If you are buying property in the south and east anywhere near the shore, go to check out the NOAA interactive map on modeled storm surge.

Storm Surge Inundation (SLOSH Maximum of Maximums)

 Tsunami floods

Tsunamis are caused when there is a large earthquake under the ocean. It can be extremely hazardous to be near the shore when one of these occur. If you are near the beach, and you feel an earthquake, get to high ground immediately as a tsunami could come ashore in just a few minutes. But what does this mean for you folks looking to buy a house? Well, if you are looking at beachfront property, take some time to find out if it is in the tsunami evacuation zone.

If you are looking for land in Washington and Oregon, you can check out this interactive map to see if the property you are interested in purchasing is at risk from a tsunami.

Oh, and the FEMA flood insurance covers tsunami. Good thing, that.

  1. Fire

So fires that can destroy a home come from two sources, an internal house fire and what is called “wildland fire”. I’m going to focus on wildland fire, for more information on house fires, go check out what the American Red Cross has to offer.

We love to live in the wild places of the world. To build our homes in the forests in order to be closer to nature. Well, Nature can be a bitch. One of her favorite toys is wild fire. And when we build our homes in or near the forests, we put ourselves in harm’s way. The National Fire Protection Association runs a program called Firewise. When you are looking at that gorgeous home in the trees, keep in mind that you may need to watch it go up in flames unless you mitigate the hazard.

  1. Wind


Ok, I admit it, I love the movie Twister. There I said it. But I also know that the reality is that tornadoes are a dangerous hazard that are going to get worse as climate change really digs into our weather patterns. When you are looking at home in an area that can get tornados (which is anywhere, really), ask about if the gables have been braced and the connections between vertical walls and roof have been strengthened. FEMA has a FAQ on tornado safe rooms.


Hurricane pose probably one of the most destructive, and familiar, types of natural hazards. If you live in the south and the east, you probably have been through one, or know someone who has. We all remember Hurricane Katrina. I do. It was one of the events that changed my life path and brought me into emergency management. But what does that have to do with buying a home?

Well, as you are doing your house shopping, keep things hurricanes in mind, if the hazards exists in your area. has a great website with information on hurricanes.

  1. Earthquakes

Ok, here is my personal favorite, earthquakes. The focus of my job is to get Oregon prepared for earthquakes and tsunamis. So, naturally, I think about these things day and night, and certainly when I am looking for a house to buy. So I’ve ruled areas of town because of flood hazard and now I look at expected shaking from earthquakes. The U.S. Geological Service has seismic hazard maps that you can look at to get an idea of areas of higher hazard.

Oregon’s Department of Geology and Mineral Industries has an online hazard viewer, HazVu, that you can check out to see expected shaking in the area you are looking at houses. You might check to see if your state agencies offer a similar mapping service. Using this service, I ruled out some of the lower areas of Salem and am now concentrating on the south side, which is up on hills.

Well, this blog post should feed your paranoia about buying a home pretty well, as if you needed ONE MORE BLOODY THING to worry about in this hot mess that is buying a home. But that is what it is right, a home, and not just a house. You put so much effort into choosing the paint colors and floor coverings. Protect that sweat and tears that you put into your home. Consider the natural hazards in your area and buy a home in a smart way.

Additional Resources:

[amazonjs asin=”0793108985″ locale=”US” title=”Healthy Home Kit: Inspecting for Environmental Hazards, Working with Professionals to Avoid…..”]


Feb 25

Pi Day Scavenger Hunt List


  • Who were the first people known to find a value of pi? When was it?
  • Who memorized 42,195 digits of PI on Feb. 18, 1995? Where was the person from?
  • What is the symbol for pi? Who first used it and when?
  • Name the Swiss mathematician who first popularized the Pi symbol.
  • What is the location of your birthdate in Pi?
  • What is the formula for the DIAMETER of a circle?
  • What is the formula for the CIRCUMFERENCE of a circle?
  • What is PI to 30 decimal places?
  • What is PI the ratio of?
  • What famous mathematician was born on March 14?
  • What does it mean to “Square a Circle”?
  • What day is celebrated on July 22?
  • Which US state flags include circles?
  • Name the US city with a zip code containing the first 5 digits of pi-beginning with 3.
  • Name a US city with a name that references circular things (name of city and state).
  • Name three sports or games that use a circle or a sphere in their play.
  • Name three song titles that refer to something circular.
  • Post a Pi pun in the comments section of this page.
  • What is your favorite pie? Please provide the recipe.
  • Name three movie titles with reference to something circular.
  • Name the mathematicians who have birthdays on March 14.
  • Name three kinds of candy that come in circular pieces
  • What is your favorite Pi joke?
  • Find your birthday in PI and record the location.
  • Find the number of decimal places of Pi that has been calculated since 1999.
  • Find some Pi art.
Pi Day Scavenger Hunt!

Pi Day Scavenger Hunt!

Not-so Easy, but hey, you are tough!

  • Find a Pi mnemonic and use it to memorize the first 314 numbers of Pi.
  • Which fraction is closest to the actual value of PI… 337/120 or 22/7 or 355/113?
  • Which capital letters in the alphabet in block style have rotational symmetry ?
  • Find and perform Pi song and post to YouTube. Leave the location in the comments.
  • Find a Pi poem or any math poem and post to YouTube. Leave the location in the comments.
  • Create some Pi art and post an image online to Instagram. Leave the location here in the comments.
  • Doctors used to think that trying to square a circle was an illness. Name of the illness.
  • Is PI a rational or irrational number? Explain the difference.
  • Which geometric solids have circular cross sections?
  • Name three formulas that include pi.
  • What was the most inaccurate version of PI? Explain who, when, and what the value was (sentence form).
  • What value of PI did the Egyptians obtain 2000 years before the Common era?
  • What value of PI did the Babylonians obtain?


Feb 24

Design 365 Challenge – Design a t-shirt a day to pay the student loans away!

I have been selling “print on demand” (POD) t-shirts at and for several years now with the goal to use the extra money to pay down my student loans faster. Up until this last year, it hasn’t been a very focused endeavor. I’d create few designs each month and post them with no clear strategy. Just doing it for fun really. To convince myself to do better this year, I developed the Design 365 Challenge and created printables that you can download. The goal is to make a new design every single day. Or at least have 365 new designs by the end of the year. Join the fun and play along at home and increase your own sales!

Design 365 Challenge

I started with in 2005 to sell t-shirt and coffee mugs. I’d sell a few designs now and again, but not a lot. Then last year, I decided to really up my game and spent a great deal of time developing new designs and learning how to market them. All that time and hard work paid off! In fact, I made enough money last year from selling at these two places that I will actually have to pay taxes on the royalties. Um, Yay?

No, really it’s good, it’s progress. I have enough business-related deductions that it should offset things so the hit shouldn’t be too bad. (I like good roads and schools, so taxes are ok, too) Maybe future posts will be about taxes (I’m not an accountant but a procrastinating entrepreneur) and more about the business end of well, business. But today I wanted to talk more about something exciting that I am doing this year… the Design 365 Challenge.

Design 365 Challenge

In December I took a few weeks off to burn down comp time I had accumulated at work. I had a lot of free time to think about how to grow my t-shirt shops. One of the things I was working on was developing a set of planner pages to help organize the business side of things. And I came up with the Design 365 Challenge to keep myself honest and to help track where and when I post. I use an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of my designs, keywords, and descriptions. But I hadn’t come up with a good way to track product development and social media posts.

Each Planner page has a free notes space at the top, a monthly calendar with places to show where I create products to sell and where I post to social media. It is has been very helpful to keep the design mojo flowing and it certainly has helped me to get higher on the search index of both Cafepress and Zazzle.

I use HootSuite to schedule social media posts and that has been a life saver. I can plan a whole week’s worth of posts before my husband even wakes up on Saturday morning. Woot!

Check out my other article on how I am using my t-shirt design business to pay down my student loan!

Get the Design 365 Challenge Printables! (Free.pdf files)



Nov 21

Althea can’t get Netflix in Canada. You won’t believe what happens next!

So on a recent work trip to Canada, I found out to my frustration that none of my viewing-pleasure subscriptions worked in the Great White North. I was being denied the joy of enjoying the new episodes of Miss Fischer’s Murder Mysteries. Are Doc Martin, or anything of value. It only took ten minutes of regular teevee viewing to remind me why we dumped cable all those many long years ago. So I worked on some work-stuff, worked on some t-shirt designs.

Then I got bored. While perusing my Facebook feed, someone mentioned how I am the Viscountess of Photobombing. While that may not be “technically” true, I do enjoy a good photobomb.

And you know what else I love?… the Doctor….


Althea photobombs the Doctor(s)...

Althea photobombs the Doctor(s)…

And then, all hell broke loose as it were….

I give you all a taste of how Althea runs amok (and frequently with scissors).

Althea photobombs the Muppets.

No one could show Althea how to get to Sesame Street.

Sunny Days! Laughing the Clouds away!

Sunny Days! Laughing the Clouds away!

 See, Canada! See what happens when I can’t get my Netflix!

See, Canada! See what happens when I can't get my Netflix!!

See, Canada! See what happens when I can’t get my Netflix!!

Cumberbatching the Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch may think he’s champion photobomber, but he’s got nothing on Althea.

Khan, Red Shirt Bob, and Me. What could go wrong? Worst away mission EVAR!

Khan, Red Shirt Bob, and Me. What could go wrong? Worst away mission EVAR!

Every family has one…

Mr. Bean may stumble around and fall into situations. Althea jumps onto planets and stumbles into state occasions.

House Atreides hires a new planetologist.

House Atreides hires a new planetologist.

Marvel finds a new talent

When asked about her superpower, she replied coquettishly that she has the best one ever… she can transfer the contents of her bladder into anyone with a one mile radius.

The new Avenger, the Tsunami TSue makes her first (and last) appearance.

The new Avenger, the Tsunami TSue makes her first (and last) appearance.

And I’m spent!

And I'm spent ...

And I’m spent …

And then my daughter joined in ….

Who stole the Last Fishstick?

Who stole the Last Fishstick?

Who stole the Last Fishstick?


Something something ocean ocean…

Wait… what was the question?

Something something ocean ocean

Something something ocean ocean


May 21

12 Great Summer Reads and the Bags to carry them in

12 Summer Reads

And along comes summer with all the lazy days spent in pursuits to refresh the soul. The tradition of summer reading is long and for good reason. We spend our days rushing about tending to the need for food and shelter. Summer is time to take a breath, see the sky, and open the mind.
This post is all about summer reading, lounging on the beach, and finding just the right bag to tote those books around in. So toss in your sunscreen, big floppy hat and head into richly textured world of other worlds and lives…


1. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood

“Diana Gabaldon’s century-spanning Outlander series deserves its avid fanbase. It’s making the leap to TV on Starz this summer, so now’s the time to devour the whole steamy series–including book 8, out in June.” –Mari Malcolm


OK, Who out there ISN’T excited about the Outlander series coming to the teevee? Get your Diana Gabaldon fix right here!

And the perfect compliment for all that glorious Scottish scenery (wink wink, nudge nudge) is the Celtic Triskele in highland perfect  greens and purples.


Celtic Triskele

Celtic Triskele


2. Half a King by Joe Abercrombie


“Half a King has young adults in mind, but doesn’t leave adults behind. In this coming-of-age fantasy tale we follow a reluctant new king through betrayal, hardship, adventure, self-discovery, and some excellent twists.” –Robin Rothman



The perfect accompaniment to a summer romp through history, the “Chivalry isn’t dead” design.


_Pinterest Summer Reads Blog Chivalry

Chivalry isn’t dead… you can find it were you offer it.


3. The Lincoln Myth: A Novel by Steve Berry


New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry returns with his latest thriller, a Cotton Malone adventure involving a flaw in the United States Constitution, a mystery about Abraham Lincoln, and a political issue that’s as explosive as it is timely—not only in Malone’s world, but in ours.



And speaking of myths and Lincoln, don’t you just love a good internet meme? I mean, just take the one about Lincoln quotes on the internet …


The thing about quotes on the Internet is that you can not confirm their validity -- Abraham Lincoln

The thing about quotes on the Internet is that you can not confirm their validity — Abraham Lincoln


4. Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth


I can hardly keep up with the teen sci-fi drama that moves from book to screen. But this series looks to be a universe that will keep us entertained until the next sexy dystopia comes along.



Science fiction, at least good science fiction, alway tells us more about being human. It informs us and asks many hard questions. The very best science fiction, also gives us the ability to laugh at our own foibles.


Diagonally parked in a parallel universe....

Diagonally parked in a parallel universe….


5. Hard Choices. by Hillary Rodham Clinton


Our next President has written a book. It seems to be the Thing to Do. Perhaps we should check it out and see what she has been up to.



Of course, we can expect that there will be some folks in the good ole U.S. of A. that will continue with the major freak out that has been going on since Barak Obama as first conceived…. as a viable candidate for President. At least she’s white, even if she does have lady-parts. She maybe she will only be half as irrationally hated.
So hat tip to all my feminist friends out there…


This is what a feminist looks like!

This is what a feminist looks like!


6. Euphoria by Lily King


“This historical novel–based on the life of Margaret Mead–is brainy, but sexier and more fun than you might think a book about an anthropologist might be.” –Sara Nelson

I have a soft spot in my heart for sexy anthropologists, although Margaret Mead isn’t usually the one that comes to mind. But she did have some very interesting things to say about sex.



The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. — Dorothy Parker


The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. -- Dorothy Parker

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. — Dorothy Parker


7. The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu


“What happens when an ugly rumor takes on a life of its own? Multiple narrators expose how far people will go to be liked and how little the truth seems to matter.” –Seira Wilson



We’ve all been there. Rumors and gossip taking the joy out of the day. Well, let the chaos monkeys fly. Get out there and be yourself!


Sing like no is watching

Sing like no is watching


8. The Heist by Daniel Silva


“I’ve developed a man-crush on Silva’s brainy, brutal artist/assassin/spy, Gabriel Allon, who in The Heist is on the hunt for a stolen Caravaggio masterpiece.” –Neal Thompson



This is the token MAN book. So this calls for MAN food. BACON! Bacon! Bacon! Gimmee salty fatty pig parts and gimme now! I want Bacon!


Bacon will save the World. I don't know how. But trust me. It will.

Bacon will save the World. I don’t know how. But trust me. It will.


9. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations.



Sometimes reading a good book is the best reward. So we are shopping for a house now, and while $650,000 for a domicile is a wee bit out of our league, it did have a formal library. Want! I figure that if I sell about 1.5 million t-shirts, coffee mugs or tote bags, then I can buy that formal library. So get to it! Buy something! 😀


All I want is Peace, Love, Understanding, and a Library as big as the Grand Canyon.

All I want is Peace, Love, Understanding, and a Library as big as the Grand Canyon.


10. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

I like stories where the Princess does her own damn rescuing. Prince Charming is nice and all, but a girl has gotta do what a girl has gotta do.



With all the stories in the news that has our elder sisters and mothers wondering why we continue to still fight the battle for equal rights , it is important to keep moving forward. Be strong, be powerful, be AMAZING!


Princess be doing her own rescuing

Princess be doing her own rescuing


11. Top Secret – Twenty One by Janet Evonovich


Ok, let me just say this….. SQUEE! I love the Stephanie Plum stories. I loved the movie, One for the Money
and want MOAR! This series (along with the Discworld series) are the go-to books on tape that we listen to on long road trips.



I think I need to make Stephanie her own cupcake tote bag, but until then, here, have a lemon drop!


When Life gives you lemons, add vodka.

When Life gives you lemons, add vodka.


12. Raising Steam by Sir Terry Pratchett


I am saving the best for last. I am a late comer to the Discworld series and regret every moment I missed knowing about the awesomeness of Sir Terry Pratchett. His books are funny, insightful, compelling, farcical and deeply moving. My personal favorite is Thud! .



The quote that Pratchett “borrows” from Juvenal is just as apt today as it was in the days of Rome’s glory. Who watches the watcher? Indeed. Who?


Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?


If you want to check out all of the bag and totes at Malarkey Pie, go here.

And before you rush out to get your books and tote bags, I want to let you in on the back story here. You may have heard of the student debt crisis that is facing the U.S. right now. Millions of students, eager to improve their lot in life, face the reality that unless your last name is Trump, you will likely graduate from college with sizable student debt. I am no exception

I finished graduate school in 2010 and have since then been working for the State of Oregon in a job that I love. I don’t really love the mounds of student debt that is keeping me from saving for retirement or saving to buy a home. So I started selling t-shirts and other gift items to pay down my loans faster. So when you purchase either on of these books from Amazon or tote bags from Cafepress, you are helping out.

If these designs aren’t your thing, check out these other posts…


Apr 09

5 Great Mother’s Day t-shirts for your crafty Mom

Does your mom go by the old adage that “she who dies with the most fabric wins”? ARe you likely to find piles of fabric in a vast rainbow of colors in her closets and sewing room? Are you looking for a unique gift to give your mom on this Mother’s Day? Then check out these top 5 t-shirt designs for your crafty maternal units!

1. It’s not a hobby. It’s a post-apocalyptic life skill.

CRAFT It's not a hobby



2. Know your cuts of lamb

CRAFT Know your cuts of lamb


3. Yarned and Dangerous

Crafts Yarned and dangerous



4. I am not easily distracted. Oh, look! Yarn!

Craft Distracted by yarn


5. I sew, therefore, I rip!

Craft I sew therefore I rip


My daughter is starting at Oregon State University in the fall. And gee, wouldn’t you know, I still have student loans of my own to pay off from graduate school. Let’s hear it for multi-generational student debt. I am selling this t-shirts and gifts to pay off my students which you can read about in other blog posts. (here and here). So, help a girl out and get an awesome t-shirt for your Mom at the same time. Or coffee mug. or messenger bag. or tote bag!


Mar 21

Which part of the American dream won’t I have?

I have student loan debt which means that I will probably never own my own home. I will not be able to help my kids with their college expenses. I won’t be able to save for retirement. I will not be able to travel to the European museums like I want to do.


This is what I signed on to when I decided to pursue my doctoral degree. I knew it was expensive and I knew that it would alter my personal and professional landscape for the rest of my life. And I knew that it would be (mostly) worth it. The job track I currently am on fills my heart and soul with meaning and purpose. The doctoral degree made this possible. I love my job, and the people I work with, and the people I serve.


I just wish my country valued education like it should. If Congress upholds it’s side of the bargain, after working in state government for 10 years, the balance of my federal loans will be written off. This is thanks to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. (

Learn more about how I am selling t-shirts and coffee mugs to pay off my student loans faster. You can find geeky snarky t-shirts at my Cafepress shop, Malarkey Pie.