Wednesday, January 01, 2014


Jamie and the boys went up north to see friends and her father, so I spent New Year's Eve and am spending New Year's Day on my own. No, that is not sad.I like the quiet and think it's good for me.

I'm not saying I make the best choices when left to my own devices (McDonald's for dinner), but mostly I just had a peaceful evening, watched a movie that played to my strengths (melancholy, humor, and mulling), and was in bed by 10:00.

I awoke too early this morning (around 6:00), thinking I could hear the dog pacing downstairs, possibly getting himself in trouble. I was also eager to get up and try something new. I'd heard a story earlier this week on NPR, and thought this year I'd try Molybdomancy over the usual ritualized contemplation of my inadequacies. Yes, I have resolutions to exercise more and lose weight and be less angry, but what's the true value of screaming self- and society-imposed goals  into the wind at the beginning of each year just so we can mourn our failures at the end? Case in point, while uncertainty is 98% of parenting, I've recently noticed a disturbing new viral media phenomenon which seems precisely designed to prey upon parental insecurities. It's the parenting expectations equivalent of unreasonable, airbrushed body images for girls:

I don't know that I believe in fate or destiny or pre-determination; but I do know that much of what will happen over this coming year is out of my hands (not all, but much). On January 1, 2010, I certainly didn't know that my primary resolution should be to survive the year (Mission Accomplished). Anywho, as I often now do, I took to Amazon, looking to procure small amounts of lead and predict the year's shape. Here's what I came up with:

I wasn't quite sure how suitable  a 4.5mm BB would be, in terms of producing an appropriately-shape-shifting amount of molten lead, but it seemed worth a shot (no pun). I was also under the impression it would be relatively easy to melt a small ball. But you know what happens when you assume. Here's a play-by-play of my morning:

  • Confirmed dog was okay and let him outside to "go" (10 degrees -- brrr).
  • Changed my office calendar from 2013 island scenes to 2014 Hubble telescope deep space images. (Wyatt won't look at it, because the vastness of space freaks him out ever since we watched a documentary about black holes).
  • Contemplated making instant coffee -- to some a cry for help.
  • Started real coffee percolating (yes, we have a percolator), thinking that would give me plenty of time to melt my ball. Ha.
  • Let cold dog inside after he'd done his business.
  • Selected a rarely-used spoon as the smelting receptacle and filled rarely-used plastic container with cold water (to cool my ominous [as in omen] sculpture).
  • Selected a bb and rolled it around in my hand, imbuing it with my energy.
  • Dropped and retrieved said energy-imbued ball.
  • Placed the ball in the curve of the spoon, which was hanging over the lip of the kitchen counter, held in place by the weight of a roasted peanut container (counter-balance [no pun] is key to one-handed heating).
  • Heated the underside of the spoon with a long lighter.
  • When the previous technique yielded no obvious results, applied direct heat to the lead with aforementioned lighter.
  • Realizing the lighter wasn't working and beginning to run out of butane, I lit the "bookstore-scented" candle I'd purchased as a companion to Jamie's Christmas Kindle.
  • Held candle beneath the spoon.
  • Realizing I couldn't just stand there all morning, I picked up the spoon, intending to rest it atop the candle flame, and proceeded to drop the ball. While it had not begun to melt, I did learn that it was getting quite hot.
  • Rested spoon over candle flame, ran fingers under cold water, picked up stray bb, placed bb back in spoon ("Edwina, back in bowl!" Wilk?)
  • Hopefully set kitchen timer for five minutes.
  • Ate cold pizza for breakfast (not sad or a cry for help) and started writing this entry.
  • Returned to kitchen, which, disappointingly, did not smell like a bookstore.
  • No change after 5 mins. with the candle;  moved spoon to small stove burner, dropping and retrieving ball again.
  • Set timer for another 5 mins.
  • Took pills with coffee and heavy cream (out of milk).
  • No change to ball; timer for 5 mins.
  • Kept writing.
  • Ball looking a little soft;timer for 5 mins.
  • spoon starting to melt; ball softer; timer for 5 mins.
  • Using pot holder, put spoon in cold water.
  • Doing so made a satisfying, "Hissssss".
  • The lead stayed stuck to spoon, except for some particles which swirled aimlessly in the water (Perhaps that's the start of my prognostication? Aren't we all just dust in the wind, debris in space?).
  • Set timer for 5 mins of cooling.
  • scraped what was left of the bb off spoon and got my presumptive forecast for the year. My interpretation of the shape (see below) is that of a  flounder. I suppose there are a number of ways to interpret that: That I'll move awkwardly, uncertainly; that I'll become or meet a bottom feeder, that things are "looking up" (Because flounder's eyes are on top of their heads, get it?). 
Who knows what the future holds? If this morning is any indication, determination and ingenuity will take me far. Or, at least give me lead poisoning.

The Year of the Flounder


  1. All of Me, duh. Happy 2014 Ken.

  2. I must admit, being such a word nerd, I'm ashamed to have never heard about Molybdomancy. I am utterly fascinated with it now, of course, and have done all measure of Wiki & Google related research on it to find out more.

    You never cease to amaze me, Ken, for all the right reasons. Fantastic piece, today. Wishing you much success, rest, humor, and love this year. Happy New Year, my friend.