Monday, December 31, 2012

Going Out

Can I get a list of the books I read in 2012 from Goodreads? Yes, but not a text list of titles, authors and dates which is what I wanted to paste here. 68 books finished makes me happy, it seems a good meaty number. I should acknowledge that seven of those were unfinished, books I gave up on. Twenty five or so were mysteries. There were some re-reads. Disclaimers finished, I am proud of having read so much this year. Onward to good reading! Wishing you the discovery of funny, poignant, heart pounding text in the new year.

I have put my photocopied knitting pattern somewhere safe. So safe I cannot find it. I would like to knit something before February and argh. Tiny cardigans are cute, so cute. But here's what a one to three month old does not need: a cardigan. I will do a baby blanket instead. Back to ravelry.
Impulse control? Well five dollars later I am the proud owner of this beautiful pattern. Which includes instructions for twisted stitches that alarm me. Don't care, proceeding onward with all speed. May go look for yarn at lunch time.

Snow has started. Lovely thick falling snow. Mm. We adults are all slightly unwell. I had a sore throat start after I selflessly went to the grocery store yesterday afternoon. I craved sweets to soothe it but was disappointed in the taffy that I bought. The red and white pieces that I hoped were peppermint flavored turned out to be "cherry" or something equally insipid. I repaired to the couch and watched hours of football and that seemed to help because I felt better by evening. My bedtime remains absurdly early. Hibernation in action! I started doing some stretches and pushups again this morning because #(@$as!_ if it's not time to move the large muscle groups. Grumble grumble. Otherwise the hibernating will result in a fat layer larger than I had planned.

We watched The Amazing Spiderman movie over the weekend. We adults liked it better than we expected. Andrew Garfield was as good as reported. I like the Tobey Maguire and Sam Raimi movie from 2002 but that villain is not handled well. This one did better with actual motivation. The ambiguity of the vigilante crime-fighter's relationship with the police was more nuanced than I expected. Emma Stone's role was thankless, of course. I think Kirsten Dunst got to have more fun as Mary Jane. More screamy *and* more angsty. Emma was watchable and agreeably knowing. She did not convince me she was a h.s. senior. Garfield was more plausible there. We are now watching a Phineas and Ferb dvd. As much as I like them I may have had enough already.

A new year's present if you, like I, have not previously been to the Book Snob blog. Lots to love in her writing about wonderful books.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

There and Back Again

No dragon to see, just the rigors of air travel during Christmas week. Am not recovered yet. Best part was sun and warm temps for most of our visit. Pedernales Falls State Park on Christmas day was beautiful. The icy wind had picked up that afternoon but it was still sheltered enough at the bottom of the canyon to be fun. I could whinge about my mother-in-law but I'd need to defend her too and that's tedious times two. I'm sorry we didn't get to see her new church but we were warned that their Christmas eve service is so in demand that they cut off entrance to the building after the fire code capacity is reached. A certain number can fit in the sanctuary, the rest go to the attached school gym and they start the service as soon as they've filled all those seats. Admirably efficient and entirely to be avoided. We all ate as many tacos as we could comfortably fit. Even Bun, who prefers to eat every food separately, found a favorite: bacon and egg breakfast tacos. We all got a little depressed about leaving the good tortillas behind us. The girls and their grandmother did a lot of Smurf Village management. I am thankful that I was not required to supervise any smurfs during my holiday.

I was just reading a post by someone who always feels bright and shiny on the day after Christmas. It feels like a new world she said. I am glad someone can feel that way. I am more likely to feel jaded if not actually hungover. Christmas clutter is different than every day clutter but still... I felt so glad to be home last night. Once we were in the house my eyelids were headed south. I only made it to 9pm which is a good thing since I needed to hit the grocery store before I went to work. The cat is in fine fettle and it's gratifying to see how excited she is at our return.

Listening to NPR this morning I remembered that it's the silly season between the holidays. A cocktail historian was urging us to revive a cocktail that is multiple liqueurs poured in distinct layers and sipped one at a time through a gold or silver straw. Oh please. There is room in my life for a good strong cocktail now and again but not for a sucking ritual. I'm not learning the Japanese tea ceremony either.

My MIL has offered to get both her sons' families together in August in some location to be chosen by the oldest grandchild. Apparently southern Italy and the Grand Canyon are in the running. I will send some brainwaves to my nephew about Scandinavia.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Freak White Out

It's white out though I can still see the tips of the grass. At 6am I got the school cancellation message and despite my webpage refreshing, no corresponding message from my employer. Merry Christmas from mother nature and the less than doughty district, kids.

I have cards to write, presents to wrap, suitcases to pack. Time to make some coffee and read some of my novel, clearly.

Happy Solstice! Merry Christmas! happy snow if you've got it. Get some stuff done, sure, but contemplate some twinkle lights too.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Checking off items

Felt odd and removed on Saturday before our carol sing. Had trouble following through with plans. The sing went very well. We had old songs, new songs and plenty of silly stuff. My spiced cider with cranberry juice and bourbon worked better than eggnog for singing. (I really like how that stuff tastes but be warned that it is sour and turned out to be a gross color. Mixed recommendation here.) My period started while we were singing which was a relief and let me relax several notches. It explained the weirdness earlier in the day. Even more importantly it means that I'll be almost done with all that before we travel on Friday, thank the goddesses.

My shopping for Nod is done. I have a book and the scarf for Elaine. My order for my mother probably won't arrive until after Christmas, maybe by her bday on the 28th. I am a bit stumped for the girls. I have a book for Bun and sketch pads and French hard candies. And I guess we'll do some xmas shopping in TX or at least Nod will. The wii will be waiting for us when we return.

I have lost all momentum with my sweater that is still in pieces. I'll probably figure out how to fit it together in
April when I won't be interested in wearing anything of the sort. I should be looking for yarn and needles for the baby blanket I want to give our neighbors who expect their newbie around Valentine's Day. That can surely wait until we're back from TX. I'm going to do it in white cotton.

I was glad to go to church on Sunday. I would have skipped except that the kids were singing. Our pastor was only a little ranty and there were many sniffles. We had two baptisms which was very affirming, thank you boys. Ooh did you hear the story on This American Life about the Oklahoma charismatic preacher who had a revelation about salvation being for all people, not just the Christians who go to church? He lost a bunch of his congregation and his big mega church was foreclosed. But then he was packing them into the Episcopal church and now he's written a book and is in Chicago. Very American protestant sect culture clash. I liked his theology (fallible Bible, no hell, inclusive love of God for all people) and his beeyootiful voice.

Made gingerbread dough with Bun on Saturday and had the girls help me roll out dough and bake the cookies on Sunday. I worked very hard to rein in my control freak who does not like to share the kitchen. I decided that the girls could decorate *all* the cookies because they love to do that stuff. They had only done six or so each by bedtime last night. More frosting artwork to come. It was definitely worthwhile chaining up my control freak. I may have to make my own batch to decorate though...

Friday, December 14, 2012

In a Place of Safety

Alternately tuning in to coverage of the elementary school shooting in Connecticut and then turning away. The NPR reporter I heard most recently was saying it was a hard story to report because no one could avoid thinking of their own child's school and what if.

Sundry's thoughts are well put. She mentions considering what to tell her kids and I reluctantly realize I'll need to do the same. I hate that I need to tell them that children were killed at their school. Better that they hear from me than hear it from their friends I suppose. Will there be any change in US gun laws in my lifetime? Judging from the history to date, that would be a no. Have heard some ideas that appeal to me like taxing ammo rather than forbidding guns. Very much out of my control. And so is a violent attack.

These events take the meaning out of anything. I am mentally swirling my capacious coattails and turning away again with a swift rattle of footsteps. I'd like to keep my familiar horizons and deny that those I love could ever be in danger.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Snow?

Looking for the snow effect I've seen on British pages for my blog. I've clicked on a widget but whether that gets me what I want or if I've just sold my blog to the rooskies is yet to be seen.

Day eleven, my energy is back so I have confidence of a full recovery. But am still slightly congested, looks like a two week cold.

4th and 5th grade music program at elementary school tonight. Kat is excited, she was practicing the words to 10,000 Fireflies last night (a very wordy song). I'm looking forward to it. We need to provide $2 for her pizza party tomorrow and she wants to bake over the weekend for next Monday's bake sale. Last night she went to a bday party at a friend's house in the country and had big fun running around the barns and fields with 8 friends and the family's collie dog. Busy girl.

During a shared dinner on Wednesday* our neighbor got a reminder that the International Space Station was about to pass overhead and could be seen. We all trooped out to the parking lot and saw it clearly going from SW to NE. Fun experience to share. I hear that the Geminids are peaking tonight. I probably won't go out at 1a to watch but I sort of want to.

*We cohousing folks have what is intended to be a simple meal most Wednesday evenings hosted by different people. And that 'we' is incorrect because while I eat sometimes I have never cooked for that one.

Both girls were practicing for their spelling bees last night and this morning. I remember Kat getting knocked out early last year. We'll see what happens this time around.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Back Laughing

Back on my feet and feeling very grateful. Acting like a fully functional adult until it comes more easily. Felt restless yesterday but as I told Nod, I wanted to leave the house but didn't quite have the energy. Remembered in the nick that Kat was acolyting for Lessons and Carols at church. It was just the right dose of outing for me. Stand, sit, sing a carol, listen to beautiful music, repeat a few times, go home.

Clearer about what we're planning for the xmas Austin invasion. Nod wants to wait and shop in Austin rather than try and pack presents. I believe I can safely attribute this strategy to his Y chromosome. The wii u from Georgia will come soon. We will hide it until we return so we don't die from pestering (can we set it up now? can we play it now?!!). Still unsure whether we'll need more accessories, games, a new tv, different color of carpet?

Patton Oswalt's recommendations for pop culture this year. And also from the Onion's AV Club, a top ten comedy album list for 2012. I'd like to hear them all.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Foxy

My favorite lines from Mr. Fox will have to be paraphrased because I just returned it to the library without copying them out. They're on page 163 if you have a copy handy. Miel is remembering talking to her mother on the phone while at school.
Other mothers would say things like "Be good" or "Take care". But my mother would tell me to be wicked and not to worry. I was the funniest, cleverest girl in the world when I spoke with her.

Love that. In total I found the book a bit haunting and was frustrated with the constant return to violence. But it makes sense for a book based on the Bluebeard story to be violent.

Through the dreckiest part of my cold and hoping for a gentle return to normal over the next couple of days. Took the last two days off work after coughing and sneezing and being mopey on Wednesday. Sorry co workers.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Gravy


Gravy.
My very satisfying lunch was homemade tomato soup and toasted whole wheat bread with gravy poured over it. Still a few more delicious days of t'giving gravy left. Nod has no interest in gravy or in avocados. Which leaves more for me of course. Noodling around on Smitten Kitchen's comments has netted me many random food blogs to peruse. Here's a page with a Japanese-y chicken wings recipe I'm going to try. The book giveaway is over but I've located a copy of A Cook's Journey to Japan by Feldner at my city library and am going to pounce on it. The pickle recipe that comes with the chicken wings should really be re-titled Salted Cucumber Slices since that's all it is. Sheesh.

Gravel.
I have an icky cough and a gravely voice today. I find that I am very grumpy which is good because this voice is great for delivering grumpy. I got a good night's sleep so despite my alarming vocal qualities I am feeling better than I was yesterday. To keep my positive outlook going it is time for a new lashing of acetaminophen. A neighbor has started working across the hall here in IT. I am very happy for her. Like me she was in an underpaid admin support position and moving to IT has brought more money and a better career path. I said she could ride with me to work and apparently I made the invitation very open-ended. She's been with me to and from work and to and from home for lunch yesterday and today. I am feeling hemmed in and need to quit that shit. I feel that I can't leave work early since I'm giving her a ride home. That's dumb, she has a husband to call. May go home early to recline on the fainting couch and... oh crap, contemplate my trip to the grocery store tonight. There are times when the grocery run has been put off as far as it can go. We have arrived at one of those times. Maybe I'll swing by the library first to maximize the funness.

Great.
Recently went diving in Kottke's collection of flash games. Got hung on Wonderputt which is really more about the music and graphics than the golf game. I am crushing.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Creak

Via Nag on the Lake, a customizable snow globe that will show the location of your choice. Pretty keen. Don't know if the donations are still going on but fingers crossed.

Sore throat this morning. It followed an idle thought this weekend, wow, I haven't been sick at all this fall. Grumpety wumpwump.

Looking over my reading for the year. I had some fun. I'm currently pushing on with the Achilles book. But it's more dutiful than attractive. The description of demigods among the humans is very convincing. Wish it was more lighthearted but that wouldn't really be the Iliad now would it? Tried a few pages of an Aisling Grey novel my mother left behind at her last visit. (Fire Me Up by Katie MacAlister) It's too much the other direction. Maybe another time.

My sweater (pattern from Knitter's Stash) continues to confound me. I've put the sleeve and torso back on holders and will take another run at getting them together. It's somewhat heavy and stiff made with larger yarn. I think this one is a learning experience. Oh goody. Gen's lent me the book (I had to return the library copy) but it still is not showing me a clear path forward. My plan is to bumble onward and see if that makes it plain what I'm doing wrong.

Contemplating the upcoming adolescent storm. Several of us parent neighbors were talking about what our corner of the world will look like in five years when there are a crop of new teens. Replacing the existing solid door with a window door to the comfy couch room in the Common House was proposed. I think the occasional beer and wine in the unsupervised fridge should also go, but others were more concerned with the nookie. Nookie Concern would be a good band name.


Friday, November 30, 2012

Dirty 30s

Reminded by the recent Ken Burns documentary about this term for the dust bowl years.

Chilled at work, have put on two cardigans, thinking about tying the remaining one around my neck. Overheard someone next row over talking with her husband about taking their oldest daughter from school to the doctor as she had a sore throat and don't forget the strep test because other kids at school had strep. I haven't heard about strep at our school, hoping to side step that December insult. Kat is very pleased that she hasn't had strep for a couple of years now thus quashing all talk about tonsilectomy from her doctor. Am still surprised that our doc trotted that out, what a behind-the-times idea.

I may try to make pizza tonight. I have some dough that needs using. Yesterday I had Kat put my pasta/sauce/cheese casserole in the oven and turn it on. She followed my phoned in directions and everything was ready when I got home. What a win! I have minions who do my bidding!

Hard to get up lately and no exercise to speak of. The girls will go to the gymnastics open gym tonight and Nod and I will break out the space heater and have our own session.

Grumpy Cat in a sleigh. You're welcome.
Grumpy Cat Jingle Bells Dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh

This is some great writing about how one person prays. She says her one great prayer is "I hate you". Maybe you can read it without tears but I am Madame Mushball and I cannot.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Shiny Glitter Noel To Do List

Festival of trees is a local event where different groups decorate (artificial) trees. It's a big room of themed ornaments. I can't muster up much enthusiasm. I think maybe you're supposed to bid on them as a fundraiser? I think I'd rather make a paper nativity. I have in the past flirted with the idea of making my own. It would be fun to work with wild origami paper for everyone's cloaks. And oxen and sheep! We have a sturdy wooden one my MIL gave us when the kids were little. Sturdy or not the angel's wings and the stable had to be glued back together after toddler attentions. I'm trying to think of the xmas things I want to be sure to do. Am feeling vague. The horse-drawn xmas parade is Saturday and that's a for sure.  Kat will acolyte for Trinity's Lessons and Carols so I have that on the calendar. Travel will dictate some of the rest. I need to get a hold of Bee to check our Texas timing.

Little Drummer Boy Challenge -- I am in! Thank you WouldaShoulda. To play all you have to do is notice whether or not you have heard that (rackinfrackin) song. Once you hear it -- you're out.

I re-learned recently to make my links open in a new tab. I have a text file with the html and a note for where to put it in the link string. And today I noticed that Blogger has a checkbox in the link screen to do this! I'm pleased to have figured out the hand-made approach and pleased that I won't have to use it.

It's been very clear (and dry, koff) here. Last night I saw a strong star to the upper left of the full moon. Thanks you Nod for dragging me away from the stove to go see it. The Bandelier* National Monument people posted on Fbook that it was Jupiter up there. Go look at moonrise tonight if you get a chance. They will be a bit further apart tonight.

*That's a Bandelier picture on my masthead. Mmm northern NM.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Post no bills

Tuesday? never heard of it...

Dreamed I was supposed to feed my mother's dogs. I found a smoked turkey and a bag of dry food in a chest. But that wasn't the food I was supposed to give them. I left the chest open so when I turned around the dogs were slipping on the kitchen floor in a puddle of turkey grease and slobber. Then I was supposed to meet Nod at a major league baseball game. I was sure I knew where I was going until I got in the car and couldn't remember which team/stadium I was headed to. A classic frustration dream, unfulfilled responsibilities and not getting what I wanted.

Downtown zippiness. After going home for lunch and consuming some food I already owned, I drove downtown and went to the office supply store for an ink pad. I have stamps that I want to use for holiday cards. Last weekend I tried using a truly ancient stamp pad I found in the basement. But it produced a piebald partridge image, clearly new ink was needed for full stamping satisfaction. I've got a pad now and know where to get more ink if it needs refilling. On the way back to my car I peered in the candle store window. I shall stew and see if anyone I know needs candling. (I know they catch dust and are fire hazards and yet.) Then I stopped at the library to get the book Kat had reserved. The librarian on front desk duty answered my questions about whether I could foist a book on them. I recently had to get the second book in Ben Aaronovitch's series (Moon Over Soho) through inter-library loan. They need to grab that one because it's even better than the first! I got back to work a few minutes before the end of my lunch hour. I feel efficient *and* smug.

I will get this up on the wall in it's short sweet state. More later if there's time.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Beurre Butter Mantequilla

Mmm, butter. I think I am a real cook now. I made butter crusts for a pumpkin pie and an apple pie. And they were good enough for company. I noticed that the dough I left in the fridge for a couple of days was so much easier to roll out. Time! That is the missing pie dough ingredient I have been looking for. My turkey was also good. It wasn't hard this time, I think I'm getting the hang of it. I've been wrassling turkeys since about 1998 so it's only taken 14 years. We had a roomful, it was about 35 people. I put on a boobtastic dress and wore my 3 inch heels because when else do I get to dress up? Three or four hours and my feet were done with those shoes.

Unstructured days can unhinge my children. Kat especially is liable to wig out a bit at the beginning of free days. On Wednesday morning she wanted to go outside and play an imagination game. (A popular one is Island where the kids demarcate an area to be their island and then make shelters and forage and grapple with wild beasts, etc. etc.) But no other kids were around and Bun refused to play. Bun had refused because Kat was ordering her around like a swabbie. I did a small amount of my own yelling that there would be no yelling and that they needed to not talk to each other for a while. After some ragey sniffling Kat consented to come outside with me. We threw our little hula hoops around and she leapt through the larger one. The tension lifted. Bun was ready to play and they both were fine for the rest of the day. Whew. To my surprise it held through the weekend. It's like they're getting more mature or something.

Nod is making a staff. He cut a sapling and has stripped the bark. He's letting out the woodworker within. hee. Which reminds me I have a rocking chair in the basement I mean to work on. It was in the common house until I found it by the trash corral. It had arms but they kept coming loose. Somehow the arms could not be reglued without removing the back which was in fine shape. So I've hammered the arm dowels out and am going to patch, sand and paint. Then I'll take it back to the Common House. I'll fix it up there and bring it back here, said Santy Claus.

Tried learning harmony part to Deck the Halls. Failed. Am thinking about general holiday season goals. How many presents am I going to be responsible for? What experiences do I want to give the kids? What's going to happen in Austin? We're going to decorate a tree at Elaine's.

November blog posting is still showering us with treats. Here's one you must not miss from Julia.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Vervein

I just like that word, vervein. Look how pretty they are. The text says they are slender but erect, a model for us all.

Did you know you can get Baltimore Ravens themed lingerie? An etsy search for 'raven' items turned that up. Elsewhere, here's my favorite raven art print by Kate McLelland. This is a very charming raven Christmas card set by Rick Allen. Ooooh...Shiny (Raven's Bauble) Boxed Cards
If reincarnation is an option after I shuffle off the coil* I would like to be a bird, bring on the flying. I've always thought a raptor's life would be a good one, hunting and soaring seems plenty to hope for. Just realized a couple of days ago that a raven would be good too. The carrion eating does not appeal but otherwise the playful, clever and mouthy profile sounds good. I love the ravens of Los Alamos, NM. I can remember the sound of the croaks as they hopped from the top of one ponderosa to another. They like to swoop on the updrafts at the edge of canyons too, riding them over and over.

* 'Shuffled off this mortal coil' is hard to parse by a modern English speaker. This all-too-brief article helps. I thought it was poetical speech, something about getting out of life's wrapping tendrils. And maybe a little something about shuffling off to Buffalo. But no, it's about getting rid of the bustle, the tumult, the hurry and confusion of life.

Monday, November 19, 2012

That Is the Spell

Hugs and big sloppy kisses to the Into the Woods production. It was better than I expected, really strong voices in the cast and very technically polished. The orchestra was even better than the last production I saw. It was tiny when I peeked in the pit afterwards - it looked like only about fifteen musicians. I ended up taking Kat with me as a sort of birthday treat. I hadn't found anyone else who could go when I wanted to. It was a good experience we both enjoyed the show and I was glad to have the company. Bun felt very left out which gave me a pang. But we didn't get home until almost eleven and she would have been a wreck. Still humming songs.

The party was not very well organized but the younger generation didn't seem to feel that was a flaw. I endured it and felt regrets about not having 8 games ready for everyone to play. But there were almost 30 kids and it was going to be a mob scene no matter what. I baked cupcakes and made lots of frosting. It got too dry but they managed to spackle it onto their cupcakes. We sugared them up and let them run around the courtyard. There was a certain amount of moustaches drawn on with washable markers. The 10 and 11 year old girls were extremely civilized of course, if a little moody. If we do this again (big party with all the neighbor kids) I'm going to go out of town have more structured activities to fill almost all the available time.

We have an idea for bday presents for K, a digital camera and a face painting kit. Her sis wants to go shopping for her too, maybe we can get that done on Weds. In between cooking. I decided we needed more turkey and have committed to produce turkey and pies. Hoping this is not hubris. Glad we're not going to be driving anywhere for the hol. Sorry that Nod will have to work on Friday.

Sleepwalky here at work. Going to try another cuppa.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Swish

Jessa Crispin, the Bookslut, has a piece about masculinity in The Smart Set. Starting question: would you be the same person if you were the other gender? My answer is nope. I hope flighty flowery princess boys will be embraced in the future. We need the whole range.

I've finally started The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson. (Wow, Wikipedia is stepping up their begging banners.) In the last chapter a boy was  castrated to make him a eunuch. Urgh. The poetry and mishmash of world lit elements is fab. I find I am a bit at sea so far with the alternative history constructed out of world history areas that I am not so definite about (Chinese dynasties, the Mongol horde). Either I'll get a better handle on it or not.

Chose not to make cupcakes last night. Kat brought home a loaner chess set with a timer too. We do own a set but it is small and a bit rickety. She beat us all one after the other last night. I hope it was good practice for her. Neither Nod nor I wanted to lay down our king piece in the proper conceding gesture. Need practice being good sports clearly. Kat and I had a good time making sound effects for our pieces. Her king screams a lot.

Back to cupcakes -- that means that I need to get the ass in gear tonight. If I can get them all baked then I just have to make frosting tomorrow morning. And do the rest of the party prep, no problem. (Vigorous suppression of party throwing anxiety here.) Then I get to go to my long awaited haircut appointment. And then the party starts! To celebrate the end of the party I am planning to go to a university production of Into the Woods tomorrow night. Hoping I can get there. It's one of my favorites.

Not sure what to get for Kat for her 11th. Nod suggested a digital camera which I am sure she would be excited about. Moving on to xmas -- I want to get new comforters for the kids' beds but that hardly seems like a fun present for a kid. I think I just get to enjoy that myself.

Kansas State football is currently ranked #1 in the nation. They have our respect and I hope they go all the way. Unironic statement of support for winning college football team, what am I coming to?


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Deep

Trashy pop music makes my heart sing sometimes. The Neon Trees seem to have my number and Everybody Talks is probably driving you crazy but I still like it. Take me to your love shack, Mama's always gotta backtrack, when everybody talks back. The sense to nonsense ratio is good and the rhythm, happy sigh. The girls and I enjoyed last week's Glee episode which included a quick take on Blow Me by Pink.

Got some Santa stamps at the post office. Now I am committed to the holiday card sending. I may have to do some triangulation to get addresses. My address book is a bit sad, there was a stalling out after having kids and moving halfway across the country. Starting a new address book is tempting but wait, I will have to think about people I don't see and don't know any more and that will be no fun.

Oooh I think I get to buy the Cute Overload calendar this year, I know the perfect recipient.

Scarf is off the needles! I will secure the loose ends and take a beauty shot before I block it. It is about 68 inches long instead of the 100 suggested by the pattern. I'm happy with it. Kind of wish I had used 100% acrylic instead of a woold blend for the skin friendly factor but that feeling is not strong enough to be an actual regret. I still like the color which is in my default color field these days. I tend to gravitate toward things in the raspberry to plum range. Hope my MIL likes that too. Thank you Bun, for modeling.



Pie crust! It's time for my annual attempt and I have found another all butter technique to take a run at. I think I'm going to make an apple pie and a pumpkin pie. The grey cinderella pumpkin on top of the kitchen bookshelf needs attention before it rots to spite us. I think I'm going to make a pumpkin and an apple. I am not really an apple pie person but I was reading about cooking the apple slices for a few minutes which sounds delightful.

Goddamn now I have to make THREE pies because I cannot resist the Sorghum Chocolate Pecan Pie recipe that the Bitten Word boys tell us about. I figure I can substitute some other sugar syrup for sorghum if our local grocery shack doesn't have it. The Bitten Word guys also cop to enjoying Garden & Gun magazine which has a feature on sorghum in the last issue. Nod is a subscriber. I roll my eyes at the privileged southern folk enjoying their pretty living but it is fun to flip through it every month.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Flinging

Flinging something up. Not poo, a word that my brain thinks should follow "flinging". Here are some pictures of the Les Mis film cast courtesy of Vogue and our gay uncles.

Thirty minutes does not seem to be enough time out of bed for the girls to get ready in the morning. Alarm clocks here we come. Here's what I hate: the last minute lunch making frenzy.

Didn't make my tavern talk last night. I got ambushed by a friend who needed to vent at length about the attack her teenagers are staging on her. Lots of problems going on for that family. I had her drop me off at FSB but by that time all tables were taken and despite a good cruise of the room I did not see the person I thought I might meet. Walked home and knitted, it was a good evening nonetheless. I really needed the walk after hearing from that traumatized parent.

On the knitting front, am nearly done with scarf!! May almost be ready to take up my sweater sleeve again . Or the baby blanket! But that will take fiber shopping.

Skimmed the rest of the Hogarth book I had checked out on a whim. The writing didn't do anything for me but it was nice to see the paintings and engravings together with commentary. Having it both ways was Mr. Hogarth. Memorable faces and stances even if the huge satire seems out of our time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Kayak lack

Walking on the not entirely lighted path after twilight in November. I think I need to dig out that reflector vest Nod had for biking in DC. Saw a bicyclist last night with the cutest little blinker on his rear pannier. Might need one of those too. I figure I can spend some money on shoes and walking/jogging accessories since I'm not spending it on classes or gym membership.

Fear about Katy's bday party on Saturday has struck. I need to crank out cupcakes for maybe 30 kids to decorate. Sprinkles and icing and so on. Bags to draw on and art supplies to draw/glue/sticker with. Will find my recipes and make the master list and delegate tonight. Do I want to use the flour, milk, butter and granulated sugar recipe PW raves about? I'll make a batch and see. Will try to think of this as fun. I am happy she's turning 11 I want her to have a great party. Honestly I'd be happy if someone else threw it.

Going to go out to Free State Brewery tonight for a pint and a talk about American mythology and specifically the Mayan 2012 thingie. Am meeting an acquaintance and think I should be congratulated for my outgoingness. I may even walk which shoots it into virtuous territory.

Our CA friend Jacquie has taken up kayaking and I'm jealous. She looks awfully cool in that little red boat.

If you are fond of the nerdy countries of Europe like I am then you should be sure to check on Belgian Waffling's new Belgofiles site. She's got memories and layers of city history and real recommendations for visiting. All with the languid, weird Waffle delivery.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Weekend Glow

Saturday was warm and windy. I took a late morning walk with Gen and we went into the southern wind on our first leg so we could get blown home again once we turned around. It was sunny and felt really good. On the way she told me about the Ft. Leavenworth Hunt and I was agog. Made me think of my friend Marian Not a Librarian in San Fran who would love the idea of a military fox/coyote hunting club that gets dressed up and rides to hounds.

I woke up at 4:45 on Sunday morning too warm. After the 5:10 clap of thunder I realized I was not able to go back to sleep. I went downstairs and put some potatoes in to bake and was able to drop off immediately on the couch. Taking the pots out and turning off the oven and timer was only a blip and then I slept til 8:30. It was raining and storming and a wonderful time to sleep. I don't think I am having hot flashes because those sound extremely hot and sweaty. But I am occasionally waking up during the night, too warm, and unable to go right back to sleep. I must be having warm glows.

I was going to make twice baked potatoes, that was why I was doing the pre-dawn tuber wrangling. Never got around to the rest of the prep, maybe today. I baked another batch of gingerbread bars, uncontaminated by tea leaves. It was a win. Everything that I need gingerbread to be.

I noticed when I took our post Hween pumpkins to the compost pile that it was piled to the top of the bin. We have three open stalls for compost but I've never bothered to learn what the schedule or plan for them should be. I asked two neighbors who garden about it and one rolled his eyes and made it plain that we were not maximizing our compost potential. Well duh. But he said that if I wanted to move the compost from the first stall to the next one it would turn the pile and that would be better than a compacted spillover. I worked for about an hour moving the stuff. The best and most smug part is that I got it done right before the rain started so both piles will get well soaked. I love composting scraps, the way it goes from slimy clutter down to almost nothing. I don't have ambitions to have a hot fast pile, just a place for that magic disappearance to happen. (Discworld compost tangent)

Took the kids to an indoor place with inflatable jumpy dealies yesterday. It was a neighbor's idea and we brought five kids to jump for an hour. It was a great use of time on a freezy day. The slide rules (feet first, on your bottom) were not appreciated by the younguns but they managed somehow. We will go back another time.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Bring on the libations

The kids have been out of school yesterday and today. When I came home for lunch today to thrust food at them they were busy outside, playing Island. The 5 or 6 kids were pretending they were camping out on an island, gathering sticks for their firepit and hunting. It's in the high 70s this afternoon so they could hardly make better use of their time. We're going to have rain (thank the clouds) on Saturday night and Sunday. There's been very little rain this fall. I was just reading a distopia wherein the middle of the country is referred to as the Corridor and has become desert. Wanting to know what things will be like in 25 years is an itch we can never scratch.

Trying to decide whether I'm going to go brave the old ladies at the nursing home to bring them communion this Sunday or whether I'm going to hang up my Eucharistic Visitor hat. (Note: there is no uniform and certainly no hat.) I was ready to give it up and live a life of sloth and then I thought that it's such a small amount of effort to visit these folks who can't come to church. And there I wobble, between sloth and compassion. Part of my reluctance is that I had got comfortable with our one little old lady that we visited. She is a retired librarian originally from the UK, in good enough health to live in her own rooms. Now there's a much more debilitated woman and I haven't yet met her and we will need to go upstairs to the Assisted Living part of the place. What a miserable thing to want to have these people visited but not want to make the effort.

Back to selfish satisfactions, there is a cocktails and hors d'oeuvres party at Delaware St tonight. I'm looking forward to it. I think we're bringing a local white wine as our contribution. Maybe I'll pop corn, that should go well with a Kansas wine.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Vamping

I accused Nod of vamping too much the other day and he misheard it as ramping and it got very confusing. What I was referring to is his habit of announcing he has something to tell me and then thinking aloud about why I might not like it and generally making me want to slap whatever it is out of him. Eventually the point is reached and it's never as dramatic as I think it's going to be from the build up. Vamping is something the orchestra does when the singer misses a cue, just repeat the intro bars and give it to them again.

After a week and a half at his new job Nod is better rested already. He was up in the middle of the night but was able to go back to sleep until 7a. He would have been late getting to the old job but had plenty of time at the new. Thumbs up for new job. Hoping that income will be steady if a bit less than the old place.

Jumped through the hoop this morning for my state health assessment. For our health insurance discount (really good coverage I love you so much, mwah mwah mwah) the state has started requiring more action on an employee's part. I resent it but admit that I will jump through many hoops for this kind of insurance. My plan covers the whole family so it's just shy of vital and is the largest reason I started working at the university. The assessment is a height, weight, blood pressure and finger stick to do a cholesterol levels reading. I can tell they were sucking up because they told me I am taller and lighter than I thought. Perhaps it was to soften me up for the news that my good cholesterol is still low. Cardio exercise is what is supposed to bring that up. Insert good intention here. My hula hooping is good for my back and my belly but sadly does not elevate my heart rate enough to qualify as cardio.

Over the cubicle partition in front of me is a young man who smells of cigarettes and not enough bathing. My neighbor to the right has retaliated with what smells like perfume. So it's a festival of olfactory assault at my desk at the moment. I'm sorry I finished my coffee.

The children are on their own recognizance today and tomorrow. I gave them lunch and insisted that Bun brush her hair. She pouted but the hair was still on her head so she was working on it as I left to go back to work. I feel slightly hinky about leaving them to their own devices but they are somewhat responsible and there are a few other parents around and so far so good.

You should read the Waffle's choir memories. Here's to singing. I have resolved to learn the harmony parts to three Christmas carols this year. I am also going to think about some fun group participation stuff for our carol sing this year.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Summed Up

Watched a hilariously terrible movie with the kids last night: The Lady of Burlesque starring Barbara Stanwyck, 1943. The script was based on The G-String Murders by Gypsy Rose Lee. My kids were puzzled but kept watching it. I did too, it was watchable though it didn't make much sense at all. Definitely a B movie, it felt like a long series of screen tests. Decent actors in real costumes on a real set delivering mostly terrible dialogue. Barbara Stanwyck proves that she can't sing but can do the splits. I amused myself by imagining that the actor playing the police inspector was the voice of the Fractured Fairy Tales in Bullwinkle cartoons. But I was wrong. That delightful person is Edward Everett Horton. Our police inspector, who specialized in calling all the showgirls together for his interrogations was played by Charles Dingle, not a name for lights.

No wine but I did stay up to see that Obama was predicted to win by the mainstream media. The local stations were all carrying Claire McCaskill's speech, she won another term as Missouri's senator. Todd Akin pretty much presented it as a wrapped gift for her. I went to bed satisfied. If Romney had won the world would have continued to turn. But I would have felt like I lived in an America I did not understand. Locally our congresscritter Lynn Jenkins defeated Tobias Schlingensiepen. I couldn't vote for either of them as I don't share values with her and he hadn't any experience to speak of. But I loved hearing that name on the radio. The second 's' is pronounced 'z'. Via fbook I see that a high school classmate of mine who is a surgeon is convinced that the re-election of Obama means that American healthcare is set to get more expensive with less qualified doctors. I would like to know why he thinks that but am not sure I can stand the bitter.

My scarf is about half done, I think. I have to figure out what is a good length. The pattern calls for 100" which comes down to the model's knees. Will look at another scarf that seems easy to wear, to get a length. I'm pleased with the yarn and the pattern. For some reason my yarn overs only show as holes on one side. This is not ideal but as it's consistent I'm not going to worry about it. Looking at my set-aside-sweater, I found that the sleeve has pulled stitches off one of the double pointed needles --argh. It is in a bag and I am not going to worry about that right now. May try and finish the sweater with longer sleeves than I need in order to send it to Mom. That's assuming I can get the scarf done right quick and then whip through the rest of the sweater, probably shouldn't put money on that.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Pounce

This yogurt biscuit technique has changed my life. Now if I can't think of anything to feed the children I can at least slap some biscuits in the oven and in my mind that highers whatever else (canned refried beans) I throw in front of them. It's amazing! (Current recipe adaptation is to use half white and half whole wheat flour, low fat yogurt, less salt, and a tiny bit of sugar.)

Sometimes the cat is feeling playful and I am really sorry that I am not nine pounds of fur and teeth like she is so we could wrassle. She does like playing Gonna Get You which is a game where I peek out at her and then hide behind a large piece of furniture and then peek out again and try to surprise her. Generally the game ends when she sneaks up silently and pounces on me. I scream but she doesn't use her claws so I know she's playing. Last night I was sitting at the top of the stairs and Zing was at the bottom. I peeked out at her around the bannister and then started down the steps on all fours toward her. That was too much and she fled! The first time I have seen this cat run away except from dogs and flea medicine. Very funny.

Voted by mail last week. I am so glad this day has come! I don't plan to stay up late but may have a glass or two of wine and see how much of the election results coverage I can take. That'll drive Nod away. He keeps saying in reference to the candidates, 'How can they stand to lie so much?' I understand his dismay but on the other hand these people are trying to get the votes of a majority of American citizens. Proclaiming the unvarnished truth doesn't sound like a sure fire way to do that. I need to have political discussions with other people who maybe don't get so angry about the whole stew.

It is a good day for blog reading and I'd love to take a long walk or even a slow run. None of that is what I'm being paid for however. I've made it to noon. I suppose I can scrape up some concentration and achieve worky things for a few hours this afternoon. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Nova Nov

Posting in November? Oh yeah I'm doing some of that. But not on weekends. Not while our pc is freezing every eight to twenty minutes. YouTube seems to be a trigger for the freeze  but not every time! We have not been able to tell what the trouble is in order to fix it. We're using it in brief bursts and anticipating disaster at every moment.

The time change reflects what we were already doing, sleeping later and staying up a bit later. So far it doesn't feel like much of an adjustment. But it did make for a succulent weekend.

I mucked out our living room on Saturday and threw out a bunch of things and demanded that people take their own crap to their own rooms. The kids found some books they are ready to part with. Nod bagged up many of our clothes that we are ready to pass on. Yesterday evening I helped Nod get the Subaru de-crap-ified in preparation for selling it. I suddenly realized that we are paying insurance every month for a car we don't/can't drive and we should stop that. I hear that a lot of other people were cleaning and sorting as well. It was a good weekend for all that.

I have never used a grocery store rug cleaner but I have plans to rent one at the new grocery store that opened in August. My reasoning is that a) I have a filthy carpet and b) their machines must be new and functioning. I'll have to report back if I actually undertake the experiment.

Speaking of reporting back:  Chai Gingerbread Bars. Achieved on Saturday and I have reactions. First I couldn't face putting two sticks of butter in there. Two eggs and one stick of butter seemed like plenty of fat to me. I used half white and half whole wheat flour but I guess all wh.wh. would work. Next there was no molasses in the recipe, horrors. In place of the dark brown plus white sugar I used a cup of white and added almost half a cup of molasses. I am not wild about fresh ginger in baked goods so I omitted that. They baked up fine, smelled like heaven on a stick. They are a good sweet treat but I feel that "chai", the milky tea with cinnamon, coriander, etc. is not coming through as the taste. The tea leaves give a little bit of a bitter/spicy aftertaste that I'm not liking. It was a good experiment though. I'm going to make it again soon as just Gingerbread Bars, no tea leaves, and I think I will love them very much.

One passive aggressive email set me on edge this morning. But I have replied calmly and the snarl is fading.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Petite

Teeny children is what I have. Checkup appointments today for both girls. While being very healthy and growing just fine, they are both in less than the tenth percentile for height/weight. Dr. M tells me that height is determined by a mess of genes, 10 or 12 of them and so it can be very unpredictable. Nod and I are medium sized people. I did have a grandmother who was about 5' 1", so maybe these girls are Mickles.

Kat cried when I told her Monday that she had an appointment at the doctor's office coming up. She's pointed her anxiety focus to medical matters. She used to be overly concerned about chemicals and "poison" (warning labels were a little too effective on her). That has waned and now it is medical matters that freak her out. I kept my temper and told her that I could tell that she was upset but that this was important for her health. I also mentioned that we would get the little bump of skin on her forehead looked at. (I should have stopped while I was ahead.) Before we went I called the nurse to find out if anyone was due for shots. No, thank gods. We all three got the flu mist instead of flu shot, that was uncontroversial. Per Kat's request I spoke with the doc in another room about vaccinations and what's coming up. Kat will be due for two or three injections next year so I will need to think about our approach for that. I am all for the HPV vax which requires three shots total over about six months. Dr. M says that it's preferable to get vax done early for a needlephobe. Because the older and more autonomous they get the more likely they are to skip it. I can understand that and am willing to be the bad guy.

The forehead bump was pronounced harmless and according to the doctor it shouldn't get any bigger. It can be removed using a topical anesthetic first if Kat decides she wants to in the future. For now I advocate ignoring it. No one is showing signs of scoliosis or scurvy. It was a good visit and no one cried while we were there. Success.

Staggering toward the weekend now. Have a good one and enjoy the extra hour of sleep.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dressed up

Bun's alien princess was just what she wanted. Her dad helped her rig up a laser gun and holster. Kat was a well armed wood elf. And my jellyfish rocked the house. It was very gratifying to my crafty heart to hear "Jellyfish!" every where we went. Yay!



 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Storm biscuits

Miso - Peanut Butter Caramel Scones. Too many words, too many flavors! I have to say that I am on an anti-peanut butter in desserts kick. It started over the weekend when I had some moist wonderful chocolate cake that was covered in what I thought was a thick layer of caramel icing. The first bite told me that instead it was pure peanut butter. There was nothing wrong with it but it felt much more dutiful than the caramel I had anticipated.

I'm baking biscuits tonight, no one can stop me.

We carved our jackolanterns last night. A note for future pumpkin face design: make the teeth bigger than you think they need to be. They always shrink a bit as the inner pumpkin dries out once it's exposed to the air. My vicious little pumpkin ended up much cuter than I had intended.

Giant Jellyfish!

My hair is long all over. The front long parts are okay but the back is at least an inch and a half more than I like. The bangs have entered the 'barrette zone' as I could not take pushing them off my face any more. I have a haircut appt in mid November. There will be plenty to be done by then.

My mother just traded in her Honda minivan for a new Honda minivan. She tells me that's the last van she'll need to buy. Count me skeptical as she has had at least three large dogs for a very long time. On the other hand she is extremely far sighted about things and she could be right. She claims that she will settle into a retirement place with option for assisted living with just one small dog. Not impossible to imagine.

Thinking of the east coast and glad I'm not there now. Glad that they had all the forecast info to prepare. Here is a wind map that shows the effect of the storm very dramatically today 10/30/12.

Made the biscuits. Adapted this minimalist recipe which is made with yogurt instead of butter. I used half white and half whole wheat flour, lowfat yogurt and buttermilk. Extremely easy. Very tasty, a little too salty, will cut that back. Making more tonight!

Last night Bun asked if we could light candles. It is certainly that season now with early sunsets so we hauled out the little fire lights. Kat insisted that all the house lights should be turned off for maximum candle enjoyment. It made me a bit sleepy but revved both kids right up. I feel mystical, said Kat. They stood on chairs and made shadow animals on the walls and ceiling. It was a nice time sitting in the dark with the family.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dream Police

Woke up at 3a to go pee. A dream was still circling my brain. It had something to do with knitting patterns and getting people to follow orders. I had to make an effort to shake off what I had been concentrating on in the dream. As a mantra to let go of the dream I thought, Let the dead bury the dead. That reminded me of zombies and what about nightmares? Let the Dream Police police the dream. And chuckled at the 80s earworm I had invoked.

Love the Hilary Mantel article in The New Yorker, seen at kottke.org. I may have to read her Cromwell books after all. I had read some reviews of the first one and not felt compelled. But I think I'll give it a try. After wading through Ms. Davis's English Civil War novel Rebels and Traitors and learning a little, I could paint another layer of history on and see what sticks. Oh and now I've found a review of that novel by Ms. Mantel, wow. It is a good review and reflects my own reading experience. It acknowledges the skill and deftness of the first half of the book while facing up to the plod to the end as well. My affection for Ms. Davis's writing makes me urge you to stick to the Falco mysteries and leave Rs and Ts alone. Here is a BBC overview of the Civil War events if you need a refresher.

Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow by Jerome K. Jerome is as pleasant as I hoped. The copy I checked out of the university library is a hard back with brittle darkened pages. (From the 1920s? I'll have to look.) It's in such dodgy condition that they have it boxed on the shelf.

My jellyfish umbrella lacks only some shiny ribbon tentacles. I already finished the nylon ruffly ones. It is quite kick ass and I am preening. Bun has asked for a cape for her Alien Princess outfit and I will do that tonight. I am trying not to be bitter at the last minute change from the more easily understood Cowgirl concept. I have asked if she would put on the Cowgirl stuff this weekend just for a few pictures. I will promise to be a better Alien Princess advocate after that. Kat's forest elf outfit is progressing apace. Chopping up Salvation Army items is so much fun.

Need some donkey goodness? Box Elder has given us a slew of photos of lovely gentle Brittany donkeys.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dawn Patrol

Dawn patrol is the small group of hot air balloons who go up before light (5:30a?) at the Albuquerque Ballooon Fiesta. They measure the airspeeds at different elevations and each balloon is visible only when they light the burner. We did not go out to look for Dawn Patrol while in Albuq. But we did get up before dawn three times. The first time launch was scotched by winds. We found out one block before turning into the Balloon park where we would have been charged for parking. Instead we veered south and went to The Frontier for breakfast. It is a greasy spoon across from the Univ of New Mexico and is not much changed over the past 25 years. The website is much more sedate than the restaurant which is big and has a fast moving line and is covered with punchy art pieces. If you go for hash browns with cheese and green chile or something else equally good for your arteries, be sure and look for the Kachinas In Space painting in the first back room. We got our food and watched the line grow, I was not the only one to realize that the Frontier would be a good destination at 7am on a Saturday. I love the sound of that restaurant when it's crowded, it's almost as good as bowling alley ambience.

We gave up on balloons for the next morning. The forecast was dodgy and winds were blowing that night. The nine of us noodled around and had a good time and didn't set our clocks for o'dark hundred. But in the morning Nod was up early hearing the sound of helicopters. Fearing to wake the grumpy householder he went out to the car to listen to radio news. Balloons were on! with just a slight delay that allowed us to get dressed and eat something and go. We ziggied over to the park and ambled our way onto the launch field. We saw Vader and goldfish and zebras, oh my. It was a big slice of beautiful. I will throw the photos in here to show ya.




It was a good visit with my mom who is looking and feeling stronger than I have seen her for a couple of years. She got rid of Tycho the psycho poodle and is happy with her two old dogs and a 2 year old curly coated retriever, Sizzle. Sizzle is taking to the obedience work briskly and that's what's needed. Mom is going to get her remaining leg veins laser zapped next month and after that heals up I think she'll be even more unstoppable. It was overwhelming for her to have all nine people in the house for the weekend. She relaxed more after Nod and my brother's family got on their way. We were treated to one diva tantrum at a restaurant she took us all out to. I won't mention the name because it served perfectly fine NM food and the service was just spotty. But Ga. took it personally and spoke to the manager and got the gratuity refunded and so on. Our outing to The Range Cafe in Bernalillo was much more satisfying for all concerned. Nod even got a slice of key lime pie he had been jonesing for. Go there if you can!

I enjoyed having the girls with me for a week. It made my mother's house lively and not as quiet as when it is just me and her. We explored the mall (thumbs down!) and a secret west side viewing park to watch the balloons for free (it was a pretty view but the balloons were itty and too far away since the box (ABQ's magical wind pattern that makes a rectangle) was working and they didn't come west) and a beauty parlor (thumbs up!), my current favorite book store, and the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology on UNM campus (I loved it and the kids were convinced once we got there).  And we went out again to the launch field to watch the special shape rodeo, all the wacky shaped balloons. It was breezy and I was convinced that they would not fly. But they were inflating a bunch and it was pretty to wander around and lookylou. To my surprise at 7:45 the firefighter shaped balloon went up with the American flag and the anthem was sung. They were off! It was a stronger wind than the first day we went so when they launched they zoomed to the south. Colors! Motion! Eye filling goodness.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Holding a Mongoose

I love the caption to this Buddhist artefact photo in Wikipedia:
Partly gilded Tibetan bronze statue of Vaisravana (Jambhala) sitting on a snow lion and holding a mongoose in his left hand. 18th century
I would like to see more photo subjects sitting on snow lions and/or holding mongooses. That would liven up a modern portrait. I would laugh and laugh to see my mother portrayed as a dowager with mongoose. Although it would be more logical to have her painted with the hounds.

Knitting on the plane -- do I have to buy bamboo needles in order to avoid TSA unpleasantness? My neighbor Gen just got back from air travel and says no. The TSA website says knitting needles are okay in most situations but unsurprisingly they reserve the right to object to everything. I will remove my scissors from my bag and take my chances. The boring sweater torso continues. I may be able to advance to the sleeves while I'm in ABQ which unfortunately means that I have to take the honking big library book along with me.

Successfully avoided the debate last night. I listened to only a few minutes of npr coverage this morning. I realized that one of our deacons at church reminds me of Mitt R. He (the deacon) is a surgeon and goes on mission trips to Kenya and is a good and very square guy. They both lack poetry but that's okay. I don't feel the need to vilify Romney even though he's not my candidate of choice. I am repelled by the urge so many people feel to tear down the one they don't plan to vote for. (Spellcheck tells me that vilify has only one 'l', 'to make vile' sounds so much more dire than 'vilify'.)

Harmless Drudgery is my latest blog love. It's written by a lexicographer who works as an editor for Merriam Webster dictionary. She is deeply in love with language and adorably twisted. My favorite quote so far describes the sort of people who work as dictionary editors:
 we seem to collect medievalists for some reason. Our costume parties are awkward, rare, and yet entirely historically accurate.
Warm glow. That quote reminds me of my friend Mac, he'd fit right in. Link found through languagehat.com (which I often type as languagehate, its evil twin).


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hobby Fury

The sweater I'm knitting is back under control. (Got my whip and chair handy.) I found Lily Chin's Knitting Tips book at the library and it introduced me to many exciting ways to cast on besides the half hitch loopies I was using. My moebius joining continued and would not be defeated that easily. Next I tried another hint from her book to knit two pieces straight across for six rows before joining. Success! I thought I could leave the splits at the bottom as vents but they ended up so small that I will probably sew them up. I still like the yarn (heathered raspberry wool/acrylic) and I like the ribbing (K4 P2). Now that I've conquered the rackinfratzin join I'm in the doldrums of knitknitknit for the torso. I am trying to do at least a couple of rows a day so I can see progress toward the 11 inches goal. I wonder what size this sucker will be when I'm done. Instead of the cotton blend that I couldn't find I am using a slightly bigger yarn with slightly bigger needles. So I compensated by making one size down from my own. If it doesn't fit me I'll make more changes and give it to Mom.

I'm experimenting with extremely light reading. The zombies book (Married With Zombies) has a consistent energy to it. The divorce story (And One Last Thing) has charm if not a lot of substance. They'll do for the moment. I feel like I'm getting into the Halloween mood right on time with the zombies. Katy is going to want to do the Zombie Walk again this year on Oct 4. I've just emailed Nod to tell him that he is the zombie chaperone this year. Not my favorite deal even though I applaud the dressing up and acting weird in public spirit. It is just another parade in this parade-mad town.

The next parade I *want* to attend is KU Homecoming at the end of October. It's at 6pm on a Friday night this year. It moves around depending on the game time. The 9am parades are over and done pretty damn quick. This one may actually be thronged!

There is a banjo staring at me in the living room. I jumped and now I need to make the call to the banjo teacher. Shiver. I stayed up late and watched the first Mumford and Sons song on Saturday Night Live last weekend. They continue to deliver. They achieve such life-or-death intensity in their playing. I love that they all sing. I read a small article in which their banjo player says he took up banjo figuring that in England he could shine even as a crummy banjo player rather than be one of a million crummy guitarists. There's my inspiration! 







Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Clooties to you

Lawksadaisy! Courtesy of Katyboo, here's a description of a dessert called "clooties"(!) from The Great British Bake Off series:
"a kind of dark brown fruit dumpling that should be boiled in a bag until it has a skin on it"

Hard to get too excited about tasting the outcome of that. I don't think I've ever boiled anything in a bag. Mrs. Boo has written up extensive commentary on this episode.

My video watching has been a revisit of Season 5 of Project Runway with my children who can't get enough of that stuff. I saw most of these episodes when they were fresh so I am not exactly on tenterhooks. Some of those challenges are just mean.

I have started a sweater and ripped it all back to yarn four times now. I am working on circular needles and the pattern starts at the bottom hem of the sweater. Each time while joining the cast-on stitches for the first row of knitting I have twisted the work and ended up with a mobius strip. The tragic part is that I can't see the twist until the work is about an inch wide, five or six rows in. So frustrating! I need giant double ended needles maybe. There must be some way to be sure I am not twisting the stitches when I join but I don't know what. Time to consult the knitting experts.

I have been wrassling with our limited vacation dates in December and the very high cost of plane tickets for those very days. Finally I threw up my hands and told Nod that we should get the Mazda tuned up and drive it. My MIL is now asking us to fly and offering some financial help. But it's SO expensive on Southwest for those particular days. I suppose I will have to look at those other airlines now.

To get the taste of clooties out of your mouth, how about some blondies? My mother has a way with both brownies and blondies. I was a lucky child. This recipe is appealingly plain and then of course you can throw in all sorts of extras, you hedonist! I prefer mine with neither fake butterscotch chips nor choc chips nor nuts. Just sweet and buttery.

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Via the trusty LanguageHat, here's a discussion of the word feck which I thought was only one letter shy of fuck but according to this it's a relatively family friendly euphemism. It includes the following which is quite delightful to know:
Feck also functions as a noun, dating from at least the 15th century. Apparently it comes from a Scottish variant of effect, so it’s a good example of aphesis (also aphaeresis): the loss of an initial sound in a word. Here are the three senses included in the OED:

1. The greater or better part; a great quantity [Robert Burns: "I hae been a devil the feck o' my life"; Robert Louis Stevenson: "He had a feck o' books wi' him"].

2. The purpose, the intended result; the point (of a statement, etc.).

3. Efficacy, efficiency, value. Feckful: efficient

(Feckless derives from the last of these.)


I love 'feckless' and am glad to come across 'feckful'.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Feast and Famine

Feast...Delight...Flourish...   that's the header for a blog I read from time to time. It's written by a stylish young woman (late 20s I think) who writes about food and fashion and finding moments of inspiration in her life. She is inclined to be hard on herself and I think overly concerned with the hard work of being blissful. To the good she seems grounded and inclined to start again rather than wallow in self pity if things are disappointing.

If I had those words at the top of my blog I'd have to have another three shortly thereafter:  Make Do...Whinge...Flounder...  I am grateful for my life and I reach for pleasure and delight. Then I feel weak and aim for adequate rather than excellent. All that seems okay to me. I have always felt a waxing and waning of energy that I cannot control. I can strap myself in and make things happen if I need to. But it's so effortless if the demands coincide with an upswing. I think this means that it's 1974 and I'm really into Biorhythms.

Finished the Tawny Man trilogy by Robin Hobb (Fool's Errand, Golden Fool, Fool's Fate). After hating the second book I loved the third book. It's amazing to me that she could have written such a waste of space as that second one. The third book was indeed too long at 600 and some pages. But she used them to tie up every loose end that ever even thought about being loose and hammer home the mostly happy ending. It was quite satisfying. I'm still hoping to find some Fitz/Fool fanfic which is funny because while making a very desultory search for such (ooh I like that phrase) I found a discussion of R Hobb's condemnation of fanfic and people using her characters/settings. It's a good post but the comments seem to perpetuate some ongoing feuds, I didn't read them all.

Rowing. I'm going to a 4 hour rowing clinic with the KU rowing club next Saturday. I am getting leery as it approaches. But I suppose they won't let me drown.

Nod had a crap week at work last week. He is slowly getting over a cold and I hope that helps everything. He's looking at other job possibilities. This makes me nervous. I would like him to get another year at this place in his resume before he moves on. I need to tell him that. He is trying to cook up something in town which would be a wonderful think -- no commute and he'd get time in the evenings back. But it would be a lower salary and less certain. Shiver.

We took the girls to The Avengers on campus on Friday. Now Lexi doesn't have to feel like she's the last person in Kansas to see that movie. It was not nearly as entrancing as the first time but it was fun to stay out late and do something different.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Bouncing Stones

Urgent update --- British art installation (just managed to not put "" around that phrase) titled Sacrilege: 
http://festival.london2012.com/events/9000963231Sacrilege is a life-size replica of Stonehenge made as a fully operational bouncy castle.

That is all.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Small Potatoes

Hooping
Went out to the park last night to join the hula hoop meetup. Katy went with me and we didn't find any other hoopers so we plunked ourselves right by the beautiful butterfly garden and fooled around with our round toys. After a while we were joined by a couple of college women. From their conversation (which contained many instances of the verb "hooping") they sounded like freshmen. It wasn't a fiesta but it was a beautiful evening to be in the park. Katy saw some tricks that she'd like to learn. I would claim to not be focused on tricks... except that I want to figure out how to transfer the hoop from my waist to my neck and back again. Katy does this with a masterful dip of her shoulders. I can sometimes do it but sometimes I dip and nothing happens. I have a "hoop dance" dvd reserved at the library, we'll see what that shows me.

Doldrums
I've reached a point in the Golden Fool book where I am tired of all of the characters. I'm tired of the protagonist and his stupid self sabotaging secrets. I'm tired of the male dominant / bastards are rejected society. I'm tired of life at court where the events to look forward to are conversations while taking exercise on horseback or conversations before/during/after the ball. As I told Nod last night, someone's horse was killed menacingly by the secret society a couple of chapters back and that seemed promising but nothing has come of it. I will take his advice and skim until exciting events are revealed. It's the middle book of a trilogy but surely it's not mandatory for it to wander aimlessly. One last whinge -- the cover! It's a tease image of a young woman's back with an elaborate dragon tattoo. Nothing of the sort has appeared in the book so far. We'll see if it is quite unrelated to the text as book covers sometimes are. Grumble.

Surviving
We had start of school open house night on Tuesday. They fed us hot dogs and we got to look at our kids' classrooms and meet the teachers. It felt less intense than other years. I guess as the kids get older and we get (a tiny bit) more organized it's easier to get to the after school events. Katy just about popped because I went to Lexi's class first. Such intensity. We got there in the end. Lexi showed me her haiku about trees. It had a drawing of a willow tree and reminded me of a sampler. Nod didn't get home in time to go and has been in a snit most of the week.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

In the press

It's the second day of classes on campus. My kids are enjoying their fifth school day of the year. I'm busy at work but not as overwhelmed as in past years. This position is not front line so I don't talk to students or faculty directly for the most part. It's a luxury that makes me a little uncomfortable. I feel like I should be helping all those teeming masses. Yesterday I did sit at an information table to help students find buildings and give them free planners, maps and water. That was jolly. Neon running shoes are in. Low or invisible socks are still the style for women. No one was wearing pyjamas (yet), they all had the first day of school buzz.
I have enjoyed The Magicians by Grossman so far but I am getting leery of our anti hero. He is a pathetic mess and I am not liking his friends much either. Now that they've gotten to the magical land I wonder whether the author is going to squish them rather than give them the safe adventure they were hoping for. I may go so far as to skim to find out.
I've picked up the second book in Robin Hobb's Tawny Man series and am chomping at the bit to start that one.
Lexi's hoodie is turning out to be a winner. I've used a pattern from Tracy Ullmann and Mel Clark's Knit 2 Together. Aside from one not very well explained neck detail, the pattern is totally working for me. The colors that Lexi chose are great. After I proposed some sober looking yarn she said "Mom, I like bright colors!" And so she does. We ended up with purpley/bluey self patterned and a bright raspberry for the sleeves. It's 100% cotton because I love the feel of cotton sweaters. Gen tells me that in a larger garment one needs to beware the dreaded cotton droop. But this sucker is small enough to get away with. The fit is not the greatest. I've got the sleeves about the right length but the torso is not only long but wide. Ending up with well fitting garments can be a goal for the future. I'm just happy they're wearable now. I asked Nod whether he wanted a sweater since I've produced one for everyone else in the family. I told him that I wasn't too keen because it would be so much bigger than the other garments I've made and because I didn't want to foist anything on him. He replied very diplomatically that when I want to tackle knitting socks he will wear those.

It's nice to have Missouri taking a turn in the national spotlight as the state with backward ignorant fudie politicans. Kansas appreciates it! We're just absorbing the news of a congressman who went skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee while on an official visit. I like skinny dipping, Kevin, you don't need to apologize!

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Finished with The Magicians now. The end of the action in Fillory was better than I expected. But I thought it was too literal a borrowing of the setting of Lewis's barrow under the stone table in Narnia. The very end of the book felt like it was tacked on. How weird that the magicians appear in mid air outside the office tower window as though they were superheroes. Which leads me to the disgression that one of my favorite silly action movies, Long Kiss Goodnight, is really about what it means to be a mother while being a superhero. (What does that title mean, anyway? It sounds so much like The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler. And this movie is not a noir at all.)

Finished sewing on the kangaroo pocket on the front of Lexi's hoodie last night. I will wash it and see if it fits any better after. I'm feeling very proud of it.

Has anyone else noticed Twitter not working right over the last couple of days? I don't twit myself but I look at a couple of people's streams. Right now I can only see tweets from the last 12 hours. The older ones never load. The completely inadequate message is "Loading seems to be taking a while.
Twitter may be over capacity or experiencing a momentary hiccup. Try again or visit Twitter Status for more information."  Of course there is nothing recent on Twitter Status to explain this. You tweeters, send a complaint for me!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Seeds

How to eat sunflower seeds. Living in the rectangular sunflower state, it feels like a right and good thing to eat. I like the sweetness of the raw seeds. Our drab but well stocked grocery store sells shelled seeds in the bulk section, roasted/salted and raw. Of course I can't sit around shelling seeds at work, too messy and finger occupying. Even though they are ready to eat, how to get the itty bitty seeds in mah mowf? I almost wish I had a small bowled, long handled spoon. That would work if I lived in the prim etiquette-heavy alterna-universe of my dreams. Mostly I pour the seeds into my palm and then toss them in my maw. But then I have to wipe lipstick off my hand. More strategic contemplation is needed.

This article is convincing me that my disdain for seedless watermelon is nothing but the mark of being a hidebound traditionalist. They say that nothing is lost taste-wise in the seedless fruit development. I scoff because as a kid watermelon was sweet and delicious but also an invitation to sanctioned spitting. Going for distance spitting against my brother was lots of fun. Why give that up?The seedless thing is just to make the fruit easier for mechanical preparation I'm sure. Nod says he likes watermelon if it is very crisp. He can't take it if it has a mushy texture. Lexi loves watermelon. Katy doesn't like any melons at all.

I made this (Quinoa Salad with Grilled Zucchini, Poblanos and Feta) with the broiler and it was mind blowing. The smell of the poblano chiles blistering was perfectly satisfying to begin with. I popped them into a glass bowl with a plate on top so they could steam and their skins would be easy to remove. Then I broiled the zukes and that worked excellently as well. I am not a griller but I luuurv the broiler. I used chicken broth to make the quinoa. I'm getting ready to make it again. I'm going to use bell peppers and just one hot pepper so I can make it more Katy-friendly and keep the hot for the mature audience. I had to scrape the last of the quinoa out of the bulk item bin at the grocery store last night so I would have enough. What I needed was a tiny quinoa dust buster but they haven't thought of that yet.

A neighbor has been giving out cilantro seeds (coriander). I want to plant them right now but am told I should wait 'til spring. I have a big plant pot on the west porch that I think of as my flowers and herbs pot. Not that it grows much but that's what I put in it when I have a surge of gardening interest. This year it has been regularly rumbled by a squirrel searching for roots and goodies. I caught him at it last week and went out and slapped the porch railing and yelled at him. Perhaps next spring it'll be time for battening the hatches with some wire or cloth to keep out the rodents.

Just finished this book, How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship & Musical Theater. I found it annoying at first but it grew on me. I liked the ending except for a quibble with a guest star appearance. High school theater geeks in the class of '84, how could I resist?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Laking

We went to Bloomington Beach at the lake Saturday afternoon. It was remarkably enjoyable. I realized as I started to feel tired at 8pm that our kids are now old enough to stay out for five hours and not need to be rushed home for food/bed/tantrum defusing. Am still wrapping my mind around that. We went with three other families. One of our neighbors built his own tent with canvas, rope, 2x4s and a hammer. It was big enough for a dozen when he was done. His wife seemed to enjoy its shade as she read while the children frolicked. He's an ubercraftsman and showed us the ditty bags he was making with sailcloth, leather and rope. Uber used to be a youth pastor and a firefighter. Skills -- he haz them.

Stayed out until the sun went down. When we drove back we saw several deer browsing in the fields. We kept pointing them out to Lexi to no avail. She didn't have her glasses and she was too tired to care anyway. Coming north across the Clinton Lake dam we got the best view of the western sky. There were a dozen cars pulled over to watch the sunset. Nod said that however tough those Kansans were, pulling off the road to watch the pink clouds indicates they have some poetry in their souls.

Our new friend Kira brought her two teenagers. She has two daughters, one pale as milk and the other olive skinned. May they learn a lot in the next few years and skip most of the available life trauma. To spare their mother if not themselves. They should go through some low grade life trauma so they get experience making decisions and rebounding. Kira wore a white top to go swimming and when she came out it was khaki colored. Ah the fresh mud and alge of a midwestern lake. Nod took her and Katy and the teens out swimming past the yellow barrier. I stayed in the shallower water with Lexi. I told Kira and Nod that they are well matched in yakkity yak. She said she had gone to a knitting meetup and been shushed for talking too much. Weird. Stitch and bitch should always have bitching as the first priority. One can stitch perfectly well in isolation after all. Kira's trying to get someone to knit a beautiful sock pattern at the same time that she does it. I am untried on socks and not that interested in the finished product (although that pattern is charming to the toes). So I passed but Gen says she's ready for the challenge.

Just watched the Irene Adler episode of the BBC Sherlock. Rrrrow. Nod assures me that boys like it too. Spoilers in white: The end was a fun (and completely comic book) rescue from the jaws of disaster. I was fairly appalled at her consorting with Moriarty although it is consistent with the original as I recall. Besides the steam heat it was a witty retelling of the story. We watched the Hound of the Baskervilles ep last night. Nod liked that reworking very much. It wasn't my style of story. Oh all right, I'll 'fess up, I was hoping for more sexy banter.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Education and Effort

I always learn something from the AV Club's Tolerability Index. Today's new concept to contemplate is the Trendy Top, an infomercial marketed piece of clothing. Well sort of, it's a tube of fabric that goes under your tank top and over your waistband to cover your muffin top or the top of your thong. Like the pregnant ladies wear to cover the bump! As the AV Club writer put it "You don't need a tube top to wear over your pants so your underwear doesn't show, you just need new pants." I represent a segment of the population which does not have the shape for low rise pants. Here's to that pendulum swinging back now.

Trying to write about what I've been eating and drinking without boring myself. I pared it down to these two Smitten Kitchen links and a recommendation that fresh squeezed lime juice is worth the trouble for the margs. But I am not surprised to find that I cannot stop there. The Tzatziki Potato Salad was particularly irresistible and worth the garlic breath. I also made some eggplant stirfry last week but it was less than ideal. The asian eggplant pieces were cooked through but didn't get soft enough so they were still squeaky on the tooth. And the sauce was tomato-y sweetish. But it was not the soft eggplant pieces in a sweet garlic sauce that I yearn for. I think I need to steam the eggplant to start.

A discussion of anti work. It contains the useful definitions of work (the expenditure of energy in a productive process) and leisure (the expenditure of energy without productive result).  I often feel abashed that I do not do more housework. I wish my house was tidier and yet wishing does not make it so. But on the other hand I am mostly satisfied with my ability to pursue leisure activities. I opt for expending energy without a productive result. It's a choice! Well, and sometimes I feel that I need to recover my energy in order to do much of anything. Perhaps I'll be a humming bird person in my next life but in this one I am much more of a tortoise. Katy helped me come up with a chore list and an allowance system for the kids. They have to do 3 chores in a week to earn $1. I think she enjoyed creating the chore system better than doing any of the chores. But it's a good development and furthers getting housework stuff taken care of in our family system.

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Last night I was reminded of a film I watched at the ATA in the Mission in San Francisco many moons ago. Digression from my digression: I went to ATA to take a workshop on creating your own website some time around 1999. It was taught by a bored young man who never explained FTP to me so all the html info was useless. I still don't understand that part about how the info goes from my file to be posted on the web. (Thank you Blogger for making this happen while leaving my ignorance undisturbed. Although I still would like to know.)  The Target Shoots First was shot on video by a kid at his first post-college job. He was hired at Columbia Record Club and worked in their offices in the Twin Towers in NYC. So it's a glimpse of life in the 90s in that doomed building. And it's one of those music subscription companies (surely they are mostly defunct by now?) which I remember because I subscribed as a high school student. I remember it as very funny and poignant and honest.