Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!

"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

For old quotes, look here.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back In the Blogger...

...I post another dang Meme. I got this over at Gunfighter: A Modern Warrior's Life, and being the OCD critter I am, I had to do it. It's a new one for me, so at least you won't have stale old answers. Also, it requires one-word replies, so you won't have to put up with my usual War-and-Peace length responses.

The rules are simple - respond to each item giving a one-word answer... and no word can be repeated.

Because you're dying to know:

1. Where is your cell phone? Van.
2. Your significant other? Steadfast.
3. Your hair? Long.
4. Your mother? Formidable.
5. Your father? Absent.
6. Your favorite time of day? Quiet.
7. Your dream last night? Cinematic.
8. Your favorite drink? Water.
9. Your dream goal? Publication.
10. The room you’re in? Living.
11. Your ex? Nonexistent.
12. Your fear? Conquerable.
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Content.
14. What you are not? Healthy.
15. Your Favorite meal? Shared.
16. One of your wish list items? Patio.
17. The last thing you did? Wrote.
18. Where you grew up? North
19. What are you wearing? Indigo.
20. Your TV is? On.
21. Your pets? Napping.
22. Your computer? Busy.
23. Your life? Simple.
24. Your mood? Contemplative.
25. Missing someone? Yes.
26. Your car? Mule.
27. Something you’re not wearing? Bustier.
28. Favorite store? Borders.
29. Your summer? Hot.
30. Your favorite colour? Blue.
31. When is the last time you laughed? Before.
32. When is the last time you cried? Recently.
33. Your health? Meh.
34. Your children? Adored.
35. Your future? Potential.
36. Your beliefs? Deep.
37. Young or old? Perspective.
38. Your image? False.
39. Your appearance? Fat.
40. Would you live your life over again knowing what you know? Yep.

Any Takers?

*This bit of random, meandering silliness brought to you by low blood sugar, lack of sleep, and a sudden inability to remember the kickin' post I wanted to write today (and you can't prove otherwise!).

I have been reading, which has prompted me to thought. Uh-oh.

Cue Disney music:
"LeFou, I'm afraid I've been thinking..."
"A dangerous pastime..."
"I know!"

So, yeah, I've been thinking about things. Political things. That smoke you smell? It's not the fires in California, the nuclear carrier George Washington, or even the barbecue joint down the street; it's the hamster wheel in my head going 'round and 'round at hitherto unheard of speeds.

My brain aches.

What have I been reading? How kind you are to indulge my nonsense by asking!

I've been reading about the Fair Tax. No fear, I won't even try to explain it here - I am barely comprehending the finer point myself, there's no way I can coherently explain it to anyone else.

It has prompted some thought, though, about our nation and its politics...including the politics of taxation.

I don't like what I see, and I would very much like it to change. I can't quite manage to understand how one percent of the populace pays thirty-something percent of the taxes, and that's OK?

Taxes aside, I often feel overwhelmed by the iniquity I see in our society - no one has satisfactorily explained to me how taking a person's home through condemnation and selling the land to WalMart is beneficial to anyone but WalMart.

So after all this reading and thinking, I have made a decision.

I am going to buy an island and start a benevolent dictatorship. Our national pastime will change seasonally and include cooking, quilting, lawn gnome placement, and the occasional bout of underwater basket-weaving. Dinner at six, don't be late.

We'll even set aside a prime bit of land for Mrs. G and her Women's Colony.

Any takers?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I think I Figured It Out

I know we're all just baffled by my sudden need to clean. OK, maybe it's just me and Mum (who is, I'm sure, scratching her head in bewilderment and wondering what medication I'm on and why I didn't start taking it sooner) who are wondering, but pretend, OK? I crave validation.

Were I knocked up, I could blame nesting, although when I was pregnant, I never wanted to clean a damn thing (especially not the cat boxes but y'all must know how that went)(What is it with cat boxes, anyway??). But I'm not knocked up. In case you wondered. I'd hate to leave you in suspense. Where was I?

Oh, right, cleaning. Whew, nice clean...er...dirty...er...safe subject.

So why the sudden interest in a diminished stockpile of cat hair, dust Yetiiiiii (Yeti? Yeties? How do you pluralize that??), and fossilized cat barf? Why get rid of the emergency supply of stale Cheerios under the couch, our collection of armor piercing french fries around the computer desk, the dirty laundry that seems to be the only unifying decorative factor throughout the house?

I think I figured it out.

I think it's because we have new neighbors. Yep. It's because there's the tiniest chance they could come over here, maybe come inside and hang out a bit. I can't keep them in the yard forever, can I? And if they do want to socialize, I'd like to have a home that doesn't look like a frat-house inside. Also, I really don't want them seeing the mess and thereafter politely accepting baked goods from me with a smile and, when I'm gone, dumping them in the trash ("Have you seen her messy house? I'm not eating anything that came out of there unless it was shrink-wrapped by the manufacturer first!)(Although my kitchen is not messy. Just the rest of the house.).

I couldn't just be tired of a mess and suddenly realize that if I want a clean house, I have to clean it. Nope, that couldn't be it.

What I am curious to know is what T's excuse is - he's not pregnant and nesting (if he is, I get publishing rights) and I don't think he's ever given a fig for what anyone thinks of the state of our home. So why's he all of a sudden taking it upon himself to empty and rearrange the garage so we can open van and freezer doors at the same time? Why do three loads of dishes in two days without nagging on my part (I feel so empty and unnecessary), and take out the trash just because - gasp - it's full??

Yeah, I'm lookin' for the pod. Next month. After the garage is completely rearranged and we've gone through our room. Or maybe the month after, once the dining room is tidy. Or...well, why look for the pod, really? I mean...he's probably happy being kidnapped by aliens, right? Guys love power tools, and what's better than alien power tools? That's all a probe is, right? Right.

So, yeah...umm...I'm going to sweep over there, now...

Oh, Yuck!

Yesterday started out a bit rushed; I had a doctor's appointment, no problem. I forgot that Bird had a dental appointment. Oops. Luckily, the nice folks at the dentist's office called the night before to remind me. Double oops, because his dental appointment was scheduled for thirty minutes after my doctors appointment, and while the buildings are across the road from each other, it just wasn't going to happen.

T to the rescue - he would get the kid up and to the dentist's and I could join them there when I was done with my own doctoral frolicking.

I had a long wait - the doc was busy, busy, busy and also running behind...and people like the impatient patient who kept demanding that she be taken for her labs while she waiting, thereby messing with the lab shui by butting in front of other patients. Also, apparently she didn't know precisely which labs she needed, just "a whole mess of them", and so she wanted them to interrupt the doctor's time with other patients to find out. Grr. That's why you have an appointment, madame, so the nice doctor can determine what to test for!

Don't get me wrong, sometimes you can just pop in for labs in the morning for an appointment later in the day, but that's when you know what they're testing for. I don't know any physician who simply says "Oh, test for everything." Wouldn't that take, like, a gallon of blood??

I got a fair bit of crochet done on the shawl I am making for myself. Hmm. That's two projects I have going for me - crocheted shawl and flannel quilt. How odd...I usually don't make stuf for me. The world must be coming to an end. A cold end, judging by the stuff I'm making.

I made it over to the dentist's to discover that somehow I had gotten the appointment time off by an hour. T and the Evil Genius were still waiting, but it's not too bad - the dentist had blocks to play with and comfy couches to sit on.

Bird has several loose teeth in his head. When the dental tech rolled Bird's upper lip up to inspect them, I was horrified. Another mother-of-the-year moment - eww! he has an abscess on the gum above his loose top tooth. Oh, blech. And I didn't even notice it, and that's the kind of thing you'd think a mum would see!

Well, it turns out that the abscess isn't because we're horrible parents who don't take care of our son's dental well being. No, it turns out that the teeth just need to come out faster - they've been loose for a couple of months now and they need help. So now we need to encourage the little guy to wiggle his teeth.

I know, right? When do you have to tell a kid to wiggle loose teeth? How weird is that?

And we are to leave the abscess alone. Easier said than done - at the very least I want to poke the thing with the toothbrush, or a tooth pick or a pin or...umm...sorry. I don't like the sit-and-wait philosphy...I am proactive about these things and want to get it dealt with. Plus it's...icky.

So here I sit with twitchy fingers wanting to yank a tooth out of my kid's head so the abscess goes away, or at least drain the yucky thing, and I have to sit on my hands to keep from mucking with it.

Sigh. Ain't motherhood grand??

What Say You?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What the...?

OK, whoever's putting psychotropic drugs in my water supply needs to stop.

No, really.

Because dreaming about a mutual interview with Barbara Walters? And it's in her home (I have no idea where she lives or what her home looks like, but apparently my subconscious does), and her bed is a living thing, made from a tree bent and shaped over forty years and it's in bloom? Weird. But the bed was pretty awesome. Oh, and then going outside and seeing a woman on an ultra-lite taking off into the wind with tornadoes all around, and me blowing little puffs of breath at the tornadoes to make them stop because I don't want them coming to the house? Umm...actually...that happens a lot in my dreams. I don't know why, but tornadoes like my dreams, and I am constantly unwinding them, dissipating them, or redirecting them. Hmm. Weird, anyway.

And then? Dreaming I'm in the house where I lived in Little Compton? The house I loved, and still love to this day despite the fact that the recent (bought it over a decade ago, but they came after my family so they're recent) owners decided that the interior walls wanted rearranging (On a century-plus old Georgian Revival? Really??) and that mustard yellow is just the color (It was classic New England white with black shutters when I was a kid, and will always be that way in my head.)? OK, so I have quite a few dreams there. But I'm not usually haunting it while Tom Selleck (Quigley Down Under Tom Selleck, no less) is trying to film a period piece there.

And it's not going well.

So I have to do shit like float over him and dump coins on his head because his funding tanked...and then mope around the set making sure they don't muck up the scenes, because dead me? All about the accuracy.

Also, I'm trying not to get caught because Tom's on to me. Now why wouldn't I want Quigley Down Under Tom Selleck to catch me? Hmm??

And then I do get caught, only then I'm Katherine Hepburn - any era Katherine Hepburn, because she was always brilliant.

And that's not the half of it - I'm in a hurry this morning and don't have time to write out the whole thing. Can you see why I might wonder if my water's tainted??

Hey, Tom...umm...I have some advice on that period movie...you know...in case you'd like to consult about it again...

Is it warm in here??

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Leftover Cookies That Are Never Left Over

The Evil Genius pointed his death-ray at me and demanded cookies. Since I was planning on making them anyway, I agreed. He also wanted to help, so after I shifted his paradigm by making him wash face and hands before we began, we baked.

He's really digging the whole baking Shui, and I'm hoping he'll learn a few things from it - math, chemistry, patience, how to clean up after himself, the meaning of life, and of course cooking.

Yeah, yeah, I know - enough of the demi-hippy home-schooling family crap...get on with the cookies!!

The cast:

For the basic cookie part:
2 sticks (1/2 pound) butter. Yes butter. Real, salted, bad for you butter. Room temperature.
1 C firmly packed brown sugar - I like dark brown, but you can use light if you want.
1/2 C granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla. Real vanilla, none of that fake plastic crap. Yes, I know it costs more. You'll thank me.
1 1/2 C flour - I use half whole wheat and half unbleached all-purpose.
1 tsp baking soda.
1/2 tsp salt.
1 tsp cinnamon.
3 C old fashioned oats

For the "Leftovers" part, some or all of the following:
More vanilla.
More cinnamon.
Dried, ground ginger.
Raisins - I like golden.
Dried cranberries.
Dried cherries.
Chocolate chips.
Chocolate chunks.
Toasted almond slivers - I toast them on my stove top.

Gargoyle optional.

Wow, what a cast, huh? Don't worry, it's not that complicated. Ready? On with the show! (Don't ask me why I use semi-show business talk for this stuff...I have no idea.)

Dump flour, baking soda, and at least one teaspoon (I used way more) of the cinnamon into a sifter. Add ground ginger if you're using it - I think I used a bit less than half a teaspoon. Add the salt. Set the sifter aside to contemplate the meaning of life while you get busy with the other ingredients.

Drop butter into mixing bowl and pour granulated sugar over it. If you're cooking with a child, let them dump the sugar in while you nervously pray to the gods of fine motor control that he doesn't see something more interesting, gesture excitedly to it, and create a sugary little Sahara all over your counter and floor.
Wouldn't it be nice if they always had this kind of focus on the job at hand?

When all the sugar is finally in the bowl, beat on low until the sugar's all incorporated (it's an LLC, if you were wondering). Add the brown sugar - piss off the kid by telling him you need to do this bit because that sugar's packed in the cup and doesn't really pour out. Assuage his ire by letting him work the mixer control. Wonder if Kitchen Aid makes a mixer with a rev limiter.
Vanilla next, at least one teaspoon. I use two. When the Spawn asks if he can dump the vanilla in, say "no" - what he really means is he'd like to tip the bottle in and ler 'er rip.

Eggs next. If you are mad enough to let the sweatshop serf helpful child crack the eggs into the bowl, pre-crack them and try to assist his directional control. Also, have a spare egg handy for when one of them slides half into the bowl and half onto the counter. Make the child go wash the raw egg from his hand before he licks his fingers or picks his nose. Quick, while he's washing his hands, get the spare egg in there without letting him see so he won't feel bad. Yeah, yeah.

In three lots, sift the flour mixture into the bowl. Let the kid turn the sifter crank a few times - it's like magic, to him! He also likes dumping the flour in, but make sure the mixer's turned off or you'll be sorry. Just ask Dawn over at Because I Said So. Mix thoroughly, then add the oats.

At this point, your basic cookie is done and you may commence to baking. I wouldn't, because I can't leave well-enough alone. C'mon, you don't want a boring cookie do ya??

I didn't think so.

For this batch, I added half a bag each dried cranberries and cherries, a quarter of a bag Nestle semi-sweet chips and a half a bag of Ghirardelli (try typing that in a hurry) semi-sweet chips. I usually also add golden raisins, toasted almond slivers, and chocolate chunks, but I didn't have any. This is why these are called "Leftovers Cookies" - you use whatever you have leftover from other cookies, brownies, or cakes you baked this month to tart it up a bit. I thought about throwing in some toasted pine nuts, but decided they'd be too pungent.
Drop by big old spoonfuls onto a baking sheet and cook at 350 for eleven minutes or so - more if you like them crunchy.
Cool on a rack, yada, yada, yada.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

(Not A) Lazy Day

I wasn't planning on doing much, today. Let' face it, I don't do much any day, but today was going to be a book-reading (Mum brought me Lean Mean Thirteen and I am looking forward to it), story-writing (I have about a dozen started, and wouldn't it be nice if I finished one??) sort of day. I wore my sorry arse out yesterday, traipsing through all the sparkly gemstones, beads, fossils, and mineral specimens - and then I came home, got a burr under my saddle, and cleaned my kitchen counter off (Can you say "Junque piles?? I knew you could!!) before attacking the stairs down to the foyer, and the foyer itself (Wow...I had no idea the cats could shed so much without being bald. Honestly, I could've made another cat!) because I am tired of being embarrassed to open my front door and chancing anyone seeing inside. Also, it's nice to be able to walk up the steps without having a slalom or obstacle course to contend with. The mini-Yetis being gone is an added bonus.

Apparently, the housewife bug is a twenty-four-hour thing, because I woke up this morning and (after a lengthy wrestle/cuddle/pretend we're dinosaurs play session with the Evil Genius) got right to it - So far I've started laundry, set chicken to marinating (read that last with a Southern twang and it'll sound less grammatically offensive), and cleaned the hall bathroom. I am only pausing now because I realized that I hadn't blogged yet today and felt a little...empty...inside. Also, T and J were out on a job this morning, and they brought back Tater Tots and a Cherry Limeade from Sonic for me...mighty hunters, I salute you!!

In a few minutes I am going to bake Leftovers Cookies - maybe even photograph the process and post the recipe tomorrow. Did you know I've posted 345 times since January 15'th? Holy crap! I never shut up, do I?? Whew.

OK, break's over...I need to ride this productivity wave while it lasts.

Friday, July 25, 2008

I'm Off...

...but you knew that.

I'm spending the day with Mum at the Franklin Gem and Mineral show, getting into trouble and wreaking havoc on the bead world. Woo-hoo, we're rebels!!


So, to entertain you in my absence (because I just know I'm the most entertaining thing ever...right after watching grass grow or watching milk curdle) I give you...

...crochet!! Wait, wait, where are you going? Honestly, some folks just don't get it. This ain't yer granny's crochet, folks...unless yer granny was into some heavy drug use. My friend Michelle sent me a link to a nifty page chock full of freeform crochet stuff, which I will now share with you...because I'm a giver, dang it. Freeform? What's that? Aha! I knew I could hook you! Hook...get it? It's a crochet joke...you know...hook? Never mind...

Anyway, go check out this group and their funky crocheted stuff.

Also, again because I'm all about the giving, I am this close (hold fingers an inch or so apart for visual) to being able to produce some of the buttons from my "Button, Button" feature. Yep, guess who got her a button maker? And, umm...guess who now has to figure out how to print or hand letter the buttons and assemble them without losing a finger or an eye or cussing fit to peel the paint? So in the next decade or so, I will be offering up buttons for sale for any brave soul who wants to wear them...in public or not, I don't really care. How much they'll cost depends entirely on how much of a pain in my bottom it is to make the bloody things. Details when I figure them out.

Although a gem and mineral show sounds boring, I will be having fun with Mum - c'mon, a day out sans offspring among adults and sparkly things, maybe even scoring a bead or two thousand? When going to the dentist without the kid can be like a vacation? It's OK, you can yawn without hurting my feelings, because...a whole day among gemstones? Muahahahahah....


Y'all have a good one...I'm sure I am.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Just Peachy

Mmm, peaches and cream for breakfast again. After, of course, a rousing round of hand-wrestling with the Evil Genius. While wrestling, he hummed La Marseillaise and the Star Spangled Banner in rapid succession, followed by a selection from the movie Cars and some Nickel Creek.

Whatever this day may hit me upside the head with, it sure started out fine.

I am considering a bit of sewing this afternoon - yesterday I made a crochet-hook case for my gal M, and I realized I haven't worked on my quilt (the one I started three years ago and wanted to finish in a month) in so long, the fabric is dusty! Yikes! Oh, wait, that would be because I am home schooling an Evil Genius, wouldn't it? Oh, well - since he has already read me Green Eggs and Ham (yes, he read it to me, not the other way 'round) and done some basic math, maybe we'll have a break so I can sew and he can...umm...do whatever Evil Geniuses do when their Mums aren't looking. Clean his room? Yeah, clean his room. That's what they do, right? Clean rooms, fold laundry, sweep floors...right??

If the Internet crashes later, you'll know what he was really up to...

Dream On

When I was a kid, I'm sure I had dreams of what I wanted to be or do when I grew up. I am equally certain that I'm not being or doing any of them. I often hear of people saying "Oh, I always wanted to be/do this..." about their careers or lives, and I think that's pretty amazing. I wonder how they managed to focus on that job or life at a young age and hold onto it through their formative years, through the turmoil of growth, change, maturing, hormones, and everything that leads to adulthood. Good grief, it's enough to hang onto a sense of self through all of that - and really, how many sad tales are there in the world of people who didn't manage even that??

I know I wanted to be a ballerina at one time. My grandmother used to take me to see the Nutcracker in Boston every year, and I was always enchanted. She'd dress me up in some foofy little dress that I adored, and the completely necessary patent-leather shoes with silver buckles over stretchy tights. I wasn't permitted long hair back then, so I had a barrette or two to finish my look, and I felt terribly grown up and important because I didn't know many (or any?) other kids who went to the ballet. Oh, how I wanted to learn how to float across the stage like those ballerinas! Oh, how I wanted to be lifted high, spun, and placed gently on my toes again. Oh, how often I was told that I was too fat, too tall, not graceful enough.

I think, at one time, I wanted to be a nurse. The funny thing is, Mum wanted very much to be a nurse when she was a young woman, and was told that it was too common a job for someone of her lineage. Basically, her parents thought it was too plebeian, and she was told she wouldn't have tuition if she went to nursing school. She settled for less (or more, depending on your perspective), and not until I was nearly grown did the opportunity arise for her to try...and she decided she was too old to start such an arduous process, so she went to law school instead. Yeah, I know, right angles there! I never knew about her dream until I was grown, so my fleeting fancy was all my own.

I absolutely wanted to ride horses. I didn't care how, I just wanted to ride them. A jockey, I thought, or a jumper. My cousin C was a natural horsewoman - she was graceful, strong, slender, and pretty. She was even an Olympic jumping alternate at one time. Me? Mmm...not so much. Again with the too big, too tall, seat not good enough...and then there was the need to ride fast and actually leave the ground on a horse. Squeal!! So a vet, then? Discouraged by the grandmother who was so adept at cutting dreams down before they could grow past seedling stages. I would, by the way, have made a terrific vet.

I wanted to be a writer. A poet. Yeah, have you looked at the market for poetry? If you're wondering "what market?" you get my point. I liked to tell stories, and even started writing a few, but was told they were transparent, lacked depth, needed better character development and lacked maturity. Really? At thirteen, fourteen years of age I lacked maturity? Well, dang.

Music was something that couldn't be cut out of me, squashed, denigrated, or discouraged...and she didn't want to. My grandmother herself had often sung when she was young, and even ran a night-club/cabaret/dinner joint in California where semi-famous and rather well known folks would hang out on occasion. Who? Oh, I don't know, some group of guys named after rodents. The Hamster Guys? No, no...um...The Mice Men! Yeah, no. Oh, wait, I remember...The Rat Pack! Ever heard of them? So music was good and we had liftoff. I was in my teens by then, and a bit late at the start, but I figured what the hey, it's just singing, right? Yeah, right.

As you are not reading a blog about my singing exploits, travels with a band or stage show, fame, wealth, gold records or composition prowess, I'm guessing you know how that went. I did go to college on a full music scholarship for a year, but to keep the scholarship I had to be competitive, which I am not. I won't downplay the talents of another or try to undermine them to make myself look or sound better. In my mind, you either have it or you don't, and you should stand on your own merit. I also had to play catch up to people who had been taking music theory for decades - I'd had two years in high school - and who could sight read music in their sleep and didn't get all tangled up with their hands while playing piano. I wasn't college material in so many ways, really it was a good thing I sort of snapped and hid in my bedroom at Mum's house rather than going back. Maybe hiding for a year was not so terrific, but hey...I did sharpen my typing skills with my forays online and into the burgeoning world of AOL. Whoopee.

So why am I bringing this up?

I was listening to some random CD selections last night and one of my Cirque du Soliel albums came up - I put it in because I was reminded of it over at Dad Gone Mad. Have you ever seen one of the Cirques? Through my stint as a volunteer for the Festival of Trees to benefit Eggleston (later Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, after they merged with Scottish Rite), I had the opportunity to bid (well, as I recall I talked Mum into bidding) on some prime seats for Dralion in Atlanta. Four tickets to the show and to a party beforehand for a few (hundred) special guests...including us. Sweet!

The show was...well, like Cirque, it defies description. Brutal. Ethereal. Surreal. Transcendent. Visceral. Hilarious. Bizarre. Lovely. It was curiously pagan, reminiscent of the five sacred things that make up all of creation. I wept through parts of it, so in awe was I of the story I perceived and the beauty of the movement. The acrobatics were top notch, of course, and the contortionists had more than one audience member wincing...but it was the tissu that roused in me the urge to stop time, to watch and watch and watch that dance of fabric and flesh, the defiance of gravity seemingly without effort. How they flowed up and sown that silken flow of woven threads. How they soared. With T, Mum, and the sister-of-my-heart (also initialed "K") around me, I was transported. K and I held hands throughout, squeezing from time to time when something was especially...deep.

Then there was the music. Every bit of the show was set to music. Did the Tissu dancers soar? So did the vocals. Was the German Wheel forceful? So were the drums, gutteral, demanding in their rhythm and tempo. It cut through, wove around, rose above and sank below the movement. I am a musicia more than anything. Of all the things I didn't do or become, musician is the most present, the most...here and now. That I still sing, write music, revel in it, doesn't mean I'm a musician by society's standards, but...what do I care for society's definitions, anyway? Music and words, words and music, with these can Gods shape worlds, and on a good day...on a good day, with these can I shape how the people around me will feel, will be, at least for a little while.

I'm not often proud of myself. I don't often believe that anything I do is worth spit. I do believe, though, that I've shaped both written and sung words in powerful ways, and I know that music can alter my perception of the world around me - can lift or deaden my spirit in moments.

So now I have a new, perhaps frightfully silly dream. I want to be a Cirque singer.

Given that I do not sing in any language but English (I can sing Italian, French, German, Latin, Spanish, and anything written phonetically, but I only comprehend English), have no technique to speak of, can't read music any more, am overweight and my breathing isn't exactly sterling...given all that, I'm not afraid to learn, to try, and to give it my all. I'm a shoo-in, right??

Somebody get me an application, quick!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


We were pounded by a storm last night. There was a web of lightning across the sky, and rain lashed the house in curtains. The wind had our trees dancing, tossing their crowns and shedding leaves and branches with the abandon of nymphs shedding clothing at a Bacchanalia. We lost power for just long enough for me to consider calling a friend or two and finding somewhere to stay overnight; we could have managed, but I really don't like sleeping in a humid, un-air-conditioned house in Georgia in the summer - especially when the air was thick enough to breathe with a spoon.
Power goes off, power comes on. Power goes off, power comes on. Off, on, off, on, all evening. Grr. Anyone want to subsidize (and by "subsidize", I mean "pay for") some solar panels and a battery bank? Or at least a generator? Puhleeeeeze?
I just ate fresh, ripe peaches and organic cream for breakfast. Dear Goddess, thank you for simple, wonderful things like fresh, ripe peaches and organic cream. When the first peach tree made the first peach, surely the Universe felt a little shiver of delight at the moment of ripening. Somewhere out there in the vast, star-stippled dark is a race of beings who have no peaches, and though they have great knowledge, wealth, and technology at their disposal, I wouldn't trade places with them right now. Yep, that was a mighty fine peach.
I have new neighbors, and I am old-fashioned enough to want to bring them a welcoming gift. As far as I could tell, it's a fella, his fiance, and two kids who are older than Bird but not old enough to drive. So...banana bread? Cookies? What do I bring them? Any thoughts?
Is it wrong that I actually wondered (for a few minutes this morning) whether I could forgo milk for my family and buy some yarn to crochet instead?? Would it make a difference if I said it was Peruvian wool? And no, Mum, I don't have enough yarn. There's no such thing as enough when it comes to textiles or beads!
If it rains again later, and if there's no lightning, I think I'll take the Evil Genius out to play in it. I bet we can find some good mud puddles if we put our minds to it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

O! Electra!

O! Electra! Wild eyed, wild haired Goddess of modern living,
From you so many blessings flow!
With your twin hounds Voltage and Amperage
Keeping watch at your heels
You stride with great force through every house
Every business
Lo, even unto the far reaches of the smallest lane!
Your munificence manifests itself at every turn!
O! Electra, your daughter Frigidera does make our foodstuffs good
And with great floes of ice keeps our drinks chilled to perfection!
Incandesce, your son, does brighten the deepest dark of night
And mimics the sun in every room of our homes!
Microwave, demanding only the occasional gift of popcorn or plastic container
Provides us hot meals, snacks and endless amusement
From the currents of your raging rivers!
AC keeps us comfortable against even the great Global Warming!
Mighty Electra, to you do we make small sacrifices of lightbulbs, toasters
And the occasional blender!
Since 1816 have we known you, O! Electra, and your many wonders!
On days holy to you, when you fly across the sky
Arcing from horizon to horizon
We propitiate you with televisions, stereos
And home computers!
O! And they who deny you, mighty Goddess, are marked
By your own hand
Reaching down from the heavens and striking the offenders
With your terrible wrath
For Electra giveth, and Electra reclaimeth
And the lapsed worshiper finds her good graces
Only with new, shiny appliances!
Even your nemeses Power strip, circuit breaker,
And GFI outlet
Cannot keep you at bay!
O! Electra, why have your forsaken us in this hour of lashing rain
Oppressive heat
And early dark?
How have we offended you, we who have televisions, computers, freezer, refrigerator
And all things of your temple in abundance?
Return! Return!
Return to us the comforts
To which we've become accustomed!

Please? I'll give you a brand new fluorescent light bulb...

Button, Button

Monday, July 21, 2008

Stolen Moments

I love my son. He is a brightness in the grey gloom of depression, a constant whirling dervish of joy in my world. His curiosity seems ceaseless, an unending litany of questions followed by confused facts followed by more questions, interspersed with songs full of muddled lyrics sung heartfelt and slightly off-key. He's a crazy quilt, a bundle of love and maddening little-boyness that warms the chill in my heart like nothing else can...and sometimes is a little smothering, a little overwhelming, a little more than I want or need just at the moment.

Every now and then, I find myself looking for bits of time that are for me.

Bits of time that don't include T, or J, or Bird, or cats, or Mum, or friends. For me.

I usually have them in the car, quick dashes to the grocery store or appointments or some other errands, a few minutes listening to the iPod and mumbling to myself, maybe working out plot points in one more story that I'm halfway through writing and will likely never show anyone because I'm embarrassed by them. But I write them anyway, in other stolen moments.

Minutes here and there. Maybe I managed to get up early, or maybe I am staying up beyond late, after the Evil Genius has finally played himself into exhaustion and sleep. That doesn't happen often any more, because no matter when I turn out his lights and kiss him goodnight, he will not sleep unless the whole house is dark and quiet. It's as if he doesn't want to miss a moment of what anyone else is doing. If I'm up, he's awake, and sometimes he's awake if I'm sleeping. If I could harness that energy, I'd never have another power bill.

Right now, I have a few of those moments. The cats are all curled up elsewhere, Bird is in bed, not quite asleep but not quite awake, T is not home from work yet, J is out bowling, and I am free to write, mumble, or go sit out on the front steps and feel the night around me.

The night around me is warm, a little humid, breezy, and thick with promise. It feels like a storm is brewing not too far away. I can smell it, taste it, feel it in my bones. It's a good feeling. I enjoy having it to myself for a little while, the anticipation and content in the darkness. I smell grass, and damp, and a wildness in the wind. Silent flickers of light flash in the far away sky, backlighting the growing clouds.

A few minutes of peace, a few stolen moments out of my regular life.

Back inside, cats want my lap, Bird wants a late night snack, there is e-mail, there are dishes, trash, laundry, constant pulls on my time and energy. I've had my little bit for now, and life won't wait.

I feel displaced again, like I don't belong here in this life, and yet I am content to be here, now, in this moment. This stolen moment.


I know, I know, I said I'd post this days ago. I got busy. You'll recover, and it was worth the wait, truly.

Ready for key lime pie? OK, let's get goin'!

First, you need to find your camera. Realize batteries are dead in camera, making photo-blogging impossible. Charge batteries. Fall asleep, wake in the evening, decide pie can wait until tomorrow.

Whew, this cooking can be complicated stuff!

The next morning, go to a bead show with your Mum. Pay special attention to the lack of air-conditioning in the stuffy enclosed space with ultra-bright, ultra-hot spot lighting.

Lunch at the-best-Thai-restaurant-anywhere-and-you-won't-convince-me-otherwise.

Ahem, excuse me, are you finished dilly-dallying?? Because really, I think I've been more than patient, here.

One more thing - make sure to anger the Evil Genius by informing him that he actually has to clean up the mess he made in his own room, and you aren't helping him!

Now we're ready.

The cast:

For the crust:

16 graham Crackers
3 Tbsp sugar
¼ pound butter, melted

For the filling:
4 large egg yolks
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
½ cup key lime juice
2 tsp grated lime peel, green only (skip this bit if you are using bottled juice – it doesn’t hurt the pie to do without)
Whipping cream for garnish

Let's get a move on, people are clamoring for pie! OK, maybe not clamoring, but they do seem to be keen on the idea.

For the crust:

Combine ingredients and press into 9” pie plate. Bake at 350 for 10 – 12 minutes, until lightly brown. Cool.
- OR -
Buy a ready-made crust at the grocery store because...why not?
Guess which one I did.
For the filling:

Summon the Evil Genius from his exile in the pit of despair...er...room (which still isn't clean)...and bring light and joy into his life once more by asking him if he'd like to help make a pie.
Now that all is right with the world, beat the egg yolks until thick and light yellow, but don’t over-beat them - for heaven's sake, don't over-beat them, or you'll have...umm...actually, I have no idea what you'll have because I've never over-beaten them, but I'm sure it'll be a disaster of epic proportions, so just don't do it. OK?
See? Fluffy, yellow, not over-beaten:
Right, turn off the mixer and add the condensed milk.
Mix on low, adding half the lime juice.
Once the juice is incorporated, add the rest, and the zest (if you're using it, which I haven't yet, but hey, it's your pie).
Mix until blended. Pour into pie shell and bake at 350 for 12 - 15 minutes.

Chill completely, garnish with whipped cream. You know what? I've never garnished mine. It doesn't hang around long enough for garnishment. It didn't even hang around long enough for a photograph! Poor pie - it doesn't stand a chance against the ravenous T and his key-lime-pie-crazed rampages.

I need to go clean pie filling off the ceiling, now.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Busy, Busy, Bus...OK, Not So Much

I am, for me, up early today. I was planning on sleeping in, hanging out with the Evil Genius while T worked turns at the track, and makin' pies today.

That's not a euphemism - when I say makin' pies, I mean makin' pies.

Plans change.

Mum called yesterday and wondered if I might like to wreak havoc at a local bead show. I didn't think so, because I thought T would be at the track, and a five-year-old at a bead show? Yeah...not.

Then T informed me that he wouldn't be working turns tomorrow (today) after all. Hmm. Sooo...I can haz bead show?? He said "Sure, why not?" He would hang with the kid for the day.

But wait, there's more. It turns out, our roommate J (some day I'll explain him) has a job to do today, and T was going to go with him. No worries, they say, they'll bring Bird along and let him climb all over the "big truck" (eighteen wheeler) while he does a twenty minute install, then they'll come home.

But wait, there's still more. Yesterday, when T and J got home from their two-day trip around the Southeast, they noticed the sad state of my tires. Not just sad. Pathetic. Depressing. Dangerous. OK, just about worn slap through. No kidding, they were like an old pair of socks that you wear around the house all the time, and you've worn all the fuzz off in places so there's just a few threads holding them together - there were a few places where you could see the stuff under the tread. T about schwitzed when he saw them! When he came inside, he informed me the van was grounded until that was taken care of. Uh, excuse me? I don't think so! I need my van!

But wait, there's...you know. We don't have the money for new tires, so I was planning on patching mine with band-aids or duct tape or something. T and J don't see the humor in that. J decided that I (well, the van) was having new tires and an alignment, and I was having them tomorrow (today)! He made an appointment with The Tire Store to drop the van off this morning. He also decided that I had to have the road hazard plan, which I protested to no avail. Meanwhile, I'm wondering how many sexual favors I'm providing on a street corner to pay for these tires, but J offered to loan us the dosh until we can pay him back. Sweet, huh?

So instead of sleeping late, watching cartoons and makin' pies (yes, really, I do mean makin' pies) and blogging about them, in the course of a few minutes yesterday my Saturday plans were altered to: get up early, dress child, pack bag o' snacks, entertainment, and clothes (always pack extras clothing, even if it's a ten minute trip!) for child, make breakfast to go for child, send T, Evil Genius, and J off with the van to drop it off (J and Bird in J's car because T won't even consider the kid riding in the van until new tires are secured) then go play with a big truck, and get ready for Havoc at the Bead Show!!

Whew. I'm tired. Think I have time for a nap before Mum gets here??

Back later with a recipe for key lime pie.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Southern Living At Its Finest

Sunday evening, I will be serving the following:

Ribeye steaks, fried with butter in a cast iron pan because there's no other way to cook 'em. No, there isn't. Lalalalalalala, I can't hear you!!! Frying steaks in cast iron is the only way to cook 'em and I can't hear you!!!
Salt crusted oven-baked potatoes with butter, freshly shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream on the side.
Broccoli, steamed just until tender, with a hint of garlic.
Homemade key-lime pie.
Homemade sugar-free chocolate pie.
Possibly homemade strawberry shortcakes.
There may also be onion dip, deviled eggs, and crudite for snacking.

*Edit - this in addition to the from-scratch pancake brunch I'll be doing for my sister-in-law and neice mid-morning. Whew.

Why am I serving this? What's the occasion? Wedding? Funeral? Birthday? St. Swithin's Day? Nope.

Brace yourselves.


Yep. Wrestling. We are ordering pay-per-view wrestling, and are expecting a guest to join us for the festivities.

Yeeehaw, y'all.

'Scuse me, my redneck is showing...

What Say You?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

What Say You

Look Out, Fort Knox!

I'm a rebel! A scofflaw!!

Yes, yes I am. I am guilty of hoarding currency. Lots of it. Jealous? Yeah, don't be.

I'm not hoarding it any more. I just spent the last hour rolling coins.

C'mon, it's a Great American Pastime, right?

We have one of those big jugs that seem to nestle in the corners of middle class homes and slowly fill with an assortment of coins, including the occasional foreign visitor that gets buried in the American dream and only resurfaces when the feds (or broke people) seize the coins, fling them to the floor, and contain them in segregated groups; coin gangs roam around looking for new additions while a few lone oddballs huddle in a little pile, wondering where it all went wrong and if there's any sort of currency diplomat who will get them out of this mess.

This evening, we realized that despite T's change in jobs a couple of months ago and the corresponding increase in pay, we were a little short in the bank department. This realization was precipitated by an embarrassing discovery - we used the wrong credit card to pay a bill earlier this week. Not our credit card. Our roommate's. How did we manage that? I'm so glad you asked!

T asked me to pay a bill online by logging on with his name and password and clicking on the already established credit card payment thingie. I did. Now, we don't have credit cards, we have debit cards, and while our cards draw from the same account, they have different numbers on them. I don't know T's number. Hey, give me a break - my poor beleaguered brain can only hold so many digits, and right now it's awash with social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, passwords, weights, measures, and the odd recipe or two-hundred, so there's no room for debit card numbers that I never use. So I went through the steps to pay the bill and clicked "OK" and felt it a job well done.

That was two days ago. Tonight T logged on and made an "Oh, shit" kind of proclamation, and explained that I'd put the payment through on our roommate's card. Don't ask me why his card was the card of record for our bill...I have no idea. Well, oops. I exclaimed right back "But you told me to! You said I should use the card listed and not worry about typing in mine! You said to!" A touch defensive, me.

He explained to the roommate what we'd done (insert Mencia-like "deet-de-deeeee here) and told him that I would go to the bank and sort it all out with the appropriate shuffling of funds from our account to his. Whee, high finance. Then T looked at our bank account and realized that we'd be short on fund ourselves, when I did that. Aww, dang - we are so close to not being overdrawn at the end of every pay period!

So I offered to dump out the ubiquitous jug-o-coinage and get to rolling. I like rolling coins. Truly. I'll even drive to a friend's house and help them wrap. I find it therapeutic, although why I would is beyond me, since rolling coins usually means one is broke and pillaging the First Bank of Sofa for rogue change to make rent, or the power bill, or a late-night taco run.

The jug is supposed to be one of the ways we're saving for a cruise to Alaska. Yeah, I figure at the rate we're going, our cruise will be sometime in 3026, give or take a month. Oh, well, at least we had the coins to roll - some folks don't even have that.

T feels bad about this, but it happens...and I'd rather roll a few coins (780 to be exact)(yes, I counted)(hello? OCD??) than have to pay overdraft fees every two weeks. Good grief, our overdraft fees are probably paying for some bank president's third ex-wife's botox every month! Well, this month she'll just have to sag, bag, or pucker the way nature intended, because we rolled coins.

I remember helping Mum roll pennies when I was a kid. At the time, I didn't know about bills, rent, and little things like groceries costing money. I thought we were having fun. At least, I was. Mum would let me stack the pennies and she would count them, make that cool little coin roll in her hand, and slide them neatly into the paper wrapper. I got to help fold up the ends and stack the rolls, too. I liked playing with the pennies. I thought they meant we were rich - all those coins scattered across the coffee table sure did look impressive to me. I would build little penny walls, penny pyramids, make penny flowers and penny patterns. Mum would roll and roll. We always sat on the floor, and once in a while I got to chase a feral penny across the floor and bring it back to the fold. We listened to records or reel-to-reel tapes while we worked. My mouth always tasted coppery after the first little while, and the taste lingered for hours after.

Tonight, my son saw me rolling coins and thought it looked fun. He was supposed to be in bed, so I didn't let him help, but it made me think of those long ago days. Is there anyone who hasn't had to roll a few coins at least once in their life? Is there a house that doesn't have a bowl, jug, box, or pickle jar full of change saved for a rainy day? I bet even Bill Gates had to roll dimes once in a while when he was first starting out.

My mouth tastes metallic, like those days. Metallic like someone made pasta sauce or pad Thai in a cast iron pan. Metallic like I rolled 780 coins and then sorted the sad little remains from the jug and segregated them - pennies into Bird's piggy bank, nickels into a Tupperware until I can wash a pickle jar or milk jug for them, dimes into a pickle jar, and quarters back into the jug. The odd dollar, half-dollar, or foreign coins went into a secret stash. Isn't that how one becomes a wealthy miser?

Our coin jug has suffered privations of late because we are able to use debit cards in so many places that once took only cash. I've decided to try and go back to using cash to pay for things - I am much more aware of my spending, that way, and the jug gets fed. Win-win.

So do you have a coin holder? Where do you keep it (no, I'm not planning on pilfering your stash!)? Are you saving for anything in particular, or just in case? Do you sort, or let them mingle?

I have one more thing to do with the wrapped coins . Thanks to jack-assery of the highest order - namely, unscrupulous people's shorting of the rolls by a coin or two - my bank requires me to write my account number on every roll. Eighteen rolls requiring all those digits, written in black ink thank you very much. I'm waiting until morning to do that, though, because right now I really want to brush my teeth and be rid of this funky taste in my mouth. Hmm...there's a Starbucks near the bank...maybe I'll roll a few extra dimes in the morning and get rid of the funk with a mocha frappucinno. It may be the only way. Probably. Absolutely. Right??

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hey, You, Lay Offa My Fix

I read recently that Starbucks is closing a few hundred stores. I am still hoping they'll open one close to me.

I was recently chastised for drinking Starbucks. Whatever.

I like Starbucks. I don't turn my nose up at local coffee shops - I give them every chance not to suck. I think I must have some bad luck with local shops, because for all my travels, for all the little shops I've stopped in hoping for a caffeine fix or a few minutes off the road in a haven, I haven't met one that I like. Their coffee's weak - no kidding, weak! I know, I know, people call it Charbucks, and sometimes I think they do go a bit dark with their roast, but still...watery coffee is no good. Why bother? I've even asked for a fresh brew and had the same result, and if you want to piss someone off in a hurry, tell them how to brew coffee on their own shop!

So I go to Starbucks. I adore the venti mocha frappuccino with an extra shot. It's my standard on-the-road beverage of choice for waking up and staying wired. Sometimes I get two shots - and once, at a West Virginia store, I was offered a third shot because they'd brewed one too many and didn't want to waste it...and I think I looked like I needed it. Woo-hoo! Sleep? Who needs that?

The funny thing is, I'm not really a coffee drinker. If I'm going to drink anything but water, I prefer tea. At home. Brewed properly. Still, every now and then I want coffee. Cold, sweet, fattening, death in a cup. To go.

One of the things I like about Starbucks is their predictability - no matter where I go in the world, no matter the nation, the culture, the language, if I order a venti mocha frappucino with whip and an extra shot, I know what I am getting. There's no mystery, no hoping that it'll be something like what I want. Mind you, I am always game for trying out local fare, and often enjoy it, but you know...sometimes you get a craving, want a taste of home, no little surprises. At least, I do.

Contrary to what the most recent young man to harass me was claiming, the company DOES have a conscience, DOES try to be green, and DOES purchase organic and fair trade beans. They are NOT the Evil Empire of coffee!

And please don't lecture me on the evils of my chosen addiction when you're sucking on a cigarette, because I will be forced to beat you about the head and neck with a large, offensive salami if you do.

At home, I actually prefer Newman's Own beans, fair trade and organic. I like to grind them and brew using a French press. My coffee, I've been told, is powerful stuff. My friend S even has to cut it with cream and sugar, and she's used to naval coffee!

I still can't make a frappuccino, though, and sometimes that's the only thing that'll do.

Let me drink my Starbucks in peace and I won't point out that your shoes were made in a sweatshop, your hair dye contains deadly chemicals that wash into the ecosystem every time you bathe, you sweatshirt is knit on a machine using synthetic materials, and your iPod won't ever decompose...ever!

I'm happy to have friends who feel the same way - we meet at a local store, drink our foofy drinks and work on art or craft projects, happy to have a little time away from our regular lives. Sometimes we nibble a pastry, and sometimes the Starbucks employees cheerfully look on at what we're doing and offer opinions regarding style, color, or whatever we may ask them about.

Starbucks makes me happy. You want me happy. Really, you do. So lay offa my fix, OK??

Monday, July 14, 2008

With A Song

There are worse ways to wake up.

Let's go back a little. Yesterday, we went to the gym for a swim. While T and Bird played in the family pool - corkscrew water slide, floating beasts to clamber onto and slither down from, a post and tube contraption that makes curtains of falling water, and two large squirt canons - I swam laps.


There's a reason they call it the "crawl".

I had to alternate strokes, because I'm not fit enough to do lap after lap with one style - my arms won't take it, yet. I managed fifteen laps all told, mostly in a row. Mostly. I did take a few (a hundred is a few, right?) treading-water breaks.

J joined me twelve laps in, so I did a few more with him, then we all adjourned to the open half of the pool for a rousing game of water volleyball.

Two hours in the water. We all smelled of chlorine and looked like prunes when we got out, but it was a fine afternoon.

I fell asleep when we got home - not enough sleep ( and that poor quality) for weeks plus a long swim equals one tired me.

T cooked dinner, bless his heart - luckily we had a can of Manwich in the cupboard. Hush. It's good to have something on hand that the menfolk can cook (and are willing to eat), besides hot dogs or tinned ravioli. We all went to bed early, worn slap out.

This morning, Bird woke up fist, and rather than run in and wake us, he wandered into the living room and began to play with his cars. He has many. He was racing them around the floor, singing.

That's what I woke up to - singing. He was singing Real Gone from the movie Cars. Oh, yeah. I'm such a proud mama - my son sings redneck, country songs for fun! It's not quite Honkytonk Badonkadonk, which was his preferred when he was three, but it's still funny to hear him - especially when he doesn't quite know all the words, so he wings it.

Yep, worse ways to wake up than with a song.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Thank You, Professor Farnsworth

"Good news! Your roof has hail damage!..."

That's a lovely way to open a letter, no? No.

It is from one of our neighbors, who just happens to own a roofing business. We've had a hail storm or two lately (I'm not complaining - precipitation is precipitation, and every drop helps), and a roof or two may have been damaged as a result.

We don't have a leak - I'm constantly checking, because I am aware that hail can rearrange a roof quite nicely. Our roof is a little old and should probably be replaced in the next year or three, but it doesn't look any rougher than it was before - there are no shingles littering our yard, no tell-tale dark places where something has been relocated or removed by weather, no moist (that one's for you, Aunt Becky) spots on the ceiling or walls acting as harbingers of doom, or at least harbingers of the need for a new roof.

I haven't noticed anyone up there inspecting the surface, and given that our roof's three stories up and 1) inaccessible without a ladder or mad levitation skillz, 2) calls for a serious lack of acrophobia, 3) would result in a fair amount of larger-than-a-squirrel thumping unless the person is as stealthy as a Ninja (doubtful if they're being sensible and wearing work boots, because who goes up on a roof in Crocs or thos little Ninja slippers?), and 4) I'm home all the time, that's not the kind of thing I'd miss...is it? No one had recently been in the yard gazing upward with dollar signs in their eyes, either - I would notice that, because Bird announces visitors to Casa de Crazy with the enthusiasm a recently constipated octogenarian announces their latest bowel movement (no angry responses from octogenarians, constipated or otherwise, please - I can't read all that chicken scratch!) - seriously, he's better than an alarm!

I am guessing that the entire neighborhood got one of these cheerful letters.

I don't mind that someone is being proactive, looking for business, making ends meet - it's the opening of the letter that struck me: "Good news..."

Yeah, if you're a roofer!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Mother of the Year

How to feel like a complete shit-heel in 3 easy steps:

1. Call someone one the phone and start a long conversation.

2. When young child excitedly scampers into room calling out "Mommy! Mommy!! Mommy!!!" snap "WHAT!?!?"

3. Feel like a shit-heel when he replies in a tiny voice "I just wanted to tell you I love you..."

And then...

Tell the person you're on the phone with what just happen, using the phrase "shit-heel" and wait for it. Small child will laugh and say "shit-heel, that's funny", and then you get to give him the "You don't get to say shit-heel, shit-heel is a grown-up word and you haven't earned it yet, so don't say shit-heel, OK?" lecture, after which you may proclaim your parenting superiority in expanding your child's vocabulary one expletive at a time.

I'll be waiting for my check from the Nobel Committee on parenting. The Peace Prize can't be far behind.

A Compliment

I was paid a high compliment while in Ohio. We were vending next to a couple from Pennsylvania who make and sell stained glass, among other things. We know each other fairly well and get along swimmingly, and we've been setting up beside each other for years.

One day, because I was feeling both bored and insecure, I toted my latest art/craft thing over to them - the notecards I've been making (by hand) from some of my photographs.

They were quite positive in their comments until they came to one particular image - then they stopped and both insisted I should enter it into a contest, that it was as good as or better than many professional shots they'd seen. High praise! He even said he'd love a blow-up of the print, so I got his address and I'm going to enlarge it, mat it, and mail it...hopefully before next June!

Sometimes a body just needs to have that little affirmation that they don't suck.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Genius! Genius, I say!

I just saw a little blurb about Safetytats on Because I said So. Holy crap, that's genius!!

Way better that stapling a business car to my kid's forehead or duct-taping him to me. I may actually have to cough up some dough and order a few.

Keep Your Hands and Arms Inside of the Ride at All Times

If I've seemed a touch off-kilter to you lately, well...I am. I mean, more than my regular off-kilteredness. What? Did I make up another word? Oh, well - you'll get used to that.

I'm not getting enough sleep (bitch, bitch, bitch) - between the mattress giving up on the whole idea of support, reading or writing until all hours of the night, the Evil Genius' insistence that he must eat more than once or twice a week, and the relentless barrage of phone calls from bill collectors (Excuse me, the bill was due yesterday. For cryin' out loud, ease up a little!)(Why don't bills ever come due in sync with payday?? It's a conspiracy, I tells ya!), computers desiring my vote and calling day and night to tell me about it, and cats who think they ought to be in possession of the bed during daylight hours, I'm getting maybe four hours a night. If that. Oh, and there's also the insomnia, that queer state of "I'm exhausted but I just can't sleep" that occasionally comes to call and then claims squatter's rights.

Lack of sleep makes for more than the usual crazy. Just ask the mother of a newborn.

Lose enough sleep you get into sleep debt, and eventually sleep bankruptcy, wherein a sheep frowns at you and grills you on why you can't meet your sleep responsibilities and lectures you on sound slumber practices and...umm...

Wait, where was I? For that matter, where am I?

Lack of sleep makes my brain funny. Funnier, I mean. I get loopy and grumpy, I get hot and cold, I'm not hungry but I want to eat constantly, I am at once impatient and slow to grasp simple things, and Starbuck's is my friend!! Aren't they?

Small things irritate the crap out of me, and I am more prone to thoughts of violent response to the irritation.

I also tend to drop my basket more. Isn't that a nice little euphemism? "Drop my basket" sounds so much nicer than "Lose my shit" or "Get nuttier that squirrel poo", I think. The OCD lurks in readiness for these occasions, happy for its chance to shine.

In short (too late), I am not fit company for anyone.

T isn't stupid - he knows that here there be dragons. There's no charting these waters, because they're different every time we sail through them. Mostly, I think he tries to lay low and go unnoticed until the danger's past. Hah!

Last night, he valiantly tried to right the mattress trouble by placing an old pillow under the worst saggy part. Bless his heart. He also tried to assuage the grumpy bitch in the bed with talk of using the next tax refund (yeah, we plan waaaayyyy ahead around here)(we have to - the only way we can buy big ticket items is to wait for the refund)(we suck) to purchase a mattress set from Hampton Inns (if you don't know their new beds, you really should get acquainted) instead of trying to take a vacation (we were thinking of going on a family cruise). Sweet, huh?

Can we make it until February? Stay tuned - it's bound to get interesting!

Yeah Sure, Kid

"Mommy, when I'm one-hundred, can we buy a new house?"


I have no idea where these things come from.

He also informed me that a flood was coming (we recently saw Evan Almighty) and a giant squid was going to swim in the flood and he needed to warn everyone in the state of Georgia about it. Just Georgia - I guess the rest of you can go whistle.

He took the phone book into his room, and his (non-functioning) cell-phone, and started dialing. No kidding.

He told T that he didn't want to sleep in our room with us any more (not that he does that often, maybe twice a year) because the clock annoys him. Both clocks- when I'm in there with him, my clock annoys him, and when T is in there with him, T's clock annoys him.


He's OK with hanging out on our bed and watching Spongebob, though. Good to know, that.

"When I'm eighty-six, can I buy a car?" And crash it into a bus full of nuns, probably. He is, after all an EVIL genius. Way to plan ahead, kid.

Puss, Puss

The venue where PSG is held is a campground adjacent to a farm. The property is, if I recall correctly, a cooperative or planned community. It was once a strip mine and was purchased by the owners with the intent to return the land to something resembling its natural state. Most of it is a wildlife sanctuary, with only a tiny portion open to visitors.

There are no flush toilets and only one place to shower - the shower house near the gate at the entrance to the site.

Thank goodness, they rebuilt the shower house in recent years, because it was starting to get truly horrible in the old one, and on more then one occasion I wondered of I really needed to wash with something other than baby wipes that week.

This year, I had a visitor with me in the shower house during one of my sojourns there - a kitty! He was hanging around the door, and we commenced to meowing at each other, and he decided I would do, for a human. He was fluffy, part Maine Coon, black and white. His name, I later learned, is Oreo, and he was a sweetie.

I had occasion to speak with one of the land owners, and she expressed concern about Oreo - seems he's such a darling that she's worried someone will take him home one day. He isn't collared or tagged, and he's very friendly. I figured he wasn't a stray because he was obviously well fed and combed often...and she seems reassured by that.

In contrast to the happy experience with Oreo, we had a rough day mid-week. Mum's last cat, Water, died while we were away. Water was boarded at the vet's, and she went into congestive heart failure. The vet called T, who called my phone...and the call actually made it through. There is almost no cell service at this site, so it was astonishing to hear the phone ring and carry on a conversation. Poor Mum - she had to come home and burry her cat, and while she was sad about the dear old thing's demise, she was also feeling a load of guilt because she was a little relieved - no more cats to worry about when she's away at the lapidary school or visiting friends and family. I understand all those feelings.

When I got home, my own three girls wouldn't let me out of their sight for several days, and are still prone to piling onto me if I sit still for more than a minute. I missed them, too.

Mum can always come get her kitty fix here - they love to nest with her, probably because she doesn't kick them into next week when she rolls over (I don't do it on purpose - and you'd think they'd learn not to go to sleep near my feet!).


WTF is Fanbox and why do I keep getting e-mails from it telling me people want to be my adoring fan?? People I don't know, no less!! And then there's Fanbox Notes, which is trying to convince me that people I don't know want to ask me questions.

And don't get me started on the instant messages claiming that complete strangers have a crush on me, but I only get to know who if I click a link and play some sort of game. Grrr.

I also recently got one of those "Hi there, I am a foreign national trying to smuggle untold fortunes out of my country and if you'll give me your bank account number and passwords, I'll gladly share my millions with you..." e-mails, and this one claimed to be from a US soldier!! Despicable! I laugh off the ones from people claiming to be widows of Kuwaiti diplomats trying to get money out of the country, but this? Claiming to be one of our soldiers risking his life overseas? Oh Hell to the no! This one? I'm reporting to the FBI.

Does this happen to you? Or am I some kind of freak magnet??

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

F-I-N-E, Fine

When someone asks how you're doing, you usually answer "fine", right?

I am often not fine, but it's easier to say so than to get into why things aren't just wonderful for the millionth day in a row. Although I never ask if I don't really want to know, I am aware that many others ask how one is doing as a matter of courtesy and expect a quick, polite answer in return.

A few years ago (OK, more than a decade), a friend I'll call Aunt Mayfaire (because that's what I called him back then)(yes, him)(he was perhaps the funniest drag queen I've ever known)(which would be of three, total) taught me one of the most useful tools I've ever had for answering the question "So how are you today?".

It's the dysfunctional definition of fine. Fucked-up, Insecure, Neurotic and Erratic. F-I-N-E, fine. Heh.

So now I can answer honestly, whether I'm having a good day or not, and so can you. Those of us in the know might even ask if you're "fine" or F-I-N-E, fine".


Insomnia sucks. You don't appreciate the simple pleasure of sleep until it wriggles from your grasp and mocks you with the deep, peaceful rest of everyone in the house - cats included - but you.

It would help if my mattress wasn't completely worthless at this point, and if I had a hope of a new one soon. It is, and I don't, dang it.

I would like to get some sleep, Universe, if you please. Even if you don't please. Something more than an hour or two punctuated with back pains, neck pains, and the occasional crazed-kitty perforation of my skin. Also, I'd like some sleep because despite TiVo and nine-million channels on the TV, I can't find anything to watch, I've read all my usual blogs twice, and my eyes are all wiggy so I can't play games on Bob the Wonder Computer...plus, he's overheating and I think I burned my knee holding him. Sigh.

I'm going to the gym tomorrow (or would that be later today??) and walking until the treadmill begs for mercy, and then maybe I'll get a bit of zzzzzzzzz...ssknnxxxxx...zzzzz...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Remember when I wrote about my frustration with those recorded political phone calls? No? Well, it seems the politicians aren't reading my blog, either.

In just this week, I've had three calls from computers desperate for my vote. It must be the computers that want the vote, because it's never humans who call. I've seen Terminator Two, and I know what happens when you give computers all the power. I'm not falling for it - if a computer calls, I am carefully taking down the name and letting the person know I'm on to them and their machine masters, and they aren't getting my vote.

How long before the men in white coats come calling, do you think??

Hearth Fires

During the Ohio event (PSG) there are a number of spiritual events planned. I was asked to help with the Saturday evening ritual, the last of the event. My part was to call in the North in whatever way I wished, as long as it reflected the themes of the ritual and the event - the theme of both being "Bring the Spirit Home". This year's event focused on how people integrate their spiritual and mundane lives instead of separating them.

Of course, I sang in the North. I wrote a little piece just for the occasion (I plan to turn it into a song for next year's concert season, though).

I won't go into all the details here, but I want to share one part of the ritual that I found lovely and rather powerful.

Throughout the year, they've had people all over the country collecting fire for this ritual. That doesn't mena carrying live flame around with them - they lit candles or bits of wood in one fire, extinguished them, and kept them safe. The spirit of the fire remains, even when the flame has gone. The people them brought these fires to PSG for the ritual.

There was a smaller fire to one side of the main fire circle. Into this, various people cast their bits of fire from various places, explaining where it had come from. In this way, our fire was connected to those other fires, and communities. The final piece was presented by a gentleman who had traveled to Kildaire, Ireland - a place where fires have been lit for the gods for thousands of years. Archeologists have, it seems, dug down to the deepest layer, the bottom most fire. The gentleman had a piece of that charcoal, thousands of years old. It was perhaps the size of the first length of my pinkie finger, but it was huge in symbolism. As he cast it into the living flame, he connected our fire to one thousands of years old, and to every fire after it. His most prized possession, he cast into the fire, a gift to his community.

Those of us who called in the directions had another part to play - we carried large candles to the fire, lit them from this combined flame, and brought them back to our quarters. We had people helping us, and they handed out smaller tapers to everyone in the circle. The small tapers were lit, sharing the combined flame out to the whole circle. People then extinguished the flames so they could take the candles, take the combined fired of generations and communities, take the spirit home.

When the circle was opened and everyone scattered (a storm had been in the offing for the entire ritual, waiting only for us to finish before cracking open the sky), Mum and I lit perhaps a hundred or so more little tapers, extinguishing them by pinching out the flame, so that anyone not at the ritual could have one, or they could go back to the organizer's home for use there. We walked back to our camp in the light sprinkle, ducking under our canopies just as the heavens dumped their contents on our little patch of Earth.

I have two of the tapers here with me. I like the symbolism attached to the ritual, the idea that, in spirit, we are all connected by one of our most primal elements, most primal tools - fire. I like the idea that I can pass this connection on to others, a visible reminder of the spirit we all share.

How do you bring the spirit home?

Button, Button

Monday, July 7, 2008

At the Movie

On Saturday, we took Bird to see Kung Fu Panda in the theater. It was his second movie-going experience, and he thoroughly enjoyed himself. The theater we patronize has excellent popcorn and several seats that are extra wide - meant, I am sure, for extra-large or disabled customers, but perfect for a mother and her little boy to sit and snuggle during the film.

We used the extra-wide seat because Bird's not heavy enough to hold down a regular seat on his own (although it is funny to watch him try and end up folded in half for his troubles), and last time (Horton Hears a Who) he ended up in my lap for most of the film. That was lovely, but not terribly comfortable for me. In the wide seat, he could lean against me, sit up straight, or even crawl onto my lap if he wanted. For the most part, he leaned against me.

The movie was fun, but the best part was when, during a slight lull in the action and noise, he said "I love you", eyes glued to the screen, hand buried in his popcorn. Sigh.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Abracadabra, Hey- Pesto!!

Yes, pesto. Mmm, pesto.

In late Spring, I planted a couple of basil seedlings, hoping that I could enjoy some fresh basil and tomatoes this Summer.

The tomatoes are resisting, although they have had to weather blossom-end rot, Giant Green Critters of Doom, and the Georgia heat.

The basil thrived, happily giving a few of its leaves to the local wildlife for a snack while growing as high as my knee. Thursday, as I was in the midst of preparing deviled eggs and Rice Krispies treats, I decided that it was time to make pesto. Mmm, pesto.

It's recipe time!!
The players:
A bunch of fresh basil - about two-and-a-half cups gently packed
A small handful of pine nuts. You can use walnuts, too, I'm tols, but I like pine nuts
About a half a cup of grated parmesan, romano, or some combination of the two
Three cloves of garlic, peeled
Olive oil

A cutting board
An Ulu or Mezzaluna style knife

On with the show!
First, place about a third of the basil and all of the garlic on the board. Yes, I used four cloves - I love me some garlic! Rough chop them.

Add another third of the basil, keep chopping. Add the final third, and chop, chop, chop.

I realize that this would go faster in a food processor, but A) I don't have one, and B) I like the coarser texture of the hand chopped pesto.

Add half the pine nuts. You know the drill. Add the other half. Chop-chop!

See? Chopped up fine, but not a paste. Don't worry, we're almost there.

Using the Ulu, a spatula, or your hands, mix in the grated cheese. Freshly grated is preferred, but this time I used ready-grated. I used parmesan, because romano is a little more strong in flavour and can overpower the spicy basil and the pungent garlic.

Salt and pepper to taste. You can get away without salt in this if you use salt in you pasta water, but since I use pesto on sandwiches, in past, in salads, and on crackers, I salted.

Gently squeeze it into a ball. When it looks like this (What is going on with my hand?? It doesn't look that pudgy in person, I swear!!):

It's ready for a container. "But wait" you cry, "You forgot the oil!!" No I didn't. Patience, friend. Really, if you've read this blog for any length of time, haven't you noticed that I often don't do things the normal way??

Press the almost-pesto into a container.
I have much love for Ziploc Twist-n-Serve containers. Much, much love.

Drizzle in just enough olive oil to cover the top. A note - basil browns when exposed to air, so covering it with a touch of oil not only adds flavour, it preserves. You won't need much.

Now for the hardest part - yes, harder than chopping all that by hand. Cover and refrigerate for a day. I see you sneaking a taste! As yummy as it is, let it rest. It's been traumatized - chopped, mixed, oiled, contained, what a day. Let it relax and get used to its new identity. You'll be glad you did.
You can freeze this if you want, but the preparation changes a bit. First, leave out the cheese. Second, drizzle the oil over it and mix. Line an ice cube tray with plastic, press the pesto into the tray, and freeze. Once frozen, pop the cubes into a plastic bag. Thaw and mix in cheese a day before you want to use it.
One last upside to doing this by hand: your hands will smell good enough to eat.
Bonus: Things to do with pesto besides pasta.
Spread onto whole grain bread, top with blanched spinach leaves and chicken salad, enjoy.
Cook radiatore, ziti, bowties, shells, or the shaped pasta of your choice - only remember that the more little nooks and crannies the pasta has, the more the dressing will stick. Drain over frozen peas. Toss pasta and peas with pesto. Add in anything you like - cooked, flaked salmon (fresh, not tinned!), chicken chunks, spinach, red peppers, green onions, whatever you think pasta salad needs. Add just enough mayo to blend it all together.
Spread pesto on crackers. Top with tomato slices, pepperoni, mozzarella, or just eat it plain. Mmm, pesto.
Spread onto pizza dough, top with mozzarella and tomatoes, bake until gooey, golden, and slap-your-mama good.
Cut tomatoes into wedges. Toss with balsamic vinegar and pesto. Eat as is, or pile onto a bed f baby spinach or lettuce.
The possibilities are limited only by imagination.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day

In writing the Declaration of Independence, in ratifying it, in signing their names to it, the men named at the bottom risked the very things they hoped to secure for themselves and for future generations. They were performing an act of treason, and by putting their names to it they made of themselves targets for the man, for the nation, they accused. They fought for the principles they named, fought for their families, for their lives, and for the burgeoning life of the tender new nation they hoped to nurture into a great place, a free place, a place where anyone could hope to not just survive, but thrive - a place where anyone willing to put their all into it, to do their very best, could find success, no matter what their gods, their nation of origin.

Since that time, people have tried to follow their lead, standing up and making their voices heard to help secure their rights, the rights of future generations. They have added color and sex to the list of things that cannot determine success, cannot be used as an excuse to deny equal opportunity.

You do the same when you vote. You do it when you attend council meetings, board meetings, town hall meetings, and speak your piece; when you ask the hard questions, protest with signs, songs, shouts; when you show people who think they own this nation to the exclusion of others, people who think they have the right to amend your rights to suit them, that you are watching them, that you SEE them, that you know better.

You do it when you tell our armed forces "Thank you for your service" whether you agree with whatever conflicts we're embroiled in or not - because they are standing up for our liberty doing a hard, dirty, often thankless job - and they are there, ultimately, to preserve our nation and its principles (As an aside - thank you, men and women of the armed forces. Thank you, and blessed be, and come home safe to the families who love you, miss you, and hope only for your swift return.).

You do it when you teach the children in your life what it means to be free - freedom to fly means freedom to fall, and freedom to rise up again; freedom to succeed means freedom to fail, and to try once more; freedom to speak means freedom for dissenting opinions to be heard; freedom is not comfortable - at times, it is downright terrifying...but it is necessary to the human spirit.

Given a choice to be cold, hungry, ragged, poor, weary, worn and free, or to be clothed, fed, housed, succored, safe and bound - I will be free. Do not make the mistake of giving up your freedom for the illusion of safety - you will one day wake to find you have nothing left but the yoke you bound yourself to.

I could go on, but to what purpose? You understand or you don't - and my little rant won't sway anyone, I fear.

Here, then, is a transcript of our most essential document, the one that began it all, the one that first gave shape to our name, to our identity as a nation. Read, if nothing else, the first two paragraphs. They are as stirring, heartfelt, and powerful now as when they were first written.

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:
Column 1 - Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Column 2 - North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Column 3 - Massachusetts: John Hancock
Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

Column 4 - Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Column 5 - New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Column 6 - New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple
Massachusetts: Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire: Matthew Thornton

If you've made it this far, thank you. To support out troops, go visit Any Soldier or Troop BeBop (I know this woman - she's a force of nature!). I wish you a safe, joyous, and happy Independence Day!