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

Tibi gratias agimus quod nihil fumas.

It says "...freedom of...", not "...freedom from...".

"It's amazing to me how many people think that voting to have the government give poor people money is compassion. Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness. People need to be fed, medicated, educated, clothed, and sheltered, and if we're compassionate we'll help them, but you get no moral credit for forcing other people to do what you think is right. There is great joy in helping people, but no joy in doing it at gunpoint." - Penn Jillette







Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Doing the Bump(er)

We have enough youth - how about a fountain of smart?

Deja Moo - the feeling you've heard this bullshit before.

None of us is as dumb as all of us.

Chaos! Panic! Disaster! (My work here is done.)

Honesty is the best policy, but insanity is a better defense.

Despite the cost of living, have you noticed how popular it remains?

Monday, December 29, 2008

NOISE!!

When I was a little girl, I sojourned for a few years with my grandparents. They had a big, old, Georgian Revival house in Little Compton, a solid, three-story (storey?)place built when people still had live-in servants and heated their homes with fireplaces in almost every room.

I loved that house.

My room was up on the third floor of the house, where there were several bedrooms and attics. The attics were necessary, because apparently back when the house was built, they didn't believe in closet space. Seriously, the closets were tiny! Lucky for me, I didn't have or want a lot of clothes.

My grandfather was, in my eyes, a giant of a man. Well over six feet tall, broad shouldered, keen eyed, quick witted, and very much used to his ways. He was a man of habits, of patterns, and you could set your clock by his days. It must have been like inviting the wind to dine, having us kids in the house, but he managed, and we often had good fun together - at least, he and I did...I don't know if he and Big Brother ever managed to find trouble to get into, or if they were just planets orbiting the same sun on different courses.

Papa liked his quiet. He would often yell, voice like some terrible great canon shooting upstairs "YOU KIDS BE QUIET UP THERE!!!" when we were a little...enthusiastic...in our play. Or even of we walked or ran a bit harder than he liked. Our noise interrupted his pondering.

I learned to walk and run without making a noise, despite the occasional creaky floorboard.

In those days, we didn't breakfast all together - each member of the household would fend for themselves, usually making a meal of fruit and cereal, or maybe a croissant or toast.

On rare occasions, I would rise early enough to have breakfast with Papa. It was a quiet affair - no idle chatter, just two people eating their cereal, he with his coffee and I with my juice. If you didn't see us, you'd never know we were there. This happened most often in the summer months, when I would have days full of sailing, swimming, and rattling around the town on the steel-bodied three-speed bike that I adored.

Papa didn't like loud or piercing noises - they broke his reverie, shattered his peace. We learned not to slam doors, to shout, scream, or even cry too loudly in his presence. he wasn't an ogre, just a man who had been done raising children for decades and used to his hours passing without fanfare, and we rather upset that apple cart with our presence.

All this to say - I am a woman who likes quiet. At least in the morning. On the rare days I'm first up, you wouldn't know it. I can walk, dress, perform my morning toilet, breakfast, and leave the house without making a sound. I know which parts of the floor creak (most of them, these days) and can avoid them as a matter of habit.

I like quiet, in the morning.

I am, it seems, alone in this, at least in my home. Our roommate slams doors and uses the garage as his entry and exit point to the house...up goes the door, and down. Up, and down. If he forgot something in his car...up...down... I wouldn't mind so much if Bird's room wasn't right over the garage. Have you ever had to get up because your child is up much earlier than he wants to be? And he's cranky about it? And the other parent in the house apparently doesn't ever hear the child wake up, so even though you went to bed hours after he did, you still have to be the one up unless you boot his ass out of bed with both feet and a pry-bar?

Sigh.

This morning was actually typical - T's personal cell phone rang. Twice. He didn't hear it until I grabbed his foot and woke him up, quite cross. I don't like his ring-tone - it's a System of a Down song that sounds like a cat is horking up something awful in the next room. It's loud, discordant, and exactly what T needs in a ring-tone because otherwise he would be deaf to it all the time, not just when he's sleeping. Mum was here overnight. She found the creaky floor bit when she came upstairs for breakfast. I didn't know cereal could make that much noise. Spoon against bowl, clapper against bell. T launched right into his concerns about some survey markers that recently sprouted in our woods (he's convinced a four-lane highway is going in back there) and today's example of why Obama is the incarnation of evil and is single-handedly going to destroy the United States by the end of January. They had a conversation about it...full volume. Two of the cats began a chorus of meows because they wanted pats and love from their humans. T's computer beeped and booped. Sneezes at full volume are not unusual. The ice dispenser drumming cubes into a cup. Coughs cracking like gunshots through the house.

Luckily, I wanted to be up early, because I believe I would have otherwise been justified in committing homicide. You'd back me up, right??

In my next life, I'm going to be a monk...in a monastery...one with vows of silence...at least in the morning.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Life

I had a post planned for today, but it'll have to wait until tomorrow - my friend M had her baby yesterday, and I'm going to visit today...just as soon as the blueberry muffins I want to bring her are done baking.

8:09 AM
8 pounds, 10 ounces
20 1/2 inches long

Welcome to the circle, little I.A.R*!!

*edit - oops, I meant I.M.R. See what happens when you type excited??

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Aunt D and the Big "C"

I posted a while ago about my Aunt D. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It's not operable, and it's fatal.

Or is it?

Her cancer marker has shrunk. That's a good thing, as I understand it. In January, she will have some sort of test - if the magic number revealed by this test is 37 or lower, she is in remission. That's an even better thing.

So many people are sick, suffering, fighting on a cellular level for life. Maybe you have someone in your life with the gnawing demon inside them. I hope they win. Will you hope my Aunt D wins, too? If ever there was such a thing as magic, and if ever one could use this magic, I would make such a spell...one to set Aunt D's test score at zero, to vanquish the growing health-horror of cancer to the deepest, darkest reaches of the halls of disease, locked behind iron-bound oak doors that can never be opened again so that no one ever has to know they carry their own death in them, and it's devouring them millimeters at a time.

I don't pray, at least not in the way most people think of prayer. I do sing...and my songs are my prayers, my spells, the deepest root of the tree of me. You'd better believe that from now until the test results are in, I will be shaking the rafters for Aunt D, and for anyone else in her boat.

Sing with me, please?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Boxing Day!

I don't think this is what Boxing Day means, though...


Don't you hate it when someone snaps your picture when you're in the bath??

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas




Wishing you health, happiness, and prosperity, now and always,
Kyddryn, Bird (aka the Evil Genius), and T

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Gift

I present to you one of my favorite songs of this season. I weep when I hear it, it is so lovely, sweet and simple.

Blessed dreams tonight, dear Internet. If tomorrow is a holiday of faith for you, I hope it is brilliant, representative of the peace, hope, and saving grace it is meant to be. If it's not a holiday of faith for you, I hope it's still a day free from worry, stress, and care, filled with friends, family, compassion, love, and peace.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Yesterday

Yesterday, I ran errands, baked three different kinds of cookies and cranberry-orange bread, put together tins for various folks, and wrapped some last minute things.

Whew, I'm worn slap out.

Today, I will deliver the aforementioned tins, bake a pumpkin spice cake and key lime bars to bring to the games-night on Christmas, and get a replacement filter for the fridge.

Tomorrow, Christmas Eve, I will bake bread and whip up the cinnamon rolls we'll bake and eat Christmas morning, and probably frost the pumpkin cake.

If baking is therapy, I am as sane as get, right now. That's a wee scary.

As busy (and as tired) as I feel, I'm content - while Bird may think it the oddest of the odd to bake and then give away cookies that he could be eating, it makes me happy to do so. Maybe in my next life, I'll open a bakery. For now, though, I'm going to try to get more than two hours of sleep in one night.

See y'all tomorrow!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Three Words

The woman walks slowly into the market, reciting her short list in her mind - oil, pumpkin puree, do I have enough money for powdered sugar too? better not chance it. She's tired, had some long days, long nights, not sleeping well what with worrying about finances and the ever growing list of things she needs to be doing, but isn't getting done. Right now, though, she's focused on her list; the rest will keep.

She finds what she needs and seeks out a cashier. She is a woman of habit - when she can, she uses the same cashier every time. It helps to ease her discomfort at being out in public. She is third in line but doesn't mind waiting.

When it's her turn, she smiles at the cashier, a woman who is something like a friend, if a friend can be made when names aren't well known, nor histories, nor personal details. Still, they are friendly toward each other, exchange pleasantries, passing a few minutes conversing. The cashier takes her time with the woman, prolonging the transaction.

The cashier asks the woman "How are you?" smiling.
"Tired, but fine - I just spent a couple of days away, getting out of the craziness."
They nod, empathetic, the madness of the holidays universal. Then...
"How are you??" She always asks, but the emphasis is new...maybe the woman can see that the cashier's smile isn't as firmly fixed as usual.
The cashier is tired, too. She has worked at her job for more than twenty years, and it's not an easy job. People can be rude, mean, angry. They come through the line listening to their music players, talking on the phone, the cashier no different than a self-scanning machine in their eyes. They do not see a human woman. She hasn't minded until that night. She says "I try not to take it personally, but today something got to me..."
"Was someone mean to you?? Tell me who it was so I can go kick their ass." She is smiling, a touch of empathy, a touch of sympathy, a touch of compassion, a touch of laughter in her voice...but she means what she said. She will find whoever was mean to her cashier friend and kick their ass for being a dick.
The cashier smiles, thinks for a moment. "I can't begin to figure out how to explain it..." She falters, looks at the next person in line, someone else waiting with thinly veiled impatience for the two women to shut up and get on with it.
The woman doesn't care. She can wait. The cashier smiles bravely and hands the woman her receipt. "Have a good one..."
She'll let it go...for now..."You too, sugar...and I hope you find within you what you need to help you let go of whatever happened - because there's no reason anyone should have the power to keep ruining your day once they've walked away. Life is too short."
The cashier smiles, eyes bright. "You're right. Thanks."
The woman says "In case I don't see you beforehand, happy Christmas."
"Thank you ---." And almost involuntarily, quietly "I love you..." because the woman sees her, really sees her, a fellow human, and asked How are you? not reflexively but because she meant it, and times are rough and people are more self-involved, but one of the hundreds of people she sees each day gave a damn.

The woman leaves before the customer behind her becomes too irritated, too impatient, sighs one too many times...and before the cashier is moved to tears because today was just hard, and some careless word or deed bruised her.

And she thinks about life, a succession of moments - good, bad, it's all in how we receive them, process them, make them ours. She resolves to return, to ask again "How are you?" (meaning it) and wait for the response because she cares, deeply.
~~~~~

How are you?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Yule

Happy Yule, y'all!

Wait, what? Yule - you know...Yule? The holiday that some people celebrated waaayyy before that poor wee baby was born in a pile of hay? Evergreens ring a bell? Holly? Ivy? Mistletoe??

OK, go get a snack and a nice beverage (eggnog on the right, pink punch in the center, pick a bottle from the high chair to spike it with)(yes, the high chair is our bar - the Evil Genius doesn't need it any more and it's an heirloom that I want to keep on display - so why not??) and get comfy. All set?

Yule, or Winter Solstice, is a celebration of the returning light.

Yep, it's that simple.

The God is reborn today, and the days will lengthen with his growth, into the fullness of Summer. In some villages, way back in the past, hearth fires would be extinguished ( a brave thing when you didn't have Zippos or matches or even two sticks to rub together). They would be relit from brands taken from a community balefire, lite by the sun himself with a little help from some glass (or a hidden coal or two - c'mon, we weren't above a little showmanship, back then), thereby bringing the sun (and, one hoped, his blessings) into the home. It also kept the community united, because everyone shared the same fire, the same light and heat. Cool, huh? Gotta love a religion that encourages playing with fire. Ahem.

The fir tree was (and is) a symbol of life lasting even through death, the promise of life and light renewed, and a reminder that beneath the snow, the Earth lives on. Holly and Ivy were green, too, but they were also symbols of the Green Man, the Forest Lord, Jack o' the Green - the God primeval. The Holly King and the Ivy King, the old and the young, the constant, changing balance. Deep stuff, yo.

Mistletoe is still used in a fairly traditional way, although it wasn't always just kissing done under the stuff. I still use the leaves and occasional berry when I make love bundles for people (Note - a love bundle isn't a love spell, it is meant to strengthen what is already there, not coerce or sublimate the free will of another. I don't DO love spells, so don't even ask.)(I mean it.), and it's a terrific symbol. It was also a fertility and aphrodisiac herb, but only symbolically - even wigged out Druids knew the stuff was toxic!

We light a yule log, in our house one that's cut from the trunk of last year's tree (the rest of which is providing habitat and nutrients in the woods out back). If it lights on the first try and burns for twelve hours, we'll have good luck...this year, I'm soaking one end in water, first. What? We need all the good fortune we can get...don't you??

When I spend Yule at Mum's house, we light sparklers and fireworks, too, because what better way to celebrate the returning sun than with explosives? You get the logic, right?

Sometimes a group of us will get together and just spend a quiet day nibbling snacks, enjoying each other's company, and taking a break from the holiday insanity out there among the English. If we exchange gifts, we try to make them ourselves, or give things that encourage and nurture our spiritual or creative selves.

But mostly, it's a celebration of the returning sun, the waxing light, the cycle renewed.

Happy Yule - When the days be cold, may your hearth be warm. When the nights be long, may your fire burn bright. When the wind blows, may you find snug shelter. When tree and field are bare, may your larder be full. May you never know Winter's chill a moment longer than you care to, nor hunger nor want, and should you find you have all that you need and a bit more besides, may you find someone who will gladly take what you offer and live better for the receiving. Blessed be.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Lights

I like to sit alone at night and look at the lights on our tree.



Colored lights are so homey, white lights elegant. Some years it's one, some years the other, and once in a while I mix them.



It isn't that I don't want to share - there's just something about sitting in an otherwise darkened room, still and quiet, remembering years past.



Sometimes I squint and lett them get blurry, nod my head from side to side.



Sometimes I focus on one bulb.



But mostly, I just...look.



Peaceful, isn't it?

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Tree

Last Saturday, we went out to the wilds of Hamilton Mill road (a few miles from our home) and stalked our prey - the elusive Holiday Tree. Yule for me, Christmas for T. We slipped in and out of the trees in one particular lot, a place we've had success in the past, staring at the many trees and debating their merits. T likes tall and full, a tree that will dominate the living/dining room and stretch to touch the center peak of the room. I like a smaller tree, more demure, one that will nestle in the living room windows and welcome all who come to our home.

In years past, I have won out, but I felt bad that T always had to have a smaller tree, one that didn't quite do it for him. I always figured that, since I was the one lighting and decorating the things, I should have the final say. But that's selfish, and I'm OK with having the big tree in the middle of the room. We crept up on our wily prey and pounced, holding fast until our friend who runs the lot came and secured it, still wriggling, in a net for easy transport.

Once we had it home, the tree whisperer (that would be me) went to work, tightening it into the stand and coaxing it to stand tall and straight. I told it how much pleasure our family would take in having it here, and explained that I would plant something in the spring to make up for its cutting. It will go into the woods behind our house when the holidays are over, becoming habitat for any number of creatures.

It tilts a little to one side, but I don't mind - I usually look for a flawed tree - when I was a kid the Charlie Brown Christmas special made me cry, when no one wanted the poor little tree, and I've never been able to pass up a Charlie Brown tree since.

Once I got it lit, we all pitched in and decorated it. Bird had a blast, and there were plenty of non-breakables for him to hang - on one branch! There was some judicious rearranging after he went to bed.

It's so much more than a felled tree. It's a focus for happiness, fun, memories. Every ornament has a history, and we often talk about them as we hang them. It's a reminder of life in the depths of winter, of the days that will soon be growing by minutes into hours more light, and it will be the guardian of gifts carefully wrapped and kept in a glass cupboard until Christmas eve because cats like to eat ribbon and play with colorful paper, and left to their own devices the beasties would have everything unwrapped and well chewed (and vomited up or deposited in the litter box) in a day or two.

It's chaotic, off balance, and a perfect reflection of our family.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Gift in Two Parts


There are two sides to a gift - the receiving and the giving.

Part the first, receiving. Most folks like receiving gifts - who doesn't like holding a neatly wrapped parcel of possibility? After all, an unopened gift is anything you can imagine, swaddled in colorful paper and topped off with a tousle of ribbon. Whether it's soap or diamonds doesn't matter in that moment of anticipation - it's the Universe in our hands, Schrodinger's Cat waiting to be observed and thus defined.

Not everyone likes to receive a gift, though - they feel awkward, perhaps even beholden. To them, I wish to explain....

Part the second, giving. I know that sometimes giving a gift can seem a chore - the co-worker you don't much like but drew in the office secret-Santa exchange, or the neighbor who is a real pain in the fundament about your yard, kids, or pets...but most of the time, you give a gift because you want to celebrate, share in the joy, show some love. You take the time to find or make something that you know the recipient wants, needs, or will enjoy. There's time involved, and thought. Believe it or not, some of us are more interested in giving than receiving gifts. We don't want one in return - we want to know that we've done something right, that you'll find use, comfort, or enjoyment in what we gave you. We want you so see it for what it is, a tangible piece of the genuine love and affection we feel for you. Even if you don't particularly like receiving gifts, suck it up, smile, try to see it for what it really is, and say thank you.

It's a two-way street, folks...try to remember that, OK??

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Good Soul

Last week, I wrote a post about turning nothin' into somethin'. I was in an odd sort of mood when I wrote it, stuck between elation that I'd managed to get a winter wardrobe and some new shoes for the Evil Genius and despair that I have so little income to contribute to the household.

I was also feeling rather blessed - I may scrape bottom a lot, but at least I have a bottom to scrape (does that look as funny to you as it does to me??) - some folks have sunk so far that even down is up. I wanted to point out to whoever happened upon my complaint-that-wasn't-a-complaint that I know I have been blessed by Fortuna, that she smiles on me every day (even when I am cross, as I am today, but that's another story). Without Fortuna's blessings, I would have no home to bitch about cleaning, and no car to moan about fueling, and no food to complain about cooking. I know this, and I'm thankful.

Still...

Now and then, I find myself a little more worn in spirit than usual, and I find it cathartic to write it out. That's why I began blogging in the first place - so I could take the thoughts out of my head and release them, relieve some of the pressure in this coconut of mine so it didn't explode.

How bizarre and wonderful is I that I found Blogopolis and the community of strangers who have become a ghostly family, following me silently through the day, offering encouragement, fellowship, and the occasional reality check?

So, back to that post. Someone read it and felt strongly enough about it to e-mail. She wondered if I could use a bit of help with a bill. I declined, because we're not quite there, yet (and I hope we don't get to that place). She's got some troubles of her own brewing in her corner of Blogopolis, but she wanted to help a fellow sojourner in the Blue Nowhere. She didn't want to offend, just to help. Wow. She's a good soul.

You are a good soul, woman. Thank you for reaching out a hand and offering your grasp. You can name yourself in the comments, if you like - I didn't want to out you and open the floodgates....I just wanted to thank a good soul for her kindness, and to let others know that kindness and decency are alive and well - if only here in the oddest of places, this electronic world full of strangers who know each other.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Have Yourself a Pear-y Little Christmas

Yum.

Nummy.

Slurp.

Someone (Mum) sent me a box of Royal Riviera pears.
I've shared a few of the oranges, but the pears? I dunno...they're awfully good pears...

If you've never had a Harry and David Royal Riviera pear, and you like pears or fruit, get yourself some. They're "I'll stab you in the hand of you try to take my pear away" good.

Ooh, the Oregold Peaches are amazing, too.

When I win the lottery, my fresh fruit will come from Harry and David.

No, they haven't asked me to pimp them...although, if they want to sign me up for the fruit of the month club, I won't say no.
Please ignore the huge, doughy, pasty hand that looks like a foot. Thank you.

Thank Mum!!


Blogopolis and the Blue Nowhere

It's the wee hours.

I should be home, sleeping, but instead I'm wandering around out here in the Blue Nowhere.

It always starts so innocently - I head out into my little corner of Blogopolis, the city without boundaries, the city that changes moment by moment, amorphous. The unwary must tread carefully on its streets; the largest thoroughfares are swift, where the giants fly past in their grand limousines, chased by avid fans. I prefer the side streets, where the mid-level folks dwell - their noise and bustle, their growing pains, their constant reinvention of themselves and their homes is wonderful to witness. The tiny, twisting lanes are my home, along with others of my ilk. We're not bottom feeders, quite...no, we're the quirky, the not-quite-grounded, the ones who don't have a niche or a look or a hook or whatever it is that drags a body from relative anonymity to the often hard-to-bear limelight.

So I wandered my lanes and gaze with love, adoration, admiration, and envy into the windows of other blogs. I leave my calling card and wonder if they'll notice it and come find my little home in the Blue Nowhere. I walk these little byways every day, without fail.

I went a little farther afield, though, and found myself blog-hopping. How many calories does that burn?

Branch to branch, blog to blog, farther and farther afield, until I suddenly found myself at a place only hinted at in Blogopolis lore - the edge of our city. The boundaries of Blogopolis!!

I leaped.

Who hasn't wanted to find the edge of reality and dive into the bordering possibility? Can you say you never wondered what it would be like?

There's so much to see, to do - games to play, odd little online boutiques to explore, seeking out unique, weird, and wonderful items in dusty corners, following tenuous links to new worlds- the Blue Nowhere is truly without boundaries, infinity in an atom, zipping along wires to Portugal, Australia, beyond this world and onto others.

Out in the Blue Nowhere, the electronic online world that contains and is contained by Blogopolis, swimming among the terabytes, I lost track of the hour.

Which way is home? I'll have to hitch a ride back on a passing packet and hope for the best.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Swap This!

Below is a photo of the table at the cookie swap - and it doesn't even show everything, because a few folks came late. We had a merry old time loading up our plates and then making care packages for the local fire house.

This week will mark the second round of baking for me - the round that gets divided between neighbors, postal worker, and trash guys, as well as making a nice pile for T to raid at will or take to work. I'm also considering cranberry-orange bread and banana bread. Yes, I am insane.

I may wait and make the bread next week, during round three of the month-o-cookies when I bake things to bring to T's family on Christmas Eve and to some friends with whom I spend Christmas day (it's a long story I'll tell another time).

Along with my usual recipes, I want to try Noble Pig's recipe for ginger cookies. They made my mouth tingle with anticipation when I read the recipe!

I'll post something besides manic baking news soon, I promise!

Edited to protect the innocent.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Peppermint Filled Failures and Other Frolics

The peppermint filled cookies did not turn out well. Unless, of course, on measures success by their ability to create peppermint scented, dome cookie volcanoes in one's oven, in which case I am to be congratulated!

About half of them actually turned out right, gooey peppermint-cream cheese goodness contained by lovely, light butter cookies - but someone forgot to photograph the whole process for blogging purposes. She'll be sacked as soon as baking season is over. Wait...baking season is never over. Whew. Saved by the timer!

I will try to get a picture of one of the non-failure cookies and post it with the recipe in the next day or so; right after I recover from the cookie swap (I swear, I brought home a bakery's worth of cookies - thank goodness I can send them of to work with T!!)(Otherwise, I would eat them all and have a ninety-acre ass after the holidays!). I didn't get any photos of that, either, because I didn't recharge any camera batteries, didn't bring the camera, and am an idiot. Someone else got some shots and has said he'll send them to me, so perhaps I will be able to show you the visual sugar shock another day.

After I got home with my tons of cookie fun, the whole family piled into the car and went stalking the mighty fur - tree, that is. We found a beauty! It's about to make a stand in the living room - I spent much of yesterday moving furniture just to make space for it.

This morning I am baking bread to bring to a birthday party - one loaf to hold the spinach dip I made last night and one to slice up and eat the dip with.

This afternoon, after partying with a two-year-old, we'll decorate the tree and sort out where to hang the stockings now that we don't have an entertainment center any more. Dang, I wish I had a fireplace!!


I'm sure they'll think of something.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Farewell, Moon

Thirty-six years ago today, the last man stepped from the moon into the LEM, leaving the moon alone again for the foreseeable future.

Big Brother was born when Apollo 11 took off, and was home when the first men walked on the moon. I wasn't born, yet. The world watched, entranced.

December 13, 1972, I was almost ten months old, and the last man left the moon behind, shaking the dust from his boots and turning homeward - and almost no one watched or cared.

We are a jaded mess, people.

Men. On the moon. Walking, playing, exploring. The moon. And people yawned like it meant nothing.

I hear rumors that NASA may once more make trips to the Lunar surface. If they do it when planned, my son may have the opportunity to wander around on what is sacred space to my kind. Yep, I'm a lunatic. The moon makes me smile, and when I see her, I am peaceful. I know that I am beneath her beautiful visage, and so are my family and friends, however many miles may part us. I am united with my world under the moon, kin to all.

My son could walk on her. How awesome would that be? I wonder if he could sneak me back a moon rock. I'd be the most heinous witch in the coven!! Hey, c'mon - how many opportunities does one have to carry a piece of their Deity's representational object in one's pocket??

I hope they bring back the program, whether I get my moon rock or not. When we were up there, we were hopeful, curious, and somewhat united in our wonder.

We could use a little unity and wonder right about now.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thoughtfetti

Danny Evans over at Dad Gone Mad has an idea, and I wish I'd had it first, because then instead of being a cheap-ass, copycat bastard, I'd be an innovator of epic proportions. Go, read, comment, and share the bloggy love, y'all!
~~~~~
Speaking of love - yesterday, we got a big old box of vitamin C packed love in the mail.


Score!!

Please ignore the freakish hand - focus on the orange...isn't it beeyooteeful??



As soon as I got them into the house, the box was opened and one of the poor darlin's didn't run away fast enough and was snarfed. Did you know you can peel a Tangelo in two point six seconds? Cue Homer Simpson gargle noise here. Mmmm...Tangelos. Thanks, Mum!!!
~~~~~
I also adore Harry and David Royal Riviera Pears, if anyone's interested. Ahem.
~~~~~
Today's cookie baking (if I get off my sorry arse and get to it) will be Peppermint Filled cookies, and I will make more effort to photograph and post the recipe than I did for the Snickerdoodles. Miss that post, did you? Umm, yeah...that would be because I was so into the actual baking, I forgot about the whole blogging thing. I know! Forget blogging? Wow! It won't happen again. Maybe.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

An Interlude...

Still baking - yesterday it was Snickerdoodles, today is Oatmeal Everything/Leftovers cookies, and tomorrow may or may not be Peppermint Filled. Depends on if I'm still in a funk (I am - not unusual) and how much flour I have left. I think I kept a farm in Kansas solvent this year with my flour consumption...or use, since I mostly just bake the stuff and give it away (I love the way my house smells, and I enjoy the baking, but if I ate everything I made, I'd have a nine-hundred-acre ass instead of my now-forty-eight acre ass).

So this post is a little light on content, but I figured the picture would make up for it:



Cheers!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Simple Sugar Cookies

In honor of the impending cookie swap/holiday baking madness, I thought I would share some of the fun with you.

These sugar cookies are simple, and the cook time determines whether they are soft or crunchy. I like 'em both ways.

The cast:
2 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Colored sugar (optional)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder - or just dump them in the sifter (I do). Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla (you can also go half vanilla, half peppermint flavor if you like - mmm, peppermint).

Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.

Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls.

Dip or roll in colored sugar if you're so inclined, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.



Bake 8 (soft) to 10 (crunchy) minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden.

Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.


Try one warm...ooooh, yummy (what miffinnk cookief??).

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cookie Swap

Cookie Swap, the newest holiday reality show on FOX.

Well...maybe not so much, although I'd probably watch because I'm weird that way.

Ahem.

"What is a cookie swap??" I hear you clamor. Or was that the cats knocking something over? Eh, whatever. A cookie swap is a fine way to have elleventy-million kinds of cookies without baking them all yourself.

You pick some friends - the swap I'm taking part in on Saturday may have several dozen people present - and set a date and time. You bake a batch or three of your favorite cookie - or, if you're me, you bake huge batches of your four or five favorite cookies - and plate 'em up. Bring the cookies and an empty platter, tin, or portable hole with you to the swap. When the time is right (shortly after you've all been caught snitching cookies from the table when you thought no one was looking), you each take turns telling the others about your cookie - why it's special, why you like it, or which store you bought it at. The you go around and around the table, taking one or two or twenty of each cookie, loading your empty receptacle up.

I bring ten pounds of cookies and leave with twenty. It's magic.

It's fun, too - there are some neat stories about the various cookies. This year I will make Oatmeal Everything (aka Leftovers) Cookies, Snickerdoodles (try saying that without smiling, I dare you) and possibly Simple Sugar Cookies and Peppermint Filled Cookies (little butter cookies with a peppermint/cream cheese filling that is all gooey and delightful) if I have time.

Have I mentioned that I adore baking? I do - it's very therapeutic, and since I can't afford a shrink, I bake. A lot. The best part is, I will take all the cookies with me and be rid of them...although...hmm...I end up bringing home a ton of other cookies to take their place, so there's a flaw in my logic. Oh, well. I put them in boxes and tins, or on plates, and send them to work with T, give them to my Mum to keep or hand out, give them to our postal Goddess and the Trash Dudes, and leave stealth cookies for the neighbors. It's a tradition that makes me smile.

Try it and see if you don't have fun.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I've Got Nothin', But I'm Making Somethin' Of It*

In so many ways, I've got nothin'. Sigh.

It's OK, though, because I have plenty of nothin', and even a fair amount of somethin', when I remember it, which I try often to do.

I got a check from my band manager which started out as somethin', but a trip to the Evil Empire turned it (along with my patience and my belief that humans are basically decent critters) into nothin' in a hurry. Well, nothin' and a healthy dose of guilt, both for shopping there and for spending it all...but Bird now has shoes and clothing for Winter, so it's not like I frittered it away on crap we didn't need. Ahem...I really did need that wrapping paper to live...c'mon, it was blue striped, and shiny! Not buying it? S'OK, I did. I had enough left to go to the grocery store and buy milk, bread, and the all-important colored sugar crystals for the sugar cookies.

It's baking week. Saturday is the cookie swap, and I am a woman on a mission. Twenty dozen cookies, give or take, and that's just for this Saturday - next week is more cookies, and bread, too. Whew! That's a lot of somethin' to share.

My pockets are empty, and so is the bank account, and that's a lot of nothin', but...

I have a Mum who looks after us when we need it (which happens more often than we like), and a roommate (T's best friend since childhood) who pitches in if we unbend our pride enough to ask, and friends and family who won't let us go without the necessities - and you don't get a better somethin' than that!

* I started out this post with nothing to write about, but somehow I stretched in into something - it's a skill that one learns when making a pot of soup last for a week, and I'm glad to have it! I'll try for something better tomorrow.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Bird Flu

Bird is sick.

Poor little guy...he couldn't keep anything down last night, running to the potty to glurp within minutes of eating or drinking. He didn't have a fever, so it probably isn't really the Flu. He was cheerful, too, scampering about like nothing was wrong.

Thank the Gods he took after me when it comes to being sick - throwing up is just no big deal, and life goes one. Still...I hope it was something he ate yesterday and not some sort of creeping crud.

Meanwhile, I am disinfecting myself because I'm off to my friend M's baby shower, and I don't want to bring plague with me. I took pictures of the blankie I made for the baby, but haven't loaded them into the 'puter yet...so I have no idea if the turned out.

It's a dark yarn and an odd, textured pattern, but if the photos turn out OK, I'll post them later. If you play with yarn, it's a crochet pattern called Old Shale, and it makes a kind of raised ripple or wave effect. I like it, but it took a lot of focus to get done, because the pattern is not forgiving.

Right, I'm off to wrap M's other baby gift in the blanket - why waste paper?? - if I can get my poor, gym-achy body to do something besides complain.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Thoughtfetti

It was hard convincing myself to get up and go t the gym this morning. I am lucky enough to sleep late most mornings - a good thing considering that I am often awake until the very wee hours (three-o'clock in the morning is common). This morning, I just didn't want to go.

I went anyway, Evil Genius in tow - he loves the childwatch people and play area, and I am loathe to deprive him of his fun - and decided that I would do the circuit room instead of the treadmill today. I went around three times, and now some parts of my body aren't speaking to me. Oh, well - they have until Monday to sort themselves out.
~~~~~~~~~~

I sorted through almost one-hundred photographs of Bird with the man dressed as Santa yesterday, trying to decide which one will go in the cards we send out. The above isn't the one I chose, but I like it, so I thought I'd share.
~~~~~
Today I will finish writing out greetings and addressing cards, and decorating the envelopes (I like to draw snowmen, snowflakes, Christmas trees, holly, or yule related pictures on the fronts, next to the mailing address - I can't draw worth a damn, but I just don't care). I hope to mail them this afternoon or tomorrow.
~~~~~
While I was filling out some cards last night - I am old-fashioned and I like to write out greetings by hand - I was thinking about the people I send them to. Some of these folks are family I haven't seen in a decade or more, and some are friends I see every day. A few I haven't seen or spoken to in longer than I can remember, and I send their cards out into the world with fond hopes that they are still alive and dwelling at the same address. It's funny, to me, to think that I send out photographs of my child (whom they may never have met) and well-wishes when I don't really know them any more. I know who they were, but not who they are.

Sometimes I wonder if I should quit sending the cards, but I can't bear to. I've only dropped a few names from my list over the years, all but one because the person in question has died (and I haven't yet figured out how to send mail across the veil). The one because in over twenty years she has never responded, frequently moves without leaving a forwarding address, and I'm tired of finding her through her trustees. She knows where I am if she wants me.

Christmas/Yule cards should be sent with love, anyway.
~~~~~
I am going to wrap gifts today, too. I have a few things for Bird. The fun will be getting them wrapped without him catching me at it - stealth wrapping at its finest! Wish me luck.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Psst, Hey, Wanna Buy a Watch??

OK, so not really a watch...but some really cool stuff, anyway.

Please permit me to introduce you to a new link list over on the sidebar. It's just below "Givin' You the Bird", and it's called "Feel the Etsy! Feel It!!". Yep - I'm pimpin' the Etsy sites of some of the people I know and love.

Unleash the Goddess is where K, the sister of my heart, flogs her wares. She's a terrific artist and she just put up her winter holiday greeting cards on her page. She drew them. Did I mention awesome? She is. She also has prints, coloring books, and eventually I will corral her arse and force her to start listing her incredible fused glass/dichroic jewelry. I guarantee you won't find anything like it anywhere else...if only she'd list it!!

2Moms5Kids is the home of some dear Internet friends. I won't say where we met or hang out in Blogopolis or the Blue Nowhere, because it's private, but I would not have the level of sanity I claim today if not for this group of fine, understanding, compassionate, and sometimes hilariously snarky women! I hope to have more of their Etsy sites linked soon (Ladies? Ladies?? Ahem? Are you reading??). 2Moms5Kids is a bundle of woolly, weird, and wonderful fun.

I will add more as they come in. I'm not makin' any dosh on this...it's more about giving people a little more exposure and maybe offering y'all a chance to find gifts without having to brave the mall or Silly Season traffic and behavior.

One day in the (hopefully not too distant) future, I may even have a bash at an Etsy site, myself. Woo-hoo!

So, aren't you glad you burned a calorie clicking over here?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Treadmill Philosophy and an Open Letter

Step after step, mile after mile, I walk. Walk, walk, walk. I like the hills setting - the variety keeps it from getting dull. I don't go faster than 3.4 miles per hour, nor slower than 3.2 miles per hour - it may not seem like much, but I can feel the difference. The slow pace is because I am trying to be rid of my fifty-acre ass, not attain cardio fitness - my heart, despite my weight, is just fine.

The treadmills have TV screens on them, and controls to change the channel or volume at will. One simply plugs in one's headphones and one has several hundred channels of distraction to choose from. I turn it off. I have my iPod and several playlists to choose from, and I prefer to look out the window and watch people come and go, enjoy the flight of various birds, and follow the clouds as they drift along.

In the blank screen, I see my reflection. Step by step we walk together, keeping a measured pace, but although we walk toward each other, we never seem to meet. Deep, huh?
~~~~~
Dear Man, Woman, or Undetermined Gym Goer,

While I realize that one goes to the gym with the intent of achieving their desired level of fitness;

And while I know that achieving the desired level of fitness will probably involve sweating, perhaps copiously;

I should not have to smell the evidence of your profuse sweating while I am trying to maintain a steady pace and taking deep, deep breaths. Gagging while walking is not recommended.

Also, what do you eat that produces such a stink? Or was it something you rolled in? I once knew a dog that rolled in roadkill and didn't come home with a funk like yours. May I introduce you to a little thing called deodorant? Arm and Hammer makes one that's natural and unscented, if perfume is your concern...but given your odor on Monday morning, I wouldn't think perfume would be a bad thing.

Or, if deodorant is just not available, appropriate, or against your religion, perhaps you could hand around filter masks for the rest of us? I sure would appreciate it, and I'm fairly certain my fellow patrons would, too.

Sincerely,
The woman on treadmill number three who may have tried to walk her second mile while holding her breath

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

VOTE!!!

Runoff elections today - vote, or I get to decide who runs the joint. Are you prepared for that???

Remember Me?

Hi there, remember me?

Perhaps I should refresh your memory.

I'm a holiday. People used to celebrate me quietly, joined with family and community to rejoice in the returning light or the birth or their god (depending on which spiritual Truth they followed).

I was a good day, a peaceful day, a day for sharing a special meal with the ones you loved and pondering the many blessings you give each other.

Long ago, this was the day landlords and money-lenders forgave debts (if they were so inclined), giving the people beholden to them a month to breath a little.

There would sometimes be feasts to celebrate me.

Somehow, you changed me. I don't know why, or when, but I became less about the love, light, and life common to all humanity and became more about gifts, juggling families, and frantic consumerism. I am not so much about the single candle flickering in the window, sending out rays of hope into the night, and more about millions of lights, plastic figurines, and neighborhood one-upsmanship. If a neighborhood decorates, it puts pressure on every family to take part, whether they will or no. When did I become about bullying and feelings of superiority?

Why do I now engender feelings of deep sorrow in so many, when I should offer up a sense of joy? Why is there panic as I approach? Why so much angst, anger, so much negative emotion?

Do you know me now?

I would like to cast off these rich, costly robes and return to my simpler garb - I am not comfortable in this cloth of gold, encrusted with jewels and stiff with embroidery. Won't you help me? Will you stop for a moment each day and remind yourself that you don't have to buy or show love with gaudily wrapped gifts? Will you pause for a moment each day to breath in the sweet smell of fir trees, of clean air, of the delightful scent of baking or snow-tinged air? Will you take a moment to think, really think, about my origins (a celebration of the returning sun or the birth of your God's avatar here on Earth) and my symbols? Will you eschew one more purchase of cheap plastic crap, purchased out of guilt rather than because the recipient may really need it, and perhaps instead offer up a far more precious and costly gift - yourself, your time, your effort, your love?

If you don't know me now, then you never did...and for that, I am sorry. I was wonderful, once.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Oh the Weather Outside Is...umm...

...not at all frightful, at least not to me.

It is snowing. In Georgia (not the Soviet one). In December.

If you live in the Midwest, mountains, New England, or other normally snowy climes, you're probably thinking So what? Big deal. We get snow all the time.

Did I mention I live in Georgia, in the Southeastern United States? Where it's not usually very cold, let alone snowy, before February, if at all? Yep.

It won't stick or last very long, but it reminds me of my time in New Hampshire. I miss it there, with the proper seasons, the snow, heating our buildings with wood stoves and never minding if the power went out because we could cook over the stoves, use candles for light, and put all our frozen stuff outside to keep it from going off.

Bird and I stood out in the flurries and caught the tiny snowflakes on our tongues. I'm turning our turkey into soup. Nice day.

NaNoWhatevah

The month of Nano-ing is over.

I challenged myself to two things - to write fifty-thousand words for NaNoWriMo and to blog every day for NaBloPoMo.

Blogging every day? Well...it wasn't much of a challenge, since I post something every day anyway. Sure, sometimes my posts are photographs or bumper stickers, but they're posts.

Write fifty-thousand words? Umm...not so much. I started out strong, but then life got in the way. Who chooses a holiday month for this kind of challenge? Yeah, because Thanksgiving at the end of the month is why I didn't do any much writing in the middle of the month. Yep. I blame the holiday.

Still, I feel it was something of a success, because I got a bit past halfway through the word count and have a strong start for a story. I won't get a lot of writing done in December, either - December is NaBaCoMo around here. Huh? What's NaBaCoMo? National Bake Cookie Month, of course!

No, seriously - I will be baking cookies non-stop until Christmas day. Also during the time from December First through the Twenty-Fifth I will have a baby shower, Christmas party, cookie swap, bake bread, cinnamon rolls, crochet, sew, or donate gifts, wrap a gajillion things, write, address, and mail fifty Christmas cards (after printing, cutting out, and trimming the annual photos of the Evil Genius to include with the cards), buy, put up, and trim a tree, decorate the house and yard (tastefully), and probably bitch, moan, and complain throughout (I wouldn't be me if I didn't).

Still...maybe I will manage to finish what I started in November...at least one of the stories, anyway.

Whew...next year, I'm taking part in NaGoCruMo* instead.

*National Go On a Cruise Month