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

Tibi gratias agimus quod nihil fumas.

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

Nolite te bastardes carburundorum!

"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

Sunday, November 29, 2009

From Horizontal to Vertical

Mum was visiting for Thanksgiving and stayed the weekend. We thought the Evil Genius was going to be away from Friday through Sunday, and we planned to clean his room and get rid of one or two thousand extraneous toys on Saturday. He's a pretty good kid, but he's still a kid, and they're not notorious for keeping things tidy or giving up a single plaything, even if it is so mangled it doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to its original form.

For your viewing pleasure, I present a before picture in video form:



Alas, the Evil Genius didn't get to go play in more amusing climes, so we had to limit our purging to a few items stealthily bagged while the boy watched Peter Pan and laughed like a loon.

In the midst of our merriment, Someone happened to call. Bird's room in that video up there? Is pretty much how it looked while Someone was visiting. He wanted to know how on earth I clean all that up, and was it a matter of turning the mess from horizontal to vertical?



Yes. Yes it is.

Second Helping

I didn't intend to write a second post today - I had planned on being at the gallery today because the Evil Genius was going to hang with his father for the weekend...but that didn't happen. Oh, well. I've had to be flexible with plans since I was a kid, so it's nothing new. I decided that I'd still do something creative with the day, so I dove headfirst into the chaos that is my sewing/craft room for some quality time with my beloved Singer.

After a bit of sewing combined with a bit of singing along with the radio station (by the way, when did the music I listened to as a teen become "classic"??), I was hungry. I guess a banana for breakfast just doesn't cut it any more.

I had some bread leftover from last week's bake. I had a hankering for breakfast type food. I didn't want plain old toast. I've never made French Toast. Time to play!!

Y'all...the french Toast was so good, I had two pieces. Two! So did the Evil Genius. Dear Goddess, thank you for Pan Perdu! I'll be making it again, you can bet.

I didn't take any photos, but it was so freakin' tasty I had to share the recipe right away...because I can't be the very last person who learned how to make French Toast...can I?

Here it is, in all its simple glory:

Week old Bread. Seriously, you want it stale or you'll wind up with something mushy and gross.
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
Vanilla
Cinnamon
Freshly grated orange peel
Ground Ginger
Nutmeg
Sugar
Salt

Umm...have you noticed the lack of measurements up there? Yeah...this is one of those recipes that is largely by feel.

Slice the bread into 1/2 inch or thicker slices. If you're using loaves like mine (peasant loaves, I've heard them called), cut them in half so they'll fit in a frying pan. I used two slices/four pieces.

In a flat bottomed bowl, beat together egg and milk. Add a dollop of vanilla. How generous a dollop depends entirely on how much you care for vanilla. Add a dash or twenty of cinnamon. How much? Same as the vanilla. Grate some orange peel into the mix - I did about half an orange. If you don't have a fresh orange (you can slice it up after and have it with the toast), use a lemon, or skip the citrus entirely - dried won't be the same. Shake a little bit of dried ginger in. Just a dash will do, this stuff is potent. Dittos for the nutmeg. Add a generous pinch of sugar. A tiny pinch of salt, and you're ready to whisk it, whisk it good!!

Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat. You want it hot enough to sizzle. Soak a piece of bread in the egg mixture, turning to coat evenly. Melt some butter in the skillet, and when it's sizzling, drop the bread on it. Cook for five to ten minute each side, until golden. Repeat until you've used up your bread or egg/milk mixture. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with syrup, fresh fruit, whipped cream - whatever you like.

Whew...that was tasty. If I didn't want to keep my ass from ballooning back up to fifty acres, I would happily eat another twenty pieces.

What Say You?


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Crows

Swirling around the twisted tree, ragged scraps of inky fabric fluttering against the dark grey November sky, tossed carelessly into the wind only to drift to rest in the ancient, gnarled pine.

What news, what news, cousins? Tell me a story...

Cold, damp, cutting day, and they're circling, making a vortex of feathers and caws, wings spread wide, floating in place before diving into the sheltering embrace of the grandfather tree. How will he hold them all?

What news, cousins, what news? History keepers, tell...

It is neither day nor night, but rather some in-between time of no sun, no moon, half-light and rain, of shadows and illusions and hidden things creeping through the gloaming, unseen until they launch from the branches into the teeth of the wind, dodging the pelting rain.

Tell me cousins, what have you seen? Tell, cousins, tell...

This isn't a murder, it's a spree, a confetti of birds ebbing and flowing, blending into the dark places of one tree, leaving his neighbor bereft of inhabitants, limbs unweighted by signs and portents and their dark silence.

What news? Tell...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday, Bah!!

I don't like shopping on a good day. On Black Friday? I shudder to think of it. I'm home today, being crafty with Mum. The results of our craftiness will soon be for sale on Etsy.

Speaking of Estsy - how about you dodge the crowds and the purchasing of cheap, mass-produced plastic crap and help support an honest-to-goddess artist this holiday season?? Really, do the people you know and love well enough to give gifts to need another gadget, gizmo, or pair of socks?

Here, I'll help you out a little. Go see my friend Kerri's Etsy shop. I guarantee you won't find anything like what she produces in her studio anywhere else. It truly is wearable art. She's let me play with her glass (I said GLASS, Google perves!!) on a few occasions, and I hope to do so again before long.

I'll be avoiding the feeding shopping frenzy as much as possible this year, making as many gifts as I can.

Oh, and for the purposes of full disclosure, Kerri didn't ask me to plug her shop. She did ask me to help her with the write-ups on her glass pieces, which I was happy to do. If she makes a bundle, she may even pay me for my work, making me a real! live! freelance writer! Right after she pays to have her chimney cleaned and the firebox in her fireplace repaired so she doesn't burn down the house keeping warm when the power's out, replacing her hall bathroom (oh, how lovely it would be to be able to go to the loo when visiting her, rather than contemplating peeing on a tree)(which has its place, just not in a suburban back yard)(unless you are a five-year-old boy, but that's another story)(and another yard), and pre-paying the hospital for the delivery of her son, due in February/March. Yeah, we have to pre-pay here in Redneck Central, even with insurance.

So - avoid crowds, give unique, wearable gifts, support an artist and a writer, all without changing out of your pajamas. How awesome is that??

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful

I have a few traditions on this day. Not many - the menu I posted Tuesday, recording the Macy's parade so I can watch it and fast-forward through all the crappy pop music, commercials, and talking heads to see the twenty minutes of balloons, floats and high school bands I'm interested in hidden among all that junk, and my list of some things for which I am thankful, in no particular order and in no way complete:

The house in which I live
The Evil Genius
Mum
Someone
Gypsy, K, Kit, Sam-I-Am, PJ, Mizz Beth, and all of my friends who put up with me when I am most myself and therefor least likable. They are the net beneath me when I fly and fall
Bread
The scent of leaf loam and woodsmoke in the crisp autumn air
Books, music, and art
Clean, plentiful water
Clean air
Clean clothes
Freedom
Nature and the way she finds to show me something new of herself every day
Words
Song
Dance
Adversity, that joy is all the sweeter
Every creature and plant that I consume to sustain myself, because without the life I take, there would be no life to live
Love - that it exists at all is a wonder, and I feel blessed to know it in many forms
Chocolate, gift from the Gods (yes, even the perversion called "candy bar") (Mmm...candy bar...)
Strong hands
Strong spirit
Strong will
Laughter
Cussed determination not to curl up and die just because life can sometimes be a succession of truly awful, bleak, and desolate days...but sometimes it isn't
The Internet
You

I hope you have a blessed day, and that you the things you're thankful for outweighing the things for which you're not. Happy Thanksgiving, y'all, from us at Casa de Crazy to you out in the Blue Nowhere and beyond.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Order Up

It seems like everyone I ask has some sort of traditional Thanksgiving dish, that one thing that it isn't Thanksgiving without. For the last few years, I've stayed here at Casa de Crazy and cooked the meal for whoever was here - usually me, T, Mum, the Evil Genius, the Roommate, and T's Nephew. I set the menu, but always ask if there's anything the others would especially like to have, and try to incorporate that dish.

This year, we're light in numbers - Me, Mum, and the Evil Genius, and maybe Gypsy and her family (they're celebrating a day early this year, and I told her they could to pop by if they wanted to, if only for dessert and games).

I'm making:

Turkey (I couldn't find one smaller than ten pounds, so there will be plenty for sandwiches, soup, and other leftover mayhem)(I did, however, manage to find a reasonably priced one that didn't have stuff injected into it - Whole Foods rocks!!)

Dressing (made with bread I baked this past weekend and some sourdough picked up at the Publix bakery, and homemade stock, among other things)

Gravy (from scratch, natch, with homemade turkey stock and pan drippings)

Mashed potatoes (although they're technically riced, since we use a ricer and not a masher. Mum makes these, because she's better at it than I am)

Green Beans (steamed and possibly lightly sauteed in butter and garlic)

Mashed Turnips and Carrots (ohmuhgoodness, I love these! I could go without turkey on Thanksgiving, but not my turnips and carrots)

Bread (baked here) and Butter (not made here)

Cranberry Jelly (from a can, because if it isn't cylindrical with odd little ridges and depressions in it, it just won't taste right)(I may, just for giggles, though, make homemade as well)

Keylime Pie (homemade, except the shortbread crust because Keebler does that so nicely and I hate to see the cute little elves put out of business because I insisted on doing everything myself)(nothing says autumn holiday like keylime pie)(What do you mean, the pilgrims and their indigenous tribal neighbors didn't have keylime pie? I can't hear you...la, la, la, la, la...)

Mrs. Smith's Dutch Apple Crumb Pie (I can't make one this yummy, and why buck tradition??)

I'll have pillows and blankies on hand, too, for the inevitable post-turkey crash.

So...what're you having? What's the one thing (or the fifteen things) that makes your Thanksgiving complete?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Basic, Simple, Bliss

Have I ever mentioned that I like to bake?

No?

I like to bake.

For many years, I stuck to simple recipes that didn't involve yeast and all its attendant complications. I admit it - an organism the size of a grain of sand intimidated me. I always adored fresh bread, though, and wished I could learn to make it...if only there wasn't that pesky yeast.

I wasn't alone...I know plenty of people who won't even risk a bread machine. Shoot, I know a couple of folks who won't even buy those frozen loaves of dough you just put in the oven.

I finally got past my aversion to cooking with yeast when I really, really wanted to make cinnamon rolls from scratch rather than from a tube. The recipes called for yeast. Oh, dear. Well...I did it. And then I did it again. And then I decided that I could brave the big one...bread.

Basic bread is simple, smells amazing, and when eaten warm from the oven with butter melting over it, drizzled with honey, and sprinkled with cinnamon? Pure gustatory bliss.

Give it a try - you won't be sorry!

The Cast:
Up to 6 cups flour (I use White Lilly unbleached bread flour, but regular all purpose will work fine, too)
2 envelopes active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons shortening
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
2 cups very warm water (I add 1 cup boiling water to 1 cup chilled water taken from the refrigerator dispenser) no hotter than 110 degrees F
1/4 cup melted butter

Before you start, lightly oil a large bowl and set it aside. Line a large cookie sheet with Release foil or brush it liberally with melted butter and set it aside.

In a bowl (I use my mixer, but you can use your hands if you like), layer 1 cup flour, shortening, another cup flour, yeast, another cup flour, and the salt and sugar. Mix them until they look a bit like meal, or basically until the shortening is somewhat evenly distributed in the flour mixture.

Slowly pour in the water while mixing on low speed.

Mix on low speed for one minute, then on medium speed for one minute. While that's happening, lightly flour a large cutting board or your work surface.

Exchange the whisk for the dough hook and add one cup of flour. Mix on medium-low until the flour is fully incorporated. Add another cup of flour and repeat.

Now...aside from not killing the yeast with -too hot water, or not reviving the yeast with too-cold water, adding the right amount of flour is the trickiest part of bread making. And it's not that tricky. At this point, you are almost done. The dough will likely be crawling up the hook or forming something sort of ball shaped in the bowl. Give it a touch. Go one, I'll wait.

Yep...it's warm and springy and probably still a little sticky at this point. You've made a living thing. Cool, huh?

If you touch the dough and it sticks to your finger...
...you need more flour. Add a half cup and mix again. I have never had to go past this point with flour. Give it a poke again. It should be a little springy and not stick to your finger. Add another half cup of flour if you must. If it's just a tiny bit sticky, though, no fear - it's better to have a little less flour than too much. Too much means tough, dry, crumbly bread...boo.

See? It's making a kind of ball.

Pull the dough from the hook...
...and get ready for one of the best things about baking bread - the kneading. Ohmuhgodness, this is better than therapy. It's warm, soft, elastic, already smells lovely, and there's just something tremendously satisfying about the whole thing.



I had to stop the video before I was done kneading, because it's really a two-handed job. You get the idea, though.

Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, three to five minutes.

Form the dough into a ball and place it in the oiled bowl. Roll it around and make sure the entire surface of the ball is oiled. You don't want it drying out!
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a warm place to rise.

Rising bread is an alchemical wonder.

For the love of all that's holy, leave the poor thing alone for at least forty minutes, or until it has doubled in size. This is where the yeast gets really busy doing its yeasty thing, which will in turn help make your bread light, smooth, and lovely.
Look at that...it's gorgeous, I tell ya.

Using your finger tips, divide the dough in half. It will de-poof during this process, but don't worry...it'll all come out right in the end.

Thank goodness I cleaned my fingernails before shooting these photos. honestly, I don't know how they get so dirty, but sometimes I'm shocked...shocked I tell you...at the state of them!

Why am I suddenly thinking about Mick Jagger and Angelina Jolie??

Take one of the dough pieces and knead it again five or six time. I don't even bother with the board, just hold it on my hands and sort of fold it in on itself, then make a ball and place it on the cookie sheet. Repeat with the other piece of dough.

It's about the size of a large grapefruit or pumello, now. Brush the dough with melted butter. It'll thank you for the love.

I keep my butter liquid and happy by putting the bowl on the back burner of the stove, where the oven vent is. It is warm enough to keep the butter melted but not so hot it damages the bowl or burns the butter, and I don't have to use the microwave and risk all kinds of buttery mayhem.

Now that they've been buttered...

...go find something to do for another forty minutes while they rise to the occasion. They should double in size again.

Heat the oven to 425 F. You can pop them right into the oven, or you can inscribe a design on the surface of the loaves with a very sharp, smooth-edged knife. I usually make a star design.

Bake at 425 for twenty minutes. Remove from the oven, but leave the oven on!

Hey, look, they're kissing loaves! When they touch like that, I call 'em "kissing loaves" because it looks like they're kissing, duh. Don't worry of yours do this - it won't hurt anything.

Brush with butter again, then put the bread back in the oven for five more minutes. It's done when you tap a loaf and it sounds hollow.


Cool on a rack - if you can keep from slicing right into it and devouring it while it's hot!

This bread is excellent as is, makes terrific sandwiches, is good for French toast, and is useful as a bowl for serving dips in, too. I made these loaves to turn into dressing on Thursday...if they last that long. Wrapped in freezer paper or kept in a Ziploc, it's good for a week or more.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Really? Really??

Huh. Funny how the Universe works. Sometimes we have delightful, serendipitous moments - when we think of an old friend and they call or write, or when we have a hankering for our favorite chocolate mousse and someone invites us to the one place that makes it the way we like it best.


And sometimes we have weird synchronicity, like when we write a blog post about annoying, immoral e-mails from strangers who feel the Blue Nowhere is their personal spamming ground, con artists (although it's not really an art what they do) who view the world as their mark, villains who prey on the weak, foolish, gullible, and innocent.

I wrote that post about the UNICEF e-mail I received and mentioned in passing the one from an alleged American soldier. Well guess what was in my e-mail in-box Saturday morning? Check it out (items in parenthesis are mine, the rest is pure Internet bunk):

My name is Sgt Don Guy (did you know that the word "guy" was coined in reference to Guy Fawkes day, when they burned a man in effigy - the dummy was called the "Guy", and the word "guy" originally meant "dummy"), I am an American soldier, I am serving in the military of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regimient, Patrols Tal Afar, in Iraq. I apologized using this medium to reach you for a deal of this magnitude (Way to use references to military and geographical stuff that I have probably never heard of and am likely too lazy to look up, Internet Scamming Asshole!)(However, even I, lazy-bones that I am, know that's not how you spell "regiment")(Please don't insult my intelligence while you're trying to insult my wallet)(Thank you)(Also, you use more commas than I do, which makes you seriously suspect).

We managed to move funds belonging to Saddam Hussein's family. The total amount is US$25 Million dollars in cash (Dude, seriously, no one who actually lives in this nation says "US$" in reference to money. We presume that everyone means US dollars unless they specify otherwise. We're a bunch of big, fat, wasteful, walking, talking egos), mostly 100 dollar bills (Way to do your research on US currency pal - although I am not sure the average citizen is aware that the Benjamin is the largest bill we circulate these days, thanks to drug dealers and scumbags like you) . We want to move this money to you, so that you may invest it for us and keep our share for banking (because we're bosom buddies, of course).

I have the authority of my partners involved to propose that should you be willing to assist us in this transaction, your share of the sum will be 30% of the US$25 million, 60% for us and 10% will be kept aside for expenses and rest assure that this business is 100% safe on your part provided you treat it with utmost secrecy and confidentiality (Whoopsie...does this mean I won't get my share of the ill-gotten gains?? I blog somewhat anonymously, so no one would know who really helped you...).

Basically since we are working for the American Government, we cannot keep these funds, We plan on using diplomatic courier by shipping the money out to you by using diplomatic immunity (How nice that thieves are relying on the implied honor and honesty of the diplomatic corps while explaining how they'll be acting in an unlawful, immoral fashion and committing fraud internationally).

No strings attached, just help us move it out of Iraq, for Iraq is a war zone. You will only help the diplomat to get the yellow tag paper as soon as they arrive in your airport, they will have to call you to notify you that they have arrive for you to arrange with them on geting the tag so that the custom and immigration will not inspect the consignment (Again with the mysterious language, poor spelling, and added fun of cloak-and-dagger behavior to give it that special flare).

If you are interested I will send you the full details, my job is to find a good partner that we can trust and that will assist us. Can I trust you? When you receive this letter, kindly send me an e-mail signifying your interest including your most confidential telephone/address for quick communication for the delivery (Oh, yeah, because I want complete stranger who are trying to perpetrate criminal fraud to know where I live and how to contact me). This business is risk free (Yeah, for you, maybe).

The box can be shipped out in 48hrs. Please observe utmost confidentiality (oh, yeah, I'll be as honest as you are regarding this matter), and be rest assured that this business is risk free. Note plz, alwayS reply with this email address sgtdonguy@redactedbecauseIamdisinclinedtogivethemanyunwittingprey.com because of the security reason.

Respectfully submitted
Sgt. Don Guy
~~~~~
I swear, I think they put in all the errors so anyone paying the least bit of attention will have a sporting chance...

You know...our soldiers have a hard enough time over there, what with little to no support from their home government and local folks trying to explode them with all kinds of IED type gizmos...they really don't need the added stigma that all the implications of immorality in this kind of letter/activity. If you really must try to drain me dry, could you please do so with something a little less insulting to both my intelligence and the people putting their lives in danger so I can sit on my capacious bottom and write snarky blogs at will?

Thanks...but no thanks...may I refer you to Ms. Susan Gigs of UNICEF, who could use the help of nice, upstanding people like you?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Continuuing Adventures of Flat Aunt Becky

I took FAB with us when we went to get the Evil Genius's photo with the man dressed as Santa/The Holly King. She was a little intimidated by the big guy and opted out of the photo shoot, preferring instead to investigate the shrubberies by the bank.

Nothing says "Prepare for the oncoming holidays!" like...a gardenia? Umm...


That's more like it...Holly in full berry mode, now with bonus berries!

As luck would have it, T was taking the Evil Genius away for the rest of the weekend for a few Father/Son bonding activities, so Mum, FAB and I were free to explore a local bead show. FAB thought the beads were mostly uninteresting. I wondered if she was right in the head - who thinks beads are boring (don't answer that)? She said something about low blood sugar...

...so we repaared to the lobby to see if we could remedy the situation. I believe we succeeded.

Sadly, I could not capture FAB's shenanigans at JoAnne's - she was a whirlwind in the scrapbooking aisle, revived by her little repast, and I had my hands full keeping up with her and finding the papers I needed for making holiday cards. FAB napped all the way up to Mum's place, where we were spending the night, but she perked up in time for dinner.

Mum wanted steak, and since she was buying, who was I to argue?? We went to Longhorn.

"Now that's a knife!"

"I claim this bread in the name of Flat Aunt Becky!"

FAB shared my steak - turns out she likes her ribeye rare, too!

We didn't have desert, although I always want to order the chocolate stampede...but I can only mange a bite or two before I'm done, and it's such a waste. FAB told me later she could eat a whole one herself. I wish she'd mentioned that before - we could have shared!

I'm hoping to get back to the gallery this Sunday - if I manage it, I'm bringing FAB with me and we'll see what we get up to while we're there.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Is It Just Meme...?

...or have I been doing a lot of these lately?
~~~~~
1. What was the last thing you put in your mouth? Oh, so many snarky answers flitted through my brain for this...but I'll play both nice and fair. My toothbrush.

2. Where was your profile picture taken? On my front porch, of one of my beloved morning glories. That particular shade doesn't grow any more, and I haven't been able to find more seeds, so the photo is all that remains.

3. Can you play Guitar Hero? Not very well. I can play almost anything poorly, though, as I suspect most people can.

4. Name someone who made you laugh today. What was it about? That someone would be Someone, and I could tell you but I don't think I will. My mother reads this blog.

5. How late did you stay up last night and why? A bit past two-thirty, because I don't sleep very well of late. I am insomnia's bitch, it seems.

6. If you could move somewhere else where would you and why? I can move somewhere else if I choose. It's still a (somewhat) free country, and the world is getting smaller every day. I would move to Maine, or New Hampshire, or Martha's Vineyard, or Arizona or Missouri, or Oregon, or Alaska, or North Georgia, or Scotland (far from cities) or Ireland (some small town or on the coast) or New Zealand, or anywhere with mountains, or snow, or the sea, or a clear night sky, or forest, or free flowing water...because I love beautiful, wild places where humans haven't had much opportunity to muck things up and I don't like living in crowded places where people can bother me when I'd rather be alone. As long as I had the Blue Nowhere, I'd be fine wherever I came to light.

7. Ever been kissed under fireworks? Can't say that I have. Sounds dangerous.

8. Which of your friends lives closest to you? Hmm...I think that would be Gypsy, although it could be Kit - they're almost equidistant and it takes about the same amount of time to drive to their homes... Of course, my friend K is always in my heart, so that's closer still...

9. Do you believe ex's can be friends? With benefits? I believe that people can find their relationships evolving and adjust accordingly. I believe that a relationship can end one incarnation and begin another, and that all parties involved can remain friendly if they can let go of negative feelings. I believe that people can continue to have sexual contact without any other ties, as long as they're clear about boundaries. I also believe it's not often plausible to continue a physical relationship with an ex, and sometimes it's downright unwise.

10. Do you like Dr. Pepper? On rare occasions, and usually cut with a little Coca-Cola because otherwise it's too pungent. Also, there must be a great deal of ice.

11. When was the last time you cried really hard? Really hard as opposed to just sniveling? Hmm...last night.

12. Who took your profile picture? I did.

13. Who was the last person you took a picture of? The Evil Genius. Unless you count Flat Aunt Becky (post about her coming in the next day or two).

14. Was yesterday better than today? Why? No. Most of my days are much of a muchness...but they improve slightly because each day that passes is one less day awaiting Someone's return to Casa de Crazy.

15. Can you live a day without TV? I can live days, weeks, and moths without television, and have done. As much as I adore my programs - they are filler, a way to pass otherwise empty time. Because I watch National Geographic and the Discovery family of channels for the most part, at least I'm learning something...but it's still filler. Also...I have TiVo, so, you know...I can always watch later.

16. Are you upset about anything now? The usual suspects - namely, my apparent inability to grasp whatever simple thing most other people grasp that lets them get along in and succeed in the workaday world.

17. Do you think relationships are ever really worth it? Yes, even the failed ones. They all have their moments of brilliance and of shadow, and I appreciate those moment equally.

18. Are you a bad influence? I'd like to think so.

19. Night out or night in? Both.

20. What items could you not go without during the day? Oxygen is right up there...

21. Who was the last person you visited in the hospital? Oh, hmm...I can't recall...although I suspect it may have been Gypsy when she had just had Mouse. Unless you count my trip last summer with the Evil Genius to the ER.

22. What does the last text message in your inbox say? I don't know - I don't text.

23. How do you feel about your life right now? It has good points and bad points. They are about even, although I'm happier than usual so that's nice...

24. Do you hate anyone? Nope. Hatred is a waste.

25. If we were to look in your Facebook inbox, what would we find? I have a Facebook inbox? I have no idea what's in it. The Internet version of dust bunnies?? Also...who's "we"?

26. Say you were given a drug test right now, would you pass? I don't test well...but yes...

27. Has anyone ever called you perfect before? Hah! Hahahah...ahhh....hahahah....whew...

28. What song is stuck in your head? Tonight it's After the Goldrush by Neil Young, thanks to BHJ and his blog post today.

29. Someone knocks on your window at 2 a.m., whom do you want it to be? It had better be Superman or some other flying person, as my window is two storeys up!

30. Do you (or did you) want to have grandkids before you’re 50? No. The Evil Genius will only be nineteen, and unless he wants to have children at that young age and is prepared for all they entail, I hope he will not be helping to produce them. I am presuming that I will have raised him well enough that he understands when you help make one, you help raise it. If you aren't ready to take responsibility, then you either use birth control or you don't have sex. That's how I feel about it in a nutshell, anyway.

31. Tell us your Saturday night. Same as any other night - make dinner, play with/teach/read to Evil Genius, tidy kitchen, put Evil Genius to bed, talk to Someone on the phone, hang out in the Blue Nowhere, write, go to bed. Whee.

32. Do you think too much or too little? Probably too much. I think...

33. Do you smile a lot? More and more, lately.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Psst, Look Over There

I have a new post up at my sadly neglected other blog, Mainstream Green. Because you don't have enough to read. Go have a look....puhleeeeeze??

A Letter

Dear Fellow Motorists,

Please forgive me if I jump right in here, but I have some things on my mind that I simply must share.

That lever? The one on the left side of the steering column? It's not just a place to hang your hat - when used correctly, it will actually tell other motorists that you intend to turn or make a lane change! I know! Such a novel concept! That's what the blinking yellow light on the back of my van means, by the way - that I intend to turn or change lanes. It's not an invitation to accelerate and take that space I'd like to occupy or to hover just off my flank in anticipation of claiming the spot I'm trying to vacate, thereby making it near impossible to vacate the space you want without knocking you into next week in the process.

Texting while driving is entertaining for all, it is best left to distracted teens with little experience behind the wheel.

Also, when the highway speed limit sign mentions a minimum speed, they aren't kidding. Maintaining a difference in speed of more than twenty miles per hour is fun, I know - we all love watching people slam on their brakes in a desperate attempt to keep from investigating the interior of another vehicle's exhaust pipe - but it's dangerous, and should be reserved instead for small, two lane roads with plenty of hills and blind curves for maximum effect.

Next time your friend breaks down on a small road with little clearance to either side at a well used railroad crossing, please consider carefully whether you really want to put your own vehicle into reverse and back into oncoming traffic, causing several of those approaching vehicles to take evasive action and several more to stop abruptly on those same railroad tracks with no way around you and unable to reverse off the tracks due to traffic build up. I know it's unreasonable, really, to hope you'd give it so much as a thought, but selfish as I am I cannot help asking that you not endanger me, my child, or my beloved Astro van like that again.

By the way, the added fun of the rapidly brightening train headlight was really very festive. I can honestly say I've never had such an interesting and illuminating drive home before. And when I rather rudely referred to some people being dumber than a bag of hammers as I eased onto the shoulder and around you, I assure you I meant no insult to those useful tools, so your gesture in defense of hammers everywhere was not strictly necessary.

In addition, I would like to point out that while I find the sudden need to use the brakes a stimulating test of my reflexes, perhaps you might leave more than a half inch between us when you rapidly change lanes on a dark, rainy highway because the truck in front of you is going two miles an hour slower than you'd like...especially when I am going fifteen miles per hour faster than you feel comfortable with. Next time, consider waiting until I have passed you and all that lovely, empty road behind me is yours for the taking. And? Really, it's best to leave a gap of at least two coats of paint between you and the vehicles around you. I have very good tires on my van, and they do their best, but my van and I both have large, heavy backsides, and sudden application of braking mechanisms causes us both to shimmy and occasionally fishtail, which may look like good times but really? Not so much.

Finally, please remember that the brightest setting on your headlights is well suited for signalling the mother ship or fooling wildlife into thinking the sun is suddenly up and brighter than usual...but is rather unpleasant in the eyes of oncoming traffic. Is it too much to ask that you dim the lights before my corneas are burned entirely out?

Thank you for your consideration. I wish you happy motoring...as long as I'm nowhere near where you're driving!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What a Life

This is Maya.
She's curled up on the blanket on my lap.
"It's a tough life, but someone has to live it."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Comforters

I have a Flat Aunt Becky post in the offing...I just haven't loaded the photos onto the computer yet. Sigh. Maybe later this week. Meanwhile, I'm feeling a bit...apathetic... Wait, how is that new?? Never mind.

My cats have taken to perching on me whenever I sit down. They curl up around me at night, holding me in whatever position I manage to take before they settle. They take turns purring, two on, two off, all night. It's like being in one of those vibrating beds you see in the movies, the ones that are coin operated and always malfunctioning...not that I've ever been in a bed like that. If I ever was in one of those beds, I'd dump quarters into it and see if I could get it to scramble eggs...or mix chocolate milk...or whip cream. Heh. Culinary fun for fleabag prices, score!!

It's chilly inside Casa de Crazy. I'm having a slight depression. Yes, it is slight. I know what a big one is like, and this ain't it. Good times. It's chilly inside Casa de Crazy, too, because I can't afford to turn up the heat beyond its current slightly-warmer-than-sub-arctic setting. I'm depressed and I'm broke. The Evil Genius has taken to actually wearing clothes around the house. I know! The kid who thinks underwear is too much to ask is putting on pants, shirts, and even socks! Will wonders never cease?? We sit around under blankets like Indian Chiefs (you know what? I don't feel like being PC today, and anyway, what other phrase brings the mental picture to mind that "Indian Chiefs" does??) and pretend it's all good.

The cats, who have their own little fur coats, don't like it chilly. So they nest on me. They'd nest on the Evil Genius, too...but he doesn't keep still long enough. If I could rig a giant hamster wheel to the house and get him on it, I wouldn't need to pay a power bill - the EMC would be paying me!

Sometimes, one of the cats in particular will sit on my leg and stare most earnestly at me. She may or may not let loose a piteous "MEOW" while staring deeply into my eyes. I think she's worried. She knows I'm sad. She knows all is not right in the Queendom of Crazy, and she doesn't like it. She likes it when I turn the heat up to "tropical splendor". And she's got a fur coat!

I know her concern is motivated by self-interest...but it's still sweet. They're like furry little comforters, trying to warm the cold places blankets, heat pumps, and hope can't reach.
~~~~~
I'm working on some holiday projects for Etsy. Cards. Ornaments. I may sell one of my kidneys (hey, Etsy is for selling things you made yourself...and if I didn't make my kidney, who did??). In the spirit of apathy, I may or may not tell you when I've posted them for sale. Are you thrilled? Good...at least one of us is.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Not Even An "A" for Effort

Sunday was a slow e-mail day for me, but I did have this little charmer in my in-box (copied as I got it, no editing, honest!):

FROM: MRS. SUSAN GIGS.

UNICEF would be very interested in offering you a part-time paying job in which you will earn about $1,750 US monthly with Benefits. Before I go any further, I would like to brief you more about the Program. Our organization is a foundation which enhances social sensitivity to children (UNICEF) with various problems faced by the less privileged and joining hands together in the developing world. We Improve the competence of professionals working with children in diagnosis and Intervention in cases of children heart problem. Every year, nearly 10 million children die before their fifth birthday, and half of these deaths occur in ASIA, Our research pointed out.
As the Program director of this zonal , I am in charge of the life saving program and fund raising for the less privilege, though myself and my life saving associates travel a lot. Presently, we have just been granted a fund raising to head a Charity Support Project in the tropical regions of the World starting with Europe,regarding surgical issues related to heart diseases and provision of basic amenities in support to humanitarian services and this would be commencing very soon, however our funding were by our donors that sends to us the bunch of payments mostly in US Based mode of Payments.

UNICEF would be willing to employ you on contract basis to be our Payment Representative back in the states, this way our donors could issue and make these Payments out to you, you could then cash them easily,you will deduct 10% as your commission for the great service you have rendered in support to saving life's and then Send the rest back to various charity homes that would be provided to you.

You will also stand the chances of being a part of our future and the excellence of an Institute in which you will be highly appreciated.I would be glad if you accept our proposal and Unicef intend to commence on Starting as soon as you are ready.
If you are interested, I would want you to kindly fill your details below, so that Unicef can verify ASAP.

FULL NAME:
PHYSICAL ADDRESS:
CITY:
STATE:
ZIP CODE:
COUNTRY:
PHONE NUMBER (S):
GENDER:
OCCUPATION
AGE:
NATIONALITY:

Remember, the lives of these children "less privilege" depends on your good work and trust because, trust is all we need to make the world a better Place to live in.

MRS. SUSAN GIGS.
(DIRECTOR OFFICER FOR UNICEF)
~~~~~

OK...now, UNICEF is a huge organization run by the United Nations. They have plenty of people in every member nation to do their work for them. I would wager that they have people lined up out the door who would dearly love to work for such an organization...they don't need to blind-solicit on the Internet.

Also, I would like to think that UNICEF would employ people with a better grasp of grammar and syntax than this letter displays. It's like these scammers make the errors on purpose to weed out the folks smart enough to catch them - if you've intelligence enough to recognize the letter is BS, then you've intelligence enough to know you're being phished.

Also, also...I'm fairly certain the the UN and any organization attached to it would consider me the last person they'd want working for them, given my attitude about that pack of thieves, liars, and just plain jackasses fine group of folks and their good work.

It was bad enough when it was just that stupid "Help me smuggle funds out of whatever African nation I say I'm from" letter. Annoying when it was the "You've won a lottery from a random European nation despite the fact you've never been there, don't know anyone there, may not be able to find it on a map and never bought a ticket" letter. Irritating when it was "Hi, I'm a random American soldier you've never met or heard of and I found a bunch of cash in Baghdad and need help smuggling the loot out" letter. But now an international children's relief organization? There's a special place in the negative afterlife of your choice for you, Ms Gigs (or whoever you really are, you Internet-scamming, e-mail phishing, retirement-fund-thieving rat-bastard). I've got your "trust" right here...

In case you're interested:

The real UNICEF, including actual employment opportunities.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

So...Yeah.

This song has been stuck in my head lately. I think it's because of some conversations swirling around in my life with several folks about being who we are, being honest, being "allowed" to simply be ourselves without pretense, without putting on our masks. It sort of falls in with the concept of perfect love I wrote about last month.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Random Shots

I'm drawing a blank, so here are some random photos...a sort of Photofetti, if you will (and even if you won't). Today I'm taking the Evil Genius to have his picture taken with The Holly King/Santa. I am thinking about dressing him in shorts and a tropical print shirt, because why not? Is there some rule that says all pictures with the big guy have to be in Winter Garb??

Then I'm hangin' with mum for the rest of the day, spending the night at her place, and going to the gallery tomorrow. Try to contain your excitement.

On with the photos.
~~~~~

I made this card in September, to sell at the gallery. I try to get holiday cards made a bit early, to give them time to sell. Tomorrow, I'll be making Yule/Christmas cards. If they don't sell, guess what I'm mailing those Holly King/Santa pics off to my family in?? I hand cut all those bits of paper. Except the leaves - I borrowed a punch for those. Maybe if I'm no a complete slacker, I'll get some shots of the holiday ones. Try to contaian your excitement.

I got these crayons for three dollars at Borders - they were on sale for some reason. They're triangular and don't have paper wrappers on them. I like them.

This is my wheelbarrow, full of water because it's been sitting outside for over a year. Now I know where the mosquitoes were coming from all summer. I don't get around that side of the house much. It was supposed to be under the house in the crawl space, but never got put away despite assurances it would be. Not that I'm bitter or anything. Oh, well - it made for some pretty pictures, anyway. It's still there, quietly rusting...I'll deal with it when I get home tomorrow.
This bush...this bush glows in the Autumn, and I try to capture the way it takes sunlight, paints it crimson, and gives it back...and every year I fail. I keep trying, though.

Her highness approves of the basket of yarn oddments placed carefully in a window where there's plenty of sun. It's almost as if someone living here knows what cats like.

I think they're planning something...

A grey day outside my window, earlier this week.

Hello, little maple leaf...so bright, it caught my eye from across the yard. I like the contrast of the dark oak, with its veiny texture.

The Evil Genius preparing for a concert. Don't all rock stars keep their drumsticks down their shorts?? Never mind...don't answer that...

Friday, November 13, 2009

What Does It All Meme?

Yeah, yeah...

1. What is the color of your toothbrush? Blue and white.Picture snagged from randon Internet search
2. Name one person who made you smile today. Someone. He always makes me smile. And the Evil Genius...he's good for more than a few grins and giggles, too.

3. What were you doing at 8 am this morning? Wishing I was asleep.

4. What were you doing 45 minutes ago? Talking to Someone on the phone.

5. What is your favorite candy bar? Umm...I don't have one...I like most of them...which is why I had a fifty-acre ass.

6. Have you ever been to a strip club? Yes. Yes I have.

Picture snagged from randon Internet search.
7. What is the last thing you said aloud?
I love you.

8. What is your favorite ice cream? Hmm...I can narrow it down to Breyer's vanilla, coffee, peach, or strawberry, or Ben and Jerry's Phish Food.

9. What was the last thing you had to drink? Water.

10. Do you like your wallet? It's a little thin, but yes.

11. What was the last thing you ate? Green beans.

12. Have you bought any new clothing items this week? No. Not last week or the week before or last month or...umm...I can't remember the last time I bought clothing...I think it was earlier this year, though.

13. The last sporting event you watched? Umm...baseball in the driveway...
14. What is your favorite flavor of popcorn? Plain buttered.

15. Who is the last person you sent a text message to? I don't text.

16. Ever go camping? Many times.

17. Do you take vitamins daily? In fact, I do...

18. Do you go to church every Sunday? I'm pagan...I live in, on, around and surrounded by my church twenty-four, seven...
19. Do you have a tan? Nope.

20. Do you prefer Chinese food over pizza? I don't prefer one over the other...

21. Do you drink your soda with a straw? I don't drink soda.

22. What did your last text message say? Nothing. I don't text...

23. What are you doing tomorrow? More of the same - educating my son, cooking, cleaning, and maybe writing.

24. Favorite color? Blue.

25. Look to your left; what do you see? A lamp table, some books, a cup of water, my cell phone case, a box of Kleenex...

26. What color is your watch? I used to carry a pocket watch......that I adored, because it kept steadily erratic time, but it's not working just now, needs repair, so I'm not wearing a timepiece at the moment. My cellphone is the closest thing, and it's blue.

27. What do you think of when you hear “Australia”? I'd like to visit there some day.

28. Would you strip for money? I think it's more likely I'd be paid not to undress, or to put my clothing back on.

29. Do you go in a fast food place or just hit the drive thru? Usually I drive through, but I try not to hit it.

30. What is your favorite number? 13

31. Who’s the last person you talked to on the phone? Someone.

32. Any plans today? More of the same.

33. In how many states have you lived? Let's see - confusion, depression, chaos...oh, wait...you mean US states! Hmm...5.

34. Biggest annoyance right now? Car alarms, rude people, slamming doors, my inability to make a living with my art.

35. Last song listened to? Three Little Birds.

36. Can you say the alphabet backwards? Yes.

37. Do you have a maid service clean your house? I wish...I'm going to end up BEING the maid service for some folks if I don't sell a story or some photographs or a kidney...

38. Favorite pair of shoes you wear all the time? Forgive me, shoephiles (if that's not a word, it should be), for I have sinned...I love my Crocs. However, I would go back to wearing Tevas if they still made Teradactyls...

39. Are you jealous of anyone? Nope.

40. Is anyone jealous of you? Not that I know of...who would be, and why??

41. Do you love anyone? Oh...yes...yes, I do...

42. Do any of your friends have children? Yep, most of them do.

43. What do you usually do during the day? Educate my son, cook, clean, and sometimes write.

44. Do you hate anyone that you know right now? No. Hatred is a waste of emotion.

45. Do you use the word hello daily? Yes.

46. What color is your car? Red...

47. What size wedding ring do you wear? No longer married, no ring.

48. Are you thinking about someone right now? Why yes, I have Someone on my mind.

49. Have you ever been to Six Flags? Yep.

50. How did you get your worst scar? Head + Windscreen = Ouch

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thoughtfetti

I was baking brownies at ten-o'clock last night, because I suddenly needed to bake brownies. Don't ask me why. Who had the craving, huh?

I'm thinking of baking some bread and bringing it to my barista at Borders tonight. Just because.
~~~~~
I have a compost pile again. I tried to start one earlier in the year, but it fizzled - partly because something (or several somethings) was treating it like a buffet, and partly because when I was out of town, the compostables bowl in the kitchen didn't get emptied and I came home to a fuzzy alien mold colony and clouds of tiny flying fruit thingies, and after a couple of repeats I decided it wasn't worth the aggravation.

A couple of weeks ago, I did some yard work and Someone hauled all the tree and bush trimmings and pulled weeds to the pile...so now I'm adding to it again. I'd love to have a composter, but am fine with just tossing stuff in a pile and letting nature do what she's been doing for bazillions of years.
~~~~~
While I'm wishing for stuff...how about a few rain barrels?? I could fill a swimming pool with what we've been getting lately!
~~~~~
Two days of wind and rain have mulched my front steps and yard for me. I own a couple of rakes, but why bother? Unless I want to make a leaf pile for the Evil Genius to jump in, there's no reason to move the leaves. Anyway, I think they're pretty. Plus, I'm lazy, so there's that.