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







Monday, August 30, 2010

Meh-eh-eh-eh.

The following are a few of the many things I've learned while living with cats:

That noise in the middle of the night is probably something you didn't want them playing with being batted around the house.

It is probably something that will break or unravel.

Cats can hide the evidence the moment they hear your feet hitting the floor, and be long gone by the time you take your first step. They have mastered the "Who, me?" look.

That noise in the middle of the night is probably something you'd rather not step in being placed strategically where your foot can't miss it when you make your wee-hours bathroom stumble.

While kitty foot pads make for terrific acceleration, kitty claws are not as effective for braking on hard-surface floors. This can make for much amusement.

Until they crash into the bookcase at the end of the hall in an effort to bank off of it and into the bedroom without losing speed.

Getting stuck in a plastic grocery bag is only funny when you're not the one who's stuck (and trying to get unstuck by flying around the house at mach three).

Laser pointers are endlessly amusing.

Until one gets out the video camera with aspirations of YouTube fame.

The larger the house, the greater the number of potential secret repositories for all sorts of squishy things that one will usually find with one's hand while blindly groping for something entirely different.

Laundry baskets are the preferred methods for sharpening claws, despite the expensive, five level, five-foot high, carpeted kitty condo (with sisal rope wrapped around one leg and dangly! things! for swatting!) placed with great care in a sunny window. This is especially true if the contents of the basket will get snags and runs in them due to the talon sharpenings.

Laundry baskets with clean clothing in them are the preferred place to nap and/or shed copiously, and/or leave squishy gifts for the resident humans.

It is always a good idea to look carefully where one is stepping, unless one enjoys cleaning things out from between one's toes, or stepping on fur-covered, plastic mice or whatever hard, pointy things could be filched from the Little Boy's room and played with in the middle of the night.

Sleeping humans are the best place to promenade in the wee hours, especially their heads.

It is fun to curl up in a purring ball of contentment in the middle of a sleeping human's bed, forcing them to contort into pretzel shapes to avoid disturbing the kitty.

It is not amusing when the sleeping humans don't care about the sleeping kitty and feel free to thrash at will.

A fabric or yarn project in the lap is an invitation to leap up and begin making kitty-biscuits (or plucking cotton, if you prefer). It does not matter if said project is still in the working-on phase and not in the feline-ready phase.

One should never ignore an invitation. It's rude.

One should not look too closely into the communal water cup.

What do you mean, it's not communal?

Of course cats belong on the kitchen counter. Why else would you keep the butter there?

Meh-eh-eh-eh means "I love you", or "I desire to dine upon that moth fluttering about the light" or "I have left you a gift in the hall" or "I've decided that your stomach wants kneading, and have you seen how lovely and sharp my claws are?" or "You have trimmed my claws. Revenge will be forthcoming" or "Have you seen that half-masticated pizza crust I left on the kitchen floor?" or "I shall now regurgitate the houseplant I ate earlier, as I find it no longer pleases me" or "I adore you, but I adore this piece of lint more at the moment, so please go away" or any number of things...but it almost never means "I have captured a Leprechaun and forced him to hand over his gold (despite Leprechauns actually being the cobblers of the Wee Folk world and not treasurers as some folks would have it)(cats are so picky about mythology!) and am now triumphantly handing said treasure over to you so that you may purchase kitty treats, catnip, and soft, fuzzy places for me to nap. You are welcome."

What have y'all learned from your furry little roomies??
~~~~~
Mum's on a cruise and has asked me to post the Bourdain link where she can easily find it so she doesn't have to mortgage her left kidney to pay for shipboard Internet service...so here it is: ...:Read my Medium Raw challenge essay: It's not always about the ingredients, is it?
Feel free to ignore it, or go vote if you like...meh-eh-eh-eh...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sew What?

Yesterday was a lovely break from reality - a day spent in the pool, or beside it, chatting with friends and eating good food while the kids (and a few grown-ups) splashed and played to their hearts' content.

Today, however, it's time to get busy again.

I'm doing some sewing for a friend - she sells costuming at sci-fi and fantasy conventions and other shows, and there's a big one coming up next weekend. Dragon Con. It's in downtown Atlanta, it's huge, and I've always had fun there (I'll be helping out in the booth this year as well). I am especially fond of the Storm Troopers (they invest a LOT in their garb). They're awfully cute, and I'm often offering to fetch a can opener or nut cracker to help them out of their costumes.

The Klingons are fun, too...but don't piss off the Keeper of the Sausage!

Anyway, I'm currently learning to sew cloaks. There's no pattern in any traditional sense...she tells me what to do, I sketch it in my little notebook and write out the steps, and then when I get home I panic because I think I've forgotten something so I call her and ask questions until I feel better about (ulp) cutting and sewing.

The material I'm working with is pane (pronounced puhnay). It is beautiful, drapes gloriously, comes in a variety of colors...and I hate it. it's slippery, stretchy, has a mind of its own (which doesn't often involve cooperating with the seamstress). I don't know how my friend works with it as much as she does - she makes the most amazing, slinky little dresses, skirts, and tops with it. She's trying to teach me the easier things so she can focus on the more complicated work.

The cloaks are simple enough to make...mostly straight lines using a straight or a zig-zag stitch. Until recently, my machine has never done anything but a straight stitch, because that's what I know how to use. The Singer and I are expanding our horizons.

I don't want to get these wrong - the fabric isn't cheap, and it isn't very forgiving of mistakes, and this show? This show is what has to get my friend through the Winter until the season starts again in the Spring...I don't want to be the reason she can't pay her mortgage. No pressure though...

It's been a family effort - Someone and the Evil Genius have both helped me measure, mark, pin, and cut where needed, and if all goes even moderately well today I should be able to finish all two-million (or maybe just a dozen or so) cloaks by the end of the day.

Wish me luck...

By the way - the contest is still on for publication and twenty grand. Do a gal a favor and go vote for her, huh? Puhleeeeeze???

This link should take you right to my thingy...I hope...:Read my Medium Raw challenge essay: It's not always about the ingredients, is it?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

La-la-la-lazy Day

No sewing today. No housekeeping. No gardening. No cooking.

At least not until this evening.

Nope.

The denizens of Casa de Crazy are taking themselves, some deviled eggs, a few beverages , some towels and swimmies (inflatable things that go on the Evil Genius's arms), and we're invading our friend Mizz B's place for a combination birthday/pool party.

For a few hours anyway, we will not worry about bills or what needs to get done around the house or why the lawnmower won't start (Again. Evil fairies.), or anything else besides floating, splashing, throwing water bombs, and having a good time with our friends.

What're y'all up to?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Out of the Blue

I had an interesting e-mail today.

"I thought you’d be interested to read and share with your readers this Guideposts story..."

Huh? Has this person read my blog? And, umm...isn't Guideposts a Christian magazine? Have they not noticed that I'm not only not Christian, I am very much pagan?

"...written by actress Glenn Close. She talks about her attempts to help remove the stigma from mental illnesses by talking openly about people affected by them as well as their families’ struggles..."

Oooohhh...

Yeah.

About that...

Seems being nuttier than a Claxton fruitcake gets a body noticed.

So I read the article, and Glen Close owes me a tissue. It's only fair, she made me cry.

See, the thing is...I've been about as open as I could be about my variety-plate of crazy. Not only do I not hide it, I crack jokes about it and try very hard to make some of my...erm...quirks...useful. Wait, you mean you don't think having an OCD housekeeper would be useful? Dang...

One of the thoughts I had while reading the piece (which isn't awfully long or preachy, contains some interesting facts and poses a few good questions about the social stigma of nuttery) was about treatment...about people who receive it successfully and people who don't.

I'm glad there are folks out there who benefit from medication and modern treatment options. I don't. Meds don't do anything for me besides take away that which I consider to be most me...my creativity. It seems that my own brand of crazy shares the wellspring with whatever artistry I can lay claim to (and some days, I have to admit, I can't claim much)(most days, in truth).

I also had the thought...what if I can't get better? What if I have become so wrapped up in these conditions that they're how I identify myself? What if I can't be anything but the me I am now? What if sometimes, the idea of not feeling this way is terrifying and leaves me feeling lost instead? How depressing. And yet...

I'm oddly lucky. I've had a lifetime of my conditions. I know when what I'm feeling is true, is real, and when it's a figment of misfiring neurons and chemistry gone awry. That doesn't change the hurt, confusion, or frustration that I frequently feel...but somehow, knowing the source help me. I know I can weather it, because I have weathered it since I was a child. It may beat me down, but I'm never entirely beaten.

Which doesn't make it any easier. And while I'm blessed with a host of wonderful friends and several family members who are patient, compassionate, and understanding about my weirdness, most folks aren't so lucky. There are plenty of people...probably a few in your own life (and here's a hint - if you can't find the crazy person in the room, find a mirror instead....it may be you) who are hiding what they're experiencing and trying very hard to paste a facade of normalcy onto their lives because they fear being outcast, shunned, or otherwise stigmatized.

I have long held that depression (and other psychological conditions, too) is like emotional cancer, eating a person alive, riddling them with its sickness. It's not always survivable. And unlike cancer, which has causes, which has walks and runs and pink ribbons and fundraisers and survivors and sufferers who share their triumphs and tragedies publicly, mental illness is still largely a secret, remaining hidden in the shadows. We're still burdened with not only our conditions, but with shame...shame for something we can't control any more than someone with MS or Parkinson's can control their illnesses.

I applaud Ms. Close and her efforts to help open the doors and windows of the house of crazy, to let in light and air and stir the cobwebs and dust out of the corners. I wish her well in her endeavors.

On bad days, yeah, I struggle to breathe, to keep on moving forward on my life's path...I feel sorrow and pain and am ashamed because I am a burden, worthless, useless, pointless...

On my better days, I don't suffer from insanity...I enjoy every minute of it.

Either way, I've never been one to shut up about it...because it's part of who I am, part of how I live my life, like missing a finger or having a stutter, or tasting the color orange...as much a part of me as anything else.

So if you didn't click the link (provided several time above), here's one more chance. And then, if you feel like it and haven't been bored to tears already, check out my own take on the crazies by looking at the variety plate.

Oh...and I may be crazy, but I also have a long memory. Next time Ms. Close and I are lunching (yeah, that'll happen), I hope she brings a hankie...or at least one of those little pocket packs of Kleenex...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Quickie

I've just finished making waffles for myself and the sleepy-heads. I would have waited until they're up, but it's a sleep-in kind of day and I have to head down to a friend's place to help her sew - she sells costuming and clothing at conventions and shows all over the country, and in two weeks is one of her biggest shows. She needs lots of stock!

Anyway, I have a few nebulous ideas for posts, but haven't had time to write 'em up. Sigh.

Desktop Bob, the big computer, is back to work. We had to re-set it to factory settings, but luckily there wasn't much on there but the original programs and Someone's videos and photos (which we backed up onto a portable hard-drive)(I love my passport drive!!), so we haven't lost anything but the time it will take to reload a program or two and whatever pics that are needed at the moment.

It was a problem with Internut Exploder.

I think I hear another waffle calling me - I hope y'all have a good 'un!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Modem Operendi

Or perhaps it should be "Modem Non-Operendi".

The modem on Desktop Bob, the big computer, is being...fractious.

Friday night, it simply quit. One moment, Someone was online wreaking havoc in the worlds of vampires and the Mafia, the next? Nothing. Nada. Screen freeze, then complete inability to connect to the Blue Nowhere.

Now every time we try to log on with Desktop Bob, the big computer, we are told that something or other cannot receive something or other else. As far as I can tell, it's trying to say the the Internet won't talk to Desktop Bob, the big computer, or perhaps Desktop Bob, the big computer won't talk to the Internet, or it may be a mutual snubbing.

In addition, I can't seem to convince Desktop Bob, the big computer, that he even has a modem. I may be doing it wrong, but when I ask him (nicely, too, without even a single threat of magnets or firearms to encourage him) to seek out his modem he contemplates his navel for a while them comes back and says he doesn't have one and would I like to install one? When I say yes, yes I would, he offers me installation options that may as well be in Esperanto for all I can comprehend them.

Yesterday a program popped up telling us we had more viruses in storage than the CDC, asking would we like to scan. Sure, why not? It listed a number of rather scary looking bugs it supposedly found on the hard drive, the offered to eradicate them. Score! Desktop Bob, the big computer, would soon be adrift in the Blue Nowhere again!

Umm...or not...

See, as soon as we clicked on the "clean up this plague riddled computer" button, we were taken to a website selling the clean-up service...for a lot of dough. Casa de Crazy is rather short on dough of the spending kind right now, although we can produce bread dough a-plenty on fairly short notice. I found it interesting that we couldn't get online in any other way except to this site trying to sell us stuff.

Today, I dinked around with poor Desktop Bob, the big computer, and discovered that although I had let our McAfee lapse (because remember that thing about dough?), it was still willing to do a scan and tell us what bugaboos we had that were born prior to the last update.

A long while later Desktop Bob, the big computer, was feeling thoroughly examined and McAfee reported...erm...nothing.

Well...shite...

Nothing else is malfunctioning...just our ability to get Someone into the Blue Nowhere via Desktop Bob, the big computer...and I'm at a loss.

Could the modem have simply given up the ghost? Is it an interface problem? Why does Desktop Bob, the big computer, think he's connected via our home network, yet won't let us online? Why does it tell us "Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage"? And when we click to diagnose the problem, why does it say "The remote device or server won't accept the connection"? Why does this sort of thing always happen to electronic devices in my employ? And why can't I win the lottery and hire a live-in geek to fix these things for me when they inevitably happen??

For now, Someone has to share Bob the Wonder Computer with me. Bob the Wonder Computer is feeling old, slow, and cranky and has a touchpad mouse that thwarts Someone's attempts to caress cooperation out of it, but the wireless modem is working fine...for now...

Don't even get me started on how the Evil Genius feels about all of this...I'm surprised they can't hear the howls up on the International Space Station!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Still A Sprout

We went to the neonatologist's today - nothing special, just a regular visit (I have to go because I'm considered high-risk). We were hoping to find out what flavor we're having, but the baby - typical of one of us - was not cooperating, maintaining the absolute worst position is could be in for determining sex. Sigh. The doc said all he could tell us is that there's a baby in there, and it has a perfectly lovely heartbeat...and it weighs five ounces, which can't be right because the scale says I've put on much more than that and clearly I am having Gigantor the Mega Baby. He did say he should be able to see better next month, so we'll just have to wait to find out if it's a bud or a chick pea. Double sigh.

I know I haven't been posting much of late. While I could blame Facebook and its attendant distractions, the truth is I haven't had much writing in me. I've been stressing about the usual things, and the unusual things, and generally not feeling awfully creative. As soon as I win the lottery, I'm sure I'll be back to my old self...only on a new computer (Bob's feeling his age, poor thing) in a motor home, touring the country and making surprise visits to my as-yet-online-only friends (without warning, because why give them time to run??). Meanwhile, the two or three of you (bless your hearts) who still read...thanks for hangin' in there!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bra, Bra, Bra, Yackety, Schmackety

This post was inspired by a post over at The QC Report. She is brilliant and funny and has no idea I exist. This post is an expanded version of my comment on her post about the Bad Bra.
~~~~~
I have one bra. Yes, one. It is a perfectly nice bra. I don't wear it. It was purchased in a fit of optimism one day when I thought I might lose enough weight to finally fit into a bra. You see, I am rather on the plus size of the weight issue, but am not blessed in the bazooms...unlike most of the other well-padded women I know who could carry books on their shelves. No one makes a bra that fits someone big around but tiny in the cup. So I lost some weight and thought maybe I'd lose some more and be able to fit into this perfectly nice bra. Alas, it still does not fit, and so I am braless for the duration.

I am usually content with this braless life (most of the time no one even notices my lack of over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder, I can run without needing a truss or fearing injury, I don't have as much to fear from the dreaded boob-sweats, they don't migrate into my armpits when I'm sleeping, and I need less soap in the shower), but every now and then I think it might be nice if I could look toward an elderhood wherein I don't have to worry about kneeling on my nipples. Even my tiny ta-tas will droop. In fact, I know they're not as...erm...perky...as they once were, and they display an alarming penchant for gazing forlornly downward at my feet rather than alertly out at the world as they once did.

When I was pregnant with the Evil Genius, I had high hopes that the Boob Fairy would come calling and present me with one of the badges of motherhood - breasticles! She must not have gotten the memo, though, because my wee ones remained anything but plus in size and even refused to function for my poor little guy, who had to be content with formula and longing glances at other, functioning, racks-of-mom.

While I'm told every pregnancy is different and things may change this time, I'm not holding my breath or buying a bra...heck even if they double or triple in size, my mazulagalagawangas won't need a supporting cast...an ace bandage will do just fine!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Why Politicians Should Stop Calling Casa de Crazy

The caller was polite enough, and human for a change.

Lately, it has been computers, auto-dialing and playing pre-recorded messages touting one candidate over another in the coming elections.

I was so surprised to hear a human voice, I interrupted him to remark on it - "Holy carp, an actual human!!"

He chuckled, understanding my surprise.

He asked if his candidate could count on my vote.
~~~~~
Here begins a small flight of fancy (wherein I may use a naughty word or three...).

"What's it worth to you?"

"I beg your pardon?"

"My vote...what's it worth? Ten grand?"

"Are you offering to sell your vote?"

"Yep. What's it worth?"

"You disgust me! You don't deserve your freedom..."

"Can it. First of all, my family's finances are in the shitter thanks to people like your candidate, who bother us day and night with phone calls soliciting votes, recordings so full of hot air they make the AC kick on. There's not a single politician in this country that I'd trust any farther than I could throw a bag of fertilizer, which is the end result of all that bullshit they spew anyway. They're all liars, thieves, and cheats, out to serve themselves, and will say whatever it takes to get into office where they will seek only to serve themselves.

Secondly, I'm not sure it makes any difference who I vote for, the result will be the same - another asshole in office who doesn't give a plugged nickel for the people who voted for him, some jerk who's out to serve his own interests and the lobbyists who paid to put him there. So I may as well get something for my trouble.

Third, the people of this nation have been bled dry by people like your candidate, fed on empty promises, their hopes and dreams ground into bitter dust beneath the feet of politicians who swear oaths of service and are forsworn before their words have settled into memory. I foresee a time when the people of this nation will say "Enough!" and send all the politicians packing. We've reached the breaking point; we can't bear another tax, another stupid law, another self-aggrandizing gas-bag explaining why it's so important to waste the dollars squeezed from us on another frivolous, useless personal project that we can plainly see is meant only to distract us. We're fed an unending diet of cell phones, mindless games, movies, television shows, radio talk shows, social networks, manufactured wars and news stories, and blogs meant to set us against each other and keep us from noticing how we're being raked over the coals. It's bread and circuses, though, and we've come the the end of our patience with this diet of hot air.

So yes, I'll sell my vote for cash to the highest bidder and laugh my ass off when he's crushed with the rest of the vermin when we roll over Washington and reclaim what was once our birthright - our freedom, the very freedom you say I don't deserve, but has in fact been whittled and chipped away into nonexistence by unscrupulous men like your precious candidate who use words like "god" and "freedom" while laughing out the sides of their mouths, and which I will see restored to myself, my family, and my nation."

Here ends the flight of fancy.
~~~~~
In reality, I told the polite fellow I wasn't sure who I would vote for. He offered to answer any questions I may have about his candidate.

I asked how he felt about home schooling. He supports it, as well as reform within the educational system.

I asked how he stood on legalizing marijuana (at least for medical use). He's against it.

I thought about asking how the candidate felt about the recently proposed amendment to the Georgia constitution that would define a person's right to life as beginning at inception and ending in their natural death, and how that proposed amendment will impact Georgia's death penalty (because last time I checked, death by lethal injection, electric chair, hanging , firing squad, a steady diet of reality TV, or whatever method they use these days, do not count as "natural" in any sense of the word), not to mention how such an amendment would impact a woman's right to life if the foetus she's carrying could be the death of her (rare, yes, but it does happen...and I continue to hope I won't have to make the rather horrifying choice between having a baby and dying, or not having a baby and living with the choices I've made), but then I decided to give the poor man a break...he was just some poor schlubb volunteer and didn't deserve a dose of my irritation at the constant interruptions these phone calls bring my life, nor would he have an answer for my current disillusionment and sense of futility towards our political system and the people who frolic within it.

I think he was happy to end the call.

And I still don't know who I'll vote for...nor am I certain it will even make a difference. I have had a few mad moments when I considered just letting the Evil Genius push random buttons - these days, I feel as though it'd be much of a muchness.

So tell me - if you've made it this far - do you still believe in our system? Or are you laboring under the weight of this ennui that has gripped so many of us of late?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Day for Poetry

Relax, I didn't write it!

Someone and I were discussing poetry for a while today - something I said reminded him of a Frost poem, and nothing would do but he had to look it up and read it. We debated a while the deeper meanings of the words after exploring the surface for a bit.

This led me to think of a poem that I love by John Donne. I am fond of many of his pieces, and I will admit that my current favourite of his became so because of a movie. If you haven't seen it, Wit is a stunner, although it's a bit slow in the action department and is guaranteed to make me cry every time. Throughout, there is a dissection of the Donne poem - Death Be Not Proud, or the Tenth Holy Sonnet.

As I had the poem on my mind, I thought I'd share it:

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so ;
For those, whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy picture[s] be,
Much pleasure, then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou'rt slave to Fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well,
And better than thy stroke ; why swell'st thou then ?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And Death shall be no more ; Death, thou shalt die.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

If Only

AOL (yes, yes, I know some wits call it AOHell, but I happen to love my long-established AOL account) has a sign-on feature that often strikes the thought "If only..."

Down at the bottm of the sign-on screen is a little toggle box that says "Make me invisible at sign in".

Huh.

Sometimes I wish it translated into real life.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Half Baked

Well...not really half baked...more like completely baked and a bit over the edge...but the house smells marvelous and I'm sending baked goodies home with friends and their kids so my arse doesn't grow pregnant along with the rest of me.

Banana bread had been eaten by the ton:
And the white and whole wheat breads didn't stand a chance:
I consider this Lammas a success.

I Found My Thrill...

...on Blueberry Muffin Hill...
La, la, la...
Two batches of blueberry muffins down, and I'm baking banana bread as I type (because I have mad skillz like that, yo). Next up? White bread, wheat bread, and maybe soda bread. It's Lammas, y'all, and baking is how I roll (hah!) on Lammas, yo.
Lucky for my arse, I never seem to have trouble finding homes for all these baked goods...

Country Gravy

For Bret...

Ok, sugar, you asked for it.

First, save all manner of bacon grease. You will need it for things like country gravy. I didn't say this was a healthy recipe. Bacon grease in a glass jar will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator. If it goes off, you'll know.

So, for gravy:

Melt a couple of spoonsful of bacon grease in a skillet, or even better, a cast iron pan, over medium heat. If you've been cooking meat like pork chops, steak, or sausage, just use the pan drippings, but this recipe is for when you don't have that delectable stuff on hand.

Throw in a little butter for good measure, maybe equal to the amount of grease. If you have no bacon grease, too bad - no gravy for you! Kidding...you can just use butter, but it won't be quite as marvelous.

Yes, yes, I can feel your arteries hardening, too.

Season with plenty of salt and pepper. Don't get fancy here. You can safely add a bit of garlic powder and onion powder, though...I like 'em.

Whisk in some flour. You want a very thick paste to form.

Now for the fun. What makes this a country, or white, gravy is the liquid - milk. Yes, milk. Preferably whole milk.

Pour in a little at a time and whisk thoroughly. It's fun to watch the rue (that's what that paste was) expand with the liquid. You want to constantly whisk, here, or you'll get lumps.

Keep adding milk until the gravy is a little thinner than you'd like. Keep whisking and let it come to a simmer. If it gets too thick, you can add more milk or thin it with a little water, but always, always keep whisking. Yes, this is a little labor intensive, but you don't want lumpy or broken gravy...those are among life's great culinary tragedies!

Once it comes to a simmer, turn off the heat and give it a little taste. Add seasoning as you see fit. I almost always need to add a little more salt to mine.

You notice there are no measurements? That's because gravies of all sorts defy measurement - they're an art, a skill that requires patience, effort, and more than a little willingness to fail spectacularly until you get it right. They're also easier than pie. No, really...I can make all kinds of gravies, but still can't manage pie crust. Thank goodness for Pillsbury!

This gravy won't be white like store-bought stuff...but it'll taste worlds better! Also, don't worry if it looks like you've made too much. There is no such thing as too much gravy. No. Such. Thing.

Abundanza, or some junk!!

Lammas

Happy Lammas, y'all!

Wait, you don't know what Lammas is?

Well, you've come to the right place!

Loaf Mass, it was called long ago, a day to celebrate the first of the grain harvested and ground to flour. It's a day for baking, for sharing the bounty of the field with family and friends, for celebrating the hope of a Winter without starvation and the renewing of the cycle in the Spring.

Sharing bread is old, a tradition rooted back beyond religion to something so primal it didn't even have a name. Bread is life. Bread is a blessing. The wedding cake we have today began as loaves that were broken and crumbled over the bride's head for luck and fortune, fertility and abundance.

When you greet new neighbors, if you follow old traditions, you bring them bread or some other baked good. Houses aren't warmed until bread has been baked, or at least served in them. There are bread traditions in almost every faith.

One of the oldest forms of hospitality is to offer bread and salt - representatives of the elements, the sacred things. To offer them is to offer a place in the home to one's guest, to make them welcome like family, to offer not just food and hearth, but protection as well. To accept them is to promise not to break the peace of the home, to honor the family, the traditions, to do no harm.

Lammas, Loaf Mass, a day to bake, to break bread with friends and celebrate the wonder of grain and all its goodness.

It's also a day for beer and ale, if you're into those sorts of things.

Celebrate the harvest with me today. Take a bite of toast, or a sweet, tart, crisp apple, or a sun-warmed tomato fresh from the vine, or anything that smacks of "harvest", and savor it. The taste, the texture, the hours of sunlight and gallons of rain that went into the making of it. Taste of the wind and the earth, as well. Whatever you've planted, I hope it comes to fruition and will sustain you through leaner times, as the grain from the field carries us all through Winter.

Blessed be, y'all, and happy Lammas.