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

Monday, October 31, 2011

Samhain

Partial reprint with some new stuff mixed in, just to keep you on your toes.
~~~~~
Samhain. All Hallows Eve. Hallowe'en. Halloween.

While little (and not so little) people are out extorting candy from strangers (On the one night a year Mum and Dad aren't telling them NOT to take candy from strangers, and isn't that a mixed message?)(And if you don't think it's extortion, think about it - "Give me a treat or I'll play a prank on you" is exactly that - extortion), more than a few pagans are spending the evening in an entirely different fashion.

Samhain (pronounced "sawin") is sometimes called the Witches' New Year. It's thought to be the time of year when the veil between the worlds is thinnest, and so best suited for speaking with our dead, with those who passed on in the previous year.

On Samhain, our living God dies, and until he is born again on Yule the Goddess and all the world mourns him. Poor Goddess, carrying her child alone for the next two months - throughout eternity she must suffer this loss before she can know her joy once more. Don't worry if you don't get it - it's a cyclic thing, a nature thing, and a deeply, weirdly Pagan thing.

Some will have large meetings, solemnly chant and circle the fire, call upon the gods of old. Some will dance wildly around bonfires, drumming, singing, shrieking, leaping the flames, looking for all the world like the imps and devils we were once purported to be. Some will just hand out candy and let the night pass, and some will put out the lights, draw the blinds, and pretend not to be home. A few (Pagan and non) will look for and find trouble. Many will feast, drink, and hold the dumb supper - the meal placed out for the those who've gone through the veil - whether alone or in numbers. These days, none who are truly Pagan will sacrifice anything more than a glass of wine and/or a plate of food to the fire, the earth, the old gods.

This year it's just us Casa de Crazians. T will come get Bird after the boy makes the rounds in this neighborhood, and they'll go raid another neighborhood or two. We've carved pumpkins, one for each of us.

Of course we'll roast the pumpkin seeds because I adore them.

At dusk, we'll light the jack-o-lanterns and take the kids (or the kid, anyway) out for their bit of begging. If the night is fine, we may fire up the outdoor fireplace and sit out on the drive reminiscing about the past, about family and friends long gone but not forgotten. I may or may not mull some cider and have some cups to ladle out portions for the adults trailing the kids who will start coming around soon. Heh - come and drink my Witch's Brew - you won't fly or turn into a newt, but it'll take the chill off. I may or may not have a bit of whisky or rum to add medicinal value to the drink.

I will make a special dinner for Samhain night. I don't have anything traditional - this year it's spaghetti and meatballs, salad, and garlic bread. I try to make something that my ancestors or anyone I've lost in the previous year would like to eat. The first portion of each item is carefully plated and placed at the head of the table or on the altar. A bit of whatever's to drink will be placed with the laden plate).

Later tonight, after we've eaten, handed out candy, taken the kids out for some socially sanctioned begging, we'll take food and drink down to the woods and leave the contents for our ancestors. We may or may not name them. We may or may not sing a song for them. We will honor them, wish them well, and remember. We will ask their blessing in the coming year. It will be short, but heartfelt - we don't need a lot of ritual, these days, just a few quiet minutes with our Gods.

It's an odd hodgepodge of a night - some modern traditions that were founded in the old, and some straight from the days (and nights) when our people could be openly themselves, could worship the gods of field and wood, river and rock, without fear of censure or death.

Blessed be those who have gone before; blessed be those who live now; blessed be those who will follow after. The wheel turns once more, and blessed are we who turn with it. Blessed be.

This year, I celebrate: two years year ago, Someone made his first visit to Casa de Crazy, began the process of coming Home.

This year I honor: my friend Lo, who passed through the veil last November, and my friend Jenny, his wife, who passed through the veil this past June on the day we were to honor Lo and place his ashes; my grandfather, who passed many years ago but whom I still miss.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Shaving the Stove

I? Am sore. My arms ache, my elbows tingle when I straighten my arms up, my wrists are creaking, and my hands are alternately cramping, burning, and throbbing. My poor fingers...they may never be the same.

It's all because of shaving the stove.

Gripping a razor blade can play hell on the fingers, even when it's not a double-edged blade. After a while, it plain hurts, especially with the constant pressure and scraping. Shaving a stove requires a little brute strength.

Yes, I said "shaving the stove".

If you have been reading for any length of time, you know that this past Spring we had a tragic death here at Casa de Crazy - the drop-in stove/oven appliance gave its last gasp just as I was attempting to bake some brownies. After I drove like a loony to K2's house to borrow her oven, I had to figure out how the hell we were going to cook stuff here at the Casa.

Mum heroically offered to buy a new one, but that didn't sit right - we had a stove/oven in the garage acting as a shelf, one Someone earned with sweat equity when he helped K2' family move into their new digs. A perfectly nice ceramic top, in fact. Why couldn't we use that?

Well, because it was a slide-in, not a drop-in, and those are two different critters.

Luckily we had a friend (Handy Joe) who sweat, bled a little, finagled some wiring and a saw, and got her done.

The stove was a used one, but in fairly good nick...it just had some...er...schmutz around the two left burners. A bit of elbow grease would deal with that. Or would it?

Apparently, not so much.

For months, I have waged war on the stove top, scrubbing until I hurt, and the schmutz remained undaunted, unimpressed, and un-removed.

I remembered, finally, that Mum had a ceramic top stove, and she had a razor thingy with which she scraped it from time to time.

I have no razor thingy, but thanks to the card-making and photo-mounting I do, I have razor blades.

I grabbed one and set to, and wouldn't you know it? The schmutz came off. It came off in large, cone-shaped curls. It came off in powdery poofs. It came off as crispy flakes. It came off!

I spent a fair bit of time yesterday shaving the stove, and it is almost done.

As soon as I can feel my fingers again, I'm going to finish the job.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thoughtfetti

Someone was gone for nine days. I didn't get a lot done because one parent, two kids? not conducive to online productivity.
~~~~~
Sprout has a tooth, in case I haven't mentioned. Just one, but it's a mighty tooth.
~~~~~
I am doing battle with a raging case of the beiges. Since it hasn't managed to off me yet, I am winning. Baby love and Little Dude love are good stuff and help immensely.
~~~~~
AT&T charges an extra fee for paying at the store with cash. Using a credit card is free. I call bullshit!
~~~~~
I owe the bank a pantload of money (made a mistake, got overdrawn, whoopsie) so I have to use cash until I can pay back what I owe in fees and whatnot. Guess I'll have to suck up AT&T's little love bite. Sigh.
~~~~~
Sprout refuses to eat baby food. Baby food is for chumps with no tooth, she claims. She has a tooth, therefor she demands steak and lobster tail...or at least chunks of stuff she can pick up her own self. Corned been, loaded potato soup, helpless fruits and veggies that didn't flee fast enough...all fodder for the Mighty Toof!
~~~~~
There's been some bullying going on in the neighborhood. Little Dude is the prime target. The parents and I are working on it...peacefully. Little Dude is philosophical about it all, mostly, I think, because I am backing him all the way and he sees me working with the parents of the other boy. We'll see how this goes...I'm hoping for a positive outcome.
~~~~~
Spout has also decided that napping is for chumps. Sigh. I'm trying to convince her otherwise. Losing battle.
~~~~~
What's happening in your world?

Monday, October 24, 2011

It's Not Exactly In the Oxford Unabridged, Now, Is It?

Got this from a friend:

Ineptocracy(in-ep-toc�-ra-cy) - a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

Whatcha think?

Monday, October 17, 2011

But I'm Perfectly Me

I yelled at the baby last night. She was fussing and struggling, tired and fighting sleep, whining and making that half-cry of hers that just drives to the center of my brain, so I yelled at her. She stopped, stilled, stared at me with huge, wet eyes, and then her face crumpled up and she cried in earnest, fat tears rolling down her cheeks and onto my shirt.

Eventually I rocked her to sleep, and wondered what the hell was wrong with me that I would yell at a baby.

Yeah, I'm tired. Yeah, I'm stressed. Yeah, I'm struggling. Yeah, I haven't slept well the last couple of nights. Yeah, I have been a single parent since last Thursday morning (last Monday if you figure Someone was busy packing and getting ready for his trip), and yeah, I have been trying to catch up with housework that has been left undone for far too long (and is easier to do when no one else is home, like mopping the floors).

So what?

She's a baby. She laughs, she cries, she occasionally shrieks with fury or delight. She can't tell me she's hungry, or uncomfortable, or tired; it's a guessing game. She resents falling asleep. She fights it until the last moment, struggling until she drops off, suddenly limp and warm against me, and that's some of the best stuff right there.

So I yelled at her.

And I felt like crap for it, and cried right along with her.

I held her while she slept that deep, profound sleep that only babies know, and reminded myself that she will not remember, that she will not be scarred for life. When she woke up at three in the morning and wouldn't let me put her down, I carried her into my room and let her cuddle up to me until she dozed off and then woke again at eight. Much of that time, I was only half asleep, aware of the little girl next to me, aware of her breath on my neck, aware of her soft little sighs, aware of her warmth and weight...aware, and grateful.

I do my best, and I am so very aware of how often it is barely, or not quite, enough.

My poor kids...I'm not perfect...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Black and White Soup

Back when I was single and had spending money, I would occasionally have a meal at The Bridgetown Grill. My favorite thing on the menu was their Black and White Soup, a combination of black bean and white cheese soups, served in a single bowl. They would make a Yin-Yang pattern out of the soups and add a dollop of sour cream topped with a sprinkle of fresh salsa.

I haven't had it in a while, and I've missed it. Lately, it's been on my mind, so I finally decided to have a bash at replicating it at home.

It's not exactly the same, and there's some tweaking to do, but I do believe I have the gist of it. Someone liked it three bowl's worth, anyway!

Want to try it? Okay.


The players:

Black Bean Soup

1 pound dry black beans, soaked overnight
4 teaspoons diced jalapeno peppers
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Drain black beans, and rinse.

Combine beans, jalapenos, and chicken broth in a slow cooker. Season with garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, pepper, and hot pepper sauce.

Cook on High for 4 hours. Reduce heat to Low, and continue cooking for 2 hours, or until you are ready to eat. For black and white soup, blend before serving. I wish I had an immersion blender for this; the regular blender worked fine, but it was more to wash up.

White Cheddar Cheese Soup

1/4 cup butter
1 cup onion, diced small
1/2 cup celery, diced small
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
1-1/2 cups whole milk
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
4 cups good quality sharp, white Cheddar cheese, grated (12 oz.)

Sauté onion and celery in butter in a large pot over medium-low heat.

Cook for 10 minutes; add garlic and sauté 1 minute more.

Stir in flour, dry mustard, salt and white pepper. Stir constantly for 2 minutes to prevent scorching.

Whisk in wine; the mixture will be thick..

Whisk in broth, milk and cream, scraping the bottom of the pot. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Continue stirring until cheese is completely melted.

Ladle equal parts of each soup into a bowl. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a bit of salsa. Yum!

Unless you serve this at a party or have a large, soup-hungry family, you may have a lot of leftovers. I imagine if you blend the two together, it will freeze just fine.

Let me know if your try it, and how it turns out for you!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Aural Stimulation

I am far too busy to blog, really. There's the laundry (always the laundry) and the dishes (so many dishes) and the groceries and cooking to take care of for Someone's looming journey to our spiritual home in Ohio. There's flooring to clean, and there are cat boxes to clean, and counters to clean, and if I'm naming things I should clean but am slack about, there are a LOT of windows here at the Casa, and they would all like a good washing, thank you very much.

Instead I am blogging, because of sound.

Auditory input.

Beautiful noise.

Last night, it was the baby laughing. She was watching Maya climb the cat tree, and giggling at the kitty looking down at her from so high up. She loves to watch their tails swish, twitching back and forth, and her giggles rolls around the house and bumble into us from around corners, eliciting smiles as they go.

There was a light rain all yesterday afternoon and evening, getting heavier towards dawn. We've got windows open to let in the good, fresh air, and the soft, pattering whisper of the falling drops is pervasive, the pianissimo background song of Autumn.

There were coyotes singing last night. A few ridges away, over by the farm where the wild geese sometimes nest. There won't be any geese there now - our lot have flown to their fall nesting grounds and our winter lot have not yet arrived. The coyotes will run along the ridge lines, playing call-and-repeat until the wee hours. Last night was just singing. By their song, we can tell if they are playing, hunting, or have cornered their prey. Heralding Autumn this time, I should think, a few last choruses before high-tailing it to winter quarters.

The small breeze makes a counterpoint to the rain, causing the trees to shake their heads at this modern music - who can understand it? The leaves know what it all means, and they sigh and let go of their grip on what is, spinning and falling in graceful arcs towards what will be.

The Casa is humming - occasional heat flicking on, not cold enough for full-on rush, just enough to take the edge off early morning and late night.

More laughter as the Evil Genius dons his guise of Super Brother and distracts Sprout from parental absence - we're trying to get things done around here, a challenge when the baby wants company all the time. The Evil Genius likes to play with Sprout, and she adores her Big Brudder, and they laugh a lot as she scrambles to keep up with him with her crab-crawl.

The cacophony of her musical toys is silenced now, and the song of the Casa is down to the tapping of two keyboards and her soft breaths on my shoulder as she naps limp and warm in my arms.

How is your day sounding?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Thoughtfetti

We had a visitor over the weekend - Someone's mom came for a couple of days. It was good to see her again, and we had, overall, a nice time. I was not online much - novel!!
~~~~~
There's a chill in the air and the sky's a little grey - soup season!! I am attempting to mimic a soup recipe from a restaurant. I adore this soup, and hope it comes out reasonable. It's called Black and White Soup. If it isn't horrid, I will post a recipe.
~~~~~
Broken people have to work hard not to break the people around them. Sometimes it's exhausting. Two broken people trying to sort themselves out can make for some awfully hard days. Not-broken people have no idea, and while that can be annoying sometimes, it's just fine by me...there are enough broken people in the world...
~~~~~
Sprout ate broccoli for the first time yesterday. The results today are...erm...festive. Still, she loves her veggies. Heck, like both her parents, she loves just about everything we put in front of her. I hope she stays that way.
~~~~~
Why do we celebrate Columbus Day? He didn't discover the new world; there were already people living here. Shouldn't we be celebrating Migratory Indigenous Tribal Persons Day instead?? Or, if we're going to be excited about Europeans tromping about the globe, perhaps Lief Ericson Day? Oh, wait...that's today. Well...at least it's in the right order - Lief Ericson ran into North America before Columbus, it makes sense his day comes first
~~~~~
If grilled cheese isn't on the top-ten list of comfort foods, I don't know what's wrong with the world.
~~~~~
Casa de Crazy will be a wee bit less Crazy for a few days - Someone is heading to Ohio for a festival, a bit of camping with his girlfriend, and some quiet time in the woods. I'll miss him, but at the same time, it will be good for us both to have a bit of time when we're not all up in each other's business. The next few days will pack in the madness, though, because we have a lot to do to get him ready for the trip.
~~~~~
You know the season's turning cold - I am practically wearing the cats around the house. I can't sit or lie down without being nested on by at least three of them.
~~~~~
What's a ghost's favorite food? Halloweenies.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

And Miss Out On This??

I logged on to check e-mail and was smacked in the eye by some headlines.

First there was the woman who tried to sell her newborn for fifteen-grand o she could go to Disney with her other two kids. Oh, man, if I was Disney, she'd be banned for life.

Then the man who killed his pregnant wife.

And finally the guy who broke his girlfriend's baby's legs.

Y'all, sometimes I miss my time, sleeping in, independence, and sanity. Sometimes I get tired of the whining, crying, constant demands for my attention, laundry, and the smell of poop, pee, and other effluvia. Sometimes, I would give just about anything for some peace, to sleep late, eat something hot or cold rather than tepid. But if I had to trade in one of my children?

No way.

There's nothing on this Earth worth this*:

Or this**:

How 'bout you?

*I practically had to beg him to stand still for a picture. Suddenly he's camera shy. Oy.

**If you look carefully, you can almost see the vestiges of her tooth on the lower left center of her gums.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Underneath

"Thanks for your help. Is there anything you need? Anything I can do for you?"

"Nope, I'm good thanks." On the surface.

Or "Sure - I could use a half-million dollars or a winning lottery ticket I'm not picky."

Or "A clone could be useful."

But never "Yes, in fact, I could use my phone bill paid, or the trash bill, or even some nappies or cat food or toilet paper would be nice. Or a new mop head so I can clean my floor without having to use a sponge. I could also use some winter clothing for the kids, but I don't have the money for any of that right now."

And certianly not "Sure - I'd like it if I felt like someone, anyone, gave a crap about my dreams and actualy listened when I spoke of them, listened without wondering when I would shut up or they coul start telling me what they are thinking because I'm so very boring and really, who cares?"

And never "I need some time for myself, time when I know the children are looked after so I don't spend it worrying whether the children are looked after, time when I can write freely, time when I can just...breathe...without someone making a demand for my attention."

And not "I'm trying to figure out how to make sure the van's in good shape and there's money for Someone to take it to Ohio in two weeks."

And never "My computer is crapping out a little at a time and I can't repair or replace it, and my dvd player has frozen and I can't get it to turn on or eject the dvd in there, and every sink in the house has some kind of malfunction and so do all the tub drains. Also, the lights in the kitchen go through bulbs like the Evil Genius goes through gum and the downstairs fan makes the whole living room vibrate, and my camera is failing alongside the computer, and I can't get any of it repaired."

And never, ever "Lately I've been thinking it would be awfully nice if a truck crossed the center line and hit my van head on, as long a the kids aren't with me. I'd really like to think I have a life worth living, but while my external life is a good one and I know it, my internal self feels battered, bruised, and bleeding and I don't think it is ever going to heal and I'm tired, so tired, of the constant hurting."

No. No, better to say "I'm fine, thanks, have a good one" and leave the enquirer their illusions.

Whew

The race is over. I have no idea who won, or who even finished, or how many laps under yellow there were...but I can tell you within a few digits how many apples and bananas we went through, how many bratwursts and burgers, how many subs we put together, how many meals and drinks delivered, and how many tickets I signed away.

The tickets are my particular department - I sign in all of the volunteers workers (corner marshalls, timing and scoring, start, pit, and grid, tech, and race chair) and their guests. Each worker is given one guest pass, ostensibly so that a spouse or child over twelve can come watch. Not all the workers use their guest passes, so they usually let me give them to someone else who has more then one guest. I have to keep track of who's who, which can get complicated by Saturday.

In between registering, I made coffee, got breakfast out, helped with lunches and dinners, and tidies up the tent a bit. I had a lot of help, particularly from the Nut Brothers (one left nut, one right nut, both of 'em wing nuts) and Neal B. A lot of old friends were there, people I worked with back when I first started. It was good to see them, catch up, reminisce about friends who have passed away or gone away from racing.

I'm not a car gal, but the people? I love them, and will always do my best to make at least this one race as easy and enjoyable as possible for them.

Yesterday, there was no racing, just recovering from a long week. Sprout let me sleep until eight-thirty, which felt later because I've been getting up at five every morning. Speaking of Sprout, she cut her first tooth this week. It started showing under the gum on Wednesday, came through on Thursday. Now when she noms on my finger, it hurts - sharp toof!!

This morning, I gave her scrambled egg to eat along with the usual cereal and fruit. She ate the first bit of egg, blinked three times in slow succession, then grinned and grabbed for more. I told her when she has more teeth I'll make pancakes.

Someone had a nice time, too - a couple of times he came over and helped run the grill or fryer and get meals ready, and he got to watch some racing and meet some new friends. He heard a few old stories on Saturday night as the last handful of us, not ready for the event to be over, lingered in the tent sipping Laphroaig and taking turns telling tales and looking at old photos.

It was fun...ad I'm glad it's only once a year.

How was your week?