Monday, December 31, 2007

Mirth in the Morning

Ok, so when you wake up to THIS in the bed, there's just *no* rolling over and snoozing some more. You have to play.

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Help Us, Tony Dungy...

You're the Cleveland Browns' only hope...

I mean, seriously, dude! Make it a sporting game. Don't pull ALL your starters because you're afraid those big bad Titans will beat up your suddenly delicate little Colts (and since when are "Colts" supposed to run a thrill of fear down my spine??? Whose brilliant marketing plan was that?) before they get to have any post-season fun.

You've been dominant all season. Your starting Q is whoring himself all over every possible media selling everything but Tupperware -- easily twice the presence of LeBron. Heaven knows when Mr. Manning's got time to practice, but by his play, he must show up.

Play. Some. Damn. Foot. Ball.

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Less Mucousy, More Snuggly

As when I was recovering from my lumpectomy (wow, was it really 2 months ago?), my 2 faithful heating pads Cleopatra (dog at my ankle) and Bert (cat in my arm) are providing comfort. MOSTLY. When they aren't squabbling over who gets to be closest to me, or in which position, or stepping on each other. Otherwise, it's idyllic. Could be more so if I could breathe without hacking up a lung.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

The Mucus-Maker Speaks

Too sick to write today. ;-( <groan>

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Thursday, December 27, 2007


My brother *WRAPPED* our giftcard! Goofball. He makes me smile!

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007


I woke up with this in my chest.

'Nuff sed. >koff!< >koff!!!!< ~moan~

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Maligayang Pasko! how you say 'Merry Christmas' in Tagalog. That's one of the many languages of the Philippines, the country from which my father-in-law came. We Garcias make every effort to remember to say this to him, and the companion 'and a Happy New Year' phrase. Here it is in its entirety: Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon sa Inyong Lahat!

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Like The Down on a Thistle, or Something

It's Christmas Eve and we are heading down to the farm to celebrate with Rick's extended family. Right now it's very exciting, because we are drafting an Escalade pick-up!

(Am I the only one who thinks Cadillac has no biz making pick-up trucks? I mean, 'utility' and 'luxury' cancel each other out, right?)

He's going really fast and just PULLING our little VW along with his behemoth truck. Hey, it's helping *both* vehicles' gas mileage. Plus, Rick's having fun going 85 mph (130 kmph, more impressive sounding!) and faster (!!!!) without having his foot on the pedal! Merry Christmas, and pray we don't get caught!

Later addition: we didn't get caught. THIS time.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

I Bring Good Tidings...

...of great presents!

I made it, but the pattern is copyright Ana Maria Seaton, moderator for Art for Cures, a charity art group I participate in. She's a creative dynamo.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

He WANTS A Portrait

Iconic Bob. He's jealous of Laura's father for his portrait in her kitchen. I guess this means we're going to more of his bike races, to get the right shot! (Cuz this ain't it! *grin*)

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Christmas Party: Part CWRU, Part Garcia

Dead Bug Dance! This is Bob's specialty!

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Gravity stays on ALL weekend...

Today's the day the tree came down. Can't blame this on the dog! Cleo was in bed with us. Nope, this was AAAALLLLLLLL feline!

And this ornament? I found it well away from its origin on the tree in the living room. It was on the opposite end of the dining room, right by the corner between the dining room and breakfast nook, near the microwave. I was reheating last night's coffee. This ornament, along with the huge 'wormhole' in it, was what got me to look up at the tree in the first place.

No, I'm not in the habit of looking at the tree right away yet. I'll get there about the time to take it down. I also hadn't had my morning jolt of caffeine. With a shock like this, however, you find you can go quite a few minutes without coffee.

And the wormhole in the apple? I think we have very fuzzy worms.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Another thing I never knew I couldn't live without

Yesterday I parenthetically disclosed my Barbie fascination/collection. Today I learned of one I would love to add to my collection: "Muslim Barbie", called Fulla Doll.

No kidding. This is the real deal, produced in Syria for the Egyptian toy market by people fed up with their daughters emulating icons of other cultures.

Who can blame them? I certainly won't! Every child should have toys that reflect their features and values. I'm so happy there's a doll for them!

I will go on record right now that if some sick jerk issues "Satanic Sacrifice Barbie" or "Suicide Bomber Barbie", I'm not interested. Those are not values I validate -- like all kind and considerate people, I find them completely repellent. I guess I'm more prejudiced than I was previously prepared to admit... In this particular prejudice, I think I'm happy. "Here I stand, I can do no other."

Anyway, the Fulla Doll is wearing a full chador, head to wrists to ankles, and a bright friendly smile. Nothing unappealing about this doll! And like Western-style "Island Princess"-"Malibu"-"Happy Sunshine"-"(fill in whatever name here)" Barbie, there are other clothes and a whole story to go along with the doll. It satisfies the children and the parents.

I am a bit concerned that doll will be squashed by the the ultra-conservatives, who traditionally have taken a hard-line view of all things involving "graven images" (man-made representations of God or Mankind; only the Creator can Create). It is because of the commandments against such 'acts against the Creator' that the world has such works of breathtaking geometric delicacy in art as exhibited at the Alhambra in Granada, Spain and at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, among so very many others. The brilliance extended to calligraphy and textiles as well. Oppression very often leads to remarkable artistic expression.

Of course, the 20th Century exception to the commandment became the massive onslaught of paintings and photographs and side-of-buildings murals of ultra-conservative leaders, who apparently were willing to turn a blind eye to this blatant commandment-breaking in favor of narcissism. Unless they release an Ayatollah doll, I fear for the long term permission these fine children will have to play with these toys.

The funny twist is that it also seems to be taking a swipe at globalization. Clearly, it's not Mattel; nor is it made in China. It's a Middle East product for a Middle East market. The story as it was reported on PRI's The World (linked near the top of this post: "Muslim Barbie")also explained that other popular dolls, specifically Bratz dolls, are being priced (I got the impression, though it was not outright said, that it was deliberate) at four times the price of the Fulla Doll. So economics is also pushing the sale. It will be interesting to see where this is heading.

I definitely want one.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Feeling Aunt-sy

My two nieces could neither be more adorable nor more different, and for that I am most grateful.

Adelaide is girly and has been encouraged to embrace Barbie dolls. I'm not fond of little girls imprinting on those unattainable body types, but she's not my kid. As I said, she was encouraged in this pursuit, and I am happy to bring her happiness. She's got good parents who are very attentive: I'm not worried about her. Besides, someday she's going to rebel against type. That's when I'll be there, to teach her how to make a faux shrunken head necklace with any irreparably damaged dolls. That's what I did with some of mine. This past Halloween gave me the feeling she'll probably come to that on her own.

She's completely wonderful. For Halloween she ended up with an amazing idea for her costume. (She's 4 years old.) Originally she wanted to be a princess. But after a few weeks of thinking about it and seeing the costume (and we all know how looking at a thing wears it out...) of course she changed her mind. She decided she would rather be a monster. Wellllll, she thought about it a little longer, and came up with this great compromise: she would be a princess monster. Genius. I love it.

Full disclosure about the Barbies: I have a Barbie collection. Now. I started this collection as an adult. It came about because of the village in the Philippines that call me Tita Barbie ('nother story, 'nother time). But I also don't collect the stereotypical blonde Barbies: Diwali Barbie, Ilocano off-brand 'Barbie' from the Philippines (Ilocano is one of the many cultures in the Philippines, and happens to be the one my father-in-law belongs to), and on my list are the recently introduced Marvel and DC Comics character Barbies, like Harley Quinn and Mary Jane Watson. But I'm not in danger (anymore) of identifying with the waspy waist and enormous bust and permanently stiletto-toed body construction of these dolls. I rather like the diversity they show -- frankly, I'm overjoyed by it. And I've gotten over my eating disorders. (That's not a joke.)

Our other niece, Sarah, is showing musical aptitude like nobody's business. She's three and she'd been identifying every instrument in the orchestra by sound since before we saw her in July. I just can't wait to see what she will do with her talent!! She's quite a smart cookie, and very clever to go along with the intelligence. That's a handy combination! My heart breaks regularly because she lives so far away, and it's rare when we get to see her. My dad is in Atlanta right now spending a few days with them. I'm very jealous.

We try to spoil our special girls. Cleveland Niece is getting Island Princess Barbie with a bunch of accessories. I know she'll squeal! Atlanta Niece is getting a Casio keyboard -- it's one that's got slightly smaller keys for smaller hands and fingers. But it's not a toy keyboard, it'll grow with her. I hope she has fun, and doesn't drive Matt and Marianne too crazy!!

On top of those big things, there are books of stickers, they each get 2 Christmas books, and there's a bonus book this year. I believe you can never have enough books, let alone too many.

I love the giving part of Christmas.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

How Do YOU Turn This Phrase?

Pike or Pipe? What's it 'Coming down'? So far as our drunken research has found (we are at Bier Markt in Ohio City) both are correct. Any thoughts?

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Wow. This is the coolest thing.

Now I know how Sally Fields felt when she won her Oscar: "You like me, you really like me!!"

I just got "hired" (is it still "hired" when there's no money involved? I don't care. I'll still take it!) for a part of a technical editor position at an online 'zine/website called the AntiCraft.

It's an awesome site. Part Fiber Arts, part humor, part campy horror, and a good helping of goth wonderfulness; I love it. It's right up my alley.

I had to work quite hard to get the position, too, despite it being a non-paid position. But I'm ok with that. First of all, because the hoops I had to jump through were legitimate, and lent the website a major dose of credibility (if it hadn't already had it from other publications such as Craft, ReadyMade, and Whip Up, just to name a few, that have cited the AntiCraft -- I may be wrong about ReadyMade, but there are others that have this site cited that I can't remember right now), Secondly, but no less imperatively, this is my passion, I went to college for this!!! Finally, if it pays off somehow, it will pay off in karma or reputation points. I'm going to work towards that! You better believe it... THAT'S worth it!

Of course, that's all said without ever saying that anything worth working for is generally well worth the work. :-) Now, having said it, let me also say that I'm well satisfied.

I'm also very excited. It's a whole new chapter. Watch this space for more art.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Blade Runner: The Final Cut...

Some of Ridley Scott's finest cinematic hours have been tweaked, spit-shined, picked clean of lint, and are being reissued today. I have always admired the way he made the images of Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, 1968, leap off the pages. Casting was quirky and precicely right. Just marvelous eye candy. It all made me feel that I was truly there, in 2021, post-apocalyptic Earth, triaged among the masses too radiation-sick to depart for ('escape to', really) colonies on healthier planets.

If you haven't read the book, you must. This is one of those rare movies that actually followed the movie faithfully, and did so without rabid hordes of followers threatening to leave their parents' basements in a pasty-white, blubbery, blinking-in-the-sunlight rebellion to pressure the director and writer into submission waving dog-eared copies of (TITLES OMITTED, you -- we -- know who you -- we -- are.). Plus, it's classic Philip K. Dick. If you're into paranoid sci-fi, no one did it better. He is (along with Ray Bradbury; I have to name the two together) one of my all-time favorites.

I resent, however, this being almost 2008, that I am still without my flying car. I love my VW Golf; I just want it to be designed to go airborne on purpose.

If it's the final cut, are they done with the cars? Can I have one?

You know, I'd be content to settle for this DVD under the tree, and give the flying cars a miss. I'm gonna bet those cars have awful emissions.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Mirth and Grandma's Sock Monkey

Christmas Mirth and Grandma's Sock Monkey
Originally uploaded by sunspotting.

Strange stuff is out in the house. Our cats are getting bold. Having a very tall tree base (it's a real tree trunk, for all that it's a fake tree) is turning out not to be all that much of a safeguard.

Sigh. It's coming down. I can feel it in my bones.

Anyway, this picture is full of meaningful stuff. I put notes all over the picture on my Flickr site. Just click on it, and you will be automatically transported. I mean, redirected. Whether you are 'transported' depends on how deeply you connect with *my* nostalgic stimuli. Try it! I hope it brings you joy.

There might be another picture or two here at the bottom. Mirth was just so darn cute this morning. (I can't stand turning this blog into a cat report!)

Christmas Sneaky Mirth

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Adventures at Lunchtime

I thought we were done Christmas shopping. I was tragically WRONG.

Roads are bad. Visibility's worse.

We got zero sleep last night because Cleopatra kept having to go outside in the middle of the night, poor little dog.

We just had a lunch to make up for ALL of that at a small restaurant I've never been before called Don Tequila while finishing our Christmas shopping (dear GOD please) during the daily blizzard. (This weekend, every single day's plans have been altered by Mother Nature. It's ok. We're flexible. Um. You know. Except today.)

At the top is what I'll call the Diego Rivera booth. ALL the chairs and booths were similarly carved and painted. Lots of great folk art adorned the whole place. I was in heaven! Oh -- and the food was phenomenal, with low prices. We are SOOOO going back there!
Another Carved Booth
These are two more booths. This one is a picador (the guy on the horse) in a bull ring. It's the seat Rick had, which means I got to look at it for the whole meal. I'm not fond of animal cruelty, so picadores would be a bad thing for my digestion. Not today! This lunch was soooo yummy. Actually, all I noticed at first was "ah... cool carving... mmmmm... food that's good... mmmmm... freshly made salsa... yummy other things... ok, some conversation, but I still have to savor... no time, eat more"; later I noticed the theme above Rick's head.

Booth Decor at AWESOME Mexican Restaurat
This is an agave farmer. I sat in this booth. Rick got to imagine 'baby' tequila while he ate. *ahhhh!* Good times!!! Nah, we didn't drink any. Conditions are really just too bad outside to take any chances! We stuck with iced tea. But we pretended it was tequila. It sure improved our mood for Christmas shopping!

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

This Year We Have a Christmas Tree

Matching Engraved Angel Ornaments We BOTH Received
Originally uploaded by sunspotting.

It's our first year with the tree again since the year Mom died.
grapevine lights and Mom's felt butterfly
I'd pull out ornaments and the boxes of Christmas books, but the pain was unbearable. So back under the eaves they would go.

I don't remember when it was but we both looked at each other and said, "Do you think we could put the tree up this year? Is that manageable?"

We agreed that it was.

I'm glad. It leads to cool things like the Ricky and Becky ornaments.

If you know what's good for you, you will never ever ever in a million billion years EVER call either of us by those names.

But the cool thing about the ornaments is that we both received them as children (hence the diminutive nicknames) so there was no possible knowlege that they would be hanging together on a tree in 2007.

They hung together back in 2003, too; that was the last time we had the tree up. It's nice to have it again. Here are some other views.

Some Ornaments Depict Realism

This is part of the base of the tree.

Our Manger Scene with Lapu Lapu and a Jade Tree and Basenji Angel Guard Dogs
The manger scene (I grew up calling it "manger scene", not creche) at my grandparents' farm had animals added to it every year, and thus had hundreds by the time I reached adulthood. I believe mine should be no different. I added a few angels and my basenji angel and devil ornaments this year. Unconventional is good.
Or You Could Have A Guard Dog THERE
If we can make it the whole Christmas season without the cats pulling the whole thing down, it will be a miracle.

Our Tiny Tree on a Spike

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Friday, December 14, 2007

I anihilated my to do list today

... which means I am too tired for a proper post today. Proper one tomorrow with multiple pics, I promise, and it'll be worth it. Really. Christmas tree. No kidding.

That was one of the things I nailed today, too! There was no hint of Christmas in our home when we got up this morning. Right now there's a tree, all lit and decorated, complete with hand-quilted skirt at the base. (No, I didn't make the tree skirt. Certainly not today. I'm not Martha Stewart, I don't have a staff and neither am I a human corporation. The tree skirt was a gift from my great-aunt, who totally lives up to her name.) On the mantle is the manger scene, with a few elements added: a Chinese jade tree, several extra angels, one of which is a basenji angel. I realize that's playing against breed, but to know a basinji is to believe in the potential for 'angel' in the face of things.

Anyway! Where was I? Oh yeah. Bashed in the head because I've been screaming up and down the stairs all day, working on 5 art projects for 3 different recipients and 2 other projects for 2 other OTHER recipients, plus cleaning and decorating and talking to the radio (Science Friday requires a constant dialogue) and getting ready to bake cookies. That, realistically, won't be happening til next week, as I have Lilian Tyrrell's memorial to attend at Spaces Gallery tomorrow afternoon. If there's time, there's a Lucia Day celebration back here in Cleveland Heights, but I'm not counting on it.

This was the kind of to do list that included "eat something, you bonehead" more than once on it. In a snarky way, like: "No. Not that. Eat something better than saltines." I reminded myself to drink water, too, since I've been waking up with headaches that are probably dehydration-related. Criminy!!! Vitamins. That's one for tomorrow's list.



Time for bed.

Pictures tomorrow. I won't forget.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Baseball and Other Coal for My Stocking

Usually in cold weather, when conversation turns to baseball it makes me warm all over. As if pitchers and catchers have already reported to spring training, and the rest of the team are packing final bags and calling cabs for their trips to the airport. Good feelings.

I guess I'm not here to talk about the past. (grumblegrumblemarkmcgwiregrumble)

Heavy sigh. Right now, with the Mitchell Report minutes away, I just feel cold. Has nothing to do with the ice storm.

I really resent this, too!! I just did my Christmas shopping. I should feel warm and snuggly. For crying out loud, I should have hot chocolate flowing through my veins! But nooOOOOoooo, it's ice water, and I'm anticipating someone's sports hero down the tubes once again.

I don't have any sports heroes anymore. I gave that up long ago, I won't even say when because that requires me to remenisce, and that's still too painful. There are those I still admire, NOT getting caught up in celebrity, just what role they play within the team structure, and also for their skills on the field; but it looks like I'm about to lose that too. (Skills are the same, it's the stamina and healing that are enhanced... must remember...)

Today there's a shield the Mitchell Report will remove that will leave certain players, trainers, and management so exposed it will thunder judgement and pain down upon these so-called untouchable heroes and role models that some of the very innocent will be likewise hurt, perhaps irreparably damaged, because the high regard in which they held their hero was so flawed they will feel it must surely reflect on them. I am all for removing that shield, but I am sincerely sorry for the most innocent of fans.

I do believe this report will have far-reaching implications, though I don't believe baseball will be reinstated to the Olympics during my lifetime. (Depressing, that. I'm not yet 40, and I'm in good health.) They need to do more than bombastic reports. They need action. They need full cooperation of the players and the players union. Aha! There's the key! The MLB players union is the most powerful union in the world; without them, there's nothing.

The thing (ok, person) I am most concerned about, however, is former Senator George Mitchell himself. He actually sits on the board of one of the baseball teams. He didn't even recuse himself while he worked on this report! Can you imagine the struggles he had, the conundrums (conundra?) he faced, when the possibilities whirled about his beleaguered head, that members of his own team might play a part in his own report? That must be what Hell is like.

Unless, of course, the team upon whose board he sits isn't really a contending team. That's a fancy and polite way of saying, "But what if his team and its players suck?"

Yeah, well. They don't.

George Mitchell sits on the board of the Boston Red Sox: the team who won the World Series in a straight sweep. They don't suck -- not eggs, not lollipops.

So I'm waiting to see how many of his players end up named in his report. We already know Clemens and Pettite -- 2 Yankee pitchers -- have been named. There's no surprize there. But if there are no BoSox, then we'll know for sure the Mitchell Report is as suspect as Bonds' hitting record.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

artsy angle, pre-printing

artsy angle, pre-printing
Originally uploaded by sunspotting.

Here's my better picture of my image, ready to print.

The project is for Art For Cures. I'd link to the website, but it's not fully functional yet. The theme is The 12 Days of Christmas, and my day is 6 Geese a-Laying. While there are not 6 mature geese in the image, there certainly are 5 potential geese under the one mature one...

Like my card-drying racks? Recycling is the best!

Closeup of the Goose.

They are meant to be displayed as mini banners in a sequence, kinda like this, only from "Partridge" through "12 Lords a-Leaping" instead of all the same banner. Also, hopefully none of them will be pulling a "doin' my own thang" dance like Mr. Second-From-The-Left, who's playing wild and free with the wind. I'm all for individualism, but I'm in charge here, darn it. Shape up, and lemme be in charge! (Yes. It's true. I'm talking to Christmas ornaments. I'm at that point. This early. Doing just fine, but if you happen to be passing through the neighborhood with a little grog or wassail or REAL eggnog or Great Lakes Christmas Ale (better yet, Nosferatu!), my door is always open. Of course I'll share! I'm no Grinch, unless you count after the heart-growth bit.)

Here's a closeup of the final result.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Trial by Gocco

After many years of owning it, I am finally breaking in my Gocco. Many years. I'm a bit embarassed! But, darn it, those instructions in the box are not reassuringly clear, when a girl can't be sure where replacement supplies will come from! So today, I got loads of good advice and even more sources for ink, screens, and bulbs. And because of that, today I also am taking the plunge. Stand by for better photos...

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Dinner at Daddy's

Frank and Katie with Bud Light before dinner, corroborating stories for Child and Family Services.

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Goofy Doesn't EVEN BEGIN to Describe...

I have NEVER seen my brother with mouse ears. I don't like Disney, but bless that cryogenically preserved misogynist for this priceless image!

The beautiful little girl in Matt's arms is his daughter. Her face is painted with dainty butterflies. On Matt's other arm is (I'm assuming, and I realize what a dangerous thing that is to do -- the whole "ass of u and me" aphorism, no aspersion-casting here!!!) his wife Marianne's hand. I can't imagine why she's cut out of the picture. She's gorgeous AND really nice. This is the way I found it on my dad's fridge for dinner tonight. I just love this picture. I can think of a million different stories to go with it.

I used my cameraphone to take the picture of the picture by propping it up on a cutting board in Daddy's kitchen. That's why it's all fuzzy. It would pass for good journalism in old-school National Enquirer.

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Witness This

The caption above Giant LeBron says, 'WE ARE ALL WITNESSES'. I would add, we are witnessing that the Cavs are useless without LeBron. So much for teamwork! And the world bears witness to the rise of what I dreaded most: the rise of another Michael Jordan.

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

We went to Costco today

For $40, they'd better be effing lucky. I *rarely* buy new jeans. They just end up covered in ink, paint, and dye. Plus, I like the recycle-factor involved in a thrifted pair of jeans! So I really need this pair to live up to its brag.

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A culturally sensitive query: if it's a product of Peru, how is it 'Mayan'? Is it a brand? Is it a variety? WHAT? Peru is *way* south of Maya country.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Another Important December Holiday

Happy Bodhi Day!

Today is the anniversary of the day Siddhartha Gautama achieved enlightenment while sitting under a bodhi tree (the sacred fig, Ficus religiosa). It was at this point that he became the Buddha, meaning the Enlightened One.

People have family trees. Over a billion people share a spiritual heritage with its beginning at the base of this tree. That's mighty cool.

Also coming this month: Monday, December 10: Gita Jayanthi, the celebration of the Hindu Holy Writ the Baghavad Gita. December 20 Muslims will spend four days observing Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice. It's an important holiday comemmorating Abraham's willingness to be obedient to God, one of the Five Pillars of Islam. It's good to celebrate things. It's good to pursue knowledge and enlightenment. It's good not to be so damned selfish about a month big enough for multiple celebrations.


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Friday, December 07, 2007

Mystery Solved

This little culprit was making a 'lump lump lump' sound whenever the car moved. The car is big. The screw is small. This is so very amazing to me.

John at the dealership brought it to me while I waited. We were also having the radio replaced (Thank God for warranties), otherwise I probably wouldn't have had it looked at, just continued my puzzlement. He said they found it in one of the rear tires, and that the 'lump' sound was the screw against the pavement every time the wheel went around. The head of the screw took some serious damage, too!

The *really* good news? It punctured only the tread at an oblique angle--no hole, no leak!

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

This is the coolest thing!

In a season of giving, this one literally comes from the heart. Through the heart, even! And liver, kidneys, a few other things. But I digress. Like that's anything new.

Here in Cleveland there are two huge Catholic boys high schools with a rivalry so legendary that when they meet on the gridiron, the resulting football game is referred to as "Holy War".

Yesterday they had a different competition. Called "The Battle for Blood", St. Edwards (of Lakewood) and St. Ignatius (of Cleveland) challenged each other to be the one to provide the American Red Cross with the most pints of blood.

St. Eds won the challenge.

The Cleveland area Blood Bank won over all, and with them, the entire community.

What an amazingly heart-warming and wonderful giving spirit! With this gift, it's waaaay more than the thought 'counting'. I really hope this spirit of giving life spreads throughout the Cleveland area and beyond!

If you feel so inclined, regardless of the reason or season, the American Red Cross gives this advice:
To learn more blood donation opportunities, visit or call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (1-800-448-3543).

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By Request of My Beloved

My Beloved wanted chili for supper tonight, the above being a picture from my cameraphone as I was letting it simmer. (The other, better-color pictures are from my Nikon.) I, trying half-heartedly (why? I love him!) to get out of it (oh! I know this one! because I'm LAZY) countered with,
"But, Sweetest, we don't have any ground beef."

Said he: "Well, what DO we have?"

Me: "Chicken."

He: "Mmm. Could you make chicken chilli??"

...knowing full well that, though I've never made it, I can, and of course because he has asked, I will. And it will exceed his expectations. Ahh, the things we do for those we love... (recipe to follow.)

Mmm Heaven in a Bowl on a Cold Day

Here's my recipe. I made it up as I went along. Turned out great.

4 chicken breasts, cubed
I browned these in olive oil on the bottom of the dutch oven, with:
1/2 a large diced yellow onion
1 Tbsp chili powder... it was heaping.
1/2 Tbsp red pepper flakes
salt (I use a light hand -- you can always add more later, but it's not so easy to undo overdone salt!)
fresh ground black pepper (again, light hand; it's the red chili pepper I want)
pre-minced garlic and its juice -- the equivalent of an entire head of garlic (no, I didn't mean clove, I said and meant head. I like garlic. You use what you want. This isn't chemistry.)

When I was satisfied the chicken was fully cooked, had good color (not that it would matter as a chili dish, but it matters to me being thorough), and good 'chili' fragrance, I added:
3 cans of diced tomatoes
2 cans of tomato sauce
2 cans of tomato paste
1 can of chicken stock
2 cans of garbanzo beans (it's what I had -- I'd have added black beans, navy beans, and black eyed peas too if I had them; use what you have. This isn't chemistry. Nothing will explode.)
1 1/2-2 C frozen corn, approximately (I didn't measure, I just dumped. Again, not chemistry.)
more fresh chopped onion
fresh chopped celery

Finally, to tweak the flavoring after simmering for an hour or so, I added the following flavors without measuring: dried cilantro (lots), white pepper, more salt and fresh ground black pepper, sage, and 2 scant dashes of cinnamon, more chili powder, and more red pepper flakes. Simmer more. Simmering is good.

It's awesome. Yes. I said that about my own cooking. Sorry. But it is. I had some for breakfast. It's better today than it was yesterday. Good flavor, good heat, and good texture. I'd serve it to anyone. I'd love to add some ground buffalo; it's nice to mix meats, but really, this is complete as it stands.

I made beer bread from a mix to accompany the entire wonderfulness. My Beloved was a very happy man when he walked in the house, and for more reasons than simply because he was seeing me!
Some Fresh Bread for the Chili
I love to put a smile on his face.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

In an email I read from My Beloved today...

... titled "What the HELL?", I was informed that the broadcast network NBC will be showing their new movie, "The Year Without A Santa Claus".

That's right. Their new movie. (From last year.)

Wonder if they've got any other hot ideas for the season?

Turns out, they do have a new angle, after all: it's live action, not stop motion. So far as we're told, anyway; that's really up to the actors and directors. Here's the official NBC link. Good looking cast. What worries me? Executive Producer Ron Wolper's other links are only Salem's Lot and Helter Skelter. Arguably good movies, but hardly holiday fare; totally different textures, family visit horror notwithstanding. Ron Underwood, the director of this 2 hour (TWO HOURS??? Rankin and Bass only needed 30 minutes with commercials to get their story told!!) movie has City Slickers and Mighty Joe Young (not the good one) under his belt. We didn't see this last year, when it premiered. I looked into it. I pre-supposed we could expect either absolutely ZERO overdone schmaltzy touchy-feely, or an over-abundance, simply because these two don't ever to deal in that coin, so they were likely to deal lightly or go way overboard with it.

They went way overboard with it.

I'm a bit worried! I saw no mention of the songs in any of the reviews for this movie! Those songs are classic! My husband was Heat Miser once for Halloween because of those songs. I mean, the characters played a part in that choice, too, but those songs are so great, he has a CD cover of the Heat Miser song that gets played all year long. (His now ex-wife was Freeze Miser, which was a bit of type-casting for her, but that's a whole lot of story for a whole nother time!) (Still: entirely true, and Tracy's mother made the costumes, the red one still hangs not 10 feet from me as I type.) Will the lesson be the same? None of the reviews made that clear, either. It worries me when Corporations take over classics. Details suffer and Big Pictures fade.

Plus, the word 'Corporations' always makes me think of geology. 'Corporations' sounds like 'Conglomerations' which IS geology, and hurts when you get hit with it. I'm rarely comfortable when a 'Corporation' is involved. Particularly when they are involved with something I care about, or if it's something that originally had a geniuneness about it. Something like the entire Rankin and Bass library.

Watch, perhaps, but watch with caution. And hold onto your DVDs of the original Rankin and Bass classics. We'll see what happens, what doesn't, and whether those writers have any business coming back from that rotten inconvenient strike. (Give me back my Life, and my Bones, and my Heroes, and my Daisies. These are simple and basic needs, really.)

By the way, ABC will show the original Rankin and Bass stop-motion animation movie this Saturday afternoon at 2:30 pm Eastern, and college football is over til the bowl games start, just so you're remembering--don't panic (Go Buckeyes!). The new, live-action, all human (shh! don't tell the kids! *wink*) version on NBC will air at 8pm Eastern on 23 December. Just in time for Santa and Vixen to get over that nasty flu or cold or whatever.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

WIP - Accomplished

Done! Now I have to do the one with the OTHER pattern, and I can get them in the mail. Perhaps tomorrow? I *love* making gifts!

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Pre-game Standings

This'll change in a few! (yeah, LeBron's not playing- I am hoping the Cavs'll still move UP.)

Oval Office Grammar Lesson

Today, in addition to a continuing disregard for the correct pronunciation of the word 'nu-cle-ar', President Bush showed he can conjugate the verb 'to be' when discussing Iran's potential for causing mischief.

Jerry Springer the WHAT???

Ok. As far as harbingers of doom go, pestilence, war, famine, and death are the Big Ones, and they arrive via men on color-coordinated horses. But tradition is adamant that there are just the four, which makes them easy to identify and send up flares. So we are left with no warning, really, for what I heard just now on the radio. And I heard it on NPR, so it must be true.

Jerry Springer the Opera.

Thank God it's only snowy, not icy, or I'd have probably lost control of my car. (When I'm listening to the radio, and I do a 'double-take', what exactly am I supposed to look at?) Or maybe, given that it's December, I should stick with Christmas carols.

I didn't feel comfortable trusting that my non-morning person ears really could have heard that (and the music that went with it) (yikes, operatic singing of 'talk to the hand'... Criminy, there are almost no words for this!) so I looked it up online.

It's got its own Wikipedia site. There's a wealth of information about this production, both at Carnegie Hall and in London. I read it on the internet, so it must be true.

Amazon UK has DVDs of the London production for sale, and you can bundle it with a CD of the original cast recording to make your purchase complete. They're selling it on Amazon, so it must be true.

Now, here's the thing. We've been warned about all sorts of other things. The books of Ezekiel and Daniel have more to say about the end of times than the Revelation of John (Revelation being the more familiar one). Nostradamus nails his prophecies about as often as a one-armed bandit shells out a life-changing bonanza in Vegas. Those odds aren't terrible, we just don't figure them out until after the fact because he fancied himself a cryptic poet as well as seer. Where was the heads-up about this? If Jerry Springer getting an opera doesn't rate one of the Apocalyptic Horsemen, shouldn't there at least be precision pigeons in formation? Considering bird flu, that puts him directly under the order of Pestilence. I don't think anyone would argue with that.

I'm labeling this "hockey", because, to paraphrase the late, great Rodney Dangerfield: with all the fighting we can expect onstage, I think we can also expect a spontaneous hockey match...

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Work In Progress

It's a gift. Another kitchen/dish/tea towel. Tonight, it kept my hands happy during Heroes and Life. Embroidery keeps me tied (in a good way) to my Grandma Kopsell, and I feel like I am giving something utterly from within when I embroider a gift.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sunday at the Murray Hill Art Walk

Murray Hill Art Walk
Originally uploaded by sunspotting.

Sunday afternoon we wandered through galleries. Most of them had actual art in them.

This one is eyecatching and colorful on a cold, gray day, though the stuff taking up the sidewalk is vintage clothing, planters, a mix of mass-manufactured outdoor tchochkes and reclaimed/repainted wooden furniture. The old tricycle is very nice. We were done by this point, and chose to admire the exterior color of this 'gallery' (gift shop, really) without stepping inside. We've been in it before, it's nice. They have a mix of handmade and not-handmade gifts, but it's not really a gallery. (I say this in the spirit of assigning descriptions, not judgements.)

One of this year's highlights was found in The Art Room in the Murray Hill School. Getting past the first collection of paintings (nice, but looked like early student work, though you knew it wasn't) brought the abundant rich rewards of a collection of seriously good artists producing an array of powerful imagery. Singly, each work was successful. Arranged in exhibit together, there is a cohesiveness that sings. I had been ready to walk out of the gallery without venturing further into the space, but that would have been my profound loss. Something inside me continues even now to respond to the powerful nature of the work I saw in that small space. One example: Eileen Roth had a series (among other paintings and prints displayed) of Astrological Spirit Houses. She created a house for each sign, wrote a bit about each symbol, wrote about the series as a whole, and it had an incredible impact on me. Each of the houses was a graphic image in black on a painterly gold background. Beautiful! But my words are a doing a puny descriptive job of something that deserves far better. Ordinarily I am not as affected by anything that uses the zodiac as a point of reference. But the juxtaposition of clean lines and painterly handling, stark black with juicy gold on canvas, and the very creative glyphs-as-houses were just too much! I was much moved. Best of all, that series was just one example of what wealth was 'hiding' in the back half of this lovely hidden gem called The Art Room! There was so much more that I found profound and lovely. Eileen, Sam, and Linda: thank you. Although you will probably never see this, I don't care; I still express my gratitude so the Universe will have record of it. (I guess I do care: I'd love for you to see positive things about your space and work.) I *really* like your work.

Non-artist: please note that when I was a student at CIA during critiques, we would be shot down immediately by our profs -- they might even go get others for reinforcements -- if we ever said "I like ____". And if we didn't qualify it, our grade would be in danger of dropping. I'm that much at a loss, I'm THAT moved by the body of work displayed at The Art Room.

Pennello Gallery on Mayfield was another good experience -- specifically, some highly sensitive and sophisticated woodcuts. Some were cityscapes, some were landscapes. I was drawn to the textures of the forest, swamp, and stormy skies. Ohhhhh, they were lush and tactile, they made me want to go to whatever they were. And they were small, with sometimes mossy, sometimes prickly, sometimes ticklish detail! Perhaps 5"x9" in some cases, and in full but soft color. They drew they eye gently but insistently in to the scene on the paper, then ever inward. I was amazed by the technical prowess, but so emotionally transported by the scenes he created. Again, I love this work.

The last one we went into was Brian Jones Gallery, and Rick was losing steam at this point. Two paintings caught my eye from the street, though, and I wanted a closer look. I didn't think we'd be in there long. Hmph. Rick perked right up and took an immediate interest, and HE was the one who had to be told this time, "I'm ready when you are..." These paintings were different from others' work that we had seen. Either acrylic on canvas, or acrylic reverse painted onto acrylic, it's all got great energy and spontaneity. The tree paintings that drew me in have a Gauguin pallette, but a Klimt sensibility (think The Beech Forest rather than the ubiquitous Kiss), yet they are truly very much their own. Very passionate.

We both left art behind that we would have preferred to bring home. In fact, we came home completely empty-handed. But in order to be able to buy art in the future, we have to get rid of the bills we have now. When that's out of the way, then and only then can we fill our house with all sorts of gorgeous local art!

I'm really looking forward to that. Maybe someone will be collecting me by then, too!

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Sign Addenda

Nailed! For improper use of an apostrophe! (When I took and posted this photo, I never imagined the "and yogi's" (sic) would be so illegible. Trust me, that's what's added to the anti-Hippie sign.) Honestly, how annoying *can* the yoga studio next door BE? Also, part of me admires (aspires to?) the 'ATTACK ARTIST' warning. Most of me, however, responds to the sign (for sale, so I didn't photograph it) 'peace please', which was a response to war. Maybe the yoga studio should buy this guy one of those.

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Seen on the Art Walk

Odd place to find a rubber bat!

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Gadgety Goodness

Chandler and Price paten printing press, built here in Cleveland during the 19th century, on display outside of the paper and letterpress shop in the Murray Hill School during the Art Walk. Cool factor? It still works. NICE. We wanted to play, but respectfully resisted. Santa better be watching!

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