Thursday, January 31, 2008

Seven Up!Date #3 and 4: Our Rabbit Ears and My Knitting Partner

Time for another installment of explanation on the January 24th post response to my friend Melissa's meme! A refresher for those who may not have seen it: I was supposed to list 7 random and slightly wacky things about myself. I am now tying to explain them. Here are numbers 3 and 4:

3. We don't have cable. We don't have satellite. We have 'rabbit ears' on our tv. We do watch tv (actual tv, not just tv hooked up to a dvd player), we are not 'reality tv' fans. And yet, life doesn't suck. (But I really miss Life, Bones, and Pushing Daisies.)

4. Speaking of Pushing Daisies, I love LOVE LOVE to knit along with Emerson Cod.

No. We are among the few in the (apparently) WORLD who don't pay exhorbitant monthly sums for loads of television that doesn't get watched. We rely on rabbit ears (antennae) that get sometimes reasonably good, sometimes snow-like reception.

One of our tvs doesn't even have a remote, and must be turned on and off by plugging it in and unplugging it from the wall outlet. NONE of our tvs are large-screen or flat-screen, and ALL of them will be obsolete next year when the FCC rules apply and everything is high-definition. Why do we put up with this? Why don't we have cable or satelite like all normal people?????

First of all, it's not in the budget. We have other things that are of a higher priority. The gas bill, for instance. Groceries. Water and sewer and electric bills. Rick's credit card bills and his student loans. Life comes with expenses. Life took VISA. VISA charged the f%$@#$% out of life. WE are now up past our eyeballs. Life doesn't need cable.

Second of all, we feel like we're making a stand. NO ONE needs cable. It's a luxury. I'm profoundly tired of people looking at us like we're from an undersea commune when we explain we don't pay money for tv. Why should we? We feel strongly about living within our means. And our lives don't revolve around tv. There are some nights the tv doesn't get turned on. Try it sometime!! You might actually like it! (We don't pay for radio, either.)

When we do turn on the tv, there's a surprising variety of shows with good stories on broadcast tv, provided the writers aren't on strike. Unfortunately, there's a writer's strike. So we are stuck with lousy reality tv. There's nothing actually "real" about so-called "reality tv". Starting with Donald Trump's hair and the drug-enhanced physiques on that gladiator show. I sincerely miss Life, Bones, and Pushing Daisies. Toss in Chuck, Heroes, the Office, 30 Rock, and Numbers, too, while we're at it.

The difference between scripted characters and so-called 'real people' in a 'reality situation program' is that thought has gone into the character, plot, development, and script for the character. The person working in front of a camera completely ad lib has no real clue about what will entertain The Market. All sorts of rubish will be tossed off in hopes that it will be controversial enough to make the editing cut. Yippee Skippee.

Let's have the writers back. Please. NOW.

Especially because I miss knitting with Emerson Cod. Emerson Cod, of Pushing Daisies, is a cranky sourpuss, only in the business of Private Investigator for the money. But his hobby is knitting. He knits cash cosies for the money he makes, and lines them all up neatly in his desk drawer in this office. He knits bright red gun cosies, and wears them instead of holsters. Festive! It was one of the few times Mr. Cod cracked a smile, and it looked genuine, like he was proud of his accomplishment. Hilarious. He gets deep satisfaction from his monthly magazine of knitting stories and jokes, called Knit Wits, and was shown leaning backwards in his offics chair reading and chortling, a rare scene of comfort and relaxation for Mr. Emerson Cod. I find this character fascinating. I can't wait to discover more about him, because he seems like such a compilation of opposites.

Very little was as satisfying than to get everything I needed to get done for the day done, and sit in front of the tv on a Wednesday night at 8 with my knitting (or cheat, and do some crocheting, because I'm more adept at that and don't have to look at my hands), settle in, and relax into the off-kilter program that is Pushing Daisies.

I want those evenings back. Poor reception and all.


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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: The Beholder


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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tuesday: About Wordless Wednesdays

I've heard of the phenomenon "Wordless Wednesday" and I've decided to try it. Tomorrow will be my first wordless post. I've imagined it, it's possible. Just a heads up, so you don't freak out about the silence! :-) Enjoy the pictures on Wednesdays from now on. (Emergencies excepted.)


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Seven Up!Date #2: Our Player Piano

Explanation Number Two of my response to Melissa's Meme on January 24:

2. We have an antique player piano. No one's allowed to play it. EV.ER. I mean it. And yet the cats obstinately refuse to respect my ahthorita'. On a daily basis. Yes, the cover's closed.

It's beautiful. Perfect condition on the outside. But the player mechanism is out of order. We were told it is easily repairable, and would only cost maybe $800. Considering we were given this lovely instrument and it is worth quite a number of thousands of dollars (especially because it has its original piano bench), that seems reasonable. But we don't have that in the budget at this time.

Nor do we have any piano rolls.

Not a problem, as any player piano is also useful as a regular piano. We should be able to open the lid to the keys (I'm not a pianist, I don't know the terminology) and just start Joplin-ing away, right?

WRONG. Emphatic wrong.

This beautiful, elegant, upright piece of furniture is a cat lounge and wallet keeper because of the UNGODLY NOISE of the BEYOND OUT OF TUNE-NESS of the poor, unloved piano strings within. Dinn? Cacophony? Oh, either of those would be lovely in comparison.

(A piano tuner is out of our budget, too.)

Well, then. How do the cats play it?

They jump down onto the cover that shields the keys. It bends, ever so slightly, and hits the keys. We get the sound of either the opening chord of "Hard Day's Night" or the final chord of "A Day In the Life", both by the Beatles, and both raucously out of tune. It's LOUD. It almost always startles. These cats, BEING cats, have remarkable timing. Put your imagination to work. You'll come up with great results. Probably most of them will be close (if not spot on) to what we have experienced.

Need I mention that the cats never look at the clock before jumping on the piano keys?

"So? Put the damper down!" comes the cry of those in the know. Yes, well we would, but the broken player mechanism is in the way, and we can't do that until the mechanism is repaired or removed.

Mostly, we just laugh. Fortunately, cats jumping up and down on the piano key-cover doesn't happen hugely frequently. Not even everyday. Someday we will get this fixed and it will cease to be a problem. Then I'll start trolling eBay for player piano rolls, heavy on Scott Joplin.

I'm really looking forward to that day.

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Monday, January 28, 2008


Originally uploaded by sunspotting.

This photo just got added to a Flickr pool (group of photos from all sorts of other Flickr members, usually on a theme) called "Fix or improve it with duct tape". Just thought that was funny. At least as funny as the picture. I had never heard of this group before, or even seen it whilst browsing Flickr.

I do think it's an appropriate venue for Chris/Doktor Wienerschnitzel/Professor Fate. Maybe now he'll create a new character called the Dandy Duct Taper, or something. Duct Tapir, the animation? We'll have to wait and see.

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Everybody: Awwww!

Mirth helps his Daddy with laundry. Oooh, I could just squeeze him! He's soooooo darling!!!

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Seven Up!Date #1: Our Wedding Cake

To review: I was tagged by my friend Melissa for a meme that required me to share 7 random or wacky things about me. I chose to add a bonus thing, and to not elaborate about the original 7 things for the sake of having a post that WOULDN'T be the length of a Russian novel. I promised to fill in the blanks in the coming days. Here's the first installment.

1. We had Fisher Price Little People on our wedding cake. And a reference to a chicken. And Fisher Price Little People chickens. All on our wedding cake.

That's our cake!

I wanted something non-traditional on our cake, if even we would have anything on our cake at all. When I came across this wedding couple on eBay, Rick and I both agreed it was perfect for our personalities. We both collect toys. It's whimsical. It's traditional with a solid chunk of tongue firmly in cheek.

Then there was the whole chicken thing.

A little more than 5 years ago Rick saw a t-shirt that said something along the lines of
"People think A.D.H.D. is funny, but it's actually a serious neurological condition that involves a combination of attention and behavio-- Hey look! A chicken!"

Yeah, we both have A.D.H.D. We thought it was hillarious. We also started using the phrase, "Hey, look! A chicken!" to re-focus each other when we get off topic. It was especially funny in the Philippines, where there are chickens running around EVERYWHERE. Rick's cousins finally, in a fit of exasperation, asked us if there are no chickens in the U.S. We had to explain it, but they were unimpressed. Anyway, I thought it would be a nice surprise for Rick to see it on our wedding cake.

By the way, the wedding cakes were Dairy Queen ice cream cakes. Fantastic, in the middle of summer.

We used a mix of vintage table cloths and whimsical LED lights that gave a soft glow on the tables (it was a backyard reception), with mason jars filled with cherry whips and starlite mints. It made the scene extra festive: less picnic, more garden party, but not so much that you were afraid to be at home. It was nice.

Another flight of whimsy I had to take was with the wedding bouquet. I didn't carry one. I carried this, instead. We were starting a new life, creating a new home (not moving, and we'd lived together for almost 3 years, but symbolically), and intending things to last forever. The nest and two eggs were very meaningful to me. Plus, all the materials were completely recycled, as were we!! (2nd marriages for both of us.) Also, I felt strongly that people getting married in the woods (as we did) really ought not to bring flowers to the forest. It's redundant, really.

Hope that explains "Seven Up! #1"! I meant to blog months ago about our wedding, but up til now all I managed to write was how it was mandated by my former job, if I wanted to stay employed. As it's clear I no longer work there, you can see how well that worked for me.

Enjoy! Click on the pictures and you'll go to our two wedding Flickr sets. The nest is from one set, the others from the other set. You're welcome to look and comment all you'd like. Every picture has notes, so you'll know what's going on. I'd love to hear your feedback.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Springerle Recipe

Springerle Rolling Pins
I got a comment from LadybugLove on my January 4 post, where I took pictures of my just-barely-post-Christmas Christmas cookies. I made holly cookies (no picture), the kind with cornflakes and melted marshmallows and little cinnamon candies, and I made Springerles.

Springerles are an old family tradition for my side of the family. They are made with a fairly simple batter. Where it gets fancy is the rolling out: you roll them twice, with 2 different pins. The first is a regular rolling pin, for the regular old reason, to flatten the dough. The second, at least MINE, is a wooden rolling pin, with elaborate designs cut into it at regular intervals. It presses these shapes and patterns into the dough, and then the dough is cut into the rectangular cookies and dried overnight on cookie sheets strewn with anise seeds.
My Rolling Pins -- 2 Springerles and One Regular
An alternative, if a baker doesn't have a springerle roll, is to use old-fashioned cookie or butter presses. Not a spritz-press! This dough is far too stiff for that type of tool, and these cookies are completely wrong for such a thick cookie shape.
cookie stamps
Did you catch that this cookie gets dried before baking? Think of this as the German dunking cookie. It's like their version of the Italian biscotti. It's meant to have a bit of a snap to it. Think also of the types of drinks available 350 years ago. What would they have dunked a cookie in? Probably not hot chocolate. Perhaps a dark beer, very likely hard cider, definitely spiced wine, probably tea. Children would have been given the same options, as drinking the milk of "a different animal" is a fairly modern concept. I wouldn't recommend that now, but it gives you an idea of how things have changed since the advent of food storage! Actually, I think that's a part of the reason for the anise seed, in addition to the very special-ness and exoticness of the flavoring. Anyway, don't be surprised by the very tough nature of this cookie. Please experiment with the beverages you dunk it in. (Milk is not good. Cider, hot chocolate, various teas, coffee, and orange juice are all very good.)

On to the recipe!

Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature, between 65 and 78 deg. F.

Prepare the cookie sheets by first greasing them, then spread 1-2 T whole anise seeds across the surface of each cookie sheet.

Combine thoroughly, then set aside:
3 1/4 C all-purpose flour
1/4 t baking powder

Beat until color lightens:
4 large eggs

Add these next ingredients GRADUALLY to the beaten eggs until further lightened in color, and thick, creamy, with a ribbon-like texture:
1 2/3 C granulated sugar
1 t finely grated lemon zest
1 t anise extract

Use a wooden spoon to fold in the flour mixture until completely and smoothly blended. Sprinkle a clean, smooth work surface generously with flour and knead the dough until it is firm and manageable. Do not be surprized if this takes 1/2 C or more!

Once it is of a consistency that feels stiff enough to work with a rolling pin, divide into portions of a size to work with your work space. Store the reserve portions of dough wrapped in plastic or in resealable bags so they don't dry out by the time you are ready to roll them out.

Now you are ready to roll. Keep the flour handy! You will need it regularly, and do use it liberally! Roll the dough to 1/4" thickness. Dust the Springerle carved rolling pin with flour (but make sure there are no large deposits in the recesses of the designs, as it will affect the design of the cookie), and BE FIRM when pressing down this rolling pin! It is important to get a strong impression, and to have even pressure on both sides of the rolling pin.
Springerle Rolling Pin Close-Up
Cut the designs apart with a very sharp knife, and arrange on your cookie sheets. I like to press very gently as I place them on the cookie sheets, so that there's no doubt the anise seeds will be pressed into the back of the cookie.

If you've ever made cookies that must be rolled out and cut, you will know that it's at this point you have to re-roll the scraps, perhaps add it to some of the as-yet unrolled-out dough. Just keep going until all the dough is rolled, pressed, cut, and placed on the cookie sheets.

Filled all the cookie sheets? Finished all the dough? DON'T BAKE THEM YET! Dry the cookies somewhere cool and dry for at least 8-12 hours. I usually let them go overnight. Do not skip this step.

When it's time to bake them, bring the cookies and cookie sheets up to room temp. Then preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Bake ONE SHEET AT A TIME. Seriously. It's worth it. Even though each sheet takes 18-24 minutes (I usually go for about 20-21 minutes). Peek through the oven window at the cookies as you get close to that near-done stage: what you're watching for is a firm texture, but almost no coloration, perhaps just a very gentle inkling of gold along the very edges. Nothing more than that. Remove from cookie sheets and cool on racks.

I've seen these cookies painted with diluted food coloring (this requires another few hours drying time). There's a suggestion in Joy of Cooking that edible gold leaf would be a great plan, too. Regular frosting would hide the lovely embossed designs and alter the flavor of the cookie. I just leave them as they are. They are a very pretty cookie.

I hope you'll try this! I hope it brings you much enjoyment and becomes a tradition for your family that's as cherished as it is in mine.


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Saturday, January 26, 2008

My To-Do List Isn't Shrinking...

Well, we are pulling out of my in-laws' drive only *now*, but with all of our laundry done (woot!) and the Chthulhu amigurumi started (and more *MORE!* edits found, natch!) so not a bad day! Plus, I helped Sandy and Leonor make 9-patch squares for the quilt Sandy's making for Adelaide. Stories were told, news was shared, concerns were aired. I love family time. I am so lucky to be a member of my husband's family!

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Running (outta breath) 2 Stand Still

We're running to various urgent tasks: first, to sign car insurance papers at the body shop (yes! Our other little car is being repaired, after all!), then to Rick's parents' house to do laundry, as our washing machine is still broken (though the part arrived yesterday and it will be fixed Thursday). Next, I have to post my edits for this month's issue of The AntiCraft, finish my post of the springerle cookie recipe, write a long note to my friend Dorte, embroider for the challenge I posed in the embroidery forum on, finish testing the crochet patterns I'm editing, cook the ground beef I thawed, post and label last night's and last week's Iron Chef photos from my camera to Flickr, and finish packing the box for Ria and Art For Cures that should have been sent when I was still feverish. Phew! AND remember to actually EAT. Until last night, I hadn't eaten in 2 days for sheer overwhelmedness. I'll get to everything! Please be patient, if you're waiting for a particular thing!

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Mel Brought This. I Want It.

SO KICKS *ASS*!!!! Great salad dressing! Must. Get. MORE.

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Request to Iron Chefs Who Want To WIN

Thip one says the next Iron Chef must be ALL CARNIVOROUS. Except maybe a little catnip. That would be cool.

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Iron Chef Machinations Yet to Come

Patti plots the next sector of the culimary world to dominate. Furry white companion gives approval with every scratch of his ears.

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Iron Chef Socializes with Judges!

Cathy catches up with Anne and Iris.

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Iron Chef: SOCIAL TIME!!

Rick & Chris relax, post-competition I MEAN AFTER WE ATE.

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Iron Chef, Week Three: Big Pot Night

Fondue with all the dipping stuff. It qualifies for "big pot" (soups, stews, things that are made in big pots) because it is a communal event, and even if the fondue pot doesn't hold the same volume as a dutch oven, the experience is similar. Besides, there was no dessert planned for this evening. Someone had to step up.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Seven Up! Plus One Bonus!

I've been Tagged for a meme!

Well, sorta. Full disclosure: My friend (she's an invisible friend; more on that later) Melissa from Part of Everything posted a voluntary meme on her blog. She got tagged, and tagging others was part of the rules of the meme. (It usually is.) But she didn't want other feeling obligated, so she asked for volunteers. I volunteered. I'm tagged. Now I'm it.

So here's the deal:

The Rules
~ Link to the person who tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
~ Share 7 random and/or weird things about yourself.
~ Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
~ Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Ready? Rebecca's 7 Random Things

1. We had Fisher Price Little People on our wedding cake. And a reference to a chicken. And Fisher Price Little People chickens. All on our wedding cake.

2. We have an antique player piano. No one's allowed to play it. EV.ER. I mean it. And yet the cats obstinately refuse to respect my ahthorita'. On a daily basis. Yes, the cover's closed.

3. We don't have cable. We don't have satellite. We have 'rabbit ears' on our tv. We do watch tv (actual tv, not just tv hooked up to a dvd player), we are not 'reality tv' fans. And yet, life doesn't suck. (But I really miss Life, Bones, and Pushing Daisies.)

4. Speaking of Pushing Daisies, I love LOVE LOVE to knit along with Emerson Cod.

5. There's a village on the other side of the planet where I'm known as Tita Barbie. And it's not an insult (there; we all know it would be here: I'm 5'2", size 14). Of course, Mattel would never let Barbie eat dinu goan and 'duck's last meal', which they proudly fed me, and (armed with the knowledge of what they were before eating them) I gladly ate.

6. I know they exist, because I saw them in both TJMaxx and Burlington Coat Factory. I just can't find them again. I am desperately searching for opaque tights that have a split for the big toe so you can wear them with thong sandals. Socks, too.

7. My hair is waist-length now, and when it gets warmer, I am looking forward to donating it to a charity that will turn it into a wig.
********* (that's a drumroll) ***************************
and the bonus!!! >@< (that's a cymbal crash)

8. Yesterday I posted my first blog post as a member of the technical editorial staff of the online zine, The AntiCraft. You'll have to scroll down to see my post. There have been posts since then. What's The AntiCraft? Well, do you have a talent for fiber arts? (knitting, weaving, crochet, embroidery, even duct tape; but consider going past that and other fine arts crafts) Do you have a slightly warped sense of humor? Or do you have an interest in things outside of the mainstream? (comic books, sci-fi/fantasy, horror movies, RenFaires, punk rock, more) Then this is a good site for you to visit regularly. It suited me. There are knitting and crochet and other craft patterns, there's a forum, a blog, it's an endless font for creative energy, but especially for people who have tastes other than the mainstream. (I'll refer you to my romatic date to see Sweeney Todd. We cuddled and snuggled. Please don't judge me. And, no, if you saw me walking down the street, you wouldn't mistake me for a "freak" (unless you count the earrings). This decade. College would have been a different story. But I still won't wear LLBean on the grounds that the preppy cooties will make all my hair shoot inwards, boiling like spaghetti until my skin bursts.)(*grin*)

Need a few explanations? I'll do what Melissa's doing: 'splain it over the next few days. Or week; who knows what'll come up? (It's been a TIME of late!) See how long things got with that 'bonus'? That's probably all I'll say about #8, unless there are questions. Please don't be shy! Ask, and I'll answer in the comments.

But I think that gets my first part of the meme off and running. Now I have to find some friends who will agree to also volunteer to take up the reins of this wild horse.

a. this one probably will, but I'll ask first
b. I'm not sure about this one
c. I'll check with this one
d. hmmm, don't know if this one has a blog
e. perhaps
f. perhaps
g. perhaps

If you'd like to volunteer, post a message! :-D I'll gladly take volunteers. The fun thing about memes is it's supposed to bulk up your blog traffic. That's kind of nice!

I figured the art stuff was fairly obvious, though I hit some o'that with bonus #8. The nature stuff too. This other stuff hasn't really been addressed as such, so I hope you all enjoy! I'd imagine I'll hear about it one way or another. Make sure you visit Melissa's blog. She's really neat. I love her writing and her generosity of spirit. Read the comments, too! She's got good friends.

Oh -- the 'invisible friend' concept. I have friends who are definitely friends. We have things in common -- values, goals, hobbies, talents, dreams -- but we've never met in person, just via the 'net. Hence the 'invisibility'. It's very poetic, but not my original idea. Another of my invisible friends shared the term with me. I think it's a great description! Invisible: yes, but not absent.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Phew! Voting Is Thirsty Work!

The vetting process: this is AFTER the small groups.

Now the large group as a whole votes on what each of the small groups have decided. With a twist! If a Colectivo member from a different group wants to add another One Page Proposal to the mix, even from a different group than the one in which they participated in for first-tier vetting, at this point, they have a wild card!

In the end, we concluded the meeting with 15 One Page Proposals to be asked for 2-Page Proposals. They'll be due in March.

I drank 4 bottles of water through this process. I could have had at least 2 more.

Again, I wish we could fund MORE! Anyone out there, please donate (the information is at the top of the page on the left)? We will use it very responsibly. You'll know, because you can track us right there on that website. We answer any and all questions promptly. Thank you!

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Caught UP in the Action!

Post-proposal processing at the Colectivo meeting. Proposals have been 'pruned' in the small groups, and are about to be finalized for this level of decision-making. Sounds dry. SO NOT. !!! We wish we could give EVERYONE funding. That's the hard part! The fun part is hearing about all these great ideas to help Cleveland and its people. Isn't it great to see how people care?!?

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Shared Perspective

Bert anticipates that I have some heavy-duty reading and computer work to do. She's right about at my eye level, and purring like a well-oiled Allis Chalmers tractor.

It's been a crazy morning.

A visit from a repair guy cost $350 and he left promising to return in about 10 days when the part arrives. The bad news? It's for the washing machine. The good news? If we want clean underwear (...and we DO...) we'll be seeing our family more than we usually do.

Other news? Ugh. It's looking like The Powers That Be may decide to total our car that was involved in the accident Saturday. We *do* have a 2nd car, and often only one of our cars is ever used by us at one time, but on the days when both of us need to be somewhere very different from each other, being suddenly a one-car family will be a challenge. Worse yet? Both cars are leased. We don't yet know what the liability for payment will be, but we're trying to stay optimistic. We still had a bit more than a year on the agreement, so there's a chance the car will be replaced. Of course, we are still clinging to the extremely happy outcome that no one was hurt. Cars are just things, and ultimately replaceable. People are far more important, and completely irreplaceable.

Tonight, though, we both get to help with the beginnings of voting on proposals for grants that will help the neighborhoods of Cleveland. This, I have to say, is a tremendously gratifying thing. I am so excited to be a part of this very worthy process. Reading through the One Page Proposals, these beginnings of ideas, gives me such hope for our struggling city. There are so many people who care!

This is just the first tier of voting for the grant dispersal, and we do have a lot of work to do. I think we have something around 150 submissions, then once we've 'culled the herd' we'll ask for more detailed information from our group. What fun it will be to give money for good work! Rick and I belong to a giving circle called the Cleveland Colectivo, and to see the projects that got funded in 2007, first of all, follow the link. Then scroll down to the bottom of the page, in the middle to the section titled "Six Projects Funded", and there's a link beneath the list to give further information. Throughout the year we were kept up to date on the progress of each group's project. Each was amazing! So completely impressive; Nueva Luz had me in tears, their project was that moving. And so very necessary.

Life is full of challenges, some are good and some are (*sigh*) ones we wish we didn't have to face. They all make us grow. Growth hurts. Sometimes it downright sucks. But if we don't grow we don't progress, and without progress there's no life. I do want to live. So I'll deal with the pain. It'll make the pleasure that much sweeter. And perhaps I'll learn to purr like Bert.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

December 26 Redux

Dammit. Another relapse. This time with vomiting.

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Monday, January 21, 2008


She doesn't care who she gets it from, she just wants it, whatever it is. Bert is our unabashed beggar. It's *just rice*!!

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

4 airbags deployed

4 airbags deployed
Originally uploaded by sunspotting.

Rick is fine. Achey, but fine. The girl who ran the stop sign is also fine, and I'm sure she is also very achey. She is in my prayers, too. Poor girl's only been driving since August, her father said she's a good driver. I'm sure she is! There's a reason this is called an 'accident' and not an 'intentional'. I know this was not the way WE wanted to spend the evening, I'm sure she had other plans, too.

We went further than just dealing with getting the car home. I convinced Rick he should visit the emergency room just in case there might be injuries other than just bruises. He'd been feeling particularly uncomfortable discomfort (no, it's not redundant, think about it, you'll know what I mean) in the chest area that he thought could possibly be cracked ribs. That raised alarm bells for me, and I wouldn't take no for an answer. As soon as we got done with the insurance company, and he had some food in his system, I packed him off to the ER.

It took several hours, but we are pleased to have the reassurance that there are no cracked ribs, injuries to his spine or neck, or (as he became more aware of this rather sharp pain later) fractured left hip.

But the damage to the car is extensive. It's fairly drivable, but not advisably so. And 4 airbags!!!

This first shot shows the damage to the front side panel and driver's side door. The door makes a horrible noise when it moves, and it moves none too easily.

(Pic 2) When I first got there, of course I checked to see that Rick was ok before I started taking pictures. This was the first one I took. The car really wasn't the first thing on my mind, though, because I never realized until we got the car home that the hood wasn't flush with the body. It's certainly clear in this picture!

(Pic 3) In this view, you can see the seatbelt hanging out of the door: it's the black loop in the lower right-hand corner of the picture. It did its job during the accident. It restrained Rick properly (thank God) and kept him from going through a window or having worse than just bruises for injuries. But now it will no longer retract.

The final image is a wider view of the side damage. It was so cold, and we were so relieved that the police were letting all of us go, that we were very happy to just go. Rick assured me that the police got plenty of pictures that likely will be submitted to the insurance company. Speaking of, we spent the day watching football playoffs (Rick is taking muscle relaxants-prescribed by the ER-that are reportedly very effective; so effeective that he is quite immobile, and I am happy about that! Happy to take care of him, too.) and our insurance company is a major sponsor. I hope they really DO come through for us the way they advertise!!!

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Time Passes Slowly in the ER

The unmistakable trappings of a hospital room. We are in the ER waiting to be discharged (actually, first we'd like the results of the x rays) but our emergency is not as urgent as those we are hearing around us. It's really a post-car accident precaution. So we sit and read the magazines we brought from home and pray for fellow patients whose voices happen to rise above the white noise. And we fervently hope we will be leaving soon.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

That's Why We Have Airbags-But *4*?!??

Rick got in a car accident tonight. He's FINE. So is the girl who was in the other vehicle. Pictures will be added later, I'd like to get him to the ER to be checked out; right now, he's a much higher priority than my blog.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Iron Chef Week 2

Our offering, once again, for Iron Chef. It was quite a competition! It took SO MANY MATCHBOX CAR RACES to determine who got to pick ingredients first, and then in which subsequent order following, we thought we'd NEVER get to the cooking!

After an hour of racing, we took an hour for food prep. Really, the food was already cooked, we just had to make it look like something other than fast food and junk food. We Hannibal Prime Cannibals placed 2nd in both Main/Side Dishes (ours was called Teeney Sweeney Doug Pies and Human Growth Hormone Corn) and Desserts (ours was Ghastly Crumb Twinkies.

Such fun! It's nice that people like our cooking. Even when it's made of the 'swill' (Arby's roast beef sandwiches, Dinty Moore stew, spray cheese, Twinkies, Oreos...) we were given!

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One Final View of the Jake Sign

Precarious, getting this shot with my camera phone in mid-intersection! Nevermind, rush hour is juuuuuuuuuuust about over...

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The Signs They Are a'Changin'

Wow. Truly another end of an era. Sad, too, because the new Progressive Field sign is nowhere NEAR as classy as the Jacobs Field sign. More 'lite rock' design school reject rubish.

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That's My Grrl

So snuggly. Cleopatra's ready for bed. Snuggly little bug-dog.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cloth, Paper, Stitches

Making stuff! This was SOMUCHFUN!!! And everyone was so cool. Diana rupp from Make Workshop in New York came for an evening of creativity at Shannon Okey's marvelous space called Stitch Cleveland. Ideas were shared, plans were fleshed out, creative blocks were busted. Great energy was shared by all. I can't wait to go back to Stitch Cleveland.

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En Route to Pick Up My Sweetest

I'm going to Stitch Cleveland for a workshop with Diana Rupp of Make Workshop. She'll sign her book, too. Rick, in the meantime, is going to Carol & John's Comics. He apologized that I wouldn't be coming too, what a sweetheart! I think we are both in for a fun evening.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Winter Sun Through the Grandpa Plant

It's a beautiful day.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sweet Success! Even Without the Garlic!

Steelhead Trout in a Sweet Bed of Onion and Red Pepper with Roasted Red Skin Potatoes and Sweet Onions. It ROCKS! I'm that good.

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Tonight I'm Cooking Without Garlic.

I don't know why I'm not using garlic. I usually pile it on. It's just Steelhead Trout. Another salmonid. Lord knows I've cooked enough salmon in my day, but slap a different name on it and I freeze. So I guess I needed some new way to treat this fish! All that stuff underneath? Sauted. Then I'll bake it. I've got red skin potatoes an onions to roast as long as the oven's on. (You hear THAT, Winter? Nyaaah!!) I think it'll be good. I'm making it up as I go. Usually works! Haven't had a failure yet.

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Still Snowing. And I Can Take It.

'S'right. I still have coffee. And I bought books. Didn't even leave the house, and they'll come straight to me. So there. Nyah.

Got plenty of yarn, too. And if I need more, I can walk to any of 3 yarn shops (one of which includes a big crappy national chain store beginning with J, having a sale on yarn coming up) with minimal effort.

So go ahead, Winter. Do your worst. I'll do my worsted and drink my roasted.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Let It Snow

Yep. Go ahead and snow. You know you want to. I'm not going anywhere anyway, and I have coffee. PPPPPBBBBTTTHTHTTTTT.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Letter Writing Party!

It's Universal Letter Writing Week.

It's a time to take some time off from the electronica, and use a real pen or pencil on real paper or greeting card, slip same into an envelope, address the whole shebang, put a postage stamp on it, and pop it in the mail.

Sounds like a lot of work, doesn't it?

Now, imagine opening your mail box and finding an actual personal piece of mail, tucked as a surprize amongst the bills and ads and "Have You Seen Me?" cards. Wouldn't that be amazing? What a treat! It would be like finding your favorite of all favorites in a sampler box of chocolates that are mostly the wrong type. (For me, that would be milk chocolate maple creams -- *shudder* -- which, for some, I know, is sacrelige. But that's way too sweet. Give me solid dark chocolate infused with lavender.)

So you see it's a delight and a treasure. The person on the receiving end feels special and singled out: "This much trouble for ME? Wow. How nice!" At least, that's how I feel. Email is immediate and takes less effort. Ok, my emails are usually long and involved. So I won't discount them! But when I write a letter, there's usually extra stuff that goes into them: comics carefully cut from the newspaper, confetti sprinkles, just little flat thoughtful things that can easily be slipped into the letter without adding to the bulk. And I doodle. Plus I have really cool script. Yes, I just did say that about my own handwriting, but I do calligraphy, and I cultivated my personal script years ago very carefully. People comment favorably and regularly on my script. I know my talent. It really ought to be used for letter writing more often!

So here's my pledge. At least once a month (not counting the thank you notes we are still sending from our wedding in July) I will send at least one hand written note. It's already on my calendar. I have done my duty for the month of January, per the guidelines of Universal Letter Writing Week.

This was not my idea. Heather, from the Art for Cures group I donate to, sent out a notice to the group last Tuesday about this event. She linked to Laura, whose blog is called katydiddys, and I would be completely remiss if I didn't link to them! Go, check them out. They both do extraordinary art. Beautiful. They also have great Etsy sites, and if you are interested in doing some letter writing but don't have a card, buy some from them!!! You will be inspired, and your recipient will be thrilled.

Heather's blog is called WineMaker'sSister and in her post about the letter writing party, she tells a very moving story about her friend Mary's generosity with her handmade cards, encouraging officemates to take them as long as they used them to write letters to people. Just go to her site, read the story for yourself, and see if it doesn't move you! :-)

Then, when you're done with her blog, please do click on the link for Heather's Etsy site. She has some lovely work for sale. I encourage everyone for 2008 to Buy Handmade. This was a big campaign during the holidays, but I think we should remember it for birthdays and anniversaries and other occassions, too. Certainly cards for all occassions -- take a look!

Feeling inspired? Shut down the computer, turn on some good music, clear a generous space for writing. Equipped with your favorite warm mug of wonderfulness and a juicy pen (you know what I mean, something with good flow) and crisp paper, write something from your heart to someone who hasn't seen your writing in a while.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

My Husband Took Me On A Date Today

He took me to see Sweeney Todd. Exceptionally excellent movie. Just plain GOOD. The music, the costuming, the casting, the photography... all breathtaking. People singing who have never sung, at least, they've never sung in a movie role before -- just crazy GOOD.

I love this movie. I love my marvelous husband (I can't get enough of calling Rick "my husband"!!! That's just so cool.) ever more everyday, but today especially, simply for having spent the afternoon in the theater with him, watching this movie.

Did I just call this a good date movie? Yes. Yes I did. It is if you have a morbid, gothic sense of humor like we do. If you listen to Nine Inch Nails and like old school punk like The Crampps and The The and the Circle Jerks or even the newer stuff like Marilyn Manson (I love his shows), this is your romance. If you like true crime or old style pulp fiction (not the movie, although the movie was good too) or film noir mixed with Dickensian despair, then yes, this is the date movie for you. If (like me) you find yourself clinging to every episode of both Life and Pushing Daisies, this is a near-black-&-white version of a fusion of those, with a little Jack Skellington added in for culinary pleasure.

Humor, in the midst of killing and cannibalism and human suffering? Oh, yes!! Particularly in one song that speculated about the flavors that certain people would bring to the pies based on their position in society or their occupation. Hillarious. Omigod, I just LOOOOOVE this movie!!!

I am soooo in the mood for meat pies now. Just, (ahem) you know, not long pork.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

The Winner!!!

...with 22 votes!! The 2nd place dish is Mel's vegan delight of tempeh and spicy bbq sauce. Marvelous dishes, each one! But ours earned top honors this week. It all starts over next Friday!

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Ground Beef 4 Iron Chef Tonight

YUM. Meat is made better by adding MORE meat.

Yep. Ground beef is the "secret ingredient" for tonight's competition. We each got 2 pounds. You'd think it would make for an easy time, but because EVERYBODY can do something with ground beef, and generally do it well, that's where the very well-hidden challenge is. Vegan Mel got a choice between tofu and tempeh to prepare for all tasters.

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Our Iron Chef Offering

Steam Punk'd Bacon Burgermeister Meisterburger. Pre-grill stage.

Mmm mmmm. Sure looks tasty!!!

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Iron Chef 2008!

The selection process begins!! This year's theme is based on the movie The Great Race, based on a real race that took place 100 years ago, and passed through Cleveland on Euclid Ave.

My team is "The Evil Steampunks". Our car is the 2nd from the left. In the end of this part of the evening's competition, our team was granted 3rd choice of kitchen ingredients and tools, because our car finished 3rd of 4.

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Peace Angels

These are the first few that are done. FINALLY. Soooo labor intensive! But ultimately worth it, I think. These angels are all alike, they just have different details front to back. I (fairly stupidly) forgot to sandwich a loop to hang this ornament, so I will have to trouble-shoot that as soon as the 'peace please' signs are attached. *sigh* There's always something! ;-)

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Morgan: She's Cute. Sure... Right NOW...

Ok. All together: "awwwww!"

Just so we're all on the same page: she's only cute when she's not up to something. She's usually up to something.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

One Great Kiwi; One Awesome Legacy

How does one say goodbye to a man like this?

Sir Edmund Hillary. 1919-2008. His life started in New Zealand. He died today, a man admired the world over. But what a life!

He's known for the great achievements of adventure that make great headlines: conquering Mt. Everest, exploring Antarctica, trekking to the North Pole with Neil Armstrong. With Neil Armstrong!! Who goes on a hike -- a hike to the top of the planet -- with an astronaut??!!?


Well, quite simply, a man who befriended Sherpas. These are an extraordinary group of people who, while certainly not antisocial, don't let just anyone or everyone into their society. He not only became their friend, he made great effort to promote their well-being and to fight their oppression by those who would try.

That's a start at trying to give back to those who helped him up to the summit of Everest. Never forget he wasn't alone up there! He was accompanied by his dear friend Tenzing Norgay, another great adventurer and explorer.

And his wealth of generosity did not end there. He had a greater heart than his adventurous spirit. Google his name and several charitable trusts pop up. Some are environmental, some educational, some medical, so many to assist the Nepalese Sherpas living on the slopes of Everest. It's very amazing.

Clearly, I admire the man. I admire his legacy. I pray we see many more men and women cut from his cloth to help form and shape our world's future.

Rest in peace, Sir Edmund. May your renown (and charitable foundations) grow with time.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Negative Space Angel Wings

Production work. This was gruelling. The end result will be worth the effort. Now it's time to crochet more eyeballs...

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Turn and Face the Strange

"Change" is the big catch word right now. It's being used to the point of losing all meaning.

I can change my clothes, the sheets on my bed, my name, the tv channel (lately the tv is as likely OFF), the thread in my sewing machine, and, quite often, my mind. Of course, on that last one, if I happen to be in the room with a Republican, I will automatically and inevitably be tagged a 'flip-flopper', Republicans famously being unable to relate to the idea of changeable factors in the midst of an experience. In that case, I am reminded of a Lutheran joke. Q: How many Missouri Synod Lutherans does it take to change a lightbulb? A: Change? Please understand I was raised in the Missouri Synod, although I am now ELCA, a more liberal (and therefore more open to change) branch of Lutheranism.

So I am curious about where this sudden rabid usage of the word 'change' will take us. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have been whipping that word out with such radical liberalism of usage! It's amazing and amusing.

What makes rampant use of the word 'change' so very amusing is how inevitable it naturally is. We often don't have either control or say over how or when change happens, or even whether it happens.

Speaking of 'whether', weather is one excellent example of the sort of change we can't fully anticipate (though we certainly try) and definitely can't control. Some are seasonal. Some involve animals migrating or hibernating. Some are mercurial changes, and very unexpected, as we are seeing now and in the past weeks. Tornados in January -- in the Midwest? The storms in California -- what a nightmare. And it actually snowed in parts of Florida. That's a change!

I know these are not the changes politicians are refering to, but it illustrates my point about how they are not being clear about their use of the word 'change'. All they say is 'we need change', 'I'll bring change', 'those other candidates are more of the same; I'll be a change in Washington'... but no one is telling us what kind of change they want to bring.

I want to see and hear specifics. I want to hear concrete commitments to solid concepts. I am sick and tired of castles in the sky. I want solutions. I want a burning bush. (Purely a Biblical reference, NOT a reference to a currently serving top-ranking public servant lame-duck.) Those are the changes I want.

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