March 2006 Archives

24 dirty little feet

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About one hour ago I watched 24 reasonably clean feet walk off my porch. They were attached to the legs of twelve 11 year old girls. They were invited afterschool for 6 &1/2 hours of movies & hanging out. Mostly, they jabbered & ate. Yammered & ate. Squawked & ate. I even recall a little shrieking. There were some movies playing, the ones they democratically voted for (your Grandfather would be quite proud, Miss B) but they weren't really watched. Plenty of apples, cheese, crackers, grapes, chips, & juice covered the table, the tablecloth, the floor, corners of mouths, etc. In fact, when we returned from the outdoor yammering, running & shrieking, an invasion of ants some fifty strong had found spilled juice on the new kitchen floor. The cats were outraged, and pointed out the infidels most indignantly. I do prefer them to mice, but still, they had to go.

In between movies there was a nice game of kickball, which is where the feet got dirty. Most of the shoes came off, deliberately, not during a over-zealous kick, and then the feet ran round the dusty bases. I announced that those dirty feet would not be coming back into my house. And like the dutiful little students they had been (for the previous 5 years), the feet were willingly prepared to be washed. Some looked for the garden hose. Since it was a 70 degree day, that was not an unreasonable idea. However, since it was first and foremost the last day of March in Upstate New York, no garden hose in it's right mind would be caught dead hanging off a faucet out of doors! So then the feet shuffled indoors. Two new bathtubs were filled with half the feet, and there was plenty of warm soapy water, giggling & splashing. Clean feet passed inspections and were allowed to move ahead. Pineapple and ham pizzas were delivered and consumed (tasty - I stole a slice). Sour, fruity, squishy candies were passed around (two pounds of the stuff, I might add) and popcorn was popped, right on the stove, to the amazement of some. Finally, nine o'clock came round and parents arrived. The not-so-dirty little feet slipped back into their shoes, went down the steps, into cars, (six walked), and found their way home. Ahhh, I think I'll go soak my feet.

barking mad

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I really think that some people are barking mad. I mean absolutely bonkers. This morning, while watering the bunnies, (Yes, the bunnies that belong to the tween, not me...) I noticed Tiggr, the tomcat, rolling in the yard. He usually reserves this activity for the dusty gravelly driveway, and only does it in the hot sunshine about 3 seconds before he runs in the house. (That way he can better spread the dirt inside!)

Well this morning he was rolling on his back in the grub-infested yard the skunks have turned into a patchwork of brown and green. I stopped to call to him and he looked my way, tossed something with both arms, then leapt in the air. Mr. Tiggr got himself a mouse (finally!!!) Just like a dog, Tiggr rolled around and around on that half-dead mouse. He flipped it into the air, bobbled it with those huge 7-clawed paws, and rolled on it again. But I have to tell you that dogs don't bother Tiggr much. I think the extra weapons have alot to do with it. He's pretty intimidating. Which brings me to the mad barking. As I was lovingly gazing upon my overweight yet fierce housecat and his instinctual predatory dance with the half dead mouse I heard barking. Only it was not canine barking, it was human barking. Then I heard a laugh and some footsteps. I could see through the stockade fence that a dad and son (whom I know pretty well) were walking to school. The schoolyard abuts our property, hence the stockade fence.

Now Tiggr paid the barking man no never mind. Either because, as I said, Tiggr never pays much attention to dogs, or more likely because the guy sounded like a human, not a dog. The guy was laughing, and smiling, but he didn't see me watching the whole thing. Here's where I'm having trouble: What kind of father-son game was this? Teaching your 12 year old that a 200 pound man can frighten a 15 pound cat by barking at it is a lesson I can't quite wrap my brain around. And if he wasn't trying to scare Tiggr, then exactly what was his plan? To exemplify insanity? Yep, they're barking mad around here. I will wait with baited breath for the next time I bump into this guy in town. I have a great question for him, and will enjoy watching the color rise in his cheeks as he tries to explain himself. I hope he's with his son. We both need to get a grip on this one.

bad habits

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You know how they say that you habituate an activity if you do it for about 3 weeks continuously? Like, if you get up and put on your walking shoes every day for 3 weeks, (presumably to go for a walk) it'll become a (therefore healthy) habit. Or if you STOP going to the cupboard (looking for junk food) every day, all the time, for about 3 weeks, you'll break the (very unhealthy) habit. Well, I was hoping that I had blogged often enough that I had habituated the practice. Not so. I got my head filled up with my two other new jobs, plus all the other stuff at home that keeps me on my feet, and blogging completely went away. The blog has left the building. Gone. Buh-bye.

I was more than a little surprised. I felt bad. (Well only an itsy bit. Remember I am free from guilt?) Mostly just surprised. I thought there would be a time when blogging would be just another thing added to my daily life that I did not have to think about, Just Do It, as Nike sez. So now I have to put it back into my active brain. Not a safe place to be. It's really busy in there, and I don't like messing with it more than neccessary. I am scared that my touch-typing speed will drop and I'll get lower scores on the IQ test I take every month. (Monitoring the death of brain cells & closed synapses...)

I will again call into play my faith, and see what unfolds "in the fullness of time" as my Master tells me. Nice way with words. I hope it pays off.

Ouch, My Head Aches

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My head is full to overflowing with definitions and 'splinations of more stuff than I imagined could be shoved in there! xhtml what? Mt who? Tag you're it? I have faith that it will come together, but right now I feel like the Kindergarteners looked on the way home from their first day: overwhelmed.

I have faith in my brain, and even more in my instructor. And, at 45, I beleive in my ability to have patience. I WILL be building webpages. I just have to take the first steps and then, as Simon Cowell says on American Idol: "Well, then, off you go..."

lazy lazy lazy

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I have not been here, except for some behind-the-scenes housekeeping, in a week. I don't feel guilty, however. I have a mantra about guilt, and I use it often. "Free yourself from guilt. Free yourself from guilt." So say it with me. It works. I am only here for a minute today, been busy taking on some new projects. Since there is income attached to these things, and its potential is relative to time spent, I will say goodbye. I'll get back in the blog groove soon.

mom's memories

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I am a "recipe tester" for the website, put together by chef & author David Leite. His main purpose here (as I see it) is to let accepted testers preview recipes that are in publication, comment on them, and it all gets posted on his site. He is a good reviewer in his own right. I had to wait a year before an opening became available. If I miss a month (the challenge comes by email monthly) I could loose my spot. There are typically three cookbooks up for review each month and they pick three recipes from each to post on the recipe tester page. I can then login to that page, preview the recipes, tell them which I want to prepare and review, and get it all done by the end of the month on a given date. I go back in and post my review into their review format. It's fun to see them all; they open up in wordpad on my machine, and I cheat badly by posting in uppercase! Aren't I evil??? But sometimes there are 25 reviews for one recipe to scroll through. So sue me.

On it's own merit, the website is a nice source for a few upscale recipes and for very good food writing, both of which I really enjoy. On the other hand, his picks are international, ethnic and often quite unusual. This is just fantastic for little old me, (well not so little since my love affair with the Chocolate Moose...) but I have to consider whether going to the trouble is worth it if I am the only tester in my tiny world tackling any tasting. (Say that three times fast with a beignet in your mouth...) I am expected to explicitly review the following: the ingredient list, the preparation instructions, and the final result. I also must advise if I made any substitutions, why, and the result of that. My issue is that I know I cannot put most of the offerings on the table as the main course here. This is dissapointing to me, as I thought our clan had experienced palates, especially the tween. But this has led me to the conclusion that the adventurousness of the eater is specifically relative to the locale of the dining experience. To put it plainly: they want meatloaf and canned peas in upstate NY (population 1950) and will order and eat almost anything when wandering the four star resturants of this continent, as we are prone to do. I think it's reverse discrimination. I desire challenging, stimulating, different foods right here at home, and do not want to wait for a road trip to do so! Bonus: I am prepared and equipped to make it so. (Jean Luc Picard, Star Trek The Next Generation. We met Patrick Stewart in an elevator at our hotel in Boston in 2001, he was wearing a tux and looked extremely dashing, although quite short. Did I tell you I am 5'10"? He's not even close.)

Tonight's dessert is from the website's testing menu. It is something I was very surprised to see because it is, word for word, the same recipe as one my mother regularly served with fanfare. It is Pineapple Upside Down Cake. It is not difficult at all, but the surprise for me was that this version came from a recipe from Harlem, NY. I really believe in "6 degrees of separation" and this is just one more example. We are all connected. I'll let you know what the family thinks. I know I'll love it, missing my Mom for 19 months right now.

I am going to post a photo because it looks as perfect as I ever remember it to be.



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During the "cat and mouse" style waiting game I will put up some cat photos so you can get to know the whole gang. First is Tiggr. He's a stray that sat in the cellarway of the abandoned house next door for 6 months, just staring at us. Then one day it was as if someone flipped a switch. He started talking back at us, came over to eat, and he's been here ever since. He is a very large tom with 24 claws. Tiggr's quite strong, but Bob is fattening him up pretty well, so he's getting lazy, just the way we like 'em. In this photo he has his forearms stuffed into Bob's slipper. I don't get it, but hey, I'm neither male nor feline.

nice Tiggr.JPG

Here's a shot of Hobo that really intrigues me, when the sun shone through her ears, the capillaries were visible. cool.

sunlight looking EARS.jpg

And I guess we need another one of Babu, the 17 year old rag doll. He's the oldest member of the clan and very sweet. He begs like a dog and eats a huge variety of human food. Here he's eating capellini.

capellini babu.JPG

here we go again, again

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No, no no. No trapping, killing, catching going on whatsoever. We are feeding, no, more like hosting the mice now, and they seem to be happy & here to stay. The small one in the cupboard this week just sits there, looking at me. If and when I am brave enough to turn the lazy susan that protects him, he crouches and ever so slowly scampers around it, almost mocking me, I think. Perhaps he (possibly she) does it just to humor me. So I believe it's still in control. Unfortunately, since all the poison bait has been eaten, I fear the visible mice are deathly sick. I don't care for what that implies for my kitchen surfaces, not to mention the cats, God forbid they should get ahold of one.

Man of the house was shown the little bugger tonight. (Does this sound familiar or am I hallucinating? if so, I wish I could remember the liquor or other spirit I imbibed so I can invoke it again sometime...soon) Well, I did manage to get the camera fired up, but the photos would have been repeats of the last session: The MAN at the helm, prodding instrument in one hand (BBQ skewer), plastic grocery bag in the other (he's GOT to be kidding? I would NEVER try to confine an impulsive little itsch like that in such a flimsy locker!!!) and kid, wife, 3 cats holding up the rear. He actually made 4 attempts this evening at removing the rodent. Each one began with the same chant: "OK, this is it.". Besides getting the humans and cats all stirred into preparedness, no other results were produced. Then finally, when dinner was cold once again (all hail the microwave...) He actually got the bugger inside the flimsy grocery bag. I bet you can guess what happened next. One hint...replay the first night I made the mistake of dragging him into this drama: the mouse hurled itself into the shopping bag, and did it so fast neither human nor machine could have cinched the top of the bag, so the creature clambered right back out. Next step for the mouse? Into the dining room (review the dining room photo with Tiggr at brother mouse's heels...) and immediately down the exact same steam pipe into the basement.

I threw my hands into the air, served myself another glass of wine, and left the room. Shheesh! I bet they're having one helluva family renunion down there.

P B & free

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Old-fashioned, 25 cent snap traps have been laid. I baited them with peanutbutter last night. HE was told to set them, if you please, right there on the shelves. WE cringed until the doors closed with neither incident nor accident. Expecting the worst, what did I find this morning? Tiny tongue marks in the leftover peanutbutter and lots of mouse poop. I am glad the mice like peanutbutter. I hope they come back to lick the rest of it up. Maybe then the traps will work. sigh.