Sanna's Bag

“I never seem to have what I need when I need it. I’m going to make a belt-bag that’s bigger on the inside than on the outside, and just carry everything with me.”

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Elbows and a-shole

As when the drill sergent suggests to the recruits scrubbing the floors, "I don't want ta see anything but elbows and . . ." I put my head down yesterday, and got most most of the Christmas cards done. Yayyyy! Dancing and rum in the tea!

Today it's mailing them off, laundry, cleaning the litterbox room (an hour at least. Little crapweasles!) and - oh rats! where did I put that list? Well, there's other stuff that has to be done. I check my blogs buddies first thing every day, though. You guys are the kick-start to my day.

While waiting for the printer to respond to commands, I finished a scarf. This sucker is a white elephant for the exchange at work. The basic concept isn't bad, but the yarn is recycled soda bottles. Ewwwww. Crunchy feel. I am consoling my fingers now with a silk and wool seed stitch scarf. Much nicer, and mindlessly quick. Christmas gifties!

Monday, November 29, 2010

But ya gotta have leftovers

The tree persists in being green, in spite of several days of sub-freezing temps. The leaves cling fast, although a couple of storms have swept through, and snow has fallen, melted and fallen again. (And melted again as you can clearly see.) But this tree clings to decent coverage just like a shy woman going through the airport screening devices. she's just as slow about leafing out in the spring, though, so it evens out.
As we were out on our weekly shopping trip, we ran across a stroke of genius. there was a fresh twenty pound turkey in the butcher's case, which had been split stem to stern on Friday, and was marketed as two half turkeys for sixty cents a pound. We snapped that puppy right up! Half a turkey is brilliant! Fast to cook, small enough for two people to eat, and the price couldn't be beaten with a stick. this way I get a thigh, with a drumstick for later, and DH gets breast, with more breast for sandwiches later, and there is a wing and half the back for soup bones. What is it about left-over roast turkey? Standing barefoot in the kitchen in the middle of the night with cold air falling out of the open fridge while you pick gobbets of meat off the bones . . . It has a certain private wicked magic to it.
We got a tree. I got it decorated. The house smells of noble fir. After DH left for work this morning, I plugged in all the Christmas lights, turned off all the regular lights, and just sat there being happy, happy in the twinkly dark.
And I have just finished the Christmas cards. i think. Every year, someone emerges from the past and I get to add them to the list. But for now, it's all done and ready to mail. Next, making potpourri I think. Or maybe a nice brisk nap. Cats vote for a nap . . .

Friday, November 26, 2010


Thanksgiving was a carnivore's dream. We joined MJ and RW and their boys, T1 &T2 for roast beef and a turducken. What's a turducken? It's a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken. With a bit of bread stuffing crammed in there as well. There were a few incidental vegetables, a couple bottles of wine
and I ate myself into a stupor. Friday - snap back to Weight Watcher's techniques, write down everything I eat, and keep track of the points.

There had been a power outage in our neighborhood, so when we got home, we lighted candles. I have a mirror over the mantle, and I lined up a bunch of candle in front of it, and the lit up the whole living room! DH ran his laptop on bettery power, and I took a bath by the light of one lavender scented candle. Between that and the tryptophan and the dessert wine, I nearly fell asleep in the tub. (Gas water heater. Gas fireplace. Gas stove-top. I have lived through enough ice-storms in this city. As God is my witness, I'll never be frostbit again!) There is something so soothing about candle light. Power came back on about 9PM.

Pretty easy to be moderate on Friday, because we were quite laid-back. We went out for breakfast, and since we were within sight of JoAnne's, and I had coupons, DH agreed to go in with me. If I had just gotten the beads I was headed for, it would have been a quick in and out. But he suggested I might want to get the door-buster specil flannel that was on sale for $1.29 a yard for one day only. And fleece was on sale for $2.99 a yard. So I grabbed some fabric and we got in line. And we stood there and stood there and STOOD there! Some woman was buying entire bolts of flannel and having the clerk cuts them into one yard lengths. She couldn't cut htem herself at home? She had to keep dozens of people standing while the clerk cut and folded for her? We were standing in line about fourty minutes. And she kept sending her husband off to bring back more fabric. DH was about ready to commit mayhem, or at least to say something admonitory about being inconsiderate of everyone else in the store! I kept telling him he could go look around the hardware store or cruise the dollar store or hang out in the car or whatever, but he had his stubborn on, and we would, by God, WAIT on this rude, inconsiderate woman and her embarassed husband. I considered leading a Christmas caroling session to help pass the time, but it takes at least two bold souls to pull off something like that, and I didn't see any other exhibitionists around. There were three other clerks cutting and folding as fast as they could, so finally DH and I skipped past the roadblock. I got my four yards of fleece, and 2 yards each of four pink printed flannels, and we were done in five minutes. I unrolled fabric from one bolt while the clerk was cutting another, then I folded fabric, re-rolled the bolt, and sped the plow as it were. The clerk offered me a job.

We were going to hunt the wilely Christmas tree, but it was rainy. DH was dis-inclined to slog through wet u-cut forests in the cold mud, and I couldn't blame him. there is usually a Boy Scout lot or a women's shelter benefit lot set up in the neighborhood, and we like to patronize them as well. But none of the lots were open. The day after Thanksgiving and not a tree to be had! So we went home, and I dug out the decorations from the attic, and put up everything but the tree. It looks festive, but unfinished. And most of the decorations go on the tree. Those glass balls take up a lotta space!

In the evening, we got dressed up and attended the wedding of a fellow I went to college with. He's been a widower for about 7 years. His new bride has been a widow for a while, too. They had grown children and grandchildren in the wedding party. Her ensemble was exquisite, tastefull, stylish and unique. She wore a white blouse and long skirt, and over all was a fabulous long ivory coat, with enormous cavalier turn-back cuffs, a big collar that came to a point in back and was trimmed with gorgeous thick lace and a single ivory silk rose in the center of the point. She carried it off perfectly! all the women in the bridal party wore sweet, simple long-sleeve dresses of ivory winter lace, with dark red ribbons accenting the empire waistline, and necklaces of their own choice decorating the modest scoop necklines. Hem line around the knee, and shoes as per personal whim. One had cowboy boots, one had heavy gray tights and red mary janes, most had black or beige heels. One had strappy sandals. The guys all had dark tan slacks, and vests or sweater vests in a lighter tan color over white shirst and dark red neckties. The groom had a dark tan suit and sweater vest. It was SUCH a good choice!!

I demand that they be happy!

Now I have to write them a nice letter. As we were going through the reception line, I said to the bride, with all genuine smiles and sincere good will, "I slept with him before anyone else, and if you break his heart, I'll break your legs." Sometimes, I open my mouth and say things that astonish even me. The groom laughed uproariously and hugged me, and one of the bride's children grabbed her attention, then DH and I were swept along by the crowd of well-wishers. I wwill have to sit down and explain everything to her in a nice long letter. Wish me luck.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I don't mean to be irreverent

There were some pictures I wanted to post this morning, and I found myself trotting around the house crooning, "Oh ca-mera! Where can you be? I have a card, I have a card for theee . . . " I think Canada's national anthem is much prettier than ours, and it was just stuck in my head this morning.
Yesterday was colder than a dead eskimo. It was colder than a polar bear's pajamas. It was colder than a tin toilet seat on the shady side of a glacier.
Ok, it was merely below freezing, but writers love poetic hyperbole . This is what dawn looked like in my front yard.
I had to go to work yesterday. Work is about a thousand feet higher into the snow zone. I was less than eager, but I bundled up and gave it the old college try.
First I had to pry my car doors open with the good old table knife, because the ice had sealed tham shut. In fact, I couldn't get the driver side door open at all, so I made it in through the passenger side, and kicked the driver side open. Then I scraped ice off the windows for ten minutes. got in the car, shut the door, buckled up, and pulled out into the street. The door swung open. I grabbed it and gave it a good slam. It bounced right open again. I poked at the latch a bit and saw that it seemed to be frozen open. Carefully buckled in and holding the door shut with one hand, I drove to the local 7-11 and bought a lighter with which to warm the latch. There's something in those door latches that will catch fire if you hold a lighter againsst it long enough. I blew the little flame out and considered my options. Stay home and leave the boss to handle the whole day alone? Drive to work with a door that won't close? Thank God for bungee cords. I dug a couple out of the trunk (don't you carry bungee cords in your trunk? You never know when they'll come in handy.) and drove to work with two bungees linked across my lap from door handle to door handle. On some turns, the driver side door would still swing open a few feet, but then it would snap back closed in a very satisfactory manner. And the seatbelt gave me an amazing false sense of security. I left the heater blasting the whole way there and got the car just as warm as I could. Locking it up was out of the question of course, but it looks like a rolling trash basket and I doubt anyone would want to break in unless they had a perverse yearning for crumpled grocery receipts and Lindor ball wrappers.
By the time to go home, things had warmed up enough that the doors shut and latched quite satisfactorily Whew!! It's a bit disconcerting to take a turn on the freeway, and suddenly be able to look down at the pavement whizzing by a few feet away.
The highways, by the way, had been graveled and traveled and were bare and dry by the time I got to them.

Still using up pop-bottle yarn. Pale yellow is a good color for a cable hat.

And the decreases were fun to work. I had intended 6 cables, but I clearly can't count that high. Soon as I finish this nasty squeaky stuff, I'm going to give myself a treat with some hand-dyed bamboo.
Today we will join MJ and RW for a quiet meal. We rarely do a big thanksgiving. Tomorrow, we are going to the wedding of a long-time friend who has been a widdower for years. The new wife is reportedly good enough for him. She'd better be.
May every turkey you encounter today be stuffed and roasted (or deep fried, if that's how you swing.)
I'm thankful that God loves me just the way I am. I'm thankful for DH. I'm thankful for a way to reach my friends all over the world.
Hey, you folks in Oz, a couple of photos of spring would be most welcome. It's an early winter for us in the states.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

rum balls

Time to start the annual rum ball fest. First, finely crush some vanilla wafers. (Nilla wafers taste the best.) Here we have 9 1/2 lbs of cookies. It's a good start. I may need more.

I use a hand-cranked meat grinder to crush my cookies. A day care center full of two year olds have enough energy to accomplish the task as well, but think of the germs!!

Add corn syrup, sugar, melted chocolate chips and rum. I made three batches, using regular rum, cherry rum, and (with white chocolate chips,) some vanilla spice rum. You can also use bourbon, or any flavored liquor of your choice. Think Grand Marnier, Amoretto, cherry kirch, Creme de Menth . . . What flavor do you like with chocolate?

When the resulting mush has cooled enough to handle, roll it into little balls and stash them in an air-tight tin to ripen.(I put a sheet of tinfoil between layers to keep those little yummies from settling together.) They really do need to ripen a few weeks to get that full flavor. Come christmas gifting time, I dole them out in labled sandwich baggies and pack them in tins I have collected at garage sales all year long. Then I hit the post office and away it all goes!

Candy hates it, because while I'm transforming that 91/2 lbs of wafers into Christmas cookies, my lap is not available to her. So when the lap does become available, she claims it, but punishes me by ignoring me.

Squirrel on the other hand, has her safe shelf for when we let her out to socialize, and she loves so just sprawl and snooze.
Sometimes, she rolls right off the shelf and onto DH's shoulder. Look at those dear little white feeties. Life is good when you're small and fluffy.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I hate the freezy skidsstuff

The weather forecasters frightened me yesterday with threats of blizzard. It all stalled about fifty miles north of here, and the day was about 40 degrees and rain.
Last night, the temperatures dropped, the rain froze (see the glint of ice on the street out front?) and then a dusting of snow sprinkled down.

We get up at five, and DH heads straight off to work. While he's dressing, I go to get the paper. If there's ice on his windshield, I'll start his car to warm it up for him. This morning, I couldn't get the door open, because the rain had frozen all around it and sealed it shut. I had to give the dor a couple of good hip shoves to crack the ice loose, then get a table knife to pry the sucker open.
I know people who live in real winter climates are gonna be laughing themselves sick, but really, it isn't the snow that's a problem. It's the ice. As I sit here, watching the world, I can hear cars spinning out at the base of the little hill a block away. and someone, testing the surface, cruised by, tapped their brakes, and continued down the street at a fourty-five degree angle with all four wheels locked up.
So again, I begin my annual search for the perfect similie. Most of the expressions for slicker than are disgusting. I prefer, "Slicker than old Bill Clinton." Anyone got any others? (Not refering to entrails or bodily secretions, please.)
I had arranged to visit a friend in her new apartment yesterday, but I wussed out and spent the morning ironing the tablecloth from the last ladies' tea. A twelve foot banquet cloth takes a lot of ironing. When Mom moved in with my brother and s-i-l, she gave me a lot of her old linen and china. As I ironed this cloth, I thought about the times we had used it when I was a kid. Mom used to put out a feast for the holidays! She was a heck of a cook and really loved to do things in a big way. By the time I was a teen, alcohol pretty much ran the show. There was one Christmas when my twin brother got mad and went home early, my oldest brother didn't know HOW he got home, my middle brother never DID get home, and when I woke Dad up to send him to bed he said, "Oh shit, I've gotta get home! My wife will kill me!" He didn't know he WAS home. Mom couldn't eat a thing after spending three days cooking because she was too drunk, and the rest of us tried to pretend this was a Norman Rockwell painting.
But when I was a little kid, it was warm and golden-lighted and there was a thousand different flavors and new foods to try (Mom loved to experiment with exotic recipes) and I got to help set the table and pass around appetizers and it was good. So while I was ironing the banquet-sized cloth, I hung out in those memories.
Today, as long as I'm house-bound, I'm going to start the rumballs. Yum, yum!

Monday, November 22, 2010

And the knit goes on . . .

I was given a skein of pink acrylic. Squeaky pink acryllic. Stuf that you knowused to be soda bottles. But some fols like the complete washability, and sometimes squeaky acrylic is the thing to use. So I took a scrap of the remaining exploded clown, and a skein of pink acrylic, and made some mitts for my favorite waitress.

Then I grabbed my crochet hook, and grannied a bonnet. Granny squares are SO versatile! This goes to the orphange, and I see a sweet baby face framed by that ruffle. Vomit will wash out easily.

Squares are round when you assemble them right.
Now I want to burn through a skein of pale yellow soda bottles, and then I'm gonna hit the odds and ends in the stash and hammer down on Christmas gifties. Oh, and I want to make a White Elephant gift for the exchange at work. Hmmm - a hat with tentacles? A Medusa hat? Maybe, if we go see the latest Harry Potter, I'll do a few miles of i-cord and braid a potholder of many colors. Or not. We'll see.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Amazing grace

Thank you. Your kindness and good words have crackled open frozen places in my heart. You guys are awesome.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

May be more info than you want

My mom passed away on Wednesday morning, quietly, in her own bed. She hadn't been well, but no one expected death to be imminent. But she was 92 years old after all.

I have been quite reluctant to share this because I know you kind and generous friends will feel sorry for me, and I don't think I deserve anyone's sympathy. I don't feel particularly sad. Mom hadn't enjoyed life for years. Her body was failing, and her mind was unraveling. And now she's in heaven with God, free of all pain, and being loved completely and perfectly for the first time ever.

Or, if you don't believe in heaven and God, then there is the reality that everyone dies sooner or later, and mom had a good, long run.

She didn't want a funeral. She's outlived most everyone she knew. She wanted to be creamated, and to have her ashes scattered out at the cabin. So, come summer, we'll get the family together and finally release her. And it will be good to get the family together, at the cabin.

But I think, part of accepting that she's gone is sharing that new with people who care about me.

Yep. When I have been trying to explain my feelings to myself, it has been like opening a door to a long-closed room. It's dark and dusty and cold and stale in there. Sharing this with you is like opening the curtains. Think I'll go get a hammer and pry out the nails that have sealed the windows shut. We could use some fresh air and sunlight in here.

Thanks for being there, and thanks for being the sort of people I can be honest with.

Friday, November 19, 2010

friday tree

Often there is a squirt of time between sunrise and when most people get up when the sun peeks under the cloud cover and brightens the morning. I love being onhand for it.
Here's the Maple tree. She still looks fully foliaged, but check the ground beneath her. Those are all her leaves.
She sheds from the inside out.

Here she is compared to the big maple trees across the street. As you can see, they are mostly naked right now. And the sun is flashing through our little kousa dogwood tree, also turning pretty colors and beginning to shed.

Sunlight, shadows, silly self-portraits in silhouette. Howdy!
I stuck tissue paper over the glass to display less of the contents of our garage to the casual passing burglar. The cats had a seat next to the glass for a while, and tore themselves a peephole that you can see at the far right. The tissue lets light through, but does obscure the view.

And speaking of cats and views, Fly now demands that I pull out his special perch while I'm working on the computer. How clever of us slaves to build such a handy cat seat.
As for life with the cats, Squirrel is still with us. She spends most of her time secure in the spare room, with nightly expeditions to share TV time with us and perhaps get a few snackies. Pepper still wants to beat her like a drum, but everyone else pretty much ignores her. And we have occasionally had Pepper and Squirrel happily lap-sitting on opposite ends of the sofa, so patience will eventually win out. What I ought to do is stick them both in the garage for a few days. Nothing like being frozen-toed cold to make your bitterest enemy look like a decent heat source.
And the CatGenie magic self-cleaning litterbox is a great and wonderful thing, but the cats still refuse to have damn-all to do with it. Now I gotta empty the litterboxes, the dishwasher, and the washing machine before I scamper off to work. Happy weekend, one and all!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Christmas is coming

My cactus wouldn't lie!
Lyssa gave me some Christmas Cactus leaves a few years ago and told me to just stick them in the dirt and treat them like super-models. When their ribs show, give them a drink.!
This is my kind of plant. It thrives on neglect! And I love the rock-star hot pink blossoms on this one. The other one has rootlets at the ends of all its leaves. I think it wants to be re-potted.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Has the bleeding stopped?

We went to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra last night. The last time we saw them they were sort of Manheim Steamroller with more rock. This time, they had gone quite heavy metal. I found that if you tear a business card into quarters, you can make earplugs for two people. Give half the card to a friend, put a quarter of the card on each side of your mouth, and chew till you have reduced it to a well-moistened pulp. Then stick it in your ears. You may have to use tweezers to get it out, but it reduces the aural assault to below the pain threshold.

The thing that did me in, was the light show. Evidently, performers want you to know what it's like to be in the spotlight. They had spots and lasers directed at the audience, and when everything went on at once, you could feel the heat from twenty rows away. Flash! Then black. FLASH! then dim red. Twinkly, twinkly background lights, sparkly dancing background lasers lancing up through the backstage fog banks, then FLASH!!! Twenty minutes of that, and I began watching the concert with my eyes closed. Migraine effects initiated behind my eyes. The "music" pounded against me. I could feel it vibrating in my collarbones. Finally I told DH, "I can't take the lights any longer. I'll be out in the front." I'm grateful that there were handrails to grip on the way up the stairs, because I wasn't all that steady on my feet. I got out of the arena and found a chair, sat down with my hands over my eyes, and just breathed for a while. DH and our guests soon showed up and very kindly left early to take me home.

We agreed: 1.too loud 2. visually assaultive 3.dischordant, quasi-Jimmi Hendriks versions of classic Christmas carols not to our tastes. 4. All the guitarists must have practiced for hours to get that fabulous shampoo-model hair flip move. They all thrashed their heads around through every song.
5 Vocalists voices just not that great. 6.seats were hard and far too close together. 7. This was a once in a lifetime experience - thank god!

The rest of the audience was delighted, so I guess we qualify as puckered old farts. Oh well. We can wear it with pride. The joy of being an old fart is that you don't have to do anything you don't want to, just to impress other people.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

make one - or two

Hat knitting is so comfortably mindless. I started this at the top, increased till it looked big enough for a kid, and k2p2 till it was long enough. Into the box for the orphange.

then I grabbed the last of the cammo-colored fiber heide gave me, the last of the blue and yellow yarn, and a crochet hook. I crocheted over the fiber till I ran out of yarn, then used a much bigger crochet hook to finish off the last of the fiber. Very fluffy and thermal!

Walked away from my camera for a few moments. Returned to find Squirrell trying to take her own picture.

Yes, she looks out of focus. That's because she's awake. She stops moving when she sleeps. Otherwise . . .

Saturday, November 13, 2010

tea time

'Cmon on down! The table is all set and your hostess is ready! I'm wearing one of my favorite aprons- one given to me last Christmas by Janette in Australia. pretty, sassy, and with a big practical pocket. I love big practical pockets.

E. brought a batch of banana bread with peanutbutter glaze. As you can see, i used colored leaves instead of flowers to dress the table. The colored leaves wee free in the backyard. You don't have to spend a bundle to get a good effect.

Here is one of the side tables I set up in the livingroom. My dining room seats 10 comfortably, and I was expecting 16. Late-comers wound up in the livingroom.

But I think things came together in there quite nicely as well. The lemon cake was a little dry, the applesauce/honey cake was a bit too moist, the cheese rollups went well, and the chocolate shortbreads with the coffee jelly vanished. And who doesn't love oatmeal cookies? Dried cranberries substitute quite nicely for raisins.

MJ was kind enough to snap a couple photos of me with the spread this time.

I enjoy these parties so much that I was even happy to wash the dishes afterwards. Wish I could translate that attitude to cat boxes or keeping the house tidy or . . . oh well. I'm grateful for what I got!

The hugs, the joy, the communion - tea with the girls is a kind of church.

Toward the end of the party, there was a knock at the door. Two husbands wee there to pick up wives. One was on the phone. I heard him say, "OK, I'm goin' in now!" The age-old uncertainty about women's magic is still alive. (Cronish cackle of glee.) "Eeeeheeeeheeeheee!"

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday's tree

Another foggy morning. If you look closely, you can see that all the maple tree's underpinnings are turning yellow, and the ground at her feet is covered with leaves. This tree is the last in the neighborhood to get leaves, and also the last to lose them.
You can see a lot more of the stand of firs behind her. It's nice to live in an established neighborhood with well-grown trees. The only time we worry is when the occasional hurricane or ice storm blows through. The neighbors in back of us have a huge old fir tree that has never been properly thinned, and the wind hits it just like a big sail. The tree is to the south and west of our house. Most of the big storms come from the south and west. I guess, like the big earthquake they keep predicting for us, it's just a matter of time . . .
I'm serving oatmeal/cranberry cookies, and chocolate shortbreads sandwiched together with coffee jelly. Think I ought to bake up a pan of basic shortbreads as well? the honey/applsauce cake (with apricots) came out quite nicely as did the lemon cake. Then I'm fixing a quick fruit salad with canned pineapple and mandarin oranges with coconut and a touch of yogurt (at DH's request. I don't know if he wants to save me effort, or if he's craving some.) and I think I'll pick up a bag of clementines because people should have the opportunity to choose SOMETHING remotely non-fattening. And one of my new guests, who is intolerant to glutten, is bringing her own cookies.
Tomorrow morning is going to be divine madness. I'll have to re-arrange and dress the living room, sandwich the shortbreads, slice the cheese roll-ups (I forgot to mention the cheese rollups. Gotta have something savory with all that sugar) and plate them, make multiple pots of tea (and fill thermoses) make coffee (and fill thermos) put out milk and fruit salad, clean the cat boxes just before I expect people to start arriving or the crapweasles will leave a stinking present for everyone to enjoy. They Love to crap in a freshly cleaned litterbox. Oh, and gather some colored leaves from the snowball bush out back to enhance the decorations. And take photos. Geeze I wish you could be here. I just love the bustle and adrenalin of the party prep. And then the laughter and love that fills the place when everyone arrives splashes up on the walls and ceiling and lingers for weeks after the fun. These tea parties fill my home with good energy. I'm usually so jazzed afterwards that I could almost run a whole block! Poor DH gets his ears just chattered to little nubs because between the sugar, the caffeine, and the happiness, I simply can not stop talking. Now I have to go plate the oatmeal cookies and put out the cheese spread so it will be soft enough to smear when I get home from work. Squeee!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

more rain, more 'shrooms

Fungi are such fascinatingly fecund little fellers.

When I show up for work on Wednesday, I havve to park in the back lot and walk through the woods. I rather startled a young man who came upon me squatting behind a bush, concentrating and muttering with effort. Then he saw the camera in my hands, and instead of thinking I was taking a dump, was merely puzzled at the peculiar subject of my photography.

But aren't these just the coolest things?
And some of them are so well camoflaged! I was looking around, trying to find different fungi, my eye fell on the log and I thought "There oughta be some there. Rotting logs are good fungal nurseries" And at the third glance, I finally spotted these. From the top, they look like layers of fallen leaves.

this one is cupping up it's edges. I've knit doilies that did the same thing.

Here is one of my favorite benches on campus. Last week, it was very October and gold. Yesterday, all November. After I snapped the photo, I went and shuffled through the red leaves to hear what they had to say. They suggested that I go hibernate while the getting was good.
Veterans' Day. Thank a veteran for taking care of you. DH is a veteran and is taking the day off. We will visit the grave of the guy who introduced us, then I will bake cakes and cookies, and set the table in preparation for Saturday's soiree. DH will play World of Warcraft and think his own thoughts. Bless all vets.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

an eastern exposure

My desk is next to the only east-facing window in the house. this time of year, sunrise is usually marked by a subtle lightening of the overall gloom. Really, the cloud cover is so heavy that you don't cast a shadow. But occasionally, the clouds layer up, and the sun sneaks a few rays through, and we get early morning color.

(sings) "Sunarise - comes in the morning - fluttering her skirts all around."

So there I am in my raccoon-rousting robe and my rubber-soled slippers, standing in the rain with my camera, and I break into song, and scare the crap out of the little dog who is taking her owner for a walk down at the corner. It's a quiet morning, and I have a voice that carries. And the little dog yaps for minutes afterwards. I can hear it even after the brief flash of color fades and I go back inside. Sorry, neighbors.

Willow is doing shelf and drawer attacks, clearing and purging and simplifying her life. I thought I would share a picture of the foetid nest where my creativity is fledged. It's like this all. the. time. Clutter here and chaos there and a totally organic filing system. (What ever I used last is closest. ) And if you think this is a tangled mess, you ought to visit the inside of my brain. Or maybe not. It's pretty crowded in here as it is. When company comes over, I slide down the roll top of the desk, and herd the less reputable parts of my personality into the playroom of my id, and execute the ostrich manuevure which postulates that if I don't see it, it doesn't exist.
Now, however, I have to start swamping out the den before the ladies come over for knitting. So folks, if you show up, just don't unroll the desk-top. I may have stuffed a few personal quirks under there for the duration. If once my inner babboon gets loose, it takes hours to corrall her again, and until we do, the feces will assuredly hit the fan. Wah-hoo!

Monday, November 08, 2010


So yesterday (Sunday) we were going nowhere and had nothing planned. I was slopping around the house in my "fat" jeans. Walked past the mirror and noticed just how big they really were. Stood in front of DH and said, "Guess how much weight I've lost."

"You've lost a lot of weight." he said.

I hooked my thumbs into the front pockets of the jeans and, without touching button or zipper, pulled them right off. Luckily, we had nothing planned for the rest of the day . . .

It hailed today. It hailed in stripes. In one block, the hail fell so thick and heavy that you couldn't see the yellow line in the road. Two blocks away, there was no hail on the ground at all. Another block further on, the ground was white, and the street was wet. And now the sun is shining like it was July. Makes me crazy.

But I do love that extra hour of sleep on Sunday! Yayyy! It'll take a while to get the cats reset to the new time schedule, though. I'll have to sit down and explain things to them.

Sunday, November 07, 2010


Yesterday I threw away nearly 3/4 of a jar of buckwheat honey. I bought it from our local beekeeper, never having tried buckwheat honey before, but having enjoyed the carrot, blackberry, meadow foam and other flavors he offers. It was a dark, tarry, grainy honey and when I opened the jar and the smell hit me I thought maybe it had gone bad. I took it back and learned that buckwheat honey is supposed to be like that. It's FULL of antioxidants and is very, very good for you. So I gave it a try. Yuck. It tasted like blackstrap molasses on steroids and sweating. It ruined a cup of tea. It rendered toast and peanutbutter inedible. I thought that maybe if I used it like molasses, in baking with lots of cinnamon and cloves and other spices, it would be better. So I made a honey applesauce cake, and the cake smelled so bad that before it finished baking, I threw out the rest of the honey and washed out the jar. The cake was a beautiful cake with a lovely texture and might have had a good taste except for that nasty honey. I threw it into the back yard, and the crows fought over it. "You try it!" "No, YOU try it!" "I don't want to try it." "But it might be food." "I don't care. I'm not that hungry." "Hey, here comes Mikey. He'll eat anything!" Mikey ate part of the cake, and left the rest for the possums and raccoons and they deserve it!

My friend DJ loaned me a book called "Victorian Cakes" - sort of a memoir of a childhood in the early 1900s, with recipes. I got the honey/applesauce recipe from that. I also tried a "feather cake" which had much happier results. DH bought me a flour sifter and for the first time in my life I have sifted ingredients together three times before adding them to the batter. The cake turned out quite nicely, if a bit too sweet, but I think I can cut down on the ammount of sugar with no ill effects. The feather cake is to be flavored according to taste. I made almond flavor, and will make another one for knitting, and maybe a honey applesauce cake with diced dried apricots. And wildflower honey. Never again with buckwheat!

I know you can make buckwheat pancakes and they are heavy, felted-flannel-like discs that take a mess of butter and syrup to get down. What else do you do with buckwheat? Who grows it, and why?

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The tree

A day late, but here's the next weekly installment of the year's cycle of maple tree photos. I suppose I ought to pick on spot and always shoot from that angle and at the same time of day, but I'm juat not that organized and I'd rather do a half-assed joob than give it up altogether. Consider it an extracapsular approach. (Outside the box. Thank you Grant Hicks!)

Friday, November 05, 2010

Enjoy it while you can

We have had record-breaking warmth the last few days. Temperatures in the low 70s - in NOVEMBER! It is freaking strange, but I'm not complaining. The ski resorts opened in October for the first time in 40 years, but I bet they're closing again after this heat wave.

And the mushrooms - The ones that were golf-ball size on Wednesday had opened up overnight and by Thursday morning they were the size of tea-cups. The saucers swelled to the size of soup plates.

And these little white guys popped up in rings all over.

I had wayyy too much fun with the camera.

Odd shapes.

Tamara reminded me to pay attention to the gills. I think these neatly layered things means they're poison. but if the bottom is all criss-cross you can eat it with a knife and fork. Maybe. with lots of butter and garlic.

I think these are called tree ears. Growing on the root of a stump - hard, woody shelf-like fungi, helping to break down the cellulose and recycle the remainders back to dirt.

Meanwhile, the Camellia Japonica are starting to bloom. This is right on time for them. They will bloom all winter long.

This species is slightly fragrant. And sooo lovely.

November the 4th - unprecedented!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Calling all mycologists

I was strolling through this bit of woods on the way back to my car yesterday afternoon. Lots of connifers with thick duff at their roots. And it occurred to me that the recent rainy spell may have roused a few fungi.

Yup, back in the shadows under a cedar I spotted these fruiting bodies.

The big ones, like these, are the size of a big saucer.

They start out about the size of a golfball. I'm pretty sure these are poisonous, because there's a botanist on campus who has written books on collecting and cooking edible wild mushrooms, and he doesn't leave any survivors. In other words, if they can be eaten, John already has them.

This little guy with a smooth cap is probably a different species.

And out on the lawn are these little white button mushrooms ( on stems. Definitely not puffballs.)
See my pretty sock? Gives a good sense of proportion, doesn't it? Much more fun than just putting a quarter down.
Anyone want to take a stab at identification?