Monday, March 31, 2008

Banana Oatmeal Muffins

The internet is a beautiful thing (thanks Al Gore, even though you really had nothing to do with it much as you would like to think you did). I had bananas that were a tad past their prime - read that as they were black and squishy, perfect for baking. I love oatmeal. Where to get an appropriate recipe. Hmmmmmmm. Nothing in my rather extensive recipe collection so I turned to Google and VOILA! a recipe for Banana Oat Muffins was found at Not too much in the way of fat content, moist and "toothsome". They came out great. The recipe was supposed to have sugar and cinnamon on the top of the muffins but I passed on that (she says self-righteously) so that I won't feel so bad when I put butter on them. I have to show some restraint you know.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

It's Opening Day!!!!!

Yes folks it is Opening Day for baseball. A day that I look forward to from the end of October when the last pitch is thrown at the World Series. Opening Day. The Indians will be playing the Chicago White Sox beginning at 3:05p.

Of course, here in the Cleveland area the weather isn't too baseball conducive this early in the season. It is in the low 50's at the moment with a threat of rain hanging over our heads. I would very much like to talk to the people in the league who set up the schedule. Is there some reason why we can't be on the road for the first several weeks and then have a later home opener? Last year we had three games that were SNOWED out. Yes, you read correctly, snowed out. That is not my image of what baseball weather is all about.

This year, unlike in years past, we will not have season tickets. Because of the way our summer is shaping up we have decided to just go to games on a casual basis, going down town and buying tickets shhh from a scalper or at the ticket window. That way we can sit in various places in the park. Of course, that doesn't mean that I won't REALLY miss our seats from last year. They were sweet. 10 rows from the field on the 1st base side. Excellent. However, they were just our seats for one year (sigh) since we had a friend who wanted to take a break from his season tickets but didn't want to give them up entirely. So, thanks David for the wonderful seats last year.

So, today I will sit down in my nice comfy house and spend several hours with the boys of summer. I can hardly wait! This is our year, I can just feel it. Of course, I say that every year (we won't talk about 1997).

GO TRIBE!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Six Minutes To Freedom

Six Minutes To Freedom. Muse, Kurt. This was an amazingly riveting book. I hadn't planned to spend my entire afternoon reading it but that is what happened.
In 1989 Kurt Muse was an American living in Panama and secretly working towards the overthrow of Manuel Noriega. His group, La Vos de la Libertad, was betrayed and he was arrested by the PDF (Panamanian Defense Force) and imprisoned. This is the story of his arrest, 9 month imprisonment and rescue by Delta Force. I couldn't put it down.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Road kill anyone?

What does it signal when the buzzards start hanging out in your woods? Should we, perhaps, be worried about something? Is there something in the woods that we don't know about.

I feel like I should start singing that song from "Jungle Book". You know the one where the buzzards are all hanging around singing, "We're your friends. We're your friends. We're your friends to the bitter end."

This is the third day that this lovely fellow has come to hang out in the trees next to my driveway. It is really creepy to look up and see a buzzard staring down into your window.

By the way, your factoid for the day is this. Do you know that the Lord gave buzzards a bald head for a reason. They are always eating things that are less than savory, dead and smelly actually (the more the better evidently). The bald head means that their feathers don't get fouled with all the stuff that they eat. Pretty cool eh. Now you are ready for your next round of Jeopardy!


Not bad for a morning's work. Don't you wish that you could smell these beauties! I love this bread recipe, it is so easy and I haven't had it fail me yet. It came from one of my favorite websites, A Year in Baking. Give it a try yourself and see how it turns out.

Patience and Fortitude

Basbanes, Nicholas. Patience & Fortitude.
I love books that talk about books, about people who are immersed in books, people who collect books and why. It fascinates me. This book is no different. Mr. Basbanes walks you through the founding of ancient libraries, the role of the ancient church (read the Catholic church in most instances) in the preservation of books, what drives people to collect, iconoclastic book stores and dealers, writers who love and collect (Umberto Eco has 30,00 books!!) and many other subjects. This is not a book that you zip through or at least I couldn't. He deals with people who REALLY collect books. I am not talking about Aunt Mildred who has a basement full of Harlequin Romances and old best sellers. I am talking about people who buy first editions in pristine condition, people who buy incunabula and folios. People who don't have a problem paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for ONE book. That is so not me. I have trouble buying a hardback book unless I can justify in my own mind that it compliments the books I already have and is a book that I think I will read again. Those are few and far between and that is also why you have the library. Just an aside but it is really maddening when you spend money on a book and then you don't like it.

I am not sure what makes someone want to collect books that they can look at, but don't want to touch or use because they are old and rare. That isn't what a book is for in my opinion. A book is to be held and opened and read and devoured. To be savored and sometime to be reopened at a later date when you can sit down and visit with the old friends that you made there. However, there is a place for everyone and without the people who inhabit the pages of this book we wouldn't have the wealth of knowledge and the preservation of books and the research libraries that are available today.

All in all an enjoyable read but it was still work.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Journaling (a continuing journey)

I come from a family of people who keep diaries. My mother has written in her diary daily since she was a teenager. My maternal grandmother did the same thing. My father keeps a daily dairy on his computer. I attempted to keep a diary off and on for many years. I have those sad little "5 Year Diary" things sitting on my shelf with my journals. The first ones are fitfully filled in, sometimes there are long gaps between short entries. Some of the diaries started and fizzled out in high school. Others cover certain periods during the early years of marriage and children. But, none of them really panned out. It just wasn't "me".

Then, about 10 years ago I began to journal. Now I can hear you saying, "Well journaling and writing in a diary are the same thing aren't they?" Well, I can tell you that they aren't the same at all. My mother is able to condense her entire day into three lines. I am not sure how she does it. I can't even finish one thought in three lines let alone condensing the entire day. It is amazing. My grandma Pringle could do the same thing. In fact, she could make a 5 Year Diary last seven or eight years by writing on every available space. I need more room to write.

I can't pinpoint what was the "trigger", if you will, to my style of journaling. I think it was a combination of things. I needed a way to work through thoughts and feelings in a constructive way. I needed a way to preserve what was happening in my life now that I had time to actually think and wasn't totally immersed in small children (three children in 5 years tends to take up A LOT of your time and energy). It just sort of evolved. I also happened to see "The English Patient". In that movie, the character played by Ralph Fiennes had a book that seemed to have many functions including as a journal. He had all manner of things stuck into it. Things that meant something to him. It wasn't just a place to write it was the story of a life. I knew that is what I wanted my journals to look like.

I try to write in it every day. If I have gone to see a movie, a sporting event, anything that involves a printed ticket the evidence is inserted onto the page corresponding to that day. If there is some kind of play bill, birthday card etc. I paste those in the back. Whatever pertains to my life goes in there. When we travel I take extensive notes which are typed up when I get home and then inserted into the journal. You get the picture.

I try to be as much of an open book in my journal as is possible to be. That means that if I am angry with the DH then I put that in the journal. Now, you might think that isn't a good idea, that the girls might read that in years to come and be upset. I thought that at one time too but then I had a conversation with a friend who is also a "journaler". She encouraged me to write all of it down but to make sure that if there was conflict between Dan and I that I also acknowledged the resolution of that conflict. Good idea Diana. So that is what I do. My journals sit in plain view on one of my shelves, 10 years worth. If you want to go through them looking for the conflicts, be my guest. There aren't that many instances of them but they are there. More likely you will get bored with all the mundane things that I write about. What ever comes into my head. They are MY journals after all.

Well, this is a long (and most likely boring) post. If you want a great book that talks about journaling, in the form that I inhabit it then check out
"Leaving a Trace" by Alexandra Johnson. It is awesome. Then get yourself a journal and start to write.

Happy Birthday Grandmother!

This is my wonderful grandmother and today is her 96th birthday!!! She has been a very special person in my life and I love her very much. We don't get to see each other very much these days since she lives several states away but I think of her almost every day.
  • Grandma was and is my knitting influence. If it could be knit then she could knit it. She had this amazing cabled white wool coat with an awesome red lining that she knit. She always wore it in the winter and I was fascinated by it. She taught me to knit when I was an early teenager but I am sorry to say that there was a LOOOOOONG gap between learning to knit and picking up my pointy sticks again in 2006. She knit "Continental" or "German" method which made her wickedly fast. She could knit and talk or watch TV and not look at her hands and things came out beautifully. Evidently her sister, Margaret, could do the same thing. That is still amazing to me. I am so not there yet.
  • Grandma knew that I loved lettuce (still do for that matter) and many times when we came to visit she would have an entire head of lettuce all washed and ready for me. I could eat as much as I wanted. I can still remember eating the crisp, sweet leaves. Sorry, I know some people cringe at the thought of plain old iceberg lettuce but that stuff is like candy to me.
  • There were several years when I would spend a couple of weeks with Grandma and Grandpa in the summer time. They lived in Wisconsin at the time (Grandpa was a minister in a TINY church). I loved those times. We picked strawberries, we read books, we played in the lake at my aunt's cottage. It was great to lay in bed at night, with the window open and listen to the sounds of the country, especially the wind in the fields across the road.
  • my grandparent's house always smelled the same, no matter what house it was it always smelled the same. In fact, I have several pieces of furniture that belonged to Grandma and Grandpa and I can open them up, take a whiff and remember.
  • Grandma was always one for proper etiquette. I don't remember ever eating off of paper plates around her house, although we may have. In fact, when she would have me set the table I had to make sure that the pattern on the Blue Willow dishes was turned just so. I still do that when I set my table with my own set of Blue Willow. You see, when I got married that is the pattern that I had to have. Blue Willow was the only one for me.
  • I have so many memories that it would take too long to list them all here and you would get bored, stop reading my blog and go to something constructive for a change. We wouldn't want THAT to happen now would we. Someday I think I will just do a huge journal entry about all my Grandma memories but it won't be here. Sorry.
Grandma lives in assisted living these days but she is still pretty sharp! She has shrunk a tad, now being shorter that I (which the DH would say isn't too difficult) and walks slowly and with difficulty but she still gets dressed every day, still does some of her own laundry, still goes to church on Sundays and is a prayer warrior. I know that she misses Grandpa a lot and is ready to go home to the Lord. I will miss her so much when that happens but I have the assurance that I will see her again and that makes all the difference. Happy Birthday Grandma. I love you.

Monday, March 24, 2008

End User Culture

On a recent “Cast On” podcast, Brenda Dayne said something that got me to thinking. She said that we are now a culture of “end users”. That struck a cord with me but I feel like I have to “journal it out” to know if that is the truth or not. Webster’s Dictionary defines end user as the ultimate consumer of a finished product. Hmm. Is that how I would describe the culture that I live in? I think that the answer would be yes.

Our western culture is a consumer culture, there is no doubt about that. If it can be manufactured commercially rather than being made at home then people will buy it. If you don’t believe that then you should take some time to observe what is purchased at the grocery store or your local big box store. I am an observer of people and the things that are going on around me. One of the things that I do is I look, discreetly, at what people have in their grocery carts in the check out line. I have to say that I am in the minority when it comes to almost totally fresh fruits, veggies and the other consumables. I am amazed at the amount of preprocessed, prepared foods that people buy. All in the name of convenience I would think and because they don’t want to cook for themselves, they don’t know how to or they just don’t care and think that because you can purchase a fully prepared lasagna in the frozen food section then you should. That sounds really preachy and I don’t mean it to be (well, just a little maybe). I just think that all that preprocessed, low fat, low carb, low sugar, low everything, high convenience food tastes really bad and in the end doesn’t to anything for you.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a consumer just like everyone else. I made a trek to Walmart just this morning. I am not advocating using corn cobs or catalog pages for TP (I have gone the catalog route when camping, NOT FUN). Nor am I saying that we all need to know how to sew our own clothes or make our own shoes etc. However, I think that something vital and important has been lost in our quest to purchase what we consume rather than produce it ourselves. Or for that matter to even be aware of where the raw materials are coming from. This statement can cover a wide range of things. In no way am I saying that we all should be raising our own chickens (I have my brother to do that for me) or go out and hunt our own game (again, the bro does it for me) or have a cow out back or even have a garden if you are not so inclined. But, I think we have lost something precious when we don’t know how to make a loaf of bread (which is a disgustingly easy thing to do and tastes SOOOO much better than store bought) or cook a meal from scratch, or knit a sock, or even sew up a hem. We only know how to buy those things that we think we need.

I came across a study recently whose conclusions were that convenience foods that are purchased to save time aren’t really all that convenient. On average a convenience “main course” saved 5-10 minutes of prep time toward the total meal. However, the person using the convenience food often added on more side dishes than the person who was cooking from scratch and in the end consumed more calories. Interesting. I can tell you that I can make bread a WHOLE lot cheaper than I can buy it and my homemade pizza is very good (and getting better) and costs a great deal less than the stuff that I get from my local pizzeria. I make the crust, I make the sauce. Yes, I buy the cheese. I can’t say that the stuff I knit or sew is any cheaper but the satisfaction that I derive from producing those items far out weighs (for me at least) the cost of the materials. We have lost the ability to look at something that we have produced with our own hands and to know that we have done something special. We have also lost the ability to sit and quietly do a project. We must always have lives full of noise and action and stuff. No wonder we all need medication to sleep or to wake up or to get over our depression or other things that I can’t mention here. Have a cup of jasmine green tea, people, and take a load off!!! Knit a sock, read a book, weed the garden (if the snow would ever melt that is). Slow down and smell the roses.

He Just can't help himself

I am a pitiful dog. I can't help myself sometimes. I miss my people when they are away. I have to get into mischief when they are gone. I know, I know. I had been good for a long time. We don't have to go over the Lasagna Incident. That is water under the bridge. Nor does my mistress have to bring up AGAIN the fact that I couldn't stop myself from eating that 1/2 pound of cooked bacon, or a part of the birthday cake, or the cookies, or.......

When my people went off to Easter Sunday service I said I would be good. It was Easter after all. But I was lonely and the container that had held that yummy Kringle was sitting on the counter and I just had to sniff it...and take it back to my house....and lick it just a little...and then tear it into little pieces...and FINALLY to take a nap on it. Mistress didn't yell at me, probably because she was laughing too hard.

*&%^%$##$#%% weather

Let's see. Look at calendar. Month of the year is March. Check! Day of the month is the 22nd (I am a tad late posting). Check! First day of Spring was the 21st. Check! Then why the heck did we get 7 inches of new snow last night? It looks like January out there not March. Easter is upon us (OK, OK Easter was yesterday, so sue me, I'm a tad slow). This is just ridiculous.

I was so depressed about the snow that I decided to wear my new, Spring green socks that I finished today. They make me happy. Aren't they lovely. It took me longer than usual to get them done (almost a month) but they were worth it. The yarn was Pagewood Farm hand dyed sock yarn, 100% super wash Merino. Nancy Martin, my knitting "go to" woman gave me the yarn. Yes, I said GAVE me the yarn. I know how much the skein cost so THANK YOU Nancy.

I immediately cast on the next pair of socks as I am in "training" for Sock Wars. I fully expect to be slaughtered in the first round but I will give it the old college try.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Lap Warmer

It is very difficult to work on the computer when you have a cat that thinks he is a lap warmer. Zach does the same thing every morning. I will be working on the computer and he will come and stand by my chair, meow at me and try to kitty mind meld (for those of you who are Star Trek fans) me into letting him up on my lap. Once he has accomplished his task then he settles himself on my arm which makes it nearly impossible to type. Why do I put up with this? Who is the pet and who is the master? Of course I pick him up and let him sit as long as he likes. Otherwise he will just sit there and look at me while he slowly drives me out of my mind. I am such a pushover.

Things That Make Me Happy Part 1

My favorite oldest daughter, Ashley, occasionally posts a list of things that make her happy. I think that is a very good idea and so I will begin a list here. I think I will especially need it today as it is 1. the first day of Spring which should be a happy event but 2. we have a Winter Storm Watch and 3-6 inches of snow predicted.
  • swirling leaves in the Fall
  • early mornings at the cottage
  • black olives!!
  • the sound of my daughters laughing together
  • that fist cup of coffee in the morning (even though it is now only decaf)
  • making bread
  • having a book in your hand that you have been just dying to read
  • knitting socks
  • liverwurst sandwiches with sweet pickles and mayo (stop that gagging!)
  • the sounds of the birds first thing in the morning. I get up when they do so we greet each other.
  • rainy days when I don't have to go anywhere
  • organizing something
  • Jon and Kate Plus 8
Well, I think that is all for now but I will try to make this a fairly frequent thing. I think it is a good idea to sit and purposefully think about the things that make you happy.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bibliographic Obesity

My name is Debbie and I have.....Bibliographic obesity. I have sought therapy in the past, I have given books away (that is REALLY painful), I have thinned and culled the "herd" but it just keeps growing. I promised myself that in the year 2008 I wouldn't buy any new books until I had gotten through some from my TBR pile but.....I lied. I bought two books just today. I went to the library and came back with two other books. I had a book come in the mail today from Paperback Book Swap. I have always loved books. I can't remember a time in my life when I wasn't reading. I have always had piles of books here and there. I just can't stop!!!

My reading life has gone through different phases over the course of my life. When I was growing up I usually had my nose buried in a book. I read anything and everything. Most of my summer memories are focused around reading. I could be found reading in the hammock, on the dock, on a raft floating in the lake, laying on the scratchy horse hair couch at the cottage, in bed until 2am, at the breakfast table, wherever. I am sure that it was a pain for my parents when I would rather sit in the car and read than go into the museum. When I was in nursing school and when the kids were little I didn't have much time to read. I read some but it had to be sandwiched into those odd moments when I was sitting in carpool line. But now I can't find enough time to read. My office definitely fits the adage "So many books, so little time". I will, eventually, get through all these books but by that time more books will have taken their place. It is good to know that there are others with the same issue. Christopher Hitchens and I don't see eye to eye on many things but it is nice to know that he is also a prisoner of the shelves.

I have come to realize that there is really no hope of a cure and frankly I am not sure that I want one. When it comes right down to it I love to read. I love to read more than just about anything else in the world. I love the smell of books whether they are new from the store or library books. I LOVE the smell of library books, especially the older ones. I love the way that I can become totally lost in a good book. I don't hear anything, I am unaware of what is going on around me. I am reading. I love new books that I haven't read before and I love to sit down with a well loved and very familiar book. Get the picture! I love reading. I never go anywhere without a book. I always take too many books on trips with me because the worst thing in the world would be to get stuck somewhere and not have enough reading material. Horrors!

I come by my reading gene honestly. My father is a reader and his father before him. My grandpa Pringle was a reader too. It runs in the family. So, I think I will stop now and go and read. It is my birthday and I can do what I want (well not really but I like to think that).

Natal Day

I am, astonishingly, 48 years old today. Yes, I don't mind telling you how old I am. You can't see the gray hair on my head but it is there. I have earned every one of those gray hairs and every one of my wrinkles. I remind my girls that those hairs have THEIR names on them! As do the wrinkles. Botox for me. NO WAY! Color my hair? You must be joking. I am WAY too lazy (and cheap for that matter) to do it. You will just have to take me as I am. Most of the time that mean you will find me in jeans and no make up. At least now my hair has grown out to a nice curly length.

You couldn't pay me to go back to my 20's. I like myself so much more now. Perhaps it is just that I don't care what other people think of me. You have to take me as you find me.

Well, I am off to knit and do whatever I want to do because it is my birthday and I can!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sock Wars!!!!

I have been accepted as a member of Sock Wars. I am so excited! I love knitting socks, as I have mentioned before. I first read about Sock Wars in a Wall Street Journal article. Unfortunately, I can't post the link because you have to be a subscriber to read it. Pity. However, check out the Sock Wars website to get an idea of this blood thirsty competition. I had better go and knit now that I am in "sock training".

The Theology of Toys

I forgot that I had this. It is funny so I will share on this really gloomy day where it is very foggy.

Capitalism: He who dies with the most toys wins
Hari Krishna: He who plays with the most toys wins
Judaism: He who buys toys at the lowest price wins
Catholicism: He who denies himself the most toys wins
Anglican: They were our toys first
Greek Orthodox: No, they were OURS first
Branch Davidian: He who dies playing with the biggest toys wins
Atheism: There is no toy maker
Polytheism: There are many toy makers
Evolutionism: the toys made themselves
Church of Christ, Scientist: We are the toys
Communism: Everyone gets the same number of toys, and you go straight to the opposite of heaven if we catch you selling yours.
Baha'i: All toys are just fine with us
Amish: Toys with batteries are surely a sin
Taoism: The doll is as important as the dumptruck
Mormonism: Every boy may have as may toys as he wants
Voodoo: Let me borrow that doll for a second....
Hedonism: Hang the rule book! Let's play!
Seventh Day Adventist: He who plays with his toys on Saturday loses
Church of Christ: He whose toys make music loses
Baptist: Once played always played
Jehovah's Witness: He who "places" the most toys door to door wins
Pentecostalism: He whose toys can talk wins
Existentialism: Toys are a figment of your imagination
Confucianism: Once a toy is dipped in water, it is no longer dry
Non-denominationalism: We don't care where the toys came from, let's just play.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Deleting of a book

For the few of you that keep tabs on what I am reading you may have noticed that "First Salute" by Barbara Tuchman has disappeared from the Currently Reading list but has not, consequently, appeared in the Read in 2008 list. That is because the book was BORING, BORING, BORING and I have eliminated it from the TBR pile and listed it on Paperback Book Swap. I have read several other things by Barbara Tuchman and thoroughly enjoyed them but this one just didn't grab me. I have so many books that I want to read that it is a waste of my time to plow through a book that just doesn't grab me. Such is life.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


OK, I know that this makes me slightly on the geeky side (daughter Ashley says not slightly geeky but totally) but I love calendars. I love knowing my schedule for the next year or more. It just makes me happy. In fact, I have all the important school dates for the 2008-2009 year already in Outlook. I get just shivery thinking about it. Now to put them in the day planner that goes everywhere with me. Be still my beating heart.

I used to have an electronic PDA. It was functional but really didn't pull at my "heart strings" so I went back to a paper planner. It was just more convenient for me to have actually paper at my fingertips rather than powering up the PDA and typing stuff in. Call me crazy but that is just the way I am. My planner holds my calendar with both month and week views. That is where I do my day to day planning and keep a running list of the things that I need to accomplish on any given day. I really like lists too but that it the fodder for another post at another time.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The calm after the storm

Well, the snow has finally stopped and the sun has come out on a really beautiful Sunday. Not a breath of wind this morning and everything very still. No clouds in the clear blue sky. We rarely have a day with a cloudless sky I can tell you!

This is what the back deck looks like at the moment. The dog has made a path through the snow to get to the yard.

The finally tally for snow fall is just about two feet. Went out this morning to do some shoveling. You can read the story of the temperature over the last two days in the density of the snow. The top 8 inches are very fluffy and easy to shovel. The temperature was definitely below 20F when that stuff fell yesterday. The bottom 2/3 of the snow is much denser and definitely heavier. The temp was in the mid 20's when that stuff fell. Definitely harder to shovel I can tell you. It is at times like this that I am very glad that we have someone who comes and plows the driveway. There is no way that I would want to get out and snow blow 125 ft. of driveway and the big concrete pad up by the garage.

The sun is out finally!! We haven't seen her for about 4 days.

My crazy snowfaced dog. He thinks he is in doggie Nirvana with all the snow. His idea of the best time is for me to throw shovels full of snow at him while he runs around like a maniac. He spends a lot of time with his face buried in the snow snuffling and eating the snow.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Cleveland Weather Part 3

Oh boy. The sun has finally gone down and the snow just keeps on coming. The last time I checked we had 19.5 inches on the deck.

Cleveland Weather Part 2

Well, we currently have 10 inches on the deck and the weather
people are predicting that we could get another 8-10 inches
today. Don't you wish you lived where I do?!?

Cleveland Weather Prt1

I just want to be on record as saying Cleveland weather sucks big time. It is March 8th and we have snow, LOTS of snow and more on the way. I haven't measured yet (will do that later and post a picture) but I would guess at least 8 inches have fallen since yesterday morning and it is supposed to snow all day. AND I just heard thunder. Stupid, schizophrenic weather. I have daughters scattered all over the country who are all trying to come home today of all days. We already found that my oldest daughters flight from NYC has been cancelled. We quickly rebooked her for tomorrow. But I still have one daughter coming back from NYC on a bus (choir tour) and another driving out from the Chicago area. Lovely.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Electrified again

Our power was out this morning for an hour and a half. Having the power out is always, for me at least, a lesson in patience and asking God to calm my spirit. You may think that is silly but it is what it is. I want that power back on NOW!!

Our house may be a tad different from yours. We have a well and a nyatic septic system. When the power is out we don't have water, because the well pump is powered by electricity. And, when we are without power we can't introduce any water into the septic system. I can tell you, if you know that you can't flush the toilet until the power comes back on the first thing you are going to think is, "Boy, I REALLY have to go to the bathroom." It happens every time. In order for you to understand why we can't put water (or anything else for that matter) into the system I would have to write a long description of what a nyatic system is. I don't want to do that and I can guarantee you wouldn't care (I wouldn't if I were you, I can feel my eyes glazing over at the thought). We can't even use our land line phones because the system that we have is electrically based. Thank goodness for cell phones.

Having the power out is inconvenient at the very least. I can always find something to do but it seems that on those occasions what I want to do involves something that requires electricity. Scrapbook? Nope, I need light to see what I am doing. Cooking? Nope, I have gas appliances but they have electric lighters so I am still screwed. Laundry? You must be joking. Heck, I couldn't even go and work out. Electric garage door opener remember. Yes, I know I could open the door manually but I am basically a lazy person. So, I am "forced" to knit and read until the lights on on. Darn.

Whenever the power goes off I have to fight the urge to immediately run and call the electric company to demand that they give me an estimated time that the juice will be back on. I managed to wait 45 minutes this time before I dug out the number to call. Of course that is also a frustrating experience as you enter the telephone tree hell. Then they put you on hold with the lovely music and the soothing message every 30 seconds or so that tells you that all the operators are currently still busy with other customers but to please stay on the line and your call will be answered in the order it was received. Once you are in that "line" you are stuck. You can't hang up if you want answers and so you just stay on, endlessly.

I will say, however, that it is interesting to sit in your house when there is no power. Every house has a certain "hum" that goes on at a low level 24/7. There is the frig and freezer that cycle on and off, the low hum of the fluorescent light bulb in the kitchen. All the little things, powered by electricity, that give off that "this house is alive" sound. When there is no electricity then it is amazing what you can hear. The cats running in the upstairs hallway (well, I can hear that anyways because they are both such porkers that it thunders when they run), the ticking of my cukoo clock and grandfather clock, the birds outside, the dog doing whatever dogs do. The house is silent and still, just waiting until the electricity comes back on and everything starts to hum again.

Wow, the electricity came back on just as I wrote out that last sentence. Creepy. OK, I am going to take a shower now, a nice hot shower with the radio blaring and all the lights on. I am such a rampant consumer.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


Look what I have created!! Foccacia.

I love to bake, especially yeast breads of any kind. There is something magical about putting all that stuff together and having a warm, yeasty loaf of something eventually come out of the oven. Now, of course, there are times of absolute failure. I managed to make some hamburger buns several weeks ago that came out like hockey pucks because I had killed the yeast. I knew that I should check the temperature on that water one more time before I added it to the yeast to proof but I was in a hurry. I also knew fairly early on in the process that I was going to have a problem. The dough wasn't rising very well (make that not at all really). I went ahead and baked them but I knew what the eventual outcome would be. I just had to go to the end of the process before I gave up on them. What came out of the oven that first time more closely resembled something from the NHL than something that would enrobe my hamburger patties. I had to make an entire second batch (which turned out much better but I still need to work on the recipe).

These loaves were produced with the instant rise yeast that doesn't need to be "proofed". The recipe makes two loaves. Dan and I managed to finish off most of one loaf with dinner. Some olive oil and Parmesan cheese to dip the bread in......YUM!

Ashley, I will definitely make this while you are home next week.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I live in Narnia where it is always winter

Look, I live in Narnia where it is always winter! March is here, with the promise of Spring and warmer weather and flowers and bunnies..... but not in Northeast Ohio. Oh no, WE get ice storms, downed trees and branches, more snow on the way. Lucky us.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


An interesting book to be sure. I am fascinated by people who "live off the land" or eat locally. I always WANT to do this but.....

Alisa Smith and James Mackinnon set out to eat for a year on a "100 mile Diet". That meant that everything, yes everything that they consumed had to originate within a 100 mile radius of their home in Vancouver. That meant if something had been produced locally but had ingredients that came from farther afield then it wasn't to be. A lot of work to be sure.

Enjoyed the book, inspires me but I won't be living off the land any time soon.

Congrats Ashley!!!

My oldest progeny, Ashley, is a student at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan in the Cartooning and Illustration department. We still aren't sure where she got her artistic talent. Dan and I were obviously out getting coffee when the Lord came by with the ability to draw. Ashley has been drawing since she was a small child and she has always been good, she has just gotten better.

Today was the day that she had to turn in her Junior Year Thesis. All the cartooning/illustration majors spend their junior year working on a large thesis project. They are told what the theme is at the beginning of the year, they must submit their thesis subject to the head of the department who gives the go/no go. Then they spend time doing research and developing an 18 page comic. Now for most of us that doesn't sound like a lot of work. I can hear you saying, "Heck, I could do that! What's to writing a comic book." I know you are saying that because I said that at one point in time, until I learned how much work goes into writing comics. You can't just do any old thing that you want. There are actually fairly strict rules. Who knew! Anything that requires 7 months to complete is an intensive project.

Anyways, Ashley had to turn in the project this morning and have the head of the department review them. There is a fair amount riding on this. Obviously her grade but almost more importantly is a chance to show her work in the all school end of the year art show. Very few get in.......... Ashely did!!!!!! Tom (the department head, who has the most amazing tatoos I might add) said that she definitely had a spot, one of only three from her particular class.


Monday, March 3, 2008

Scrapping in Amish Country

I forgot to say that on the drive home I saw a lot of these. Holmes County is full of Amish farms and businesses.

Oh poor blog, I have neglected you so. Here it is Monday evening and I haven't posted anything. I do have an excuse, I really do. I was...... scrapbooking. Yes, I say it with pride. I was indulging in one of my passions.

I spent 24 hours standing around cutting pictures, placing pictures, journaling, all those things that go along with scrapbooking.

The weekend started out rather sloppy. The weather was absolutely horrible, rain/sleet/snow mixture, and I had to drive an hour and a half south to get to the bed and breakfast. I figured - wrongly I might add - that the weather would get better south of Canton. It usually always does. Not this time. Of course, when the weather is like that then it means that there are always people doing 50mph on the highway when they could EASILY do the speed limit. Sigh.

Anyways, I arrived safe and sound, checked in, unloaded the car and started scrapping. You might ask how much did I really need to take, I was only staying 24 hours. If you ask that question then you definitely don't scrap book. I had to take all my paper, because I didn't know what I might need. I needed all my stickers, all my cutting tools and almost all of my punches. It was not an insignificant amount of stuff. I am used to having everything at my finger tips in my workshop so it was rather nerve wracking to decide what to take. I made good decisions thankfully.

What do women scrapbooking do besides cut pictures and kvetch to our hearts content? Why we eat of course. We all brought snacks and drinks (no alcohol, that doesn't go well with cropping pictures. Too much alcohol tends to make you crop your mother-in-law out of pictures). We nibbled all night long and even the next day after the HUGE, GIGANTIC breakfast that Paul and Naomi served us.

I am ashamed to admit how many chips I ate as well as candy and cookies and oh you get the picture. I thoroughly enjoyed every calorie. Yum

Besides all the snacks, we were fed an enormous breakfast. There was ham with raisin sauce (a personal favorite of mine), egg/cheese/bread casserole, muffins, fruit slush, hash browns with optional cheese sauce AND sticky buns. It just kept coming and coming. I felt like I needed to go out, hitch up the Belgians and go plow a field to get rid of some of those calories. Of course, I didn't turn any of that food down. I'm not a idiot you know.

Here we are, the happy scrappers, ready to get back to work.