Saturday, May 31, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom!!

Tomorrow is my mom's birthday (I won't say how many that is). HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! I love you tons. I am posting this today because I will be on the road tomorrow and didn't want to miss it.

I have learned so much from my mom over the years. She is one of the most giving person's that I know. Funny, you bet (and not always intentionally). She has a heart for hospitality, she is a prayer warrior, she can make a mean pancake and she can grow any plant there is.

We are separated by miles but I think about her every day and look forward to being with her and dad for 10 whole days in July!! We are already anticipating endless hours of fun at the cottage, going to the flea market, to the dollar stores, to the grocery store, to any kind of store. To just "hangin".

Happy Birthday Mom. I love you.

The Best B&B!

We have been in Tennessee and Georgia for the last several days. Friday and Saturday nights we are staying at the nicest B&B. If you are ever in Alto, Georgia (north of Atlanta) you must call Judy and Max Chosewood so that you can stay in their B&B, The Lodge on Apple Pie Ridge. They have treated us so wonderfully. The log house is huge and beautiful, the scenery is wonderful and the breakfast was amazing. I have never had grits that good (sorry mom).

I can't sing their praises enough. Dan had business to conduct on Friday and I was going to have to find someplace to hang for 6 hours. We were going to find a Starbucks or something (yuck!) when it occured to us to call Judy and see if I could just hang out there. She said that wasn't a problem at all so I spent all day Friday just lounging in the upstairs common room reading, knitting, napping. It was the nicest day. Thank you Judy for being so accommodating.

So, if you can stay at The Lodge on Apple Pie Ridge. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Are we safer?

We can debate about the Iraq War if you want but if you think that we are less safe here in the US and abroad in US interests then you need to read this excellent piece by John Hinderaker of Powerline blog

Very interesting.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

Have you ever wondered what Memorial Day really is? Do you even care? We get the day off from work and school. Many businesses are closed. The Federal gov't and the markets shut down. But why? If you have a great grandparent still living, or even a grand parent I bet that they can tell you why.

Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was originally known, is a day for remembering those who have served in our military and have died in that service. A day to say thank you to the brave men and women who serve and protect.

Just a little history lesson to let you know the origin of Memorial Day. Something to think about. After the end of the Civil War, General John A. Logan was impressed with the way that the South honored their war dead, setting aside a specific day for the purpose or remembering the dead and the living and to decorate the graves of those who had died during military service. On May 5, 1868, in his capacity as Commander in Chief of the veterans organization Grand Army of the Republic, General Logan issued a proclamation that "Decoration Day" become a national observance. The date of May 30th was chosen because it is not the anniversary of any battle but a neutral date. The term Memorial Day didn't come into use until after WWII.

We must always remember those men and women, living and dead who have served in our military. If you have a member of your family who has served or is currently serving, please tell them thank you. If you see a member of the military, wherever you happen to be, stop and tell them thank you.

For me, the best way to remember is to re-read the Gettysburg Address. I think Abraham Lincoln said it best.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great Civil War, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate - we can not consecrate- we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Start You Engines!

Today is the annual running of the Indianapolis 500. I can hear you saying, "So what. It is just a car race." JUST A CAR RACE! If you can say that then you have never actually experienced the awesomeness that is the Indy 500. So, strap on your seatbelt as I give you my hommage to the greatness that is the Indianapolis 500. I don't care about any other car race but this one but I do care about this one.

It is called the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" for a reason. What else could you say about a sporting event that is attended by approximately 400,000 people. The exact number of attendees isn't reported by the Speedway but there are 257,000 permanent seats and there are about another 150,000 people that are in the infield and other parts of the track.

Unless you have actually attended the race you can't imagine the excitement of the collective crowd as they wait for the race to begin. If you actually have a seat you arrive early to look for a place to park. There are lots that are open, that you can park in and walk the long walk to the speedway. The speedway itself sits in the midst of suburbia, surrounded by houses. There are also many people who earn some extra money on that day by charging a fee for you to park on their front lawn. Many who plan to sit in the infield arrive at the Speedway very early in the morning (like 2a) to get in line in anticipation of the opening of the gates. The lines of cars, trucks, RV's, motorcycles and other vehicles snake through the suburban streets. People sleep, people walk around keeping awake, people start their tailgate party early. The gates open at 5a and everyone genially files in, quickly finds a spot to park (they tell you where), gathers their stuff up and rushes to the area of the track that, if they are wise, they have already picked out in their head. Then the waiting begins.

You sit through high school marching bands and other prerace "stuff". If you are sitting anywhere by the pits then you can watch the frenetic last minute things. The cars are lined up on the track, 33 cars in eleven rows, surrounded by multitudes of people doing multitudes of last minute things. Then comes the moment when, if you are lucky, Jim Nabors sings "Back Home Again in Indiana" (he has only missed a year or two since 1971). The drivers make their last walk out to the cars. Then, what you are waiting for, the announcement, "Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines!" Then the breath holding moment, have all the cars started? Are there any problems? Everyone is a go. The pace car is out on the track. The sound is tremendous. The pace car pulls out and the cars follow, weaving back and forth to heat up their tires (better traction). The cars zoom past at just under 100mph, staying in a rough approximation of the rows. Will this be the lap where the pace car pulls off. No. They go around one more time, the cars streaking past in a blur. How can they possibly go any faster (but THEY CAN!). Finally, the roar of the crowd swells as the pace car comes out of the fourth turn and pulls to the left down into the pits. You look down the track and the green flag is being waved and the race is on.

If you thought that the cars were going fast before and that the sound of the engines was deafening then you were wrong. The pace car is gone, the green flag is out and it is "horses out of the gate". The roar of the crowd (remember this is 400,000 people) is absolutely drowned out by the roar of the car engines as they jump to get out ahead of all the other cars. The cars pass so fast that you can barely see them before they are past.

Then comes the hours of cars going around and around, positions changing, cars giving out, people dropping out. I will be honest, I know that there are plenty of people that are hoping for a crash. When those happen it is spectacular to say the least. I only remember one crash that happened in front of us but I do remember it clearly.

The race finally ends, after 500 miles (that is 200 laps around the 2.5 mile track) and many hours. We all hope for a close finish but a safe one. Then it is the long trek back to your car, whether you are parked in the infield or outside. Everyone is tired, hot, sometimes wet if there has been rain, but all are full of the fun that they have had at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

So, lets give a great "drive safe and fast" to the men and women who are driving in this year's Indy 500. In order of position they are Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon(previous winner), Ryan Briscoe(R), Helio Castroneves(2 time winner), Danica Patrick!, Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti( grandson of winner Mario), Victor Meira, Hideki Mutoh, Ed Carpenter, Thomas Schecter, Townsend Bell, Graham Rahal (age 19, son of winner Bobby Rahal), Darren Manning, Bruno Junquiera, Justin Wilson, Buddy Rice (past winner), Davey Hamilton, Alex Lloyd, Ryan Hunter-Reavy, John Andretti (nephew of Mario), Sarah Fisher, Will Power, Jeff Simmons, Oriol Servia(R), EJ Viso(R), Milka Duno, Marco Mores, Enrique Bernoldi, Jaime Camara, AJ Foyt IV (grandson of winner AJ Foyt Jr.), Buddy Lazier (previous winner) and Marty Roth.

Ladies and Gentlement........START YOUR ENGINES!

The Tenth Muse

The Tenth Muse
Jones, Judith

Knitting Sticks: 4

Judith Jones isn't a name that most people would know unless they are a part of the publishing community. But many of us who like to cook own her a tremendous debt of gratitude. For nearly 25 years she has been a senior VP and editor at Knopf. To her we owe the publishing of Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julie Child.

The Tenth Muse is her memoir. It is eminently readable and throughly enjoyable. You learn about her years in Paris, where she ran an illegal restaurant (short lived) in the apartment she was staying in. Her years at Knopf where she was responsible for sheparding MAFC through the years of writing and editing and testing of recipes. We also owe her a debt for the American publication of The Diary of Anne Frank. She knew it had to be published and she pushed until it was.

Friday, May 23, 2008

This Day in History

1533: King Henry the Eighth succeeds in having his marriage to Catherine of Aragon declared null and void (the sneaky old man)

1934: Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow are gunned down in Bienville Parish, LA by Texas Rangers and Louisiana lawmen.

1945: Heinrich Himmler, the head of the Nazi Gestapo, commits suicide after his capture by the Allies.

1960: Israel announces the capture of Nazi fugitive Adolph Eichmann in Argentina. (a great book to read on the subject is Eichmann in My Hands by Peter Z. Malkin)

What I learned from Sock Wars

I have to say that participating in Sock Wars III has been a frustrating experience. When I first started working on this post I had written that it was a great experience but I have changed my mind at the moment. Bear with me for a moment as I whine, then I will have it out of my system we will hope. I was so excited about participating, I waited anxiously for my target "dossier", I struggled through learning the pattern (which really isn't that difficult just a bit tricky), I knit like the wind for three full days and I finished my first pair of socks. I sent them off Priority Mail and let my target know that they were coming. She responded once via email and then silence. No acknowledgement that the socks were received, no going onto the Sock Wars website to mark that she was "dead" and that I had scored my first kill. Until she did that and sent me the info for her target I couldn't do anything else. I waited, I emailed her twice but only silence. So, I finally emailed the "Supreme Commander" Julie Gardner and explained the situation. She gave my target 48 hours to let her know if the socks had arrived and to mark herself killed. After that I was to knit for my target's target. However, I still had no dossier for that person. I had started another sock for myself, using the "Detonator" pattern so I could use that rather than starting from scratch. Technically, when you "killed" your target they were supposed to acknowledge that and then send you their target info and the socks that they had been working on. However, it was obvious THAT wasn't going to happen. So, I waited for word from Julie, I checked the website to see if "dejener" was listed as killed. And still nothing happened. So I emailed Julie again and she responded that she was still waiting to hear if my target had received the socks. O.K. So, as of this morning my original target is still listed as "Alive" and I am still in technical limbo. I will start to knit for my new target but my enthusiasm for the whole thing has been somewhat dimmed. If I didn't know that someone else is waiting for socks knit by me then I would just "bag it" and consider myself done and wait to be killed off. But I am not a quitter so I will persevere. I think I would sign up for Sock Wars again because I like the concept but I just won't get nearly as excited the next time.

OK, I am done whining for the moment.

Maria Chapman

What sad news to hear about the accidental death of Steven Curtis Chapman's youngest daughter, Maria Sue. She was accidentally hit by her brother as he was backing the family SUV out of the driveway. They lifeflighted her to Vanderbilt University but the Lord, in His infinite wisdom took her home to be with him. I can't imagine losing one of my children that way. Please be praying for the entire family as they deal with having to lay to rest their sweet child. Especially be praying for Maria's brother who, though it wasn't his fault, will carry for the rest of his life the burden of what happened. Knowing that Maria is in the hands of our loving Heavenly Father with the prospect that they will see her again must have some comfort but still my heart breaks for them.

We don't know what will happen on a daily basis. The Lord may call any of us home at any moment, so make the most of the time that you have with family and friends. Don't forget to give your kids a hug today, and everyday. Don't let a tragedy like this remind you about it, make it a part of your day. Don't forget to give the hubby a kiss before he leaves for work. Take some time to slow down and spend time with those who are special to you.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Time Was Soft There

Time Was Soft There

Mercer, Jeremy

Knitting Sticks: 4

This was an interesting book. Fairly light reading but interesting. Mr. Mercer was a Canadian journalist who ran "a foul" of a source back in about 2000. He was already a tad disillusioned with his profession and when he got the threatening phone call he figured it was time to get out of Dodge. Where to go? Not much money, not much family. Hey, I know, I will go Paris! So that is what he did. He found a hotel room but didn't have much money and didn't know what to do. One day, as he was walking the streets of Paris he happened upon a bookstore, Shakespeare and Co. I am not going to take the time to describe the bookstore to you, read the book to find out. But, the amazing thing was that the owner, George Whitman, invited Jeremy Mercer to the book store...along with the half dozen or so other people who were currently residing there. The book is the story of how he came to live at the book store for several months and the people that he met there and the life lessons that he gained.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Cookie Whisperer

Look, the Cookie Whisperer has come to our house to work her magic with cookies. I wish that you could smell the yummy smells coming from the kitchen. Of course, the cookies aren't actually for us but for the "Posse" who are coming to spend the night on Friday. I can hardly wait.

Monday, May 19, 2008

On This Day in History

Just because I haven't done one of these for a while. I give you some things that happened on May 19th

1536 Anne Boleyn is beheaded on Town Green

1780 Near total darkness descends on New England at noon. No explanation is ever given.

1964 US diplomats find at least 40 microphones planted in the newly built US Embassy in Moscow. The building was abandoned.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Pillars of the Earth

Follett, Ken

Knitting Sticks: 5

This was an interesting and absorbing book, and really long at a whopping 973 pages. I don't normally read Ken Follett but this book was recommended by someone that I work out with so I thought I would give it a try.

The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of the building of a cathedral. That is the overall theme. But it also tells the story of all the major people involved in the building. The book spans almost 40 years in the 1100's. That was a violent time, full of war, famine, murder, rape, pillage and civil war. That is all reflected in the story. There were times when it was difficult to read what was happening.

I will also admit that there were times when I was a tad bored with all the detailed descriptions of what goes into building a cathedral. I persevered through those parts but they weren't too interesting to me.

Over all I liked the book but be warned that it is long. Thank goodness it wasn't populated with too many characters.

Friday, May 16, 2008

My anniversay

Today is my 23rd wedding anniversary! Hard to believe that we have been married for 23 years but it is true. It seems, in some ways, like I have always been married. Funny how that works.

I want to say right off the bat that I am married to the greatest guy in the world. You might think your hubbie has that title but I would dispute that (we can duke it out later). I will win, just letting you know that.

Marriage is a whole lot of work but the benefits are worth all the effort (get your mind out of the gutter, I wasn't talking about THOSE benefits. Well I was but not about JUST those benefits).

Dan makes me laugh a lot, he makes me angry occasionally, he is compassionate, caring, funny, smart! and cute to boot. What more could a girl ask for. I am looking forward to the next 23 years and beyond.

Happy Anniversary HHBL. You are the man for me.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Car Dieting

I paid $3.75/gallon for gas on Tuesday. On Wednesday it was up to #3.89/gallon. I still remember the days when I thought paying .50/gallon was a rip off (I sounded like an old geezer there for a moment). With the high price of gas in mind, I have begun to go on what I am referring to as a "Car diet".

I really hadn't thought about it in that way until I read this post at Cafe Mama. I know that now I think about every trip that I take in my trusty Subaru. If I can combine trips I do. I think about the flow of the trip, making my driving as efficient as possible. I don't hop in the car to run to Heinens for that one ingredient that I forgot, I substitute. I wish that it was possible to hop on my bike to do my errands but that isn't practical where I live (and I am a tad lazy in that regard). We really live a 10-20 minute drive from just about anything so I need to be organized about trips out. Organization isn't a problem for me.

I think that it is most likely a good thing that I like to be home. I never have to worry that I don't have enough things to do at home. There are never enough hours in the day to get all my stuff done. So, I am on a car diet. Trying to see how long I can go between fill-ups. Of course, there are times when I go a little further afield but I am trying to limit those.

Monday, May 12, 2008

My Weapon is finished!

Dear victim. I have finished my weapon. The socks are done and will be on their way to Bellevue, Washington tomorrow.

I have some slight guilt at killing you off but as we all know. All is fair in war and sock knitting.

I will admit to having a hard time with this pattern. This isn't the yarn that I started out with. If you had asked me on Friday night if I was having fun I would have answered with an emphatic, "NO!!!". I had ripped sock #1 out three times by 9p. I wasn't a happy camper. But the sun came out on Saturday and I soldiered on like the good warrior that I am and I finished sock #2 at 5p this afternoon. They are ready to come to your house. I hope you enjoy them.

Now if I can just hold on for a little while longer. Perhaps kill off someone else. Of course if my assassin has sent my socks in the mail then it will be all over for me.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Sock Wars Has Begun

Kill or be killed. Knitting is a savage business.

Sock Wars has begun. I am knitting so do not disturb me. I will not be answering the phone, I will not be cooking, I will not be doing anything except knitting like the wind in order to kill off as many opponents as possible. Interfere with me and I will have to use one of my pointy sticks on you. Don't think I won't.

I will be back when I am either dead or the winner. I will keep everyone posted on my progress (perhaps).

May the fleece be with all who participate but let the best knitter win!!!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I am ready

I am ready. The yarn is wound, the pointy sticks stand in readiness. My ipod has multiple audiobooks just waiting for me..... Sock Wars III is upon me. Tomorrow at 12p GMT I will receive, via email, my secret dossier of my intended target.

This may be the one time when I allow myself a cup of actual, totally caffeine filled coffee. I am going to need my strength and mental acuity (no comments from the peanut gallery please) to at least make it out of the first days. Of course I can't just sit and knit all day. I have to take youngest progeny to the Travel Clinic for multiple shots and then go to a meeting in the evening. However, all those things are "knit friendly" so I will have my pointy sticks and sock with me.

There are 1300 of us from around the world killing, I mean competing, for the prize of ultimate Sock warrior. May the best woman (OK there are a few men participating too) win.

Knit, knit like the wind..............

My Childhood Soundtrack

I am very attune to sound. I always have been. Perhaps that is why I can become totally absorbed by a piece of music, whether it is Rachmaniov's "Variations on a Theme of Paganini" or John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High". When I am traveling I always try to sit and listen to the sound around me. Some cities are unbelievably noisy all the time. Lima, Peru is loud 24/7. There is always a horn honking or someone yelling. Salem, Tamil Nadu, India on the other hand is one of the quietest place at night. After about 8p everyone is home, the monkeys are sleeping, the birds are roosting. It is QUIET. For me sound is one of the things that summons memories. Who can forget the mullahs calling me to pray in Jerusalem (not that I planned to answer but they called A LOT).

Have you ever thought that you have a "childhood soundtrack"? A series of childhood sound memories that can take you right back to the time and place where you heard that sound. It is very instructive, I think, to record some of those memories. Most people don't think about it but I bet if you sat down and gave the little gray cells a work out you could come up with a list of childhood sound memories. Give it a try. Below you will find a few that mean the most to me. I am sure that there are more but these are the ones that I think of most often. They are in no particular order of importance.

- The sound of the train going by when we are at the cottage. Takes me right back to growing up years when I would lay in my bed (the bunk bed in the hallway) and listen to the train. I know that a lot of people don't like the sound of a train whistle but it is one of my favorites.
- Mourning doves calling in the morning. That just sounds like summer to me. Especially when I am at the cottage.
- the sound of my dad winding the bazillion clocks that he has scattered around the house.
- the swishing sound of the wind in long grass. It reminds me of the wind blowing through the fields around my grandparents house in Wisconsin. Soothing.
- the sound of water lapping against the side of a boat. I am transported back to long summer days by the lake. The day stretched endlessly ahead of me with hours and hours to read and bake myself under the sun until I had skin like leather. Skin cancer? What is that?
- all the different kinds of music that we listened to when I was growing up. We got the "gamut" if that is the way to describe it. Everything from opera to the Dillards (that would be bluegrass to the uninitiated). That is most likely why I love most kinds of music today (except for rap which has no other purpose that to be annoying).
- my family laughing at the dinner table or in the car or wherever.
- the whistle that my mom used to blow to bring us home from wherever we were in the neighborhood. It was powerful and she employed it with great vigor.

OK, I am sure that there are more memories and I will post them later. Do your own Childhood soundtrack. It is fun.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Quote of the Day

OK, if you are a vegetarian (or a vegan for that matter) don't be offended. Anthony Bourdain is an equal opportunity offender. I felt like putting this quote up today in light of this little news item involving PETA and their usual idiocy.

Vegetarans, and their Hezbollah like splinter faction, the vegans....are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit. Anthony Bourdain

Sunday, May 4, 2008

My Grandfather' Son

My Grandfather' Son

Thomas, Clarence

Knitting Sticks: an enthusiastic 5!!

This was an amazingly good book. One that I would recommend to anyone. Go out and find it and read it.

For so many people the only thing they know about Clarence Thomas is that he was accused of some awful things by Anita Hill. I would guess, if you asked, most people would not know the least think about who Clarence Thomas really is, where he came from and the things that he had to endure to get to the place where he is now. All they know is "Anita Hill" and that is sad. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is the kind of man that should be the roll model for young black men but unfortunately isn't. His life, his striving to do the best job with every job, his taking the time to think through issues rather than reacting with emotions only is something that we should all emulate.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Technology Vs The Way I Used to Do It.

I am all for technology, let us make that clear right off the bat lest any of you think I am going all "Amish". I love technology. I may not be as technologically savy as my 21 year old but I still love it. Where would I be without my digital camera or my computer.

That being said, there are times when I come to the realization that technology is not making me more efficient and cost saving. Sometimes it is wasting more time and money then doing it the "old fashioned way". A few years ago I was very into my electronic PDA. I was sure that this would be the perfect thing for me. However, I found that it was more of a hassle to power the thing up to change an appointment, it was very awkward when shopping (I am very much a "list" person) and it was a pain to sync up. So I went back to a paper "daytimer" and I have been happy ever since.

For a year now I have been using a computer program called "Living Cookbook" to store all my recipes. A good friend of mine has all her recipes stored on her computer and I had long been fascinated by the whole process. So, I did some research on line and finally ordered this program. Then I spent MANY hours inputting all my recipes (and there are a lot). I gave myself a year to see how the program worked and if it worked for me. Well the year is up and..........

I am going back to the old way of doing things. I found that whenever I wanted a recipe I had to open up the program and then print out the recipe and then transport it to the kitchen. I tried not to use my recipe box so that I would have the full experience. I found it very time consuming to pull up the program and a waster of paper and ink to print out recipes that I used frequently.

So, as of today I am using my old recipe box that my father refinished for me when I got married almost 23 years ago. The top is missing, it is dinged in places but it works just fine. I must say that I may still type out any new recipes and then put them in the box (I type faster than I can write) but it is the old way for me.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

An Engineer's Guide to Cats

This is a hilarious video, especially if you have cats.