Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Limerick In Honor of KC

Sometimes it could be quite a teaser
When she buried things deep in her freezer
The search has begun
For a cinnamon bun
Excavation successfull -- it pleased her! I knew I'd stashed one in there someplace.

Thanks KC!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


'Twas a lively in my yard last night. I can tell by the tracks in the snow. I dragged the trash bucket down to the curb at 7:00 this morning before it was all the way light (in my opinion, anyway) then came back out with the camera.

Kitsu wanted to help me outside until I started dragging the can. I don't mind if the mule deer prune my shrubs. I sympathize with any critter hungry enough to eat juniper.I suspect the little leaping critter is a squirrel and it lives in my shed. That would explain the holes in the bird seed bags.I like tree rats, they're welcome to some bird seed, even if the Engineer does gripe about sunflower seed shells on the shed floor.

Monday, January 28, 2008

But My Pants Stayed Dry

Last night the wind came in and rattled the house. For several hours it rained, pitting and melting last week's big snow. It was 37° at 11:00 am. Then the wind went dead and pellets of snow started to fall straight down like little white balls of lead. I could hear them whacking on the roof. The wind whipped up again and the snow danced like a mad dervish. It completely covered the wet ground within a couple of minutes.

I had a noon hair cut appointment. As I was leaving at 11:45 the temperature had fallen to 21° and there was about two inches of snow on the ground. I pulled out of the dread car-eating driveway and headed down the hill.

Two-thirds of the way to my destination, I took a corner at a crawl. My tires decided not to grip and the car went into free fall.

I chanted my mantra, "Expletive Deleted! Oh Evil Language! Oh Holy Expletive Deleted!" as I tried to get my car sideways enough to the curb to bounce off of it instead of over and down the embankment into the yard of the trampoline house.

Whump-bump. I was up over the curb. My mind's eye and viscera saw my car tumbling down the embankment, landing on its crushed top by the trampoline frame.

The car slid across the sidewalk and a tire caught on something at the edge of the lawn that gave enough purchase to send the car back towards the street.

Adrenaline continued to pump through my blood like a flash flood, but my pants stayed dry.

Deciding my haircut could wait for another day, I took the shortest route home.

I am not going out again today. And maybe not tomorrow.

The Jaws

Have you ever looked at something and seen something else?

I do frequently. One of my favorite blogs is Things Look Like Things. The blogger, whom I assume is a woman, has a much more refined eye than I. Comparatively, I go at things with a sledge hammer.

A friend gave me this kitchen gadget for opening jars. Looks lethal, doesn't it. The only thing I can see when I look at it is the business end of a stag beetle.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


We went out to dinner at a fancy restaurant with two other couples tonight to celebrate the Engineer's birthday. There was a huge party in the back room and our waiter was new, so service was excruciatingly slow. One couple had predinner cocktails in multiples. A bottle of wine was ordered with dinner. And then some more wine.

I am not a drinker. Not on moral grounds or anything highfalutin like that, I just don't like my grape juice spoiled. This has turned out to be to the advantage of the Engineer's family, as they all imbibe and have a built-in designated driver in me.

The other nice thing about not drinking is I get to watch the drinkers...

Mrs. A. was sitting between Mr. A. and the Engineer. She's an itty bitty thing who might weigh all of 98 pounds on a fat day. By the time dinner finally arrived, she was pretty well lubricated as was her spouse. When she emptied her own wine glass, she picked up the Engineer's and drained it. She never realized it wasn't her glass, she just saw wine and drank.

On the other side of her, Mr. A. was telling Mr. B. how delicious his lamb chops were and insisting Mr. B. try one. Mrs. A decided that Mr. A. was done eating and thought that the Engineer should eat Mr. A.'s one remaining lamb chop. Meanwhile, the waiter brought a take-home container because Mrs. A. never finishes her meal.

After a couple more glasses of wine, as we were waiting for the cook to catch, kill and prepare desert (at least that's the only reason I can think of that it took so long), Mr. A. decided he wanted his last lamb chop and discovered that his plate was no longer on the table. All was not lost, however, Mrs. A. had a take-out box, so his lamb chop must be in there.

Mr. A. scooped up the take-out box, popped open the lid and started digging through Mrs. A.'s left over rabbit with his coffee spoon. He did not find his lamb chop.

He turned to his wife and asked in a very loud voice, "Where's my lamb chop?"

"I gave it to the Engineer," she said.


"I gave it to the Engineer and he ate it."

At this point, Mr. A. turned to the Engineer and announced loudly enough to turn heads all over the restaurant, "You stole my lamb chop!"

We finally managed to mostly calm Mr. A. down by telling him it was the Engineer's birthday so he deserved the lamb chop and that Mrs. A. truly wasn't trying to starve him by giving it away.

Until we went to our separate cars, though, he kept glaring at the Engineer and muttering, "You stole my lamb chop."

I suspect this will be a lamb chop that lives forever in infamy.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Winter Skylight

My bathroom has no window, instead it has a skylight. There are three smaller ones running the length of the hall as well.

I love the natural light they bring into the house. My favorite part, though, is when visitors try to turn off the bathroom light and can't figure out why the switch doesn't work.

It doesn't happen as often in the winter as during the rest of the year because the snow puts a bit of a cramp on the skylight's style.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Eating Like a Kid

Ever noticed how food tastes more fun if you play with it?

As a child, I decided this must be true because my Mother was so adamant about eating like a lady.

As a Proper Southern Lady, it seemed to be her job to take the fun out of as many things as possible. If my back ever assumed a less than rigidly strait line, I would get a sharp poke between my shoulder blades. My bed had to be made with perfect hospital corners to an Army coin bouncing specification. Heaven forfend if I ever sat in any position that didn't cement my knees and ankles together; I would be asked in acid tones if I wanted my picture taken.

That one still baffles me. My more proper than Queen Victoria Mother could not possible have been referring the kind of photos the paparazzi take of Britney Spears, so what was going through her mind?

Hmm... I've wandered off topic again, haven't I.

Yesterday I decided to have the single remaining egg for breakfast. Since there was only one, I, of course, dropped it. After beating off Sachi and cleaning the slimy mess from the floor, I examined the fridge and decided to have the classic college student breakfast: cold pizza and flat beer.

Not really. I only thought about it. I totally wimped out on reliving the decadent Saturday mornings of dorm life. I nuked the leftover piece of pizza before I ate it and had orange juice instead of flat beer, then felt guilty for eating such an unhealthy breakfast. I decided to put a patch on my sins by eating something healthy, so I ate a grapefruit.

It was the best grapefruit I've had in ages. It was a Texas Ruby Red. Since no one was around, I ate it just like I wanted to. I made a lovely big mess.

Instructions for delicious grapefruit:
1. Using a sharp paring knife, but a circle in the skin around the place where the stem used to be.
2. Pop that off, then cut the skin in a longitudinal circle around the fruit from one side of the stem hole to the other. Make a second cut so the skin is divided into quarters. Be careful not to cut too deeply.
3. Peel the skin off in quarters, then spend a whole lot of time peeling that nasty bitter white layer off.
4. Pull the peeled grapefruit in half and take out the icky white stuff in the middle.
5. Peel the membrane off of each individual segment, eating the naked, juice-filled globs of fruit flesh as you expose them.
6. Show segments of fruit to curious cats to watch them make faces.
7. Lick fingers and sigh.
8. Wash area where grapefruit was dismembered so that no evidence remains for husband to question. (Either that or put down a disposable plastic drop cloth beforehand.)

Monday, January 21, 2008

This Is the Part I Hate the Worst

I have a cold. I'm in the coughing stage. When I woke up this morning, trying to eject a lung, I said to myself, "This is the part I hate the worst."

Then I thought about it.

The coughing stage is pretty close to the end of the cold. You can see that little light, sometimes oh so far away, but you can see it.

Maybe it's the worst before you really get it. When you first feel that nasty little itch and burn up at the back of the soft palate and in the sinuses, because you know then that it's coming. Anticipation is not always a good thing.

Not that you actually feel bad.

No, that waits for the next day when you wake up with every joint aching and your head feeling like it's been stuffed with hot, wet sand. Maybe that's the worst part. It is when you're in it.

Next comes the snot factory. Geeze, I hate that part the most. Some higher power has turned on the faucet in your nose and there's no easy way to shut it off. You sneeze and you blow and your nose turns bright red and hurts like the dickens when you touch it. Nobody wants to come anywhere near you because they know you're spraying germs more effectively than any crop duster.

Nor do I want to be around anyone. I know how disgusting I am.

If it's going to be a bad cold, I find out during the snot phase, that's when it moves down into my lungs if it's going to.

Okay, new winner for the worst part. There can be no argument to this being the worst. When it hits the lungs and I start coughing up stuff we cannot even mention in polite company. I've had pneumonia half a dozen times and have asthmatic allergies, so when it hits my lungs, I'm toast. If they made a horror movie out of what I cough up, it wouldn't make any money because it would be so gross the audience would flee screaming from the theatre.

Hands down, that's the worst.

This time it looks like it's not going to go into my lungs. If I was a religious person, I'd be down on my knees shouting, "Hallelujah, praise the Lord!"

Final count on the worst part: intellectually, when it hits the lungs; really, whatever stage I'm in at the moment.

It's Snowing Again

It's been snowing since before dawn. Sachi wants to know if I can do anything about it.

'Fraid not.

Books and Reading

I learned to read when I was seven -- right after I got my first pair of contact lenses. Amazing what a difference being able to see properly made. I've had my nose in a book pretty much ever since.

Science fiction drew me early on. The first SF book I remember was Space Cat by Ruthven Todd. I also loved horse books, Indian (but not western) books, historicals, caveman and dinosaur books, fantasy, of course.

OMG! I just went online and looked for the Princess and Curdie books... Reprints are available! I know what I'm going to do with some of that Barnes & Noble gift card I got for Christmas. Now to hope that the illustrator is the same, because the pictures really helped make the story. I loved the part about how they could tell what a person was like by holding hands and feeling an animal paw or snake belly. It's going to be interesting to see how a childhood favorite strikes me now that I'm chronologically grown up.

I read nonfiction too: animal and nature books, gardening, crafts, science, how-to, history, computer books, art books, funny books.


The Engineer started moving some of the bizzillion boxes of books we stored in the basement during the remodeling era today. While I sorted through heaps of my office stuff (I'm trying to organize everything as I put it back), he toted books upstairs and shelved them.

He has almost as many books as I do. More than half of his are in Latvian -- which he claims to be able to read. I have my doubts about that, though, because he always has his older brother read any Christmas cards from Latvia for him before he'll tell me what they say.

Not that it matters. He is not a reader. Books are not magic for him, they're objects to place on shelves to looks good. You can tell by how he shelves them -- by size.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Tomato Report

Believe it or not, I have some tomatoes left from the garden. I took these pictures this afternoon.

True, they don't taste like fresh off the vine summer tomatoes, but they're still better than the damp reddish styrofoam jobbers you can buy at the grocery store.
Though there are a bunch of the small gold Sun Sugar tomatoes left, most of them were looking rather withered. The Engineer's been bugging me to pickle some, so I did. We'll see how they come out.

And I owe Kate a bit of an apology. She came over for dinner last week to sample the red lentil stew and I forgot to add tomatoes to the salad. Now I have to think of a good bribe so she'll forgive me.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Well Is Running Dry

During the day, when I'm running around doing all my important stuff, my head seems to be filled with ideas. Lately, when I sit down here at my computer, they all evaporate. So tonight I'm going to show you a little bit of what I do to make money.

I take pictures.

Exciting pictures.

Of things like shoelaces.

And machines

Machines with people running them.

Red Cross merchandise. (Anything for the Red Cross is volunteer, no $$$ involved.)

Fracture patterns. Somebody's got to do it.

P.S. I do other stuff too, actually lots more other stuff than photography, it's just the photography's the most interesting of the lot.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


What, you might wonder, brought this topic to mind. To be perfectly honest, my underwear.

Aspirations can be a good thing: aspiring to go to a good college can inspire a kid to make straight A's in high school. Aspirations can be a bad thing: aspiring to be rich and powerful can lead a person to lie, cheat and steal.

I used to have four finches:

a female society finch named Amouri,

a male zebra finch named BeepBeepBird,

a female green singing finch named Lovelorn

and a male green singing finch named Frustration.

It was a half sad La Cage aux Folles.

BeepBeep and Amouri were in love, they had a little nest and laid eggs which never hatched because the sweethearts were of different species. Lovelorn adored Frustration. Frustration had the hots for Amouri and totally ignored Lovelorn. Frustration would sit hunched on his perch, his back turned to Lovelorn, and glare at BeepBeep. You could tell by looking that in his birdy heart-of-hearts he aspired to be an eagle. To be an eagle so he could chomp up BeepBeep with one snap of his savage, hooked beak thus winning the heart of the fair Amouri.

Fortunately for BeepBeep and Amouri, Frustration's aspirations never came to fruition. Lovelorn eventually tired of Frustration's attitude and decided life as an old maid was not so bad. Frustration lived his entire life in a state of grumpiness.

The underwear? Well, today I wore a previously comfy old pair, but I guess they must have somehow sneaked a peak at a Victoria's Secret catalogue. They obviously had aspirations to become a thong. Dang undies kept trying to climb up my butt.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Mighty Hunter

When I got home from the grocery store yesterday, the Engineer announced that he had caught a bird. One of the cats had brought it in, then both of them chased it all over the upstairs. He had been downstairs in his office (on the other side of the 3/4 bath from mine) when it happened, but it took him a few crashes to figure out they weren't just galloping.

We have a little loft over the master bedroom, but no way to access it yet. The bird had lighted on the loft railing. The cats were trying to leap from the top of the dresser to grab it, but their claws couldn't get purchase on the hard oak. They kept crashing back down onto the dresser, knocking everything off it.

When the Engineer realized what was going, he reacted in typical fashion.

First he assembled his tools: step stool, old bath towel, butterfly net, latex gloves(!?!)

He placed the stool on the floor below the bird. He donned the gloves and laid the towel on the bed nearby. Then he stepped up on the stool and scooped the bird into the butterfly net. He carried the bird in the net to the back door and let it fly. He didn't even need to use the towel.

He wanted to know what kind it was.

"Was it one of those little brown birds with the rosy colored head?" I asked.


"What color was it?"

"Uh, gray? It sat straight up."

"Was it blue on top and light gray underneath?"


"Probably a scrub jay, we get lots of those at the feeder."

"Yeah, it was a scrub jay."

"Did it squalk and scream a lot?"

"No, it was quiet."

At that, I hoped the poor bird hadn't been too badly hurt because jays are nothing if not loud.

This morning I pointed out a scrub jay to him. He said, "It looked like that only smaller. It must have been a baby."

Not at this time of year.

I suspect the Mighty Hunter caught either a nuthatch or a junco.

Gotta admit, my favorite part
of the whole thing was the mental
image of him wearing latex
gloves to protect himself
from bird cooties.

Friday, January 11, 2008

This Recipe's a Keeper

The local small chain grocery store is having a killer sale this week. The best loss leader IMHO is the 24 ounce package of chicken legs or thighs, 11 for $10, or 91¢ per package. Wow! I'm stocking my freezer with chicken this week.

I looked in the pantry to see what I might have to go along and found some red lentils. Hmmm...

Went to, typed in red lentil, and found a recipe for Curried Red Lentil and Swiss Chard Stew With Garbanzo Beans. The name's almost as long as the whole recipe.

Unless I'm baking something new, I use the formal recipe as a guideline and wing it, so here's how I made a great winter evening dinner:

Wash and trim chicken thighs. Pour a little olive oil into a big skillet and saute the chicken on both sides until browned.

While chicken is browning, chop a couple of ribs of celery and some carrots, put in pan with chicken. Chop a jumbo onion and dump it in too, then mince some garlic and add it to the pan. Add a couple teaspoons (just guessing here) of sweet curry powder (from Penzey's) and stir well.

Transfer the chicken to a baking pan with rack and place in a 375° oven. Raise the temperature to around 400° for the last five minutes or so, this will produce nicely crisp skin.

(Using what I had on hand...) Zap a bag of frozen spinach in the microwave until melted. Add to pan along with one bag of fresh spinach and two cans of chicken broth.

When it comes to a boil, add a can of garbanzos and a generous two cups of red lentils. (It's gotta be red lentils, ordinary brown or green lentils don't taste the same, and take more liquid and time to cook.) Cook about 12 minutes.

Using two cans of broth instead of the three in the original recipe produced a less soupy dish than the Epicurious picture, which was good because the Engineer doesn't like "au jus."

Serve topped with a dollop of yogurt along with the chicken thighs, crusty whole grain bread and a green salad.

The Year of No Salt

We had a new driveway poured last September because the existing driveway was crumbling. In the process of tearing the old one out, we discovered that there were actually two driveways, one poured on top of the other. There is a one year warranty on the new concrete, with one provision: we cannot use salt on it.


Although the new driveway is smoother than the old one and doesn't have its peculiar bumps and crumbles, it is still a deadly car-eating monster. Even in the summer, many of my friends refuse to take their cars up it. Our across the street neighbors declined to come to our early New Year's Eve party because it was snowing and they didn't want to walk up or down it. True, they're elderly, but I've landed on my can more than once when the driveway's been ice and snow coated. This morning, the Engineer had to switch to his lug-soled shoes to retrieve the newspaper. To get up it in the winter, you have to have sufficient initial speed. If not, about one third of the way up, the car will start slipping downhill. Straight towards the drop off on the left side.

To quote myself, "Oh, explative deleted!"

I do want to get rid of the junipers the Engineer butchered along the left side of the driveway in the spring, but I don't want to do it prematurely using my car as the cutting tool. So cross your fingers for me and hope my car doesn't go skiing off trail this winter.

Creeping Ignorance

It's been a while since I graduated from college, and I'm starting to feel horribly ignorant.

What happened to all the stuff they made me learn?

The cranial nerves? On Old Olympus Towering Tops A Fin And German Viewed Some Hops. I remember the mnemonic, but not the nerves themselves. Oh, I can figure out most of them: Optic, Olfactory, Oculomotor, Trigimnal (did I spell those last two right?) Vegas, no, that's a city. Vega? That's a car. Vegus, I think that's right. Glossopharyngeal was always my favorite because it's such a fancy word. Like sphygmomanometer, I like the way it rolls off my tongue. (And now I'm feeling tickled with myself because I just made a punny -- though of the folks I hang with, probably only Cicada of Bioephemera fame will get it.)

Geography. Geeze o' pete, seems like countries just keep changing their names and borders. It used to be Burma, now it's Myanmar. All those "stan" countries over in eastern Europe/western Asia confuse the heck out of me. I know where the Gulf of Riga is, but not the Bay of Biscayne (Florida? Spain? Where's my atlas?) And math; I've been through two semesters of calculus, statistics, matrix algebra, geometry, trigonometry, etc, etc, etc. How much of it beyond arithmetic do I remember? Not much other than that statistics is a formalized methodology for lying.

I do have excellent grammar, though I couldn't diagram a sentence any more. My spelling's not too terrible. Thanks to my spell checker, I now at least recognize when I've spelled something "creatively."

My head has been stuffed with so much information that little of it seems to be in sharp focus. I know who Piaget was and (kinda) what he did. I could probably pass a multiple guess test on his theory of cognitive development, but I sure couldn't write an essay on it. If you were to quote Shakespeare to me, I could probably identify the play, but I can't recite much more than the first witch's part in Macbeth.

Am I smarter than a fifth grader? I just tried the quiz on Fox's web site and got a million points, but sometimes I sure don't feel like it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Snowy Morning

I slept very late this morning. It started snowing last night and is still snowing. The whole world is wrapped in the deep, soft hush of the enveloping snow. There are no hard edges outside, only rolls and pillows of white.

Hot cocoa is the only breakfast possible today.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The New Cat Bed

It was an impulse buy. I was at Sam's Club getting exciting things like laundry detergent and trash bags when I saw it. It was a hollow soft box 12"x12"x18" with a hole in each end. I knew right away that the cats would love it, so into my cart it went.

As soon as I put it down on the floor in the dining room, Kitsu began investigating. Sachi joined her and climbed right on in. When I began cooking dinner, Sachi felt obliged to supervise, so Kitsu took over the new bed.

As the Engineer and I ate, Sachi tried to glare Kitsu into getting out of the bed. That didn't work. so she poked her and pestered her until Kitsu surrendered the bed. Sachi climbed in again and rested her head on the entry hole to watch us eat dinner. (You can never tell who might drop what.)

Eventually, Kitsu came back and, seeing there wasn't room for both cats in the new bed, climbed on top of it and tried to squish Sachi out like toothpaste from a tube.
I wonder if this bed will be as fascinating when the new wears off?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

"Interesting" Christmas Gifts

Sometimes picking out gifts can be quite a challenge. My thought is it doesn't matter if I like it or not, it depends upon whether the recipient likes it. I am, therefor, the person who gives Sister-in-Law the Elder a Precious Moments figurine every year. Their saccharine, cutesie sweetness makes almost everyone in the family gag (me included), but she loves them, so I get her one.

This year Sister-in-Law the Elder gave the Twin'sWife a knit top to "make her sparkle." Twin's Wife is the mink coat wearing diva who dresses almost exclusively in black and white from Ann Taylor. Her nails are never without a professional French manicure. As there is more than a little bit of tension between Twin'sWife and Sister-in-Law the Elder, I have been wondering if the gift was meant to twist Twin'sWife's tail. I haven't had the chutzpah to ask but, if that was the purpose, it certainly worked.

Everyone knows I love my cats. As a result, I get cute kitty gifts; things I would never in a million years buy myself. This year I received two cute kitty books, a cute kitty ring holder (the rings go around its long silver tail), a cute kitty ornament and one from Sister-in-Law the Elder.

As I opened the box and parted the tissue, I saw fur and the tip of an ear. Surprised, I blurted, "You got me a dead cat!?!"

Everyone laughed as I pulled the bunny fur toy cat from the box.

I named him Biscuit. He now lives (after his fashion) on the fireplace apron. Sachi has killed him a couple of times just to make sure he's really dead.

P.S. He's an ugly little sucker, but I do like him, and appreciate the gift.

Sachi, Internet Sensation!

Sachi has ventured off of The Witless Wanderer's blog and onto the Cute With Chris web site.

What a thrill for her -- we can only hope fame doesn't go to her head.

Saturday, January 5, 2008


I made two resolutions this year: 1. To try to do what I know I should do. .2. To try not to do what I know I shouldn't do. Kinda covers everything all at once. Note: I only said try, I didn't make any cast in concrete promises.

Why is it that the stuff that's the most fun is usually the stuff you shouldn't be doing? Why does chocolate taste better than celery? Why do I want to stay up late and get up late rather than follow the classically virtuous "early to bed, early to rise" adage? True, I've never particularly lusted after the wealthy part of the results of the early adage, but the healthy and wise are definitely desirable.

Wouldn't it be lovely if lounging on a pile of pillows in bed while reading trashy novels and eating bonbons produced a beautiful bosom? (For the guys, we can substitute drinking beer and watching sports on TV producing a rippling six pack.)

I went looking for "six pack" on Google Images and this is what I found.
Nothing more I can say after that.

Friday, January 4, 2008

2008 - New Year, New Beginnings?

The year is three days old, so this is a little late, but Happy New Year! to everyone.

Didn't spend New Year's Eve at home this time. Last year the house was unlivable, so when the New Year's skiers came, we spent New Year's Eve at a "quaint" bed and breakfast where they served an extravagant dinner and had dancing and midnight blowing of the alpenhorn. The Twin'sWife decided that she would never again spend the first night of the year at my mundane home, but would return again to the Blue Boar Inn. Which is why the annual party was held a couple of days early.

This is who I spent my New Year's with. -->

The best part of the evening was when the band played "Proud Mary." Four men got up to dance together with great enthusiasm and when the music came to the "rolling" part, they got down on the floor and rolled. It was one of those times I really wished for a video camera.

Though I did not get down on the floor and roll, I did stand up and blow a mighty blast on the alpenhorn at midnight.

I made a couple of resolutions.

Wonder if I'll keep them...