Friday, October 31, 2008

Stewie picked a peck of...

We've had a couple of frosty nights, and at least one hard freeze already. Look what I had to rescue today. I had bad luck with peppers last year, so this is really a haul! Of course I wish I could have left these on the plant to all ripen, but I'm certainly glad that I got them at all. Yay!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I have an early gig at a school today, so I have to get up earlier than normal. Some part of my brain decided that meant that 4 a.m. was time to get up.

Dear Body,
This IS NOT OK. Get back to sleep, NOW.

Dear Stew,
OK, ok, but you know I thought I smelled coffee, and I'm hungry! And what if I don't get up in time? Better early than oversleeping, you know.
Your Body

Dear Body,
There is no reason to be so concerned about oversleeping. It's not an airplane, it's an early class at a school. Time's a wasting--you have about an hour and ten minutes left of sleep.

Dear Stew,
Put away the damned computer so I can sleep!


Friday, October 24, 2008

Someone Must Have Died or How I Came to Own All This Yarn.

Let's give an inventory, shall we?

7 purple mohair (97%)
15 army green mohair (97%)
10 purple/blue/green mohair (97%)
9 pink/blue/gray mohair (97%)
7 camel mohair (97%)
4 red mohair (97%)
1 buff mohair (97%)
1 pink/orange/purple mohair (97%)
7 off white nubby 100% wool
18 red wool eyelash* 100% wool
13 dark teal eyelash* 100% wool
1 red shoelace-weave 100% wool
1 dark teal shoelace-weave 100% wool
4 light teal shoelace-weave 100% wool
1 dark teal 50% alpaca/50%wool blend
1 lime alapaca/wool blend
6 black/blue 100% wool
2 bone cotton/silk/linen nubby
5 hot pink cotton nubby
2 black traditional eyelash
1 light pink traditional eyelash
1 light blue cotton and eyelash

All skeins of European provenance and 50g weight. Mostly French and German.
Total skeins= 118
Average cost of skein (conservative) $8.00
Total cost if purchased new and separately= $944.

What do you think I paid?

*Not eyelash, exactly, but not normal, either. It's like shoelace woven on one side, and loops on the other side.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


There's a whole lotta campin' going on.

Last weekend I made a trip up to Lake James State Park with a few friends. Rained like crazy Friday night, and got a bit chilly Saturday night. My hair still smells of woodsmoke, even through four washings.

This is my s'more face:

I also managed to trip on the fire pit grate while trying to walk around it. Fearing that I'd land face-first in the fire (nice alliteration, eh?), I managed to throw myself in another direction. In doing so, a chunk of my epidermis ripped off my left palm. It was a clean separation that exposed a 1"x1"x1" (approx.) triangle of dermis. No bleeding, but man did it sting.

It's healing, but I fear a nice red scar:

I'm working this Friday and Saturday evening facilitating a youth group retreat. Around a campfire. They're gonna see my s'more face, and I'll end up smelling like beef jerky for another week.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Today I voted. I was voter number 1291, and my site had been open for about 8 hours. I took my time, double and triple checking to make sure I got everything right. I didn't expect to be nervous.

I pride myself on being a pretty informed voter. The judges always confound me, of course, but I have trustworthy advisers for that sort of thing. I was caught a bit off guard by a food tax initiative. Do I want a 1% prepared food tax, or do I not? I hadn't even heard of the issue. It was pretty clear to me even without knowing what it was about that no, I didn't want an additional tax on food. Food tax just seems wrong. I did check, though, with some of my neighbors, who were outside the polls with sample ballots. God, I love this town. My intuition was right--no food tax.

Normally when I vote, there aren't that many other people there. Today, maybe because it's the first day of early voting, I could barely fit into the polling place. There wasn't a long line, but voters were crammed into every little space. It was a bit chaotic, actually.

After the machine sucked in my completed ballot and the counter changed from 1290 to 1291, I took my sticker and walked back outside. I was surprised to notice the lump in my throat. I looked around at my neighbors. Not just the ones who live in the square mile or so that marks my immediate neighborhood, but at all the others who live in the city proper.

My eyes welled up. My city has mobilized, and it makes me proud to live here.

I'll wear my sticker tomorrow to the conference where I'm presenting. Every little bit helps, you know?

(Oh, and this:)

(And this)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mom Menu

My mumma's birthday is today! I called her from work when I was meeting with my cutiepie peer educator kiddos, who insisted they wanted to talk to her.

So she had a 10th grade boy and a 10th grade girl each ramble to her for a while. They are SO CUTE.

This is mom's dinner tonight. Can you figure out where she's going?
(I'm jealous)

Wednesday, October 15 $75
Hand-stretched mozzarella with late-season tomatoes and basil oil
Local swordfish involtini alla siciliana
Spit-roasted loin of Magruder Ranch California boar with shell beans and wild mushrooms
Meyer lemon granita with raspberry sherbet

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How to Attract Your Soul Mate in 14 Easy Steps

Today at work I was rooting around online looking for some free, ready-made lesson plans to address budgeting in a teen-parent household. I didn't find any good ones. Ah well.

However, one organization had a handout targeting at-risk youth, to help them during their search for love.

I copied it below, and there's a link to the PDF as well.

Do me a favor and read this advice. Keeping an open mind, what bits do you think are valuable, and which are crocks of shit? I want to hear from y'all!

How to Attract Your Soul Mate in 14 Easy Steps

1. Write down exactly what it is you want in a mate…every positive detail. Keep adding to the list as you think of new items.

2. Avoid the negatives and focus on the positives. List out what you want and don’t define what you don’t want.

3. Look in a mirror and tell yourself that you truly deserve her or him. Genuinely affirm this. Deep down in your subconscious you must absolutely believe it to receive it.

4. Feel this person is already a part of your life. He/she is with you at meal time,
exercising, sleeping. In the shower, affirm it. Driving to work, feel it.

5. Make vacation and party plans, movies too. Carry on as if this person was right there beside you. Plan your next apartment, the kind of car you will be driving together, along with the color and every other detail.

6. Wear a new bracelet or a rubber band as a reminder, switching wrists, so it doesn’t get stale. Every time you feel or look at the bracelet, reaffirm your feelings and thoughts. There is no limit to the number of times this can be done throughout your day. The more often, the better.

7. Place the list of your heart’s desire on the night stand. Morning and evening, place your hand over the list and feel the vibrations and that loving feeling.

8. Act as if you are in a restaurant. Place your order with the server. Once you have ordered, go on with your life comfortably certain that your meal will be delivered in due time. It’s the same in attracting your soul mate. Get your order in and then enjoy this creative experience. It’s all about the law of attraction. You will get what you think about regularly. It’s a law of nature.

9. Collect perfect moments. Revel in that special feeling that all too often happens once or twice in a lifetime to the average Homo Sapiens. Remember a time when your entire body tingled and you were transformed. Now use your mind and body to visualize and recall both the perfect moment and your heart’s desire. Feel this person as a part of you. Absorb him/her into your life in that perfect moment.

10. Smile! During each and every one of the above exercises and experiences, smile! Smiling has a magical power all its own. After all, you now are a very happy person who can feel the love of your life with them.

11. Carry a small “Mate Finder” stone. Rub it, and feel the positive vibrations. Visualize the look, smell, feel, touch and taste of your mate. Caress it and imagine the face of your soul mate. Look deeply into their eyes.

12. Remember this individual is also seeking you, so you need to get out there. See yourself as a powerful magnet drawing together two loving people…you and your soul mate.

13. It is VITAL that you act as if you have already found this person. This isn’t a hope or dream, it’s reality. What you need to do is actively participate in attracting this person. This will only work if you feel it as deeply as you would something that has already happened. Give thanks regularly for this.

14. One cannot sit home and wait. This is an activity so get out there!

From this publication.

Sunday, October 12, 2008



Y'all, I got a comment a couple of days ago from one of my most favoritest people in the universe, and definitely my favorite Catalana, Marta.

I met Marta when I was living in Barcelona, over 10 years ago now. (Vaya, como pasa volando el tiempo*...) We didn't hang out in Barcelona. Not much, anyway. We met towards the end of my year living there, when she found out that she'd be coming to my university on an exchange. I didn't have anyone to live with, and she had no idea about getting an apartment in a foreign country. A match made in heaven.

Seriously, Marta and I had exactly zero conflict when we were sharing a townhouse. Things just fell into place. I was messy; she straightened up after me. I liked to cook, so Marta ate what I made. Marta and I drove up to Michigan and stayed with my family, who loved her.


Somewhere there are some photos from that time. My twin nephews, now 10, were infants, and we spent a gorgeous afternoon on a blanket in the front yard of my mom and Pete's house. The cherry tree was in bloom, and we were blanketed in pink petals. Truly a perfect moment.

I'm glad she found me here.

Marta, espero que sepas lo importante que me has sido y que sigues siendo. Aunque estamos en paises distintos, y a pesar de que solo hablamos cada dos años, yo sé que puedo contar contigo para cualquier cosa que necesite. Y también, que tú puedes contar conmigo. Es una amistad que tiene raices fuertes, y te lo agradezco. Mil besos, cariño.

*My how time flies.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Making Do

My housemate went Krogering and locked me out. Hrm. Looking around, I'm OK as far as food goes. The garden has a few tomatoes, numerous peppers, chard, and a few young lettuce leaves. I have access to water, and also a soda I accidentally left on the porch.

It's getting cold. Housemate left a bathroom rug out to dry last week, so that could supplement my shorts and t-shirt. I also have a plastic tarp, and I could burrow down into the wood chip mulch for warmth. It's kind of fluffy, so I expect it would be insulating. Actually, I wonder how hot my compost pile is?

Really, though, the bigger issue is that I'm beginning to have to pee.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Just for Jerry. And birders.

Another Bubba post, but no pictures this time. (Ed: How's a video?)


I just wrote this email to my lovely housemate:

This is kind of funny. I've been working in the yard all day, and came across some of the Bubster's poop in the backyard. It had all of these smooth things in it that kind of looked like roaches or beetles, only not moving.

I was stumped.

Until! I remembered that it's persimmon season. Out in the woods, persimmon trees grow wild--in the fall, they ripen up and fall off the trees. They're really really yummy and sweet, unless they're not ripe. If you bite into one too soon, they're....astringent would be the best word. They make your mouth pucker up and feel dry. It's not like your reaction to something sour. Hard to explain. If you know what alum is (I don't expect you do!), that's the exact sensation.

Anyway, Bubba's been eating persimmons. Check out this link and scroll down to see what's in his poop!

There's nothing wrong with him eating them in general, I don't think, but they may be what's been messing up his tummy.


In other news, I went birding this morning and got a lifer! (I am not a "twitcher", for the record. And what a bizarre term!)

This is the first time this fall I've even seen any true migrants. Actually, it's the first time I've seen any warblers since I went to Michigan. I even had to pull out the Sibley's. That's been rare this year. For what it's worth, the lifer was a male Black-throated Green Warbler. The other cool ones were a female Black-throated Blue Warbler, and a couple of Black and White Warblers.

What a great day so far

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I Know, I know.

Bubba's got the sneezies. He's not typically particularly cuddly, but right now he's being the cutest dog in the whole wide world. He's lying next to me on the couch, with his head on my foot. If I stop petting him, he nudges me. Makes it hard to type, but oh, my is it worth it!

I think he liked it when we played dressup yesterday. That's probably why he's loving on me today. Hot pink really favors him, don't you agree?

Yay to the Bubs.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Wailing. From the general direction a neighborhood house. I can't tell if it's sex, torture or deep grief. I'd bet it's one of the second two. When my roommate comes out to listen, the noise stops. And then it begins again. It's intermittent, and I've never heard this sort of thing before here.

What would you do?

I called 911 about 5 minutes ago, after discussing with my housemate once again. Better safe than sorry, right? Cops are here, brb.

OK, I told the officer what was going on, and he's going to go check it out. Oh. Just got backup. I was going to go inside, but now I think I'm going to stay out here on the porch and live-blog this event. They're talking to a guy in the house I think the noise was coming from. I think they've gone inside, but it's hard to tell for sure. OK, now one of the inhabitants of the house is out on the front lawn talking to the cops. It's quiet, no fuss. I feel kind of bad for calling, but it looks like everything is OK. At least calm.

I wish I didn't feel bad about calling. I mean, either it's nothing or it's serious, right? And either way it should be the right thing to do, right?

The cops are leaving now, and there doesn't seem to be any fallout.

OK, cops came by to give me a heads up. Turns out the neighbor is in severe distress about a life situation and was just crying very loudly. Poor thing.

Cop's quote: "They're glad to have good neighbors."

I hope so.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Projects on my mind

I have a neat idea, and I'd like some technical support, please.

Psuedo Greenhouse.

There's a nice porch on my house that runs the entire width of the front (See Photo). We don't use much of it, and I'd love to section off maybe 1/4 of it, on the south side, and make it into a very very low-tech greenhouse. The south side of the house runs roughly parallel with the driveway. So what we're talking about here is the area from the garbage can over to halfway between the first two iron pillars from the right.

I'm thinking right now that I could just attach vinyl sheeting from the overhang to the floor alongside the south and west edges (using a staple gun, maybe?), and then put up a tension rod and a heavy duty shower curtain. If I use a tension rod and shower curtain method, it would allow easy access via the porch. I'm not sure if that description made sense.

My excellent tape measure has gone temporarily missing, though, and it's driving me bonkers. I can't measure! The depth of the porch is about 6 feet (72 inches, or approx 2 meters), and the height to the bottom of the overhang looks about 8 feet.

Here are the basic questions I have for you. Keep in mind that I rent.

  1. How do I effectively deal with the wind? I don't want strong gusts to blow everything down. This would be more an issue with the south and west sides than the tension rod side. Something I just considered would be attaching hooks into the overhang and use shower curtains there, too. That way they'd detach easily, so that if we have high winds I can just take them down. The added bonus to this possibility would be that I could buy fabric shower curtains to put up in the heat of the summer, providing both shade and privacy from the street.
  2. How could I anchor the sheeting on the bottom? I don't want the bottom to be flapping around, but neither do I want to increase the stability so much that the sheeting will act like a sail. (See above re: wind.)
  3. What other issues am I not taking into consideration? I'm not much of a planner, and I do want to avoid having to re-do the entire project. For instance, when I laid out my raised beds, I overestimated the amount of sun they got. One of my next major projects may be moving them (ugh!) a ways down into the driveway, which is much sunnier.
In other news, Project Front Yard is coming along nicely. That big ole mound of woodchips you can see if the photo has been spread over an expanse of cardboard, which should be killing the Bermuda grass in an excellent way. The entire south side of the front yard is now mulched, and the north side has a pleasing curved bed. As soon as I get more cardboard, I plan to also kill/mulch along the south side of the house. There's some nasty tall grass that I can't seem to keep under control.

Oh, another question: What your opinion about Round Up? I have a section in the backyard that is extremely overrun with blackberries and invasive honeysuckle. There's a stump under it all, so I can't mow over it. Will the Round Up leach into the soil and kill other stuff, or is it a valid way to clear the area?

Whew. OK, thanks.

I do love the SNL commentary on the election...

Queen Latifah as Gwen Ifill is just genious. And I shouldn't have to mention that Tina Fey must be a national hero by now...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Poor Bubbabub.

Bubba is a rescue dog, and like most still has some demons. It makes me sad when I see them come out, and it even chokes me up, thinking of that past life Bubba had with some horrible person who treated him badly.

Does this happen to anyone else--a sad animal story gets you outright teary, but hearing about two kids locked in a 135 F car who later die just kind of makes you shake your head in disgust? I wonder if that's about outrage fatigue.* I feel guilty that I get more emotionally involved with pet abuse stories than people abuse stories.

Back to Bubba. His mom was out for the evening earlier this week, and I was Bubbasitting (in other words, I was home). Bub is so very very mild-mannered that he only occasionally barks. Only when he thinks something is at the door. Typically, he moves slowly, and doesn't make much of a fuss. Well, Bubster came over to me at one point that evening, and he was dancing around, jumping up in the air and pointing to the door. I thought he was going to bite my pants and drag me to the back door!

He bolted out the door to eat grass, barely letting me clip on the leash. Baby boy has had some tummy troubles recently, and when he needed to puke, by golly, he was going to be thoughtful enough to get a person to let him outside to do it, already! (He's done the same when he was sick with diarrhea a few weeks before this incident. Good Bubba.)

Seriously, how wonderful is that? Asking to be LET OUT to vomit. Good Bubba. Good Boy.

Here's the thing, though. Bubba's mom thinks that Bubba is getting into the trash at a friend's house. And that garbage gut is what's been causing his gastric distress.

Well, last night I caught Bubba in our trash. Trash that had contained raw chicken for over 24 hours. I caught Bubs in the act, and so I clapped loudly, sternly saying "Bubba NO!"

This is where I cried.

See, Bubba's reaction to my loud voice and the clap was to skitter away, cowering as though I was going to hit him. He didn't look just a little guilty. He hid. His tail was curled under, and he contorted his body so that the blows he thought where inevitable would land on his back, not his belly or flank.

Poor Bubba.

His flinch reflex is so strong that all it takes is me reaching up to adjust my hair for him have a similar reaction. Same thing happens with his mom. Poor sweet loveydo.

I made sure to lavish love on him as soon as I could after scolding him. I came out and paid him extra attention over the evening, even lying down on the floor to pet him. (The floor is hard.) Eventually we ended up both on the ground, sharing the same pillow with our heads, my arm around him. Sweet Bubba.

Of course Mom will always be preferred. Shortly after he cuddled with me, he jumped up on the couch with her.

Sweet Bubba, keep healing.

*Wow. The first time I heard the expression I immediately identified with the sentiment. I had no idea that The Onion coined or at least popularized the term.