Friday, December 31, 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

My 2010 Goals were:

*  Read 100 books - DONE

*  Read Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking - not so much done.  I have started it, and there was that boiling bacon episode for boeuf bourginon.

*  Finish 100 knitting and/or sewing projects - DONE.  This is actually the biggest surprise, as this was by far the craziest goal.  But as of right now, I have finished 115.  Score!!!

*  Be able to swim a mile before I turn 40 - this one got waylaid by the arm problems, which are STILL going on.  Somehow I have made it worse again, I think because of pulling myself around so as to not hurt the broken toe.  What a sad little state of affairs I am right now!  Sheesh!

*  Do 10 lessons in my serger workbook - DONE.  I actually did 20, though I am never going to get the blind hem with the serger part.  I can barely do that with my sewing machine!

*  Try 5 new bread recipes - TOTALLY forgot about this one!  Whoops!

And I had listed at the end to shake the cold that had been plaguing me for a month, but I think that was a joke.  So, I did pretty well, but not 100%.

So....ON TO 2011!!!!!

This year my goals are:

*  Read or listen to 100 books (I love this one)

* Complete 10 lessons in the serger workbook (I still need to figure out 2-thread and cover stitch options)

*  Finish 111 sewing and/or knitting projects (I know, I'm insane)

*  Read 2 chapters of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  (This seems a bit more realistic.  Maybe I'll read the aspic chapter just for fun)

*  Read the copy of Vogue Sewing I bought.  It's an older book, so it goes into a lot more detail than the more recent sewing books I've seen.

*  Do 12 sourdough bread experiments.  I have had a sourdough starter for years & make a pretty mean sourdough-honey-oatmeal bread from a recipe I've developed over the years, but the "52 loaves" book that I couldn't get through got me thinking about how simple bread really should be in many respects, so the idea is to attempt 12 loaves of bread without using a recipe.  


*  Use up 100 yards of fabric from my stash without buying more.  Those of you who have seen my sewing room will understand that one.

*  Write 100 letters.  (anyone notice that I like nice, round numbers?)

Andy and I have a project for 2010 as well:  once a week, we're going to attend a free or nearly free event.  I hadn't ever really noticed how many lectures, exhibits, talks, displays, etc. there are around town.  We went to most of a train lecture series put on by our community library and loved it, even though I hadn't even ridden on a train until I was an adult.  We are scouring library events, coffee shop schedules, university calendars, clubs, farmers markets schedules, events--and the rules are we can only use each event once (no going to the downtown market every Saturday and calling it good).  Frankly, this little project sounds like WAY more fun than no processed foods--though we're still trying to do that as well, but a bit less militant.

Bring on 2011!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Magic of Moving Backwards

This year, I started writing letters.  Not emails, real paper-and-envelope letters.  Real sit-down-and-hand-write letters to friends and family.  And you know what?  It was fantastic.

I used to be an avid letter writer.  For many years, I had a pen pal that I was paired with through a PBS  show called Big Blue Marble, and wrote to dozens of people I met on 4-H, FFA, and other trips.  It was back before I received bills in the mail, so letters meant I got mail.

Obviously, I like the internet.  I have made lots of friends on it, and I really enjoy the blog world.  But the internet has also enabled a lot of hatred, ignorance, and bigotry.  Even on my harmless little blog, I have received some pretty nasty comments from people who cannot tolerate people with opinions other than their own, and who feel that everyone who disagrees with them must be socialists or nazis.  I think the internet has made us even more gullible with urban legends and lies flying around so fast that it is almost impossible for real facts to catch them.  It has given a forum to those who choose to disregard any facts they disagree with, and to proclaim opinions on subjects of which they are almost totally ignorant.  My personal email box has become cluttered with advertisements, offers to enlarge anatomical parts I am completely without, solicitations for Scentsy (seriously, is EVERYONE selling that stuff now?), and viral emails, which are generally so outrageous that it's hard to believe anyone anywhere being foolish enough to believe them.  But letters have none of this.  No one sits down and dashes off 30 letters to pass around the latest Obama rumor.  No one gets out stationery and an envelope to pass along fake cancer-risk claims or claims that somehow Obama is Hitler because they seem to interpret the extermination of 6 million Jewish people as some sort of universal healthcare plan.  Thankfully, sharing nonsense is not worth the price of a stamp.

Letters are much slower, and I think I like slow.  And why not?  Why do we think everything has to be instantaneous?  I like cell phones, but refuse to get one that gives me my email.  Why would I want that? If I'm away from the computer, that means I'm doing something--maybe something fun or interesting, or maybe it involves my friends.  Whatever it is, it's highly unlikely that I need to get email while I'm doing it.  I think slow makes us nicer.  Maybe that extra time gives us the judgment and tact that the internet seems to be lacking.

So, I will continue my slow little life as it is:  no "smartphone," no e-reader, no "twitter."  And I will continue to write letters.  If I need frustration, there's always the gardening.............

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What Exactly Is A "Pundit" Supposed to Be?

The organization Politifact (as well as others) have surfaced to verify the veracity of claims made by politicians and media personalities.  Among other lists, they maintain a running "fact rating" on pundits here in the states.  I'm not sure what the origins of the word "pundit" are, but if you take a look at the list, it seems that a really good definition would be: liar who is desperately trying to boost the parent organization's ratings.  Most of what these people are telling viewers is either mostly or completely false.  And they are on "news" programs!


The expected ignorers-of-facts are there (Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Keith Obermann), but I was disappointed to see Mary Matalin & George Will on there as telling complete falsehoods.  I thought they were both better than that.

Of course, the truly scary part of this is not that they are lying--they're doing it for money & ratings.  The scary thing is the people who actually watch these people to find out what to think.  It's enough to drive one to stop referring to human beings as "intelligent beings."

Santa

One of the things I remember most from my second grade year was Christmas.  One of the girls in my class returned from break with a set of sleigh bells that had quite obviously fallen off Santa's sleigh and landed in one of the trees in their yard.  The timing could not have been better, as some of us were foolishly starting to doubt Santa's existence, but after that, we KNEW he was real.

So, we spent Christmas Eve at my parents' ranch with my sister, her husband, and their 3 children.  As the oldest one was close to the age when one could start to doubt, it was time for drastic measures.
Christmas Eve, while my brother-in-law rang some of them on one side of the house, I strategically place three bells--complete with broken wire--in the yard where they could be found on Christmas morning.

Ho! Ho! Ho!  I think they're going to believe in Santa until at least the age of 30................

Monday, December 27, 2010

How Andy and Theo Spent Christmas Vacation...



What the 4th picture SHOULD be is me wrestling with the little "helper kitty" to remove the green paint from one big hairy paw.  Remind me NOT to complain about his "help" when gardening.....

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve



December 24, 1992


Christmas eve
Holly hung and presents wrapped
trees straining under garlands and glass
fruitcakes baked and cookies iced
the whole world waits for morning’s rays

                                                                                                and yet

I sit and watch the falling snow,
            the fluffy Christmas kind
and remember

Grandma’s house plumped with people,
steamed from the oyster stew,
the youngest cousin fitting him or herself with a set of olive fingers,
Aunts and uncles sipping coffee in slow motion
to the chagrin of growing and grown-up cousins
bursting with impatience to open presents.
Grandma seated behind a tower of gifts,
even a drawing from the littlest child.
Living room carpet showered with colored paper,
snowflakes swirling in the evening sky
to cushion Santa’s way.

December 24, 1992
and I celebrate my own Christmas eve.
Mistletoe and evergreen dreams fill my apartment.
A black cat stretched lazily among the presents,
colored lights twinkling in the window.

Thank you, Grandma, for your Christmas spirit.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Story Behind The Silly Christmas Letters

As some of you might have noticed, I write a rather silly Christmas letter.  This tradition started about 15 years ago, I believe.  I think the tradition of mass-produced Christmas letters was just getting going, and the first ones seem to have been pretty painful to read (our children are all brilliant, we're terribly successful, and our lives are completely perfect and to be envied), and if there is anything more boring than listening to someone brag, it's reading about it.  And "perfection" isn't what life is about anyway.  I had worked with a telecommunications company briefly, then lost my job when they were purchased by another company, and I thought losing one's job was the epitome of the anti-Christmas letter.  And so they began.

Over the years, they have become a bit legendary for being so ridiculous.  They are passed around workplaces, circulated to neighbors, passed on to relatives, and for the last 10 years I continually meet people who recognize me as the "Christmas letter" lady, which is fun.  I secretly suspect that people are relieved that I am willing to admit that my life is very FAR from perfect.  I grew up in a very stoic family--like many of us, I think--where one never admitted problems to anyone, often not even to ourselves.  It was so stifling and, of course, meant that any problems were never addressed, so I think growing up and moving away and being able to joke about things not being perfect but still being okay has been tremendously freeing.  Life is messy, people do behave badly (sometimes just occasionally, sometimes most of the time), people do lose jobs, very few of us are independently wealthy, some people don't have good health, every family has problems, sometimes things don't work out, and in the end, the only control we really have over life is how we respond, and when we can laugh about it we are just all the more ready to face the next day.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Letter 2010


Once upon a time in a faraway land called Boise, there lived a man and a woman (named Andy and Toni in case you've forgotten who sends the strange Christmas letters) with two cats that agreed to let the humans cater to their every whim in exchange for an occasional dead mouse or vole.  And a few live ones. 

The man and woman were fond of doing yearly adventures, but had decided to take a bit of a rest for 2010, which may have been influenced by the severe colds both of them had at the beginning of the year.  The universe, however, seems to also enjoy the Château Sutton-Goar yearly projects, and decided to assist them by choosing one for them.  And that is how 2010 became "The Year of the Bugs."

The Year of the Bugs began with an invasion of fungus in the yard and garden (Purists will assert that "fungus" is not really the same thing as a "bug," but purists can write their own darn Christmas letter.  For purposes of THIS one, a "bug" is defined as "something icky we don't want"), followed closely by slugs.  One can purchase fungicide for plants, which probably works really well if one can apply it without wind or rain, but there are options when combating slugs.  One method is to fill a container with beer and plant it level with the ground, but this apparently only works if the slugs actually drink beer and like the beer offered, which is not German lager.  Diatomaceous earth will theoretically shred their little slug hides if they crawl in it, but the slugs have to stop eating the basil and peas long enough to roll around in it, which they seem disinclined to do.  Toni and Andy thought they might control a potential aphid problem by buying live ladybugs to turn loose in the garden.  It probably stands to reason that if lady bugs actually wanted to live in one’s garden, they would already be there.  By the time the grasshoppers moved in, Toni and Andy had become resigned to the idea of "sharing."

Not content with just conquering yard and garden, the bugs then decided to attack Château Sutton-Goar itself in the form of pantry moths.  Not having heard of moths that ate anything but wool, Toni and Andy did not immediately recognize the danger when a moth turned up in the pantry.  When the moths had wormy babies that started crawling on the pantry walls and getting into everything however, it was obvious to even the incredibly naive that these little beasts were living on something besides sweaters.  Innocently called "grain moths," the horrible creatures eat lots of things besides grains:  coffee filters, dried fruit, chocolate, popcorn, rice, dried peppers, dried tomatoes, and even cardboard.  One ambitious little critter had even managed to get into an unopened jar of commercial jelly, though he either drown or the sugar gave him a heart attack once he got inside.  If they couldn't get into something, they still built cocoons in the folds or edges, leaving NOTHING untouched and everything needing to be cleaned thoroughly. Tired of having to explain why the potatoes were being kept on the piano and the onions on the coffee table, all social engagements were canceled until the little beasts were finally defeated after a two month battle.  Toni and Andy ended up with a washed, bleached, caulked, and freshly-painted pantry full of completely air-tight containers, a large number of moth traps, the permanent inability to ever eat vermicelli or anything that remotely looks like a worm, some new friends at an exterminator-supply company, and the feeling that slugs are positively "cute" compared to the other possibilities in the bug world. 


Things I've learned this year:
*  she who complains about a bug infestation OUTSIDE is about to experience a bug infestation INSIDE
*  piano practice should probably happen BEFORE the white chocolate martini, not after
*  she who brags that her "no-processed-foods" diet has warded off all colds is about to be visited by the Bronchitis Furies
*  if you had 30 tulip bulbs the year before and the next spring you only have one and it has moved to the other side of the fence, you have moles
*  mothballs down mole holes might discourage some moles, but not the braver sort who are right there to push the mothball back out of the hole to you
*  one CAN knit an entire sweater in 15 days, but that doesn't actually mean that it's sane behavior to do so
*  games invented by cats are every bit as pointless as those invented by 5-year-olds, but at least cats don't keep changing the rules
*  one can add a little mystery to eating at home by freezing leftovers and forgetting to label them
*  before washing two king-sized pillows at home, it would be a good idea to figure out how you'll dry them first.  Do not automatically assume it can be done in the dryer.
*  I turned 40 this year, and yet I STILL wait until the other option is "go naked" before doing laundry.  Truly, I had hoped for better by now
*  if one plants 9 broccoli plants all at the same time, waiting "just one more day" to start harvesting is a bad idea, unless you want to decorate with broccoli flowers
*  "I was out mixing in the organic fertilizer" sounds better than"I was out stirring in the horse poop," but it still smells the same
*  if teenagers insist on parking on your street with rap music blaring, a little "Phantom of the Opera" played at full volume will, in an amazingly short time, convince them to go elsewhere
*  Julia Child's boeuf bourguignon really is the best stew I've ever had, but I'm not sure it was worth 12 hours, the scar I now have or the layer of grease all over the kitchen--nor the experience of boiling bacon
* gardening is Nature's little surprise party.  Just because I didn't plant spaghetti squash and really large pumpkins doesn't mean I'm not going to get them.
*  jumping up and down on a flower bed while jabbing a stick into the dirt has likely solidified the neighborhood's opinion that I am a complete lunatic, but it does keep them from dropping by or wanting to borrow things....not to mention it did collapse all the mole tunnels
*  the more expensive the kitchen canister is, the less likely it is to be airtight
*  when a toe meets a bedpost and one hears a loud "crack," it probably isn't the bedpost that just broke
*  making a goal to read 100 books a year might lead to a lot of very short books in November & December
*  the oil that comes out of hot peppers and burns human skin can permeate some rubber gloves, spreading the joy of jalapeño burns through the rest of the year
*  I'm sure they see everything, but I still felt the need to explain to the Sears repairman why we had food in every part of the house except the pantry
*  do not underestimate Craig's list.  Andy found a really nice used lathe this year, which has opened up lots of new possibilities for the "honey do" list
*  pantry moth worm-babies can chew through an amazing number of things for not having any visible jaws
*  a cat who likes to "help" garden is only really cute the first 5 or 6 times he digs up the kohlrabi
*  a bigger person would have just been happy about getting home-grown carrots rather than sulking because they happily grew in 2-inches of gravel but not in the garden bed where I actually planted them
*  a sense of humor makes everything a bit easier....except perhaps a pantry moth siege

Wishing everyone a happy holiday season,
Toni & Andy

Sunday, December 19, 2010

So It's Been Two Weeks....

And honestly, I think my toe hurts more now than it did.  Ah, and a little tip I thought I'd share:  If you have a broken toe, do not reach for anything up above you.  Know how we reach things?  By standing on tippy-toe.  This is a very automatic response and one that I think I might have remembered not to do if it wasn't such an easy thing to do without thinking about it. 

Know what also uses one's toes?  Scooting around in a chair.  I really thought I was on to something on Friday.  I had been on my foot way too much Thursday (big surprise, I know) so I thought I would help my foot by restricting myself to a day of sewing.  That's sitting, right? 

Sort of. 

Turns out, there's a lot of moving around when sewing, or at least when I do it.  THEN I had the embroidery machine and a second sewing machine going, and just wheeled my chair back and forth between them.  Had I propelled myself using my hands, this might have been okay, but if you were sitting in a wheeled chair & wanted to move about two feet forward, what would you do?  Perhaps reach out with your feet and pull yourself forward that way?  Yeah--turns out that would also involve one's toes.  Didn't think about that part.  So today my poor foot and I are going to park in one place (upstairs because carpet is so much easier than hardwood floors) and write Christmas cards.  That's it.  I'm not baking cookies (yesterday), moving around the sewing room (Friday), running errands (Thursday), attending any parties (Tuesday) or smacking my toe with the cane Andy made me (Wednesday). 

Hm, maybe it's NOT so surprising that my toe is still hurting after all.....

Saturday, December 18, 2010

What's In A Name?

Lots of confusion it seems. 

It is Christmas card time, and the great name debate is on.  How does one address Christmas/holiday cards for the more nontraditional households? 

I admit, we're one of them, and it obviously is a source of confusion for everyone else as well.  Our mailman must wonder who actually lives here, as we get cards by at least 7 or 8 name variations.  I admit, it was confusing for us as well, and we started joking about this being "Chateau Sutton-Goar" shortly after we bought the house, and now it is so much easier than trying to come up with some other formulation of our names that I have now put it on our address labels.  Besides, it's just fun to say.

The ones that really have me stumped are the ones where the woman hyphenated her name upon marriage, and the couple has children.  Do I then use just the common last name for everyone, or should everyone get the hyphenated last name?  Every year I try something different for these households.  This year I gave up and just listed the first names only.  Last year I dropped the hyphenated name and just used the main one, which I hope they didn't find offensive.  I don't actually mind when we're called "Andy & Toni Goar" because it's a bit easier, but I admit that I simply hate the dreaded Mr. & Mrs. Andy Goar.  To lose both my first AND last name at one whack gets my little feminist self quite riled up.  Who on earth wants to be just an ampersand and an abbreviation???

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What I Have Learned From My Broken Toe

*  Do not pick fights with the furniture.  The furniture will always win.

*  The official medical term for the toe is "toe number 4."  Toes don't even get any respect from the medical community.

*  Covers on the bed are much heavier than one would think.

*  Breaking a toe is a sure-fire way to inspire the cats to sleep on your feet.

*  Bruising can last longer than 11 days.

*  Getting boots ON with a broken toe is honestly a lot less painful than taking them OFF with a broken toe.

*  Being at parties with a broken toe and wearing slippers makes people very, very nervous about accidentally stepping on your toe.

*  A human with a broken toe is MUCH easier to care for than a cat with a broken leg, and is a LOT cheaper.

Monday, December 13, 2010

No Respect

Okay, it could just be me, but I'm finding it really hard to take a broken toe seriously.  I don't know why.  I've actually broken both pinkie toes in the past, and maybe it happened so long ago that I have forgotten what it was like, but I'm having a bit of trouble believing that the smallest bone on my next-to-smallest toe can hurt as much as any other bone, and that it would not for any bizarre reason heal faster than all my other bones.  Go figure.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Does Hypochondria Have An Opposite?

Okay, we all know people who are obsessed with their health & believe themselves to always be sick.  That would be hypochondria.  Is there such a thing as hyperchondria?   Five days after losing my battle with the bedpost, this

is what my foot now looks like.  And yet I'm actually surprised that it still really hurts.

It seems my little world has very little room for reality these days......................

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sometimes My Optimism Overwhelms Me

I have not been to the doctor to have my foot examined, but having broken toes at least twice before, it would be a very safe bet that the aching purple blob that has replaced my "this little piggy had none" toe is indeed a broken toe.  Not least of all because there was a definite "snap" noise when I stubbed my toe on the stupid bed post in the first place.  Though interestingly enough, the post is about 4-inches square and pretty solid stuff, even if it isn't real wood (though Andy says it NOT being wood probably makes it even harder) BUT WHEN I INITIALLY HEARD THE "SNAP" I HONESTLY THOUGHT I HAD BROKEN SOMETHING ON THE BED.  Oh yeah, because that would be the most likely result of itty-bitty toe bones meeting big freaking bed frame. 

It's probably a good thing I didn't choose to go into physics........

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Getting Ready For Our Christmas Cheese-Tasting Party

Fruit trays ready?  Check.

Cute booklets made for people to take notes on the various cheeses?  Check.

Cheese ballots made?  Check.

Ready-made sourdough baguettes ready to be browned?  Check.

Hostess breaking her stupid toe by stubbing it on the stupid bed?  Check!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Lessons That The 20-Something Living Next Door With His Mother COULD Have Learned This Morning

*  6-inches of fresh snow might be an appropriate time to stop driving like you think you're Mario Andretti

*  The gas pedal has setting besides "no gas" and "flooring it."

*  If you're having trouble moving in the snow, "flooring it" will make the spot under your tires even MORE slippery, no matter how many times you do it.

*  If something doesn't work, to keep trying the exact same thing for the next half hour is probably what the rest off us mean when we say "futile."

*  If you had been even slightly nice--or even a bit less of a total jerk--to any of your neighbors, someone might have been willing to give you a push.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

3 More Books In 33 Days

So, there I was cruising along on my goal to read 100 books by the end of the year, and now with only 3 books left to go and over a month in which to finish them, I'm really stalling.  I'm not sure if I've lost my drive or have just taken some detours into some tough books.

As always, I'm reading more than one book at a time.  Andy laughs at this, but some days I feel like humor, some it's history, and at other times I want a murder mystery with lots of bodies but not too much blood, guts, or gore.  So I need lot of options around at all times.  And this system usually works for me, but right now I'm floundering just a bit.  I can't decide if it's me or the books.  After all, is it possible to be reading 3 different books and not that "into" any of them?

Problem book number 1:  Two For The Road by Jan & Michael Stern.  While the Sterns are funny, charming, and a sheer delight, their tale of when they were reviewing diners across America in order to write their first book, Roadfood, just really revolts me.  It isn't the food that they're eating (although I can't say I share their love affair with deep frying and/or fat), it's the amount they eat that keeps forcing me to put down the book because I am literally nauseated.  Eating 12 meals a day, and not in a "sampling" sort of way--they clean their plates.  It turns out that hearing about someone eating so much food is almost as repulsive as seeing someone eat that much.  I'm not sure if the charm of their wit and writing is enough to get me through this thing.

Problem book number 2:  No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting.  History AND knitting--what else could I ask for?  Well, maybe less tedious detail.  Right now I'm bogged down in how early American education was knitting & other "domestic arts" for girls and anything resembling intellectual subjects was left mostly for boys--which sums up several pages of the book without losing much.  Still, this has gotten very high reviews on Amazon, so I am determined to slog through this thing....and really hoping that it becomes more interesting somewhere along the lines.

Problem book number 3:  52 Loaves: One Man's Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and The Perfect Crust.  Another title might be "How to take something basic that people have been doing for thousands of years and make it really fussy and difficult."  The premise is that the author sets out to recreate the "perfect" peasant bread that he tasted once in a restaurant.  Not that I wouldn't applaud such a quest, but it seems to fit into a recent trend that really gets on my nerves:  take something that people have done for a long time and tell them that it's really very difficult and that it needs lots and lots of specialty products/techniques that--Oh my!  How very shocking!--will be yours  if you ONLY buy the author's book/product/whatever.  I have seen this over & over with knitting, riding horses, sewing, cooking, gardening, and obviously baking.  It gets on my nerves.  Seriously, I'm supposed to believe that someone who is doing something as a HOBBY knows more about something that others in the past did day in & day out for a living?????  This book is--in case you hadn't guessed--the one that is most likely to be jettisoned.  Today I did read about an interesting trip to a yeast factory, and the author made me laugh several times in the introduction, but I sincerely hope no one ever reads this book without having first baked bread and realized that it isn't even CLOSE to as difficult as this author makes it out to be.

I am SO CLOSE!  I need 3 more books, and I am reading 3 books now.  This could be so easy!!!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Black Friday!

In which we slept in, having attended TWO Thanksgiving soirees, both of which involved quite fantastic food.  I made my first non-sourdough dinner rolls
and aside from their mutant hyper-active yeast appearance, they turned out pretty well.  Is there such a thing as over-achiever yeast?

We did not participate in any shopping today, which is no surprise as I have yet to meet the product that could convince me to get out of bed at 3:00AM, but I think if it exists, it would involve free cashmere.  If anyone hears a commercial mentioning THAT, we'll talk.........................

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

BRING ON THE HOLIDAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It is officially the "Holiday Season!"  Or perhaps you're a stickler and it kicks off tomorrow with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, and I can certainly understand that viewpoint.  I LOVE this time of year--and in fact, the house is already decorated, trees and everything.  We will be attending two Thanksgiving dinners tomorrow...and will probably spend Friday exercising and wearing pants with elastic waists.  And, to truly "kick off" the holiday season, Andy raided the library system:
Clockwise starting at the back, we have a lesser-known Rankin Bass special called "Jack Frost," the Bloom County Christmas cartoon (which I didn't know existed), In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash which is the book that "A Christmas Story" is based on, a biography of Santa Clause, and a Shrek Christmas movie. 

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's 28 Degrees Right Now

I guess we got winter.  AND we can be very proud of ourselves to have planted the garlic in the snow this weekend because it isn't supposed to be above freezing all week.

Not that I'm complaining.  On the contrary--I'm all for this cold weather.  I hope it kills off the entire world population of grain moths.  I think we finally have driven the beasts from our house but that does NOT mean that I don't still carry a grudge.  With any luck, it kills garden slugs as well, but I would be content with just the pantry moths.

Other good things about cold weather;

*  It gives me a chance to wear the 20+ sweaters I've knitted over the years.  Ditto the wool socks

*  When I want to go to bed early, I don't feel like such an old lady.  If it gets dark at 5:00, one can start contemplating bed at 5:00.  This is obviously what nature intended.

*  I can make things for dinner in the crockpot that would be considered "pasty muck" at any other time of the year

*  Christmas

*  The lawn is dead and doesn't have to be mowed or watered for several months.  YAY!

*  The canning equipment is put away


*  The cats are less likely to catch any "gifts" as half their quarry flew south for the winter

*  Flannel pajamas.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Garlic Is Planted!

It's been snowing this weekend, but we did get our garlic planted finally.  It's about a month later than usual, but our weather has been so warm that even my zinnias were still alive until sometime last week.

Harvesting tomatoes in the rain, planting garlic in the snow..........having a garden is supposed to be good for our health, right???

Thursday, November 18, 2010

This One I Had To Share

I usually don't listen to much local news, but one of the local radio stations has already switched to full-time Christmas music, and I've been listening to it, so I'm getting caught up on my traffic reports and advertisements for totally useless items.  I know it's early, but I do love the holiday season, and after the whole mutant moth saga, I could really use some festivity.

One of the leading stories for today is that charges have been filed against a transgender person for practicing medicine without a license.  The medicine this person was practicing?  Giving breast exams in bars.  

Alrighty.


This leaves me with a few questions:

A) Is groping breasts in bars really practicing medicine, and if so, why are 89% of heterosexual males between the ages of 21 and 35 not incarcerated?

B)  While I realize that there really are transgender people and that it must be a very sad and confusing state for those people and I certainly don't want to belittle their situation, if you are lying to women in order to fondle their breasts, is there really any sort of gender-identity confusion?  Doesn't that--almost by definition--make you a heterosexual male????


C)  How stupid do you have to be to believe you're getting a medical breast exam in a BAR?

And the BIGGEST question.....


D)  IF YOU GET YOUR BREAST EXAMS IN A BAR, WHERE IN HEAVEN'S NAME ARE YOU GETTING YOUR ANNUAL PELVIC EXAMS??????  STARBUCKS??????

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Best Laid Plans....

Last year after Christmas I braved the crazy crowds at the store to pick up some LED blanket lights for the shrubs in front of the house.  LED would save energy and last longer, and blanket lights would make it much easier to decorate.  They were even on clearance, and I made sure to put them somewhere we would be able to find them this winter.

And this spring, we ripped the shrubs out. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I Think We MIGHT Finally Have Found Them All

I found a couple places still containing moth beast cocoon things, so I'm reassured that the steps I've been taking with everything that has been allowed back IN the pantry are working.  The latest offenders were a cardboard box that somehow managed to miss Andy's vacuum/bleach/bleach again/move-out-into-the-storage-shed-so-the-beasts-can-be-killed-by-the-frost attack.  We have all these serving trays/bowls/chaffing dishes/etc. that we keep in their original boxes until we need to use them--which also seem to make good pantry moth nurseries.  We're going to double-check the ones out in the storage shed later this week just to make sure we really got the beasts, but the boxes will also remain out there for the entire winter.  It was a bit frustrating to find something we missed, but not nearly so frightening as it would have been to have found a moth and NOT to have found something we missed.  Basically, I have had to recheck EVERYTHING before it goes back into the pantry, and especially the things we cleaned early on in this little moth war.  At the beginning, we had NO idea what we were truly up against, so we just didn't understand that what we were doing to combat them wasn't even going to slow the monsters down.  But, I think we MIGHT finally be on top of it, and the house is finally getting back to normal, and we think by the end of the day we'll actually be able to use the dining room table again!


Such little things make me happy lately..............

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sigh

There was a moth in the pantry this morning.

Do you think they can exist on plastic now????????

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Big Girls Don't Cry.....

But sometimes they could really use a drink.

We have washed, bleached, caulked, and sprayed the pantry (repeatedly), and with no sign of the pantry moth beasts even NEAR the pantry after the spray, I decided it was time to start moving things back in--checking everything thoroughly before letting it back in, and so far I'm to here:
Things were going well through the alcohol--I admit, that's where I started as it had never been infected in the first place and I sort of assume alcohol would probably kill the little beasts--and the things in cans, as there's really no way the beasts could ever get inside those.  They were safe, stackable, and almost completely incapable of infestation.  (It's good to work your way up on these things.)

Everything--and I mean EVERYTHING--is sealed up.  I've even gone so far as this:
because the little beasts like paper & since they were in the coffee filters, I see no reason to consider paper baking cups safe.  I realize I am going to come out of this saga with a pantry that would make me an obsessive-compulsive disorder poster child, but it's either this or move, and we're still trying to unpack from the last move, so........

Alcohol dealt with, it was time to start on everything else.

OH MY.

If you ever find grain moths in your pantry, save yourself the trouble and just throw out EVERYTHING that isn't airtight.  If you want to know if a container is airtight, fill the sink with water, close the lid of the container, and submerge it in the water.  If water gets inside, the moth beasts can get inside.  Trust me.

Want to know what to look for?
See that webbing?  If this were some sort of grain, it would just look clumpy.  These beasts, however, like dried bananas--the stuff I nicely did WITHOUT preservatives. Maybe THIS is why the dried bananas you buy are deep-fried.  They taste terrible, but I bet the pantry moths don't like them.
A bit of a blurred shot, but you can see the little worm-baby beast hanging out IN the webbing.  Sorry it's a bit blurry, but there was NO way I was going to take the lid off this sucker.  Into the trash, jar and all.  Ditto the peanut butter jars full of millet, cracked wheat, and quinoa, all of which contained little beasts.  They obviously are NOT airtight.

Another sign you might have pantry moths:
see those little grains of brown rice that are hanging from the jar lid?  THAT is not static.  I had thought myself quite thrifty & resourceful in reusing these glass jars from Adam's natural peanut butter, but while they might come from the STORE airtight, they're like a little pantry moth condominium.  So much for thrift.

The GOOD news is that the 4 boxes of Rubbermade containers really do seem to defeat the little bastards.  The bad news is, I underestimated the little monsters when originally cleaning out the pantry.  Just because you can't initially SEE the infestation doesn't mean they aren't there lurking.  Today I discovered several containers where I had locked the little monsters INTO the container.
That white stuff all over the lid isn't a trick of the light.  That's the webbing these little monsters spin.  Spiders have NOTHING on these guys.  A spiderweb cannot hold large clumps of grain up.  This stuff can.  And you can see a smallish worm-baby.  They get bigger.

THEN I got to double-check the kitchen table--where all these moth-infested jars have been sitting for the last month, but luckily I didn't find a single moth or worm baby.  I'd be showing you a flaming tablecloth right now if I had.

Soooo, that was MY day.  And if anyone wants to know why I am drinking a white chocolate martini at 4:30 in the afternoon, I think I have a very reasonable excuse.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

New Excuses

So I'm getting a little bit tired of explaining to people who drop by why we have food scattered all over the house (not to mention it seems to really gross them out), so I think we need a new story.  Possible ideas:

1.  The canned green beans are afraid of the dark and the jars of salsa didn't want to be left behind

2.  This year for Thanksgiving we decided to decorate the entire house to look like a really big cornucopia.

3.  I saw decorating with jars on Martha Stewart and decided to take it one step further.

4.  It's for a play-at-home version of Iron Chef

5.  I just love grocery shopping so much that I wanted my home to look like Fred Meyer.

6.  Serious "munchies."

7.  We were expecting a LOT more trick-or-treaters.

8.  It makes it easier to use the pantry for games of hide-and-seek.

9.  We're taking inventory for tax purposes

10.  We've decided to jump right past the "lived-in" look and go straight to the "battle for survival" look.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Overheard Yesterday At Chateau Sutton Goar

"Eke!!!!!"

"Oh."

Toni - discovering skin peeling off her hand and not initially realizing it would be because she burned the hand last week.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Things I Am REALLY Hoping This Week

*  That the "death to pantry moths" spray arrives soon.  Like today.

*  That the "death to pantry moths" spray arrives before I have to explain to the piano tuner why we are currently keeping potatoes on the piano.

*  That our recent 70-degree weather doesn't encourage the darn lawn to start growing again.

*  That the "winter" stuff I diligently spread on our lawn works in spite of global warming

*  That people continue not to notice that the economy has improved from 2 years ago and that the stock market is gaining little by little.  We're making quite a bit of money on the stock market this year, because one thing I learned from working as a stock broker is to always bet against stupidity.  If Fox News won't go away, at least we can use it to our advantage.

*  That we'll finally get cool enough weather to get our garlic planted.  Like the temperatures we had in July.....

*  That the three hundred dollars worth of "air tight" containers really are air & worm-baby tight.

*  That I won't have to incorporate jars, bottles, and rubbermade containers into my Christmas decorating scheme.......

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Things I've Learned This Week

*  Getting a steam burn on most of one hand does get one out of washing dishes for several days, but still probably isn't worth it.

*  If you had problems with the tomatoes ON the vine, don't think the green ones won't have problems too.

*  It takes a long time to kill off a moth colony.

*  Handing out toys instead of candy for Halloween is a good way to make friends with both kids AND parents--unless the toys are ones that make noise.

*  If one bratty little trick-or-treater says he doesn't like your toys and wants candy instead, handing him a 5-year-old sucker is rather satisfying.

*  Don't underestimate a pantry moth infestation.  We found them in a jar of polenta that I had actually already checked.

*  My friends pointed out that if we ate processed foods with a bunch of preservatives like normal people, we probably wouldn't have a moth problem.  Sadly, they could be right.

*  Mother Nature is a great practical joker.  In July, when I wanted my tomatoes to grow, it was 60 degrees.  Now the first week of November, when I want to plant my garlic for next year, it's 70 degrees.

*  When the UPS guy shows up with the industrial-strength pantry moth spray, it would probably be best to refrain from hugging the man, no matter HOW much I feel like it.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rally for Sanity - Boise

We have now attended our FIRST rally of any sort!  It was so much fun!!!  Wanting to get fully into the spirit of the thing, we made a big sign to carry.  Here I am with the front:
and here's Andy with the reverse side:
 We got a lot of laughs--which we hope were sign-related.  The great thing about the rally yesterday was that it was a rally ABOUT moderation and civility (aside from the f--k 'em all sign, which was only nasty sign there). Moderates, when we rally, are actually a really fun lot.
I don't know if you can see it in this picture, but the sign farthest on the left says "Anyone for Scrabble later?"  Love that one!
Some of our favorite signs at the Boise event:

"Mothers against bickering"

"I disagree with you, but I'm pretty sure you're not Hitler"

"When did peace become unpatriotic?"

"Can't we all just sing along?"

And, sported by a small child, "Don't blame me--I voted for Cookie Monster"

We had non-partisan speakers, and ended the rally with a sing-a-long of "I'm Just A Bill" from Schoolhouse Rock.  Just a great day all around, and maybe finally a wakeup call to the nation that the nonsense, hate, nastiness and "enemy" politics of the last year must stop now.

To see signs from the national rally in Washington D.C., click here.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Gettin' Ready

We are attending the Boise "Rally for Sanity" today.  For anyone who hasn't heard of it yet, Jon Stewart of the Daily Show started this as a counter-point to Glen Beck's rally on Martin Luther King day.  I have to admit, I don't know what the point of Glen Beck's march (or Glen Beck himself, for that matter) was really supposed to be, but the Rally for Sanity started off as sort of a fun stunt and has spread GLOBALLY.  That's right--rallies against the stupidity of the last year are being held all over the world. 

I've never been to a rally, so this is going to be a new experience, and after all the stupidity of the last year, this is a rally I can support--even if it really is mostly just for fun.

We still need signs to carry, and these are my top ideas for signs:

*  If we all get to make up our own facts now, then chocolate won't make me fat!

* Logic--I promise it's worth a try

*  If you want me to take your political party seriously, don't involve Sarah Palin

*   Your yelling doesn't scare me
     That you believe Fox News, however, does

*  George H. W. Bush - implicated in Iran-Contra arms deal
   Jeb Bush - involved in 1990s Savings & Loan scandal
   George W. Bush - lied about WMD to start an illegal war
Sorry, why exactly would we be missing you?

*  Rush Limbaugh does it for the money.  What's your excuse?

*  Sorry, I must have missed it.  Where is it exactly that Jesus promoted hatred?

*  Your leader is a guy who cries all the time?  Who exactly was your second choice?

And great sign ideas I might borrow from others:

* My other rally is a book club

*  The only thing we have to fear is Fox News itself

* Don't worry about Communism.  I don't want to share my toys with you either.

* News channels should broadcast news occasionally.  

* Be sane for Canada! (Because nobody wants a crazy neighbor)

Friday, October 29, 2010

You're Not Going To Believe This......

I got beat up by canning again.

Does this happen to other people, or is it just me?  THIS time, I was working on my second batch of roasted vegetables for a roasted vegetable sauce, and managed to get a steam burn on my hand--all of it--from just opening the darn oven door.  When I tell you it hurt too much to knit, you know how bad it was.  Luckily, many Advil and a white chocolate martini allowed me to sleep, but I've spent today walking around with a white cotton glove on my hand to keep the skin from being rubbed by anything.

The only perk to this whole episode is that since it's Halloween weekend, I can just pass off the one white glove as a really lame Michael Jackson costume.

I do admit that the roasted vegetable tomato sauce (garlic, onions, red bell pepper, and tomatoes all roasted, then mixed with oregano and balsamic vinegar) is wonderful and we ended up with 20 1-cup jars.  When my hand stops hurting, we're going to try it on pizza.  Unless, of course, the pizza beats me up too.................

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Finally Some Answers

Well, I vacuumed 4 adult moths today, but the good or bad news--depending on how we want to look at it--is that they weren't in the pantry.  They were on the kitchen ceiling.  So, they're not gone.

The actual good news is that I found this website:  http://www.indianmealmoths.com/meal-moth-control
It answers a lot of the questions I haven't been able to find information on, and at least gives me some hope.  A few things cleared up:

1.  The Catchmaster moth traps do work.  Unfortunately, as I had feared, it's the male moths they kill, not the females.  So, if we have a male moth who isn't seduced by the trap pheremones and finds one of the female moths and they get together for a little moth whoopee, we still have problems.  Not that we're going to stop using them, but I was really hoping it was the female moths and their worm-baby breeding ability we were bumping off.

2.  Nothing kills the pupal stage of these beasts.  Very sad news.  Especially since I vacuumed up so many of the beasts in their cocoons.  Here's hoping the Raid I've regularly sprayed into the vacuum gets them as soon as they emerge from this indestructible pupal stage.  I don't care if we've emptied the vacuum by then--I just want all of them dead.

3.  It takes time.  Not that we weren't realizing this, but "taking time" is better than "freakin' impossible."  So there is hope.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I'm REALLY Trying Not To Get My Hopes Up.........

BUT I DIDN'T HAVE TO VACUUM UP ANY MOTHS OR WORM BABIES IN THE PANTRY THIS MORNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Could we really be winning?????

Monday, October 25, 2010

Living a Scavenger Hunt

So...the pantry is empty, the trap has caught lots of adult moths, but I am still vacuuming up a few adult moths in the pantry every day.  I don't know what they're doing in there.  We've removed EVERYTHING--even the cardboard and coffee filters, so unless they're resorting to moth cannibalism (of which I would whole heartedly approve at this point), there is no food source in there.  I'm afraid to move anything back into  the pantry while the little beasts still exist, because if two of them start to get a special feeling and the male is a bit of a smooth-talker, then we'll have worm babies again and I just don't think I could cope.  I can't even go near the bulk-bins at the grocery store right now.  Sure, to everyone else that stuff looks like food, but after the last few weeks all I see is a big pantry moth breeding ground.

The good news is, I suppose, that we're finally starting to get used to having the pantry contents scattered around the house.  The onions have taken up residence on one of the end tables, the honey is next to the ficus, and the flour is in the living room.  I think Andy is sort of enjoying this.  You know how a man can stand in front of the pantry or refrigerator and not be able to find something, only to have the woman find it in 15 seconds and then scoff at his inability to find things?  Currently, it takes longer than that to find the dining room table.  Or the cats.  Or, frankly, each other...........

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Shouldn't We Be Winning By Now?

This
is our kitchen pantry.  It has been emptied, soaped, bleached, caulked, and painted--with an occasional shot of Raid here & there.  The brown thing is a pantry moth trap (which does work, by the way).  And yet....I just vacuumed up two more moths a few minutes ago.  We're nervous about moving things back into the pantry until we're sure that the moths & their little worm babies are gone, but we were sort of hoping that would have been when their food supply dried up--or when their nests were vacuumed up or painted over.  Maybe they can survive a few days without food or air?

In the meantime, meals here at Chateau Sutton-Goar are a bit of a scavenger hunt.  The potatoes are in the living room, the flour is in the dining room, and the olives are over by the piano.  Isn't that where everyone keeps their olives?????

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Things I Have Learned This Week

*  There are several varieties of pantry moths: Mediterranean Flour Moths, Indian Meal Moths, and Angoumois Gran Moths.  Knowing this doesn't help get rid of them in any way, but is the information that Google seems to think I want most.

*  Not all rubber gloves will stop jalapeno oil from getting onto your hands.  Interestingly, the oil has an amazing shelf life, so even if one is smart enough to wear two sets of gloves when dealing with the jalapenos, if one doesn't think about it and dons the rubber gloves to wear while cleaning the pantry shelves with bleach to get rid of moth eggs, one can get jalapeno burns from the inside of the gloves to add to the fun.


*  They sell pantry moth traps.  I ordered 24 of them last night.  If I was positive that they work, I'd have ordered 1000.


*  It is impossible to underestimate the number of places these stupid moths & their disgusting worm babies will show up.  Today I found them in the coffee filters.


*  Even if the set of cannisters was relatively expensive and sold to be used for food storage, it doesn't necessarily mean that they are airtight.  In fact, if they are blue & are sold at Target, I can promise you they aren't.  Why one would make cannisters that aren't airtight is anyone's guess.  $1 big plastic jars from the dollar store are airtight.  Go figure.


*  One Advil is not enough pain-killer to cope with an all-over hand burn.  I'm considering unconsciousness.


*  If we ever get rid of the pantry moths, I promise to never, ever, EVER complain about slugs in the garden again.  I may even name them and keep them as pets.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The 2011 Project

As many of you may have noticed, I like yearly projects.  Over the years there has been the one-new-recipe-a-week year, the tourism-in-my-home-state year, and most memorably the Year of No Processed Foods.  This year I didn't pick a project as the no processed foods one was SO overwhelming and we're still making changes to make it a permanent lifestyle thing.  But I decided I wanted a project for next year, and had noticed some great events coming up at our local community library.  They're doing an entire railroad series, and so far we've been to a slide presentation and a book discussion, and both have been really interesting.  And this is all free--how fabulous is that?  So, after a brief discussion with my partner-in-projects, Andy and I have committed to find one free or nearly free event to attend every week in 2011.  Festivals, lectures, plays, readings, concerts, whatever.  And we can't use the same one more than once, so going to the Boise Saturday market will only be able to count once.

I'm excited.  I think it will be fun....and it's helping take my mind off those damn grain moths.............

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Few Updates....

*  I did take the weekend off, but I am still battling those darn grain moths.  I shall never again wonder how people could randomly spray bugs without thinking of the consequences.  After a week of battling these bugs, I would cheerfully bomb the daylights out of the entire insect kingdom.

*  It is now October 11, and we usually have our first frost of the year by now, but continuing our bizarre new weather patterns, the weather forecast doesn't show frost for at least the next 15 days.  I am torn between being glad the tomatoes are getting a bit more time and wishing for a hard frost that would kill off the entire garden for the year.

*  The thing I read about Epsom salts curing blossom end rot?  TOTAL urban legend.  We're still getting it because of the uncontrollable wetness/dryness the tomatoes have gone through this year, and the suckers have been covered with Epsom salts solutions.  Hope it's good for the soil.

*  I was happy enough being married to Andy as it is, but discovering he can fix a washing machine that has started dumping water all over the laundry room floor at 8:30 the night before he's supposed to leave on a camping trip is a SERIOUS relationship perk.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Year of the Bug

So......I was complaining about the OUTSIDE bugs.  They are nothing compared to having INDOOR bugs.

Our pantry has been invaded by grain moths.  Little black moths that can chew through plastic.  Or maybe it's their little wormy offspring that can do that.  ICK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Not that cleaning out the pantry once in a while isn't a good idea, but I would have preferred it to be because I had the "spring cleaning bug," not real bugs.

It turns out that bay leaves will repel the little beasts, but they are EVERYWHERE.  Even in empty cardboard boxes and the boxes containing our serving dishes.  I would have thought, being grain moths, that they would really go places that contained grains.  But we have been invested by some free-thinkers, and they have taken up residence anywhere they could.

I never thought I would say this, but maybe the slugs weren't so bad after all..............

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Things I Have Learned This Week

*  It's one thing to say that it's really wrong to have to turn on the air-conditioning in October, but that doesn't really matter much when it's 90 degrees and you're dripping with sweat

*  When one arranges to have friends meet one to go to a movie, it's probably best to verify that the schedule--which one has duly checked--doesn't change on the very day that everyone has arranged to meet

*  The only person in the entire room who doesn't find it annoying when an audience member continually interrupts a lecture to throw in useless information is the jerk doing it

* Never underestimate the garden.  Just because our potato tower experiment has been a general failure, and even though I dug all around inside it and only found one potato, three new potato plants may be able to spring up from itty bitty potato molecules just out of sheer spite.

*  After all the bugs, weeks, fungus, and rodents, I might really enjoy seeing the garden get knocked off by frost this year.....

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fun With Banned Books

American Scholar has a fabulous article about the obscenity trail of Lady Chatterly's Lover:

Trial and Eros

Now I have to go dig out my Kingsley Amis books again.....not to mention my copy of Lady Chatterly's Lover.......!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

With Age Comes Wisdom....

Or something of the kind.

I have now been 40 a week and a half.  Statistically speaking, as a better-off American woman, I have lived half my life.  Not  bad--especially considering how many people I have known who didn't even make it this far. I think it also means I've learned about half of what I'm going to learn in my lifetime--which also isn't bad.  It gives me lots more to learn and experience, and it means there is hope for mastering that damn crockpot yet!

Some of the key things I've learned in the first half:

*  Too many adults lose the fun and playfulness in life

*   Consciously or not, I tend to spend more time with people who are open to trying new things, who have few dislikes, and are generally positive than with the people who have long lists of things they won't do or won't try.

*  Never wear shoes that hurt your feet, no matter how cute they are or what a great deal they were

*  If someone talks about how others have "abandoned" them or how they have "trust" issues with new people, it usually means they have driven everyone else in their life away.

*  Beware of women who don't have many friends or who always have new friends.  It generally means they don't know how to BE a friend.

*  I will never EVER wish I had spent more time watching television

*  Having children in order to hold onto someone, to save a marriage, or to make someone love you never, ever,  EVER really works. 

*  Marry someone you genuinely like to talk with.

*  No one--not a sibling or a parent or a child--deserves to be in your life if they treat you badly.

*  I have a lot of friends, even though I don't always have much in common with some of them.  The key seems to be whether or not we really like each other for the people we are, not the jobs we have or the sports we play.

*  People rarely change, no matter how many chances you give them.  Either accept them as they are or cut your losses and move on.

*  Building a snowman is fun at ANY age.

*  Swapping book recommendations with friends is great.  I wish we'd started sooner.

*  If you want people to want to be around you, BE a person others want to be around.

*  Some people seem to go from drama to drama to drama in life.  I just don't have the energy for that.

*  Some of the most fun things I've done are the ones I was almost too shy to do.  

*  Chewing with your mouth closed and not talking with your mouth full are not only good manners, but if you can't even stop talking long enough to chew your food, you're probably doing too much talking and not enough listening.....not to mention spraying everyone with half-chewed food.

*  Spend as little time as you can around people who talk AT you and as much time as possible around those who talk WITH you

* Humor makes most things easier.

*  Sure, one can always have a bigger house, a nicer car, more money.  I really believe the key to happiness is being content to say, "I have enough." 

*  Be a collector of amazing people.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Banned Books Week Continued: Banned Books That Kids Have Probably Already Seen As A Movie Anyway

What do the following movies have in common?

1. Clockwork Orange
2. Brokeback Mountain
3. Forrest Gump
4. Gone With The Wind
5. The "Harry Potter" movies
6. The "Lord of the Rings" movies
7. Precious
8. Sophie's Choice
9. The Color Purple
10. The Godfather
11. The Shining
12. There Will Be Blood
13. To Kill A Mockingbird
14. The "Twilight" movies
15. Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory

All are based on books that have been challenged or banned. You can read the reasons behind each one here:

American Library Association: Banned Books Week 2010: 15 Iconic Movies Based On Banned Books (PHOTOS)

but my personal favorite is Willy Wonka. It was locked away in 1988 by a librarian who decided that the book espoused poor choices. By 1988 every kid in America had probably seen the Gene Wilder movie on television at least five times, and if being turned into a giant blueberry for breaking the rules isn't tough enough for this librarian, she probably missed her calling as a prison matron.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In Honor of Banned Books Week - Banned Books That Might Surprise You

Giant peaches, hobbits, dictionaries, Little Red Riding Hood........we should be SO thankful that there are people determined to protect the world from such dangers.........


Banned Books Week: 10 banned books you might not expect - Yahoo! News

Friday, September 24, 2010

Banned Books Week Starts Tomorrow

Banned Books Week--which actually isn't a week-long retreat for the Texas Board of Education, though I can understand any confusion about that--kicks off tomorrow. 

Now, being me, a book getting banned or challenged almost automatically moves it to me "must read" list--especially since so often the book is being challenged by people who have never read the book.  Incredible as that seems, it never seems to phase those who ban books. 

The American Library Association has some great information about banned books, including the following list of most-often banned or challenged classics  (and you can blame the lack of proper punctuation on them, not me--I just cut & pasted):

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses by James Joyce
7. Beloved by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
9. 1984 by George Orwell
10. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
11. Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

13. Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
14. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
15. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm by George Orwell

18. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway 
19. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
21. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
22. Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
23. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
24. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
25. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
26. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
27. Native Son by Richard Wright
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
29. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
31. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
32. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
33. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
34. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
35. Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
36. Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
37. The World According to Garp by John Irving
38. All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
39. A Room with a View by E. M. Forster
40. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
41. Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally
42. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
43. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
44. Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
45. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
46. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
47. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
48. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence
49. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
50. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
51. My Antonia by Willa Cather
52. Howards End by E. M. Forster
53. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
54. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
55. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
56. Jazz by Toni Morrison
57. Sophie's Choice by William Styron
58. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
59. A Passage to India by E. M. Forster
60. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
61. A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor
62. Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
63. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
64. Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence
65. Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
66. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
67. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
68. Light in August by William Faulkner
69. The Wings of the Dove by Henry James
70. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
71. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
72. A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
73. Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
74. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
75. Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence

76. Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe
77. In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
78. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein
79. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
80. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
81. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
82. White Noise by Don DeLillo
83. O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
84. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
85. The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
86. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
87. The Bostonians by Henry James
88. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
89. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
90. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
91. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
92. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
93. The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles
94. Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
95. Kim by Rudyard Kipling
96. The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
97. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
98. Where Angels Fear to Tread by E. M. Forster
99. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
100. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

These are the books that most frighten people.  I will grant that some of these books are intended for a mature reader, but who in the world is threatened by Winnie the Pooh???????????? And why even bother to ban anything by James Joyce--I don't think any of us have ever understood his stuff anyway.  Are they just afraid of excessive foot notes?  And could there possibly be anything in ANY of these books that is even half as frightening as a small minority of people trying to control what others have the right to read?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Things I've Learned This Week

*  Turning 40 really isn't stressful, since the entire year before when I told people I was 39, they thought I was really 40 and just lying about my age.

*  Some people are takers.  Other people are givers.  And a "giving" grandmother will send you home with 4 boxes of cucumbers from her garden and call a few days later to see if you need more.

*  We are having to prioritize canned tomato items this year as the tomatoes are so late.  Apparently salsa trumps everything, with chunky tomato sauce as a close second.  We think we'll have an easier time finding canned tomatoes without additives than salsa or tomato sauce without additives, because the person who is in charge of grocery shopping and our no-processed-foods diet (namely, me) failed to take helpful notes on such things.......

*  The majority of the birthday cards I receive talked about drinking wine.  Obviously, I am not a "woman of mystery" to my friends.........

*  Apples have a pretty decent shelf life, and can wait a few days before being made into apple butter.  I have never before realized what a wonderful trait that is.

*  Getting water in under the knobs of a gas stove can cause some interesting electrical arcing.  And Sears has a large supply of gas stove replacement parts.  Both are good to know.....

The Look

Anyone who thinks cats can't learn things hasn't lived with one. It took Theo maybe a month into his diet to figure out that I can...