Monday, April 30, 2012

mac 'n' cheese

a while ago i decided to make macaroni and cheese. maybe it's odd, but even at my age i had never done it.

well, REAL mac and cheese.  i made mac 'n' cheez back in my college days.

so i looked at a recipe or two and settled on this one, but played pretty loose with it from the beginning.

i go ahead and toss paprika and cayenne or whatever i feel like in the roux, and i use a whole onion, which i cook a little in a pan before putting it in. sometimes i just cook them until they're transparent, and sometimes i let them caramelize a little. it's also good if you toss them in raw and let them simmer like the recipe says.

as for cheese, i use whatever cheese i have in the house. cheddar, american, swiss, jarlsberg,  fontina, brie, what-have-you. i don't bother with a breadcrumb topping. maybe a little sprinkled parmesan on top if i have it handy.

this week i made one with about half american cheese and half sharp cheddar, both from cabot, which is locally made and quality cheese.

i like the smoothness of american cheese. (not pasteurized processed cheese food product, mind you)

last month i was talking with cr over a plate of this stuff and we both said that this is not the mac 'n' cheese we remember our mothers making. neither of us EVER remembers seeing our moms start with a roux.

i checked with my mom and she said she just tossed the macaroni in the dish with some milk and layers of cheese and baked it. and i remember that it was delicious.

mine is delicious, too, but a little bit of a different animal.

i am having some for dinner. it's good leftover, and it freezes well.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

lunch at my house

it isn't very exciting, but it is delicious:

i saw this recipe for eggs and kale on toast and since at the time i happened to have a bunch of kale (i had never bought kale- this one came to me as a hand-me-down) and i went right ahead and made it.

it now figures in my favorites.

i modify it a little, serving it on english muffins, which are my preferred toast. and i have used both fresh lemon juice and bottled lemon juice; both work just fine. similarly, you can use fresh garlic or garlic-from-a-jar.  i play kind of fast and loose with the actual amounts, and i have not found that i have reached the quantity of garlic that is too much, but there IS a point at which the lemon juice is way too much, so be prudent.

today i went ahead and tossed some miso in the pan with the greens, and it was yummy.

good and good for you.

eat more kale.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood

fred's been gone a long time, but we still miss him.

i remember afterschool i discovered if i ran out right after dismissal and didn't talk to anyone i could usually make it out of the parking lot and to the corner just in time for the light and get on the interstate, placing me in front of the TV just in time for mr. rogers' neighborhood.

if you are confused because it sounds like i was old enough to drive, that's ok. my true love affair with fred (i'm old enough to call him fred now) and his show began october 6, 1981.

i was home sick from school, the kind of sick where you have the tv on but if you get stuck with a bad channel, you're maybe not well enough to get up to change it and it was before we had any such thing as a remote in our house.

so i was watching tv when the first footage of the sadat assassination came fresh into the news rooms and in a hurry to get the scoop, every channel put it right on the air without even looking at it.

it only played once in that raw unedited form.

it was carnage. and it was on every channel. a little later when i was able to get up and lay just under the tv, turning through the channels looking for something i could watch, there were channels that kept playing the (now edited) footage and channels that had on other programs, but i noticed that every show- every. damn. show. - was either full of violence or unkindness or fun at someone else's expense and then i got to the channel where fred was putting on his sweater and he was that day the single voice in the wilderness, asking us to be better people than that.

telling us that we were fine the way we were.

when i was in college i found i had friends who loved fred for the same reasons i did (maybe minus the story about the assassination) and we often left our 2:00 class as soon as we could because that gave us eight minutes to run across the quad to watch fred on tv.

and i remember a party at which someone appeared in a slinky black dress reclining on the piano (we were music majors) to sing it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood as a torch song. you don't even have to change the words. it works fine just like that. sing it breathless, with a few appropriate pauses.

i have always wanted to have a neighbor
just like you
i've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you
let's make the most of this beautiful day
since we're together, we might as well say
it's a beautiful day in my neighborhood. yes, this is my neighborhood.
would you be mine? 
could you be mine?
won't you be 
my neighbor?

in the late 80's my dad ran into fred on a beach and told him that his two daughters were very big fans, but my dad for some reason didn't tell fred that his two daughters were 18 and 21 years old.

but he said he hoped it was a beautiful day in our neighborhood wherever we were.

and you know, fred? it is.

getting to know mister rogers
fred rogers
mister rogers and me
best acceptance speech ever

Friday, April 27, 2012

next stop brasil

ok, so you're both aware that i like to click through random blogs.

the other day i spent fifteen minutes clicking random blogs without bothering to read them.


well, first let me qualify that. i read some of the first one and i read one other one, but it was otherwise just dozens of clickthroughs.

for some reason, when i hit the random button from my own blog (a handy starting point) the first blog i went to was bilingual english/spanish. the second one was spanish. then there were a string of blogs in portuguese, and even one in portuguese about BEING IN SPAIN.

then there was a madrid based english language blog consisting of one page telling you it was rubbish and should not have come and then dozens of other spanish or portuguese blogs.

how did i get in that string?

*cue twillight zone music*

Thursday, April 26, 2012

open letter to matthew inman

hey, were either of you following the short-lived flap over at the oatmeal last week? i can't really say i was, because by the time i read about it in the mary sue, it was already over.

short version: matthew inman (whose comic i follow regularly) drew a comic that was representative of his personal experience in the gaming world but pretty far off of the experience of many women in the gaming world.

some people wrote in to criticize him for it.

and instead of digging in his heels, he said pretty much the equivalent of "wow. i'm sorry. i meant to express something about my experience and hadn't even considered how different other people's experiences are and i certainly didn't mean to belittle anybody and for good measure here's a check made out to an appropriate organization", which is a refreshing and lovely response to criticism, especially in today's media climate.

and i wanted to write and tell him what i thought about it, but i don't see a contact link and didn't feel like adding to the drowning sea of likes and reblogs in his comments, so i am writing it here.

dear mr. inman,

i saw the controversy over your girl gamers comic before i saw the comic because the comic itself was buried in my rss feed and by the time i saw it, i already knew how the story had come out and therefore had preconceived notions about it.

i follow your comic regularly and i know enough to know that while sometimes i find your work to be a perfect fit with my own perceptions, sometimes we are worlds apart. that's ok; i am as bored with people with whom i agree all of the time as i am with people with whom i agree none of the time.

had i seen your comic, i would not have liked it. i would have thought "wow. that certainly is a different view of gaming than i experience" and i probably would have just chalked it up to one of the differences between us.

but a number of people did write in to speak with you about it, and instead of painting yourself into the corner, you were gracious and flexible and you sounded like you had maybe taken the time to rub two brain cells together and try to look at the issue from someone else's viewpoint.

and without being asked or told, you went ahead and wrote out a check for what looks to me like quite a lot of money, just to make your point.

if you ask me (and i know you didn't), your response was sufficient at the moment you acknowledged you understood why some people were upset. you went from being mensch to hero when you backed up your words with action, and i hope people remember this when it comes time to think about where they might do their webcomic-related shopping.

so thanks.

love, flask

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


here's a super fun little timewaster you can play with.

i found it via boingboing and i like to use that link because there's no nice place to park it when you're not playing. like a lot of cute flash games, you need a tab with a link to park it in between games, if you're like me and leave a tab open so you can play it at odd moments without having to look it up.

it's a cute pinball facsimile, and does a pretty good job for a flash game. i loves me my pinball, so i don't take that lightly.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

rose red

last monday at catamount i shed my first blood of the season.  i cut a corner too narrow and fended against a tree with my right forearm, so i have a pretty big scrape there.

it didn't seem like much at the time, so i didn't wash it out immediately, but it turns out it was a pretty dirty tree and there's some stuff in there which means it's sore. it's healing fine, but i underestimated the depth and dirtiness of the scrapes, figuring it wasn't worth bandaids and cream.

it may still not have been worth it, but i get to think about it pretty close for a few days yet. it looks very nice along with the bruises from this friday.

in other news, i'm ready to show you a thing that came off my worktable last week.

a while ago i saw a bunch of posts about duct tape roses which made the rounds about valentine's day. i thought they would be cool to make, so i got me some duct tape and started making them. the first few were really hard, but i got the hang of it, and they're something you can do while you're watching TV.

i found some online tutorials for it, but this one is my favorite:

so i got to work on them, and had enough to bring them to my mom's for everyone at easter, plus the secret project i was working on, related to the pennies.

here are my photos of some of mine.

Monday, April 23, 2012

foot bed

ok, so i'm going through the piles of stuff is started accumulating to tell you about later, and i'm kind of doing in in reverse chronological order at least as far as the pictures go. by the time i get around to last october, it will probably be next october, which will be fun.

...i hope.

both of you regular readers already know that i have a long-standing problem with foot pain. it has to do with a truckload of arthritis degeneration especially in my left foot, where i also have bone spurs in three of my metatarsal joints.

plus i'm carrying around some extra weight, which never improves that sort of situation.

last year i saw a podiatrist who suggested that he rig me up a storebought insole modified with a metatarsal pad because it would be cheaper than a custom orthotic.

surgery, he said, is also an option, though a temporary one, because bone spurs tend to grow back and although they can round off the chisel points on my metatarsals, they will only sharpen up again as the joint damage progresses.

ok, so we went with the cheap solution, and why not?

it did make an improvement, but what it did mostly was shift the pain to a different location, but it bought me some extra time on my feet before the pain set in.

and then i was in a parking lot after a race and we were talking with our friend doug about crashco's calf injury last summer and rehabilitation of same and doug had rather a lot to say about it in a way that suggested he spoke with authority.

"so what are you," i ask him. "an orthopedist?"
"no", he says. "i make prosthetics and orthotics for a living."

now we have been friends with doug for maybe thirteen years, but when i say "friends", we are more "parking lot friends". we see each other twice a week in summer and make chitchat about the weather or the course or whatever, but it's reasonable in this context that i might know a guy thirteen years and not know what he does for a living.

so then we get to talking about what doug could maybe do for me.

so finally last week i got myself into his office (orthoteknics) and he made me an orthotic.

well, a pair of them. it is really interesting to run in them because they give my feet support that just hasn't been there for a long time and i am amazed to feel how i've been compensating over the years.

and doug was a good sport about it and let me take pictures.

so he's got this cute machine with a grid of rubber pins like those contour toys with the metal pins in the plastic frame and you put your foot on it and the pins come up and there's a little form that fits over the pins to make the form of the metatarsal pad and then it sends all this information over to the computer and produces essentially a topographic map of your feet.

and you know how i love maps.

so. interesting machinery, pain mitigation, maps.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

more numbers

both of you know i made a little fuss last month when my car turned 100,000 miles.

last week there was another lesser milestone, but i like number patterns, so i took a picture for you to enjoy or not.

i find that in the aftermath of the bike crash, i just feel tired. i'm spending a lot of time lying down not because i'm too tired to sit up, but because the parts of me i use for sitting are the most bruised.

too tired out to do much standing and walking around only hurts because, well, when you walk, you move those areas where your legs attach to one another.

so i'm doing more lying down than i would like, but maybe it will be good to rest.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

things that begin with tr...

if you do not want to read anything about my squishy bits, this post is not for you.

let's start with wednesday, shall we? i thought maybe i would go for a little bike ride and racked my bike to go to catamount (get your own blasted link) and when i got there i was missing a wheel.

...which made me look back on that suddenly stopping and reversing pickup truck and that second pickup truck meeting an officer of a local police force that i do not like and the subsequent flurry of state and local police officers in the area with a little paranoia.

did i lose my wheel where it had maybe caused an accident? was i being looked for?

probably not.

but all the way home i was a little nervous, plus i really wanted to find that wheel and i was driving my route backward looking for it and that's when a passing car ticked a stone into my windshield, which is why i was getting it repaired yesterday morning, which is why after i got done my grocery shopping i decided to take my bike ride just up the road instead of going to all the trouble of racking my bike and going back out to williston.

i decided to ride from my house up to the preston pond loop trail by way of notch road , take the trail across to stage road and come home. it combines a nice steady dirt road climb with some trail riding and it gets me out and back very nicely.

and there were pretty flowers!

i saw my first trillium of the season but it was not unfurled, so i didn't stop.

oh, let's be real. i was climbing on a thing that's kind of tricky to me and managing to pick good lines and keep going, so no way was i stopping to take pictures of it.

but i had gone to the trouble of putting my camera (complete with hard case) in my jersey pocket, so i was thinking that i would have to keep an eye out for more pretty flowers, especially up where the trail levels out, and on the western slope, where things are likely to be more developed.

and i'm moving happily along, feeling good, putting my tires right where i want them which is a big, big plus if you're going over any kind of rocks and stuff and i was even tearing it off with a little style and that's when i noticed the trout lillies and more trillium, and i was thinking that i would have to be on the lookout for some nice ones to photograph and i'm still picking my spots pretty well, even with the mudholes and waterbars.

i will pause here to tell you that my weight combined with that of my bike is well over 200 pounds. and (spolier alert!!!) a slow-motion fall on a bike can be much more dangerous than a speedy fall, because you go right down instead of sliding or rolling.

so i was looking off to the side at a lovely little trout lilly and noticing the trough of a waterbar in the trail and i was thinking "alex, can i have "things that begin with "tr" for 500 please?" and then i thought "ha. "trebek" begins with "tr" and that was the last thing i thought before things went very bad.

i had, in that moment, decided to make a little hop to go over the mudhole in the waterbar instead of just putting my weight full back and rolling, but gotten it wrong and so i managed to fully commit to preloading my front shock, only where i landed that front tire was not on the other side, but stuck right down in the trough.

a thing with my kind of mass carries some pretty good inertia. so when my bike suddenly stopped moving forward, i did not. and instead of flying over the handlebars and rolling or skidding as i might have done had i been moving faster, the whole of my weight came crashing down with my squishy bits on the headset.

this is where i fell.
this was followed by the immediate ricochet back so that the seat jammed into my back (i'm still clipped into both pedals, so the bike hits me carrying the force of all of my weight), which was immediately followed by another sickening fall forward, but no, not mercifully onto the ground, but placed just so the headset jammed into my belly and my squishy bits were  most forcefully and painfully struck by the top tube.

THEN i fell to the ground, landing directly on my camera.

it's fine, thank you. remember that hard case?

i have not yet looked in the mirror, but let's just say that anyone seeing me nude would have a good idea of the size and shape of my camera case.

well, for a few minutes i just laid there in paralyzing pain.  then i laid there for a while more in paralyzing pain.

"wow", i said to nobody in particular, "that fall would have KILLED a man."

trout lilly, red anther
and then i noticed that i had fallen near some pretty flowers,  so i took pictures.
trout lilly, yellow anther

mud and angry red skin, showing tire print

then i got up and rode home.

i am experiencing what your dentist calls "some discomfort".

Friday, April 20, 2012

old, fat and slow

well, you can't do anything about the first one, but the other two are at least partly in your control.

i STILL haven't lost an ounce (not an ounce!) but i am stronger and looking trimmer, which is really the goal anyway.

actually, the goal has nothing to do with appearance. my goal never has anything to do with appearance. i wash my hair before i go to bed and sleep on it wet. the only time i care what i look like is if i'm going to something like a funeral and i wish to show respect by looking presentable.

a long time ago i was standing in front of a class and i took off the hat i'd been wearing and a kid in the front row piped up to say "you really DON'T care about your hair, do you?" and half the class held its breath to see how i'd respond to this possible insult, and the other half laughed, knowing i would laugh too.

so the real reason i would like to lose weight is because no matter how powerful you are, extra weight is extra weight. i want to feel lithe and light and strong again. someday i want to be state champion again. it won't be too hard if i can get back in shape, since my goal is to do it in the over 60 age group, so i have a few years to get in shape, and let's face it: usually only two or three girls show up for that race anyway, and often only one finishes.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

what you ask for

a number of years ago i wrote to the admissions office at ithaca college asking for a poster i could put on the wall of my classroom.

you know, because in college admissions they HAVE those sorts of things to send out.

and it seemed like a perfectly reasonable request; i am a graduate of the school of music there, and i got a top-drawer education and i was working as a music teacher in the public schools and thought my classroom would be a nice place for an IC poster.

they very promptly sent me back a lovely package containing some glossy brochures and a t-shirt. granted, it's a very nice t-shirt and one of my favorites to this day, but not exactly what i asked for, and doesn't even meet the purpose of the thing i asked for.

i just shake my head.

anyway, the video of the last home choir concert (which actually is the Last Home Choir Concert- don't get me started) is posted, so you can watch it if you like.

The Listserve went live last night, and i got my first email from it. i do not think i am going to be disappointed. you can sign up, too.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

beans, beans, fritos, and cheeese

this is a non-commercial blog. i do not monetize it. granted,  i do sell stuff off of my zazzle panel over there to the right, but what you see is the height of aggressiveness in my marketing.

but hey, they're my own designs, and if i'm going to keep a blog for my words and a podcast for my music and photo galleries, i may as well let you see my designs for zazzle. i'm already out there showing off.

i do not run advertising here. i am not morally opposed to paid advertising on blogs. if both of you made enough click impressions to warrant it, i might use advertising even though i think it spoils the look of the place.

what i promise you, though, is that you are never going to see a post here in which i pretend to be all breathless and excited about a commercial product and pretend it's not advertising.

i only mention it because i'm about to drop a whole lot of brand names for absolutely no reason than these are the ones i use in my kitchen without fail. if i do not have these particular items in these brands, i do not make this dish. yes, it does make a difference.

often when i write to you about what's in my kitchen i am writing about some precious little thing i am making from scratch using fresh ingredients. and yah, boo, that's most of what i eat here.

but sometimes, yah, i WANT beans, beans, fritos, and cheese. i make no apologies for it. one time a long time ago a waiter at  the moosewood restaurant told me there's no such thing as junk food. even twinkies have their place on the table.

and if you are wondering why a waiter at the restaurant should dare to talk about menu and nutrition, the moosewood is a labor collective, so the guy who waits your table on monday might be head cook on tuesday. they KNOW about food.

uh, anyway. last week i got me a hankerin' to eat beans, beans, fritos, and cheese.

no, it's not the same as beans, fritos, and cheese.

because there are two different kinds of beans.

start with original fritos corn chips. no newfangled sizes, shapes or flavors will do. pour a half bag of those suckers into your baking dish (you probably should use MY baking dish for best results) and shake them down to settle them a little.

on top of those pour in a can of goya coloradas guidsadas (that's kidney beans with sauce). si es goya, tiene que ser bueno. yes, pour in all the sauce.

yeah, shake it down a little, because the pan is looking kind of full and you still have stuff to put in there.

next cheese. i use white american cheese from the cabot creamery and although i buy cabot products whenever i can this is actually the least fussy of the brand names. any real american cheese will do. that is, any pasteurized processed cheese, as opposed to any pastuerized processed cheese food product, because you want to be using something made with actual cheese instead of an oil emulsion.

but i use cabot cheese because it it made locally and i can go see the place and even though cabot creamery is now accepting milk from away (read: western massachusetts), it's still pretty local and pretty clean.

so i lay in three or four slices of cheese and then on top of that i put in a can of old el paso refried beans. i use the vegetarian ones, but any flavor will be just fine. i have tried other brands, but do not like them as well.

then when i get it smoothed in (it will not look nice, no matter how smooth. it will still look like dog food, and not quality dog food at that) i lay over it another three or four slices of cheese and pop it in a 350° oven until the cheese is all melty and starts to bubble and maybe even brown a little, about forty minutes.

then i let it sit for ten or fifteen minutes to get its bearings before i cut into it to put it in the plates. there is no way to make it look good in the plates, either. it looks like slop.

i pour two taco sauces over it, because that's how i like it. i use both old el paso medium and ortega medium because the two of them together give me the taste i want on this dish.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

more about pennies

so if you're been following the top secret penny project, once i had collected the pennies i thought i should do something with them.

so this isn't really part of the whole project, but adjunct to it.

i hope it gives you a giggle.

Monday, April 16, 2012

opening day

saturday was opening day at catamount.

i went, of course.

i used to go every year for both opening and closing and a lot of the days in between but in recent years i have been out on the road at both opening and closing, so i've had to settle for just a lot of days in between.

you know i've been riding and running and in general trying to get into shape, and i was surprised that i only lasted an hour out there; it was all my shoulders could take. i keep forgetting that you use your upper body a lot more on trails than you do otherwise, so i never stop being surprised that i'm sore.

i think maybe i will go back this afternoon. the weather is nice and i need to do some exercise-y thing.

yesterday i went to play golf with the crashcos so even though it wasn't a terribly aerobic workout, at least i was outside and moving.

and they're so patient. one of the drawbacks to living alone is that i don't get to talk much to live people but when i finally do get to see live people i have rather a lot to say and end up running my mouth a lot.

i think they understand.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

convergence of the twain

in 1985 the ithaca college choir began to work on a new piece that had been commissioned for us. it was weird, and modern- sounding, on a text that was famous, but not to us. it was called "Convergence of the Twain" and it was by Iain Hamilton.

we didn't think much of it at first, but as we began to understand it, we began to see its scope and awesomeness. i wish i had a recording of it for you to listen to, but i can't find one.

often, when we were working music with dense poetry as its text, larry would sit us down to discuss the poetry and its meaning, or meanings. we were free to create alternate meanings, if we could support them.

this particular text was opaque to us, couched in language of seventy years before, and we were not yet interested enough to look very deep.

hubris of youth.

and sitting on the risers, my friend janis shrugged her shoulders, thinking herself very, very funny (usually she was) and said "I think it's about the sinking of the titanic!"

and we all laughed.

until we looked carefully at the poem in that light. it wasn't so easy to see, hidden in the lines of music. but found the poem standing on its own, with its stanzas intact and its subtitle.

and we understood.

and the piece was AWESOME.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

road ride

so yesterday i got out on my road bike, because i felt like it. my favorite bike, mostly, is whichever one i happen to be riding. except the black trek, which only achieves favoriteness through sentimental value and lendability.

anyway, it was significant (to me) that i felt like riding my road bike because i haven't felt like it since that day i went out on a short ride and got a flat three miles from my car and had to walk back in road shoes and got blisters.

and all of a sudden road riding seemed scary and unsafe to me, which is odd, because when i got run over on route 2 nothing about road riding seemed scary and unsafe. it was just a thing, you know?

i still get shivers when i ride that section of road or when something reminds me of the moments just before i was looking up at the front axle of a dodge durango, but it still seemed totally safe to me, nevermind the crushed helmet, the three layers of clothing ground off, and the ambulance ride.

but getting this flat tire made it scary.

you may ask why i didn't have tools, and rightly so.

i used to be in the habit of carrying every tool i might ever need, and never needing them. i could change a flat, break a chain, and repair the brakes. but it had been YEARS since my last flat and brain damage had erased from me the knowledge of HOW to change a flat and besides, it was a short ride.

and i got a flat.

and had to walk.

in road shoes.

and hadn't ridden  my road bike since.

so yesterday i bit down and did it because i felt like it. i used to be a lot faster on a bike, but no matter how you slice it, on a bike i am much faster than i am on foot. not just if you compare my speed on foot to my speed on a bike, but compared to other humans similarly equipped. on foot i can't keep up with anyone. on a bike, i'm one of the crowd. i am graceful and strong and i can MOVE.

everybody should be able to feel that way sometimes.

and it was an awesome ride, too, even though i gave up without even trying going up the little climbs in big gears; i just don't have the legs.

but i rode in big gears more than i thought i would, and i hit the light just perfect in richomnd.

richmond is fun because if you do the loop counter-clock, you come down the hill and if you get that right you are egregiously in violation of the speed limit, which is tonic to the soul of every road cyclist.

but then you have to think about when to take the lane if you're turning left at the light because it can get ugly if the auto traffic thinks you're holding it up. if you're a cyclist, you know that when you come down past the firehouse if the light is green, it will turn red and you will have just enough time to catch the next green without having to stop at the intersection.

if you get there too early, you have to foot down and wait for thru traffic before you can turn left and if you get there too late you miss the light and have to foot down AND wait for thru traffic in the next cycle.

timing it right is a matter of three or four seconds, and you have to gauge both the traffic behind you and traffic oncoming AND watch for pedestrians in the crosswalks and cars backing out of the diagonal parking.

it's only a two-street town, but it's hoppin'.

yesterday i got the lights just PERFECT and sailed down onto bridge street in total style and as i came around the corner there were people n a white minivan honking and waving at me.

now, i don't recognize faces well, but richmond is a town where i am not a stranger, so i looked at them, pretended to recognize the people, was genuinely happy to see them (i am assuming that i know them), and waved before heading down to the red/green bridge.

i was gonna tear that off with some style, too, but the pavement is so bad that my left foot got bounced right out of the pedal, but it was all good and i made my left turn at cochran road perfectly meshed with the traffic and went happily on my way.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Month of MAYhem Blogging Challenge™

well, people seem to like being told what to write on their blogs. here's my whack at it. if you don't like my challenge, why don't you write your own ideas on your own blog every. damn. day?

all righty. so for those of you looking for guidance, you can either follow the steps in the order they are given, or you can print out the schedule, cut each day out into a little slip of paper and put them in a hat from which you can draw randomly.

wouldn't that be fun?

prologue: blog every day about how the Month of MAYhem Blogging Challenge™ is coming up. be sure to encourage everybody you know to join. some of the exercises require advance preparation, so be sure to read the whole list ahead of time!

day 1: announce with great fanfare that you are taking part in Month of MAYhem Blogging Challenge™, that it is a rigorous challenge, and that you are committed to sticking with it faithfully. invite everyone to do the same and check back often.

day 2: do not post anything. nothing. not one word or picture.

day 3: take a close-up picture of a body part belonging to you or someone you know. the picture should be in focus, but at such close range that it is difficult to guess which body part it actually is. invite readers to guess. bonus points if the photo is of one of your co-workers, especially your supervisor.

day 4: tell us ten things about yourself that we don't already know. since you are a blogger, you have probably already told us everything you're willing to tell us, so dig deep. and be sure to cross-check your post with everything you've ever written online to be sure you are not recycling material.

day 5: leave your house. bring your camera and a megaphone or a bullhorn. when you get to the end of your driveway, turn left. turn left at the next opportunity.  go through the next three intersections, then turn left again and take your first right. when you come to the next intersection stop and set up your camera. take video of yourself making a rambling political-sounding rant at whichever street corner you find yourself. post the video to your blog.

day 6: post a picture of a housepet. anyone's housepet. do not identify or explain it.

day 7: do not post anything except the words "taken with instagram at (place)" and for place, insert any location to which you have never been. please be specific.

day 8: write that the Month of MAYhem Blogging Challenge™ says you're supposed to cook something in which the ingredients all begin with the letter "d", but then make anything you like and put the word "delicious" in front of it.

day 9: for "FOTO FRIDAY" (because if you are doing this day-by-day it is wednesday) draw something in a cheap paint program and post a screenshot. if for some reason you are choosing to have day nine on an actual friday, post a recipe instead. be sure to say it's for FOTO FRIDAY. do not apologize or explain.

day 10: pick a random commercial product and endorse it, but pretend you are REALLY, REALLY EXCITED ABOUT IT. write your post with plenty of links and testimonials for the product but try to keep a tone that suggests to the reader that you're trying WAY TOO HARD to appear like you're not getting paid .02 cents for every clickthrough.

day 11: ramble on about how much better things were in the old days. if you are over 50, talk about how everything has been spoiled ever since stores are allowed to remain open on sundays, because you hate shopping on sundays. if you are under 50, go on a tearful nostalgic rant about how much life has changed for the worse ever since (event) happened. for your event, pick something that happened in the last two weeks.

day 12: call up every hardware store within a twelve mile radius of your house and ask them if they have duck tape in the OSU buckeye pattern. if you live in ohio, ask for texas A&M. keep an elaborate record of those calls and tell us about it.

day 13: complain about someone with annoying or even downright illegal behavior. make sure to mention the person's race, ethnicity, religion, or perceived sexual orientation. because, you know, those things are all causative.

days 14 and 15: confess to a pattern of illegal behavior, vent your outrage at the inconvenience of being caught, and then complain about how hard it is for you to get a job as either a bank teller or a schoolteacher.

day 16: make six different posts, but don't actually say anything.

day 17: thank people for giving you awards that they didn't actually give you. bonus points if you can get them to give you the awards retroactively.

day 18: make up awards and give them to people. award yourself points if you can get them to pass the bogus awards on to other chumps. double your bonus points if you can get them to thank you for giving them any award that implies they should write less.

day 19: MORE AWARDS! as part of the Month of MAYhem Blogging Challenge™, design and give out an award that carries with it a long list of odious conditions, e.g., "to accept this award post a video of you hopping up and down on one foot while reciting ten sunshiny things about you and thanking the person who nominated you". make sure it is like a chain letter and must be passed on to several more people. give it a pretty graphic. if you are too lazy to make a fun graphic, you can use mine:

day 20: visit 20 random blogs and make comments that look like they ought to make sense, but do not. one handy way to do this is to save your comment for the first blog and write it, as if it belongs there, on the second.

day 21: go to some popular websites and leave incendiary comments designed to get people to follow links back to your blog and leave angry comments there. for this day, post the results. if there are any live backlinks, leave them in.

day 22: announce that you are taking an online writing course. have everything you write for the rest of the month become progressively worse.

day 23: start posting free-form poetry.
asbolutely certain
that it illustrates the concept
that you do not
anything about poetry or line
other than it has

day 24: be sure to mention that you are using a writing prompt from the Month of MAYhem Blogging Challenge™, because inclusion of the words "writing prompt" always signals a quality post. and then in your post, write about any incident from your life, but use the words "innertube", "mayonnaise", "postmodern", and "cephalopod".

day 25: begin to write about your activities for the summer solstice. be sure to write in such a way as to suggest it is today and not some date next month.

day 26: visit a handful of random mommy blogs and give internet psychiatric diagnoses to either the author or the commenters. make popcorn. some popular diagnoses to throw around include bipolar illness, borderline personality disorder, and trichotillomania. sound all knowing and ominous. sit back and enjoy the aftermath.

day 27: find a box of junk you don't want and present it as a fun giveaway in honor of  Month of MAYhem Blogging Challenge™. offer to mail it to the person who writes the MOST comments on a secret, randomly selected post from this month.

day 28: write a long-winded post apologizing for having nothing to say. be sure to title it "wordless wednesday." even better if today is monday.

day 29: in today's post, make sure you use at least five words you aren't sure how to spell and of which you do not really understand the meaning.  do not under any circumstances look them up.

day 30: pretend you do not know how many days are in the month of may, and declare a successful conclusion to the Month of MAYhem Blogging Challenge™.

i know i have helped you.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

banner day

well, i'm too blasted lazy to post what i was going to post, so instead i'm going to show you a picture of a thing i made a little while ago.

i keep thinking it should be all secret and stuff, but the truth is that very few people who know me in real life read this blog, mostly because people who know me in real life have a pretty good idea what's on my worktable and in my kitchen without needing to go to a webpage to read about it.

so even though this little baby is still technically secret, the chances that the person who should not see it yet will come here and look at the photo are pretty close to nil.

actually, i am betting that this person's birthday gift can be left almost in plain sight in her home and she will not see it for upwards of five weeks, nevermind the frozen birthday cake at the back of her freezer that i have carefully labeled



Wednesday, April 11, 2012


today i signed up for the listserve.

it sounds like a fascinating experiment. i cannot wait to read what people would say to everybody, given the chance.

i wonder what i would say.

what would you say?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


i'm a softie.

if a thing is trying to grow, i feel bad not letting it.

that's why i have a planter with onions and garlic growing in my living room.

Monday, April 09, 2012

home for the hunter

you might think that it's not so hard to get a 2012 penny in mid-april of 2012.

you might think it.

you'd be wrong.

i was expecting to have difficulty finding the oldest pennies in the set, but after searching a lot of people's penny jars and making calls to both my bank and my grocery store and putting up a sign in my neighborhood, i found myself running out of time and still no 2012 penny.

so i decided to hit my local businesses.

i live somewhere between jericho and richmond, and even though the jericho center store is the closest store to my house, it's not on my way to anything most of the time, but a couple of miles in the wrong direction so i usually go into richmond for what i can get there and williston for things such as need buying at big stores.

but today i decided to go to the jericho center store.

when the woman behind the counter looked to me, i stepped up and said "hi, your day isn't weird enough yet, so i'm here."

"bring it on!", she said, laughing.

so i explained what i wanted and she was only too happy to go through he register drawer, but there was no 2012 penny. there were some collection jars for causes on the counter and she said she'd be happy to look in those after she waited on the people that had come to the counter.

so i kind of hung out, looking at a thing i might want to purchase.

no, i'm not telling what.

but after a few minutes i heard a shout.

"is the lady who wanted the penny still here?"

and another shout: "we have the penny!"

"BINGO!", i hollered, from the back of the store.

the woman behind the counter was holding it like a trophy.

apparently, one of the other customers had heard the exchange and either found one in her car or asked another customer, but the upshot was that the right penny had just materialized and there was much rejoicing by a group of strangers over one penny.

i went ahead and bought the thing i was looking at, and skipped happily out.

i gave you the link for the store above, but i'm going to give it to you again.

the jericho center country store is an interesting place in its own right, and mildly famous. if you are ever passing through here, you should stop in.  they are friendly and often they have just what you need.

Friday, April 06, 2012

party hats

i have written about my little round hats before.

these are not them.

they are little, and they are round, but not the same.

Thursday, April 05, 2012


yesterday i got a shady phone call from some boilermaker call room and a guy telling me that my windows machine is sending error messages that indicate i am infected with a very, very bad virus.

am i online now? he wants to know.

now, i know that reputable companies do. not. ever. ask for information over the phone.

wow, i say. that's awesome. please tell me what company you work for and give me your contact information so i can verify you and get back to you on that.

it is a very urgent matter, he tells me. my computer could crash any second.

oh, well, then. that's another matter! i should go right away and take it to the IT department at the university.

it's very sophisticated, he tells me. undetectable. my computer guys will not be able to help me.

oh, that might be true if i were just taking it to a computer store, i agree cheerfully, but i'm pretty sure our IT guys in the computer science department at the university can put things to right.

the reason i am still on the phone with this dipstick is because the longer he is on the phone with me, the harder he is working and the less time he is spending scamming someone else.

i kept him on the phone maybe fifteen minutes before he slammed his phone down.

i already know that if my machine is sending error messages, the recipient already KNOWS the information this guy is trying to ask.

and anyway, even though i have a windows machine for use in the car, i run a mac.

which is what made today's news so unsettling.

so of course after i painted a party hat and made cracker dough and a batch of soup i ran right upstairs to find out if my machine is clean.

it is.


Wednesday, April 04, 2012


people born in 1956 are 56 this year.

i have a friend having a birthday soon and  i thought it would be nice to give her one penny for each of her years.

at the time of this writing i am still missing pennies for 1956, 1958, 1959, 1963, and 2012.

56 is also divisible by 14, which is my friend's favorite number, so i'm playing with that a little.

later on i will show you my hats.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012


a while ago i quit buying grocery store eggs because even when you pay extra to get cage-free eggs, you still aren't getting the product of humanely treated animals. all cage-free means is that the hens are warehoused on a floor and it can be a crowded, unpleasant floor.

i'm by no means an extremist; i happily eat red meat, although i very much prefer locally raised grass-fed beef. not grass-fed corn-finished, as is on so many labels these days, since the general population seems to think grass-fed is good, but haven't taken the trouble to learn anything about it.

it is getting harder and harder to learn anything about it, too, because a number of states are passing laws making it illegal to take pictures of farming operations because farmers (read: big business) are afraid that if people saw where their food comes from, they might start buying food from local farms (read: farmers).

anyway, they pasture beef on my road and every time i drive by those boys i sing out : have a good day, boys! be delicious!

so it made me happy when i found a friend with chickens and a surplus of eggs. i could eat eggs and be happy about it again! so it was a sad thing when my chicken guy told me he was sending the herd out to his sons.

but then yesterday afternoon i found a family who lives ON THE WAY TO THE GROCERY STORE who has a handsome flock of chickens wandering around the yard.

i went to buy eggs and she showed me the chickens and talked about their habits and the problem they've had lately with hawks coming down and eating them. turns out hawks like free range chickens, too.

but when you get a dozen eggs from a small flock of birds, you're getting nonstandard eggs. because the birds are diverse, their eggs are, too. and because nobody sizes and grades them, they come in many more shapes and sizes than from the grocery store.

here's the dozen i bought yesterday. one is so big the box won't close.

Monday, April 02, 2012


once a year or so i buy beer.

it's not a secret here that i went to ithaca college, and when i go back to ithaca i sometimes pick up some beer for crashco, because he likes small breweries.

and the ithaca beer company makes some fine beers, and they have a nice variety twelve pack.

so i'm in the checkout lane with my groceries and the cashier asks me for my driver's license. at first i'm really confused, because i have never been asked for my driver's license when i get groceries before.

and then it dawns on me.

oh. you're carding me? really?

so i show her my driver's license and i giggle the whole time, because i'm a lot closer to 50 than i am to 21 and really if we're going to be up front about it, i'm a lot closer to 50 than i am to 40.

made my day.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

whatever happened to red?

do you remember when duct tape was just duct tape? and people didn't make wallets and bracelets and from gowns from it? when duct tape came in ubiquitous silver, like ductwork? it was the dominant decorative motif in my grandfather's house.

and if you wanted other colors, you got elecrtical tape (black) or florist's tape (green) or gaffer's tape (still the most awesome), which came in fancy colors. and then there were other, utilitarian colors for duct tape.

and then it became a crafting thing.


granted, i was looking for it for a craft project, but i just wanted red. red and green.


except the packages say "cha cha cherry", "clover", and "merlot".


apparently it also comes in jayhawk.


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