Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What do you call a Halloween Grinch?

Phew! I’m glad that is over; it is Escheat Reporting time, my least favorite part of my job. Do yourself & your loved ones a favor- read this again. This year has been complicated with a new state controller, federal court injunctions, last minute legislation, & just all around general confusion; the end result is the same- a whole lot of work in a very short period of time.

Yesterday was a series of odd adventures. While home for lunch around 1:00, I heard a large helicopter- one of those military jobs, with double rotors on top- fly over the house; this isn’t all that unusual, since there are a couple of military bases within 80 miles of here. The strange part was it kept circling, lower & lower, just over our neighborhood; by the third or fourth pass, it was only a couple of hundred feet over the houses! At this point, a dozen people are standing out in the street, trying to figure out what was going on... & one fool brought out a shotgun! What did he think he was going to do with that- bring it down? Fortunately, the helicopter soon flew off towards the northwest, so we didn’t have to find out what the idiot intended.

Then, last night, as we were all sitting around the living room, the floor started rolling; it was a bit like sitting in a boat on the lake, riding the wake. Chris, Sam, & I looked at each other as if to say “Did you feel that?” then each grabbed a cat & headed to the backyard. Yep, for the first time in 18 years (Loma Prieta was Oct 17, 1989), we rode out a fairly respectable earthquake, the only one we’ve ever felt since moving out of the Bay Area into the Central Valley. Last reports put it at 5.6 on the Richter scale, centered nine miles northeast of San Jose; I received a call from my daughter within five minutes, telling me she was fine, but they were evacuating the shelter to be on the safe side. After a flurry of calls, it has been determined that everyone in the family is fine & there was no damage to report, aside from some flashbacks & rattled nerves.

Yee-haw! Gotta love California!

As you might (or might not) know, I choose not to celebrate Halloween, despite the grief given by co-workers & in-laws; even as a kid, I went along reluctantly, dressing up in innocuous costumes (mostly fairy tales or animals) & trick-or-treating for UNICEF (do they still do that?) Tonight, while the guys are over at the church helping with the annual Harvest Party, my porch light will be out, I will be praying that we don’t get egged or TP’d (12 years so far without a problem) & I’ll be hanging out either at the knitting shop or the bookstore, sipping cider & relaxing. We’re having a potluck at work today & frankly speaking, the food looks disgusting- of course, that is the point, but some people really went overboard.


Mummy fingers with blood sauce 


 Halloween 004


 Halloween 003

Litterbox Cake


Halloween 001 


Bird Nest Noodles


Halloween 002 


With real baby birds- still in the shell!Sick


Halloween 005

My contribution is:


“Barf Bisque, with Rotted Cream & Fried Rattlesnake”

(aka Spiced Pumpkin Soup w/ Sour Cream & Fried Onions)



  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cup peeled and cubed sweet potato
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 14 oz. cans of low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 15 oz. can of pumpkin
  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Nutritional Info



Fat: 4.3g

Carbohydrates: 21.6g


Protein: 10.3g


1. Melt butter in a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté onion for 3-4 minutes then add flour, curry, garlic, cumin and nutmeg and sauté for 1 minute.
2. Add sweet potatoes, salt, chicken broth and pumpkin and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered for about 20-25 minutes or until sweet potatoes are cooked through and softened. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes to cool.
3. Place half of the pumpkin mixture in a blender and process until smooth. Using a strainer, pour soup back into pan. Repeat with rest of soup.
4. Raise heat to medium then stir in milk and cook for 5 minutes or until soup is heated through.
5. Remove from heat and add limejuice.

6. (Optional) Stir in a dollop of sour cream & sprinkle with fried onions 
Serves 6.

Last, but not least, my annual concession to the costume party.


Halloween 006

We are not amused.



Everything is fine...really!

No worries, kids; we are not affected by the fires- other then some spectacular sunsets & extra allergies- they are a good six hours south of us. I've just been extra busy & haven't had time to put together an entry (other than in my head); I promise to be back ASAP.Clock

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Running around in my head...

Not much in the way of cognitive narrative at the moment- all my cranial synapse seem to be tied up in processing escheat reports- so I will fall back on the old standby, the bullet entry.

b          The Homecoming football game was a success- West won against #2 ranked Stagg High 28-27. Attendance was low because of a threat of rain (it did for a very short time- long enough for a few dozen screaming teenaged girls to make it into the bathroom for cover), but it was exciting nonetheless. As we figured, Sam wasn’t chosen for class royalty, but the Juniors tied the Seniors in the float competition (personally, I think it was rigged!); I was ditched by my son (big surprise) so he could sit with the Spirit Club, but he did bring me a hotdog & drink just before halftime.

b          Chris made it home late Saturday night- around 11:00 pm- after having traveled all day; he was cold, tired, & frustrated at not getting enough things done on this trip, so the best thing for him was a stiff shot of Glenfiddich, a hot shower, & a good night’s sleep in his own bed. He only had one day off before going back to his shop, but the next couple of weeks will be short; he has maxed out his vacation accrual again & will have to take some days so as not to lose his earned vacation time. It will work out well because it will be our turn to host the next “House to House” dinner in two weeks; since he missed out on all the prep & cleaning last time (if you remember, he returned from Texas the evening before our dinner in April), he gets to take charge of everything for November. We’ll be having the carpets cleaned week after next, so he & Sam will be cleaning out the fireplace, furnace ductwork, & the popcorn ceilings beforehand.

b          My sewing machine & I have been spending a lot of quality time together lately. It has been coming back to me the things I love about sewing, as well as the things I don’t. I haven’t mentioned this before, but sewing was how I supplemented the family income for a number of years- from early in my first marriage until about 10 years ago. I learned to sew in junior high, first in Home Economics, then taking a couple summer school sessions after my Mother bought a new machine. I started out making my square dancing dresses, which really honed my skills, but mostly dabbled for several years. When I was pregnant with my first child, I made everything- maternity clothes, bedding, baby clothes- since I was a stay home mom on a strict budget. As my friends started having babies, I was asked to make thing for them; eventually, I got a part-time job at the local fabric store & ended up getting a lot of work from customers who wanted something made, but didn’t actually sew. When my first marriage failed, I was able to get on full-time as a department coordinator, but still needed the side work to make ends meet; I worked for the same company off & on for nearly 10 years, before hanging up my shears to work in the financial industry. To be honest, I was pretty burned out by then; other then an occasional call from someone who remembered that I sewed or a hem in need of repair, my machines (yes, that is plural- at one point, 3 sewing & 2 sergers) lay dormant, among stacks of fabric, patterns & notions that I collected over my career. That changed when we started the Quilting Circle last fall & then began volunteering as a docent at Ravenswood; usually two evening a week, I work on one of the quilts or my wardrobe pieces for an hour or two. I’ve also been spending time (& money) in the fabric store; even Chris has noticed that the fabric stacks are starting to spread around the house again. Fortunately for me, this was how Chris was raised- his mom is a seamstress & crafter from way back- so he takes it all in stride; he’s just glad he isn’t being called in as the dressmakers dummy as when he was younger (he & his mom are the same size in almost every way- height, weight, even shoe size!)

Well, That’s all I have time for right now; I’ve got to take Poppy over for her annual check-up tonight, & then get more prep work done for my last quilt technique class tomorrow night. Hope you all have a restful evening & can take a walk to enjoy the Autumn weather.

Friday, October 19, 2007

As promised- Homecoming 2007

West High Cheer Boys!


Hiding out at another park

Powder Puff 2007 008

Tough to look butch in Lycra

Gotta love that tush!

"I make it look good!"

Last Minute Rehearsal

Pre-game nerves run rampant

Successful tower

Successful trick (Sam's in the far group- back holder)

Them's some mighty fine gams

Them's some mighty fine gams there, boys! (That's G, Sam's doubles partner)

Powder Puff 2007 042

Can G's skirt be any shorter?

Powder Puff 2007 043

America's Future (All Seniors- they hogged the skirts)

Powder Puff 2007 048

Post Half-Time Show

Home Coming Parade

Powder Puff 2007 001

Powder Puff 2007 002

Powder Puff 2007 003

Powder Puff 2007 004

Powder Puff 2007 005

Powder Puff 2007 006

Powder Puff 2007 007

Powder Puff 2007 010

Powder Puff 2007 011

Powder Puff 2007 013

We're off to the Game- Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Let's get dirty

The weather turned out to be wonderful this weekend- mid 70’s, sunny & clear- so not much knitting got done, but I did make progress on my first attempt at winter gardening.

I mentioned that the guys built me a raised bed last year;

Garden Before

(Back yard before)


New Fence

(The new fence section- blown down on Christmas)


New Patio section

(New section of patio put in)


Reomoving old patio section

(Removing old patio section)



it was part of Sam’s FFA project & turned out great- 3 foot wide by 15 foot long, & nearly 12 inches deep, which was filled with ready-mix soil & compost that we had delivered.

 Building the bed frame

(Building the bed frame)


Backyard- After 2006

(Backyard- After 2006)


The plan was to add another section perpendicular to the original, though not quite as large, but it kept getting put off for other projects. The week before Chris left for Orlando, he got four days off; since Sam didn’t have school three of those days, they finally put the new bed in & even stained the section of fence that was built last spring. 


Planter area before 3

(Planter area 2007- Before)


Planter area after

(Planter area 2007- After; that post is Sam's sparring pole) 


I purchased the plants during my last trip to the nursery & have been babying them in their pots, so I figured it was time to get them in the ground. So far, I have the two cold weather tomatoes (each have several growing already), six broccoli bedding plants, six red cabbage plants, & one row each of carrot, lettuce, & radish seeds in the ground. I plan on putting in two more rows of each of the latter, as the first rows are grown enough to thin out.


Veggie Garden 1


I’ve also picked up some red onion sets, which I will spread around both the beds, & some snap pea seeds to put into the new bed for the winter.


 Drawf Meyer's Lemon tree

(Drawf Meyer Lemon- just starting to turn)


All that will be left is to move the lemon tree back onto the covered porch, transplant my little blueberry bushes into the new bed, & put in some cold frame supports when Chris gets back. I plan on using lightweight PVC poles & spreading heavy gauge clear vinyl over the frame, that can be either tied down for protection, or rolled back to take advantage of the rain or regulate the heat.  They are my own design, so we’ll have to see how it works out.

We have another full week ahead, with Homecoming events, a quilting workshop, & (hopefully) Chris’ return home on Saturday. The only kink in the works is I have jury duty this week; the Superior Court is about 30 miles away, but so far, I’ve only had to check in to the website twice a day- I have a feeling that either Wednesday or Thursday, I’ll have to appear at the court house. I wouldn’t mind serving on a jury, since I do get paid for it by my employer & I’ve never done it before; it’s just that the timing is not great, with all the things going on at work (no one to cover for me) & my annual escheat deadline looming on the 31st.

I’ll check back in later this week, with pictures of the Powder Puff game- Sam was so cute!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday Funnies II

It's been one of those weeks- work has been hopping with end of month stuff, the upcoming office move, & new staff training; I haven't been home in the evening since Monday; Chris is gone until at least the 20th, so I haven't been sleeping too well; & Sam has been tied up with rehearsals for Powder Puff cheerleading & XMA demo for Homecoming week (starts on Monday).

All this equates to not much blog-time, though I've been trying to get by to visit people; unfortunately, this will carry through the weekend as well- I have to go into work for awhile Saturday morning, hit the grocery store for our next House to House dinner at 5:00 that evening, then Sunday will be spent out at Ravenswood. The good news: it is raining, so I won't have to worry about watering my new transplants (more on that another day) & it will discourage most visitors at the house musuem, so I should get some quality knitting time. Here are a few chuckles to usher in the weekend~ hope your's is a good one!


You Are Fall Flowers
Beautiful yet often forgotten.

If at first you don't succeed... then skydiving is not for you!

A lady was picking through the frozen turkeys at the grocery store
but she couldn't find one big enough for her family. She asked a stock boy,
"Do these turkeys get any bigger?" The stock boy replied, "No ma'am,
they're dead."

Some people are like slinkys- they absolutely have no purpose but it sure makes you smile when you push them down the stairs...

Guy sits down at bar in Irish pub.

Two guys at other end are exclaiming, "I'm from Ireland too! What county... city... parrish... street...etc.

"Me too!" is the answer to each query with lots of back slapping.

Man says to bar tender, "That's amazing!"

Bar tender says, "Oh, don't mind them. That's the O'Reily brothers and they're drunk again!"

Did you hear about the Scottish drag queen?

He wore pants.

pardon me cat


Monday, October 08, 2007

Bad Bunny Mom

This is Demeter


AKA: Urban Bunny; Saber-tooth Rabbit; !@#$%*&! Animal


who, along with paranoid/schizophrenic Violet the cat, came into our household when my daughter moved out of her last residence to destinations unknown. He has spent the majority of his life indoors, in his cage, though he was given occasional free range of Jessica’s apartment. This situation, of course, was not going to fly in my house- not only do I have four indoor cats that the little thumper tries to, well, hump- I do not buy into my daughter’s assertion that rabbit urine doesn’t smell.



So outside goes the rabbit & we have taken great pains to provide for his comfort & amusement. He lives in our backyard, snug & cozy in his cage, which is liberally lined with straw & mats to protect his little feet, & set on a Chris-made raised hardwood stand. We provide him vet-approved food & treats, plenty of timothy hay & chew toys, & let him out in our small backyard a couple times a day, to leap, dig, & frolic to him little lapin-heart’s content.



Herein lies the problem- Demeter is a rabbit. A very small, fast, rabbit, with a penchant for nipping when he’s picked up. Getting him back into his cage before he is ready often presents some difficulties. So, I purchased these,



a few weeks ago, when Chris & I went up to Colombia; besides being great for working around my roses & cucumbers, they offer nominal protection to my delicate forearms when holding Mr. D.

Saturday afternoon, when I took Demeter out of his cage, I noticed that his paws had become rather grubby from digging & he was throwing off a lot of fur, so I went inside to get a washcloth & brush to clean him up. Imagine my surprise when he hopped right up to me when I came back out, instead of the normal chase & herding routine we go through; I quickly picked him up before he took off again, & reached for the washcloth. This is when I remembered that I’d best put my gloves on again before going any further.

Instead of dropping him in his cage, closing the door, putting on my gauntlets, & then picking him up again, I decided to just pull the gloves on while holding him. I slid one hand into the glove, but found I couldn’t get it fully on; I started to reach over with my other hand - the one holding Mr. D- to pull it up tight, & changed my mind when his little mouth opened to take a hunk out. So, I raised my arm & bent my head to tug the glove on with my teeth… & proceeded to bite my own arm. Hard.



(Please disregard the multitude on black hair- it really is the arm of a gentile, delicate lady)


The guys heard me yelp & came out to see if I was okay; immediately seeing the raised welt on my arm, they became very solicitous towards me, offering to take over, & indignant towards Demeter for inflicting injury on their beloved Queen. I am suitably ashamed to admit that I did nothing to disabuse them of this notion, & let Demeter take the wrap; after being chastised by Chris for not having my gauntlets on beforehand, I wasn’t about to admit that my injury was self-inflicted & endure the laughter that would follow.

Yes, I am really that petty. 




Thursday, October 04, 2007

Bloggy Blessings

We have once again been keeping our local mail carrier & the Fed*Ex guy busy earning their meager salaries, & risking life & limb to deliver packages to the wilds of Central California suburbia. Through my involvement in Ravelry (have I mentioned how much I enjoy Ravelry? No? Don’t worry, I’m certain I will), I’ve joined a mitten swap & a read/knit along, so of course, I’ve had to purchase some yarn & the books (we’re reading the entire “Anne of Green Gables” series.) While visiting Esty to see some of my friends’ offerings, I found homemade, custom-scented laundry detergent & the cutest little stitch marker sets, so a little Christmas shopping for my knitting friends ensued. Then was my search for pre-1930’s vintage women’s magazines & shoes for my Crissy doll (a girl can’t have just one pair of shoes, especially if they are orange), oh, & a new winter coat... my husband is a patient & understanding man.

But the best things that have arrived recently have been from blogging friends around the country. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating; I was fortunate & blessed to fall into a community of sweet, caring, & generous people when I began this adventure in cyber-journaling & relationships. Here are just a few examples:


This lovely woman’s kilt was sent to me by Cindy of Superior Living; she was clearing out some clothing, remembered that we are involved in Scottish dancing, & offered it to me, for myself or anyone else it might fit. It was definitely too small for me, so I took it to class last Friday & donated it, on Cindy’s behalf, to the club “closet”; it has been loaned out to Anna, one of our faithful performer, until she outgrows it.


This was a gift from a new blog friend, Dana at Ventage Inklings. I came across her site during the “Make Mine Pink” tea party last month & left a birthday greeting- she, Robb, & my youngest brother all share a birth date; next thing I know, Dana is sending me a gift.


This last collection is from my friend Mrs. Staggs at A Happy Miscellany. She was having a “Pay it Forward” giveaway & I was the lucky winner. What you are seeing is a handmade cornucopia, filled with paper flowers, two pair of scented beeswax candles, glass candlesticks & a charming serving dish, two tea towels with vintage lace, & a whimsical twine-dispensing crow. Now I have a Autumn vignette, worthy of some of my favorite lurking spots throughout the “Cottage Blogs”; thank you again, Lena~ you are a peach (or maybe a pumpkin- more appropriate for the season, I think.) If you haven’t visited Merryville yet, do yourself a favor & drop by soon; it is one of the most soothing, gently kind places I’ve ever been. (Jane, if you think I’m mellow- check out Mrs. Staggs!)

Well, I knew it was too good to last; after just over five months being home, Chris is being sent off to Orlando on Tuesday for at least two weeks. One nice thing about the trip this time: Robb is now living in Orlando & actually works right across the highway from the shop where Chris will be, so they will get to spend some time together. I know these trips are no picnic for Chris- a lot of hard work, in unfamiliar, poorly equipped facilities, living in a trailer, & subsisting on fast food or cans of soup after 12 hour days- but the timing is pretty fortuitous financially. The crazy overtime of the summer has suddenly dropped off & gas prices have gotten ridiculously high, so I was prepared to feel the pinch of a short pay-period; now between the extra hours rushing to get the other shop back into shape & no commuting costs for two weeks, the budget might even have a little surplus.

The only stinky part is Chris is going to miss Homecoming Week. “Big deal”, you say? Well, it is a bit of one this year; our darling son has signed on as a Powder Puff cheerleader- uniform, dance moves, & all- and has been nominated for Junior Class Royalty. He doesn’t think he’ll be elected; as he said, he’s not a jock or a class officer- he just flies around a bit under the radar, so not many people know who he is- but I’ll be picking up a new suit for him just in case. I’ve assured Chris that I will be there with camera & video, to catch all the proud moments- not to mention such great material to share with the future DIL & grandchildren.

Monday, October 01, 2007

My take on the world

I was visiting a blog acquaintance today & was caught by an essay she wrote about her adventures back into knitting. Now, if you have spent anytime around my garden, it will come as no surprise that I would pause to read about knitting; it has become my primary creative outlet & an area I must apply stringent self-control in order not to bury my home in piles of yarn (something for which my husband & son- but not the cats- are grateful). What I read at Yours Truly stirred up several thoughts & reflections about the nature of knitting- or most any kind of handcraft, for that matter- & the people who invest time doing them.

I phrase I hear quite regularly (often from my own mouth) is, “[Knitting, quilting, weaving, scraping, beading, painting, etc] is so soothing”; with almost equal frequency, I hear the uninitiated cry out, “That’s beautiful, but I could never do that- I don’t have the [time, patience, skill, etc]” What is the difference between these two people? One has found a passion & the other hasn’t. I truly believe that everyone has that need, that ember of inventiveness, which is just waiting for encouragement & an outlet to express itself; I imagine it is the spark of God’s creative nature, fashioned in us as reflections of Him. No matter what form it takes, there is a universal feeling of satisfaction, of rightness, in forming something from nothing & knowing that you were the one who accomplished it. Until one finds their passion, that thing that kindles their imagination & makes their fingers itch to do something, I feel they will be missing a secret treasure that God placed inside us simply for the joy it brings.

Many people feel guilty when they spend time on a “hobby”, thinking that they should be doing something more practical or important, especially when doing a decorative art like knitting. I know the reality: I can go to the store & purchase six pairs of socks for the same amount I spend on yarn for a hand-knit pair, not to mention the weeks (in my case) it takes to make them. I’ve spent $30 & four weeks making a sweater for a baby that outgrew it in less than 2 months. From a purely practical standpoint, it does seem like a monumental waste of an already limited resource, my free time.

What this pragmatic perspective doesn’t consider is the intangible benefits of creative arts. For myself, & countless others, the act of knotting string with two sticks is a form of meditation, a contemplative action which calms & centers the spirit. Breathing slows, the heartbeat settles, blood pressure is reduced; it’s much like petting an animal or soaking in a warm tub- stress melts away. I can ruminate over a situation & find answers or acceptance flowing out with the fabric forming under my fingers.

More often then not, what comes off my needles goes to someone else; other then a scarf & a couple of pairs of socks, I rarely knit for myself. When I first started knitting again, my darling Lily cat would sit in my lap as I worked, & everything produced at that time was woven with her hair. It is much the same now, but instead of calico fur, items are woven with my thoughts & prayers. There is also the benefit of some mental calisthenics associated with working on a complicated or involved pattern, & the satisfaction of seeing it all come together in the finished project.

Another reason I don’t struggle with the idea of wasting time is that I rarely just sit & knit; like every working mother I know, I multitask- I work on something when I’m watching TV, sitting in the orthodontist’s office, attending a football game, waiting for my dinner at a restaurant, or listening to the sermon at church. As a matter of fact, if I’m actually just sitting & taking, I’ll have people ask me where is my knitting bag. A rare few will tsk at me for knitting in church; for them, I pull out my charity projects, like the baby hats for the county hospital or the granny squares for the “Share a Square” project, pointing out that God expects me to put some feet on my compassion. I’m not saving the world by any stretch of the imagination; but as I observed in Yours Truly’s comments, Knitting may not save the whole world, or even a small part of it; but a sending out a hat for a newborn of a migrant farmer worker, a blanket for a chemo patient, or a scarf passed out to a homeless man, can touch a life, even if only for a moment.”