Monthly Archives: March 2011

What Happened to Spring?

I am used to Oklahoma’s wildly variable winter weather. I knew that we would almost certainly have more cold weather, but I felt, when temperatures rose into the 60s and even 70s soon after our record breaking cold and snowfall, that Mother Nature had decided to give us our entire winter all at once and that once we were past that Event we would have nothing but beautiful spring-like weather. Well, we all know Mother Nature is a bitch. She has no sense of fairness at all.

It has been cold all week. Mostly it has stayed above freezing and I keep telling myself that compared to the -21° we had back in February this really isn’t that bad but I’m cold, darn it! Where are the hot flashes when I really need them? This morning when I got up it was 32°F now it’s 37°. The house never really warms up on cold, cloudy days. I feel like I should be sewing – I want to be sewing – but my hands are too cold.

I need to go to town again today. I need to order the Formica for our kitchen countertops. I might be able to get the same as what we have now so we can save the island countertop but if I can’t get that I found 3 other blues that I like equally well. I was hoping it would warm up before I have to go. It was supposed to clear up and get up to 60°F. but it doesn’t look very hopeful for that right now. Still… you know what they say, “If you don’t like the weather here just wait a minute.”

Random Linkage

Leprechaun Trap Cake – a little late but it includes a handy rainbow cake how-to

Water tower houses – My inner child finds this concept absolutely delightful even though most of these houses are hideously ugly. The Suffolk one is kinda nice.

America’s ancient cave art – article and only one small photo; links to American rock art

Murals – I love these! (Well… some more than others obviously)

World’s most awesome bookstore – Wow!

Graphic design – Hah

Prophecy Generator – I got, “Beware an unnatural mortal during the season of the lemon rat.” Heh. For some reason I like the sound of “the season of the lemon rat.”

10 Common Plants You Didn’t Know Were Toxic – In fact, I did know about most of these.

Story book gown

Star Wars images – art (via)

Reading

I finished reading Kraken, by China Mieville, a couple of days ago. For the first several chapters it seems to be a fairly ordinary real-world mystery story. The crime is rather odd – a preserved giant squid is stolen from a museum – and the cops are something of a comedy act but there is nothing, other than the author’s other works, for those familiar with them, to suggest that there will be anything especially odd or fantastic about it. But then, as the story is ambling merrily along it suddenly takes a sharp left turn down WTF? Lane. You stop, and you think, “Wait… What just happened?” and go back several paragraphs and read them again. That was my reaction even though I was warned.

From that point on the book is a fantastic ride full of weird religions, bizarre fantasy creatures and everyday objects come to life. The stolen giant squid is somehow connected to the end of the world which is supposed to happen within days, or perhaps hours, and the protagonists search for it, navigating through a weird alternate London where anything can happen and anyone or any thing could be either a friend or an enemy. Highly recommended for fans of urban fantasy or anyone attracted to weirdness.

* * *

Before I started Kraken I had been reading Moby Dick and had planned to continue but then slacked off, skipping days and finally just dropping it but I’ve picked it up again. This is my second attempt. Actually, I shouldn’t say “attempt” because I did finish it the first time but it’s my second attempt to figure out what’s so effing great about it. I am 81 percent of the way through it. (I’m reading it on my Kindle.) Ignorant, semi-literate review coming soon eventually.

Kitchen Remodeling

This was our kitchen on Friday:

Kitchen remodeling, Before

And this is our kitchen this morning:

Kitchen remodeling

I won’t show you the current interior view. I know everyone knows that remodeling is chaos and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about but I just can’t. I suppose the kitchen remodeling experts would say we’re doing it wrong but we’re doing it in a way we can live with and the results will look expert. The cabinets are out except for the island. The range and refrigerator are still plugged in and we’re working around them. We also have a countertop convection oven that sits on its own little cart near the island. The kitchen stuff is mostly in boxes in the living room. The things we use all the time, and some stuff that just didn’t get put in boxes, are all over the dining table.

After getting the cabinets out, and the small closet that opened into the hallway, we fixed a bad place in the floor and moved a couple of electrical outlets. Last night we started putting up bead-board paneling that is pre-primed for painting. It’s easier than tearing out all the old paneling and putting up dry-wall and I like the look of painted bead-board. (When I say “we” of course I mean mostly my husband. I’m mainly the holder and fetcher.)

We’re going to be without a sink or countertops for over a week, probably more like two or three weeks. In a little while I’m going to go buy a bunch of microwavable meals. I hadn’t originally planned to do that. We can use paper plates but the problem of washing pots and pans without a kitchen sink is a little more than I want to deal with every day.

I don’t feel terribly stressed out. Occasionally you see women on HGTV who are shocked and freaked out about all the dust and chaos. I’m not like that. I knew exactly what we were getting into but I do miss my kitchen. I miss my sink and the twelve inches of countertop to the left of the range where I used to make my tea in the morning and I have moments when I think I just wish I had my kitchen back – any kind of kitchen. But when we’re done with this project I’ll have a whole eighteen inches of countertop to the left of the stove and a few extra inches on the right too. And it will be bright and cheerful like a kitchen should be.

The picture above is not exactly what our kitchen looked like when we moved in. I don’t remember if I have a before before picture. The original countertops were butcher block patterned Formica with the pattern going the wrong way. The linoleum was a complicated tile pattern in shades of brown. It was a very brown kitchen. The range was an ugly stainless steel model and the refrigerator was almond. The original island was a bar just twelve inches deep. My husband built it out to normal countertop width to gain more storage space so we had to have a new countertop to fit that of course. I wasn’t especially in love with the blue at the time. I picked it because it was the only in stock color that wasn’t some shade of brown but I’ve grown quite fond of it. The new countertop will be blue also but I don’t know yet if it will be exactly the same blue.

This ‘n’ That

Well here we are. It’s Friday and for the second week in a row I have not collected any wonderful quotes to post here. I also have several things about which I want to post my fifty cents worth (I think a lot of my opinions. Anything I say is going to be worth way more than two cents.) but I feel “real life” calling me, demanding that I finish the blouse I’m working on, and the jacket I stopped working on to work on the blouse, and work on the current quilt which I feel that I should have finished two or three weeks ago, and finish cutting the pieces for the next quilt, and do some laundry, and start clearing out the kitchen cabinets, and get together some stuff and take it to Goodwill, and finish reading the book I borrowed from Number One Son.

I did make time to visit a few of my favorite blogs yesterday and found a couple more interesting blogs via their comments. First was St. Grendel. It has an interesting mix of topics, leaning a bit toward geekiness, but what really let me know right away that it would be a keeper is the little Browncoat banner at the top of the sidebar. Sorry, I’ve forgotten where I found this one. I’m thinking it was at Dustbury but I’m not 100 percent sure.

And then there’s Bani’s Books which is about books of course. There are several books in her masthead picture that I have read. I am reminded that I need to read more by Bill Bryson. I found Bani in the comments at A Dress A Day.

Finding and linking those two makes me think about the current state of this blog. Right now I have a feeling similar to when the house is seriously a mess (more of a mess than usual; shut up) and I’m worried that someone might drop by unexpectedly. (That never really happens to me (people dropping by that is) so that part is purely theoretical but everyone knows what I mean.) I look at the blog and think, “If this was someone else’s blog and I was visiting it for the first time would I come back again?” and I have to say I’m not sure. I mean it’s not bad but it hasn’t been especially interesting lately. That’s what happens when you suddenly find yourself with “a life”. It’s not easy to maintain “a life” and a blog at the same time. But don’t go away. I promise I will be interesting (or at least mildly entertaining) again soon.

Silly Survey

This is mostly for the women because I suspect that most guys don’t care but anyone can answer. The more the merrier. And the question is…

Would you wear brown shoes with black slacks? And if your answer is yes, what color socks would you wear?

Well come on… say something. Anything. [chirp chirp chirp..]

Rango

We saw Rango last night. (I love going to the movies in the middle of the week. There are rarely even as many as half a dozen other people there.) I loved it. It’s a western parody, with all the most popular western cliches – evil, wealthy banker trying to control everything, gunfights at high noon, etc. – with lots of excellent cliche western music plus a little Wagner and Strauss thrown into the mix. It was really, really great fun. The animation was great too, wonderfully detailed. The unreal felt so real.

The advertisements have been giving a lot of attention to Johnny Depp as the star voice but there are a lot of other great talents too, including Ned Beatty, Stephen Root, Claudia Black and Timothy Olyphant, whom we found highly entertaining in his part near the end.

Seriously?

Here’s another example of why Oklahoma politics is seriously annoying. That guy will almost certainly lose because he he lives in a solar-powered house, agonizes over the use of fossil fuels and he’s a vegetarian. Oh yes, I know, there are other reasons too but in Oklahoma that alone would be enough. This candidate has nothing to do with me of course since I don’t live anywhere near Oklahoma City but it’s pretty much the same all over the state.

Win!: “Any government of any size that seriously considers putting cold medicine on a prescription-only basis is too stupid to regulate marijuana.”

A Day Out

I spent yesterday shopping with my daughter-in-law. Actually not the whole day; much of the day was spent getting to and from Tulsa and getting around in Tulsa which was a bit of an ordeal but aside from that we had a lovely day. I did not know that there is a JoAnn fabrics in Tulsa! That place is great! I like it a lot better than Hancock’s.

Sadly, I didn’t buy anything very interesting, mostly just some rather dull solids to go with fabrics I already have for quilts. I also bought some lightweight denim to make a jumper and I bought a couple of baskets for containing some of the small stuff that gets left out in the living room and never put away.

A lot of very beautiful and tempting fabric was left in the store. Fabric stores make me feel guilty these days. I always think of all I have to do at home. Much of the massive pile of fabric in my closet is actually just scraps that I saved because “that might be enough to do something with”. I need to go through all that and either plan something for each scrap or throw it out. Then maybe it won’t seem like so much.

This week is going to be cleaning week all around the house, mostly the kitchen. Probably not a lot to throw out there but I’m sure I’ll find a few little things that we haven’t seen in years and therefore can continue to live without. But anyway, I’m hoping I can get “on a roll” cleaning-wise. The hardest part is getting started.

Ready, Set…

We are approaching the starting line on our kitchen remodel. Saturday we did some detailed measurements and took them to Lowe’s to see how the available cabinets will fit in. It was quite an adventure. It’s amazing how stressful a little bit of math and a dozen or more helpful Lowe’s employees can be. It did not surprise me at all to discover that my husband is smarter than Lowe’s computer. He generally is highly competent.

The problem was, this was just a preliminary trip. We didn’t go there wanting any help. We just wanted to look and write things down and do our own figuring. But we discovered that if you walk into Lowe’s with a piece of paper in your hand their normally hard to find employees are suddenly all over you. We couldn’t take three steps anywhere in the store without having someone stop us with a friendly, eager, “Do you need any help?”

While we were looking at cabinets, doing our calculations, and discussing our options, one of Lowe’s employees walked up to us and offered to help. At first we declined but she talked us into letting her plug all our measurements into the computer. And she quickly determined that we could not do what we had planned to do, specifically, that the lazy susan corner cabinet that we absolutely must have will not fit.

To be fair to Lowe’s employees, they are used to dealing with people who don’t know what they’re doing – with people who can fit a few puzzle pieces together but wouldn’t dream of trying to re-locate a sink, for example, or to convert a 30 inch base cabinet into a sink base for a 25 inch single bowl sink instead of using the standard 36 inch sink base. We didn’t tell her any of that. We just walked away and continued with our own planning.

After we were done in the kitchen cabinet section we walked around and looked at a few other items. By the time we were done it was after 12:00 noon and since we were tired and stressed out from the Lowe’s ordeal we did a bad bad thing: we went to Burger King for lunch. It’s been years since the last time we ate in one. We did not look for one of the psuedo- healthy meals that all fast food places offer these days; we went straight for the Whopper value meal.

When we got home, having a list of the various available cabinets and their sizes, we re-measured our kitchen and determined that not only would all the cabinets we want fit, we have several extra inches to fill. When this project is finally done I’m going to take the After photo to Lowe’s and show it off.

We have settled on a floor covering. It is not blue but I think I will like it even better. I often get a picture fixed in my mind of how I want something to be and it’s very hard to let go of that picture. I just need some time to form a new picture. Sometimes though, I hate that I am able to embrace the new picture. It feels like giving up. But anyway, we’re starting soon and there will be actual pictures to share and more adventure stories, though, I hope, nothing too adventure-filled.

Random Linkage

Andart – An excellent blog; science, computers, current events…

Fake Irish Blessing – Very nice.

Technoccult – A very interesting blog about various aspects of modern life; a lot of psychology-related articles, plus other sciences and culture

The Nicholas Cage Matrix – Hey! I liked Ghost Rider. The chart is obviously upside down.

Space Teriyaki – Japanese art from the 70′s thru early 80′s

Darth Guinness – More St. Patrick’s Day fun

Animal articles – a long list of links to fascinating articles about animals

If romance covers were real – Photographs that recreate romance novel covers. Hilarious.

The Most Incredible Sword Fights in History

Bacon alarm clock – Genius!

Star Wars Alphabet – So cute! (via)

Teresa’s Quilt Stash – a lovely quilting blog. Found it when I was searching for this pattern.

The SoHo“slices of life from the southern hostess” – lots of photos; very nice.

Ides of March cupcakes – only a couple of days late

Oh Nuts!

I finally tried Nutella. (official site) I did not read the label while I was still in the store. If I know I am going to buy something anyway I don’t read all that scary nutrition information. But I did read it when I got home. The stuff is 200 calories per serving!

One serving is two tablespoons. That sounds pretty generous, doesn’t it? But no, they don’t mean two serving spoons full; they mean measuring spoons. Go grab your set of measuring spoons. Look at the one marked “tablespoon”. It’s not all that big, is it? Try spreading only two times that much on an English muffin. It’s just barely enough to very thinly cover both halves – if you really work at spreading it out. Per volume most candy bars have fewer calories. And the nutrition value isn’t all that impressive. You get a trace of calcium, a trace of iron, a smidgen of fiber. That’s about it.

But it’s really gooooood! It’s chocolate; of course it’s good. It’s a dangerous thing to have in the house – chocolate that you can spread all over anything! But I’m being good. I really am. I’m trying to limit myself to the recommended two tablespoon serving (not more than once a day, and not every day) until the evil stuff is gone and then I’m not buying any more. Well… I don’t mean no more ever

This ‘n’ That, Science Edition

LiveScience is one of those sites that’s hard to get away from because there are always several more links that you simply must click on. * Don’t worry about radiation from solar flares. *Naps make you smarter. Oh well. I don’t nap. I don’t even think I can sleep in the daytime. *Oh no! We’re running out of everything. Or, at least, a lot of the stuff we need to make our favorite gadgets. *Peculiar pumpkins. Yes, it’s too early for Halloween but we’ll be planting soon. Might want to consider some of these.

Wind energy at home. Now that’s more like it! I guess this is blasphemous in this day and age but the thought of mile after mile of wind farms all over what was once beautiful, unspoiled countryside depresses me. I remember when wind energy was going to be something for individual homeowners. This is a return to that kind of thinking. I do not agree with the claim that it’s more “aesthetically pleasing” (I don’t think a single wind turbine is terribly unattractive) and $4000 is an awful lot of money for an ordinary individual but this is more the right sort of idea. I really hope it takes off.

Yoda bat. Creepy? Yeah, it is, but as bats go it’s practically cute.

40 foods you should eat. Well, that’s encouraging. With all the “healthy eating” advice that is being pushed at us these days it’s almost surprising that there are actually as many as 40 foods that it is okay to eat and that quite a few of them even taste good.

Ancient Nubians discovered antibiotics. Interesting.

Are we all descended from tumors?

Japan

Robert Brady of Pure Land Mountain has been blogging the Japan earthquake. I first heard about it Friday (or was it Thursday?) but haven’t heard much more since then. That’s just because I don’t pay much attention to the news on weekends. One of the things I like about blogs is that you can get first-hand, unfiltered news from almost anywhere in the world.

The Jerk in Front

This guy thinks he’s some kind of hero because he got away with refusing to show his receipt to the door person at Wal-mart but he’s really just the jerk at the front of the line. I would have been the woman saying, “Just show him the receipt; it’s not that hard,” and “You don’t have to be such a prick about it.” I’m a little surprised that the other customers didn’t tackle him and get the receipt out of his pocket. I mean… it’s Wal-mart; you know what kind of people shop there. (allegedly)

Quotes From Here and There

Some Monday morning, you could lock up every gram of pseudoephedrine on the planet, load it aboard a rocket, and fire it into the sun, and there would be meth labs by the weekend. Count on it.here

I want a boss who will let me say “emergency family stuff – may need to take a bit of time off next week” and let it go at that.there

Well folks that happening does make me happy and I am sharing the image of that bowl here for all to see.here (Wow!)

New facts! Colour illustrations! A few of them quite rude!there

God came to Moses in a dream. “I have an update…”here

Random Linkage

Naughty gif – or maybe not so naughty. (NSFW? I don’t know. It depends on your boss’s sense of humor.)

From Poppy – A dog writes letters to companies. More strange than amusing.

Random Exhibition Title Generator – Click Refresh or Reload to get new titles.

Three lane bowling – That guy is either really good or really bad.

Mysterious Universe – Cryptozoology, UFOs, aliens, artificial intelligence, etc.

Artistic ads – Some of these are great.

Decorated tanks – They’re huge, they’re ugly, you can’t get rid of them, you can’t hide them, so why not paint something on them?

Why I Need a Gmail Account

Poppycock! (I like that word for some reason. I should use it more often.)

Gmail users are more likely to be tech-savvy, well-traveled and career-minded men with iPhones, whereas Yahoo! users tend to be overweight women who like spending time in pajamas with their families, according to a new study.

Okay, I have a Yahoo! email account. I’ve been using it since about 1996 or thereabouts. And I guess I have to admit to being overweight, or at least parts of me are more bulgy that I would like. So what? Just quit profiling me dammit!

Oh yeah… I don’t spend a lot of time in my pajamas. I put them on right before I go to bed and take them off and put on day clothes as soon as I get up. So there! (I tried the hanging out in pajamas for an hour or two in the morning thing once or twice but it just doesn’t feel right.)

UPDATE: One more thing… Owning an iPhone doesn’t necessarily make you more tech-savvy.

Brief Observation

By now you’ve probably heard that Charlie Sheen invented Tulsa. I was tempted to say, “So that’s the problem,” but since I don’t live in Tulsa myself I suppose it would be considered bad form to make fun of it. I invite Tulsa residents (and anyone who’s not worried about form) to do my dirty work for me.

A Day Behind

Yesterday was International Women’s Day. Google had a rather nice special logo. It made me smile to see that there were quilts in it alongside the more politically correct image of female professionals. And this morning I read the following at the end of a post that is mainly about cookbooks.

…the irony is not lost on me that I happen to be posting about cooking, cookbooks, and entertaining – all traditionally “women’s” domain – on International Women’s Day. What can I say? I don’t think there’s ANYTHING wrong with cooking or entertaining if you enjoy it. I love to cook, myself, and it frustrates me when I – occasionally, still – hear people go on about how it’s somehow antifeminist to enjoy domestic things. What I would argue is antifeminist is telling other women how they should live their lives, whether that’s telling them not to work outside the home or telling them not to enjoy nurturing themselves and others…

Indeed! The women’s movement was supposed to be about giving women more choices but it seems like most feminists are embarrassed by anything that is considered traditionally feminine – like it’s morally unacceptable. That is just another form of oppression. It makes me want to start a movement. Liberal Housewives Unite!

(UPDATE: Actually I consider myself a moderate, left-leaning, semi-libertarian, get-offa-my-lawn, capitalist, imperialist – or something like that – but “Liberal Housewife” has more shock value.)

* * * * *

Another thing I neglected to mention yesterday, something I am far more interested in, was the 100th birthday of composer Alan Hovhaness. Not much to say, actually. I like his music. I guess you could say he’s one of my lesser favorites. His music is pleasant and sort of New-Agey. It usually makes me think of water somehow – ocean depths, rain, rivers…

If I had to pick a favorite by Hovhaness it would probably be this: (I watched a lot of videos and couldn’t find one I was completely satisfied with.)

New Communicators

We’re finally caught up and living in the 21st century now. We got new smart-phones. That was the thing I mentioned that I was “childishly excited” about. They arrived, yesterday, earlier than I expected. My other half and I each got a Samsung Captivate. It’s very cool, with a touch screen and all but now that I’ve got it I’m feeling sort of like, “Okay, now what?” I’m sure I will come to appreciate its many features as I get used to having them – sort of like when we first got connected to the Internet. (sometime in the mid-90′s) At first I wasn’t sure what to do with it but look at me now.

I ordered this snap on cover for it. I’m still waiting on that. It was a bit difficult to choose, there are so many pretty ones, but I think this one is “me”, or at least as close to being “me” as something designed by someone else can be.