Sunday, December 23, 2007

Open Letter to Open Air

The internet is both wonderful and terrible. It is terrible for person with obessive tendencies, of which I may have a few.

Tonight I have been tracking you, I think. I can see your flight is in the air. I cannot tell if you are on your plane or if your luggage made it with you.

I can tell you this: I love you.

Your flight has a good 1600 miles to go and I can't track it any further tonight. I'm going to bed. I hope you have a wonderful time in LA, but not so wonderful that you move that far away from me.

Monday, December 17, 2007

You Say Po-Ta-To and I Say Yam

This post is for Gwen who posted back in November about yams. Or sweet potatoes. Whatever....

NO! Not "whatever". This is not to be taken lightly, as I discovered. Mea culpa!

To prove to her that here in the Heartland tubers are properly identified, I took this photo in a grocery store before Thanksgiving:


I went back to the store after Thanksgiving and the same tubers in the same bin had the label "YAMS". ~sigh~

I don't mean to be a burr under her blanket. I love her blog. And this is the post that got me hooked.

Craft Du Jour

Popsicle Sled!

Popsicle Sled
Made with big sticks.

Thinking of Mr. Rogers

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

Railroad Tracks


Monday, December 10, 2007

Gingerbread Nativity

Last night I mixed up a batch of gingerbread. TodayI went through my gingerbread patterns. It was like getting lost in old photo albums as there were more than gingerbread patterns to look at. It was a long, wandering trip down memory lane.

Among the lot I found a lost gingerbread nativity picture in with the nativity patterns. On the envelope that contained the patterns was the note "86 weird stable -- never again". Evidently, I was unhappy with the original stable and made up my own. Which did suck, now that I see the photo. The next nativity had a completely different stable and I had no pattern for it nor notes on how I constructed it. I hate when I do that.

What got me into looking for the nativity in the first place was that someone landed on my site by doing an internet search for "gingerbread nativity". So I was going to be magnanimous and put my patterns and instructions in a downloadable PDF file. But then I got stumped by the stable dilemma. I wanted to present the best stable possible (stable #3 being the best, IMHO) but with no pattern I was lost.

So then I went off in a different direction. I need a compass.

Anyway, I present the 3 stables in a row. You be the stable judge. I want you to know these are not my designs (except for the stable variations). They came from a magazine, I believe. If they're your designs, tell me! I'll link to you and you can sell them!

Original stable. That is one sick looking sheep in front.

The "never again" stable. Sick looking sheep still in front.

Wonderful stable with sick looking sheep removed.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Gingerbread Through the Years

I told you I could get into the Christmas spirit. One of the ways I used to do that was to make gingerbread houses. I made my first one for my niece, Baby Mac, from a pattern printed in the paper and decorated with the only candy I could find in tiny Ktown.

The houses evolved through the years. I made my own house patterns and made a permanent base that I wired with a little light so the house could be lit up from the inside. I made other things, too, as you shall see.


House '83
Baby Mac with the 1983 edition

Mouse House '83
Also 1983. I made the mice and their house for Baby Mac

1984 - I broke away from the original pattern.

Here comes Santa Claus! 1985

nativity, 1985
Gingerbread Nativity, 1985

A whole farm! 1986

In the dog house
A dog in the dog house. 1986

Lit from within. 1987

Da Bears. 1987


Details, details
Detail, 1988

Cottages for sale
Cottages for sale, 1989


House 1, 1990
House #1, 1990

House #2, 1990
House #2, 1990

nativity, 1990
Nativity, 1990


No house was made in 1991 and I think 1992 was the end of the line. From the looks of things, taking a year off did not help my housebuilding skills. The 1992 versions sort of look like Norman Bates meets a 70's cartoon. Maybe I'll try one this year and we can see if a 15 year (FIFTEEN YEARS??? REALLY??) hiatus has destroyed whatever talent I may have once possessed.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Genetic Defeciencies

Last night I dreamed that I was watching wild animals cavorting outside my window. I remember seeing several elk, one bear and lots and lots of reindeer. I remember being worried about the bear. One of these things is not like the other. One of these things could kill happily frolicking ruminants.

Is this dream a Christmas nudge? Get ready, Christmas is coming! Deck the halls! Fa, la, la! Tick tock!

Or am I the bear, ready to kill to reindeer thereby stopping Christmas from coming?

I'm afraid it may be the latter for I am missing the Christmas gene. I am also missing the shopping gene prevalent in all other females. I am genetically deficient.

Before Thanksgiving I got stuck in line in Hobby Lobby behind 2 women who knew each other. Each had a young son stuffed in the cart among garish artificial yuletide decorations. "Are you ready for Christmas?" one asked. "I think so" replied the other.

Having to wait in line was torture enough. Having to listen to THAT almost made my eyes bleed. It wasn't even Thanksgiving yet and these women were "ready for Christmas". What the hell does that mean anyway? Did you re-mortgage your house to buy crap to give everyone you know? Do you have all this crap wrapped in expensive paper (good-bye, trees) that will be admired for 2 seconds before ending up in a landfill? Do you have your Christmas goose stuffed a month and a half in advance? Is your house lit up like a landing strip?

Don't get me wrong. At Christmas I like to see Christmas trees lit up in living rooms. I enjoy giving gifts to people I love. But does it have to be so much? And does it have to go on for so long? And don't your brats have enough useless crap already?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Irrefutable Evidence to the Contrary

A girl once told me I didn't have an athletic bone in my body. Here is my irrefutable evidence to the contrary. I AM AN ATHLETE!!
Bowling Letter

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Digesting Turkey Dinner

My Thanksgiving plans changed several times. The last time they changed was at 9 on Thanksgiving morning when my brother called to tell me we were eating at 12:30 instead of 3:30.

I had to wait a few days to post about this because for days I was still filled with residual anger instead of the great familial love that has been warming the souls of other Americans.

So after dear brother called I shifted into high gear and headed off with a trunk laden with food. On the way there I had the thought that if I went in the ditch, I could have a Thanksgiving feast by myself in the car.

It was a gray and dreary day. It was snowing again.

Over the river and through the woods to .....
River and woods

A bar of course. Not just any bar, either. A bar chock full of ambiance. A perfect setting.
The Bar

Confused decorations

My niece and some guy from Sweden.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Day Before Thanksgiving

It snowed.

Snow in the Grass

Snow in the Field

But not as bad here as in Des Moines.

Snow in Des Moines

I baked.

Fresh Rolls

Cherry Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie

Tomorrow: more cooking, food hauling and feasting. In a bar. Not my idea.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Internet Inventor, Global Warming Watchdog and My Good Friend

I'm so glad I saved this. I have no idea how old it is.

My friend Al

Heart felt sentiment

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Mitt vs Hill

(Willard) Mitt Romney has been airing ads in Iowa against Hillary Clinton. Should someone tell him that, for right now at least, Hillary is not his opponent?

Mitt vs Hill

I have mixed feelings about Hillary. I found this blog post which nails it on the head.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Box 'O Cat

Mouse, the cat.

Big box, big cat.

Email Conversation

C left today. We took your vintage travel Scrabble game with us to play at the airport but we didn't even get a whole game in. Have you missed your travel Scrabble?

I have travel Scrabble?

She gave it to you for Christmas a few years ago. VINTAGE travel Scrabble that she probably fought tooth and nail for on Ebay. It's been in my table cloth drawer since.

man, am I excited now! It's like Christmas all over again.

Thanks for the laugh, kidlette!


Merry Christmas!

Monday, October 29, 2007

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Or: Some People Never Learn

Several years ago I gave my folks my old computer when I upgraded. They were happy to have a computer with Windows 95 and a modem. They got set up for email. And I got called every time my mother or father could not figure out the simplest of things. It was annoying. More annoying were the calls for the non-simple things. I am not a geek. I am, however, occasionally lucky.

Eventually they got into their groove with the computer. I did get calls about their spam (sorry, can't help) and life went on. Then they got sick of spam, their monitor (they thought) was going out and they discontinued their internet service and rarely used the POS computer. And it was MY FAULT for giving them a POS that they were thrilled to get when they got it. Whatever.

Fast forward to this summer when a friend who works in IT at a Big Company told me they were upgrading and did I know anyone who wanted a computer with XP for $50. Sure, I said, and made the mistake of mentioning it to my folks. Mom wouldn't commit until Dad agreed to the $50 upgrade. I don't know why. All the money is hers. Whatever.

Dad had decided hell, yeah, he wanted a $50 computer. Then I was hounded about when it was coming. And oh, he NEEDED a new monitor, too. So I put out feelers and found, free of charge, (except for my free labor) a good used monitor.

Eventually, computer and monitor, time and opportunity all came together and I went to my folks to install the new system.

In my parent's eyes, being able to hook up the right connectors and plug in all the plugs on a desktop system qualifies one for geekdom. I was ready to ride in on my white horse (dark red Subaru), fulfill my duties and fade into the sunset victorious.

First: take out the old system. No prob! A big brother was there and my dad was waving his arms declaring it all JUNK so big bro hauled it out to a junk pile.

Second: install the new system. No prob! Except.... Dad wanted the tower on the desk next to the monitor so he didn't have to go through all the trouble of leaning over to push the button on the tower to turn it on. Fine. Only it didn't fit.

No prob! Get big brother to saw away at the bracing facing piece on the desk. Repeatedly. Until the tower fit. Very, very snugly. It made hooking up all the peripherals much more difficult (Mom, can you feed that cord up through that and find my hand?) but as long as Dad was happy....

Everything got hooked up but the phone line. One last thing and --- no dial-up modem. Of course not! This was a corporate computer! So big bro, could you bring the old tower (with the dial-up modem) in off the junk pile before it rains?

Their new system was humming nicely. Dad was happy to have the Microsoft games plus two Hoyle game systems I'd loaded on the machine. After everything was done, Dad said, "What about our pictures on the old computer?"

(Insert internal screaming and vile, vile swear words here.)

I took their old tower home. I hooked it up to my monitor and discovered it was NOT their monitor that was the problem, it was their video card. With freaky things appearing on my monitor I saved all their pictures and email addresses (and not without drama, either -- the cd burner didn't work and I had to unhook their system and hook up mine to save stuff on the only USB drive their computer would recognize, clean it, rehook up their tower to save their stuff to the newly clean USB - insert more screaming and swearing).

That done, I took the damn tower apart and pulled out the modem. I found a driver online and downloaded it and saved it to the USB. I went back to my folks and installed the new (old) modem and driver. My mother was SOOOOO impressed.

And then they started talking and thought that they would rather have the DSL.

(Insert more screaming and swearing, screaming and swearing.)

But, because their phone lines are shit, they may not be able to get DSL so maybe my efforts were not in vain.

They still haven't gotten around to getting any internet service, what with my dad's bypass surgery and all. Not that that's the end of "no good deed".

There is no sound on their computer. Not that they listen to music on their computer. My dad needs sound when he plays pinball.

I checked it out the day I delivered lasagna and as near as I can tell (did I tell you I AM NOT A GEEK?) it is the sound card.

(Insert more screaming and swearing, screaming and swearing.)

Good thing I still have their old tower. Which I took apart tonight and removed the sound card.


Now I have to go searching for a driver.

Man's Best Friend My Ass

I read this story in the Des Moines Register this morning but lifted this from channel 8's website because I could not for the life of me find it on the Register's online site.

TAMA, Iowa -- A Tama man was injured when hunting dogs stepped on his gun.

Officials with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said James Harris, 37, was pheasant hunting with a group about three miles north of Grinnell when the accident happened.

Officials said the group had shot a bird and when Harris went to retrieve it, he put his gun on the ground and crossed a fence. As he crossed the fence, hunting dogs stepped on his gun causing it to fire.

Harris was shot in the lower left leg.

He was treated at Grinnell Medical Center and later transferred by helicopter to University Hospitals in Iowa City. His condition has not been released.

The investigation is continuing.

Perhaps the pooches were perturbed at parading around in orange vests.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Color of the Day

A loud bang this morning reminded me of what day it was. Actually Captain Crab beat my faulty memory to the punch. It is in some circles the most revered of days. In other circles (mine) it is the most dreaded. Today is the opening of pheasant season.

PJ does not approve.

I took a pan of lasagna to my folks. I couldn't go a mile without seeing several trucks parked at the side of the road or out in the fields. The men were decked out in orange, hunting in packs, like wolves. Wolves with cell phones and GPS. People I met on the road were dressed in orange. A guy in a minivan (not the type of vehicle associated with such manly activity) was dressed in orange. I saw a dog wearing an orange vest, too, but didn't get his picture.

Men in orange.

Over the river and through the woods to mother's house I went. I arrived without being mistaken for a pheasant.

Over the river and through the woods.

My dad had bypass surgery last week. He's doing well, I guess. He is pretty content to be home and NOT have visitors so I didn't stay long.

Not everyone is hunting today. Some farmers are still in the fields combining corn. And then there are the people who have to deal with all that corn once it's out of the field. So add yellow to the color of the day.

Too much corn!.

Mountains of corn!

Corn fountain.

At night when it's not cloudy, the harvest moon has been showing its orange face, now pale in the daylight.

Shine on, harvest moon.