Friday, December 31, 2010

A Change in Perspective

I've been saying for months that I am moving to Massachusetts, even to the point of telling the people at work I would be going so they would have time to prepare for the day I would no longer be there. I have a big workload, part of which are things that literally no one else in the building knows how to do. This is not because it's Rocket Science, or because learning to do these particular things requires a Big Brain or psychic powers. It's just that no one has needed to do them because I have always done
them myself. I'm pretty sure that they will not be able to replace me with a single person and I doubt that more than one new hire will be approved. I have worried about this and tried to prepare everyone for what would happen.

Over the last few years my workplace has changed. The company has grown in numbers and corporate culture has changed. Although in my immediate department I am doing the same sorts of things and working with essentially the same people it's not at all like the same company I joined fourteen years ago.

This month I gave my boss notice with a specific date. I now know when I will be leaving, and where I will be going. I find that I am thereby liberated. I no longer have the illusion of interest or control over how I am replaced and frankly I really don't care. I'm surprised that's all it took.

I'm not concerned about my job anymore. I'll get things completed that need to be, teach whoever is willing to learn what I can, and move on. My main concern now is whether I might have a couple a chickens by this time next year.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Thoughts on Christmas Gifts

Our Christmas celebrations are just about finished. Most of my gifts have been distributed and the festive activities are largely over. I had a good time - I got to visit with family and friends, received some nice presents, enjoyed too many delicious seasonal treats and one of the newly released movies. I was able to treat my kids and their dad to a nice Christmas dinner at a local restaurant, and give them some frivolous gifts as well as the traditional underwear and socks. I often feel short of the ready, but really I am blessed to have a good job and the good health to earn a good living.

I had some free time this year that I do not normally have, so I was able to volunteer at one of the local holiday dinners. It was a real eye opener (yeah, I know that's not an original thought!). We all know, or think we know, what it's like to be without. We don't know much. I
was not on the serving line, but I understand that more than 1,000 meals were served. There was plenty of food and drink, with only a few items running out. Gifts were another thing altogether. Most years at this dinner there have been gifts for children an adults. This year there was almost nothing for adults, and not much for teens. The toys did not quite run out, but they nearly did. For the children who came through the line last there was not much to choose from although at the beginning there seemed to be so many toys they would never run out.

There are a few people on my yearly Christmas list who are not in my immediate family. They were added over the years as their circumstances changed and I thought their holidays would be better if they had just a few more gifts. Over the year I think about them when I assemble my gifts and try to choose something suitable. As I have given them more thought they have become dearer to me. Scientists are finding out amazing things about the human brain. One of the most interesting to me is the idea that the stimuli go both ways - a frightening thought makes the heart beat faster, but the heart beating faster also makes the brain feel anxious. I think it works the same for gifts and compassion. I know I will be adding more gifts to my bin suitable for the children and adults who have so much less than I do and giving them and their situation more thought during the year. I hope you will too.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Brown Irish Soda Bread

My mother is not much interested in cooking, but baking is another thing altogether. That's probably why all of the recipes I learned at home and still use are for sweets of various kinds. Mom and I are united in the desire to find an adopt a well balanced all cookie diet. If it's not all cookies it could include quick breads or cake, with pie as an occasional break. She came by the taste honestly - her mother liked to bake too. My grandmother was from Ireland, and made very good soda bread with no measurements whatsoever. Mom tried, but was unable to master it from those vague instructions (although my nephew Chris apparently has the knack of it). Luckily one year (probably 1967) the Columbus Dispatch newspaper featured a recipe that although nothing like my grandmother's soda bread satisfied us, and still does. I think it's much better than banana bread, and just as easy to make. I have to warn you that this makes a large quantity, so I seldom make more than a half batch. A full batch overwhelms the capacity of my Kitchen Aid Artisan bowl, so if I am making a full batch I mix the batter in the mixer, then combine with the raisins in another much larger bowl.

Brown Irish Soda Bread

6 Cups Raisins
7 Cups Sifted Flour
1 Teaspoon Allspice
4 Teaspoons Cinnamon
2 Teaspoons Nutmeg
2 Teaspoons Salt
4 Teaspoons Baking Soda
1 Cup Butter, room temperature
3 Cups Sugar
6 Large Eggs
2 Cups Raisin Liquid

Cover the raisins with boiling water, and allow to cool to room temperature. Drain, reserving 2 cups of the soaking liquid.

Mix the dry ingredients together and set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the raisin liquid. Stir into the drained raisins and blend.

Divide into 4 8" loaf pans and bake for about 2 hours at 350 degrees. The time is approximate because there is a lot of liquid in the raisins, and when you are using such a large quantity of eggs you may have a wide variance in volume depending on the size of the individual eggs. It will never take less than an hour, and never more than 2. Past that you're on your own! When you start smelling the bread test with a toothpick to give you an idea of how far along it is.

You can use any kind of pans you want to substitute - two 10" tube pans, 6 of the medium disposable foil loaf pans, divide it into individual pans or make muffins - whatever . Just adjust your cooking time accordingly. Test with a toothpick for doneness. Cool completely before slicing. This bread freezes beautifully. If you slice it before you freeze it you can slip a piece out any time you like!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

I Give Up

The world has gone mad. President Obama is mad at liberals for wanting him to act as he promised. Apparently when the secrets of major banks are about to be revealed freedom of the press is null and void. The Department of Homeland Security will have video terminals at W*lM*rt. I will now turn my attention to penguins instead of politics.

Live Penguin webcams here and a nice list of them here. Enjoy.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Shop Vac Music

Jonathan Coulton has a nice touch with a catchy pop song, even without the clever lyrics. This video is a particularly nice example:

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I am so excited by all the new discoveries lately - there are so many heretofore unimagined creatures in the world! Here is the squidworm - so new that it gets a whole new genus all to itself! Granted the squidworm is small - only about 3" long, but still no western scientist had noticed it. Sort of like the little Asian lizard that was first noticed by western science on a dinner plate. It's so thrilling that all the scientific discoveries are not behind us.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Still Feasting After All These Meals

I've survived two Thanksgiving dinners without actually exploding, although I must admit it's a near thing. I cooked for the kids and their dad today, and coincidently rounded out the already prepared dishes in the fridge (AKA leftovers) so we won't have to do any shopping or major cooking for the next week.

I tried a few new things this year. I butterflied the turkey: the lesson is that I need to cook it for a much shorter period of time, and my kitchen shears were not worthy of the name. I made
Bobby Flay's roasted Brussels sprouts with pomegranate seeds: prepare the pom ahead of time; it's messy and slow. I also have loads of sprouts because I bought a whole stalk. It might not look like much but that stalk is over two feet long! I put a graham cracker streusel topping on my pumpkin pies: a big winner. No visible cracks in the pies; they are really pretty and very creamy. Blueberry/cranberry sauce is delicious.

I had a dinner roll failure this year, probably because I tried to cook two pans one on top of the other in my rather small oven. I do know better but I was apparently struck stupid. They ended up undercooked but burnt on the bottoms. I should have used two ovens. It's an embarrassing failure because they have become something of a signature dish that I bring to all kinds of dinners.

Oh well. It's pie for breakfast for several days, football out the wazoo and all the sprouts I can eat. How bad can it be? I won't be shopping this weekend with all the crazies; I'll be cozy at home enjoying some quiet time.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving By Grace Alone

It's pretty clear that I have a lot to be thankful for, and equally clear that a lot of that has nothing to do with my own efforts. On this day of national gluttony and thanks I want to call attention to those things I enjoy through grace alone.

I am thankful for my robust health, that all my children and grandchildren are living, and that I still am blessed with all of my siblings. I am also thankful for my own mother's excellent health.

I am thankful that no one in my family is homeless or hungry, and those who can work and want to are employed.

I am grateful to have been born into a family that appreciates me and has been able and willing to encourage me to be myself and to pursue my own interests. I am grateful that my in laws have been welcoming.

I feel fortunate to have lived all my life in a free country and to have lived here in peace and plenty. We have not had devastating years of war on our own soil in my time, and no natural disasters have been so cruel as to involve so large a portion of the country that we unable to take care of our own.

There are many in this world who are not as lucky as I have been by grace alone. If you feel moved to do so, please give thanks for your good fortune not only around the table, but in a donation to the less fortunate. I am making my donation today to the Native American Heritage Association, who provides aid to the Crow Creek and Pine Ridge Reservations in South Dakota.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The 10 Weirdest Physics Facts

Many years ago when I took chemistry in high school our teacher (Mr. Kessler, also known secretly as silky based on his sharing a name with a brand of blended whiskey) asked me if I planned to take physics the next year. When I answered "no" he responded "good". In recent years I have been intrigued by what I read about quantum physics and I often wonder what, if anything, my rejected high school physics class could have done to prepare my brain to understand it. Nothing, I suspect. Still, whenever I read about physics I think about that chemistry class, where everyone in the first three rows was copying off each other's tests and wonder if I missed something important.

The 10 weirdest physics facts, from relativity to quantum physics - Telegraph

Saturday, November 20, 2010

real big fish somebody hates me

I ran across this on a podcast yesterday and had to share it!

Ma Vie Quotidienne

I've been busy most of the time lately but nothing I am doing seems to be blogworthy unless one wants to read about the most daily and ordinary sort of things. Christmas knitting proceeds at a snail's pace, work is still work, blah blah blah.

This week I cooked dinner twice (alert the media) for both of us. First dinner was some lingue de soucera (mother in law tongue pasta) with roasted vegetables, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. I added some nice olives to my portion. It was a beautiful dish, so of course I did not take any pictures. Second dish was a pizza with roasted vegetables. That was just yummy. I used the spicy peppers in this dish. They were really needed because the sweetness of the caramelized veggies and the creamy cheeses needed that peppery bite. The third dinner I had this week with roasted vegetables was toast with hummus and roasted vegetables, one of my more boring favorites. We still have a ton of the veggies around which will be hitting the freezer in portions for future use. Shana is enjoying the vegetarian dishes, but she is not as willing to eat the same thing day after day. I can and do eat like the dog. She did still grill up some hamburger patties for her own use, but I don't think she ended up eating many of them.

Samantha and I went shopping yesterday for some clothing for her. I arrived early and she arrived late - pretty much par for the course for us. While I was waiting for her I pulled out several things for her to try on, without much hope that she would try any of it on. Surprise - she tried on everything I picked out, and we bought the items I had selected. We agreed on which things were flattering and appropriate except for a pair of jeans. This is big progress. This time we shopped at Burlington Coat Factory, which is a pretty mixed bag. It's a consistently great place to shop for luggage but the clothing is wildly assorted. Prices are great, but you've got to dig around because they have some really nice stuff and some total junk. Even for casual or trendy items I like to look for things for her that will hold up to some heavy wear and careless laundering. We might try Name Brand Clothing for our next trip now that she's showing herself to be agreeable. Prices are always excellent there, but you earn it with the digging. If she could trust me to do the digging in advance and she could select her favorites from my choices we might be able to get her some really nice garments for very little money.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

November Is in Full Swing

We're nearly halfway through November and there has barely been a frost. I'm still in the awkward dressing phase of Oklahoma fall, where the morning temperatures are in the low 40s, afternoon nearly 70, and indoor temperatures at the office alternating between 50 and 500 (often in the sale day). Nothing I wear is quite right, and my northern Ohio childhood tells me I should be breaking out the sweaters. By this time next year I will be enjoying the marine climate of Massachusetts, and again I will be uncertain as to what to wear.

Stitch and Bitch is back in full swing. The summer faithful are still coming, and now that cooler weather and Christmas knitting are upon us our group has grown enormously. Thursday night felt like a big party and I can't wait to see everyone again. I've got a couple of projects on the needles and several more that will need to be done before Christmas. I will need that extra knitting time and motivation to keep up, not to mention the fellowship of our group. Our group is
pretty varied in age and life experience, so it's very grounding and educational for me to spend an evening with them. Working as I do with essentially the same group of women for fourteen years I almost never am surprised by anything. Life goes on and things happen to all of us, but no one has really changed their minds about anything of substance and I can guess their opinion of most things. I am occasionally startled at Stitch & bitch and always learn something.

Although we've had the occasional warm afternoon (before dark!) I have not been cycling. One of my more diligent friends has been working the "couch to 5K" plan and has had great results. She has been able to surpass her original goal and move on to more challenges in spite of having some significant health challenges. I'm going to give it a whirl myself. I'll have to see what my wonky and wobbly knees think of the program.

I met Samantha and Vivian for lunch Friday, and will probably be meeting up with them for a little shopping next Friday. After that Thanksgiving - and I am cooking this year. This is something I have not done for many years in my own kitchen. It's odd how hard it is to delegate any of this rather simple meal.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Oklahoma Sunrise & Gratitude

Oklahoma Sunrise, originally uploaded by cinderellenk.

I was surfing about today and ran across some lovely pictures of the British Lake District over at Backwards in High Heels. I was overcome with churlish envy for her having seen this lovely spot I have never visited and may actually never visit, European vacations being very rare in my life.

Instead of this negative reaction this is what I should be considering:

I have access to high speed Internet and therefore beautiful pictures of places all over the globe I might never have other wise known anything about.

I have had the great pleasure of seeing many places that many Europeans may like to see but have not: The Grand Canyon (from both sides), Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain National Parks, Canyon de Chelly, Maine, and the daily wonder of Oklahoma sunrises and sunsets. I am naming only a very few of the wonderful things it has been my joy to see, with more to come.

In my daily life I am quicker to see aggro than the joy and privilege I should actually be noticing. It's time to change that, I think.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Spooky Spooks

This weekend I had lots of company in costume, but not many trick or treaters. I had three groups of them in all - not much compared to the 100 or so I used to have in Bethany. It was lucky though because The Evil Wild Dog of the Prairie got my treat bowl and ate all of the Almond Joy and either ate or spoiled about half of my Mike & Ike and Hot Tamales. Such a bad dog, and so resourceful.

Samantha had taken Vivian out to the local mall for a holiday event, then came over here with the idea of trick or treating on my neighborhood. Sadly, there were almost no houses with their lights on. They were so few and far between that it was not worth dragging a three year old down the street to visit the few available stops. We just went back to my house and played around for a while until Sam had to take Vivian back to Daddy. Sam went on to meet up with some friends at a club.
I stayed up past midnight to make sure the Sooners did not choke while I slept.
Aunt Rita went to church with me, then back to the house for a treat of fast food and a laundry session. We watched Iron Man 2 on Pay Per View and hung out. I'm sure glad I did not pay to see that.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rally on the Mall

I can hardly believe I missed the news coverage of this rally all day. I think maybe I missed the greatest party of the year. Here's a little clip to whet your appetite (don't worry, the add is short):

Friday, October 29, 2010

It Gets Better

In case anyone is living under a rock, there is a project started by Dan Savage and his husband to encourage young victims of bullying to hang on in the certain knowledge that high school ends and then you can be free. There has been a string of suicides by young gay men who did not know that. Being a late-to-the-party lesbian I did not suffer that particular form of bullying, but I did suffer ridicule from my undeniable oddness. I was embarrassed and ashamed and did not know that those jerks had no right to make themselves feel better at my expense. I did not know that would not last for the rest of my life. Luckily I did have friends to share good times with (some still with me through the magic of the Internet - Hi Emma!, Hi Pam!) and I did find that the time comes when you realize that nothing holds you back from being your true self once you are an adult. Except biology, that is. I am still unable to see the physical resemblance between myself and Penelope Cruise. In celebration of this program there is a very nice video by the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles that brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my face. Maybe you will like it too.

And if you should know a young person who is being bullied, or does not know that high school does not last forever please tell them. Tell them it gets better.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Message from the bathroom wall

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Beach at Sandwich, Storm Coming In

Today Shana I and took a little drive to Sandwich Massachusetts, the oldest town on Cape Cod and one of the oldest in the United States. Some of Shana's local acquaintances had suggested that it was one of the better towns to live in on Cape Cod. We took a quick peek at it and had to agree. It's as cute as the proverbial bug's ear, has a lot of outdoor activities near to hand, and is very happily situated. It's equally close to Shana's mom (in Falmouth), Yarmouth, and Plymouth (two towns where Shana is likely to work). It's convenient to most other places we would need or want to visit on the cape. So far it's our front runner. It fills all of Shana's criteria - she really wants to live in the Cape in a small town on the water and it's about 20,000 people on the water. I like the looks of the place and the available outdoor attractions, but it has no public transportation at all. Nearest T stop is 18 miles (apparently there is some political problem making T service to the cape impossible). No local bus service, and nearest bus service to Boston seems to be in Bourne, about five miles away.

In other news: Shana's mother is still recovering well and is hoping to back in her own home on Saturday. I'll be baking a few items for her freezer tomorrow, then back to Oklahoma city in time to hit the ground running Monday.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The News From Boston

IMG_7532.jpg, originally uploaded by cinderellenk.

I'm still in Boston, getting ready to head out to the cape for the rest of my stay. We've been mostly visiting Inace at Brigham and Women's hospital of course, but we've taken afternoon breaks to visit a few local museums. We've gone to the Isabella Gardner and the Boston Museum of Fine Art: two very different kinds of galleries. The Gardner is very personal. It's laid out as the founder herself wanted it, with no alteration allowed. The BMFA is much more changeable and more what you expect a museum to look like. Both were interesting, and I'll be viviting both again in future.

Inace has improved greatly over the last week - a great relief to all of us and a testament to her strength of will and determination, and to the excellent care she has received at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

I've only taken cell phone pictures this week, as the camera I brought with me is completely unresponsive. I hope it's the battery, but one never knows. Fortunately the iPhone has a pretty good camera so I do have a few posted over at Flickr or tweeted. We were not often out sightseeing anyway, so it doesn't really matter.

The weather is very nearly perfect, so I have great hopes of some pleasant walks on the beach this week when I don't have other projects claiming my time. I expect to be doing the outdoor chores needed to prepare the house for winter for most of the week. Hard work, but congenial.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Prairie Rye Bread

We'll be leaving for Boston soon to help out my mother in law during her recovery from surgery (no, burglars, this is not an announcement of availability of my elderly used junk. We will have someone house sitting).

In the mean time Shana and I are calming ourselves as best we can - she's grilling and I'm baking/knitting/reading/surfing the Internet (Yes, I am a busy person, why do you ask?). I am not only baking, but baking bread. I don't know anything else that provides the same heavenly smell and comforting taste as home made bread.

My favorite recipe is one I got from Bon Appetit, probably in 1995. for a while I could find the recipe on Epicurious, but lately I have been unable to find it. The only place I have it is in a cookbook put together friends at a former employer. So for posterity here it is:

1 Cup Raisins
Boiling water

Cover raisins with boiling water and soak for 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

3 Cups warm water
1/2 Cup yellow corn meal
1/3 Cup unsulphured molasses
2 pkg. dry yeast
2 Tablespoons melted butter
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 Cups rye flour
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
6 Cups (scant) all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients except rye and all-purpose flours. Stir until yeast dissolves. Add rye flour, then all-purpose flour to make a soft dough. Knead by hand or in your mighty mixer until the gluten is active (you'll start to see the little stretchy strands that tell you it's ready) and dough is not sticky. Add raisins. Set aside to rise; when doubled punch down and form into two loaves, either in large loaf pans or oval loaves set on a cornmeal covered baking sheet. Slash the tops of the loaves, allow to rise again. Bake about 45 minutes. Loaves will sound hollow and release easily from the pan when done.

I find that the dough is kind of tight until I add the raisins. The extra liquid clinging to the raisins gets it to just the right texture. Don't use rapid rise yeast. It tastes awful. Don't leave out the salt - in most bread recipes the salt is necessary to regulate the yeast and help the loaves brown. You can cut it in half is you absolutely have to, but the taste will be affected.

And if that is not good enough: it's a very adaptable dough. The current loaves have half raisins, half cranberries, about 2/3 cup of coarsely chopped walnuts, 1/2 cup of ground flax and hemp seeds mixed in. I cut the flour to 5 1/2 cups to accommodate the additions I did not have any molasses so I used pancake syrup. It's delicious. You can substitute honey for molasses; you can use a little less rye flour if you run out. You can use bread flour for a finer crumb and a higher rise. You can put it in the fridge between rises and make your loaves when you are ready. You can use shortening instead of butter for a vegan version.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

A Valuable Lesson

In case the recent BP Gulf of Mexico disaster was not enough to show you the need for regulation of industry in the public good: here's some footage of the "spill" in Hungary. When profits are the ONLY good industry will not spontaneously act for the general good.

Sunday, October 03, 2010


This is the Oklahoma Texas weekend that we all look forward to every year in excitement and anxiety, depending on the state of the Sooners' Offensive Line. This year we did not know what to expect, except that Shana and I knew we were driving down to Denton Texas to visit the Humps. It's a shortish drive but far enough from home that it feels like a vacation. We're always glad to see them and it's always a relaxing and restorative weekend.

Matt took me to charming downtown Denton for a delicious ice cream on the square. I did not know that Denton had such a pretty downtown.
It's well worth a visit, and seems to be much appreciated by the locals. So many smaller cities have not been able to preserve their downtown and it's good to see one thriving. The scrumptious home made ice cream at Beth Marie's was just one of the appealing features. The courthouse in the middle of the square is beautifully restored and the center of a lot of activity.

The Oklahoma Texas game was a good one - lots of exciting plays (and some inexplicable plays). It was a lot of fun to watch, but seems to have done little to advance the Sooners in the polls. This is fine by me - I'd like to see a Big Twelve Championship. a ranking within the top ten, and a good bowl game at the end of the season without the stress of looking for a national championship. We caught parts of some other games as well - Alabama looks great, and the Oregon Ducks still have the single ugliest uniforms of any college team in the known universe. Like Boise State's appalling blue field I suspect Oregon takes great pride in their dreadful uniforms.

In addition to football we feasted on a wonderful brisket from Black's Barbecue, Katie's excellent chili, and s'mores by the bonfire after a refreshing walk around the neighborhood. Somehow we never got around to Nancy's banana pudding, but somehow I doubt that will be wasted. Shana took some home and Matt will claim most of the rest.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The More Things Change

Alex and Vivian came over for dinner yesterday. Samantha had a scheduling conflict and was unable to join us. Vivi is growing fast and is turning into a very chatty little girl. She actually ate some of her dinner and was a very good dinner guest.

After dinner Alex and I retired to the den. We compared our precious smart phones. Alex alternately played games with my phone and watched TV. I played with "the baby" and got
the fine details of youth culture (emphasis on the most modern incarnation of the Green Lantern).

When Vivian first started to come over for Grandma play dates I picked up a few basic toys:
a couple of baby dolls with a little "moses basket", a rhythm band, a few balls and little cars, and a set of blocks. I added a Sit N Spin a little later. That's all there is to Grandma's toy box. It seems that's all there needs to be. Each toy changes in function from time to time . At first she poked at the eyes of the baby dolls; now she hugs them and pats their little bums. First she tried climbing into the baby basket; now she carries the babies around in it after tucking them in. The babies' blanket gets used to put Grandma down for a nap. Blocks were at first just stacked, now they become birthday cakes or dinner tables, remotes controls or cell phones. These are pretty much the same toys I had when I was a child - basic, inexpensive, and classic. In spite of the wonderful electronics available today some things don't change a bit.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Experience Does not Protect you from Motorists

I just read that premier endurance cyclist Jure Robic was killed in a traffic accident in his home country of Slovenia. He was a five time winner (including 2010) of RAAM - Race Across America. This year he rode across America in 8 days with only 8 hours of sleep. The video below was taken in Kansas at this year's RAAM and features brief interviews with Jure Robic, his nearest competitor, and their crew members.

The toll this year of cyclists killed by motorists has been heartbreaking. This year in Oklahoma two experienced cyclists were killed on the same day in a part of town where I often ride alone myself. I know there are things a cyclist should do to make an encounter with a motorist less likely, but I don't think anyone can say that these men erred due to ignorance or carelessness. I lay the blame squarely on motorists, and the automobile culture that supports an idea that since no one else has a right to the road it's no big deal if a pedestrian or cyclist is injured or killed. Awareness must be built into driver education programs, in school children, in everyone.

Please, when you are in your car, be aware that we are out there - your family, your friends, your fellow citizens. SHARE THE ROAD.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Gutenberg ebooks direct to the Kindle

It turns out you can download directly to Kindle from Project Gutenberg. I have not tried this yet, but given my fondness for classic novels I don't think it will be long before I take it for a spin. There are loads of classics I want to read again (and again) that would love to have on my Kindle, especially since I am still riding the downsizing train. Teleread is full of tips and information for ebook readers - check it out!

Gutenberg ebooks direct to the Kindle – the Magic Catalog | TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Monday Night at the Fair

Monday night we went to the fair with friends. Sharon Jean wanted to see 10th Avenue North, a Christian Rock group. They were really good, and we were able to amble around the fair while still enjoying the music.

We checked out the chickens and bunnies, admired everyone's craft projects, ate all kinds of unsuitable food, lost money on games (Shana only!) and had a good time hanging out together. The combination of the crowds who came to hear the Christian Rock and it being Monday with no special cheap admission made for a very nice fair experience. There was only a small coterie of juvenile delinquents, the weather was perfect, and the crowds in general were quite small. I did not see any fights at all, which is something you cannot ever say on a weekend night.

The unsuitable food consisted of corn dogs, crepes filled with bananas and Nutella covered with chocolate sauce, chocolate covered bacon, mashed potatoes on a stick, deep fried peanut butter sandwiches and deep fried pizza.

Some of the 4H projects were unintentionally hilarious. The one that particularly caught my eye was a stain removal project garnished with socks in various shades of tattletale grey. Several of the recycling projects were quite thought provoking - some were silly and others strikingly attractive and inspirational. My hand knit socks look every bit as good as any I saw on display. Perhaps I should be entering!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Saturday Afternoon With Football

Our usual Saturday afternoon in fall includes a Sooner football game on TV with some unsuitable and delicious snacks. Often we have company to enjoy the game with us and some kind of barbecue meal.

This week we had Aunt Rita over to watch football with us all day. She's a big fan. What she lacks in knowledge she more than makes up for in enthusiasm. James came over with April, some andouille and some cajun boudin blanc to round out our meal of smoked ribs, potato salad, and baked beans with side snacks of chips and dip and crackers with a ham spread. I made up some purple ice cream with the last of our farm blackberries, but due to my deciding to make it at the last minute only April had some last night - it was slushy but delicious. I had some for lunch today, followed by potato chips. That's what I would consider a perfectly balanced meal of junk food.

I worked on some sock knitting while I watched the game. (Hermione's Everyday Socks in Berroco Socks metallic - nice picture will be posted after they are washed and blocked) April was fascinated by my knitting, as most children seem to be. She held my yarn for me, measured my progress every fifteen minutes or so, and experimented with trying a few stitches herself. She also "held" my yarn by sitting on the skein, got a nice big tangle in the yarn, and pulled a few stitches off the needle. Typical little kid stuff, and really not too bad for a five year old hanging out while the grown ups watched football. This picture of April is a pose meant to convince me that I really should knit some socks in a little girl size, or at the very least a purple hat.

This image of rapt attention is what I see every morning - the attention is not meant for me, but for breakfast - one of the three most exciting things that happen all day. The other two are DINNER (more exciting because it usually features something extra added to the kibble), and walk time (the ultimate in doggie entertainment).

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I'm Having an Aarti Paarti

After watching "The Next Food Network Star" with interest especially when my favorite won, you can imagine my disappointment when scheduling conflicts prevented me from seeing her show. Finally I remembered that we are living in the 21st century and have DVR!

Finally I sat down to watch Aarti Sequiera starring in her own show. It's a combination of cooking, Indian culture and family life, and Aarti's amazing bubbly personality. It's a really nice show. I love the host, set design, concept, graphics, everything.

I'm a big fan of the Food Network, but I have to say I am not so interested in still another show about barbecue, grilling, or the giant ego of Bobby Flay. I'm not so interested in giant cake contests either. Indian home cooking - bring it on. I love to make exotic ethnic dishes in my own kitchen, and a show that gives my some real info about using the spices in a way that fits into my schedule and kitchen equipment is just what I need. I've got good access to ingredients, but not as much information about how to use these ingredients short of the complicated recipes in my beautiful Indian cookbooks.

I was going out this afternoon for a shopping trip with Samantha and Shana sent me out with a list of things to get from the Indian grocery so she could make me the delicious looking baked samosas with mint chutney we saw on today's show. As you can see they were delicious and I loooooved them.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Zeitgeist at Ground Zero | Media for Social Change

There is an interesting take on Ground Zero and the history of the Twin Towers here: The Zeitgeist at Ground Zero Media for Social Change . Well worth a look.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Shana

For Shana's birthday we did something we had never done before. The recently accredited Oklahoma Museum of Art has a special program Thursday through Sunday where they offer "Dinner and a Movie" For a very reasonable price they offer a choice of a few appetizers and a few entrees from the Museum Cafe and a movie. The cafe is a very attractive small white tablecloth place, and the food is delicious. I had a chance to see two of the the beautiful Dale Chihuly glass pieces, something I had been wanting to do for a while. They are amazingly beautiful in person. The movie we saw was The Extra Man, with Kevin Klein. It was a lovely little comedy which was a perfect fit for a grown up audience in a small house. The movie offerings range from recent Sundance exhibited films to old art films. This is definitely something we will be doing again in the near future.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hotter 'N Hell 2010

This year at Hotter 'N Hell at Wichita Falls Texas we were met by excellent weather and 14,000 cyclists. With a predicted high of 94 a lot of cyclists decided this was the time to try a century ride. Two of our group who had been training all summer thought this might be their year. I must admit I toyed with the idea, but after much consideration I had to admit I was not strong enough this year to try for it and signed up for 100K instead. The 100K is a very good ride and a good choice.

With a such a huge number of participants there were some traffic problems at the start, including a few serious accidents. Bicycle traffic backed up, and rest areas were overwhelmed. This huge line of people is waiting for the line of portapotties in the distance. Volunteers filled the bottles of riders waiting in line so there would be less delay in getting back on the road and the drinks tent would not be too backed up. I think it might be time to revisit the question of how many potties are required. All of the rest areas were overwhelmed this year on the 100K course.

Everyone in our group finished their chosen rides, and it was a great day. Most of us were pretty tired by the end of the day and I was certainly no exception. I was so happy not to have anything I had to do at the end of the evening it was hard to get up and toddle off to bed. Lots more pictures over at my Flickr gallery (link on the sidebar), and congrats to everyone, especially our century riders!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A (kind of) Lazy Weekend

Shana and I planned a lazy weekend. We both felt like we had long and hard weeks, so we made few plans for the weekend.

I met for breakfast with friends at the excellent Classen Grill to discuss plans for Hotter 'N Hell 100 which happens next weekend in Wichita Falls. After the ride we have a community barbecue in the motel parking lot. This has proved to be more fun and less stressful than trying to get in at any restaurant in town. Although the menu is always much the same it's always a good idea to try not to have eight mustards and no onions.

I rode out to El Reno this morning with Alan and Melissa (Sharon Jean joined us for the first ten miles or so but could not commit enough time to ride all the way today). On the way we saw a fountain full of soapy suds in a fountain - probably someone's idea of a joke. We encountered the big piece of farm machinery on the way out and also on the way back. It nearly filled the road, but when we saw it in action later in a field it did not look nearly as monstrous.

Melissa nearly got tangled up in a dog on the way back. We heard a tiny rustling in the grass and the dog was nearly on her back wheel before we even saw him. Never barked, never growled: just ran at her. He did not pursue further and we hustled up a bit to get out of his range. I think that's a dog we need to watch out for.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Things Don't Turn Out The Way You Plan

The kids joined me for dinner last night and Notorious V. I. V. was disagreeably surprised to find out that ice cream would not be served until "everyone" had eaten some of their actual dinner. She's generally pretty agreeable, so I see very little tantrum action. Apparently Meatloaf has no charms compared to purple ice cream. I could agree with that, as the purple ice cream in question was just delicious. This recipe - very simple, rather low fat, and a beautiful rich shade of purple thanks to some gorgeous blackberries
we bought at a farm last month. Vivian and had lots of fun later building birthday cakes out of blocks and dancing around. The kids introduced me to Ninja Warrior: mesmerizing reality TV (no, really) and we had a good visit.

My ride at Spin Your Wheels this year was not what I had hoped. Due to high temperatures (113° on the road) and imperfect preparation on my part for what I knew would be dangerously high temperatures I sagged in with leg cramp after 52 miles. After arriving at the finish in the sag wagon I had some doubts over whether I had sagged in too soon. When I was unable to get up from sitting on the grass without pulling myself up on a tent post because of a violent and painful cramp in my thigh I was able to put that doubt aside. I have two weeks before Hotter N Hell to get ready to do better.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Redneck Water Park

The most interesting thing seen today on our ride:
this redneck water park, AKA Slide in the River! I'm pretty sure on a not day this is Big Fun!

Friday, August 06, 2010

The Queen of Cat Town

One night this week while I was out molesting and annoying the ducks at Lake Overholser I could not help but notice a cluster of those hollow plastic rocks people buy to hide utility meters and stuff in their yards. At first only one caught my eye and I thought it might be some mechanical item that maintenance crews wanted to disguise. Then I noticed there were lots of them. Then I saw a cat food bowl and all became clear. It's Cat Town.
The "rocks" all have openings near the bottom and are apparently supplying condos for homeless cats. I hope this is part of a catch, spay and release program.

The ducks are not that interested in my company, I am sorry to say. Neither are the denizens of Cat Town. That does not keep me from trying to creep up on them as a handy way to put off getting on my bicycle and peddling off into the wind in 103 degree temperatures.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Turtle Buddies

Everyone needs a little push now and then.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Would a Smarter Car Make Me Happier?

Maybe not, but this Smart Car with the happy face on the front sure made me smile today!

I had a good ride before the day heated up too much, then came home and cleaned up the bikes. What a gross mess I was by the time I got to the shower!

I got my iPhone this weekend, so I've spent several hours getting my contact list back on the phone, and synching my online presence up with my phone. Have access to Evernote, Facebook, Delicious, and my Google docs and calendar will make it pretty easy to keep track of everything once I know what I'm doing. I no longer have access to any of my personal stuff at any time at work (mainly in an attempt to keep malware and viruses off the company servers), which made it harder to keep all of the balls in the air at once.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Terror at the Charcoal Oven

Shana and I had a very busy day today, starting with a ride around Lake Hefner which was a very mixed experience. The weather was perfect, but there was apparently some kind of running event this morning which put lots of joggers on the trails. There is no separate pedestrian trail on the west side of the lake, so the presence of a lot of joggers was to be expected if not enjoyed. On the East side of the lake there is not only a separate pedestrian trail but also prominent signs on the bike path that say in large letters "PEDESTRIANS PROHIBITED". Apparently runners have wheels. It is the only possible explanation.

I tried to get close to a big flock of geese for a picture but they weren't having any of it. I have a strong desire to see what a goose neck feels like, but little hope of satisfying my curiosity. I suspect they would school me in proper behavior towards geese right away.

We did some shopping, and later got carry out hamburgers from the Charcoal Oven (an acquired taste, I think). I believe the owners of this particular restaurant to be from the Middle East, with serviceable but not perfect English. When I ordered my burger I asked for "sauce". When he repeated my order he offered to give me a burger with SOUSE. I could hardly wait to examine my dinner lest I find a big old slice of mystery meat inside the bun!