Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Butter Bell Issue, Plus Swans

The butter bell I purchased last week attracted more than its fair share of attention.  It's a pretty simple little device to allow you to keep butter at (spreadable) room temperature without exposing it to lots of bacteria from the air or letting it get rancid.  All my childhood we kept butter out at room temperature without so much as a covered butter dish without any known ill effects, but the Little Woman has a cow whenever I leave any food item out for more than a few minutes.  She worked for a while at a residential home for mentally retarded adults, and the health department training she received there augmented her already vigilant disposition to a hideous extent.  I pick my battles, and the butter bell has brought me a satisfying victory without making her scared of spreadable butter.

Bournes Pond, which is directly behind the house where I am currently staying, is a spring gathering place for swans.  Right now there are about fifty swans hanging out there.  I am told that the numbers get as high as 100.  I've never lived where so many were to be seen - in my experience a pair might be purchased as a decorative item, or a single swan or pair may have stopped at a local pond for a week or two.  One thing that has really caught my eye is that swans spend as much time upside down with their butts sticking up as ducks - quite amusing! It undermines the regal appearance I am used to expecting from swans, but in the nicest possible way.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Everybody Needs a Goal

Everyone should have a goal to work towards.  So often we work and work on projects that have no meaning for others, or that bring us actual ridicule.  This little video points this out beautifully:

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Live From Cape Cod

We started out Monday afternoon and arrived in East Falmouth Saturday afternoon tired and a little grubby, but having enjoyed a very nice road trip.  After Graceland we went on to enjoy the Lodge Factory Outlet, the Smoky Mountain Knife Works, Cabela's, and Ikea.  We wisely passed up the Coleman Outlet altogether as being altogether too tempting. What a good thing it was for us that we had no room in the car for purchases.  We just made a flying tour of the stores that interested us and mental notes of the things we might consider in future.

We have come to appreciate the quality of Lodge cast iron cookware, but I had not had the opportunity to see their enameled line - it's good looking and very well priced.  We did pick up some carrier bags, stands and cookbooks for Shana's existing collection of campfire ovens but were able to resist the other offerings.  I must confess I nearly purchased a couple of small fry pans, and may yet order them.

The Smoky Mountain Knife Works was a good stop - such beautiful pocket knives, and a full line of every kind of knife you can imagine.  I don't think I've ever seen so many knives in my life.  Shana picked up the quality paring knife she's been wanting, and I got a butter bell which will solve the ongoing disagreement over whether or not butter belongs in the fridge or on the counter.

At Cabela's I had been hoping to check out the Mountain Man hat they used to sell that looked like a coyote hanging from your head, but settled for a spicy bowl of white chicken chili. Their deli featured sausages from a variety of game animals.  In addition to the stuffed deer I had expected  to see they featured musk oxen, a bear, and several Moose.  

I was very pleased that we were staying next door to Ikea - I'd enjoyed browsing their website but had never been to one of their stores.  We got a lot of ideas for decorating the cottage we hope to have in the future, but the store has so much in every category it was overwhelming.

Our route took us up the east side of the Appalachians, through Virginia, West Virgina, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island and finally Massachusetts.  I had not been that way before, so it was a treat to see new scenery.  It was lovely, but we missed spring.  When we left Oklahoma the daffodils were just about over but here they have not bloomed yet.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

We've Been to Graceland

 We got off to a late start yesterday, and arrived outside of Little Rock after midnight.  We got a room at Howard Johnson's by going into the building through the bar - the front desk was closed for the night.  Once we got settled in our room (very nice, by the way) we washed our faces and went straight to bed.  It had been a really long day and even the simplest TV did not appeal.

After a fortifying breakfast at the Waffle House we pressed on for Memphis and Graceland.  The combination of listening to a podcast about Scooby Doo and my notoriously bad sense of direction, even with the assistance of Google Maps GPS led to our turning around a few times before we got our bearings and arrived at Graceland.

The weather was warm, so I planned to walk around with Roxy while Shana enjoyed the tour rather than leave Roxy in the car.  I'm not a fan, but Shana is, and she was really looking forward to taking the tour.

From the moment you enter the grounds you hear an uninterrupted stream of Elvis Presley music, some of it accompanied by videos of the singer strategically displayed about "The Plaza".  The ticket counters are in a large attractive building, and there are probably half a dozen stores and another half dozen Elvis themed cafes among the attractions in the area to keep fans busy before and after their tours.  There is probably no conceivable item of clothing not sold with the image or signature of The King in the shops. Shuttle buses drive across the street to the mansion at frequent intervals, and the Faithful take self guided tours with special headphones.

I was disappointed that I was not allowed to walk onto the house grounds where there are garden to enjoy.  The Plaza area had no landscaping at all except for a (very) few of the most care-free and minimal shrubs and ground covers.  There really isn't anything to see or do if you don't buy a tour (starting at about $30.00).  You still have to pay for parking even if you don't take a tour.  Shana was very satisfied with her tour.  She saw what she wanted to see, and because of the self guided aspect she was able to linger a little longer over her favorite parts.  She purchased a few official items at the shops and was pleased with her day.

She was even more pleased after we checked into our hotel.  The lobby is all Elvis, the pool is guitar shaped, every time you step outside you are serenaded with Elvis music, and the pool is guitar shaped.  We have Elvis overlooking our bed (really nice room)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Farewell to the Plains

In addition to thinning out and packing all of our belongings and settling all sorts of issues that need to be taken care of when you're moving and changing jobs we've been trying to see our friends and family this week.  It seems there are not enough hours in the day to get  everything done and spend as much time as we've wanted to with everyone.

It's been fun, in a condensed and crazy sort of way.  We've had house guests, and every sort of meal possible. We've even got someone coming by tomorrow morning before the truck comes to give us a travel "care package".  We're hoping to add some of the cafes and barbecue joints featured on the Food Channel to our road trip.  By the time we arrive at our destination we may not want another restaurant meal  or treat for six months.

I'm hoping we have enough available WiFi on our trip to get a post up with some pictures most days, but if I don't I will get my pictures up as soon as we get settled on the Cape.  I expect the trip to be very scenic and enjoyable, so we are planning to take our time.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Get Your Kicks on Route 66

One of the fun things about Oklahoma City is that old Route 66 runs through town.  There are few attractions which don't mention their connection to the Mother Road.  One of the first places where I ever ate in Oklahoma City was Anne's Chicken Fry.  At the time it was just a little dive with no decor to speak of, but the short menu (family style chicken fry steak, mashed potatoes, salad, and your choice of corn or beans) was excellent.  These days the menu is larger but no more delicious, and the decor is adorable vintage.  A must visit place on Route 66.  For local patrons, it i just west of 36th and Portland on the south side of the street.  It's easy to find because it was a beautiful old pink Cadillac out front.

Shana and I stopped there for dinner today, as part of our tour of restaurants we will miss once we leave Oklahoma.  

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I've given up pointing out to people that "Paddy" is an insulting and racist word to an Irish person.  Instead I will just thank the beautiful green island of Ireland for my round Irish face, my stock-in-trade of words and the love of reading, and a lifelong love of Celtic music. I will also point out that it was the Irish and their love of learning (held in trust by the much maligned Catholic church) who kept civilization ready to be restored after the fall of the Roman Empire gave way to the conquests of the Huns and Germanic tribes who ushered in the Dark Ages. You can read about it here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bumpy Road

Poor little Vivian fell out of the car the other day and cracked her little collarbone.  Of course it does not compare with the trauma in Japan, but since she's our precious little girl it's very sad indeed.

I'm watching the nuclear story in Japan with fascination and dread, knowing that like all things having to do with nuclear power plants we are not being told the truth and that the full truth will not be known for many years because of the time it takes for some injuries to manifest.  I've been undecided about nuclear power plants.  I can see the value, but questions of design and safety are not openly addressed.  Like so many things, questions of profitability make obfuscation the default.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

March Madness in My Garage

We hit the ground running this morning for our big garage sale.  To keep the early birds away we worked all day Friday with the garage door closed.  Bright and early this morning we opened the doors and the ravening hordes arrived in force.

The first picture is a representative sample - about a third of our beginning inventory less a few additional pieces we brought out of the house after we started.  The second picture is what we had left afterwards - just fills the back section of my Escape with all the seats up. We had the benefit of a few other sales in the neighborhood and perfect weather.  Sales were brisk, we made plenty of money, and lots of things are out of the way.  When Alex comes next week to take the things he wanted we will be sitting around on lawn chairs!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Moving Decor

With the garage sale looming and our helper coming in the next couple of days to sort and price we just couldn't wait any longer to move out the furniture we planned to sell.

This means that my Man Cave furnishings now consist of a few boxes and this attractive office setup.  Seating is strictly floor level.  This does make it easier to cut down on the online games!

The front room is totally full of boxes since it's my main staging area for packed goods.  The den was in pretty civilized condition until this morning.  I was trying to keep it in original condition as long as possible so Shana could have a calm space but today we had to change our arrangements for an entertainment center.  Very High Tech Minimal, I thought.

I had Suitcase Rehearsal this morning to see what might actually fit in the car and we each know how many items we can each bring.  Shana's not sure that she needs to have a tote bag, and I don't know how I will choose only one.  Typical.  I had a temporary freak out moment when I could not find either of my cameras.  I finally found one, and since it is the one I want for the drive to Massachusetts I'm less worried about the other,  I think it's in my giant tote bag with my batteries, tarot cards, and other assorted urgently needed junk.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Zoo Borns

If it's still winter where you are and there is nothing to look at and you are just plain getting depressed seeing nothing but gray and more gray go to Zoo Borns and see all the baby animals.  Guaranteed to cheer you up instantly if you are not actually already too far gone.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

A Family Farewell to Inace

This weekend we had a family memorial service for Inace instead of a more public service. It was held at the home of one of her brothers; her surviving siblings and many of her nieces and nephews were in attendance.  The flower arrangements Nancy arranged for were beautiful and appropriate but not overwhelming - just the right touch. The officiant had presided over other family occasions and was familiar to everyone, and two of her sisters spoke about their shared experiences.  The service was simple and informal, and I think it was a great comfort to everyone.

Due to a technical problem we were not able to include a video collection of old photos in the actual service, but James stepped in to solve the problem and we were able to watch it later.  I think that was actually better because by the time we saw the video everyone had been visiting and relaxing and the video closed the evening with shared memories and laughter while viewing pictures many of us had not seen for a long time.

The evening was a comforting affirmation of family and the kind of celebration of life that is often wished for but sometimes difficult to achieve.

As usual I took a lot of pictures for people to enjoy later.  Some people were happier about this than others.  The Unknown Cousin was one of those less pleased with my efforts!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Roxy Strikes Again

Roxy Strikes Again, originally uploaded by cinderellenk.

My house is currently in a state of uproar, which makes Roxy uneasy and given to bad behavior (I know, unbelievable). For several week I've had a small stack of handwritten recipes sitting in easy dog reach on a box in the corner of my "man cave" which I intended to put into that box. Yesterday I moved the box into the staging area where sealed boxes are collected and moved the recipes into the empty bookcase where I am putting odd things which need to be considered or packed. Then I went out for dinner. This is the result. I'd kill her, but then she'd just haunt me.