Wednesday, October 31

Ghosts from Days Gone By

I finished decorating for Halloween.

This ghost was always a favorite. We'd hang him from the fan in the living room
and the girls just loved it when he'd spin around and around.

I have all sorts of costumes and wigs in my big Halloween box.
My little friend from down the road is modeling the ears I had tucked away.

I was sad to learn the Coneheads had deteriorated.

The witch here is my absolute favorite.
Look what a lovely shade of green! And how about that nose??
The pumpkin has to be at least 20 years old and was made by my baby girl, now 21!

And what is Halloween without a ghost story? Check this out:

This is a car ad from great Britain. When they finished filming, the editor noticed something moving alongside the car. Locals informed them that someone had actually been killed in the exact same spot the previous year.
The ad was never made public because of the unexplained ghostly phenomenon.
Watch the front end of the car as it clears the trees and you'll see the white mist crossing in front of the car.

Tuesday, October 30

Are you sucked in?

I saw Lauren Hutton on the Today Show this morning. She's holding up incredibly well. She did a brief interview with Al Roker and it was mentioned she would be among the cast for Nip/Tuck this season. She admitted that prior to being offered the part, she had no knowledge of the show because she hasn't owned a TV since 1972 (might have been '62--I'm not sure.)
I identified with her reasons for not having a set. She said if the TV was on, it just sucked her in and she got nothing done.

I've probably seen more than my share of the Weather Channel. It's background noise, more than anything. JB watches the first part of Today Show for the local weather segment--then the TV switches to XM Cafe at 10 a.m. via autotune.

We all know there's not diddley squat on TV anymore. So why do we get "sucked in?"

The only things I make a point of watching is Weeds and The Riches. Weeds runs August till November on Showtime, and The Riches runs March till May, I think, on FX.
Both shows have such totally wacked out storylines, I have to watch them just to see what happens next.

Monday, October 29


My day yesterday was so emotionally busy, that by the end I was exhausted. Because I respect the privacy of my family, I won't go into detail.

Right now, I'm just like this spider. I know what I need to do, but unsure of which direction to take.

Saturday, October 27

Ladies' Fingers

This recipe makes about 48, so hand 'em out to trick or treaters or just make them to gross out friends and family. I can attest that these finger pretzels make small children shiver.
Here's the recipe:

24 blanched almonds, halved lengthwise.
Red food coloring (or green or none!)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
6 1/2 to 6 cups flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons baking soda
1 large egg
sea salt
rosemary (to make hair on the knuckles)
vegetable oil cooking spray

Place small amount of food coloring in a shallow bowl, and using small brush, paint the rounded side of each split almond. Set asside to dry.

Pour 2 cups warm water into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough-hook attachment. Add Sugar and stir to dissolve. Sprinkle with yeast and let stand until it begins to form bubbles on the top, about 5 minutes.

Beat 1 cup flour into yeast on low speed until combined. Beat in salt; add 3 1/2 cups flour until combined. Beat until dough pulls away from bowl, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low; add 1/2 cup flour. Knead 1 minute more. Transfer to lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth.
Coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Heat oven to 450, Heat 3 quarts to boiling in a 6-quart straight-sided saucepan over high heat, reduce to simmer. Add baking soda.

Lightly coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray.

Divide dough into quarters. Work with one quarter at a time, covering remaining dough with plastic wrap. Divide the first quarter into 12 pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, roll each piece back and forth with your palm into a long finger shape, about 3 to 4 inches. Pinch dough in two places to form knuckles.

When all twelve fingers are formed, transfer to simmering water. Poach for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fingers to baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough blanching each set of 12 fingers before making more.

Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush fingers with egg wash. Using a sharp knife, lightly score each knuckle about three times. Sprinkle with salt and rosemary. Position almond nails and push gently into dough to attach.

Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on wire rack.
Best eaten the same day; or store, covered, up to 2 days at room temperature.

Friday, October 26

Painted Nails

It's the fingernails for my Ladyfingers.

I'll share the entire ghostly recipe in a bit. I've still got the fingers to complete.
And yes, they're edible.

Thursday, October 25

The Great Masquerade

Blue enjoyed his convict costume back in 2003,
but I think he's a bit too pudgy to fit into it nowadays.
Since I haven't brought the decorations down, I don't know what we have to fit him this year.

That same year Haji donned this bee costume. That was before he developed PTDD (Post Traumatic Dog Disorder) and took up residence on the back deck. I don't think he'll be dressing up for Halloween this year. He thinks he's a big dog and big dogs just don't do that type of thing. It would probably hurt their credibility or something.

Wednesday, October 24

The Sky is Leaking

This is a weather indicator in my neck of the woods.

When it storms, everything wants inside.

Except me... I stepped out the deck and enjoyed the rain.

Tuesday, October 23

Shifting Gears

Meet Bug-Out Bob. He is in a tight spot.

He was designed as a stress toy.
Squeeze him.
His eyes and ear protrude severely, in an attempt to release your steam.
Doing this, I'm told, helps to eliminate day-to-day stress.

Well... right now, he's eliminating stress by standing in for holiday decorations.
He realizes this wasn't in his original job description, but he's learning to adapt.

His flexibility has probably helped him cope with this reassignment.

My bathrobe is just moonlighting as a holiday decoration,
but has not actually changed jobs. It's primary role is still the same,
but it's area of residence has just changed temporarily.

Polar fleece does tend to be more accommodating.

Monday, October 22

Tree As A Bird

Looking at trees is like cloud-watching.
If you look, you can see all kinds of things.

This is my "butt tree." I don't know what species it is
but, from the first time I saw it I had visions
of creating a nice sitting area and using it as a bench.

Do you see the log that looks like a lizard standing up on two legs
in the lower left-hand corner?

Momo found the alligator in this one. Do you see it?

And this path?
Why, it can lead you anywhere your imagination will take you.

Sunday, October 21

Coping With Hiccups

I thought I was doing really well yesterday, until the power went out. When you live in the boonies, this is to be expected. It doesn't matter how enormous your utility bill is each month, or the fact that you pay this enormous bill each month--you'll still have "hiccups" in the power. Yesterday, the "hiccup" lasted about 4 hours.

I was right in the middle of a whole bunch of HTML code for my internet class, and off went everything. I was safe though... because I code , I save and I preview a lot.

I drove to the end of the road (3.5 miles) peering into houses all the way, to see if anyone else had power. The chickie at the little store that we frequent, said their power had "winked." When I got back home, we still had no power.

Then I realized God must have wanted us to spend some time outside.

I checked to see what Jake had added to the bone collection.
The dogs have a nasty habit of dragging all kinds of things home.
I find leg bones and skulls and parts I can't even identify. (This is why I dread hunting season--aside from the fact I don't condone the killing.)

Then, I re potted 8 plants. I'm trying to prepare things so
I can get all my succulents in the house for winter.

JB bought me this flower pot a couple of years ago
because he thinks the feet look like my feet.
Let me clarify one thing right away: my feet are not green.

I got JB to move the big hibiscus to the kitchen porch
so we could enjoy it a bit longer. It's a monster, isn't it?

No power made me realize just how dependent we are on electricity. I couldn't sew. I couldn't vacuum (darn!), couldn't cook, couldn't wash clothes, couldn't run the AC or the ceiling fans...
But I did notice how bad the ceiling fan in the kitchen was in need of cleaning and took care of it right away.

And when the power did come back on, I immediately vacuumed up a dog or two-- and then made this wonderful vegan pizza.

Saturday, October 20

Fighting the Good Fight

I've become a bit fanatical.

After learning more about what goes on inside your body, I'm doing my best to help out the good guys in my cells. I am just amazed at all the stuff that is going on in there all the time. You know with the enzymes and the organelles... the cleansing and detoxifying.

JB knows. Everytime I come to him excited about some new concept, he rolls him eyes and endures my mini lecture. We are both learning so much--about biology and each other.

Right now, I should be building a web page for my Internet class. That's why I signed up for the class. I needed to be forced to learn HTML and quit "winging it." There's nothing that difficult about HTML. It's just tedious...

So is making apple butter.

And this year JB thinks we should do 2 kettles.

Last year efforts produced 109 quarts and now he thinks we should do TWO kettles.
I've decided to pull a Scarlet O'Hara thing and just not think about that right now.

The coffee's done, so I better start that homework. But first I have to share a wonderful dip I did last night for our Friday Get-together.

1 can crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup diced green pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 tsp Lemon Pepper
1 tsp Lawry's Seasoned Salt
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup diced walnuts

Mix well. (ha!) I threw it all into my food processor and "pulsed" until mixed.
I served with Ritz Vegetable Crackers and the Honey Butter Ritz. Delish!

I made meatloaf subs, too.

Friday, October 19

What Have We Learned?

After hours of studying and reviewing nice little index cards with all the required vocabulary and concepts, I feel as if my head could explode.

Just Too Much Information.

You see that deer's expression? He's looking at me like that because I talk to him... all of them. Not like I'd talk to you or JB, but more like I talk to my dog, Blue.

I can say anything to them and they just listen attentively. I review biology concepts with them all the time--me on the back deck while they're scrounging under the Persimmon tree.

Sometimes, I'll just share my "to do" list or my "done" list.

Most everything takes on a different perspective once it verbalized, don't you think?

They just look at me like I have three heads...

Thursday, October 18

In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, Baby

Our review for Friday's Biology test began with a quick wave of the test--as if we could really see anything but a blur with that quick pass.

Dr. Biology looked me square in the eye, and announced that he had doubled-spaced the matching section for the visually impaired people in the class.
I matched his gaze and said, with a smile, "Thank you very much."

I had suggested this. It's true. When there are 50 or so single-spaced fill in the blank questions, they have a tendency to run together. Funny thing--after I mentioned this, others in the class admitted to having the same difficulty.

Dr. Biology is an accommodating and accessible instructor. He listens, but he wants us to listen, in kind.

I ask questions and try just about every technique known to mankind to remember these foreign concepts and words I can hardly pronounce. Apparently, this problem is widespread.

We get a weekly sermon on how to study, how important it is to learn the concepts and not just memorize the notes, and to please not put some BS answer in the blank if we do not know the answer. He always says it makes him mad if you guess and put some crap in the blank. I think it disgusts him, more than it angers him.

That's when he confessed he had put Inagaddadavida in the word bank on one of his tests and there were quite a few students who had chosen it as an answer.

I laughed out loud.

The traditional students had blank expressions. They didn't have a clue.

Dr. Biology went on the explain that Inagaddadavida was a song by Iron Butterfly. And I think that statement just confused them more.

He threw up his hands and said never mind. Class was over.

As I was gathering my books, the non-traditional student next to me confessed, "I've never heard of that. Who's Iron Butterfly? What was the name of that song?"

Dr. Biology offered up his final comment: "Inagaddadavida by Iron Butterfly. It's drug music from the 70's. When my brother came back from Vietnam, he brought me the album."

I hope his brother brought him lots of albums.

Morning Sun

Wednesday, October 17

Dragging My Halloween Feet

My Jenifer could be the poster child for Halloween in this picture.

I remember this was her "first" and she thoroughly embraced the idea of people giving her candy.

She was eating the candy almost as fast as it was being dropped into her little pumpkin bucket.

Did you notice the sucker stuck to her thigh?

Some years later... Jessica and Jenifer ready for their evening of trick or treating.
Jessica was a "devil woman" and Jeni, a rabbit.

I still have Jessica's cape in my box of Halloween goodies. Probably, because it was such a bear to sew that slippery stuff! But it turned out beautifully.
The inside was black satin, so the following year she used it again when she was a witch.

Jeni's rabbit costume doubled as cold weather sleepwear--minus the hat, gloves, booties and over sized bow, of course.
She grew very fond of this outfit, (it was made of robe velor) that we changed it us just slightly and the next year she was a cat.

I made the bags from one of those panels you get at the fabric store.

I've had "get out halloween decorations" on my list for well over a week now. It's doesn't have the sense of urgency that it once did with children at home. When the girls were little, decorations had to be put out on the 1st!!

But I'll get there.

Tuesday, October 16

Remember Your Manners

Did you ever see the movie Blast From The Past with Brandon Frazier?
There's one scene in particular that stands out for me. It's when the true definition of "lady" or "gentleman" is presented as "A lady or gentleman is one who makes sure those around him (or her) or completely comfortable."

There's one scene is Gone With The Wind, when Clark Gable's credibility is questioned. He is asked if he might give his word "as a gentleman." Being the scoundrel he was, he smiled mischievously and acknowledged, "(My word) As a gentleman? Absolutely!"

I checked out Webster's online today to see what the modern day definition of lady and gentleman might be:

LADY: a woman of refinement and gentle manners
GENTLEMAN: a man whose conduct conforms to a high standard of propriety or correct behavior

Not necessarily the prudish implication we may have expected... or the one that society today has implied.

Nonetheless, one fact remains: good manners never go out of style. I can't ever remember going anywhere without Momo telling me "Remember your manners" as I was going out the door. I have done this very same thing to my daughters as well.

All you parents out there who are begrudging the fact the toddlers are repeating your words... there is nothing more welcome than a child with good manners.

I always make a point to tell the children of friends or family the secret way to get anything in the world they want. Of course, they're wide-eyed when I mention this. I pull them aside and whisper "manners" in their ear. They always want to know more.

What begins with "please" and "thank you" can easily become a lifestyle of courtesy and consideration for one another. And just imagine what kind of world we would live in if we all had consideration for one another...

Monday, October 15

If You Feed Them, They Will Come

This time of year, unexpected visitors seem to happen more frequently and they need to be fed. I thought I'd share some of my "impromptu entertaining" with you. (Maybe you'll share yours with me, too?)

I had planned on studying Saturday afternoon and hadn't really got into planning dinner (or even thinking of it) when our guests arrived at about noon.

So I immediately thought of this Black Bean Dip I make that is really quite tasty and could work well in a pinch.

Just cook about a pound of black beans until soft. Then mash the beans with a potato masher or fork until they resemble more of a paste. Add a can of Rotel, a can of tomato sauce, a can of green chilies and mix in some monterey jack and cheddar. Add your own hot sauce to season. Serve warm with tortilla chips.

I photographed it several times,
and each time it looked more like dirt
(good dirt, though--look at the color).

Well, time passed.

After the dip wore off,
JB's friend's fiancee was kind enough to help by
slicing up some sharp cheddar and summer sausage.

More time passed.

When the summer sausage and cheese wore off,
I scrounged around in the freezer and found some
Taco Stuffed Pasta Shells. I put them in the oven for dinner.

When dinner wore off, I whipped up some
Hershey Cocoa brownies with walnuts and threw them in the oven.

We ate them still warm from the oven 30 minutes later.
This is all that's left...

...and I'm thinking seriously about having it for breakfast.

Saturday, October 13

The Next Generation

Here's a picture to satisfy the mental one of the 38 concrete steps to class I've whined about. Try this with a load of books and a bladder full of coffee...

I have taken the time to scope out the restrooms that do not have lines and will go out of my way for an easy in-and-out experience.
Choose the path of least resistance, that's what my oldest has always suggested. I think she's pretty wise to figure that one out at 23!

And we all know that the lessons learned during our early 20s really lay the foundation for those later years. And because I know this, it is increasingly hard for me to hold my tongue and control my maternal instincts when I interact with fellow students. For the most part, they are all about the age of my children.

There's a young fellow in my biology class that reminds me of my Jeni's boyfriend of 5 or more years. This guy has long beautiful eyelashes and I've decided he's very intelligent based on his class participation. His hair sticks up in various places on his head, but I think he planned it that way. I wonder if he's an engineering student like my Jeni's Daniel.

I approached him the other day in Lab and asked him if he was an engineering student. He said no, he was no where close to being that comfortable with calculus and trig. The CAD programs drive him crazy too.

He said he is a film student.

With that statement, he caught the attention of my lab partner who is studying to be a pharmacist, but may sell out and be a drug rep because they make so much more money than pharmacists. She has the complexion and all the presumed innocence of an Ivory Soap girl.

So I chat a bit with the film student. Where he plans on transferring, what type of films he'd like to produce...

He says he'd really like to do documentaries.

"Documentaries!," Miss Sell-Out Pharmacist is shocked.

And under her breath, barely audible, she mutters "That's what I'll be watching when the calculator in my head ceases to function."

Friday, October 12

Evolution Over Perfection

The Marriage or Lovers Card in Tarot is a hypothetical crossroad, indicating an opportunity for growth through your choice of relationships.

All through our upbringing, we have been saturated with "happily-ever-after" and other such images which neglect to illustrate the trials and tribulations--the rough spots-- of marriage.

It's no wonder half of marriages end in divorce! Something must definitely be wrong if things just don't fall into place, right?

It used to be a marriage was for life. People married young, grew together and toughed it out. I always enjoy stories from those who have been married a hundred years.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I realize now my first marriage was just a youthful mistake. The second lacked the communication necessary to make it lasting. This time around, I have my eyes wide open.

We communicate honestly--even when it hurts! It takes a bit more thought to put your ideas out there... tactfully and diplomatically.

That's because I truly believe your partner is meant to challenge you emotionally. The challenge is to see whether the two of you can grow--not only grow closer, but to grow as individuals. The point of any relationship is to bring out the best in both. Not one or the other--BOTH.

I find it interesting too, that we are quick to go into great detail about the kids, but husbands and partners are alway presented in this perfect Prince Charming persona. Why is that? Are we still living the fairy tale mentally?

I do have a theory. If you talk good about your husband, or if you talk bad about your husband--either way, he'll prove you wrong.

Thursday, October 11

Things Are Getting A Bit Hairy

The years after age 40 are full of surprises. Your body goes into it's own midlife crisis and decides all that was taken for granted and viewed as "a given,"--is no more. But we adjust. We learn to adapt and work through these minor inconveniences.

One such inconvenience is the gray hair that appears like an uninvited guest that has had a bit too much to drink. It's bold. It's wild--and it's hell-bent on doing its own thing.

I've tried the temporary color, I've tried the frosting, and I've tried to just ignore it altogether.

I think Dolly Parton had the best idea in Steel Magnolias which she indicated it just wasn't normal to do your own hair. Some things are just better left to the experts.

So, with that thought, I have officially relinquished the gray hair to the experts and I am on the 6 week schedule for a cut and color.

Now if we could just figure out the best fix for those "stray eyebrows" that find their way to my chin and upper lip. (Since I got off the HRTs, there ARE fewer.)

I've been using microwaveable wax for some time. It's quick. It does a damn good job and lasts up to 8 weeks. And, if I take the time to remember the Lamaze breathing I learned a hundred years ago, it's over in a snap. Any fresh ideas out there?

Seems a bit ironic that we women spend the bulk of our time trying to remove hair, and men-- at this age--spend a great deal of time trying to keep or regrow it.

Wednesday, October 10

Telling It Like It Is

Who says career opportunities are limited after midlife?
More on the Fruitcake Lady here.
And here.

Tuesday, October 9

Spiders and Fall Leaves

After seeing this, I may just have to do some
rummaging around to see what I can add to the mix.

Sunday, October 7

That's What Friends Are For

My little friend down the road had a birthday surprise for me last evening.

Did you notice the woman on the cake is fanning herself with one hand
and mopping her brow with other?

It's nice to be understood...

...and appreciated.

Saturday, October 6

Herbal is Best

My head is spinning. Just too much new information swarming around with old information and bumping into one another inside my head. I'm learning... and thinking. I learning to think about what I have recently learned versus what I knew already. I replacing some old stuff with some new stuff and I'm being forced into re-evaluating some old thought processes.

Last week's marathon study sessions for my upcoming biology test nearly put me over the edge. The house was not quiet enough so I packed up and went to the local library for about 4 hours.

JB sat me down earlier this week in an effort to help me put things into perspective. He suggested I find a reason. He also pointed out that if I did not find a reason, all those facts would just be random facts destined to swirl in my head for all eternity. Okay, he didn't say that exactly, but something like that.

He's right. I need to have a genuine interest at some level to make all these (biology) ideas mesh.

So I went to The Well and look what I found:

This stuff is marvelous.

I want to buy it by the case, so I never run out!

I want to share it with my friends and family.

And that's why I am sharing it with you!

Thursday, October 4

At The Top Of The Hill

I'm 49 today and I'm okay with that. Last year helped prep me, I think.

I went looking for a few photos of my birthdays, but came up short. That's probably due to the fact, I'm usually the photographer. So instead, I'm sharing birthdays of days gone by for those close to me.

This is obviously Miss Jessica's birthday. All you Mom's out there with more than one child are familiar with this scenario.

I'm glad the candles reflect my age in this photo or there would be no way I could possibly remember.

This was a hundred years ago, at least. The little girl on the far left is my oldest sister and I'm guessing this is her birthday. I'm directly on her right.

A wonderful ice cream cake for Miss Jenifer, in the highchair.

The nurse, shortly before she became a Mom. Notice the baby book on the right? Her twins are now 18 years old!

I'm taking a cue from this birthday photo of Miss Jenifer.
I've decided to be happy with my age.