Monday, March 31, 2008

I'm not quite sure where to start

Perhaps at the beginning of a crazy weekend?
Friday morning at 8:30 I actually PARKED the car near the building I wanted to enter. You must understand dear one, that despite their wanton paving over of endangered cork pine trees and random "reserved" spots--there is seldom a convenient parking spot. EMU realized they were going to have "guests" and thus issued special permission to park near the building one had business in. All the guests were there to support their favorite undergrad in the Undergraduate Research Symposium. I was specifically sponsoring Abby Ventrone (whose presentation ROCKED our session!!) but was also happy to be there to see my students Liz C. and Steven and Andy and Stephanie. To provide pertinent questions at the end of their presentation and smile encouragingly from the audience. To pat them and tell them they are brilliant, which they are! Then we got lunch, but only after the Vice President (please note we still don't have a REAL president) tortured the entire symposium with some bizarre math joke that bordered on algebra and numerology. Few people laughed, in fact most of us in the ginormous ballroom were just trying to sneak the frosting off the delicious smelling (and tasting it turned out) cake they sadistically placed on the tables before we even entered the room. I must talk about the cake before we move on--abfab...mmmm...
The fragrant treat was the perfect springy white cake, creamy moist and layered with raspberry & white chocolate filling. It was the best part of a menu that included an "interesting" chicken and cold noodle concoction. Sort of a japanese spinach salad with Mandarin oranges and dry chicken breasts. Pretty good for free but I don't think I am going to duplicate the recipe ya know?? That cake however was pretty damn tasty. SO THEN

because I couldn't be in Minnesota with the Koffee Klatch who were preoccupied with a girls only sleepover--I went to see Leon Russell with Petey & Chris & Gretch. *cough* Um.. yeah.

The Magic Bag in Fabulous Ferndale?? --enh-- not so fabulous; they apparently had a massive staffing change over and nobody quite knew which end was up--they even lost the drummer. Gretchen loves the blues tho and we tried desperately to ignore the fact that we could be watching the Sparty's round ball game instead of checking Pete's phone for score updates. Finally, after what seemed an interminable amount of time; the horrific "award winning" warm up band shut the fuck up and that was when everyone realized Leon had lost his drummer. Soon enough we gave up *trying* to have fun and we hustled to a real bar with a big screen TV and entertainingly enough a large heard of drunk MSU grads--many of whom seemed to be alumni of the same sorority. Sadly tho--the Sparty boys couldn't do it and my board is now caput. GO! Davidson!!


...on Saturday we decided to go check out the performance on EMU's campus. Brecht on Brecht. My beloved Prof. M was responsible for the costumes-- which like the cake-- were effing fantastic!!tap here for one review we took Z & Hanny and they were pretty much entranced. We all got a little restless during the somber second act (I use that term VERY loosely) and I had to poke Z in the shoulder a couple of times but the first & third bits were so raucously magnetic that later Zoli actually asked if I had a copy of that play. His dad was thrilled as ole Philosophy Nerd was in heaven that anybody even CHOSE to put on Brecht let alone that it was a fantastic production. Sigh--I like the philosophy major a lot more than the overworked doctor. Although I did start calling him Herr Doktor--I think he is amused??

FINALLY if the weekend starts on Friday it must end on Monday right??

A bottle of meade exploded last night. We had heard the loud kathump of the cork forcing the bottle aganist the wall but attributed it to the cat's new found bravery and her exploratory adventure and decided we would continue with our own activities up stairs *wink wink nudge nudge*.

Well the doggies were not so complacent as we and they did a fairly decent job of cleaning up the explosion of sticky honey wine now sprayed all over the kitchen. Can you just see them happily licking up the sweet mess? Which in turn gave them the runs. Apparently fermented honey and doggie digestive tracts do not mix. Man am I glad Pete gets up first! He and Z got all the poops taken care of--but the remaining tacky residue had Isabel's nightgown clinging to the dishwasher and our feet making odd peel off noises. If you can imagine stoopid dawg all red eyed and hungover--quite the noble breed...The Jack Russell Drunken Terrier. She just seems rather sleepy. Jarvis must have been pacing because he is fine.

Mixing one's wines may be a mistake, but old and new wisdom mix admirably.
Bertolt Brecht

Thursday, March 27, 2008

road kill and litter

A raven got nailed by a car. It's corpse has lain in the road for almost three days now. The iridescent feathers fluttering in the wake of rush hour. It makes me sad. I want to stop and move the body--and then I am struck by a rather unwholesome desire to pluck the beautiful feathers out and use them to adorn the Steampunk top hat I do not yet own. Eww...I am not sure how to clean ravenburger from feather tips. Can you sanitize them? where? In the microwave? What reaction would oxyclean have?

and then the raccoon-- There is a big fat roadkill raccoon about 1/4 mile from the house. He is nestled between the yellow lines and is still relatively plump, seemingly undamaged by his recent death. He looks like he is just taking a nap in the middle of the road. He makes me think of Pom Poko.

Have you seen Pom Poko? The lovely anime by director Isao Takahata? He is quite consistent with Japanese folklore. The unsquished raccoons are portrayed as a highly sociable and very mischievous band of personified charming (if enormously ball sack-ed) characters. They are however, a little too fun-loving and way too fond of people food to be a real threat--you see dear one, the raccoons shapeshift to manipulate & trick the stooopid humans who are trashing their environment.

and speaking of environments--
The snow melts away (and insists upon coming back two days later) to reveal the slobbery piggishness of my fellow humans. Took the puppies in new direction yesterday--we walked towards Textile Rd. They were happy because that is the way Pete runs with them so they thought we were gonna go fast...heh--not so much. As we strode along confidently I couldn't help but notice the filthy litter. It seems that the residents of the cookie cutter houses are only tidy in their own front lawns. I might be sensitive because I continue to pull years of garbage out of the woods, but really is it that difficult to keep your empty beverage container in the car till you get to a recycling bin?? Honestly some people are so arrogant and clueless. What is particularly annoying that many of the bottles are returnable--so these schmucks are actually throwing dimes out the window too... oi.

Monday, March 24, 2008

a geek attitude

STOP! Don't say it! I KNOW!
*rolling eyes at the nit picky ones*

In canon Ravenclaw's colors are clearly blue and BRONZE--the BRONZE eagle of Ravenclaw. Tell that to the WB. *despondant sigh* Am I conforming?.. wouldn't a true geek wear blue & BRONZE? The film vs book interp is a dilemma to be sure--what to do? what to do? I am perplexedgold or silver??

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Two years later I have finally finished my Ravenclaw scarf! I was disgusted with the commercial uniformity and manmade fiber that Warner Bros keeps trying to sell me and besides half the stores only carry Gryffindor & Slytherin colors.It is crocheted on a #3 w/ baby alpaca (3 skeins blue 1 gray) from Threadbear in Lansing. It is so soft. The navy matches my coat perfectly.
and it even works!! I finished the fringe during the first half of Chelsea/Arsenal game and stepped outside for a quick test drive during the break to click this fashion glam shot--thank god nobody scored while I was outside! And ManU kicked some Liverpudlian booty 3-zip.
I like soccer Sundays

Anne Lamott and getting adopted

I am a fan of Anne Lamott. For the longest time whenever I had the opportunity to get a baby shower giftee I would get the new parent (s) a copy of LaMott's old book "Operating Instructions". It is tearfully hilarious. But then Lamott kinda got all born again and preachy..and I just didn't want to buy her books anymore. In the NYT Book Review I saw she has new one out--Grace Eventually I wonder what chameleonic phase she is in now? Maybe I'll request it from da liberry.

So Thursday I learned a new recipe at Chateau McClane. Hammentaschen which means Hammen's hat. But actually look more like pastry replicas of VA Jay-Jays. Or as Carol's beautiful friend calls them "Vashti's Yonni". These little cookies are precariously close to our beloved kifli and just as tasty. So, I learned all about Purim and Esther and again was drunkenly drawn to Judaism. But alas I just can't embrace the whole higher being thing, plus I love bacon and I am pretty sure the boys wouldn't be hip to the whole circumcision concept this late in the game. We will settle for being adopted by Clan Ullman.

I found a book that tried to convince me that if I believed in "the great story" of good winning over evil that is presented in the HP books that maybe I should renounce my pagan tree hugging ways and go back to the Lutheran Sunday school in which I was sort of haphazardly (in a go to church twice a year secular sort of way) brought up. I like John Granger and his well written book LFG in Harry Potter. He is rational and thoughtful. He is well spoken and brilliantly educated in the appropriate fields. I have cited his work in my Children's Lit class and look forward to his new publication. But like LaMott, Granger just tries too hard to convince me that there is a higher meaning; an intelligent design behind the factual science.

I am a skeptic, a cynic... I need hard proof--there was a story on NPR about robots reporting ocean temperatures and thus indicating that global warming predictions may not be as dire as previously thought. My first response was... "The robots are broken." The visual evidence I have--trees budding in January. Canadian geese not migrating. Robins coming home way early--hell just the amount of snowfall compared to 30 years ago--prove to me that our climate is changing and I blame McDonalds and their beef/methane farms in South America. I can not believe it is "God's Will" that low pressure fronts sweep off of Lake Michigan! George Carlin comes to mind; in his recent HBO special he rants about dead people "smiling down Us"--Carlin points out that if that is all there is to do is smile back at the living maybe heaven isn't such a a desirable place. Dust. from Dust to Dust.

Phillip Pullman's Dust or Butt Dust*--dust is dust. To get back to HP--In Deathly Hallows the Trio goes back to Grimmauld Place to hide; and when they first enter the front hall they are met with a horrific vision. Dumbledore's shadow--his dust shell which crumbles at the merest touch. I think JKR has this scene to illustrate DD's desire to communicate to Harry that he is in fact dead. No life force--no more help from the kindly mentor. Yer on yer own kid.

have you heard the But Dust joke??

Saturday, March 22, 2008



" I don't hate Han people - but the government keeps using violence to suppress us, and that won't solve any problems between the Tibetans and the Han"
a Tibetan monk quoted on the BBC

Friday, March 21, 2008

there is a difference

There is a difference, between Consignment Shoppes, Thrift Stores, and Rummage Sales. I would like to say that my experience with these alternative shopping venues comes solely from a desire to "be green". To "reduce reuse and recycle"--but ya know what? My shopping instinct insists that everything be the same price it was in the late '70's. Remember? A Hershey bar w/almonds was .25? Gas was like .72 a gallon? But sadly, my freaky darlings. I am just a cheap weirdo. I don't like seeing other people wearing the same clothes I have on so I try to find uniq...--hmmm..ya know what? I used to put ALOT more effort into what I wear. Honestly, now that I am old and fat; if a garment fits and is comfortable-- I am good. It doesn't even have to match the other garments I am wearing. BUT! back when I was stylish and had the energy to show my creative side (and five sizes smaller) I became quite fond of vintage clothing. My mission started in Old Towne in Saginaw where I used to hang out. I spent those skinny summers in actual Victorian underwear. The linen, cotton and muslin underthings were quite the summery statement when paired with converse high tops or motorcycle boots. Very Cyndi Lauper Like a VIrgin--yep that was me. Suddenly I was preggers and my little size 2 jeans didn't fit anymore. So no more "Cinderella's Attic" (Sarnia ONT) or Elizagoth (Stratford) for me.

The antique shops and thrift stores became more a place to find a cast iron frying pan or Fiestaware (complete with uranium!!) than a place to put together an outfit for Saturday night. most of my Saturday nights are spent in flannel pj pants and Pete's sweater. But I digress. I wanted to review a new shop here in Ypsi and brag about my find (s). I got a chair for the guest room. In exquisite shape, cane seat and sturdy wood. $20! Love it!

The shop is on Washtenaw and I drive by it at least twice a week. The Second Chance Quality Consignmnet. It was pretty cool. Some of the stuff was a little pricey but some karma thing kept calling out to me. I knew if I stopped to browse I would find the perfect little chair. So, finally today Izzy and I checked it out. Bright, spotless and staffed with very eager (bored?) students. No more than three feet inside the door there was the chair! Vibrant green and the exact size. The coolest thing Izzy found was miniature sofa --perfect for her Sweeney Todd Playset (that is what she calls the mountain of cardboard boxes she is collecting and transforming into set pieces or little vignettes) The sofa is now the centerpiece in the Mrs. Lovett's Parlour room.

For more thrifting and blogging and retro fashion fun check out Brookie--it is her birthday PDQ!click here to stalk my girl

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sacrificial Bunnies of Paganosity

YAY Sunshine!! I love me some holiday festive type occasions. Esp when they make sense--or when I can rationalize purchasing too much dark chocolate! Today is the equinox!!! There is either an equinox (autumn and spring) or a solstice (summer and winter) on approximately the 21st day of the last month of each season of the year. On the day that has an equinox, the most revered Sun will spend an equal amount of time above and below the horizon at every location on Earth and the night and the day will be of practically the same duration. Just the way it should be. The word equinox is derived from two Latin words aequus (equal) and nox (night). We are gonna have a Spring Gluttony Day when the strawberries hatch but for now--for this glorious four day weekend we shall simply revel in the Vitamin D!! (You will note I am actively avoiding mentioning the fact that they are calling for four inches of snow tomorrow. @!$%!!)

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Ballad of the gnarly fairy

Once upon a time there was little girl who became enchanted by the fairies that she saw. One blustery pre-snowday her mom took her to the crafty shoppe and lo and behold they saw the most beeeutiful shiny sparkle purple fairy iron applique they had ever seen. It was $6. The pragmatic momma said..."Sheeesh!! that is kind of expensive for crafty project-- but we will certainly be stuck inside, and how hard can an iron transfer be? It will be a raging success." The momma paid for the silly project and it's accompanying fresh white t-shirt, size SM. They drove home and were waylaid by friends who had better ideas and the iron transfer was put away and forgotten...time passed Until there was the dreaded "half day". AH! Thought the momma a perfect opportunity to get that huge ass stencil out of my drawer. Upon starting the project they discovered the shirt had to be laundered first. "Well, thought the mom of fairygirl, I haven't ever done that before." but upon remembering all the previous iron on projects perhaps the instructions should be followed. Fairydaughter got a quick lesson in which button to push on the washer...Fairygirl waited (played Katamari) for the washer to remove all the glossy toxins then she tossed the shirt and it's accompanying load of dishtowels into the dryer. (insert more Katamari) FINALLY with the iron set to cotton and square of "thin material" Fairygirl was careful to a.) place transfer design side UP (gosh thinks momma that seems odd) and b.) use "firm circular motions" for "up to ten minutes." Ten minutes later...With great anticiaption Fairygirl carefully peeled back the "protective thin material" to see NOT the purple glitter fairy outlined on the snowy white cotton tee. No, indeed dear reader, Fairy girl saw a very warm transfer and smooth as goose shit t-shirt.

Hmmmm, Momma reviewed directions, "transfer design UP." Okay we will flip it over-- perhaps fairies have a different version of "UP". Momma wonders if the directions printed in Spanish and German are any more helpful. "Up to ten minutes later" Fairygirl again peeks under the steaming layers of fabric. NOTHING. well...Momma decides to peel off the heavy plastic (noting the instructions MUST be wrong) and this time the "present adult" rotated the iron of ineffective-osity. When the third time was not a charm, both Fairygirl and CookingMama (we got sick of Katamari) decide this project was a wash and they just hoped they could get the iron burn mark out of the t-shirt with oxyclean. When suddenly for some bizarre reason...Fairy girl sat the iron down on the applique.
The bare naked, no plastic sheet, no protective thin layer of material.
The beautiful sylph in all her purple glitter glory leaped like an apparating bunny onto the hot metal of the previously spotless iron (It was/is less than three years old).
She tattooed her ephemeral beauty right into the steam holes.
Her face melted into a warped and deformed stencil of hideous glitter glop. Where she was once a magical being of youthful radiance she became a horrendous mess similar to the gum on ones shoe--the gum with tp stuck in it. "It" being the sole of your Doc Martens. ugh.

Well. That project failed.

Friday, March 7, 2008

HOLY CRAP! or return of the old blog

My oldest & most faithful readers will remember that I got into blogging because Andre kept poking me. That and somebody in Northshield challenged the Great Hall to document their A&S projects. I was at that point struggling to construct a decent piece of garb for the SCA. You may recall "The Linen Bomb". The exploding dress/sewing project that came apart and went back together AT LEAST four times? (The one arm "exploded" several times alone.) So flash forward to today and look what Google plops on my daily dose of art.

Right there in the middle of the picture is my damn dress!! and most happily it is dated for my persona's time period, It's Italian but that's not toooooo far from France. Enh--It makes me happy. Documentation is good. (I am also quite secretly pleased that she isn't wearing any head gear!!!

yeah--so anyway I titled my old blog "The Linen Bomb" cuz it was"about" that dress.

my new toy

Now that I have a kitchen with storage space I have decided it is time to start gathering in all the "toys" I have wanted. The first thing on the "Kitchen Toy Wish List" was a dehydrator. Guess what my sweet smart man got me for my b-day??? A five tray Excalibur Food DeHydrator!!!

After calling Stacy and "eeeping" all over myself I got to slicing. The most exciting thing we have experimented with so far is yogurt leather. Zoli decided chocolate & caramel (Stony Field Farms) would swirl in really cool marbly patterns. And he was right! and it was delish. We did a bunch of carrots, two parsnips and apparently what I thought was some sort of beet was actually a daikon radish!! (Thank you Kate!!) It was pretty purple anyway, and the slices curled as they dried resulting in a snack that looks like dried rose petals. Fairy girl happily ate a vegetable!! So today I am doing ginger. One surprise advantage is that the dehydrator blows the scent of whatever is being dried all over the yeah... my kitchen smells of ginger!! SPICY!

I can't wait to make jerky!!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

JRT update

It occurs to me that I haven't posted anything about ye olde stoopiddawg lately. Her behaviour has improved significantly. At Wallace she was always on "high alert"--incessant barking and crazed escapes. Since the move she is much calmer and we are even "socializing" with the ancient crones Pete likes to call his cats. The two biggest issues still facing her attainment of "good dog" status are 1.) jumping on guests at door 2.) chewing on herself.
1.) A human knocks at door (or pulls into driveway) immediately equals Bree going nuts. From quiet calm to Barking and rushing the back door-- like a race car from zero to sixty in five seconds. (She does hate it when the taco guy comes to the front!! This is a big house w/ slippery floors. It is actually kinda amusing to watch her spin out trying to get to the correct entry!) What are we doing to chill out "the house alarm"? Well if it Scrabble night or some other festive occasion--we just put her in the crate till everybody is in. If we can anticipate the arrival of a guest before she notices we do attempt Cesar's short leash greeting procedure. (These efforts are meeting with small success--her hearing is waaay better than mine.) So what actually happens is prly about 60% of the time one human is chasing her while another one explains to befuddled visitor that the dog is insane.
2.) The dry air of the furnace running is really irritating her skin. She and Pete both seem to have VERY sensitive skin. Happily Pete chews on me instead of himself. Bree however develops hotspots and when she is bored she obsessively compulsively chews on herself. She like...I dunno... shaves her butt. It is so weird and kinda gross. If she gets left to her own devices (EXAMPLE?--oh let's say I go teach for three hours) she will, rather than gnaw on a bully stick...or torment the cats..or take a nap.. (all things Jarvis does when HE is bored) either goes down on herself or yoga twist herself into a doggy pretzel and shaves her ass. Leaving not only a cloud of white dog hair clippings behind, but effectively marking herself as the most inbred anxiety ridden crazed dog I have ever met. She is so sweet and smart...if we can just get her to chill. I know...I know... doggy prozac. *sigh*

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

light at the end of the tunnel

MY broccoli seeds sprouted!!!!!

Monday, March 3, 2008

kids & education

I am a mom. (you knew that) I have three children. (ya prly knew that too!) Two male, one female. (please note Matt is very nearly independent.) They are very different. Different of course within their own personalities (bossy/Science, laidback/theatre and paranoid/art) but also in maturation rates and growth patterns. These differences are most prominent lately, as they become so less in need of me.

I was just folding this pair of fleece pjs. (You know yer bored when laundry makes you think this much) The jammies are blue w/polar bears. They are heading to their third owner any second now (Look out Xanni) but when they were new-- they were Z's; and now Izzy has officially outgrown them. Isabel is so much "longer" than the boys. The boys have my short French Canadian bull dog thing working and Peanut is all leggy Hungarian princess. Z wore those jammies for at least four winters. Izzy has only had them for about two. It is astonishing to watch them grow. Just three years ago Zoli was at "Crapple" and now he is a 7th grader. I clearly remember thinking *I* was an "adult" in the 7th grade. Now, at 41 I am not sure I am "grown". I am trying really hard to not throw an immature hissy fit.

You see dear one, I saw two related things yesterday that I am still struggling to process. One was this vid from Voller's blog about education in general (I posted it on my myspace) which was VERY interesting as it discussed how creativity is ignored in the public schools and the other was an actual article in the NYTimes Sunday mag about separating boys from girls in the education process.

These two articles are still rolling around in my skull because I am still fuming from a fiasco (IMHO) at Isabel's school last week. We helped her study for "The 4th grade Social Studies Bowl." Which was so scripted and pathetic. Earlier in the week, as we perused the "study guide" I asked Isabel if she knew what a "constituent" actually was and she replied..."No. But that answer is 400." I was stunned. First I explained what a constituent was and then we applied it to real life and then we moved on. As she continued "Studying" the questions--which I thought were going to be presented in a "jeopardy" like game fashion. We made jokes and extended the concepts. (That's teacher talk for made it real) But what actually happened during the "quiz bowl" was that the kids just took turns regurgitating the "answers" into a mike. What was particularly infuriating (besides the sham of the scorekeeping where EVERYBODY WINS!) was that about 1/8 of the kids hadn't even memorized their answers!!! so their "team" could then "help them" by whispering word for word--the correct answer. It was a horrific Cyrano De Bergerac. Finally nearly two hours later (did I mention they didn't even have enough questions formatted so that each child got new material to vomit up? no?? I didn't? They repeated about ten questions at least twice. It was so BORING! What could have been a really fun and exciting study tool was just a farce. It was embarrassing. I was disappointed. (and then...they did the same thing the next day only with the 5th grade.)

Saturday, March 1, 2008


It appears I am going to Chicago this August! I have been asked to sit on a panel discussion about Snape at a Harry Potter Conference. It is called TERMINUS. I am thrilled to be able to promote what I see as classic lit. in such a fun setting. Here is a little quote from the online press release, just in case you don't click the link;

"The programming for Terminus is drawn from the proposals made to the conference," noted Hallie Tibbetts, a Lead Event Organizer. "We invite scholars, professionals, and fans to share their analyses and interests surrounding Harry Potter and the related phenomenon with our attendees. Between the release of the final book and the continued fan interest, there are still hundreds of avenues to explore in presentations, and there's nothing quite so exciting as discussing Harry Potter with over a thousand other attendees who understand the allure of the books, films, and fan community."

After bouncing around and eeeping a lot, I actually looked at the schedule. Along with all the kick ass academic lectures, discussions and keynote speakery type moments-- there are of course social events in the evening. Two of which have already caught my eye. First off there is a "wake" for Severus at one of the Hilton's bars. And there is a "Farewell Ball". BALL?? Did somebody say BALL?? As in a perfectly valid reason to assemble a kick ass Steampunk outfit??
OH bayyyby! Off we go!