Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wienerdog Wednesday, New Year Edition

Here's to saying goodbye to a year that went to the dogs! No party plans here, but I'll certainly be awake at Midnight  -- if only because of the gunshots and fireworks that will be going off all around me. Who says small towns aren't exciting? 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Monday Meh, Retro/Introspect

Meh. I was hoping for a nice big fluffy snowstorm over my break, but the weather refuses to deliver. There's still time . . . .
While I was deciding whether or not to get out of bed earlier this morning, I was thinking about the past year, sort of weighing all the positives against the negatives that have happened in the country, seeing if they would balance. Does the fact that so many states have progressed in the granting of equal rights to gay couples help to counter the heavy weight of ugly racist incidents and commentary that have surfaced? It's almost hard for me to believe that the two can exist here and now, in the same time and country. I carried a big ol' bag of naive optimism with me from the "Flower Child" years, and it's not that I'm denying that we haven't come a long way, baby -- but I honestly struggle to understand how and why the status keeps quo'ing when it comes to equality and rights for brown and black folks. 

Some of you will say it's human nature, needing to have an "other" to blame for when the majority don't get their way. Or it's the way the system is skewed, will be skewed, it's out of anybody's control except the 1%. In truth it's probably a little bit of all that and then some. It's the unwillingness of many to look in the mirror and really see what's there. Are all the steps in the right direction just like my dreamed-for snowstorm, something that comes along and temporarily pretties up the everyday, covering the ugly bits of our surroundings with something sparkly and bright, but destined to disappear  once things heat up again?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wienerdog Wednesday, Yuletide Edition

Scooter Pie can't believe it's December 24 already! 

I can't believe how much I have to do to get ready for the coming festivities! Didn't get around to baking any Xmas cookies until last evening, one batch of overcooked chocolate crinkles. Hardly did any shopping for or making of gifts, either...but so be it. Everyone has too much of the stuff that doesn't matter, anyway. 

Here's hoping that your holiday is filled with the stuff that DOES matter, that your cookies aren't burnt, and that the jingling you hear is some seasonal magic and not tinnitus!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Monday Meh, Solstice Edition

(Night, by Tom Thomson)

Although yesterday was the Winter Solstice, it was bright and sunny and warm here in Upper East Tennessee. I should've driven the few miles up to the Cherokee National Forest and checked out the new trail that just opened this year, but I puttered around the kitchen instead. Snow isn't supposed to make another appearance around here until Christmas Day, if the weather folk are right, which they seldom are these days, so there'll likely be another nice day soon.  

So here it is, winter, and I look forward to the first real snowfall, whenever that will be. We've had several bouts of wintry precip since before Halloween, but the weather can't seem to make up its mind which season it wants to be. I have trouble making up my mind, too, about lots of things. Which is why I welcome substantial snowfalls whenever they arrive -- then, the only decision I have to make is whether to change out of my pajamas or not. 

Happy Winter.

Sunday, December 21, 2014


I'm making Cranberry Jam this morning. Just because. Actually I am not a fan of most overly-sweet commercial jams & jellies, but ja gotta have something to put on your toast and waffles besides butter, right? Many years ago I found Martha Stewart's Cranberry Jam recipe and it's tasty stuff, whether you use it to accompany your Thanksgiving bird or to dollop on your Christmas bagel. It reminds me a lot of lingonberry preserves, which cannot be had locally, and I don't always have time to drive the 3 hours to IKEA in Charlotte to buy a jar or two. 

Other than the freezer-type strawberry jam, this is the only jam I've ever made. I haven't bothered with actually doing the hot water canning dealio with it, either, because the jars I make and store in the fridge are usually consumed within 2 weeks. It's always disappointing to have to resort back to store bought preserves when the good stuff is gone, but maybe this year while cranberries are still available, I'll try my hand at long-term preservation of a batch or two, with an eye to expanding my repertoire to include other jams.  

If you look closely in the pic above, you can see the bottle of Vikingfjord vodka in the background there. Martha's recipe calls for a teaspoon of vodka, and I have no idea why but am not inclined to mess with the delicate chemistry of the process. And as long as the vodka's already out and I don't have to be anywhere today, I might as well make myself a karsk. Then maybe I won't mind so much that I have to rewash all the dishes that my mother "washed" last night.  *sigh* 

Now I'm not particularly a germophobe and have been known to push the limits of the 5-second rule (especially when chocolate is involved), but I am still not too keen on eating off of plates and cutlery that were just rinsed off with plain water. It's not clear whether Mom's increasingly worrisome erratic behavior and memory lapses are just natural to the aging process or indicative of something bigger brewing, and it's as frustrating for her as it is for the rest of us when her hearing difficulties and inattentiveness make for some trying breakdowns in communication. Maybe Santa will bring her some hearing aids, and bring me an extra dose of patience.

. . . . Well, the jam is done, the dishes are washed (again), and I'm going to sip my "special coffee" while listening to some holiday jams. Then it'll be back to the kitchen to cook up some more holiday goodies. Have I mentioned how therapeutic cooking is for me -- even when the recipe doesn't call for vodka!

Oh, and here's the ridiculously easy jam recipe:



1 pound cranberries
1 hard apple such as Arkansas Black or Granny Smith, peeled, cored and sliced into half-inch chunks
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh ginger or crystallized ginger
3 inch cinnamon stick
zest of 1 orange in finest possible threads
1 teaspoon vodka
1/4 cup chopped pecans

1:  Rinse cranberries and put in a kettle with water, cubed apple, ginger, cinnamon stick, and orange zest. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes until berries pop.

2:  Add sugar to the kettle and return to a gentle boil, stirring constantly.  Once the sugar has fully dissolved, add vodka and nuts and cook for 2-3 minutes more until thickened, stirring carefully to prevent scorching.

3:  Remove cinnamon stick and serve or refrigerate in a covered container for up to two weeks. If you want to can the jam:  ladle hot jam into prepared 1/2 pint jar and seal. Process sealed jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Tempus Fugit

Today begins "The Great 2014 Winter Break Do All The Things I Said I was Gonna Do All Year But Didn't" Challenge. Realistically, I don't expect that in the next 2 weeks I'll find a new job, improve my upper body strength, haul all of the yard sale/charity donations out of the upstairs hallway, paint the master bath, regain fluency in Spanish, and finally learn how to make crepes -- but I can damn well get started! 

Now, I have lots of justification, er, excuses for not making more progress on my goals this year. Mostly I like to blame my job, which has sucked more energy and joie de vivre out of me than a Dyson sucks dog hair. There is small comfort in realizing that one is the sanest person in the asylum, unless one can stomach Southern Comfort, which I cannot ever since that time in 7th grade when I was at a sleepover at Viki's house and we made banana splits and washed them down with SoCo once her parents went to bed. Anyway, my stagnant employment status is not for lack of trying to find greener pastures. Or sandier ones, since I expanded my job search to include the Carolina coast. I surely hope that my application-to-interview ratio improves in my favor in the coming year (currently it's about 20-to-1), and I plan to scour job postings and even send some random inquiries out over the next two weeks while I can do so without nervously looking over my shoulder to see if the boss will catch me. It's easier to avoid typos that way. 

Since my time in 2014 wasn't consumed with writing academic papers, I really, really, really should've blogged more. For that shortcoming I blame Pinterest. Get me on the internet with a swatch of spare time, and I'm more likely to be scanning that site for pretty interior decor pics and recipes that I might or might not get around to trying than sitting down to compose a few paragraphs of wit and/or wisdom to share with my blogger buddies. I'm sorry. I'll make it up to you if you ever stop by my actual abode, and treat you to a dinner of Sesame Chicken followed by the most awesome Tiramisu Cheesecake Brownies, enjoyed in my minimalist Scandinavian-inspired dining nook. We'll have a lovely time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wienerdog Wednesday

Marilyn Monroe in Paris, 1959 (Paris Match)
Like Marilyn here, I've had my hands full lately. I'm just back from 5 days in St. Paul, MN, where the women are strong and, thankfully, so is the coffee. There's not much worse than conferences where I have to endure 12 hour days fueled by brownish hot water posing as coffee. 

I got out of St. Paul Sunday, just before Astro blew into town. Now I'm back in Bubbaville, taking the day off to unpack and, assuming the morning cloud cover will eventually pass, take a long stroll in the warm sun before the Polar Whatever-it-is moves down to Dixie. 

I think my next trip needs to be solely for pleasure, and somwhere warm. I wonder if I have enough hotel points to score a stay in N'Orleans  . . . .

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Out, out, damned spot!*

(* or: My First Cancer)
Don't pick at that spot!
It started as a zit -- or that's what I thought it was. But zits typically aren't persistent enough to come back to the same place over several years -- especially once one is in their 50s and safely past pubescent hormonal fluctuations. (In my case, any hormonal fluctuations at all.) Of course, the first time I consulted a dermatologist about it, the spot in question had gone into hiding. The other bumps I had examined and excised at that time proved innocent, so I was hopeful that the blemish that made regular visits to my nose was harmless, too.

This summer, though, the damned spot came and stayed. It bled. It got red. And bigger. It had to go. 

Long story short, a month ago I had the spot scooped out and scrutinized, and as my dermatologist suspected, it was indeed a basal cell carcinoma. The literature says that if you're going to have an epidermal malignancy, BCC is the way to go, as it doesn't metastasize. It can, however, run more than skin deep, and the procedure I had may have left some of the overachieving cells behind. So I'll be keeping an eye on my nose -- and on all those other freckles, bumps, moles, and "age spots" that dot my carcass like points of interest on a roadmap. 
I guess as long as nobody else is going to take an interest in my body, it might as well be my dermatologist. I just wish I didn't have to pay for the attention.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The "B" Word

Depends what your definition of "fun" is, I guess.

At my great-niece's birthday party this summer, my brother-in-law looked at me with concern for some moments before he finally asked, "What happened to your hair? Where did the red go?"

I wish I knew.

Ever since my teens, it seems, I can remember my mother telling me how lucky I was to have red tresses, because redheads don't go grey. Well, although I don't seem destined for the sort of lush silvery gray hair that adorns some heads, since the arrival of my half-century birthday, my hair most definitely is turning a whiter shade of pale. Each time I get a haircut, I lose more of my red coloring. And, worst of all, new acquaintances have taken to calling me the B-word -- Blonde.


I suppose there is nothing wrong with being blonde, if you're born that way. But so much of my identity is wrapped up in my red-headedness, and others' perceptions of what red-headedness means, that lately I feel a psychic sort of loss. Being a redhead has brought me much attention, both wanted and not. Many women have expressed envy of my tresses, one former workmate even going so far as to have her hairdresser attempt to duplicate my color. (But if you aren't a natural redhead, you won't look like a natural redhead no matter how talented your colorist -- sorry!) Men's reactions have varied, the worst being inquiries as  to whether the output from follicles on various body regions matches that from othe follicles on my head. To be fair, I suppose many fair-haired women have been the recipient of that line, to which the only correct response is "You'll never know." 

If blondes have more fun, the mythology around us redheads has us enjoying sex more  -- and more often, having short tempers, being agents of Satan, and according to the ancient Greeks, turning into vampires after we die. 

THAT sounds like more fun to me!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

What next?

I'm beginning to feel like my recently-earned graduate degree is about as marketable as Herr Reiche's arboreal elephant concept, above. Thankfully, my job search efforts are less desperate than they would be if I didn't currently have a job that I'm trying to flee. Nevertheless, I am trying really, really hard to not even entertain, let alone invite, the possibility that I might be stuck in this same job 11 months from now. So far, though, my combined experience and education has only brought opportunities for unpaid committee work. That looks nice on my resume, but it doesn't help pay down the credit card balance . . .

At least being finished with school means I have time to work a second job, if it comes to that. *sigh*

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sights of the Season

Little Guests in the Moon Palace, via Dangerous Minds    


 This Chinese poster isn't actually in celebration of Easter or Spring, but rather to promote that country's space program. 

How come NASA doesn't have any cutsey posters urging today's kids to put down their iPhones and their Redbulls and take an interest in space? When was the last time you heard a little boy or girl say they wanted to be an astronaut when they grow up? Does the US even have a space program anymore? 

At any rate . . . this art made me think of the coming Bunny-themed holiday, which I personally prefer to celebrate in a very non-traditional way. Except for the mass consumption of chocolate part. 

Enjoy your whatever-you-celebrate however you want to. Hopefully with (paid) time off!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

It's Wednesday, and you know what that means . . .

...Wienerdog Wednesday!!!

Source: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

 From the Wienerdogs in History Category:  "John F. Kennedy with "Dunker" during tour of Europe in the summer of 1937, The Hague, August 1937."

Remember the days when those who grew up in privilege also felt an obligation to serve those without? I'm not raising the Kennedys up to sainthood, but there was -- and continues to be -- something about them and their call to public service that seems far too rare in the majority of 1%-ers making headlines today. 

(And the Bush dynasty doesn't count!)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wienerdog Wednesday

(Source: Eleanor)

There has been plenty of opportunity this winter to stay inside and scan the interwebs for graphical depictions of sausage dogs. Resident dachshund Scooter Pie is more than ready for Spring to arrive - and so are the rest of us!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Mondays are still meh...

"Crows in Moonlight" by Ohara Koson (1927)

This month's full moon, the Crow Moon, supposedly signals the end of winter. I think some of the local crows will be unhappy with this morning's freezing rain, though.

I'm ready for winter to  be done, myself. This year the persons who decide to do such things decided to name all winter storms the way they name hurricanes, and since this week we are being ravaged by Wiley - or Waldo, depending on your weather source, the end of the alphabet must surely mean the end of winter.

It remains to be seen whether or not my muse comes out of hibernation any time soon, however. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Monday meh, with bonus wienerdog!

Artist unknown.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Monday Meh, News You Can Use edition

(A reminder that there are worse jobs than mine out there.)

 By David Glenn
When Carolyn Edelstein’s friends and family gathered for Thanksgiving in 2012, the conversation kept turning to feces.

Ms. Edelstein, a graduate student at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, had recently seen a close friend suffer through an infection with Clostridium difficile, a bacterium that can cause severe and sometimes fatal diarrhea. After several rounds of antibiotics failed, her friend finally turned to an experimental treatment: a stool transplant.

The procedure is just what it sounds like. Fecal material from a healthy donor is placed into the patient’s intestines via colonoscope, enema, or a tube routed through the patient’s nose. . . . .

 "If you’d told me a year earlier that I’d be leaving school to run a nonprofit stool bank, I wouldn’t have believed you," Mr. Burgess says. "But I think this is an opportunity to make a real dent in the C. diff. epidemic, and also to move forward with the science of the human microbiome."

The full text article from the Chronicle of Higher Ed requires a login, but I believe I've captured the essence of the report here.

I guess one good thing about working at a stool bank is that your boss couldn't realistically ask you to have lunch at your desk....

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wienerdog Wednesday, Windchill Edition

A dog and blanket --
Remedy for winter days.
Keep your wiener warm!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday Meh, Stay in Behd edition

...and that's just what I chose to do this holideh morning. But now I'm up and need to pretehnd to be productive. 

(Some painting by Mehtisse)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wienerdog Wednesday, DIY edition

How to Draw a Dachshund, via ma petite citrouille

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Wienerdog Wednesday,, Warmup Edition

Today's wienerdog gives us a welcome break from the unseasonably cold weather many of us here in the U.S. have been experiencing. 

Ahem. Eyes on the dachshund, boys. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Monday Meh, Post-holideh meh

As difficult as the holidays are for some, the period following the New Year's festivities can bring its own challenges. Some of us may have overindulged and face an ugly moment of truth when we have to squeeze into real clothes for the return to our workplaces. Others are crestfallen due to the poor performance of their favorite football team this season, questioning their loyalty to a bunch of losers. But Christmas trees have it the absolute worst. Stripped naked and kicked to the curb, their moment of glory past, these holiday castoffs line the streets, alone with their memories and a stray strand or two of tinsel. Be happy that is not your fate.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Funky Friday, if it ain't Baroque, don't fix it edition

A bit late getting thawed out and onto blogger today -- if you're somewhere where the temps are above freezing, I don't want to hear it. It might get up into the double digits here before sundown . . . .

That video may not be to everyone's liking, but it reminds me a bit of good ol' Emerson, Lake, and Palmer doing their thing to the classics. If you need to wash your ears out with a more traditional version, I direct you here:

Oops, my bad. But since I missed doing any postings for Octubafest this past year, I couldn't resist. Fun fact: tuba player Øystein Baadsvik hails from Trondheim, Norway, the town where my father & uncles grew up. 

I'll leave you with what I believe is a more authentic version. Oh, and fun fact #2 -- Vivaldi was a redhead! You just can't tell because all the cool kids wore powdered wigs back in the day. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Wienerdog Wednesday, 2014 Edition

Image via Dachshund Parade Vintage Tumblr    

Anybody needing some hair of the dog this New Year's morn? Alas, it's been many a year since this wench let her hair down on New Year's Eve, but I can sympathize with anyone who celebrated too hard last night. Just fix yourself a Bloody Mary, and pull yourself together before the game starts.

I make it a practice not to do the resolution thing each year, but I do have some plans planned. Finding a new job is #1 on that list, but it may be the least easy to accomplish. I have a couple friends my age who've been out of work for over a year, no fault of their own, but their unemployed status brings to light the difficulties those of us who are more "experienced" can have when competing with fresh-faced applicants from Gen-WTF. I'm hoping that for me it will only be a matter of months, not years, before I can move on, but at least for now I don't need to worry about setting foot in the office until Monday. Still, I'm not looking forward to it -- but that may be fodder for another blog post.

Meanwhile, I need to get dressed and get more coffee . . . slowly but surely, it's a New Year.

I wish you all health & happiness in 2014!