I am a freelancer in the publishing industry, so words are very important to me. I'm a leftist living in a world gone mad, so politics are very important to me. I'm an environmentalist living in a degrading world, so pick up your damn trash, get rid of your gas guzzlers, and don't touch ANWR, you self-absorbed capitalists!

Do leave comments: let's make this a conversation. If you prefer, you can contact me at friuduric at yahoo dot com.

28 April 2006

Story of a Month in 2,000 Words*

April 1:

April 28:

*Really, it is 2,041. Because the Consort snorts that Boswell is a Republican in Democrat's clothing, but hey, we were at a parade, and no matter how bad he is, he isn't as bad as the Republican, so Impera and I took the darn stickers.

27 April 2006

World Music Site

I probably won’t be able to post much in the next few days: we’ve got houseguests!

In the meantime, may I suggest you all go visit calabashmusic.com. It’s a fair trade music site, and they specialize in world music. Their stuff is compatible with iTunes, and you can buy $20 worth of songs (99 cents a song) for $14.99 (not a bad deal!).

Plus, every week, they have a free download. Who can argue with free music? Sometimes it isn’t so good, but sometimes it’s very very good.

When you’re there, check out the video from Sara Tavares (on the main page). I listened, and I liked it so much I bought the entire album. I’ve got a thing for Cape Verde women artists (Cesaria Evora is also high on my playlist).

I’ve also added Stegbeetle’s site Solid Gone to my Links list.

That’s all for now.

26 April 2006

A Scene: In Which Imperatrix Realizes that the Consort Must Be a Brave Soul

The Scene: Last night, I was with a group of older women, at the home of one who in her demeanor and personality I would have to say is a veritable Nanny Ogg, and, as is the case when folks get together, we were talking of things. Somehow, someone made mention of Capricorns. (Keep in mind that, being a January baby, I am a Capricorn.) Now, I don’t know these women very well, and, being in a different arc of the life cycle than all of them (let’s just say that they’d all be happy to hear tomorrow that they are to be grandmas; I would not), we don’t have that much in common. Although they are all very nice. But they do like to talk. And sometimes it’s hard to get a word in edgewise.

Nanny Ogg: “…very organized, you know, like a Capricorn is.”
Me: [Chuckles.]“That’s funny, I’m a —”
No. 1: [Cuts in, doesn’t even register my speaking.] “Ooooo! I dated a Capricorn for seven years, and he had me wrapped around his little finger…”
Me: [Continues] “—and I definitely like things organized—” [Realizes with a start what’s being implied; fades out.]
No. 2: “Well I was married to a Capricorn for 28 years, if you can believe it.”
Nanny Ogg: [Interrupts.]“The first husband or the second?”
No. 2: “The first.”
No. 1: [Continues, oblivious to No. 2]“He had a day and an hour for everything. [Pregnant pause.] I mean, ev-er-y-thing.” [Wiggles eyebrows.]
No. 2: [Refuses to be outdone.] “Talk about control issues! I didn’t even know who I was anymore until I left him.”
No. 1: “Goodness, he had no creativity at all, that man—and you know how creative I am; I’m an art teacher for heaven’s sake!”
No. 2: “The sooner you get rid of a Capricorn, the better off you are.”
Me: [Silent. Tries to look inconspicuous.]
No. 1: “Absolutely.”
[They all nod in agreement.]
Nanny Ogg [to me]: “I’m sorry, hon, did you say something?”
Me: “Oh, no." [Brushes off the attention.] "Nothing. Nothing at all.”

25 April 2006

Who scheduled this? Just last week, it was over 80 degrees and we had to accomplish creative home-cooling without AC. Today, it is raining snow.

Big, fat, clumps of snow.


Water, Water, Neverwhere...

There’s a new book by Fred Pearce about the impending water crisis: When the Rivers Run Dry. The interview at Salon.com [note: you'll have to watch an ad if you aren't subscribed, but then you have a day pass to read whatever you like -- and you can get a day pass over and over] notes some facts, like:

  • Brushing your teeth with the water running wastes 4.5 gallons of water.
  • It takes 40 gallons of water to grow the ingredients for two slices of bread.
  • You need 250 gallons of water for a glass of milk, and 650 gallons of water for a pound of cheddar cheese.
  • It will take 800 gallons of water to produce the meat for one hamburger.

    Yeesh! Wasteful use of resources is the number 1 reason why the Consort and I made the choice to become vegetarians, lo these many years ago. (You can get more info at the EPA Web site [and yes, I’ve already alerted them that there is a typo on the page].)

    The majestic rivers of the United States are running dry so that farming conglomerates can make another fast buck, and regular Americans can “live the American Dream” in a fabricated suburb in the desert. And let’s not forget all those gamblers in Las Vegas; they need lots of flushing power in those palace-themed mega-hotels!

    Internationally, water-use rights fuel conflict in the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Asia.

    I’ve requested the book from my local library, and I’ll let you all know what I think after I’ve read it.

  • 24 April 2006

    Links for Monday

    I have things to do today, people. (And, Blogger was acting all paranoid earlier—this was ready to go at 8:30 this morning!) So instead I offer you things I've cribbed from other sites:

    Children ghost-write a speech for President Bush. Only in San Francisco, folks.

    Then, if you promise to put down the coffee/tea mug before you read the next one, you can visit "Remove Me from Your Rooster!"

    I was going to try to find a third link, but -- nah, the Rooster one is too good.

    Links to Laugh At

    I have things to do today, people. So instead I offer you things I've crbbed from other sites:

    Children ghost-write a speech for President Bush. Only in San Francisco, folks.

    Then, if you promise to put down the coffee/tea mug before you read the next one, you can visit "Remove Me from Your Rooster!"

    I was going to try to find a third link, but -- nah, the Rooster one is too good.

    21 April 2006

    Violet Jelly

    I made a batch of violet jelly yesterday, and, in honor of Earth Day, I present it to you here.

  • 2 cups violet blossoms
  • 2+ cups boiling water

    Pour boiling water on blossoms and cover 12-24 hours (If you can't get to the cooking within 24 hours, store in the refrigerator).

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

    Strain the petals from the infusion (make sure you have 2 cups of infusion; the petals will absorb a tiny bit), and add the lemon juice.

    On the right is the strained infusion, on the left is the infusion after addition of the lemon juice.

  • 1 pkg. powdered pectin
  • 4 cups sugar

    Dissolve the pectin into the liquid and bring to a rolling boil (one you can't stir down) in a large pot. Add sugar all at once and bring back to rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let boiling die down. Skim off foam with large spoon.

    Pour immediately into hot sterilized jars and seal. Makes 4-5 cups of jelly. Enjoy!

  • 20 April 2006

    A Brief Public-Service Announcement

    When we bought this house, our yard looked like this in the Spring:

    My mother said, “Get some Round-Up!”
    The Consort’s mother said, “Water your lawn!”

    Now, our yard looks like this:

    Did we toss our environmental tenets to get this dandelion-free lawn? No! Our secret weapon in the War on Dandelions (some lawn enthusiasts may call it the War on Terror) is this handy little tool:

    Yep. That’s it. See, if you can stop the dandelions from spreading their seeds or regrowing from their roots, then you’re home free. Yanking out the blossoms is easy, but dandelions have very tenacious taproots that can easily grow back, again and again. Hence, the looooooong stem on the tool. You can get down deep without making big holes in your yard.

    Because of the Consort’s expert wielding of the dandelion tool, we have never had to use any poisons on our lawn, which meant that every Spring I’ve been able to make violet jelly from blossoms carpeting our yard without worrying that any of us would sprout an extra nose on our elbow.

    While you are pulling the dandelions, you can meditate, zone out, contemplate the universe, compose a sonnet, whatever; it's great "me time". And Impera has found the peaceful half-hour or so a couple of times a week that the Consort would be pulling dandelions a good time to chat with her dad about anything on her mind.

    So if you have a dandelion problem, get one of these dandelion tools. You won't regret it. (And you'll save a bunch of money, to boot!)

    19 April 2006

    Word Wednesday: Tests and Talks

    Remember our discussion of a couple of weeks ago? Well, I’m trying to expand my client base, which means I have to take each company’s editing test (harrumph). And last week I came across one which had a series of sentences I was supposed to either fix or note that it was fine as is. And you know what one of the sentences was? Yep: “Hopefully John will make it home in time for the party.” I almost gave the the link to the blog entry. Heh.

    And now, because I have no other inspiration, I offer you this brief exchange, which includes some tasty morsels of GWB language (Note: Yesterday, George Bush was shouting at reporters. I was shouting at the radio):

    "Don Rumsfeld is doing a fine job," said Mr. Bush. "He is not only transforming the military [Into…? What? Transformation isn’t necessarily a good thing, y’know], he is fighting a war on terror [All by himself? And, hey—how many wars on terror have you got going there, George?]. He is helping us fight a war on terror. I have strong confidence in Don Rumsfeld. I hear the voices [Does it not frighten you to know that the president of the United States hears voices?]. And I read the front page [At last! Some honesty! He reads the front page. But not the continuation of the story on page A13. So he never gets the full, nuanced story]. And I know the speculation. But I am the decider. And I decide what is best […for Dick Cheney’s cronies. Oh, and me and my cronies, too.]. And what is best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the Secretary of Defense."

    Yes, George, you are the Decider. Gods help us all.

    18 April 2006


    The Consort is good at many things, but he is not good at recognizing people. And because the nature of his job implies that every year he will have to recognize an additional 200 or so students, you can imagine that this sometimes turns out to be trouble. Compounding this is the fact that the Consort, who doesn’t like to lie, is very bad at pretending to remember people. He can’t fake it very well.

    Last week as we were leaving Home Depot we hear, “Hi, Professor! How are you?” So we stop and go over to the young woman in the ubiquitous orange apron who had called out.

    “Oh,….hi?” says the Consort.
    “How are you?” The perky young woman continues.
    “Yes,” says the Consort.

    [awkward silence]

    I break the silence to say that we are finalizing a kitchen redo, and then the Consort is able to jump in and begins chatting about different flooring options, and the conversation is saved. But he still has no idea who this woman is. [I can tell. After 13 years, you can read these things.]

    We extricate ourselves, and continue on to the car. The Consort admits that he still can’t remember what class she took from him.

    “Her name is Deanna,” I tell him.

    “Oh! Deanna! Yes, now I remember. I just couldn’t place the face.” We segue into a conversation about how there are only about five “ style types” of college women, and even fewer—maybe three—“style types” of college men, which makes it difficult to sort out who is who when you run into them outside of the classroom.

    “But her name was on her apron,” I tell him. “Didn’t you see it?”

    “I can’t look there,” he tells me. “Then they’ll think I’m looking at their breasts.”

    “But that’s what I did, and I don’t think she thought I was ogling her,” I reply. “That’s why people wear name tags, so you can learn their names!”

    “They’ve done studies, you know, and it seems that women can gather information more quickly from a glance than men can. That’s why women may be more adept at reading feelings from body language than men.”

    “Because evolutionarily, it hasn’t been necessary for men to be able to read feelings?”

    “Yeah. If all you’re going to do is swipe the stranger with your club and bash their brains in, then who cares what they’re feeling at that moment?”

    “So modern society creates a barrier for men—even the sensitive type, like you—to be able to feel completely at ease.”

    “Precisely. Now we worry about getting in trouble for looking at women’s breasts.”

    “Where their name tags are.”

    “Right. Which we can’t read fast enough.”

    Damn those nametags. Maybe we should start wearing them on our foreheads.

    17 April 2006


    We’re all very excited in the realm because the planned visit of Sis No. 2 and her family is coming up soon. On Friday I reminded everyone that it was a Big Clean weekend (an every-other-week occurrence) so that everything would be ready for the arrival on Wednesday of their aunt and cousins. Bathooms were scrubbed, furniture was dusted, refrigerators were cleaned out (OK, actually, we only have the one, but I was going with parallelism here, people). Yahoo!

    Yesterday afternoon, I’m on the phone with Sis No. 2, and we’re getting excited about the visit coming up and I’m listening to all her stories about their Easter fun and dead-rodents-in-the-crawlspace unfun this weekend, and she mentions that she hopes to have all the icky stuff cleaned out by this coming weekend, because she wants to get new insulation in the crawlspace over the weekend.

    “But…” I said.

    “I just can’t wait until this whole thing is over. I’ll take cockroaches over rats any day,” she continues.

    “But…” I try, more urgently.

    “From now on, my sweet spouse is just going to have to check the crawlspace out more often. Yuck!”

    “But!” I cry, “you all will be at my house this weekend!”

    “No, we’re arriving the 26th,” she says.

    “I wrote it down months ago when we talked about it first,” I reply.

    “I e-mailed you the airline itinerary, didn’t you read it?” she asks.

    “I checked the arrival time,” I tell her. I also noticed it confirmed a Wednesday arrival, so I looked no further.

    “Well, it’s the 26th,” she says again.

    Oh, OK.

    (I swear she changed the dates after we first planned the visit!)

    14 April 2006

    I Joke About Tornados, But...

    ...they are definitely serious business.

    This one touched down on the east coast of Iowa, and we live in south-central.

    The Tale of Black Beauty: Or, Why The Consort Mocked Three of Four's Suggestion

    Once upon a time (about 3 years ago), picking videos to watch as a family was going through a rough patch. Impera was ready for some more character-driven full-length movies, but Trixie was still happiest with a short feature (those 1970s era Snoopy TV specials were her favorite). So we started a rotation. Impera would pick what to watch one week, Trixie the next. When Impera picked, Trixie would invariably wander off halfway through the movie and play quietly with her Little People (playmobile). When Trixie picked, Impera would watch, but not get much pleasure out of it.

    Then, a day finally came when, for some reason or another, neither girl could go with her father to the video store, so he went alone. He comes back with Black Beauty. “It’s got animals—Trixie loves animals!” he thought. “And it is a real genuine movie, so Impera will love it as well!”

    We sit down to watch it. First, we get to know the characters. Isn’t it sweet—Black Beauty is born to such a happy family. La la la! And he’s got friends: the stable boy, a little pony, the goose, the dog; and the children so love their horse! But then—the boy gets sick. His family doesn’t know what to do! They have to move away from England. Everyone is sad, and Black Beauty gets sold to a hoity-toity family. Trixie gets silent. It is clear that the lady of the house keeps the carriage horses’ leads too tight, just to “look better.” But BB makes a friend: Ginger. Ah! She is the love of his life, even though she is not the most trusting of horses.

    Then the evil son of the family races Ginger too hard: he breaks her. Trixie is tense. Bad, bad man. More happenstance, and now BB finds himself alone in London, as a cab horse. Life is hard, but the cabbie, although often sick, is a kind man. And so is his family. Trixie relaxes. BB even glimpses Ginger! She is a cab horse, too. She is unhappy, but we all know BB can raise her spirits (maybe BB’s owner may even buy Ginger one day and they’ll all live happily ever after). But then—O! Fickle fate! Ginger is seen, dead, carried away to the glue factory.

    At this point in the movie, we have to pause it. Trixie is sobbing, Impera, who has been silent the entire time, has weepy eyes. This is not turning out to be a good movie for anyone. “Things get better!” soothes the Consort. “Your aunt loved this book when she was young!” (And now this aunt owns a stable and teaches dressage, so you can make of this information what you will.)

    We return to the movie. The cabbie gets sick, thanks to some very unsympathetic rich sons a’ britches. We hear sniffs. The family has to sell BB. They can’t afford to keep him with their papa sick. We hear muffled weeping. BB gets sold to a miller. (What is a miller? The children learn from this movie that miller is an old English word for “evil horse torturer”.)

    Finally, Black Beauty, now a bag of bones and sores, gets saved by the grown-up stable boy from his first family. All is good. He lives the last years of his life in happiness. Black Beauty eventually dies, and as he dies, we see him envisioning a field where his mother, the little pony, the goose and dog, and Ginger—sweet Ginger!—are all waiting for him. What a glorious montage with which to end the movie.

    But we cannot enjoy it, because both girls at this point have broken down into full-throated sobs. Impera curls in on herself, crying, and Trixie is clenching the Consort’s side, wailing into his ribs, “I KNEW we should have rented a Snoopy video! Nobody ever dies in a Snoopy video!”

    After we calm them down and put them to bed, the Consort turns to me and says, “It was bad luck they only had my second choice at the video store. I had wanted to rent Old Yeller, but it was out.”

    13 April 2006

    Help Needed: Debunking "Classics = Sad Ending"

    Remember how a few days ago I mentioned that teen books had a tendency to have depressing endings? Well, maybe you don't, but I did. Anyway, Impera wants to know if any classics have a happy ending. I suggested A Christmas Carol, but that didn't seem to do it. I also said I thought Treasure Island might have a happy ending, but I think there were some peripheral deaths? (It was never one of my favorites.) Jane Eyre turns out happy for *Jane*, but at the expense of that poor mad wife; Wide Sargasso Sea did nothing to change my views on that. (Although I will admit I went to see that movie *without knowing what it was all about* -- it just seemed like a neat way to spend an afternoon. My gasp at the end when it becomes clear who these characters really are was audible. I may have embarrassed my friend Jen, but the Consort was unruffled by my outburst.) Even Little Women is bittersweet.

    So, help me out folks. Any classics with happy endings? I'm sure I'll have alot of "d'uh" moments as I read your suggestions, but I just can't wrap myself around this one.

    Oooo! And as I write, I realize we can put Jane Auten novels in the happy camp. Next?

    11 April 2006

    Undocumented Workers: Continued and Edited

    I’m really pleased that people are taking the time to give their opinions on my illegal immigrant post. I want to reply to everyone, and thought it might make more sense to continue in another post rather than stuff a very long response in the comments.

    First, the whole “Are they criminals?” thing. Consider if you will an interracial couple. In the 1950s, in many places, the two people involved would have been considered criminals under the law. Were they criminals? I would argue not. Similarly, if we agree that the law has to change for undocumented workers in the US, then calling these workers “criminals” during the debate is naming them based on a system that we want to change, and that makes no sense, and wouldn’t be very fair. It is also lumping all these people in with another large group that crosses the borders illegally; namely, drug smugglers. Using the term “criminal” for both groups merges them in the societal unconscious (ooo, she uses fancy terminology!). And exacerbates the racism that is within easy reach when it comes to someone with a different color skin, a different culture, or a different language.

    I agree, Cowgirl, that seeing “Viva Mexico, Down with the USA” signs doesn’t help their side. I think part of that is just the fact that whenever there is a rally, there will be some jackasses who come without any respect for the topic at hand (at an anti-war rally we participated in two years ago, there were some people who marched with pro-Kucinich signs[for all you non-USians, he was one of the Democratic contenders for president in 2004]; this really bothered me because it implied that all of us were Kucinich supporters, but I wasn’t, I was an anti-war supporter—and that is a BIG difference). But I think that some of it is in response to the racism that these people are sensing (both in words and in actions [such as the building of a wall near populous Mexican border cities]), and using a sign like that may be their way of saying, “Hey, I’m proud of my heritage!” Also, this is a debate in which there isn’t an easy catch-phrase, such as “pro-choice”, “women’s rights”, or “anti-war”. Do you see what I mean? Just don’t lump everyone at the rallies with the people holding those signs, just like I hope no one at the anti-war rally lumped us all in with the Kucinich folks.

    I also agree that we shouldn’t let someone who came in illegally “cut in line”, so to speak, as Sis No. 2 noted.

    As for Ally’s question about the children of undocumented workers, I don’t think we shouldn’t let the kids go to school or even stop them from receiving subsidized healthcare. That would be a terrible idea: We don’t want to create a worse kind of underclass than we already have. And that is why I think we should somehow make the workers legal so that they pay *federal* taxes (because even with taxes withheld, they’d be making more than they could make in their home countries). That way the parents are paying into the system for social assistance and special needs programs.

    And to clarify, the illegal immigrants all the hoopla is about here in the US right now really should be rightfully called undocumented workers. The terms aren’t interchangeable, although we have used them that way here in the US. These are the 11 million workers (I think I’m remembering the number correctly) who come to the US for work, not asylum. Our main asylum seekers are Cubans, and that's a whole nother political kettle of fish!

    And now for something completely different: Our Battle of the Books team came in 5th, out of an original 43 teams (I had thought there were 41). The kids were so happy to be able to make it to the final eight (and are looking forward to moving up next year!). The top two teams who battled it out in the final oral round were two homeschooling teams, and the winner was the team of kids we know very well, so Impera was happy to be able to cheer them on.

    We’ve got another high intensity storm coming though “capable of producing tornadoes”, right now, so I’ll be signing off here (and probably heading off to bed soon). Keep the discussion going!

    Illegal Immigration (Edited 4/12/06)*

    “Sandra, 19, an undocumented immigrant from Waterloo, feels like her life is on hold. Her family moved to Waterloo from the Mexican state of Michoacan when she was a young child…Growing up, she went to Waterloo schools. She earned good grades and ran track at West High School, where she graduated in 2005. She dreamed of going to college and becoming a doctor...Her life is on hold because her immigration status disqualifies her for federal student loans, grants and scholarships.”

    You can read the entire story here. The way the immigration debate has been framed the past few weeks has really left me fuming. And this article is just another example.

    Now, the Consort and I are probably so leftist we scare many Democrats. And we consider that a good thing. In regards to illegal immigrants, here is what I believe:

  • 1. Illegal immigrants should be treated like people, they are not criminals.
  • 2. Those damned Minutemen should be forcibly removed from the borders and shot told not to come back.
  • 3. Building a wall is not going to work. (Here in the US or anywhere else in the world, for that matter.)
  • 4. I’m not sure the whole “give them drivers licenses” thing would work, but I am willing to give it a try.
  • 5. Most importantly, we need to figure out a way to get these people integrated into society.

    Why? Because of stories like Sandra’s. Stories like Sandra’s do not elicit sympathy from me. Darn it, she went to public schools (great) and was able to participate in track (wonderful). And now, we’re supposed to feel sorry for her that she has to put her college hopes on hold—and they are on hold not because she can’t get in (she can) but because she can’t take advantage of federal student loans? (Something funded by federal tax money.)

    Some communities are struggling to meet the special needs (English as a Second Language) of a large influx of immigrant kids in their schools. And they have to do that with an already strapped budget, which, yet again, I remind you is partially paid for with federal money and federal grants, a tax fund that illegal immigrants do not pay into. We can’t keep doing this, people.

    Give them permits, give them guest worker passes, come down really hard on businesses that hire undocumented workers, and for god’s sake get them paying into the system.

    This is very quick & dirty, because I just had to say something even though I’m going to be leaving in a little while for the Battle of the Books. I may clean it up later. Please weigh in.

    *Thanks to KathyF, who noted that in paying rent, everyone pays into property taxes, and that by buying anything, everyone pays into state taxes. And a portion of both of these go to pay for k-12 education. However (this is me again), at least in Iowa we are also dependent on federal monies and grants to keep our school system going. And this federal money is collected via federal income tax, which anyone who gets paid "under the table" or "in cash" does not contribute to. I note again that the article that sparked all this does focus on the fact that the student in question cannot receive federal student aid.

  • 10 April 2006

    Afternoon Update

    The garden photos are up. I had fun with the Notes feature of flickr.

    Slow Start Monday

    What a gorgeous weekend it was! Spring weather (a bit chilly on Saturday, but at least sunny), so we spent a lot of time outdoors. I'll be posting some of our seedling pictures later. On Sunday, the Consort played with the city Ultimate league, as he does most Sundays (and Wednesdays, too). I decided that instead of making the rye bread I had planned to bake, we would all go spend a few hours in the park. While he ran and ran, we took a walk along the river, stood on the bridge, and watched the water flow beneath us. Today promises to be nice and warm as well.

    Impera is wearing a skirt to school (!! -- Back in 3rd grade she only wore skirts. I had to make the rounds of the consignment stores in the area to get enough long skirts for her [they had to be long because a lot of Montessori work is done on small rugs on the floor, so comfort and modesty were a must]. Then she swore off skirts completely for the past 3 years. I would buy one a season, so in case she had to "dress up" [rather infrequently with our lifestyle], she'd have something. But now, in the Spring of 6th grade, she mentioned that she might like to have a couple of skirts. !!)

    Tomorrow I won't be around most of the day because Impera's team has made it to the final round of the Battle of the Books. The kids are all very excited. So are the teachers; this is the first team Impera's school has ever had for this competition. I've been having a lot of fun meeting with the kids on a weekly basis, chatting about books. It looks like we will at least continue next year as well. Huzzah!

    Sorry for the randomness. I'm sure I had tons of more pertinent things to say about heavier topics, but that will have to wait until later, I suppose.

    07 April 2006

    Substituting Links for Actual Blogging

    Sorry, people, my energy level is still too low from the cold to write up my usual pseudo-humorous drivel, so instead, check out the newcomer to my links list (ducking for apples [but I haven't OK'd that addition with Ally herself yet...]) and my new list of food blogs. I put KathyF in the food blogs section too because on Wednesdays she usually does a food post, and they are always tasty-looking vegetarian recipes.

    On Wednesday I made the papaya-coconut cupcakes with ginger-lime frosting by Chockylit, and they were delicious. Click on the link if only to see the gorgeous picture of the cupckes (no, I did not frost mine so fancily, but I did garnish each with lime zest --pretty pretty).

    I'll have to blog about the kitchen redo later... *achoo*!

    06 April 2006

    News and Achoos

    So what's your favorite remedy for getting over a cold? I've got one (a cold, that is), and that's the "achoos" of the title.

    Well, today, the remedy I followed was "Spend two hours with the consultant finalizing the plan for redoing the kitchen" (need I say, it wasn't very successful?*). But that's the "news": Hopefully by the end of May, our 1960s outdated and awkwardly set up kitchen will be new new new!

    We figure that either: (a) The Consort won't get tenure, in which case a kitchen redo is a very good investment when preparing to sell a house, or (b) The Consort will get tenure, in which case the teeny tiny increase in pay from Assistant to Associate professor will help us pay off the new kitchen. But even if (b) turns out to be true, we might not stay here past 3 more years, hence we're back to the reasoning behind (a).

    Now, excuse me while I go stick my head above a bowl of steaming water.

    *The remedy, not the consultation. That went fine.

    05 April 2006

    Word Wednesday: Why Would I Want That?

    There is a sign at the counter of my local Walgreens pharmacy. It has been bugging me and bugging me for a few months now. It says:

    We Sell Diabetic Shoes
    Ask Us About Them
    This Purchase Might Be Right For You

    And I can’t help but wonder: Why?

    Who would want to buy footwear that has a chronic disease? I have a thing about feet (I’ll have to blog about that at some point), so I certainly wouldn’t want special needs shoes—I can barely stand taking care of my perfectly healthy feet. Yuck!

    And what kind of special care would they require? When you’re diabetic, you have to regulate you sugar intake, right? So, would my diabetic shoes need me to regulate their sweat (which follows one set of pronounciation rules to sound “sweet”) intake? Gross!—Don’t even think about that!!!

    And would my diabetic shoes need diabetic socks? (I’m pretty sure I saw an infomercial about them at some point.) And would the tingling that affects 60% of diabetics affect the shoes? (More importantly, would the tingling transfer to my feet while I was wearing the shoes?)

    And how would I know if the shoes were getting worse, or if they were stable? And if they were getting worse, how much would it cost me for the inevitable amputation? And then, would I be required to wear shoes that are missing the front third, with my toes wiggling out there for all to see? Or could I "retire" them at this point? (Dare I say, shoe euthanasia [I mean, are shoes considered on the same level as humans?])

    This is what happens when a meaningless sign is put up in a public place.

    04 April 2006

    "The politics of taxing / The politics of ooo paying out"*

    Huzzah! Huzzah! Our taxes are done, and I will pick them up today. —What’s that? How much are we getting back? Why, nothing, of course. We will owe around $400 all told (federal and state).

    That’s good for several reasons. First, it’s been typically closer to $1,000 owed, so only $400 is fantabulous (this “owing” is, I believe, due to being a freelancer, where no two years are exactly the same, income-wise). Another reason it’s a positive thing is that it means I did better than we thought I would. And the fact that we’re getting closer to zero owed also means we’re doing a better and better job of guesstimating correctly on what I should be paying in estimated taxes (yeah, flip side of the coin).

    But the strongest reason for owing rather than getting a refund is this: Sure, you’re psyched that you got $2,423 in tax refund (that’s the average tax refund so far this year, according to Time magazine). But that’s a $2,400 loan you gave the government this year, interest-free. Imagine how powerful that money would have been if you had been able to keep it in your own bushel basket (well, I’d hope you’d do something better than keep your talents under a bushel basket, but…). At least you’d be able to get some interest off it. Do you realize that Americans overwithhold $10 billion annually? Ten. Billion. Golly gee willikers!

    Now, before you go off thinking I’m turning libertarian, I’m not. I still believe that our responsibility to our community (for education, health care, welfare, etc.) includes paying a heck of a lot more in taxes, and I would pay more willingly (as long as we could stop insisting that so much of it should go to paved roads and corporate loopholes). But it makes no sense whatsoever to give money interest-free to the government (one that lately is using my money in terrible terrible ways).

    So, how much did you get back? Are you still as excited about getting a refund? Enquiring minds want to know…

    *Sorry, I've had "The Politics of Dancing" plyaing in my head for the past 24 hours. I don't know why. I took it to be a sign.

    03 April 2006

    Imperatrix, Bully Extraordinaire

    The other day I couldn’t find my tea mug. The Consort helped me look (by searching in all my recent pre-Alzheimer’s favorite forgetful places), and even working together we couldn’t find it anywhere. Now, before you say “Pshaw pshaw, mugs get lost and mugs get found. It’s no big deal,” let me show you a picture of my mug:

    Arrgh! I can't! Because Blogger won't let me! Grrrrrrr.

    As the lovely Vanna White Barbie can attest, it is VERY BIG (about 6.5 inches tall and 4 inches diameter). So this is not some dainty eggshell china teacup that can be easily mislaid. This is a Mother of a Mug. So where could it be? It just made no sense that something that big could continue to conceal itself from two intrepid mug-hunters.

    “I think I’m going to have to ask Bendita,” I said. “Yes! Yes!” shouted the children. “If you want to,” said the Consort. (I should have wondered then about his less-than-enthused reply.)

    Who is Bendita? She is a house fairy. And she helps you find things. I don’t remember where we learned about her. A few years ago, we had lost something (I can’t remember what), and until we found it we couldn’t get on with our evening. So after looking for a while, I gave up and went upstairs to take a shower, which I needed to do anyway. When I had dried off and gotten dressed, the girls ran upstairs shouting, “It worked! It worked! Bendita helped us find it!!” They explained about Bendita, in little-kid terms, and whatever they said sounded fine to me, but I quickly forgot the details (something about writing her name on a piece of paper, tossing it into the air, and looking for the paper but finding your missing item?). And we haven’t had cause to use “The Bendita Trick” again for the past 3 years.

    So back to my mug. This was becoming quite a bother, so I decided that yes, I had nothing to lose, I might as well give Bendita a shot. I asked the Consort what I was supposed to do.

    “Well, you write her name on a piece of paper.”
    “Then you fold it up.”
    “Got it.”
    “Then you call out ‘Bendita, I have caught you here and won’t let you go until I find my missing item!’”
    “'Bendita! I have …' uh … erm … So what you’re saying is I have to take her hostage?"
    “…And threaten not to release her until I find my mug?”
    “That’s the extent of it. But don’t forget to put the folded up piece of paper under a chair leg while you’re searching.”

    Now, readers, I’d like to say that I decided not to do it. But I was missing my mug!

    So I rationalized it as a National Emergency, and went through with it. But it isn’t like you find it right away, oh no. She’s a tricksy little thing, is Bendita. She makes you work for it. And while you search, you feel more and more guilty.

    “Maybe I should just let her go. This is ridiculous.”

    “But if you do that,” warned the Consort, “it’ll be that you went back on your word.”

    “Right. With children and house fairies, you can’t ever go back on your word. You lose street cred that way.”

    So I dejectedly continued searching. I felt like the worst kind of bully, holding an innocent fairy captive until I got my way. I felt dirty in my soul. And, people, I don’t know why I did it, but I opened the microwave door.

    And there was my mug! Halleluiah!

    Thank you, Bendita!

    But I don’t think I’ll be finding things this way again.