Wednesday, November 30, 2005
My little online group has been having fun this week looking at webcam shots all over the world - quick look - here's a great sunrise - here it's snowing - here it's not - etc. Since it's snowing in many of the places we actually are, it's nice to see that it's snowy in many other places, and see what else is out there in small towns and big parks across the world.
There was even this other cat cam which was pretty cool, although I've yet to see any of the promised cats.
On my own webcam, yours truly made a rare appearance as I snuck up and gave boopsie a little pedicure. Like all good pedicures, it was quick and painless and makes you feel better than you started out.
Here are some other web cams in the Albany NY area, including one in Averill Park.
I did have my design notebook out last night but didn't have it in me to fiddle around with some of the ideas in my head yet. So I settled myself down to re-read part of Twyla Tharp's great book "The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use It for Life".
This book is now available in paperback folks - go get your own copy.
ooops! My bad. Apologies folks and thanks Deb for making me go back and check. Looks like it's supposed to hit paperback the end of December 2005. (Publisher: Simon & Schuster (December 27, 2005))Sorry to get your hopes up, but it will be worth the wait!
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Home sick at the moment, no doubt with some offering given to me on Black Friday at the mall. Let's just say that it involved a little sumptin-sumptin called hard chills on Monday night. Jolly. I'm off to the health care provider in awhile to see what's happening. In the meanwhile, the cats are refusing to help make me soup or coffee and basically are just short of entitled about the extra warm-bed time. Grateful is not in feline vocabulary, really.
Because of this I missed the record high temperature experienced in this neck of the woods - 66F at Albany NY's airport. I think between that and the internal temperature thing going on I had no need to reset the programmable thermostat off the low-low daytime away temp. I guess if I didn't notice, it's not a bad thing.
Finally, there must be a few of the "free-range" guinea hens still in existence. My neighbor has this notion about keeping free-range birds. He started with chickens: 20 or so Rhode Island Reds which lasted a summer. Now there's a smaller flock of guinea hens. So far one has gone to a dog, and two apparently to cars. It seems guinea hens know less about traffic than chickens. Anyway, free-range around here is somewhere between suicidal and abuse. There are foxes, coyotes, free-ranging dogs and of course motorized vehicles that are willing to weed out the weak at every turn.
But this morning, I heard the call of the females and then the call of the lone male. Perhaps they'll figure this out before it's too late. Or not.
Even Ziggy gets a bit of the fruitcake action. Tis the season! (Thanks Mom!)
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Fruitcake lovers of the world - rest easy.
The fruitcakes are in the oven! This year, I went with a little bit different idea and decided not to add all the normal fruitcake mix sort of fruit. Instead, this year's cakes will include:
* these items were soaked well in brandy and the brandy that remained after the soaking was added to the batter. As luck would have it, it was just a little over the cup called for. Sure smelled good!
- 60 oz raisins
- 60 oz golden raisins
- 30 oz currents
- 12 oz citron and lemon peel
- 9 oz chopped apricots
- 16 oz dried red cherries*
- 4 tb dried orange peel*
So now there's nothing to do but wait for the timer and hope it will be as good tasting. I haven't been disappointed yet. Better have a little dinner while I'm waiting.
Meanwhile, to add to the festive holiday feeling, there's about 3 inches of beautiful snow outside. It really came down for awhile this morning and everything looks nice and clean and wintery.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
The answer to the meaning of life and all that jazz. (hint: it's not an mp3 player)
So where have I been - cowering in retail-land in part, digging through the sewing room in part, about to take up the yearly snow shovelling task. Had a nice thanksgiving dinner with my folks, my brother and his family and two grad students from RPI. Good time and food was had by all. Ruminating on a next quilt while pinning the current one for quilting. Last night I auditioned some colors of thread for quilting.
But most importantly, the answer to life's meaning at the moment has to do with fruitcake and making some bread. How can you have turkey sandwiches without some bread, I ask you? And what's the point of living at all if there's no fruitcake?
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
There's a word for that...
I can't remember what it is, but let's just say I sat through a ninety minute talk today and wrote down two things:
Open Directory MasterThe only thing you need to know is that is ALL I wrote down and I didn't know what those things were before they were spoken and I didn't know what they were after I wrote them down.
Link Aggregate Networking
There's a name for that in educational theory lingo. I know more about that, even without coming up with the name for it, than I do about either of those two phrases. It boils down to making sure your students have a knowledge base upon which to put what you're about to teach them. Otherwise they write down two things of all you say with a big question mark after it.
That is all.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
So my life has moved from the linear 1 1/2" at a time to something more to do with area. A rather poor photo of the top I just completed:
You know, there's something comforting about the fact that in a moment of braveness you can dispose of a previous starter, mix together flour and water and the same little yeasty boyz who have served you for a year will start right up where they left off. Day two of feeding the "new" starter and it's already blowing off the containers' covers. When I measured out each starter to do the feed each one had a well-developed structure. The stiff levain was already full of gluten and air. The rye was full of bubbles throughout. Amazing.
Saturday, November 12, 2005
It was actually in December 2004 I guess that I started this bread making adventure and my oven has seen quite a few loaves in that time. I've learned that both the yeasties and me are pretty resilient and have more stick-to-it-ness than some would have guessed. I would like still to have a little more focus, but I'll take what I can get.
Last year about this time I wondered if I would ever really get back to quilting. Well that's chugging along too. I'm a few long seams away from having a new top done. Yeah yeah yeah, more of the same - those darn little squares.
I've re-learned about exposures and film and all - not more than I need to know to take the slides I need. I have the basic equipment and the knowhow and get the job done. I learned I could mow the lawn (easily) and take out the trash (no problem) and look forward to a life that has room to enjoy each moment (worth taking the time). I can sit back and enjoy the scalloped edges of the oak trees along the echoing edge of pines along route 20. I can relish the morning light hitting the kinderhook and the reeds along the highway.
Lately I've learned that sometimes you need to draw a circle both to keep those dear at hand and to keep out the clawing roar of the world. Whew - doesn't that sound dramatic? There's a lot more drama sometimes in the small steps we take to direct our lives than in the big ones.
What will tomorrow bring? Demand for more food from the yeasty boyz and the cats. A need for a heavy sweater against the frost that's due. A gladness that there's bread to bake and folks to eat it. And sure knowledge that the basics carry on every day.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Music to listen to when you're living your life 1 1/2 inches at a time:Take that Dido take a cue from Fisher and just let it go:
SurrenderIn other news, it's been about a year since I started my baking binge and I decided last night it was time to do a clean start on my starters. So I started up the ol' yeastie boyz warming tank and mixed the magical elixers of flour and water and yup, they're perking already.
I believe there’s no Hell
If you just try to love enemies as yourself
Heaven will surely hold you a place
Outer space is so friggin’ huge
I’m convinced there’s no way
we’re just spinning ‘round
the sun all day without
a purpose or an explanation
Raise the white flag
and surrender to this life
Don’t question how or why
Pour the whiskey, smell the roses
tell some jokes
Laugh before you die
It is obvious life is too short
Always seems we get it down
just in time to go
somewhere who knows where
Maybe someplace better…better
See the white light and surrender
When it’s time
don’t question how or why
Lay your arms down
and surrender to clouds
You will feel amazing
You will be amazing
What is fiction what is real?
We’ve been programmed what to feel
by the tv– by the pen
Let your heart open your eyes again
your eyes again
You know life’s too short to live it in fear
Only thing you will regret is what you
do not do at all even more than the
stupid things you do
better take the chance
Listen to your heart
no one can tell you
what your spirit wants – tell yourself (You’ll make it to Heaven)
Cool. Just another reminder that life goes on.
Last night I splurged and came home with "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" on DVD. Now, I must preface this with the fact that I couldn't imagine anyone making another version, since the Gene Wilder version is one of my top 3-5 movies of all time. But when I found out Johnny Depp would be Wonka, well I was willing to keep an open mind, since Edward Scissorshand is also on my top movie list.
I made myself a BIG bowl of popcorn and settled down to watch. Gus the cat jumped up and seemed to enjoy the first half but napped during the second half.
I have to say that for a great deal of the movie I was full of exclamations about the scenery and the casting. Parts of it were overdone - I think the bratty nasty kids don't really have to be so completely over-portrayed but I guess it helps with the notion that this is fantasy.
I loved the whole Bucket family and Charlie himself. A kid I'd like to know in person.
The chief disappointment was with the Willy Wonka character's portrayal. As played by Depp, the character seems driven by the normal childhood trauma - flashbacks, bad memories and outrageous orthodontic devices. What's up with that? Rather than being an eccentric genius with some appropriately eccentric behavior, Depp's portrayal was all about the dark side and candy-genius as retribution for parental behavior. His inability to say the words 'parent' or 'family' -- total silliness. All in all a little too dark and not faithful to the book.
I thought about it later, and in thinking about the two movies as light and dark versions of the same tale, I would have liked to see Gene Wilder in a similar, darker portrayal. I think he would still not have been so angst-driven.
I am still giving it a thumbs up, but the Wilder version stays in my top movie list without challenge. At least in the Wilder version, Wonka liked kids (if they weren't of the bratty variety) and didn't act out of his own neurosis.