Archive for October, 2011

The Shining

24 October, 2011

Five stars, meaning, I recommend everybody read The Shining by Mr Stephen King.

I was so, very, happy to have an well written book to read. I hate to admit, that many times I have thought the same things that the scary monster/father/husband thought. I guess that’s the truth of horror-fiction, there are monsters in all of us.

Parts I liked:

The writer-character thinking about the patron-artist relationship “We’ll always be friends, and the dog collar I have on you will always be ignored by mutual consent, and I’ll take good and benevolent care of you. All I ask in return is your soul. Small item….Remember my talent friend, there are Michelangelos begging everywhere in the streets of Rome...” Yup, as my portrait of me-artist-as-a-youngster, I thought similar things, and have seen others say art is about freedom, ignoring the fact that art is about communication.

The child-character thinking about adults: “But grownups were always in a turmoil, every possible action muddied over by thoughts of consequences, by self-doubt, by selfimage, by feelings of love and responsibility. Every possible choice seemed to have drawbacks, and sometimes he didn’t understand why the drawbacks were drawbacks.”  I love how King writes from child’s point of view, giving credit to what things kids can figure out, giving them credit for being smarter than we normally believe, and yet, admitting confusion and misunderstanding.

Nice visual: “He let one finger play over the words for a moment, the pad of his index finger denting against the cogs, running smoothly over the wheels.”

A well crafted story.

Thank you Mr King for writing it.

lazy Saturday

22 October, 2011

qu0tes of the day

  • MsSqueaky, regarding MrCuddles, “I don’t want him next to me, he’s stinky!”
  • MrGrunty, while looking at anatomy book, “Papa, does Squeaky have a brain?”  (Was followed with “Papa, do I have a brain?”)
  • MrCuddles, “Mommy! Razzle-dazzle”

stories

  • MrCuddles, was running back an forth, giving an hug and holding on tight to a parent, until they said, “I love you MrCuddles” then he would run to the next parent.
  • I saw Oliver-kitty, peaking around the corner, I hid on the sofa, got MsSqueaky next to me, and we hid under the blanket. I instructed her to be very still, and very quiet. I left a tiny opening, and Oliver jumped through. MsSqueaky was very happy, so was Oliver. She with a big grin, while he was purring from being petted, “I love him. We are going to keep him.”
  • We played the “Num-num and Tickle Game”. They would nervously, laughingly approach, and if they got close enough, I would grab them, tickle and num, until they giggled “stop”.
  • But, the game I like best, is when the three of them pretend to be kitties. They will crawl around, use a high-pitched voice when talking English words, but mostly just say, “Mow”. I asked what their names are, they all three are called “Mow”. This morning, MrCuddles & MsSqueaky got their kittyfood, (Cheerios) and ate it in bowls on the floor. MrG actually dipped his face down, eating like a kitty. Then they would use baby-wipes to clean the floor, I guess so it would be clean enough to eat off of.

quiet afternoon

  • MsSqueaky was playing with a zebra & skeleton on a fire truck, singing a song, “And we can be friends, we can be friends, we can be friends.We have to climb up the ladder, climb, climb, climb. All the way home, all the way home.”
  • MrGrunty was looking at a library book (Skippy Dies) MyBetterHalf  got for herself, slowly looking at each page.
  • MrCuddles was coloring and cleaning a “Mark-n-wipe” book about things that go.

chores

We did do some work, too. MyBetterHalf took MrCuddles and MsSqueaky shopping. MrG and I stayed home to paint our toe nails, and look at the “bone book” while the nail polish dried. (Later, MsSqueaky and I painted our toe nails.)  Then, this afternoon, I went out to try and clean up some of the overgrowing weeds in the yard. And what is it with holly. I cut the tree down, but today I had to go back and hack away the tiny branches that popped up out of the stump.

Halloween Haunt at Hamlin

21 October, 2011

Tonight, I picked up the children’s, and as we pulled into the drive MyBetterHalf walked out and asked “are we ready to go?” The childrens cheered.

So Hamlin Park… We rode the hay ride, twice. They did a cake walk. The twins roasted marshmallows. This year, the twins were much better at diving into the hay stack searching for candy.

Initiative 1183

20 October, 2011

I will be voting yes on Initiative 1183 in Washington State. This would end the state run monopoly on the sale of liquor in Washington. It would allow some (large) stores to sell liquor. No, this isn’t perfect, and seems to not have a way for a small specialty liquor import shop to open, maybe that can be changed in the future.

Opponents say that Costco et al are supporting this initiative so they can make money. Sure, I believe that. However, the biggest sponsors against the initiative campaign are…drum roll...Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America Inc., an out-of-state association of liquor middlemen

So, the financial backer of both sides are in it for the money. Fine by me, this goes to show you that when corporations petition the government, sometimes they petition for opposite things. So, what is in the best interest of the people of Washington…how about the moral one of:

The government should not be in the business of peddling the vices.

 

I am in total favor of liberalizing alcohol laws. (I also believe that if someone is old enough to vote, or take a bullet for their country, they deserve a beer, but that’s a different debate.)

(In the spirit of full disclosure, MyBetterHalf works for a large retail store that would benefit from the sale of liquor)

I find this offensive

19 October, 2011

I remember, a teacher in the 70s said to the class, “imagine if schools were funded like the military and the military had to have a bake sale if they wanted a new bomber.”

In Washington State, there are at least two fund raising things going on for our veterans.

A recent King County Veterans and Human Services Levy , which will continue a property tax that was started in 2005 because the needs of returning military service personal were not being met.

And, a Washington State Lottery to benefit home-town heros.

This tells me either a) the United States of America is not taking care of their veterans, or B) Washington citizens are being duped.

If Congress authorizes military action, Congress needs to take care of the people who left their homes, livelihoods, and  families to put their lives, well-being & health at risk for the United States of America. Providing for the military is not a state issue, it is a federal one.

Kitty update

18 October, 2011

Well, Oliver-kitty has been scratching MsSqueaky. I suspect part of that is she keeps trying to pick him up, much the way her hero-of-the-now Olivia does. And, she likes to give him affection, getting up in his face, pushing him down when she pets him, chasing him when he, like a cat does, gets bored and walks away. He may be getting a bit grumpier in his old age, but she is the usual victim.

The other night, when she got scratched on the nose, I unfortunately suggested maybe Oliver could find a new home. A crying MsS agreed. I felt guilty that I said it. MyBetterHalf did not like the suggestion.

Sophie-kitty usually hides from the childrens, coming out to sit on an adult’s lap after the childrens are in bed. Although at feeding time, she will brave them to get to her food.

tonight

17 October, 2011

MrGrunty wanted to play catch with me, and after a bit, I stopped so I could play with MsSqueaky. He didn’t like that plan.  I asked, of course, if I could play dinosaur with her. We had three “brontosaurus”. I got to play the daddy. MrCuddles had two lizards. We went off to find food, and MrGrunty brought buckets, “here’s blueberry” he said with a grin. So, three dinosaurs and two lizards ate three big buckets of berries, and then had tummy aches and had to go to bed. But we didn’t have a cave. MrGrunty rushed to build us one. The lizards went to go sleep in the barn. We asked if they could play with us, but MrC said no. S9 I said, “Well, it’s one thing that us dinosaurs know how to do, is keep quiet… PLOD, PLOD, PLOD” and MsSqueaky plodded the mommy & baby dinosaur behind me, both of us banging them into the floor to accet the plod.

I sometimes worry that MsS isn’t interested in sports…but then, we’ll go to the park, and she will find something to climb, or she will spend the entire time there, trying to master the monkey bars, hanging as long as she can, letting go, starting over again.

When I play baseball with MrG, MrCuddles just likes to sit on the steps and watch.

Maybe they don’t want to make MrG grumpy, because he always throws a fit if he has to share a parent at baseball.

Wild Mushroom Show

16 October, 2011

Yesterday, I talked Moonbeam into going to the Puget Sound Mycological Society annual Wild Mushroom Show. It was very fascinating, even from a logistics standpoint. They had about a hundred volunteers, sent them throughout the state, and they converged back with every color of the rainbow, plus every shade of brown, and the entire white to black spectrum, of mushrooms. Amazing things, those mushrooms, I want to learn more about them.

I do not know how the eating of mushrooms developed, because to me, too many of the poisonous ones look like something I might find in the supermarket.

I want to take the childrens someday, but right now, they are just too curious, like to touch, and like to put fingers in their mouths. And though I saw plenty of childrens there yesterday, I would not have enjoyed it whilst being continually paranoid about my childrens.

I did drag Moonbeam to a lecture about genomic analysis of fungi. I even learned what the Sanger method of genetic analysis is!

Curry

15 October, 2011

My egotistical babblings… Seriously, I have way more attitude than my talent justifies. My opinion is much stronger and focused than my knowledge. As for my experience, the more I attempt to find the Platonic Perfect Curry, the more I realize I am but tasting shadows. And yet, this is how I feel.

First, one must appreciate the philosophy of curry. Curry is an amalgamation of spices, herbs and seasonings delivered in a sauce. The food is cooked in the curry sauce, and then it is served with a grain product.

You may notice, from the above liberal definition of curry, pizza would qualify.  And I’m OK with that.

Curry, much like BBQ, is a style and technique, as opposed to a recipe.

Speaking of BBQ, my definition of that food style is ripped off from Anthony B… excellent essay. BBQ is a cooking technique developed by poor people, who could only afford tough cuts of meat, and had poor dental hygiene and so were missing teeth.  “Meat, slowly cooked, over fire.”

A great thing about being a Yankee is that Southerners will fight for the privilege of proving to me that they have the best BBQ. It’s a win for me, and all I have to say is, “the last thing on my plate, was the best I ever ate!” and it’s true, too. There is so much beautiful variety that I forget the past when I’m living in the succulent present.

So, Thai style curry, based off readings, experiments, (thanxies to friends for being Guinea pigs for ten years ), Nu- an exchange student from Thailand, Duncan-a Chinese cook studied cooking in Paris ( for a year I would pick his brain, telling him what I did at home, wondering why it tasted different than his, sometimes he’ld toss out a bit of wisdom, sometimes kindly, other times with disparaging remarks about American cooks.)

Thai style curry sauce – basic

  • Stock
  • Coconut milk – one can
  • A bit of fish oil
  • Thai curry paste
  • Sauté your meats & veggies, add them to sauce, serve over rice, top with fresh basil.

Details
Stock: easiest would be a bouillon cube. Better would be make your own, using bones, mirepoix, bay leaf. . . Read up on Escoffier, (Or the Joy of Cooking ).  There is a story, the royal chef was brought before the king, accused of theft, for a dozen pigs were ordered for the banquet, yet, the king could see no pork on the tables. The chef smiled, ” your majesty, the pigs are in the sauce, I can distill an entire pig into a single thimble, to capture the essence of the animal.” That is the philosophy of stock.

The Thai style curry paste, I buy a pre made, it’s easy to find Red, Green, Yellow, Masaman, Panang,…they all are different, they all are wonderful. Someday I’ll make mine from scratch. Remember though, for Thai style curry, use fresh herbs and spices, NOT powder. The paste needs to be thinned out, so mix it with a bit of water, warm it up in a wok with oil (sesame smells nice) so the sauce will be uniform. I say start with a teaspoon of paste, (Nu said, “like for a baby”) it is easier to add heat to a dish than to take it away. Yes, curry is spicy, but if the main flavor is “hot” you’re doing it wrong. When the paste has warmed up, you’ll feel the tingling in your nose, you can add fresh garlic; (Duncan hint) cucumber, peeled, de-seeded and pureed; sugar ( I have a sweet tooth, so I probably use too much), minced lemon grass, maybe some lime juice.

Coconut milk. Yes, it is fatty, that’s why it is so yummy. Shake before opening can. Fun fact, at Woodland Park Zoo a baby elephant was having problems, the zoo keepers had to bottle feed it. It looked bad, the baby was losing weight, until they tried coconut milk, which had the right fat content, and the baby elephant grew. If you get a “low fat” coconut milk you will

  • A) offend me artistically
  • B) have an inferior sauce
  • C) make a baby elephant cry

Add stock (~ 1/2 cup), add can of coconut milk to simmering curry paste/ spices. On low heat, stir gently until the flavors have dispersed and combined. Do not stop stiring, “not even if your girl friend is calling you on the telephone!” says Nu. Add a splash of soy sauce, and a bit of fish sauce.

Warning, fish sauce is nasty, it is the fermented remains of fish parts that no one would eat. Do not spill it. Yet, used carefully, it adds a very important flavor that rounds out the sauce.

Sauté your meat and veggies. I prefer thin strips, cooks faster, more opportunity for variety per bite. Do not make the veggies mushy. For veggies, what do you like? Use lots of color, try something new from the local Asian market. I prefer red peppers, tasty & bright. I try to use sliced water chestnuts, bamboo shoots and baby corn. Eggplant is good. Cactus is fun to say you used, though it seemed a boring vegetable to me. I suspect you’ll have a bit of pumpkin this time of year. Personally, I use maybe twice as much veggies as meat. We Americans eat way too much meat, remember, in most of the rest of the world, meat is expensive.

Add curry sauce, give a quick stir, and serve over rice.
Top with sprigs of fresh basil. I’ve had a purple “Thai” basil, which is very nice.

At a recent reunion, someone I haven’t seen for many years asked if I had perfected my curry yet. I smiled, and said no, not yet.
I guess, what I’m trying to say, is when it comes to cooking, all I know is a few tricks.

Please experiment, and bring me a few bites, it would be an honor to be a Guinea pig.

41

15 October, 2011

the other day, for my birthday… my childrens each bought me a different icecream, and after dinner we all had four types of icecream!

And, if that wasn’t enough, I also received 1491 and a beautiful 1/64 scale die-cast metal replica John Deere combine.