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|Sunday, April 20th, 2008|
|In the 'hood
We have NO street cred here in the charles_hanon household.
Today we went to one of our nearby city's most notable neighborhoods to procure a new-to-us car. The car was procured from a middle-aged gentleman whose English was more fluent than my any-other-language, but was still less fluent than could have been wished for, at times.
What made an impression on me was the house.
It was a little two-story victorian era row house. On one side was an empty lot. The other side sported a sagging small bungalow with siding that was falling off. The first thing I noticed was the porch. It was a small enough house that the wrap-around concept didn't really apply, it just had a large porch with overhang sticking out of one side of the house. There was some muted gingerbread woodwork, and the whole porch was painted an arresting cobalt blue. BLUE BLUE BLUE it said to passers-by.
While we were waiting for the person we'd come to see, at least three other youngish to middle-aged gentleman were seen coming out of the house, sitting on the steps, smoking a cigarette, going back in, etc. One of them was out the whole time and conversed with us in a fragmentary fashion. I think there was some type of rug out on the porch, and maybe a chair, but I wasn't paying close attention.
We were invited into the tiny front room of the house after a time. A stroller and a booster seat were located immediately past the sofa where we were sitting. In front of us, a miniscule coffee table contained a small ashtray, a remote control, a biggish lucky bamboo plant in a glass jar, and some other kind of big, thick, empty glass container. To the right was the kitchen, to the left was a pocket door, closed, and painted white with cobalt-blue accents. Directly across from us was a closed door, a couple small chairs, and an enormous southwestern-style painting.
There was a smell like cigarette smoke, cooking, and old house. Everything wore an era of exhaustion. The men looked tired, the house looked and smelled tired. Things were clean, but worn.
I am ok with anyone immigrating here, if they are like these guys. Yeah, they were living in a tired old house in a bad neighborhood, and trying to muddle their way through our impossible language, just like your ancestors & mine probably did. I hope they end up working their way to a better life.
|Tuesday, March 25th, 2008|
|Motivated by Food
I just read three Jane Austen novels in a week, and the characters there were naturally full of misunderstandings and troubles and questioning the motivations of those they love, etc. In other literature of the era, some people have simpler motivations.
Here, in "David Copperfield," by Charles Dickens, is a man who is motivated by food.
I offered him a cake as a mark of attention, which he ate at one gulp, exactly like an elephant, and which made no more impression on his big face than it would have done on an elephant's.
'Did SHE make 'em, now?' said Mr. Barkis, always leaning forward, in his slouching way, on the footboard of the cart with an arm on each knee.
'Peggotty, do you mean, sir?'
'Ah!' said Mr. Barkis. 'Her.'
'Yes. She makes all our pastry, and does all our cooking.'
'Do she though?' said Mr. Barkis. He made up his mouth as if to whistle, but he didn't whistle. He sat looking at the horse's ears, as if he saw something new there; and sat so, for a considerable time. By and by, he said:
'No sweethearts, I b'lieve?'
'Sweetmeats did you say, Mr. Barkis?' For I thought he wanted something else to eat, and had pointedly alluded to that description of refreshment.
'Hearts,' said Mr. Barkis. 'Sweet hearts; no person walks with her!'
'Ah!' he said. 'Her.'
'Oh, no. She never had a sweetheart.'
'Didn't she, though!' said Mr. Barkis.
Again he made up his mouth to whistle, and again he didn't whistle, but sat looking at the horse's ears.
'So she makes,' said Mr. Barkis, after a long interval of reflection, 'all the apple parsties, and doos all the cooking, do she?'
I replied that such was the fact.
'Well. I'll tell you what,' said Mr. Barkis. 'P'raps you might be writin' to her?'
'I shall certainly write to her,' I rejoined.
'Ah!' he said, slowly turning his eyes towards me. 'Well! If you was writin' to her, p'raps you'd recollect to say that Barkis was willin'; would you?'
'That Barkis is willing,' I repeated, innocently. 'Is that all the message?'
'Ye-es,' he said, considering. 'Ye-es. Barkis is willin'.'
|Saturday, March 15th, 2008|
|shut up shut up shut up
Based on Prov. 10:19, let's all stop talking, ok?
When words are many, sin is not absent,
but he who holds his tongue is wise. Current Mood: quiet
|Thursday, March 13th, 2008|
|Our much-eaten cheap dinner
Is... Black beans & rice. I make 2 c brown rice in a rice cooker, you make your rice however you want. The important part is the BEANS:
1 lb dry black beans
1 medium onion (more if you're an onion person, but don't use much less)
3-4 cloves garlic
1 bell pepper
1/4 c olive oil or other cooking oil
1.5 - 2 tsp salt
2 bay leaves
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
Ground black pepper to taste
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp vinegar (red wine is my fave)
The I-don't-own-a-pressure-cooker method:
1. Cover beans in water & soak overnight or for several hrs. Drain.**
2. Put beans, a chunk of bell pepper, and the bay leaves in a large saucepot. Cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat & simmer for 2 hrs or so, until the beans are nice and soft. You can cook them longer if you want more of a puree. Always keep the beans immersed in water or else they can get hard. The cooking time will vary depending on how old the beans are and how hard your water is.***
3. When the beans are getting about done, sautee onions, garlic, and the rest of the pepper in the olive oil. Cook until onions are translucent.
4. When the beans are done, drain any excessive amounts of water (you want some, but not a ton) and add the sauteed vegetables, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper to the bean pot. Cook until it's no longer soupy, then add the sugar and vinegar.
The I-DO-own-a-pressure-cooker method:****
1. Add beans, water, chunk of bell pepper, 1 tsp oil, and bay leaves to pressure cooker. In my 4.2 qt model, I add water to about an inch below the max-fill line.
2. Bring up to pressure & cook for 20 minutes after the bell starts rocking. Remove from heat, let cool for 5 minutes, and then cool under the faucet.
3. See steps three and four above. If you have the same pressure cooker I do, you shouldn't have to drain off any water.
** Some people bring the beans to a boil, then turn off the heat & let them sit for at least an hour in lieu of the overnight soak. In my kitchen the methods are equivalent.
*** Morgan_x swears you can also cook beans overnight in a crock pot. I have tried this, but mine never get soft. I think my water is too hard.
****Some people also insist on soaking the beans before pressure cooking them. Even in my hard water, this is not necessary.
Now go find more cheap dinners, courtesy of Natural Mommy
|Friday, March 7th, 2008|
|I made up my own Friday meme.
So here it is.. it is the "What I have learned from each of my LJ friends" meme. I think a couple of these people are no longer on LJ though.
Bluefuzzball taught me how to card a door lock.
From cmprince and hober I learned that I could dye hair bright screaming orange, or red.
Dayquilblue showed me where they breed clownfish in captivity.
Drragoth enlightened me as to the fact that there are actually still practicing egyptian pantheists.
Indykat introduced me to the world of miniatures.. if I'd thought about it at all before, I'd thought it was just dollhouses.
Morgan_x showed me that having all of your clothes one color makes getting dressed much, much easier.
Pergamon played the song "Around the World" by Daft Punk enough times that I will never, ever forget it. Silnith made me think that there is a preponderance of odd, long-haired, clarinet-playing engineers.
Spraints has given me instruction in the fine art of understatement.
Thankful showed me new and exciting ways to mess up Summation, and Yerica showed me new and interesting ways that Adobe Acrobat could break!
|Thursday, March 6th, 2008|
|A man who left the fundamentalist enclave
I ran across some posts by a blogger who was a professor at a super-fundamentalist Christian university. He has some posts about coming out of fundamentalism. Since I was raised as a fundamentalist, I found them pertinent.
I really liked in this post
how he describes sanctification as something that happens more naturally rather than something requiring our arduous, deliberate labor. I think this gets to the bottom of a lot of "what is my purpose in life" or "there are so many things in the world that need my attention, which do I do?" issues.
Here's a quote from another good post
"So why is it that some churches and institutions insist on a virtual litany of externalized standards? Christian schools around the nation are intent upon looking a certain way, cutting hair a certain way, making sure that some garments are long enough and that others aren’t too short. Churches that follow after these kinds of trends abound as well. But if these things have no impact on how God views us, then why observe them with such religious fervor? The answer often given is that we constrain ourselves to certain choices for expediency, “for the sake of ministry.” But what does keeping my hair short and my skirt long have to do with love? The usual answer is that we do these things because we do not want to offend, and so we defer on these issues in order to put the emphasis on Christ.
But to whom do we defer? The saved or the unsaved? The unsaved don’t recognize these external standards as having any connection to love. So we are deferring to the saved–and, obviously, really to those who hold these standards as important. Many other believers don’t hold these standards, but we must defer to those who do, for the sake of love, right?
But wait: what if some believers come up with an odd standard? (Feel free to insert your favorite regulation here: pleated pants, patterned hose, big-knotted ties, unpolished shoes, etc.) Am I supposed to follow this restriction for the sake of love? What are believers who hold these kinds of extra-biblical standards really saying? That any believer who wears pleated pants is unspiritual? Worldly? In some way deficient? This conclusion is equivalent to saying that unless I follow all of the man-made rules that might be conceived, I am not pleasing God. What then of grace? I cannot earn God’s pleasure with anything that I do. So when I place everyone else’s rules either equal to or above what I believe the Holy Spirit has led me to believe, am I not denying the grace that God has given to me?".
|Thursday, February 28th, 2008|
|Our so-called healthy snack
Here's my recipe for healthy snack day
When I hear the phrase "bran muffins," I usually think, "Ugh." But these are quite demolishable. Our 15-month old even thinks they are great. Recipe is almost identical to one from allrecipes.com.
* 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
* 2 cups packed brown sugar
* 2 tablespoons molasses
* 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 cup whole wheat flour
* 1 1/2 cups wheat bran
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 eggs
* 2 cups buttermilk
* 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Add molasses; mix well. Combine the dry ingredients. Combine eggs and buttermilk; add to creamed mixture alternately with dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips.
2. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 375 degrees F for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.
|Friday, February 22nd, 2008|
|Monday, February 18th, 2008|
The band I'm in is playing one Leroy Anderson
piece on each concert this year. Last night we played "The Phantom Regiment."
If you've ever been in much of a high school band, or a community band or orchestra, you know Leroy. Even if you don't think you do. He is famous for Bugler's Holiday, The Typewriter, Sleigh Ride, A Christmas Festival, and a litany of other works played over and over in the USA. His pieces are mostly short, sweet, and have very catchy melodies.
I am going to have "The Syncopated Clock" stuck in my head for the rest of the day now. Thanks, Leroy.
|Wednesday, February 13th, 2008|
|A cat story
Ever since our experience with Mean Kitty giving birth in the crawlspace, I've been a member of a local feral cat-related email list.
In November, someone on there was looking for a new home for two cats whose owner had died. I emailed the person and said I could provide a good outdoor-only home if no indoor home was available.
After some emailing back and forth, an indoor home was found for the friendly cat, but the completely feral one still needed somewhere to be. So, one cold day in December, a stranger came to my house with a completely wild animal in a live trap. We put him in our large pole barn, which is escape-proof, and contained a riding mower, some bushel baskets, and some plastic tubs. When we opened the trap, I could see that the cat was orange and white. He darted under the mower and stayed hidden under there.
For over a month, spraints & I took turns bringing him food and water and scooping litter. Standard procedure for relocating a feral cat is to confine it for a month because they tend to kill themselves trying to get back home otherwise. Relocating more than one cat at a time is supposed to be better, and it's also supposed to be better if the cat eventually starts to come around to human contact.
Not this guy. The only way we knew he was in the pole barn was that the food and water containers were emptied and the little box was filled. If we squatted down on the floor we could see him under the mower, but never his face. He would not look at us.
In the last week or so we started leaving the pole barn door open so that he could come out. I don't think he went outside at all the first day, but after the second day he was no longer under the mower. So we had no idea if he had made a break for his old home (25 miles away more or less) or if he was hanging out in the new hood. Normally you can tell if the cat is around by footprints in the snow, or by the food disappearing, or similar means, but we have three other cats outside so we just figured we'd never know.
Well, this morning, spraints went into the Big Red Barn (100 years old, where all the other cats live) and saw the feral cat running madly into hiding at the sound of an approaching human. So I guess he's maybe going to stick around, and our cat relocation program was somewhat successful. Hooray!
|Tuesday, February 12th, 2008|
|I wrote this when my hair was a lot longer.
It's a bad hair
Every day you wake up tangled
try to detangle yourself
but it's so futile
the knots remake themselves over and over
in complex patterns
always different, always snarled.
And now my hair is short, but it's still a "bad hair life," as was obvious when I looked in the mirror just now.
|Friday, February 8th, 2008|
|Can you believe it?
The Baby is now walking, talking, and pointing. He uses his entire hand to point and it looks very silly. He has a vocabulary of 10 or 15 words which seems to grow almost daily. He often repeats what I say & I can never tell if it's a one time only use of a new word, or if he'll remember the new word & use it again over and over and over.
He seems to have pretty good verbal skills for a 15 month old. Even more amazing for a 13 month old-- I'd say he's "caught up."
Right now I think home schooling him sounds like fun. I still reserve the right to change my mind later, but for now it seems like he would have fun and blast through everything.
|Tuesday, February 5th, 2008|
I confess, I do a great number of things that are mainstream.
But if I were ever to say, "That is SOOO MAINSTREAM of you," it would not be a compliment.
I don't think that I am ever in danger of saying that sentence to drragoth. Ever! :-)
|Saturday, February 2nd, 2008|
I made two new desserts this week: a jelly roll and gingerbread. Not gingerbread cookies. Actual gingerbread, which is more like a cake.
The jelly roll was just ok. The gingerbread was really, really good and I will make it again. Spraints asked for a gingerbread man cake for his birthday.
Last night I couldn't get back to sleep at 2 AM because I was SOO HUNGRY. I had to get up and eat something. Does this happen to anyone else? Current Mood: food-obsessed
|Thursday, January 31st, 2008|
|It is going to snow again.
It's kind of fun living in the country & getting buried in snow so that you can't leave the house.
No, really, it is!
|Friday, January 25th, 2008|
Remember that post from last week where everyone was sick?
Well, spraints was right and I was not. We did NOT have food poisoning, because we found out on Monday that at least 4 other people we see on a weekly basis all got the same thing at the same time. And if it had been food related, it would have been several more than four since about 10 of us eat the same dessert every week. Norovirus is the winner!
Hmm, can virii actually win anything? I'm not so sure about that. Current Mood: sleepy
|Thursday, January 24th, 2008|
A couple of weeks after I had my son, while he was still in the hospital, I went out to lunch with a colleague from work. I mentioned that I was a bit tired from getting up repeatedly all night to use the lactation device. The colleague I was eating lunch with told me that I should write a book. He suggested that I write down everything that I had to do, as a mother. I am not sure if he thought it would make interesting reading for publication purposes, or if he thought children should be required to read such things later so that they'd be properly grateful to their parents. He was quite serious about the suggestion.
I mulled this idea over for a while, not able at first to determine why the idea left a sour taste in my mouth. But eventually, I figured out what it was that I disliked about it. It seemed like keeping score to me, as if I were tabulating a bill or something. The things a mother does for her children are from the heart. And when something comes from the heart, I don't think it is right to keep score. I feel the same way about my friends, and other people I love. I'm not going to keep track of everything I do for them or that they do for me, and I hope they feel the same way.
|Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008|
|Pillz, part 3 : Paging Dr. Fear
This is not my most organized post ever, because it's just kind of a brain dump, but I hope you enjoy it. :-)
We live in a broken world, in a culture of fear. The media thrives on giving us the most gruesome, scary stories extant. People always say, "What if?" Part of this may be human nature, but I believe it's more helpful to focus on the best case, or at least on the "most-likely" case, rather than on the WORST case.
Enter the medical profession, masters of the worst-case scenario.
Have you ever noticed the warnings on the back of over-the-counter drugs? "Do not use this product for more than 7 days without consulting a physician." "Frequent heartburn may indicate a serious illness." Children's medicines are the winners, though. Infant tylenol, which pediatricians say to use for EVERYTHING, does not even contain a dose listing for children under 2. It says, "Ask your physician."
Look at the pages about the flu on the CDC website. Basically they barely gloss over the symptoms of the flu, and just tell you over and over again, "GET A FLU SHOT!!!"
And let's examine this gem, from chapter 4 of the CDC's "Pink book" on vaccination: (bolding mine)
"Today, vaccine-preventable diseases are at or near record lows. By
virtue of their absence, these diseases are no longer a reminder of
the benefits of vaccination. At the same time, approximately
10,000 cases of adverse events following vaccination are reported
in the U.S. each year (these include both true adverse reactions
and events that coincidentally occur after vaccination). This number
exceeds the current reported incidence of vaccine-preventable
As a result, parents and providers in the U.S.
are more likely to know someone who has experienced an adverse
event following immunization than they are to know someone who
has experienced a reportable vaccine-preventable disease. "
Do you see that? You're more likely to have a reportable adverse reaction (and physicians are really reluctant to report it unless it's a bad one, like encephalitis or demyelination) than to contract whooping cough, measles, diptheria, tetanus, HIB, etc. Yet, the rest of the pink book goes on and on about how extremely necessary these vaccines are, and how without them, we'd practically be back in the dark ages.
I asked my friend, who is 83, if she'd ever had any of the modern litany of vaccine-preventable diseases. She'd had all of them, except smallpox. Her brother got the smallpox, and she & her mother were given the vaccine & quarantined with him. She said that they were sicker than he was, from the vaccine. And the only one she'd thought was really miserable? Pertussis.
Does my child have a rash on his face? I should contact my physician, because it might get infected with a flesh-eating bacteria from scratching.
Does my child have diarrhea? I should contact my physician, because he might get dehydrated, or have Hepatitis A (which has no treatment except "wait for it to go away.")
Do I have heartburn more than once a week? I should contact my physician, because I might have a "serious condition."
On and on it goes.
And what if you are pregnant? You are supposed to get prenatal care, go to the dr. every so many weeks, get all these blood tests, get an ultrasound or three, etc. The USA has more prenatal visits than almost any other country, yet we are way up there on the infant mortality/ bad pregnancy outcome list with places like Cuba. I believe all the testing just encourages doctors to find something they think might possibly be wrong, pressure women into unnecessary interventions, introduce infection through unnecessary exams, and generally worry that their bodies might be "broken" and unable to give birth without "help." A lot of data indicates that birthing outside of a hospital with a qualified attendant is SAFER and more likely to result in good outcomes for mother & baby, but good luck finding an obstetrician who will admit this.
I was once at the doctor for a routine examination of the type I have since begun avoiding. She mentioned that my thyroid looked big.
I have absolutely no symptoms of either too much or too little thyroid- if you were to say I had a symptom of hypothyroidism, I could find a symptom of hyPERthyroidism to cancel it out. However, I was sent for an ultrasound and some blood tests.
All normal. What a waste of money.
And heaven help you if you are ever diagnosed with something that our medical establishment feels is a "chronic disease." You will be hounded to visit doctors, take tests, and take pills, all to "make sure you are doing ok." And the medicine you get might be, if you're lucky, about 30% better than doing nothing at all. Is it worth the hassle? High blood pressure, for example, runs in at least one branch of my family. My sister astutely noticed, from a cursory glance at the family tree, that everyone seemed to make it to their late 70s or early 80s at least, even BEFORE statins and diuretics and other blood pressure medicine came around. So if the blood pressure medicine gives you 5 years, is it worth going to the doctor and being hassled and poked and prodded and taking stuff that may cause other side effects like making you dizzy or cold all the time? (This is a hypothetical one for me, I seem to have inherited the "Do you even *have* blood pressure?" side of the DNA.)
Now, lest you all think I hate doctors and think they are useless after making this little rampage, that's not true. I think doctors have their place, and I have been lucky enough to have mostly pretty good doctors cross my path. What I believe that American doctors do best is fix severe problems. I don't think western medicine is any good at prevention, and it's not real great at helping you if you have a chronic disease, but if you are actually seriously ill, give birth several months early, have a compromised airway, are bleeding to death, so dehydrated you are about to die, have peritonitis, or are traumatically injured, there's no better place to be than an American hospital*. And if you actually do somehow manage to contract measles, and are one of the 1-in-4000 people who get brain swelling, to the hospital with you! But if you are just regular old sick, you might as well stay home and rest.
*= note: This is not intended to be an all-inclusive list of reasons for hospital admission. See your medical provider & HMO for details. ;-) Current Mood: green-tea caffeinated
|Friday, January 18th, 2008|
|Chicken soup to make you feel better
1 4-5 lb stewing hen (you can't get these at the grocery store. Try a farmer's market in the winter.)
3 cups chicken or turkey broth
4 chicken cubes
1 can Vernor's ginger ale
2 tsp kosher salt
3 T olive oil
1 T freshly ground pepper
1 tsp dried basil
1 carrot, sliced
3 stalks celery, sliced, including leaves
1 onion, cut up really small
About 4-5 oz of your favorite noodles
1. In a 6 qt or larger pressure cooker (mine might be 4.2 qt and the hen barely fit), put in the hen, the broth, and the ginger ale. Pressure cook at 10 psi for 30 min.
2. In a big soup pot, sautee the vegetables in the olive oil until they are starting to brown. Turn off the heat.
3. Fill a big bowl or pot half full of cold water. When the chicken is done, take the chicken out of the pressure cooker & stick it in the cold water. (Silicone oven mitts help with this job.) DO NOT discard the liquid remaining in the pressure cooker.
4. After the chicken has cooled off enough, discard the skin & pull off the meat. Set aside about 1.5 cups of cooked meat to be used in a pot pie later.
5. Put the non-pot-pie meat, pressure cooker liquid, chicken cubes, and spices into the big pot with the vegetables. Add 2 cups of water, or whatever seems about right to you (it depends how much cooked off in the pressure cooker.) You want the meat & vegetables to be thoroughly covered, and for there to be some room for the noodles. If you like your soup really brothy, add more. Bring to a boil.
6. Add the noodles and cook for however many minutes the noodle package says the noodles need.
7. Eat! Current Mood: satisfied