Wednesday, October 31, 2007


It's that time again! National Novel Writing Month starts tomorrow, and I'm going to take another fling at it. Didn't finish last year's effort, what with Gordo's computer dying and other crises, although I made a good start on a novel which I would like to finish, maybe after I'm done with NaNoWriMo, which goes all November. The goal is to write a 50,000 word (minimum) novel by the last day of November. This year I'm going to work on anecdotal stories, mostly about animals I've known and worked with. It won't have a plot, per se, so I don't know if it really counts as "novel", but at least I'm working on a project which I've been thinking about for several years.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Coffee obsession

First of all: yes, I'm still chasing that cold down. I almost have it licked. Horrible, unspeakable, squamous things are draining from my sinuses. Out, out...begone! Almost there...

Now then: today's Wondermark has prompted a little editorial piece!

I don't buy coffee drinks for the same reason I don't drink in bars. 1) Too expensive! 2) too fattening, and 3) I avoid trends. (Not that drinking in bars is exactly a late-breaking trend.) I mean, seriously, can't we all just drink our coffee at home where it costs .3 cents per cup vs. $3? The alcohol scenario has always boggled my mind. The money people would save by having a drink at home with a couple of friends would buy them a car after one year! Not only that, you can actually hear what your friend is saying in the comfort of your own home, rather than a noisy bar. Oh, and don't get me started about the ubiquitous TV sets droning on. At least at home I can choose to turn the thing off when company comes over. But I digress.

If you want your fancy-schmancy coffee cocktails, just pick up a few Italian syrups from your local grocery store; I have a chocolate one for foo-foo coffee drink moments. That plus some soy or rice milk, or actual dairy products for visitors who must have their nasal congestion, and what more do you need?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Insty Villain!

Archie McPhee does it again!

Although I think this could double as an "Instant Elizabethan Guy" kit by replacing the monocle with a pomander. What's not to like?

Yes, this is what I do when I'm sick and cranky from editing video on my stoneknivesandbearskins computer...I window shop at McPhee's.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

"I'm dying, you know!"

It's true. That's not just a quote from Pearl Forrester in a host segment from Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode #703, "Deathstalker and the Warrior's From Hell", it's my life right now. Right on cue (a little theater pun, there), during the very last performance of "Bell, Book & Candle", last night, I could feel my throat swelling up and becoming painful, my sinuses swelling, and aches starting to climb from my feet through all my joints. As of now I am officially SICK thanks to some carrier of vile diseases whom I have encountered in the last week, thank you so much.

I have a tendency to hold myself together when life gets busy and stressful, then completely go to bits the minute it's over. Soooo, after months of ren faire and the aforementioned we are: the infirmery.

To add insult to injury, I found several months ago that there are NO clips from the MST3k treatment of "Deathstalker" to be found anywhere on the internet, including the usually bountiful YouTube. I can only guess that the makers of this gem don't want their precious product being bandied about the web willy nilly with no fees changing hands. Did they systematically track down the nefarious "pirate" postings and demand their removal? If so, they just axed the only free marketing they'll ever get, because it's a BAD movie folks! The only watchable version IS the MST3k version, and I'd love to buy a nice commercial copy, but I'm guessing the rights expired and are not about to be renewed for the folks at Rhino home video. So I give you a lame screen cap of the bed-ridden Pearl, instead.

Do I feel better now. No! I feel like I've been waylaid in an alley by drunken press-gangers and beaten with a belaying pin over 90% of my body. To quote another fine screen villain, Dr. Smith, "The pain! The painnn!!!" Luckily, I have a big bottle of nighttime cold meds with my name on it, sweet oblivion, here I come...

PS For those who care, that's not all I'm doing. I'm also overdosing on Vit. C and zinc, so I expect improvement soon...I hope.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Got the cat door/insert thingy more or less finished just in time for the rains to start in earnest. If we get a nice warmish day next week maybe I'll put some paint on it so it doesn't look quite so okie.

I just glued the shims/spacers in because I was too lazy to find screws, but that can be retrofitted later.

At least it's sealed and not just rattling around in the plywood anymore. Now, if the cats can just deal with having to open their own door (the horror!)...

When I said The Rains had started, I wasn't kidding. Yesterday's gale force winds have sucked major moisture in off the ocean, and we're about to get a good soaking. For those of you who think it rains non-stop in western Washington, I have news for you: it doesn't. Yes, we have a lot of gray days, but actual garden-watering rain? Nah. To quote a preacher from Uganda who was guest speaker at our church late this last Spring on a misty Sunday morning, "Never have I seen such small rain!" You want "big" rain? Visit his home, or anywhere in the tropics, or the Carolina's. There's a reason it's humid back east in the Summer. Unless you're out on the East side of the Olympic Mountains in the official rain forest (one of two temperate rainforests in the world), it's just not that rainy here. But I digress...

As I puttered away on the cat door project it grew darker and darker. Then just as I was installing it, there was a flash of lightening and a huge clap of thunder...which seemed to roll on for much longer than was warranted by such a quickie lightning strike. Concerned about the horses, I hurried over to where I could see into the pasture. Stampede? Agitation? Anything? No, our animals are poster children for the "Too Dumb to Come in Out of the Rain" society. That's Woody, too mellow to notice the life-threatening fire from the sky, which is fine by me.

Today's Happy Homemaker Hint: Get your husband to split some cedar logs salvaged from your dad's summer tree trimming project, then stack the logs by the wood stove. Instant cedar room freshener!

Thursday, October 18, 2007


In the past few years I've been experimenting with baking using ingredients that are actually good for you, unlike the usual white wheat flour (a.k.a. wallpaper paste) which has next to NO food value and is actually bad for just about everybody on the planet, and not just for the high gluten and carb content. Oops, almost went on a "white food" tirade there. Anyway... I've been having good results in the scone, biscuit, cake, and cookie departments, and have decided to start sharing my results with you, the viewers at home.

Why bake with anything but wheat flour? How about because if you put it in your mouth it should be actual FOOD, people! Seriously, we are what we eat, in more ways than one. Remember "an apple a day keeps the doctor away?". Well, it's more than a trite truism, it's God's own truth. Why is diabetes and heart disease so rampant in our (mostly Western) society today? Because we eat GARBAGE! Processed wheat, sugars, and cow derived dairy products (un-cultured) are a major contributor to a general decline in health over the last hundred years. Stop it! Eat whole, raw, unadulterated (un-processed, -genetically altered, -over-hybridized) food and reap the benefits! Ack...inadvertant tirade. Sorry.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program...

Biscuits. What's not to like? Unless you're getting them from out of a cardboard tube. No matter how cute that little pasty doughy mascot is, those biscuits will never hold up against anything you can make from scratch. Not only do they have a funny aftertaste, but, nutritionally speaking, they are approximately equivalent to coating your insides with wall putty, only with more net carbs. Modern wheat flour is a tool of Satan. You know why it has such long shelf life? It's the same reason so many top brands of flour say "enriched": they have to put a few things back in there because they processed all of the actual nutrition out of it. For those of you who saw "Supersize Me", this is the baking ingredient equivalent of a McBurger: it doesn't decompose because it's not food.

My answer? Get in your time machine and journey back to a place before over-processed nutritionless baking ingredients. No time machine, you say? Just dart down to your local health food store, co-op, or big grocery store that carries tons of cool things. For me, here in western Washington, it's Central Market. We don't have a Trader Joe's on the peninsula...yet (hear the big hint, Corporate Joe?)

My alternative to wheat is spelt (not to be confused with "smelt", which is a small fish and will net you something altogether different in the oven). Spelt is basically a pre-hybridization, primitive wheat. It's higher in protein, lower in gluten (which many people are sensitive or allergic to), and higher in fiber. I supplement this with other "flours" to enhance the texture of whatever I'm making, because, on it's own, it can be too coarse. Following is my recipe for baking powder biscuits, which I test drove in two different batches yesterday. My evaluation: yum! Fluffy, tasty, and never pasty (like the tube type). Good hot or cold, with jam or under stew, try them out!

Time Machine Biscuits

1 cup shortening (if you can get the 0-Transfat kind, so much the better)
3 cups white spelt flour
1/2 cup whole spelt flour
1/2 cup rice flour
2 Tablespoons sugar (I use 1 T Splenda or a dollop of agave nectar, which is healthier)
6 tsp baking powder (adjust up if first batch isn't as fluffy as you like)
1 tsp salt (use less if you increase baking powder)
1 1/2 cups soy or rice milk or cultured milk product (cow's milk is for baby cows, humans are all allergic to some degree or other)

Oven to 450 F. Cut shortening in to dry ingredients, add "milk" a bit at a time, stirring by hand until combined. There will be lumps. Knead on floured board ten times or so to even out texture. Pat out flat and use biscuit or other round cutter to cut out. Bake on ungreased sheet for 10-13 min or until just browned. Makes about 24 with a 2" cutter.

Next up: scones!

lolcats: Eric

Yesterday's photo of Eric (and Gimli and Granny) needed captions:

So there.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Storm a comin'

Looks like we're going to get the first big blow of the season sometime late tonight and into tomorrow. The jet stream is diverting our way, pushing down from the NW and into the center of the western states...which means Texas and points east are in for a rough ride. I need to get off my hinder and finish the cat door and chicken doors (in the henhouse, of course).

Update, 21:38: Got a temp hatch on the ventilation hole in the henhouse (read: put a hinge on the polygonal chunk that Bev cut out several months ago and slapped it back up with some roofing material as an additional rain-shedding device.) The cat door is crudely in place. The cats did NOT help... It just needs weatherstripping around the edges, and shimming around the actual cat flap (it's built to sit in an actual exterior door, not a piece of 1/4" plywood). Tomorrow is another day...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Comment This

I'm so slow...been blogging for months with the "comments" thingy hidden or turned off. Something weird must have happened when Blogger switched to the new format. Well, now all three of you alert readers can comment madly away now...

Those daring young men...

Just heard a radial aircraft engine wildly changing pitch and darted outside. Somebody in a biplane was up NE of our place doing acrobatics! Of course, by the time I remembered where the camera was and ran out into the pasture, he was about finished. Just as I opened the gate I heard the engine cut out: aaaaagh! He was at the top of a steep climb, hammerheaded over, went into a dive and restarted his engine. Please don't give me a heart attack like that!

No usable footage, especially since Woody stomped over and jogged my elbow while I was trying to catch the guy in action. People wonder why there are no pictures of Sasquatch... I can't even get a stinking biplane. People will never believe me.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Happy (belated) Columbo Day!

OK, so I'm late. I was belatedly celebrating my 44th birthday yesterday and besides Wondermark doesn't come out until Tuesday, so there!

Saturday, October 06, 2007


I'm very excited to report that, as of today, I am officially ten pounds lighter than I was almost a year ago! This may not sound particularly profound, especially considering there are persons in this world who are starving and would like to have that ten I shed, but still I consider it a small achievement. I'm 5' 8", and 165 lbs was pushing the envelope (and my trouser waistbands) a bit further than I liked. In fact, it put me in panic mode. Anyway, this is a nice birthday present for myself, since I'm 44 today!