Month: November 2011

One hand clapping

What is the sound of one hand clapping? Of liquid turning into droplets and expanding through space with a sound something like “Kerfloof!”  Is there a name to that sound?  I’d be satisfied, I suppose, with the science behind the event.

I used to be a diet soda addict. Now I rarely drink one. Last night I opened up a can of Diet Cherry DP. (You’ll see why this is relevant soon.) I tend to drink everything at room temperature, so I just popped the top and was running around, moving laundry and stuff from the ground floor to the top floor. On the last trip I took a few hand-held items and the recently opened room temp DP.

I swear, I just grazed the dog gate with the can.

Visualize a cartoon explosion.

The can made a strange sound which defies description – sort of like a wheeze and cough – and flexed like a wild thing. A mist of droplets erupted, filling the air around me, shooting up the walls and staircase raining on the floor, attacking the walls behind me, splattering the front door, shooting across to the oxblood leather recliner. All in a heartbeat.

I just stood there as the mist settled around me.. dripping off my glasses. The dog raised his head and looked up at me as if to say, “Whatever happened, I am NOT responsible.”

This is a white on white house. Beads of Diet Cherry DP (which, by the way, are a lovely sort of translucent claret color) trickled down the walls and pooled on the light wood of the stair treads.

While I was washing walls, doors, floors, stair treads and almost anything else in the eruption area, I noticed the soda can’s little pop-top lid buckled outwards. Apparently that scrape had set the warm soda’s bubbles into geyser mode.  The remaining sip was flat as distilled water.

This, plus the color, put me in mind of a time when I was in my late teens and came home rather late one night. I noticed a bottle of strawberry wine made by a relative which was sitting on the counter. As I eyeballed it, it seemed to me to be “working” like I remembered home canned tomatoes could be “working” (spoiling, rotting, turning to poison with botulism) and I picked it up to get a better look at it. Was this what wine was supposed to look like?  It was a mystery to me.

Just as I was holding it up to my nose to get a really good look, the cork popped out in a rotten strawberry wine geyser.  Please note, my mother’s kitchen was bone white done in an eggshell finish.  I smacked my hand over the top of the bottle (but not before the wine shot up to the ceiling and over the entire kitchen) and it shot between my fingers like Old Faithful. While saying, “Shit! SHIT! SHIT!” I’m trying to get the bottle over the sink, while slipping and sliding in the strawberry wine all over the floor.

Once I was able to towel off enough that I would not leave a boozy trail through the house, I tiptoed to my mother’s bedside and whispered rather urgently, “Mom. Mom! We have a problem.”  She rolled over, inhaled the scent of horrific strawberry wine and groaned, “Oh, my God! You’re drunk!”  Not hardly, Mom, not hardly.

It took hours to clean the kitchen. My Dad ranted and raved that the bottle could have exploded in my hand and killed me. (Who knew?) In the end we had to repaint the kitchen, using sealer to keep the red wine stains from bleeding through.

However, Diet Cherry DP does not permanently stain walls!  And since there’s no sugar in it, there’s no sticky residue. And the bottom stairs are now squeaky clean.  As are the walls and the floor and the door and the …

So what is the sound of liquid gone mad?  Is it something more than the sound of one hand clapping?

The Sand Castle

A story of love…

Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived with her Mommy and her Grandma and Grandpa. One day she gained a Daddy of the heart and a Nana and a Poppa of the heart.  She was very happy.

She loved her Grandma’s little sand castles made of glittering sand. Especially the big black one with the curving road up to the front door and all the rooms. One day, the little girl – a little princess in oh, so many ways – told her Grandma that she wanted to live in the sand castle for ever and ever.

There was room there for everyone, she explained. Mommy and Daddy. Grandma and Grandpa.  Nana and Poppa.  Room for her and even rooms for a little brother or sister – or one of both.  All this little princess knew is that you can never have too many people who love you and you’re happier and safer if all the people you love care about each other and are together forever. It makes life so much better, you know. The little girl – a princess, in so many ways – was also a very, very wise child.  Quite often children are much wiser than we give them credit for.

Grandma agreed that would be wonderful. And each time they looked at the sand castle the little girl pointed out where her room would be.  Where Grandma and Grandpa would be.  Where Nana and Poppa would be.  And she dreamed of love everlasting.  Such a precious thing to have – love and acceptance and safety and warmth and joy.

Grandma always remembered that day. Every time she looks at the black sandcastle that glitters in the light, she wonders if…  If Grandpa might still be in one wing, happily watching little children after the tutor let them go for the day. Or if the Nana and Poppa and Grandma and Grandpa might have been able to make the castle such a happy and loving place that the King and Queen and both the Princesses and the little Prince would be happy forever.

It used to be that little Princesses and Princes had extended family to take the pressure off the King and Queen who were busy running the Kingdom. There are never too many people to love you. Grandma cannot help but wonder if dividing all the kingdoms into little pieces means the future Kings and Queens just don’t get all that they need and the Kings and Queens have to work too hard.

It is easy to say that things happen and we should all just buck up and accept that life is hard, at best, and kids must learn to cope.  But my sandcastle says otherwise.

When dreams die, when the sand castles fall apart, it is a sad thing. For children. For parents. For grandparents. Perhaps it is time to dream, again, of sand castles in modern form and love and respect and joy and acceptance. And hope there is, somewhere, a wizard of great power who can make it so.  Or maybe, next time, it can be a lighthouse – something that exists in this world.

The good news is….

The good news is that I just got my entire set of DVDs to learn American Sign Language from basics through Interpreter Level.  The bad news is that I just got my entire set of DVDs to learn American Sign Language from basics through Interpreter Level. I had no idea I’d get this huge package full of DVDs. Yes, I knew it was all the DVDs and only missing the books on how to teach ASL, but, still….  I’m almost afraid do open it lest the knowledge contained therein jump out, wrestle me to the floor and knock me senseless.

I’m hoping this expensive and expansive set is Mac friendly. I just got another ASL DVD that is made for PCs only. Who knew it would be a PC only program and not a DVD that was cross-platform? Considering that Apple is probably going to be the largest maker of PCs in the world (if one includes iPhones, iPads and all the other computing platforms) then not planning for a Mac end user is poor planning.  Just sayin… I run professional level aps on my iPhone and iPad and the iPad can largely run most of my law office functions so I consider it a PC.

Anyway, since ASL II is over and ASL III is not starting for me until January I am really hoping I can get these wonderful DVDs from Everyday ASL are just the ticket to keep me revved up for the new year.  And if you are interested in free ASL videos, you can find them on Everyday ASL on Facebook. The usual disclaimers apply – I have no financial interest in this company, etc., etc.

Maybe I’ll run into some of y’all at an ASL meet-up one of these days, eh? Is there a special sign for y’all?  I’ll have to ask my ASL teacher from North Carolina.

It’s all my daughter’s fault :^)

I remember the day clearly.  I walked into my daughter’s home, looked at her and said, “Wow!  You look GREAT!” She looked dewy and fresh and yet she was not wearing a speck of makeup.  Then I looked again.  “You look like you’re not wearing makeup.  But you HAVE to be wearing makeup because I’m not seeing those angel wing freckles across your nose.  Tell me!”

And thus it began.  My love affair with Bare Minerals aka Bare Escentuals, probably aka a lot of other names.  First it was just the basic kit.  Now I have an antique commode drawer full of the stuff. $20 here, $40 there, gift cards from friends to feed my addiction.

My oldest granddaughter wears it.  My daughter wears it.  I’ve converted at least two friends.  It’s all her fault, you know.  If I’d never seen her looking so fabulous I’d never have gone there. And darn it, she continues to look wonderful!

We talk about how parents influence children.  It works both ways.  Children influence parents as well.

Last night a student said, “You look like a movie star.”  (I figure she’s talking about a gracefully aging movie star – maybe Lucy in her later years.)  We had the makeup discussion.  Uh, huh, just see what you’ve done, daughter of mine?  You’ve always been such a trend setter and now you’ve done it again.

I’m afraid to ask how she manages to have her hair look so beautiful.  I’m not sure I can afford it.

Occupy the World

I’m a supporter of the Occupy Movement (see Occupy America)  I only wondered what took everyone so long and why more are not donating, protesting, etc. This post, however, is more about how we deal with management of protesting members of the Occupy Movement.

A Facebook discussion broke out when a young person started kvetching a bit about the Occupy protesters not skirmishing with the police, who are also members of the 99%.

For those of us “of an age” to remember the Chicago Police Riots of 1968 and Kent State Massacre of students by the National Guard this was really an eye opener. Apparently the young of today do not remember how inadequate the powers that be are in dealing with protest without resorting to violence, extreme violence, and murder. At least the dogs have not yet been unleashed on unarmed and helpless people – although one dog was brutally abused and then shot to death by a D.C. cop during another type of peaceful march.

The problem is:  What do we use police for?  We have police – talking about our hard-working street and patrol cops – to protect the citizens of our country from criminal activity. Many criminals are violent. The police are trained in the use of violence in order to protect themselves from dangerous, violent, criminals.

The police have a serious job to do. They are experts in arresting drunk drivers, robbers, burglars, etc. They deal with many people who are mentally disordered, highly intoxicated on drugs and alcohol, and who are often armed with knives, guns, shivs, saps, brass knuckles and god knows what else. They are trained to subdue, and they are also trained to react quickly to anything perceived of as a threat that could end their lives.  Most of them have never had to fire a gun in the line of duty. Most hope never to do so. They are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and our neighbors and friends and virtually all of them are decent, hardworking people.

Our police are not experts in crowd management and crowd control. They try, but they just don’t have the training and experience necessary. It is too easy for things to spiral out of control.

This brings to mind the video from (I think) New York where an Iraq war veteran was there observing the Occupy protests when the police lost control and the police had their own little riot.  He shouted at them to stop abusing unarmed men and women engaged in peaceful protest. This gentleman and his fellow Armed Forces members are actually the best people we could use for crowd control.

Now there is a thought!  We have unemployed veterans who know how to deal with crowd control. They know how to deal with unarmed men and women without abusing them. They have been trained in “winning the hearts and minds.”

Why are we wasting resources of our thinly stretched police forces?  Each man or woman at an Occupy movement location could be doing what he or she really needs to be doing.

Cities could advertise for individuals from our large pool of unemployed Armed Forces who are trained in this sort of work, form an organizational structure in short order and have a special unit trained in crowd control. They could be on contract rather than a regular part of the force, so once the demonstrations were over, they could be decommissioned. In fact, these units of veterans could market themselves for crowd control and go from place to place, like smoke jumpers.

Peaceful protest is a right of every American.  We can quibble about tents or no tents, we can quibble about various things, but we’re totally stressing out our police officers and taking away from their legitimate concerns.

Let us Occupy America peacefully and agitate for change.  And let’s not allow cities  to use police as a form of repression as is going on in some Arab states.

Samovar tea

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away…. uh, wait a minute….

Once upon a time (in 1916) a little house was built in the 500 block of 5th Avenue in Anchorage that one day became the home for the Kobuk Coffee Company. In the late 1960’s Patsy James opened a shop called Goldpan Gifts in that location and it evolved from candy and Alaskan artifacts to today’s Kobuk Coffee Company.

Of course, when there’s a building this old it goes through various paint jobs and permutations.  Kimballs dry goods is no longer there – its a cafe now, but thank heavens it was there when the Anchorage Performing Arts center was built or there’d likely be no Kobuk Coffee Company it its present permutation. There was a long, hard fight by the owner of that building with the loving support of the Sourdough Anchorage community to keep that one building in place.Today, it is the only historic building left standing on the corner while the Performing Arts Center and groomed lawns, brick paths and flowers have taken over the rest of the large area. Sometimes the good guys still win.

There’s is nothing that can describe the sights in that quaint little shop nor the heavenly aromas that greet you at the door. In fact, if it wasn’t for fear of crashing into all the fine china and bric-a-brac one might swoon from sheer joy. This place was one of my favorite destinations in Anchorage. Why? Because of the Samovar Tea!  And what’s that, you might ask? Well, I’m about to tell you, Padawan, I mean Cheechako.

Samovar tea is named after the Russian samovar in which tea was brewed and from which it was served. The Kobuk usually has a nice selection of samovars in stock. And Samovar Tea is able to be brewed in one. It’s got a Black Caravan base so you’ll be fully caffeinated (a doctor friend I know drinks a pot before a long shift and says he’s bright eyed and bushy tailed all night!) and warm as toast during those long Alaskan nights.

What makes this tea different, however, is the difference between a spice tea like Market Spice and Samovar Tea.  Wow!  Ignore the steeping directions. Put your wondrous Samovar Tea in a large tea ball, add hot water, and wait for 20 minutes. Yes, 20 minutes!  It will not be bitter. The almost syrupy, hot, spicy, sweet tea (there’s no sugar in it) will roll around on your tongue like nothing you’ve ever tasted before in your life.

In fact, I’ve managed to addict people all over the country (and possibly around the world) to the joys of this incredible spice tea. I used to believe Market Spice was the ultimate. There is no comparison.  All hail Samovar Tea!  It’s a million dollar recipe held secret by this one little tea shop.  I worship at it’s feet.

It is tea season again and I’ve ordered a pound of my beloved Samovar Tea. Kept in airtight tins it keeps well over the year, but one must have a new infusion come autumn. It is steeped in orange, clove, cinnamon and heavens only knows what else and it is like drinking the ambrosia of the gods!

So, if you are in Anchorage for a visit, take your high limit credit card and stop by one the best little tea, coffee, candy, and bric-a-brack shops in the world. If you’d rather not fly, boat, or drive up there and still want to try my favorite tea, they now express ship it out. If you want to impress your friends for the holiday season you can buy a pound (in 1/4 pound containers) and they will be amazed at the wonderful smell emanating from your gift. Sorry, my friends already get it so you’ll have to find other people to impress.

The usual disclaimers – I have no financial interest. I’m merely a bone-deep fan of the best little tea shop in the world.

Autumnal Pumpkin Cauldron

Remember that picture of the Queensland Blue Pumpkin?  I found out it is a cross between a Hubbard Squash and a Cinderella Pumpkin and very good eating.  So, for yesterday’s Celtic Harvest feast at the Grove, I got up early, carved away the top, cleaned out the seeds and stringy bits and stuffed it with meats and veggies and spicy marinara sauce, then baked it at 350 for four hours in a deep pan with water in it.  Of course, the blue was long gone by the time it was done, but the capped pumpkin was a wonderful cauldron to hold in all the rich goodness stuffed into it.  And it was relatively easy to take in the large, stout baking dish – heavy, and a bit awkward to carry, but better than whacking the lovely pumpkin into pieces and putting it in a huge bowl or something,

So here we are with a look into that lovely cauldron of goodness.  I want to tell you that driving from my place to Manchester, NH was an effort not to park the car and start eating!

And it was almost all consumed by the end of the night.  Only five small plastic containers to go home with the attendees.  Yum!

Its buddy is a “Red Warty Thing” squash and I’m planning on cooking that for Thanksgiving – stuffed with sweetmeats and possibly nuts slivered over the top when it is served.


At night when the birds swoop in to nest, they seem to select on tree or bush over another.  Tonight the sparrows loaded up in a little tree in a parking lot.  The racket they produce is incredible, even for the half-deaf gal with the hearing aid. I’ve seen larger tress with bigger flocks and you can hear the chirping for blocks.

As always, an excellent blog by Avens. She is so incredibly knowledgeable about the historic underpinnings of Pagan or neo-Pagan celebrations.

She is also a multi-talented young woman who is a model, a poet, a writer, a webmaster, a content provider of stories and reports, and a businesswoman who can make things happen almost without notice. She lives life fully, which means she also lives with few regrets.(Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could all live that way?”

I suppose I should also note, she’s a “granddaughter of the heart” to me. I’ve known her since she was a wee lass of 9. Just as with my other grandchildren, I love her without reservation and admire her for the strong and wonderful person she is.


“However, I am one of those odd people well acquainted with the pagan origins of Halloween, as I was raised by neo-pagan parents who also happened to be academics. So forgive me as I ramble on about the other less mainstream aspects of this particular holiday.”

Read more at Taste it Twice.

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