Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.



Kate is beside herself with anticipation. Today was her class skating party, then the kids were allowed to change into their costumes for room parties and snacks. We're finally getting around to carving our three small pumpkins, when I finish blogging. I dug out the Halloween decorations earlier this afternoon and have about 5 pounds of candy to hand out.

The weather is predicted to be near freezing overnight. Unseasonably cold, the weather reminds me of the early years of my own trick-or-treating career, of trying to fit my plastic store-bought costume over bulky sweaters or trying to figure out how to show I really did have a costume on when my mother insisted I wear my snowsuit the year we had snow. I have little photographic documentation of those years, though there was a picture floating around of me (~ age 7 or 8) as Wendy or Raggedy Ann or Wonder Woman and my brother (~ age 3 or 4) as Casper the Friendly Ghost. I have no idea where that's gotten to.

Kate is dressed as a black cat, with fluffy black ears and tail and a black body suit. I picked up a mask for myself, a mouse. She's going to be the little cat, I'll be the big mouse, and we'll wander in the cold until we're too tired or frozen to go on. I'm betting it will be the cold that drives us home again.

Sometime around Valentine's Day I'll throw out the stale remnants of her Halloween haul, to make room for chocolate kisses and candy hearts.



Dreamed about answering e-mails last night. Endless, endless e-mails.


Nothing to report

I'm afraid I'm coming down with something. Mid-afternoon this afternoon I started feeling really awful. I'd noticed swollen glands in my neck last night, and again when I work up this morning but I ignored it. Then a creeping headache that started before coffee this morning and was pounding by lunchtime. One bowl of soup later, and I was feeling full-on sick. I laid down for a little while in the afternoon, but Kate was home from school early (it was a half-day for Seattle schools today) and the neighbor boys came over to play for a while. No rest, no rest.

Of course, my brain kept mulling things over, so I spent about three hours working on the laptop from bed, while I let the drugs do their thing. More ahead of me tomorrow. Now is not the time to get sick. I leave for a couple of days in Ohio for some contentious business meetings (for my relatively thankless volunteer job) on Tuesday; I not only need my wits about me for the meeting, I need to have things in order at home before I go.




I was going to post a detailed description of what I did last night for fun, but Chris has beaten me to it.

This post has gone away from my blog to find its home on Chris's blog!



My friend JD

Jonathan Frakes


Emperor Augustus
You're Augustus

Which Roman Emperor Are You?
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Heh. At least I didn't come up Nero!


Local Cinema

I was able to buy my home in Seattle because of a neighborhood renovation project. New Holly took space that was either undeveloped ("Hmmm, there's this big field under these high voltage power lines, I'm sure we could do something else with it!") or was World War II-era public housing, and turned it into a modern "affordable" neighborhood. Now, the word affordable is relevant, of course, but the homes and townhouses that were listed for the first stage of development were unmatched for price if one was looking for a home within Seattle city limits that wasn't (literally) a one-room bungalow from 1910, or a "charming fixer-upper" in the heart of the industrial district. By choosing one of the last homes available, on the smallest lot in the development, we were just able to put every last cent into buying our home. It certainly helped that the developer was eager to sell, in order to get the rest of the funds released for further stages of the development. The prices for homes in the subsequent "stages" of the development are significantly higher than what we paid. We were extremely fortunate that timing worked out for us as it did.

We now live in a modern house, with plenty of electrical outlets, fully wired with cable and telephone connections in every room. The neighborhood has a branch library and community center, multiple parks, and is bordered with bus stops for several different bus routes. It's all very handy, and while not as full-on urban as living downtown or in the University District, it's still pretty acceptable to me.

The one thing we don't have are the other amenities people associate with urban living. There's one corner store, which I call the beer and bread store. It's the kind of place whose windows are covered in posters for Old English 800 and 24-packs of Michelob Light, which I must admit, does not meet my shopping needs. The nearest supermarket is a decrepit old Safeway, positioned next to the salvation army/gospel mission/youth outreach center a the bottom of the hill. Their selection is focused on stocking plenty of ramen noodles, white bread, Budweiser, potatoes and hamburger but it's not the sort of store where I'm able to buy more than the very generic basics (milk, cheddar cheese, frozen pancakes, soda). We have no neighborhood bar or tavern, no local butcher shop or bakery, no neighborhood restaurants (besides the very good, though exceptionally informal and tiny Willie's Taste of Soul), no shops, and certainly no Starbucks (or indy equivalent). For those things, we have to go to Columbia City.

Columbia City is not far, less than a mile from the house. It's where my daughter's school is located, and where the farmer's market runs from May to October. There is a library (currently under renovations), a couple branches of different banks, two thriving coffee shops (Starbucks and Lottie Motts), a tavern (the Columbia City Ale House), a butcher shop (Bob's Quality Meats, founded in 1909, is the oldest, continuously operating meat market in the state of Washington) that I keep meaning to try, and a couple of nice restaurants (from Willie's Taste of Soul's rival BBQ place, Jones Barbecue, to the more upscale Deux Tamales and La Medusa). Columbia City is the location of the post office I use most often, even though I technically cross the zip code line to get there I consider it "my" post office.

In addition to all these riches, there is now an organization that has started a movement to bring back a local cinema to the neighborhood. The Columbia City Cinema is definitely a work in progress, but thanks to either my association with Orca school, or maybe something I signed up for at the farmer's market, word trickled down to me about the organization, its fund-raiser showings of movies all this month, and so on. Last night I finally had the opportunity to go there and see the place (and a movie) for myself. What fun!

Films from the last few weeks have included matinees for the kids (The Brave Little Toaster, The Black Stallion, My Neighbor Totoro, James and the Giant Peach) and evening classics for the adults (This is Spinal Tap, Double Indemnity, Dr. Strangelove, Rebecca). Halloween night they've got Nosferatu on the schedule. Last night's feature was North by Northwest. We walked in immediately behind another family who had never been to the cinema before. The father, while paying, asked what millimeter the film was and was very twitchy when told we'd be seeing a DVD. "A DVD?! A DVD, on a television?!" His rising panic was palpable and started to touch off a feeling of panic in me against my will. I could vividly picture us, a sad group of viewers, huddled around a television on folding chairs, and I'd already made up my mind that I really didn't want to sit by this freaky father. He was reassured and offered a look at the screen around the corner, and I paid my fee and went in. To the right, an informal little concession stand had been erected, staffed by a grinning middle-aged woman and her husband/assistant. Fresh popcorn and sodas, suggested donation $1 each. The popcorn was great! Straight ahead is the theater itself, with a makeshift screen (little more than a two-story sheet on a wooden scaffold) and seating including cushioned wooden benches (church pews?) and yes, folding chairs! (According to their newsletter, they've had a donation of theater seats, but have to raise the money to have them transported to the theater at $3 a piece, so we may be sitting on folding chairs in the future.) In the center of it all was the DVD and projector.

Once the lights were dimmed and the movie started, I certainly lost myself in the experience and enjoyed it thoroughly. I suspect Father Freakout did as well. I was happy to pay what Chris called "New York prices" to contribute to the fundraiser, and I look forward to seeing this community cinema take shape. I can't wait to see what the schedule for November is.



From the Onion..."That guy was so much cooler than Daddy's band. I asked them to play 'Yellow Submarine,' but they said no."

They interviewed Kate for this, I'm now sure of it! (How they managed to get her comments on her father's May 2004 wedding so far in advance is beyond me, however.)


It's nice to be liked

...but it's better by far to get paid.

True in 1998, and still true today. Oh, and I officially want one of these.



Fall often makes me nostalgic. The school year begins, convention season ends, things return to a predictable, ever-darkening routine. The end of the calendar year approaches, whistling past with gathering momentum as holidays spring up, loom, and recede one after the other.

Kate is still blissfully anticipating Halloween, daily changing her mind about her desired costume, her imagination completely taken up with stories of scary houses, houses that give "pillow cases of candy," houses that give money instead of candy! Just a few more years and she'll be "too old" for trick-or-treating.

For my whole life, fall has meant the start of school, Daylight Savings Time, Halloween, my birthday (back when my birthday seemed to be something to celebrate, rather than the date my drivers license expires). A slight respite, and then on to the gluttony of Thanksgiving, the commercially manufactured and gift-wrapped prospect of Christmas crashing headlong into New Year's Eve, and the first few days of the New Year when checks and school papers are misdated and we realign our minds to the changing numerals.

Most people think of Christmas as a "winter" holiday, but I've always held December as part of autumn. Winter is that bleak period, when we get up in the dark and end work in the dark, when the least sincere of holidays (Groundhog Day? Presidents Day?) are the only breaks in the cold, leafless dark. Many tender, enraging, heartbreaking memories live in the autumns of my past; winter, not so much.


Clean and rested

Ah, what a glorious, do-nothing day! Which is not to say that I did nothing, exactly, but more that I had no demands on me in any way today. I set my own agenda, I accomplished only as much or as little as I felt like accomplishing. I meandered through the day, and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.

My big project for the day was to help Kate clean and organize her room. Her room was an unbelievable disaster, and to the point where no one could walk into it for all the junk piled on the floor. Kate has a fascination with boxes, as many kids do, and over the course of a few months will end up absconding with boxes from which she makes forts, cars, doll beds, pirate ships, you name it. Pretty soon there's a pile of boxes in her room that could house a small army of Ewoks. Stuffed animals, dolls (and their plastic accoutrements), dishes (for tea parties and picnics) and endless piles of craft-stuff (broken crayons, pencils, glitter, beads, string, and paper...so much paper).

Kate and I spent a good long time getting her things sorted, binned, crated, stacked, and generally organized. Through the well-practiced Mommy-method of distraction, I managed to clear out two bags of garbage (my definition of garbage and Kate's being quite different) and removed at least 10 cardboard boxes! Holy cow. Then I got to indulge in the obsessive part of me that likes to organize all her Polly Pocket shoes and re-dress all her naked Barbies and outfit her American Girl so the poor thing doesn't have to wear pajamas for another year straight. If you count sorting the doll clothes and organizing the doll accessories, Kate and I played with the dolls for at least an hour! I also tracked down my long lost Windows 98 CD and was able to return "her" computer to "working" order (meaning she can once again play SIM Safari or Pajama Sam, but still can't access the internet from her room, which she desperately longs to do). I'm one extension cord shy of being able to install wall lamp high enough on the wall that she can control it from her loft bed.

I did a couple of other house maintenance things (updated software on the computers, finally got the drivers downloaded so that our printer works with our upgraded OS–that only took about 6 months!) but the weather was wet and I did not feel like gardening in it, so instead I watched Trading Spaces and The Restaurant (and if there's one thing that has convinced me that I never want to go to a Rocco DiSpirito restaurant, it's seeing two episodes of that show!) and did some crossword puzzles and overall had a very peaceful, quiet Sunday. Fabulous!


Partied out

Last night I went to the birthday celebration for my friend Stan! and had a mighty nice time. We had dinner with several mutual friends and then adjourned to a private karaoke room at Seattle's Best Karaoke, where we sang all manner of crazy songs into the night. It was a kid-friendly affair and everyone was very kind to tolerate Kate's request to sing Britney Spears and N'Synch songs (the only words she actually knew being the choruses) when it was her turn. The music was ear-splittingly loud, but I learned that this does really help people lose their inhibitions and and feel more free to sing along, since you can barely hear yourself singing except during very subdued songs. And some of the attendees were actually very good singers. I, however, did not sing (except from the privacy of the corner seat I staked out early on) and that was just fine by me. As in most things, I'm actually perfectly happy to watch other people having fun without having to try it myself.

Tonight was Tim's housewarming, and again it was a Kate-friendly party. Lots of friendly game and computer geeks, including an guest appearance by Unseelie, all gathered to enjoy Tim's spiffy new house in Renton, including his surround-sound tv/Xbox/entertainment area. Several games of mediocre pool were played, and when you're an mediocre pool player, there's nothing like finding other mediocre players to play with! Much less humiliating than playing with my pool-shark younger cousins, that's for sure.

I've definitely done my socializing for the week, though. More than anything, both parties ended up being loud (dinner at a loud restaurant, karaoke, and lots of people and loud video games) and I'm perfectly content to curl up in the quiet of my own house tomorrow, I think. Or, if it's not raining, get a little more gardening accomplished. Except for tilling the side yard, I don't have any loud gardening on the agenda.



#11 Mitsuko
- #11 Mitsuko

Which Battle Royale Character are You?
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Chris's Dad is Not a Happy Man.

It's official. I'll go back to ignoring sports again now.



The Cubs are out. I did so want them to make it...

WGN was in the first cable tv package we ever had, and I spent many summers watching the Cubs, singing with crazy drunk old Harry Caray in the 7th inning stretch. My high school sweetheart was a baseball nut and a Cubs fan, and my post-high school sweetie was from Chicago and cheered for the Cubs as well. When the Atlanta Braves started their domination of the 90s, they did so with some former Cubs on their roster. Oh, don't get me wrong, as a Minnesota girl, I got swept up in the Twins run to the World Series, but those cute Cubs, those scrappy underdogs, won my girlish heart. (Ryne Sandburg helped.)

Which is why I so totally agree with Wil Wheaton's comments to That Guy.

Now, all that's left is to watch and see if the Red Sox can finally make Chris's dad a happy man.



The eminently reasonable and clever Jeff Tidball is currently on a mission: to find the candidate that earns his support for the upcoming presidential elections. He's posting the results of his search, starting with the Democrats in alphabetical order, one per day to his blog.

Sadly, I'm forced to wonder if such diligent attention to the candidates will matter in the face of news stories about GOP redistricting in Texas and the vulnerabilities of electronic voting and Wired.com reports of allegations that Diebold installed patches on its machines before the state's 2002 gubernatorial election that were never certified by independent testing authorities or cleared with Georgia election officials.

It would be easy at this point to harp on the unfortunate comments of one Wally O'Dell, but everyone is entitled to their political views. It just seems to me that we're also entitled to be suspicious when the owner of the company that's making some large portion of the fancy new voting machines also makes a public promise to deliver Ohios votes to Bush in the next election. I mean, if the tables were turned and it was one of "Clinton cronies" in Walden O'Dell's place, I can't imagine that going over too well either.


Letter from a Friend in Africa

I received a letter from a Canadian friend of mine today. She is traveling in Tanzania and Kenya with several other Canadian researchers and educators. Today, she writes about the efforts of a local Tanzanian organization that is fighting for the rights of women and children there:

Then off to a WONDERFUL organisation called Kivulini. I was SO impressed with their work. They work against domestic violence: phyical, psychological, sexual and economic. WOW. Some of their cases were horrific. They have a legal wing which takes on court cases but it is one hell of an uphill battle. They haven't won one rape case. One child was raped and injured so badly she can't walk properly. The case has been in the courts since 2001 and keeps getting postponed. Another child was raped and taken to the hospital. You have to PAY to file a police report and the aunt didn't have the money. When she came back a few days later the doctor who had examined the child had been paid off by the rapists and now refused to testify on the child's behalf. They have a bit more success with property rights (if a woman is abandoned or divorced she rarely gets ANY of the household property or money) but again, the one with the most money usually pays bribes and the courts/police etc always find in the husbands favour.

So many of the health issues we are examining have deep roots in the inequity with which woman are treated- woman attend medical facilities less because they have to have permission and money from the husband. Many of the microcredit enterprises you hear about for women actually end up putting money in the hands of the men. Women are frequently beaten very badly for asking for money, for challenging the man, just because....

I am going to very strongly suggest that we consult with Kivulini and develop a module around these issues because I think they are inextricably linked to the poor health status of women here.

There are no easy answers to the suffering in the world, but I deeply respect my friend for trying to do something for the lasting good. Her efforts come at a high personal cost for her as well, as she must leave her husband and her four children at home in Canada while she does this work. It would not be possible for her to do this without the support of the University, her husband, her parents and in-laws. It's taking quite a large effort from her entire, extended support group to even try and there is no telling what the lasting result will be. It's hard for me to conceive of undertaking something so difficult, so many reasons to become discouraged and think it's not "worth it" to even start. And yet, the thought of living in conditions that would allow my precious baby girl to be raped and injured until she could no longer walk, and being powerless to do anything about it, is so horrific, so beyond comprehension, I can't pretend it doesn't exist just because it isn't happening to me.

You go, Catherine. Good for you!!


Friend with the Crazy Neighbor update

Well, the Crazy Neighbor is out of jail and "in treatment" whatever that means. My friends have decided that it's best to move. They have restraining orders, but are smart enough to know that a restraining order doesn't keep a crazy, naked psycho neighbor out of your wife's underwear drawer...

Sorry guys, that totally sucks.


Cool or Creepy?

You decide.

Thanks to Rick for the link.



Having just read back to back this account of the actions of US troops in Iraq, and Salam Pax's August 29th blog entry I am increasingly ashamed, distraught, and disgusted by the actions of the President (who put these young soldiers in harm's way with apparently no plan whatsoever for keeping the peace) and some of the individual soldiers who seem to think they're acting out some gung-ho military superiority scene from Apocalypse Now or Good Morning Vietnam, while to the victors (or their millionaire cronies) go the spoils. Amid all this, we have the phoney letters to the editor about how gosh darn great things are going over in Iraq, distributed in the names of soldiers who have never even seen, let alone sent these things!

How can these people sleep at night?



With a hearty attitude and a gruff yet caring demeanor, you are staunchly dedicated to fighting the good fight.

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

So, this explains why it irked me so much that Gimli was the comic relief in the Lord of the Rings and Two Towers movies! Trust me, gentle reader, I am not anyone's comic relief.


Sticks and Stones?

Who says words can never hurt you? http://www.cnn.com/2003/HEALTH/10/09/ego.pain.ap/index.html

If certain game industry bigmouths imagine all those petty, hurtful comments that are so commonly flung around in regards to peoples' projects as being as painful as a physical poke in the eye, maybe they'll learn to shut the hell up sometimes, ya think?

Yeah, neither do I.


Mystic River

Went to see Mystic River last night. During the previews, Chris and I both howled with laughter at the "This Fall on the WB" Tarzan preview! It looks dreadful. Modern Tarzan in the "urban jungle of New York," falls for pretty police detective Jane. Saw a preview for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World which I've been especially curious about since JD got himself thrown out of an advanced screening. Was intrigued to see Ben Kingsley in the preview forHouse of Sand and Fog, though I probably won't make it to theaters to see that one. Big YAWN to the third Matrix movie. I didn't even bother to see the second. Maybe someday I'll watch them all on video and become as enamored of The Matrix trilogy as the rest of my geek friends, but for now I find it all beautifully dull. On the maybe pile is also The Last Samurai which looks like it could be beautiful samurai eye candy, wholly in spite of Tom Cruise.

I've been reading Mystic River, the novel, and very much enjoying it. I decided to see the movie even though I'm less than halfway through the book. You just can't count on child-free nights to go to the movies on a regular basis, and I figured I'd better see the film I was interested in even if the timing wasn't exactly right.

I enjoyed the film of Mystic River. I've read some reviews that complain that it's a movie "about" child abuse and teen murder but it doesn't "say" anything profound about them. I don't think the murder mystery, or the grand tragedy of the murdered youth is so much the point of the story at all. In fact, unusual for me, I figured out exactly where it was going and who had done what about halfway through the film. More interesting to me by far were the portrayals of those boys turned adults, how the opening incident stained and misshaped their lives. Sean Penn in particular did a great job of playing his character who tumbled through love, grief, fury, redemption, regret, revenge and back again, neither wholly good nor wholly bad. I let it wash over me, the background of poverty and struggle, desperation, shattered dreams, the kids who grow up wanting to "get out" and the embittered adults who failed to do so, the violence, the smoking and drinking and cussing working class. I know it well and it was well done. (Amusing aside: Chris laughed at one of the early throw-away references to a Boston bar, as it was the first bar that served him alcohol.)

I wrote a far longer review, but was starting to sound to arty and pretentious, so I'll just say that the supporting cast really makes the movie for me and in the end I enjoyed it.



So, I cut the guys at Empire Equipment some slack. Apparently these two brothers own the place, and they remind me so much of your typical working class Minnesota fellows that I have a hard time taking my wrath out on them. They're so good-natured and apologetic and seem to be trying so hard...

Still! Today they call me to tell me that my tiller should be there by 1pm, it was on a truck coming in from Portland. YAY! I had to be out of town until about 5:00, but I showed up shortly after that and nope, NO TILLER. Grrrrr. They immediately call the supplier they use to find out what's going on. I tell them that someone called me to say it was going to be there, and that I was running out of good weather in which to do my tilling and planting! Yes, the guy tells me, he was the one who called; his supplier told HIM it was on the way, and he doesn't know what the problem is, but he suspects that the suppliers are not carrying a lot of inventory and that things that used to be available within a day or two are now inexplicably taking weeks to arrive. He tells me that Honda makes a nice little snowblower, but that they've announced that they're sold out for the SEASON already! What if there's a blizzard, I wonder, What kind of business plan is it to have no snowblowers left before the first snow even threatens to hit?

This leads me to a digression: While I was in Minnesota this fall, my step-mom told me that the family run general store and fixture of downtown Northfield, Jacobsen's Family Store, had closed their doors this year. It wasn't the local economy, or even the competition from the chain-stores like Kmart and Target that had sprung up on the edge of town that did them in: in the end, it was their suppliers who failed them. Once upon a time, Jacobsen's was able to tell you that if they didn't have in stock a pair of galoshes in your size, or a green and black plaid shirt, or a giant corduroy floor pillow that you wanted they could get it for you within a couple of days. In fact, that level of personal service was one of the draws of shopping at Jacobsen's over Kmart! Sure, Kmart might have ten thousand identical, cheap, foreign-made plaid shirts that would do in a pinch, but if you wanted a particular brand or style of plaid shirt, it was Jacobsen's that could get it for you. Until recently. And once their suppliers started "just in time" ordering, and keeping stock levels at a bare minimum (thus being out of stock more and more often) Jake's lost that advantage and, in the end, their business.

The game business is seeing this same trend, and it worries me. More and more, distributors are stocking less and less. They don't want to be left with unsold stock, and who can blame them? Unfortunately, in their effort to protect themselves from carrying unsold stock, they are more and more often out of stock (even if it's "just for a couple of weeks") on items. This means that retailers, who also don't want to be left with unsold stock, get in the initial shipment of an item and sell through, but then either can't get any more when they want it or feel they've done well to rid themselves of the two copies they ordered and now they'll move onto the next thing rather than risk not selling restocked products. More and more often, I hear stories of customers who want a product that I know for a fact is in stock and available, most times it's well-reviewed and in-demand product and yet the stores these customers go to don't have the product. Worse still, many of them don't even try to do it the Jacobsen's way and get it especially for the person who wants it! It's the "Kmart" treatment for you: here's what we have in stock, this is what you have to choose from. Not what you wanted? Well, we can't guarantee we can get that thing for you, so how about trying this other thing instead? I can't believe that this manner of doing business will win in the long run, but it seems to be springing up more and more.

Anyway, back to Empire Equipment. These fellows were honestly caring and concerned for me as a customer. Their business card says "65 Years of Integrity" and I am convinced. I can't imagine that I would ever need any other significant equipment of the sort they sell (my yard is tiny and I don't need a riding lawn mower or leaf blowers or hedge trimmers) but they really did seem to want both my business and my good will. THAT is what makes the difference to me in this transaction. Sure, Lowes, or Eagle Hardware, or Home Depot might want my dollars, but despite their television commercials that show friendly, eager staff going out of their way to help each customer, I've found that my good will actually matters almost not at all when I'm dealing with a large chain store. They certainly have never made a move to do what the owners of Empire Equipment have done for me. They've loaned me their own personal tiller, exactly the kind I ordered for myself, for my use over the weekend or as long as I need it until my own tiller arrives! They loaded it up for me, gave me a gallon of two-cycle gasoline, and gave me a tutorial on how to work the thing. I gave them nothing but my name and phone number.

Now, if I could only get the damn thing started, I could till the night away! Much like a lawnmower or an outboard motor, the tiller has a pull-cord, and thus far I've not managed to pull that pull-cord in the right way. I've followed the directions I was given, I've pulled away at it, and believe me, I feel like a laughingstock, the goofy housewife who can't get the motor running without a man's touch. ARGH. I will prevail! I WILL till my yard and plant my plants. At least I'm one step closer...besides, it's not like gardening is about instant gratification, is it?



This pegs me as way more extroverted than I feel, but I've been practicing faking extroversion over the last couple of years...part of that "fake it til you make it" philosophy passed on by a friend.

I wonder how Jeff will score. Oh, Internet Twin...

The Big Five Personality Test
Extroverted|||||||||||| 46%
Introverted |||||||||||||| 54%
Friendly |||||||||||||||| 64%
Aggressive |||||||||| 36%
Orderly |||||||||||| 50%
Disorderly |||||||||||| 50%
Relaxed |||||||||||| 44%
Intellectual |||||||||||||||||| 76%
Practical |||||| 24%
Take Free Big 5 Personality Test


War Horse
You'd turn into a War Horse. Strong, brave and
loyal like a war horse you are protective of
family and friends and generally polite and
freindly to people you dont know or just met.
However your attitude can change quickly if
your family or friends are threatened in anyway
and you quickly fight it off. However because
of your protective attitude you can oftern find
yourself getting angry and interfering if you
see anyone being threatened and cant defend

What animal would you turn into?
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Hunter's Stew

Ok, I grew up in a hunting household. My dad loves to hunt and fish and I grew up close to both. He jokes that he remembers my birthday because of how it coincides with hunting season. My dad has brought home many a fish, pheasant, grouse, and duck in his day. Occasionally we'd even see a goose pass through, but geese, I've found, are just greasy, icky things. My dad is the sort of man who would travel to the Arctic Circle to go fishing and then just bake the whole fish with salt and pepper when he got home with it. (Seriously, he went to the Arctic Circle to go on a fishing trip one summer.)

Anyway, my dad never made anything like this Hunter's Stew recipe that ran in Cooking Light this month. But when I saw the recipe, I knew I HAD TO make it. It's no small undertaking, and I've managed to dirty the whole kitchen in the process, but my feeling it that it's totally worth it.

So worth it that I'm including the recipe here:

Hunter's Stew
Cooking Light, October 2003

1 pound dried cranberry, Great Northern, or navy beans
11 cups water, divided
2.5 cups chopped, peeled rutabaga or turnip
3 cups cubed red or Yukon gold potato
3 cups quartered crimini or button mushrooms
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
1 (5.75 - 6.25 lb.) dressed domestic duck, fresh or thawed
2 chicken drumsticks
2 chicken thighs
9 ounces sweet turkey Italian sausage
3 cups Cabernet or other dry red wine, divided
1/2 cup fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1.5 teaspoons dried summer savory
1.5 teaspoons dried thyme
1.5 teaspoons salt
1.5 teaspoons black pepper
1 14.5 ounce can fat-free, reduced sodium beef broth
2 cups croutons
Fresh parsley sprigs (optional)

1. Sort and wash beans, and place in a large Dutch oven. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans and bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain the beans and place the beans in a pan. Add 8 cups water; bring to a boil. Cover and cook 1 hour or until just slightly firm. Drain and set aside.

2. Place 3 cups water in a large stock pot; bring to a boil. Add rutabaga and cook 5 minutes. Add the potato, mushrooms, onion, carrot, and celery and return to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes or until crisp-tender. Set aside (do not drain).

3. Remove and discard giblets and neck from duck. Rinse duck with cold water; pat dry. Trim excess fat. Cut duck into 8 pieces. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add duck pieces; sauté 5 minutes on each side or until well browned. Remove from pan. Add chicken pieces, sauté for 5 minutes on each side or until well browned. Remove from pan. Add sausage; sauté 10 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from pan and cool. Slice sausage into 1"-pieces.

4. Carefully add 1/4 cup wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits, and add the pan drippings to stockpot with vegetables. Add the beans, duck, chicken, sausage, 2.75 cups wine, chopped parsley, vinegar, savory, thyme, salt, pepper, and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Cover stew and chill 8 to 24 hours.

5. Skim solid fat from surface; discard. Reheat over medium heat, stirring often to prevent scorching. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Sprinkle stew with croutons, garnish with parsley sprigs, if desired.

Serves 12 (serving size: about 2 cups stew, 1 poultry piece, 2-3 sausage pieces, about 2 tablespoons croutons)

Calories: 548 (27% from fat); FAT 16.1g (5.6g saturated, 4g mono-unsaturated, 3g poly-unsaturated) PROTEIN 55g, CARB 41g, FIBER 12g, CHOLESTEROL 195mg, IRON 8mg, SODIUM 659g, CALCIUM 128mg

Bottom line: YUM!



Spent the day extremely irritable and edgy. Started out when I was awakened at 6:45am by a phone call: someone on the east coast calling without taking into account my time difference. I didn't manage to get to the phone before they hung up, but it did serve to wake me sufficiently that I was up for the rest of the day. The caller called back again an hour later, at which point I reminded them that it was still only 7:45am and it was ceartainly far too early to be calling me! Grumble!!

Then a round of annoying, irritating, and extremely enraging e-mails cemented my mood before the "business day" had even begun.

To top it off, I STILL do not have my tiller, so work on the front yard has stopped cold and it's in a half-dug state that drives me to distraction. I'm quite irritated about this development too. I've talked to the people at the equipment place three times since placing my order, and each time I've been told that either my order has not arrived and they don't know why, or they don't know anything about my order and "someone will call back" which they don't! ARGH. If I don't have my tiller by tomorrow, I'm going out to rent one somewhere and Empire Equipment can get screwed. We're in for rain all week, and I've wasted a week of prime pre-rainy-season planting time waiting for these jokers to get their act together.

Not sure why everyone is insisting on making things more difficult than necessary lately, but I would appreciate it if everyone bent on inconveniencing me would just knock it off already.


Footie Jammies

It's been a long weekend for me, and now that I'm home, I'm curled up in bed in my adult-sized footie pajamas. Oh, how tired and sore I am...which leads me to wonder just how tired and sore Jess is, considering he ran the Portland Marathon this weekend! We're so proud of him: I'm constantly in awe of his resolve in accomplishing this feat twice now!

But I get ahead of myself.

Recap: Friday I finished screwing around with pickles and jam and finally went to bed. After getting up as usual Saturday morning, fiddling around with e-mail and errands (like going to the bank, gas station, coffee shop, etc) we finally managed to get on the road to Portland slightly before noon. We arrived at my mom's house in the mid-afternoon, met up with my brother and his wife, then the pack of us (plus the little dog) showed up at Grandma's house for our "Before you go back to Arizona" annual visit.

Grandma's little ratty Chihuahua and mom's zippy Miniature Doberman know each other but not well enough to get along. After much growling and chasing and stalking, and one minor injury as Zipper ran into my brother's giant new-age athletic shoe (attached to my brother's giant foot), the ratty hostile little dog was banished to the back room. Grandma sliced super-thin slices of frozen cake (red-white-and-blue Sarah Lee, left over from, yes, July 4th) for us all, and served it with coffee, and we made uncomfortable chit-chat. Eventually the whole group was able to have a fully fledged conversation revolving around the differences between While You Were Out and Trading Spaces, focusing mostly on the worst episodes of both.

Finally we were getting hungry for real food, and since my mom's husband was away on a hunting trip this weekend, we were all footloose and fancy free. I asked if anyone knew of any good restaurants in 'the city' and that nearly started a riot. My brother tried to reach a gay friend of his in Portland (who is renown for his good taste and restaurant recommendations) without luck. Before Grandma got going on recommending the local Chinese place (which I'm convinced must be god-awful if she eats there, as she and Al both feel coffee and a muffin at McDonalds are quite the tasty value for your dollar) or prime rib at the local seedy bar, I tried to head things off by specifying "I'm looking for something, um, up-scale." Oh, the flurry of shocked hand waving and protests from the elderly! Grandma insisted she wasn't interested in paying $20 for a tiny portion of food served on a big plate. I told her there was more to "upscale" than nuveau cuisine. "Well, you could try Shari's. They bus people over from the Senior Center to eat there. But stay away from Denny's in Wilsonville!" EXACTLY why I specified "upscale": so I would not end up at Denny's.

Tried to get my mom to choose something to her liking, but she refused. Chad and I poured over my Vindigo entries for Portland, and eventually settled on a funky Caribbean place called Salvador Molly's that seemed to be to everyone's liking. Funny: I did end up paying $15 for the Hawaiian Ono special, which came in a plenty-big portion but on a big plate. I'm sure grandma would have been appalled.

Kate and Grandma went back home with my brother and his wife, while Chris and I tried to hook up with Jess and his posse. Turns out Salvador Molly's has two locations, and he went to the one we weren't at. Then they turned tail and fled to the Limelight, which Vindigo did not have listed in the "bars" section, but did list under "restaurants and bars". After a comedy of errors and following directions not meant for drivers (take a left over the walking bridge, turn the wrong way up 12th Ave, and so on) we finally pulled up in front of the Limelight to find it completely empty. Completely by chance, I poked my head into an unlabeled doorway next to the restaurant and found the bar, complete with our friends. We managed to hang with Jess for about half an hour before he had to go home and rest for the run. We then went off to find a hotel of our own, in order not to be stuck staying in the uncomfortable accommodations offered at my mother's house.

Sunday: By the time we awoke, Jess had already been running for 20-30 minutes. We swooped down to pick up Kate, run an errand or two for my mom and then hot-footed to Portland to be there to see Jess cross the line. Yay Jess! We met up with Kathryn, awaited Jess's appearance out the other end of the runners' area, and walked with them back to their car. We then walked up to prowl Powell's Books for the first time in person (though we've ordered from the online store a few times) and Chris and Kate both found mutiple books they wanted to read. I didn't even begin to browse, and Chris lamented that he could "spend a million dollars there" just in the sections he managed to peruse in the short time we stopped in. I didn't even try to go to Powell's Books for Cooks after that. What a good girl I am!

Tried unsuccessfully to get ahold of friend Dagny, but her friend Mac had also run the marathon and he was also quite exhausted, so getting together at all afterward just wasn't in the cards.

We headed off to have a late lunch/early dinner at Kornblatt's Deli, where the matza balls are huge and the sandwhiches divine. After lunch I decided to take the kids off on a trek to Astoria since I hadn't been there in years and I didn't have anything else to do that afternoon.

We got to Astoria shortly before sunset and got ourselves a hotel. We'd already decided to play hooky and take Kate on a trip up to see Mount St. Helens. Chris had also been curious about the volcano since moving out here in 1997, so I figured it was time to stop driving past it and plan a visit. We settled into our hotel room in Astoria, overlooking the water, and could hear the sound of sea lions barking from the nearby marina. Kate and I walked down to the docks to see the sea lions close up, and we certainly did see a lot of them (we counted 47 before we gave up). Apparently a pack of sea lions make their home in the little marina there, basking on the docks, even blubbering up into some of the vacant boats! They barked and barked...past sunset and all freaking night! Yes, ALL NIGHT. I woke up a half dozen times, easily, and heard their annoying "ark ark ark" coming into the room. Ug.

Monday: Before leaving Astoria, we drove a little way to see "the must-see sight of Astoria" the Astor Column commemorating Lewis and Clark's trip to Oregon and the various significant events surrounding the founding of the town. The view from the top of the tower, (after we'd caught our breath from climbing) was fantastic, and Kate had bought a little balsa wood glider to toss from the top (an activity promoted by the tourist shop at the bottom). It was a neat little bit of history and worth noting that we could still hear the distant barking of the sea lions, though we couldn't see them anymore. Then we bid the sea lions a less-than-fond farewell and crossed the Astoria Bridge to the Washington side of the river and drove a scenic woodland road back to the relative civilization of Longview, Washington.

I took Chris and Kate to lunch at Burgerville, USA. Burgerville is a local Pacific Northwest chain of burger joints. There's one in my mom's town, several between there and Olympia, but none this far north in Washington. As far as Kate is concerned, a cheese burger is a cheese burger, but you don't get a Tillamook cheddar bacon burger, or a wild huckleberry milkshake at just any chain burger place! Fortified, we drove on up to see Mount St. Helens.

I lived in Oregon City in 1980, having just moved to Oregon from Minnesota nine or so months before the volcano exploded. I have lots of very dramatic memories of the television footage of the ash plume, the flooding, the scenes of day turning to night, of ashfall around our house and of mountains of ash accumulated in Moses Lake, Washington where my grandparents lived. This was my first visit to the new visitor centers along the road to the crater, the first time seeing the dramatic changes to the landscape first-hand. Chris sat through a movie or two about the lateral blast, and and felt better educated. I'd thought at the last minute to buy a disposable camera in Astoria, so I snapped a few pictures but then rain clouds descended on the mountain and we headed home in the rain and growing darkness.

I bought Kate a little box full of ash that she can bring to school to show her classmates, so hopefully her teachers won't be too annoyed that I called her in "sick" yesterday. I mean, we were doing something educational!



Since I was stymied in my effort to finish the yard project (and frankly, too weak-willed to go back to working at it with just a shovel) I gave myself another project for fall: preserving. As of last night, I've finished five pints of dill pickles, a half-quart of dill-pickled green beans (love these!), two pints of wild blueberry-maple-walnut jam, and four half-pint jars of organic strawberry-port wine preserves (which again this year look like they're not going to set, and will be used as sauce over vanilla ice cream: YUM!). I've got a flat of blackberries ready to go, but at the last minute decided I would rather make a blackberry-apple pie, or a blackberry crumble than make any blackberry preserves with them.

I've also got ingredients for the Hunter's Stew recipe from the latest issue of Cooking Light (carrots, potatoes, celery, rutabagas, mushrooms, chicken, duck, and Italian turkey sausage, plus dried cranberry beans and spices). You have to make it a whole day ahead of when you want it, but it sounds so good (and would go so well with blackberry-apple pie!) that I'm excited to plan it for Tuesday's dinner this far in advance.



My tiller didn't arrive yesterday, so no go on finishing the front yard. Boo.

Tomorrow we're going to Oregon where I'll take care of my family obligations, then turn out to support Jess (who is running the Portland Marathon), and hopefully run into one or two o my old friends from the area while I'm down there.

Now, data entry! Woohoo!


Writing Assignment

My friend JD is taking a creative writing class and posted the guts of their first assignment as a challenge:

Want a challenge? Our first assignment is to write a twenty-eight sentence story using each of these words (and phrases), in order, in a new sentence. (It's okay to re-use a word in a later sentence.) The words can be used in any possible context. (For example, rose can be a flower or a woman's name or the past tense of rise.)

1. Miami, Florida. 2. Puce. 3. Artichoke. 4. 3:00 a.m. 5. Hand. 6. Vanilla. 7. Cigarettes. 8. Snow. 9. Bum. 10. Rose. 11. S. 12. Arugula. 13. John. 14. Crisp. 15. Red tie. 16. Hoby. 17. The wave. 18. Autumn. 19. Clamdigging. 20. Clyde. 21. Big bang. 22. Meeting. 23. Screams of pain. 24. Alarm clock. 25. Gameboy. 26. All night. 27. Undress. 28. Pioneer Square.

I posted mine here. I may have cheated a little throught the use of semi-colons, but an hour or two is all the time I could afford to devote to it. Can't wait to see J.D.'s.


My garden

While we were on the Great Convention Tour of 2003, the front "lawn" of the house was over-run this summer with clover, dandelions, and moss. I took one look at it and knew something had to be done.

That something is, as of tomorrow, going to involve my new mini-rototiller!

I started trying to dig up the healthy patches of grass and move them clump by clump into one area, hoping I could transplant them. I ripped up large sections of clover and weeds, and when I was done with all that, what remained looked pretty pathetic indeed. I decided to go all-out and just dig up the grass and replant the whole area with flowers, shrubs, and ground cover plants. The front yard is quite small, but half-way through I realized I'd under-estimated the amount of difficult work it was going to be to turn all that dirt by hand.

Tomorrow I'm getting a little mini-tiller, the Mantis brand. I've already planted my lilac in one corner of the former "lawn", and I'm looking forward to getting the other plants in the ground tomorrow afternoon. I've got three flowering heather plants, a pale blue-green evergreen-type ground shrub, a pot of lavender, a fantastic rosemary bush, and a rhododendron to place out there. I've also got about 150 flower bulbs of various sorts that I intend to plant in lush clumps in the areas between.

After I finish with the front, I'm going to till the side-yard that runs the length of the house. It doesn't get any use whatsoever because we've had to keep the gate locked to keep brazen neighborhood kids from using my yard as a thoroughfare! They were utterly shameless! If it works out, I will be planting the side yard with flowers as well. It's just a narrow strip (less than five-feet wide) that was all bark chips when we moved in, but it's a southern exposure that faces the small kiddie park, so it gets sun all day long. This summer, weedy plants grew waist high. I have about 10 stepping stones/paving stones that I'm going to put out there, and just go to town planting flowers along both edges once I've torn up the earth with the tiller.

I've made a list of other plants I might like to acquire for the side yard and the back yard, if I still have time and energy to plant more than I have on hand right now (and if the weather holds out). I'm interested in using some plants that are native to the area or using herbs and flowers that I'm especially fond of or have use for. Low growing huckleberry, vine maple, dwarf blueberry, maidenhair fern, bearberry, a clarkia amoena, some western trumpet honeysuckle, some phlox diffusa or some goldenrod. Maybe now is the time for me to get that small Japanese maple I've been coveting. I picked up the card for an organic nursery at the farmers market today, hoo hoo!

In the week or so that I've been slowly improving the front yard, the weather has been spectacular and I've met a dozen people from the neighborhood that I'd never spoken to before. The neighbors on the corner across from me actually walked over to ask what I had planned and to tell me it was looking good. Couples out for walks made eye contact and said hello, asked how I was doing as they passed. School children walked past and acknowledged me with polite hellos and little waves. It was like a scene out of the freaky neighborhood propaganda the realtors used to sell us the house: "Seattle's first new neighborhood in a decade! Every home has a yard and a front porch! Neighbors speak easily over back fences. Aren't you glad you're HOME?" Frightening. Little did I know what kind of curiosity digging up my front yard would inspire!