Friday, June 28, 2013

Shabby chic and Sheldon's chair

We're rolling into the hot weather of July, before we get to the dog days of August. That means temps in the 90s and the AC never turns off.

It also means the end of leisurely mornings. If I want to get anything done, I have to do it early. I left this morning at 8:40 for the drive to the grocery store while it was 78 degrees and when I got home it was 88.

The Dollar store continues its practice of never catching up with the price increases. More often than not, the price on the shelf sticker is at least 5-25 cents lower than the price as it rings up. That may not sound like much to you but I get paid once per month and I budget down to the nickel. I also do not get paid very much, so I budget down to the penny. Plus, it's false advertising. I don't like that.

I kept $$ aside some for the Farmers Market tomorrow, I can't wait to get some artisan bread and some fresh fruit.

I plan to make quinoa with fresh orange slices and craisins and pecans. Also, a tomato salad with feta and basil, and cantaloupe and banana smoothies.

I got a new chair at a friend's yard sale. Well, new to me. She is moving, and needed to get rid of as much as possible. She is the cleanest person ever, so I knew I would not have a problem like Penny did on Big Bang Theory with the live thing in the chair, as Sheldon had wisely warned.

Here is Sheldon relaxing in the chair before he knew where it had come from.

Here is Sheldon leaping out of the chair when Penny announced she had got it off the street. That would be me.

So back to the clean lady: here is the chair. It is a wingback in a lovely pattern of peacock. The cats had been used to the blue club chair that was in that spot for five years. It had turned into "the cat chaIr." I moved their chair from the living room to the bedroom to make room for the new one. The new one will be "the human owner of the apartment AND the cats chair."

I left the ottoman for them, but I don't want them on this wingback chair. I placed the pillow of doom atop. Heed it, sleepy felines!

However the cats are not happy. They can get on the bed. On the blue club chair. On the ottoman. On the couch. On the TV table. On the desk. The only place they cannot get on is this new chair, so of course that is all they fixate on.

 Nothing matches but maybe that is what shabby chic is all about. I hope.
The bedroom is spacious and the addition of the blue chair into the room doesn't overwhelm it or crowd it. All I need is a small footstool to go with the chair and I'll be all set.

I love a mid-century modern club chair. The blue one is not that chair. THIS is that chair:

That chair rocks!

OK back to my real life and not the chic life I live in a loft with mid-century modern furniture and a Persian rug...

Things slow down a lot around here for the week of the 4th. It is a ghost town at the grocery store and church and every other place. Not even any teachers are scooting into their classrooms to set this up or arrange that. People are just...gone.

They all go to the beach. That means either Myrtle SC or Destin FL, both of which are hot but fun. Some people go to the mountains, which is great too. Me, I'm content to stay here while they all go. It's quiet and I have my grumpy cats who are flabbergasted I had the gall to change something in the apartment, lol.

I am planning an intervention for them this week to help them recover their senses. That's going to be my holiday. You have a happy week ofthe 4th!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Nik Wallenda

Nik Wallenda is the 7th generation of a high wire walking family. On July 18, 1970, 65-year-old family patriarch Karl Wallenda performed a high-wire walk, also known as a skywalk, across the Tallulah Gorge, a gorge formed by the Tallulah River in Georgia. An estimated 30,000 people watched Wallenda perform two headstands as he crossed the quarter-mile-wide gap, says Wikipedia. This photo is the original brochure, still posted at the gorge. I snapped it when I visited there.

His great-grandson Nik tonight crossed the Little Colorado River Gorge in Navajo territory outside Grand Canyon National Park's borders about 40 miles east of the main tourist facilities. 1400 feet across...amazing. I don't know the point, but it's an amazing athletic and mental feat.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Super moon

OK, I'm lousy at night photos, and used a terrible setting and the mailbox as a tripod, but it's still kinda nice, I think.

Why I am glad Food Network dropped Paula Deen

[Ed. Note: I wrote about the issue from a Christian perspective, here]

I live in Georgia, but I'm from New England. Famous cooking personality and foodie titan Paula Deen has many supporters down here.

Her shows on Food Network are Paula Deen's Best Dishes, Paula's Party, and Paula's Home Cooking. Not to mention the shows her sons have also. She has restaurants, a line of cooking wares. She has cookbooks, and makes guest appearances on many other Cooking Channel and Food Network shows. She's everywhere.

I never liked her.

But to each his own, I said, and went on with my life.

However, a while ago it came out that she had had Type II diabetes for three years but kept it hidden, all the while cooking fatty and sugary foods on her shows. That's hypocrisy of the highest order, and lying. Then it came out that not only she had diabetes but came clean on the same day she had a lucrative contract with a drug company she was promoting to help with diabetes. That's crass greed.

NY Times put it this way:
"January 2012 when she announced she had Type 2 diabetes on the same day she endorsed the diabetes drug Victoza and a lucrative collaboration with Novo Nordisk, the drug’s manufacturer. Because she had built her career on a no-holds-barred approach to sugar and fat (creating recipes like a cheeseburger patty sandwiched between two doughnuts and a Better than Sex cake made with cake mix, pudding mix, and heavy cream), she was roundly criticized for encouraging an unhealthy diet for others, hiding her illness and then trying to profit from it. "


Then it seems she and her brother, who own a restaurant together, were being sued for sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and a creating fearful workplace in which the plaintiff (Manager Lisa Jackson) was subjected to profanity and gender discrimination among other things, on a daily basis for five years.

I read the GA lawsuit. I can't even repeat some of the things that Jackson alleges Paula Deen and her brother said, they are so crass, gross, and profane. The plaintiff has her side, and Deen of course has her side, but in this incident I paste below from the plaintiff's lawsuit, let it be known that in Deen's deposition she did not deny saying that she was planning a southern style plantation wedding- it's just that Deen discounted the slaves/racial aspect of it. Click for larger.

This is Deen's response to that allegation of the desire to have a "true southern plantation wedding."

"And I remember telling them about a restaurant that my husband and I had recently visited. And I'm wanting to think it was in Tennessee or North Carolina or somewhere, and it was so impressive. The whole entire wait staff was middle-aged black men, and they had on beautiful white jackets with a black bow tie. I mean, it was really impressive. And I remember saying I would love to have servers like that, I said, but I would be afraid that somebody would misinterpret." (source)

Go ahead and read the plaintiff's allegations, you will be shocked. There are allegations of hiring only whites to work the front of the restaurant, to calling the black staff "monkeys,", to having a black-only bathroom in the restaurant for their workers, and these things are corroborated by witnesses in other depositions.

From the deposition:
Q. Miss Deen, earlier in your testimony you indicated that one of the things that you had tried to -- that you and your husband tried to teach your children was not to use the N word in a mean way, do you recall that testimony?
A. Yes.
Q. Okay. And could you give me an example of how you have demonstrated for them a nice way to use the N word?
In the deposition it was also stated, as well as in the lawsuit alleged by the plaintiff, that the plaintiff had hired a consultant to review the evidence and make a determination as to whether there was sufficient cause to go forward with the lawsuit. There was.

Compare with Paula Deen's back-pedaling in her deposition. Deen was asked in her deposition if she had ever used the N-word. Her response was -

"Yes, of course."

Of course? Like we all do? Like it's a normal thing? No, of course NOT.

She tried to say that it was when she was held up at a bank and a black man held a gun to her head, but her response of "yes of course" belied an inner familiarity with using the word that many in the rest of America do not possess. That, plus the other times she admitted to using the word, (but could not recall exactly when), committing to an appearance on the Today Show, and then not showing up, did it for me. In reading what she is alleged to have said at the restaurant by the Manager Lisa Jackson, it all added up to a distasteful bundle I do not care to unwrap any longer.

One incident perhaps can be explained away. Or two. But using the n-word as a matter of course, planning a plantation wedding and seeking black-only waitstaff, her and her brother's repeated pattern of racial, ethnic, and gender harassment- in front of witnesses, cannot be explained away. There were just too many things to overlook.

Read the lawsuit and the deposition. It presents a dark and ugly picture. Apparently Food Network was fed up too, and they dropped Deen from the network. And I'm glad.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The little things

It's the little things...

The plastic newspaper bag

At school, the daily newspaper comes rolled up in a little plastic bag. I had asked the librarian to please put the used plastic bag into my mailbox instead of throwing it out. (My mailbox is in front of hers so I'm not asking her to take extra steps). I love using the little bags at home to put in the used kitty litter, or some organic trash I don't want laying in the garbage pail for a few days until I get the trash outside (like banana peels and peach pits). Those little bags are perfect.

I just used the last one... that's what makes me appreciate them all the more! I save the English muffin bag and the bags we put our produce in to weigh, also. But those little newspaper bags were a boon.

The hook

When I come in to the apartment I put my keys on small hook and my purse on a large hook. It's on the back of a bookcase that stands a foot away from the wall. This is so I don't have to see the bag, it's behind the bookcase. In a small apartment keeping the eye pleased with lack of clutter is important. It makes the place feel bigger, and every item counts. I'd used a nail but the nail head was actually tearing through my canvas bag strap and when I switched to a leather purse it began to do the same. A friend gave me a wonderful hook. It's white and has an incline upward so the strap doesn't stay on the hook, and it is adhered with an adhesive so I didn't have to nail it into the particle board. It is a great hook.

I come in and got out a lot every day and being able to throw my purse on the hook without having to carefully place it, or worry about a serious rip, is a small thing but it is a big thing too. Who likes many small daily aggravations? Not me.

The fan

I have a small tabletop fan that I've used for three summers now. It is metal and squats low rather than have a long stem with an oscillation. It was inexpensive and it is light and easy to carry from place to place in the apartment. I hate to turn on the air conditioner until it gets really hot, so I can save on electricity and more importantly, have the windows open to enjoy the birds. This little machine is used at least 10 hours a day, every day, and it has never failed. It is the one thing that allows me to delay putting on the AC and it is really a lifesaver. Whoever made this fan must really know about small engines, because the thing is tiny but mighty.

The screw

The tiny screw fell out of my glasses this week. I was standing in the kitchen and all of a sudden the lens to my glasses popped out and fell to the rug. I took off the frames and saw that the screw at the end of the bow had come out. This released the frame to widen itself, and they no longer held in the lens.

It is a very, very tiny screw. I got on my hands and knees with a flashlight and used my other hand to gently sweep all over the entire rug. Of course the screw is the same color of the rug, and it's about 1/32nd of an inch long. I never found the screw.

Without the screw that holds the frame together that holds the lens on the glasses that go on my head that allow me to see...I can't see. I have severe astigmatism and I cannot see things even a few feet away. I'm not allowed to drive without glasses, either. I have a spare pair but the lens prescription is a bit outdated, but they had to do until the next morning when I went to the Dollar Store and bought an eyeglasses repair kit.

One small item, the screw, makes me not be able to see. Amazing!

We take the small things in our lives for granted. The insignificant items that make our lives easier, in small ways, but those small ways accumulate to make an easier-flow to the day.

All hail the little things!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Tuscan doors

I love this photo. I took it in Tuscany. When I look over my photos all at once, they reveal that I seem to have a fascination with doors.

This is the photo before I flipped it and made it black & white.

I've posted this on the blog before, but it was three years ago, so perhaps you'll forgive the repeat. I took it also in Tuscany.

I think the cane makes it.

Cleaning, coffee, and clouds

Strong storms in GA last night left 100,000 without power.

Fortunately our area escaped the worst. There was some lightning and a few rolls of thunder and rain, and that was all. By 8:00 the sky looked like this:

I cleaned my coffee pot today. I had to wash it through with vinegar four times, and use a knife to get the dried coffee off the burner. Hey, at least it wasn't a chisel.

I swear if I was to get this place as clean as I wanted it, I'd need a crime scene crew to do it. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

It's hot, so the cats...

Today was the first day the temperatures went to 90 degrees, with real feel even higher. So I turned on the window air conditioner. This was the scene prior to turning it on:

This was the scene three seconds after I turned it on:

Okey dokey then. Once again they claim the best spot in the house

Monday, June 10, 2013

Some stuff I made last night

I mentioned that while I enjoy giving a card to someone for get well or sympathy or encouragement purposes, and that I'd found a great box of vintage ones at a yard sale, that by now I was on the last dregs at the bottom of my stationery drawer and no new yard sale finds are yielding up more cool vintage ones- so last night I made some. They are bad, I was only half-heartedly painting, while watching American Masters Johnny Carson, but I dare to post them so the more artistically advanced can laugh at my juvenile results. I know someone somewhere need a good laugh...

The large one in the group is a piece of fancy paper with a piece of tissue paper glued over the front. The one with grapes is a sewn card, I adhered the fancy grape paper by using needle and thread.

As I laid out the cards this morning I noticed the predominance of the semi-circle. I don't know what's up with that.

The one on the right is the worst card- I was going for a Tuscon sunset over cactus look but it only ended up spotchy.
I think I did a better job 9 years ago (here). I had fun though!

Sunday, June 09, 2013

My Sunday

My day was so good. I love it and I love summer.

This morning when I awoke, at my own timing, if you please, I ate a boiled egg atop a Greek kalamata homemade slab of toasted bread I'd bought at the Farmer's Market yesterday.

I had a quiet morning with coffee and prayer and reading the Sunday School lesson. Church was terrific, with a good lesson that combined with theology and laughter. The service was wonderful with a substitute preacher preaching about Jonah.

For lunch I made a sauteed vegetable and quinoa stir fry topped with feta cheese. After that, naptime.

In the afternoon I listened to another sermon and read a book about heaven for a while.

In the evening I was relaxing with my crafts. I had run out of greeting cards and frustrated at not being able to find any ephemera at yard sales like last time (a treasure trove of old greeting cards from the 1950s for $2! A treasure find never to be repeated!). I decided to make my own.

Making cards is easy, making envelopes is not. I watched a few youtube videos on how to make your own envelope, and in the end just decided to cannibalize a bunch from my box of left over Christmas cards. I have six months to worry about getting more by then.

I painted, glued, and crafted my way around a new set of greeting cards. I love to punctuate a moment with a friend with a card- for sympathy, get well, or just no reason but to encourage. Who doesn't like getting a surprise card once in a while? I go through a lot of them. I only made a few but I'm looking forward to making more at some point.

Dinner was another piece of kalamata bread topped with tomato slices and feta cheese, and some radishes. I am going to watch Anthony Bourdain in the Andes and then Food Network Star, and probably read a while longer after that.

I don't have to worry about going to bed because I don't have any particular time to get up tomorrow.

I love summer.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Egosurfing turns up the darndest things...

Why did the duck cross the road?
To prove he wasn't a chicken!

Har har.

I googled my name. What comes up are things that make me laugh. What comes up first when googling "Elizabeth Prata" is this:

I know it might be hard to tell, but this is not me.She is a bodybuilder named Elizabeth Prata who wins tournaments, and so her photo and name get onto the internet. A lot.

Another search result will yield the fact that a body of research I'd done with Dr. Margo Wood at the University of Southern Maine called "Project Story Boost: Read Alouds for Students At Risk", is now included in a book called "The Book of Reading and Writing Ideas, Tips, and Lists for the Elementary Classroom ... By Sandra Anderson. So that's pretty cool.

The chicken photo above was used by journalist Maryn McKenna in an article titled "Why We Can’t See Inside Poultry Production, and What Might Change if We Could".

That's cool. I changed the copyright on all my photos recently to fair use with credit. I am now seeing more of them appear online with credit using my name, and I like that. Mother Nature Network used it too. I like the photo a lot because the chickens look kind of aggravated, but I also like this chicken picture because it's more artsy-

It was used in an Asian journal about avian flu.

My picture of the First Congo Church of Gray was used by American Towns. I'm quoted fairly frequently on the site "Fundies Say the Darndest Things", and not positively, either, lol.

All sorts of things pop up when you google your name. Try it, and don't worry that it's called egosurfing. I do  it as an online reputation management. At least that's what I tell myself...

Monday, June 03, 2013

Summer shows begin!

Today is the first weekday of my summer vacation. Well, I was off on Friday but there is something entirely different and delicious about waking up on a Monday morning and thumbing your nose at the clock. Not that I could sleep in. Someone has to teach the cat about summer schedule. Luke, stomping all over my head since 5:00 AM will not get me up but will only make me aggravated. However it did get him his breakfast and that was the point... I have to re-establish who is in charge here.

I've written about my scheduled book reading before but I do watch TV in the summer as well. So I'll put up a list of my favorite shows. I don't watch so much during the year, because I am a snob and I eschew the silliness that passes for entertainment and the depravity that passes for advertising. Not really. I have to go to bed early for work, plus I hate commercials. I'd watch in in a heartbeat if there was something decent, anything decent, to watch. The other practical reason is that somehow in my lifetime the summer and the fall seasons have swapped.

In my youth, the days of three networks plus public TV, you watched the shows weekly from Sept to May and summer was when you went outside and played all day until the streetlights came on. It was all very orderly. If you missed a show, you missed it. At work or school the next day you felt left out when everyone was excited about Barry Manilow or Talking Heads (hey, Manilow was HUGE in the 70s) that appeared on American Bandstand the night before. You definitely didn't want to miss out on the conversation so you better make sure you were around the TV set when Ed Sullivan came on or Disney or Sonny & Cher.

Nowadays with cable, DVR, Twitter, and internet forums,you can pretty much catch up at your own leisure, which somehow takes the thrill out of it. Or not. I like my own leisure.

Anyway, during summer is when the NEW shows come on and it just so happens that I have time to watch them so it works out for me.

Sundays: Next Food Network Star
Mondays: The Glades, Longmire.
Tuesdays: Suits
Wed: Masterchef
Thu: Hell's Kitchen

Three are cooking competitions, one is a show about high-end legal beagles, and two are cop shows. Longmire is by far the best of the list. Walt Longmire is a man's man, a sheriff in the high country of Wyoming undaunted by snow or serial killers or deputies running against him. His perpetual beard stubble proves it.

My summer days go like this: (except for today, I'm already off-schedule)

--Have coffee while reading the news. Everything occurs on my laptop by the way, except for the hour of the aforementioned television shows or when I read a book.
--Listen to a sermon or read the bible, write about said sermon or bible excerpt on my blog. This could take hours.
--Write to a friend who is far away. I send her mail the old fashioned way- snail mail.
--Surf the internet, goof off, binge-watch Netflix shows.
--When evening comes, retire to the living room to read a book, then watch the show.

Repeat, except for Sunday which is church, and the one weekday a week I go "OUT". I go to Post Office, get groceries and scurry back home to do the cleaning. I've greatly simplified my daily routine, so as not to appear to be the crazy recluse that I am. Or pasty-faced computer troglodyte. Or crazy cat lady, take your pick.