Sunday, February 23, 2014

The cat and the computer

Here comes the cat.

I'm typing with one hand while I pet the cat with the other.

I'm still typing but the cat inches closer and insinuates himself between my arm and the laptop.

I'm no longer typing.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Back to school

Well, we've had a week off. Last Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday we were under the Sheriff's urging to "stay put" Snowmageddon snow storm. We had three snow days from school because we received about 7 inches of snow over the time period, ice, sleet and wind. By the time the weather cleared, Friday and today were an already scheduled winter break. So it's been a week off!

Only the Superintendent and School Board know how we'll make up the 3 days. They'll let us know when they decide. Meanwhile, tomorrow starts the hamster wheel again. Back to school!

Speaking of hamster wheel, I found a neat hamster ball online that had a kitty in it. I might get one for Murray. Of course I'd get a larger one than this one in the link, if it is available.

The weather has been sunny and warm. Today it is 57 degrees and tomorrow it will be in the mid-60s. What I love about Georgia is not just the temps, but the sun's warmth is actually warmer and stronger, earlier in the season. When you go outside and if you're protected from the wind, it is actually warm. The sun rays feel so gooood!

Breakfast today was farm fresh egg w/roasted green peppers, mushroom, tomato. Home fries, kiwi & tangerine salad. Most food from Bountiful Basket :)

Lunch was also from the goodies from Bountiful Basket: leek & potato soup, spinach salad with a boiled egg, croutons and avocado. I love the quality of the produce from BB and the plentifulness of it.

I filled the bird feeder and the birds have been loving it. Especially the chickadees. The birds are back in force, and I hear their concert every dawn and evening. The morning birdsong is very rousing around here.

She'll be comin' round the mountain when she comes...

Saturday, February 15, 2014


I watched a 7 minute video on called The Writing on the Wall. The synopsis is a lot more profound than the film.

"The city walls speak the truth of its citizens, an old saying says. Since ancient times, one could read the pulse of a people by their markings on the wall. The scars, markings and tattoos on the cement skin of the city communicate the experiences of a nation in transition.  Athens is the capital of Europe with the largest amount of graffiti. The abandonment of the city's center and its subsequent degradation has brought graffiti back into the spotlight as one of the main factors that contribute to decreasing life quality in the center. A long and old debate about the role of graffiti in the city is brought to the forefront: is it art or pollution?"

I enjoyed seeing the different styles of graffiti-art. However the editing was so quick-cut that the eye could not appreciate each one for more than a few seconds. But it is certainly an interesting discussion, is it art or is it vandalism? The people in the short film whose art was shown were definitely talented. They make art.

However to put it on buildings they don't own, and for the reason stated, "people have to see it whether they like it or not" makes it vandalism. But as the guy said,  an entry point into the art world? Well, with the internet came self-publishing, and entree into the insular world of publishing houses and authors. And MySpace allowed for musicians to enter into the sometimes corrupt and always difficult record label world. I just wish taggers don't do what they do illegally.

I was reminded of this photo I took about ten years ago. Graffiti had started appearing in the center of our town. The wide and tall brick walls outside of our school were too attractive to a graffiti-artist/vandal. The school got tagged. A school child walking by saw it and stopped to look. I wonder what she was thinking...

Bountiful Basket Day: ideas and recipes

OK, this is an incredible Bountiful Basket this week. For Veggies we got:

2 bags carrots
13 large red potatoes
2 huge bunches asparagus
7 large tomatoes (not Roma)
2 med bunches fresh spinach
2 leeks

For fruits:

a pineapple
5 bananas
9 golf ball sized tangerines (Murcotte)
7 small-med. green apples
3 avocados

I also purchased the blackberry add-on. The flat turned out to cost $1.18 each, and seeing that they usually cost $3.00 each I could not resist. I already ate 2 of the packs.

I plan to make:

Blackberry cobbler
Leek and potato soup
Spinach salad
Roasted asparagus, roasted carrots (also will roast the other half cabbage I got in the last basket 2 weeks ago and 4 green peppers from same)

I might try grilling the pineapple on the George Foreman...we'll see.

Here are some frugal tips

1. Turn oven or stove off before food is finished cooking. Not long, but a minute or two. Saving 2 min of electricity 3X a day is 6 minutes, 300 days a year saves 1800 minutes per year. You do the math. No really, you do the math. I can't figure out the kilowatt hours. Anyway, as Depression Cooking Clara Cannucciari said, "Anything to save anything."

2. Use what you have. In the BB today we received potatoes and leeks so I'll make potato leek soup. We received avocados and tangerines, so I'll make avocado tangerine salad. Driving to the store to buy one or two special ingredients to make one certain dish is expensive in terms of money, time, and gas.

3. Save twist ties. Don't throw them out after once.

4. Save the elastic bands wrapped around bunches of scallions, leeks, asparagus.

5. Save (and wash out) plastic bags that produce comes in. I bought shredded carrots in a packaged ziploc bag. Now the spinach is inside it.

6. Cook ahead. If quality food is already cooked it is available when you get peckish and want a snack. This saves on buying junk food. It also saves on buying lunches out. Bring your lunch from home. Invest in good plastic containers and bring your soups and salads to work. I also bring a lot of fruit and have several pieces throughout the day. Thanks to Bountiful Baskets, I have plenty to spare.

Here are the results of my labors. The green peppers were from the last basket. The mushrooms were $1 from the grocery store because they were brown.

Just a very few of the fresh goodies we received today in the basket
Clockwise, potato leek soup, roasted peppers,
sauteed mushrooms, roasted carrots, blackberry cobbler

Anyway, I hope you can find a Bountiful Baskets co-op near you. Or start one! It is not hard.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snowstorm Pax packed a punch but didn't knock us out

We received snow, ice, freezing rain, sleet, wind, and more during the Pax storm of February 11-13. I laid in my supplies, which were milk and bread naturally, I made soup and muffins, drew water, readied the weather radio with batteries and got out the hurricane lantern.

And joy of joys, the power stayed on! I only had a two or three minute interruption and then it popped back on. I think some of that was because we didn't get the predicted ice they said we would, but they did say we were on the edge of the snow v. ice line so it could have gone either way. I'm glad it went this way! A quarter of a million people in Georgia lost power, the greatest amount of all the southern states affected by Pax. So...

And the other reason, I am convinced, is that people heeded directions and stayed off the roads. No one was crashing around into poles and transformers. As of yesterday afternoon at the height of the storm that had been going for 20 hours, Athens police had only responded to ONE road call for crash. Yay, people!

Here is a photo I love, posted at the height of the storm, by Madison County Sheriff on his Facebook page:

Icicles on my front porch had already started to melt at sunup

The neighbor's smoker looks like a hunched R2D2 trying to walk in the snow

I need to buy more bird seed.

 The candles were ready but the power stayed ON! Yay!
There is a lot of extreme weather this week. The news reported that Slovenia is "entombed" in ice. Their word, entombed. And since the nation is paralyzed and not moving then entombed seems like an apt description. Look at some of these pics:

Guy tries to figure out how to unearth his car and make it usable again.

The trains aren't going to run for at least two more weeks, they say.

Many people are attributing this extreme weather to global warming. Even my cats are worried about it. [Not]

Madison County Sheriff wrote,

"Road conditions are beginning to improve. We would still like everyone to stay put and let the snow crews catch up. Things should be much better by this afternoon. Thank you all for heeding the warnings and staying at home, it helped tremendously!!!"

It's official. I have to stay at home. Aw shucks, what a hardship. [Not]

Till next time!!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Pax, the ridiculously named winter ice storm

Well the ridiculously named snowstorm Pax (means peace) is here. The weather men have been predicting it for days and it is living up to its hype. Cold, wind, snow, sleet, and ice. We've got it all here in GA and to prove it many thousands are without power. I got up early and took a hot shower right away and made coffee. Phew, at least I got that in before the power went out. Next in line for important duties was to post the blog entry for The End Time, and while I was at it I wrote a second one. Phew.

It wasn't long before the temps tumbled and the ticking of ice against the glass appeared. If there were 8 tiny reindeer I'd have jumped aboard and headed for Key West. I thought I left the more severe weather behind me in Maine when I moved here, but that was not to be, at least today. Ah well, we have had mild winters for the last 7 years so I can't really complain.

They say that the worst of the storm is on its way. Over 100,000 Georgians are without power as I write this, and the numbers are rising fast. So when they say the worst is yet to come for the Athens area, I believe it. I have lived through enough ice storms to have developed a healthy hate respect for them.

I've filled my sun shower, drawn water into three jugs totaling I'd estimate about 10 gallons, made food, gotten cat food and litter, batteries for the weather emergency radio, have a hurricane lantern and oil plus candles. I'm physically ready but not emotionally. I dread the tree limbs over the house and the pops and smashes through the night that indicate falling limbs and trees. I dread the ice and the cold...and the worry about pipes freezing. It is 27 degrees but the real feel is 10. I am sure the aging pipes feel every degree of that cold.

But on the plus side, there is no school, I have books, and craft projects I can do, power for now, food, cats to entertain me, and close neighbors. All is well and though Pax is ineptly named, I do fee a peace. I won't say Pax be with you, because it is predicted to barrel its way up the eastern coast of the US, but I hope  you're prepared and do feel a peace - that spring is almost here.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Crock pot, O crock pot

It is a quiet Saturday here at the Prata home. I got up early (5:45am) and brewed a pot of coffee and sat in my special chair and read for a while in the quiet. I love doing that.

It's good for me too, my predilection is to bound out of bed and launch into the day. Being productive is all-important to me. I feel lazy if I 'waste' a moment. However I make myself slow down on Friday nights and Saturday mornings so that I can catch up to myself. I believe a person can lose the art of knowing how to relax if they let themselves. Then a permanent restlessness will set in. A person would engage in movement for the sake of movement, tasks that are mindlessly accomplished or not accomplished. Futzing and dithering would become the norm. Eventually a person would become non-productive and just run in circles. I have to watch out I don't become that person. This is my opinion.

I'm reading John Grisham's latest book, a legal novel called Sycamore Row. I love legal books. A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr, which was non-fiction, is one of my favorites. So is the non-fiction legal book One L, by Scott Turow and Turow's fictional Presumed Innocent.

However it's a given that John Grisham dominates the legal fiction category. Cranking out one book a year since 1989, with at least 25 of them in the legal genre, he is the king of fictional jurisprudence. And he is a good writer, too. His stuff is good, meaning; well-written, with individually defined, realistic characters, stories that could happen and therefore I can identify with, and satisfying conclusions. And they're free from profanity, a blessing in this day and profane age.

So I sat and read, with coffee.

When that was over I made use of the cool morning to bake pineapple-sour cream muffins, and steam some potatoes. I like to have potatoes on hand so that they're done and I can add them to soups, or make home fries or whatever. I hate using time at night to cook for a long time, and weekends afford a chance to steam or roast a bunch and thrown them into stuff later. I also boiled quinoa, same reason. Then I tried a new recipe for stuffed peppers. It is Mexican dish containing quinoa and black beans, cooked in crock pot. I hardly ever use my crock pot because I don't eat meat and most crock pot recipes seem to involve meat. So this was a chance to try a new recipe and use an appliance I haven't used in a while. I hope the peppers come out good. We received 8 or so in last week's Bountiful Basket plus I'd bought 4 on severe markdown the day before. So let's just say I had a lot of peppers to use up.

Tonight I am going to a housewarming party for a person in our Sunday School class. He and his wife just built a new house, and invited us all over for chile. Our class isn't huge and we all know each other pretty well, so that will be a nice evening.

All in all, it is a nice day shaping up here in the teeny burg of Comer GA. I hope you have a nice day as well.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Small spaces and kitties with large personalities

It seems strange to still see salt on the roads and the temperatures are now in the 50s and climbing. I'm glad the storm is gone and so are any remnants, at least around here. I hate snow.

I went to pick up my Bountiful Basket this morning. This week we got:

LOTS of pears
Asian apples

beautiful broccoli
lots of tomatoes
a zucchini
lot of green peppers

I don't know what I'll make from all that, except maybe pear compote or pear cobbler because we got a LOT of pears, but other than that... I'll probably roast the broccoli since that is just so luscious. The rest...we'll see.

After I got the fruits and veggies washed and sorted, I sat down to eat a wonderful lunch. I had bought some non-preservative bread from BB and I sliced a tomato-dill piece from the baguette, and toasted it. I topped it with hummus and ate a quinoa-orange-feta salad on the side. Chai black tea finished the meal.

I live in a small space. It is two real rooms with a small ell for the tiny kitchen. So...two and a half rooms? The rooms themselves are rather large. The high ceilings help. I calculated the square footage. It's 340 sf. I excluded the bathroom. When I read in design magazines of studio apartments and small living spaces and I read 340 sf it sounds small. But my apartment feels incredibly spacious.

Here is a closeup of a detail on a handmade textile I have hanging on my wall,

Ans here is my curious kitty ready to attack my dangling lens cap

Have a wonderful day everyone.