Thursday, July 30, 2015

School starts Monday

My cat does this. I always thought it was just him, but apparently not, lol

My new cat Murray is coming along swimmingly. This summer since I've been home, he as taken to seeking me out for company. He will sit or lay at my feet, request grooming and actually purr, or bump noses with me as a hello. This is wonderful progress since for the last year since I brought him inside as a stray, he has pretty much fled whenever I even looked in his direction.

I found another television show that I really like. As I've mentioned many times, it's hard to find one that is interesting, clean, well-written, etc. And more often than not when I do find one, there was only one season of it. See Terriers (2010), Firefly (2002), Enlisted (2014), sadly, so many others.

The show I found on Netflix is "The Finder." It got one season in 2012. The premise is "An Iraq war vet suffers a brain injury that triggers the ability to see connections between seemingly unrelated events, objects or people." The setting is Key West so it would seem we can call this one a "blue skies" show. I have seen two episodes and there is an undercurrent of Christianity running through, something that others have noticed as well. Probably why it got only one season.

Ha ha now that I am looking at the cast and crew for both Enlisted (2014) and The Finder (2012) I see that the lead male character in both shows is Jeff Stults. Coincidence? I think not.

I still miss Terriers and I love Donal Logue. What a great show Terriers was.

As for Firefly, well all that's been hashed over so much. We've been mourning it for 15 years now. I notice that when Firefly was canceled its lead Nathan Fillion was depressed for a long time, heartbroken he said. When Terriers was canceled Logue became a truck driver he was so heartbroken and disgusted with how shows are made and kept and canceled. Coincidence? I think not.

I found Castle online. Yes I know it has beenon for 7 years. It really does take me a long time to wake up to things. Its lead is the aforementioned Firefly lead, Nathan Fillion.  I've been watching this summer. I like all the Firefly references in Castle. They're great insider jokes.

I like TV shows, when they're good. (Sea Patrol). I like bingeing on them when they're really good. (Sea Patrol). But all that is coming to an end. Monday I go back to work. This year they have bumped back the starting bell for parapro's day to 7:10, so I will have to leave home at 6:55 latest. Early.

We have a three-and-a-half hour convocation starting at 8:00 Monday, and then after break for lunch I'll be in my shared  classroom setting my section of it up. I'm anxious to see the schedule, how my day will go and into which classrooms I'll be sent to support the teacher. And which groups of kids I'll be taking out for small group or tutoring work. I know already that in addition to Kindergarten I'll be used in first grade and second grade. It's a busy day for sure, but good days, because they involve kids!

I will miss my afternoon naps though, my studies, and my kitties. All good things come to an end, while other good things come in to take their place. In my case, fulfilling and enjoyable employment.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Bountiful Baskets (may) be back

The Danielsville chapter of Bountiful Baskets gone away due to a lack of volunteer help with administration. I was mightily saddened over that. I'd been picking up my basket (or my friends have for me) in the next closest Georgia site: Athens. However a while ago, all of Georgia was suspended for reasons they stated were truck routing issues.  But now we've received this message from Danielsville Food Co-op (our defunct D'ville chapter):
Great news everyone! It looks like Bountiful Baskets will run in Georgia next week! There is a small catch though! We need everyone's help to show that there is still a demand in Georgia. Our numbers have been low and some other sites have been low as well. We have to get numbers up and tell all of our friends about how awesome baskets are! I don't know about y'all but my food budget has taken a huge hit since baskets have been gone! Get the word out! Start telling friends now and preparing for Monday
And reminder that Athens is our local pickup now.
My grocery bill has taken a huge hit since the Athens site closed, too, and Bountiful Baskets has not been available at all in Georgia. I forget how long it's been but at least two, maybe three months. Food is just so expensive now, and quality fruits and vegetables in abundance is such a treasure, which is what you get with BB.  So I'm posting this in hopes that anyone in Georgia who sees it will order a basket on Monday!!

Thursday, July 23, 2015


Poster for the 30-min documentary.
On the cooking shows I hear this a lot:

What I made for you today is a roasted pork loin encrusted with panko on a pea puree and a small green salad topped with Sriracha."

What is Sriracha?!?! I keep hearing that sauce mentioned. Is it something a chef makes himself, like Hollandaise? Does it come in a bottle? Is it a powder? What it is exactly?

I decided to find out. So of course I went to Hulu. There is a sweet and interesting 30-minute documentary on Sriracha's production, its history, and its invention. I enjoyed it so much!

Apparently this wonderful condiment has been gaining popularity to an astounding degree. Equally astounding is that despite its massive popularity and phenomenal growth over thirty years, it is still under the radar in most locations in the US. And despite the Asian characters on the bottle, it IS produced in the US, it always has been. But by a Vietnamese immigrant. Huffington Post has a recap:
If David Tran were a more conventional CEO, he would be a fixture at conferences, a darling of magazine profiles, and a subject of case studies in the Harvard Business Review. Sriracha hot sauce, made by Huy Fong Foods, which Tran founded 33 years ago in Los Angeles, is one of the coolest brands in town. There are entire cookbooks written to celebrate Sriracha’s versatility; memorabilia ranging from iPhone covers to t-shirts and all sorts of other swag; a documentary in the works to chronicle its rise; and innumerable imitators. Sriracha sales last year reached some 20 million bottles to the tune of $60 million dollars, percentage sales growth is in the double digits each year, and it does all this without spending a cent on advertising. 
Bon Appétit magazine declared the sauce the ingredient of the year back in 2010, and Cook’s Illustrated called it the best-tasting hot sauce in 2012. Though it didn’t win, Sriracha was one of three new flavors chosen in Lays potato chips’ new flavor contest last year.
Have you heard of it? I had not, until this summer when I began watching Top Chef, Food Network Star and MasterChef as I usually do in the lazy summer months. I started picking up on the fact that the sauce was named often in the dishes the chefs were preparing and presenting.

I decided that I'd like to get some and try it. Would my little mom and pop grocery store in Danielsville or the Dollar General in tiny Comer Georgia stock this condiment?

The answer is yes. My interest and their carrying the item matched up in time- the sticker at the Dollar General in Comer said "New item!" I do believe that if Sriracha is being carried on has truly arrived.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Alton Brown's genius condiment bottle hack

I love language. I love first lines, lyrics, poems, and puns. I love Thomas Hardy's first line in The Return of the Native
A Saturday afternoon in November was approaching the time of twilight, and the vast tract of unenclosed wild known as Egdon Heath embrowned itself moment by moment. Overhead the hollow stretch of whitish cloud shutting out the sky was as a tent which had the whole heath for its floor.
Glorious! Equally, I enjoy the wit of Monty Python's writing about the Olympic sport of Thomas Hardy writing his first lines on The Return of the Native-

Song lyrics are supposed to produce an instantly indelible image in our mind while at the same time produce an emotion. A hard thing to do, if you have ever tried. Songwriters are an under-appreciated segment of the writer family. Here are several lyrics I just adore.

Man, it's a hot one. Like seven inches from the midday sun. (Santana, Smooth)

The Mississippi delta was shining like a national guitar. (Paul Simon, Graceland)

Speaking of genius, here is a short video from the ever entertaining Alton Brown.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Pixlr challenge: ArtModern

Every week Pixlr posts a new challenge, and every month the challenge is accompanied by the rresentation of a new overlay pack.

This week/month it's a challenge to use the new pack: Artmodern.

I thought of this picture I'd taken in San Francisco in 2004. I'd liked the juxtaposition of the handpainted funky sign with the sleek steel city skyscrapers. Before I used the overlay I'd masked the sign, then I added the overlay Artmodern:Language. I think Language overlay is going to be a fave of mine. To finish, I also added border Ripped Paper: Atta, Here it is.

Vesuvio is the iconic bar founded in 1948, across the alley from City Lights Bookstore, ground zero for the Beat Generation. The bar was frequented by famous beats such as Lawrence Ferlighetti and Neal Cassady, and the generations after them, including Bob Dylan.

I don't know the people in the photo. They were just there when I was taking my photo.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

My weird fascination with TV sitcom apartment sets

I posted before about Mary Tyler Moore's 1970s studio apartment. In her show her character was "Mary Richards". I used to love looking at the apartment set and re-arranging the furniture in my mind, and picture myself living there. It had a huge attraction to a teenager yearning to live on her own, lol. The apartment is one of the most famous sets of sit-com era. It was almost a character itself.

Looking at mine or other people's or television furniture arrangements is a fun pasttime. Be aware whenever I go into any apartment or house I immediately re-arrange everything in my mind according to my own strict and usually invisible criteria. Yeah, I know. More on that at the bottom.

When I lived in the college dorms I enjoyed walking up and down the hallways looking at how people outfitted rooms that were the same size and dimension, and had the exact same furniture to begin with. Design creativity showed through. It's endlessly fascinating how, given the same materials, personal creativity shines in myriad ways. That is why I was sad when HGTV stopped the show Design Star, a contestant show where candidates compete to be the next star on the channel to host their own show. In one certain competition the contestants were given a white room and a certain budget and told to decorate it. Or sometimes they were given weird instructions, like, "Use only tomatoes!" Not really, but almost.

It's called, creatively, the White Room Challenge. Here is a link to the Best of the White Room Challenges, with two of my faves. Of course, in the first one, I'd have to center that couch...

Hooked on Houses is a site I enjoy. The site offers photos and discussions of Top 20, Celeb Houses, TV/Movie Houses, My House, Cottages, Bad MLS Photos, Before & After, HGTV. If you enjoy design, beauty, and creativity, the site offers enough to get lost in for quite some time! Tie a rope around me, I might get lost in there!

When I used to watch the Mary Tyler Moore Show, it took me a good while to understand that there was not a bedroom through the closet, it really was just a closet. I guess I missed the episodes where Mary pulls out the fold-away bed from the couch. If I had the apartment I'd put a full size bed up on the upper step to the left, next to the window.

Nevertheless, the apartment was decorated in graceful style with items of beauty yet matched the type of apartment it was. I can learn by looking at such set designs to see how an item makes or breaks the flow, or why it doesn't match, or how come there is such harmony throughout the space.

Very cool brown velvet couch with graphic throw pillow.

In their essay about the MTM apartment we learn many insider things. For example, the site reveals that the owners of the actual house where the crew filmed the exterior shots got so tired of constant gawkers that they put up an "Impeach Nixon" sign so they would not film there anymore. The sign was the reason they moved Mary to a high rise apartment in later seasons, lol.

Speaking of Mary Tyler Moore, she first appeared on the Dick Van Dyke Show, which ran from 1961-1966. The show's set can be called Mid-Century Modern, because, well, it  was mid-century. The set differed from Mad Men's Don Draper apartment which was also set in the mid 1960s (I never saw that show, only the set photos) in a charmingly subtle way, Draper's apartment was urban chic mid-century modern and the DVD Show set had touches of traditional. That is only fair, the Van Dykes lived in a house in the modern American suburbs, not a tony high rise apartment in the city.Kudos to the Van Dyke Show set designer for pulling off that thin line.

The living room/dining room/den (by the firestove) were all part of an open flow, something that I believe was more common in the 70s and 80s. I've always liked and open flow. Here are a couple of rare color photos from the Dick Van Dyke Show set. In this first one, we can see the two chairs are definitely Mid-Century modern. However the heavy circular coffee table is traditional!


I don't know what to call the couch! The chair in the background is more traditional than modern. One thing I notice is that there is no light near that chair, no pendant nor floor lamp. This is what marks a set from real life. Boy, this living room has a lot of different areas, doesn't it.

One show I did not like was Friends. I must be the only person on the planet, but I thought the show was too soap opera-y, had too loose morals (everyone slept with everyone, come on!) and I didn't like the lesbian or transsexual aspect. I only watched occasionally and only at the beginning.

I did however, love that apartment. Who wouldn't love such a spacious, funky, gorgeous balcony view rent controlled apartment in the West Village?! I thought her place was cluttered and I would change the wall color from purple to ivory, and get rid of the huge curtains but otherwise I loved the couch, rug, chair, ottoman, and the ever-changing, never-matching kitchen table dinette chairs. What can we call this one? Vintage Chic? Shabby Chic? Compare the open shelving in this set to the one above in the Dick Van Dyke Show. I prefer the DVD kitchen open shelving to the one on the set of Friends.

Especially love the couch and the TV-bureau.

Now, Sherlock, THAT'S an apartment! Of course it has the advantage of being in London, but Manhattan's pretty nice too. I loved how the set designers made it look both Victorian and modern day. A wonderful creative genius, there. (It's similar to the fine line being pulled off in When Calls The Heart's clothing designer in season 1, genius). I picture myself there cozied up with a book by the fire every time I watch the show.

Of course I'd brighten it up a bit and get rid of the skulls on the mantel and the heads in the fridge, but...overall it's a cool spot to pretend to hang your hat.

A new design theme: Victorian Modern!

I've always loved the London Club decorating scheme. In Providence RI there is a book and cultural center called the Athenaeum. It's an independent, member-supported library open to the public. The library was founded in 1753 and the current building was built in 1838. The downstairs has a kind of London Men's Club feel with thick Turkish looking rugs, rounded comfy Club Chairs in leather with rivets, heavy oak Victorian tables adorned with antique globes, and movable bookshelves housing all manner of tomes from every era, with the wooden ladders on rollers to aid the reader in reaching them.

Yummy looking isn't it! That is what the Sherlock apartment reminds me of. Out of all the apartments (or houses) I like looking at online or on the TV show, Sherlock is the one I think I'd best like to live in. Aside from my own, which I love.

I always wondered why I like to stare at my empty apartment, decide where everything goes for maximum ease, aesthetic pleasure, and function- and then never move anything again. I mean, once it is set, and works, why change it? I do not like changing my apartment configuration. I enjoyed the explanation on The Big Bang Theory about Sheldon's spot. Of course wherever I go, I have a spot. At church, in Sunday School, at work, and at home. When you find a configuration that works you stay with it. Sheldon explains why:

Autism Speaks, man. Autism speaks.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Yes, the yard is still there

With the heat gone (for now) and the rain gone, I took a walk this afternoon around the yard and up the street. It was very quiet here, the town empty, with folks either at the lake to the east or the huge parade and small town event to the west.

The sheep are looking good!

We had some needed and gentle rain for a while this morning. It was welcome. And the birds seemed to enjoy the leftover puddles

The rain sprung up some bouquets of mushrooms, lol. This yard seems to host the most interesting kinds of mushrooms.

The greenery has grown so tremendously. All the trees and bushes seem so much bigger this year. I'm grateful for their beauty and noise buffer. The crepe myrtle are doing well. Quite colorful.

Fence with greenery. It's one of the borders to the sheep pasture.

Is it a cloud? Is it my hair? LOL, it's pretty white. Need sunglasses.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Hot this July? These two films will cool you off. Plus, medieval cats

After an unusually hot July, it's finally cooled down somewhat. By that I mean nights below 70 degrees and days that don't exceed 90.

I had a lovely morning today. It's interesting that during the summer my sleep schedule changes completely. I gravitate toward segmented sleep, which scientists tell us is normal and the practice of the ancients and medieval peoples bears out. Segmented sleep is you sleep when the sun goes down, going to bed at the normal time, say 9 pm. And you sleep for about four hours. And you wake up in the wee hours for two or three hours. The medieval folks used to pray, read, have sex, knit, or meditate quietly during the second wake time. Then they'd go back to sleep for a while.

I don't have the same hours but my sleep has broken into segments. I tend to go to bed between 11:30 and midnight. I sleep for about four hours. I wake up and write or read the bible. I return to bed around 7:00 for a few hours, then get up a final time. I take a half-hour to hour nap around 3. It all adds up to about 8 hours, just not all at once.

Last night I went to bed around 1:00, and this morning I rose at 6:00am. It is a cool and rainy morning, the first of both kinds we have had here for two months. There was rolling thunder in the distance and the soothing sound of raindrops on the tin awnings. I made coffee and had my first cup, but was still tired. The dark and wet day didn't help waken me, either, lol. So I returned to bed at 8:00 for two hours, listening to the rain and snoozing and reveling in the feeling of coziness with a sheet wrapped around me and a snoring cat at my feet. Lovely.

Speaking of cats, we all know the minute you take out the crafts, open the book, type on the laptop, they come around and walk all over everything. Well, it appears cats in the 14th century were just as pesky. See this from Smithsonian Magazine:

Centuries Ago, a Cat Walked Across This Medieval Manuscript
While pawing through a stack of medieval manuscripts from Dubrovnik, Croatia, University of Sarajevo doctoral student Emir O. Filipović stumbled upon a familiar set of splotches marring the centuries-old pages. Years ago, a mischievous kitty had left her ink-covered prints on the book. Filipović explains the finding:

Thanks to a frenzy of Twitter and blog coverage, a French historian picked up on the photo and decided to include it in her Interactive Album of Medieval Paleography so that other historians can utilize the unique finding, which gives insight into daily life in 14th century Dubrovnik. Filipović elaborates:
The photo of the cat paw prints represents one such situation which forces the historian to take his eyes from the text for a moment, to pause and to recreate in his mind the incident when a cat, presumably owned by the scribe, pounced first on the ink container and then on the book, branding it for the ensuing centuries. You can almost picture the writer shooing the cat in a panicky fashion while trying to remove it from his desk. Despite his best efforts the damage was already complete and there was nothing else he could have done but turn a new leaf and continue his job. In that way this little episode was ‘archived’ in history.
Cat lovers can relate, no? Here are my cat paws. They're Luke's. He is always following me. Where I am, there he is. And I wouldn't have it any other way:

I watched an absolutely terrific documentary this week. "Antarctica: A Year On Ice". It follows the workers who remain on the United States' McMurdo Station (and several other international stations) throughout the winter on the coldest, harshest place on the planet, Antarctica.

When we see a documentary located on Antarctica it usually focuses on the scientists. However during the summer there are thousands of regular workers. There is a fire station with firemen, store cashiers, chefs, dishwashers, administrators, mechanics...they all work there to support the station and the scientists at their work.

You work 9 hour days, 6 days per week. When the cargo ship comes with supplies, you work 12 hour days every day until it's unloaded. You don't go to Antarctica to loll around with penguins and snowboard down ice mountains. You work

The last flight out happens in mid-February and the 1200-strong retinue of workers dwindles to just a 200 or so. Those who "winter-over" look forward to no possible way off the continent, the worst weather in the world, and months of darkness. And they love it.

The filmographer who shot the documentary said it took ten years and thousands of dollars of ruined equipment to get it done. It was obviously a labor or love for him, in order to give us unfortunates a peek at what is the most astounding beauty an unique lifestyle anywhere on earth, that only a few thousand will ever see in person.

Plus, if you're hot, the scenery will definitely cool you down. Antarctica: A Year On Ice is available on Netflix.

Here is the official trailer

Another Antarctica documentary I truly enjoyed was March of the Penguins, narrated by Morgan Freeman. I can't believe this film is ten years old now. It remains fresh in my mind as the day its trailer came out. It follows a penguin colony for a full year, through the winter, and the adults find mates, produce eggs, protect the chick in brutal conditions, and seek food. The "March" refers to the march the females make over 1000 miles to the sea to eat and bring back food for the cold and tired husband. It's incredible.

The minute people hear "documentary" often their mind closes to the entertainment possibilities, but these two docs are very entertaining and easy on the brain, while still being stunning in scenery and filled with information about a place God has made which in large part has never had a human being to walk upon it.

Here is the official trailer.

The full film narrated by Morgan Freeman is on Youtube for free.