Monday, January 29, 2007

Laundry Question
I'm wondering if any of you can help me with a laundry question. Jacob got blue paint on two of his white uniform shirts. Why blue on two of them? This is a mystery I cannot understand. Why does he wear white on art days? Another impenetrable mystery. The weirdest thing about it is that the stains are almost exactly the same: blue, splotchy, roughly the same size. It's like he created a stamp and stamped the stain on each shirt. Of course, he admits to no such thing.

I have tried soaking the shirts in bleach twice. Still blue.

Any other ideas? Could I use Rit dye and dye them white again?

Would love any suggestions you could send my way.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Two Memoirs
This is an addendum to the post I wrote at the beginning of January about my favorite books of 2006. I mentioned Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt, but then--even though it was right there on my list in my journal--I forgot to mention another book that I loved of 2006, which was also a memoir. It is called, A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel.

The interesting thing about having these two memoirs on my list of favorites is that they are very different.

Frank McCourt begins:

"When I look back on my childhood, I wonder how I survived at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than any ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood."

First of all, I have to say that I read his dedication and opening page about fifteen times in a row, to try to internalize how wonderfully put it was.

But he says that "the happy childhood is hardly worth your while." That is where I disagree--because A Girl Named Zippy is all about a normal girl growing up in midwest America. Of course, there are the odd events that happen which keep the story moving and the reader turning pages. But overall, it's not overly dramatic.

So, my thought for the day is: let a gifted storyteller tell any story--miserable or not--and it is definitely worth your while.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Perfect Cup of Cocoa
I just got back from taking my dog for a walk. It was a bit chilly, but now I'm having the perfect cup of cocoa, so all is well.

Most times, I just use hot chocolate mix (even a generic brand) for our hot chocolate. But when you really want to have the good stuff, here's what you do:

(And please note, none of these measurements are exact. My favorite way of cooking is to throw stuff together because I don't want to take the time to measure it out.)

I have a large-ish glass measuring bowl, which I fill about half-way up with milk. I usually use whole milk, but 2% or skim is fine too.

>Then throw in cocoa powder, maybe 2-3 tablespoonfuls and some sugar (1/2 cup?). Then in one-minute intervals heat mixture in the microwave and stir after each minute. Taste it and see how it's coming along. I heat it about 4-5 minutes total, and it's fine. Just stir after each minute.

Now, are you ready for the secret ingredient? The secret ingredient is Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cassia Cinnamon
made by Penzey's Spice Company. Yes, you really need to get this. Buy the .8 oz. jar to start with. It is by far the best cinnamon I've ever tasted. And it's the perfect addition to hot chocolate. I only use about 1/2 teaspoon or so.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Weirdness in My World
What in the world is going on??? In the past couple of days, as I've been flipping around radio stations in the car, I keep hearing BeeGee's songs. AAAACCCCKKKK!!! I'm not talking about just one BeeGee's song every three weeks. On Saturday, I heard two different songs on different stations. And then the next day, I heard another song. Yipes! What is happening in my world--or with Fort Wayne radio stations!!?? (And yes, multiple question and/or exclamation points are definitely necessary in this instance.)

The Bee Gees bring very odd childhood memories to mind, which lead me to thoughts of the Village People and spending time listening to records (yes, records) with Heather Gregg, one of my childhood friends.

So please, all I ask is if you are around me in the next few days or weeks, DO NOT sing any Bee Gees songs. It is becoming, in Jacob's words, a little disturbing.

Monday, January 22, 2007

This is kind of cool (thank you Shirley)

See If You Can Figure Out What These Words Have In Common...


Answer: In all of the words listed, if you take the first letter, place it at the end of the word, and then spell the word backwards, it will be the same word.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Funny for Your Day
Sven and Olaf worked together in a factory and both were laid off. So...dey went to the Unemployment Office togedder. Asked his occupation, Olaf said, "Panty Stitcher. I sew da elastic on to ladies cotton panties."

The clerk looked up Panty Stitcher. Finding it classified as unskilled labor, she gave Olaf $300 a week in unemployment pay.

Sven was asked his occupation he replied, "Diesel Fitter". Since Diesel Fitter was a skilled job, the clerk gave Sven $600 a week.

When Olaf found this out, he was furious! He stormed back ino the office to find out why his friend and coworker was collecting double his benefits.

The clerk explained, "Panty Stitchers are unskilled, and Diesel Fitters are skilled labor."

"What skill?"yelled Olaf. "I sew da elastic on da panties. Sven puts dem over his head and says, "Yah, ------------- DIESEL FITTER."

(Thanks Shirley!)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Knowing What To Say
When I visited my friend Carol last fall in Pittsburgh, I noticed for the first time a typewriter in her front sitting room on a table with lots of other fun trinkets and some antiques. It was an old typewriter, and in it was a page with some great quotes. One of the quotes was:

"How can I know what I think until I see what I say?" - E.M. Forster

As a writer, I have this exact experience all the time. I am not a super articulate speaker (although I like to talk as much as the next girl), but it is when I write that I can really say what I want to say. So, here's a little poem on my angst about never being as articulate as I wish I was:

She speaks haltingly
in stops and starts,
with pauses--
line breaks
in surprising

Gathering thoughts,
raking them into a pile
like swirling autumn leaves
on the damp green grass,
heaping them up
inviting the listener
to dive

Thursday, January 04, 2007

'Remaindered'...a bad word
I got a notice shortly before Christmas that one of my books, Baby in a Manger is going out of print. I'm actually very thankful that this is my first book that has ever gone out of print, considering my first is 10 years old this year. But still, it is a little sad.

I have heard some people say they didn't care for the art in this book, but I always liked it. It's got a folk-art flair that I like.

Apparently, there are still plenty of copies, but Concordia Publishing House is not planning on printing more. Anyway, if you care to learn more about it, you can look here.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Joys of Vacuuming
My son tells me I blog about boring things. Well, that's fine. I guess blogging about sports movies and Lucy (my dog) dipping herself in raccoon crap isn't exciting, but that's as good as it gets around here.

Today I am going to blog about vacuuming. Live with it.

I bought a new vacuum back in September because my old one of 16 years finally bit the dust (ha). I'm afraid we do put our vacuums through the mill because our dog sheds about 5,000 hairs every time she wags her tail. But we love her anyway. In recent weeks, my beloved new vacuum has been sort of pushing the fur and dirt around and not really picking it up. I tried to clean out the hoses, pick the wads of fur out of the thing, etc. But nothing seemed to help.

So this morning I called Eureka and got directed to a vacuum shop here in Fort Wayne where they deal with warranty issues. I called the vacuum dude and he was no help. So I started cleaning out all the tubes and hoses in the vacuum again. I am now a vacuum wonder woman. After my excellent effort at cleaning out all the Lucy fur from the vacuum, it works perfectly again. That's my excellent adventure for the day.

Now we're going to the library.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Favorite Books of 2006
Here's the list of my favorite books from 06 in various categories.

Classic Fiction:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (I try to re-read at least one Austen book every year)

Contemporary Fiction:
Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt - wow, the writing is phenomonal! The voice is fantastic. It's a poignant memoir that I can't believe I've never read before. Have 'Tis on hold at the library to read next.

The Hard Way by Lee Child - fun escape reading

Biography-type Books:
Confession of St. Patrick, translated by John Skinner
Awakened by the Moon: Margaret Wise Brown by Leonard S. Marcus