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Ebony's Pearls
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Date:2020-04-25 16:57

This journal is filled with adult content. I regularly discuss things of interest to adults: responsibility, politics, religion, survival skills, cookery, science, filk, hobbies, government, current events, literature, history, human rights, jobs, finances, weight, disabilities, gardening, and more.


Date:2014-11-14 21:53

I know it's been a long time since I've spoken of Numenism here. I've reduced how often I speak about it because it seems people aren't deeply interested in it, and proselytizing has never been my way.

But, now and again, I do speak of it.

One thing I'd like to talk about is celebrations.

In Numenism, we have both very few and a great many celebrations.

That's not a contradiction.

Officially, there are two major Numenist celebrations: Cookie Day and Founders Day. All Numenists celebrate these two holy days, alone or in community.

Unofficially, Numenists are happy to help others celebrate their special and holy days. We also have a lot of times - rites of passage, Firsts, anniversaries, annual events, and so on. Some of these are done in the Numenist style, and others in the style of the actual celebrants, where Numenists are supporters.

That means we take joy, directly or vicariously, through the celebrations and holy days of our friends.

Until one holy day is rammed down our throats not just for the day that is holy, but for weeks and months leading up to it, all other holy days and celebrations subsumed or sidelined or even eliminated to allow that one holy day to bloat and spread out, contaminating everything.

That doesn't usually happen. Most religions keep a tight hold on their holy days and hold them to their set times and set symbols and rituals.

Somehow, though, in the USA, one religion's single holy day has actively been shoved down the throats of everyone, while the shovers have screamed persecution and made wild claims that there was a war on their one special day. They've used that bogus claim to force people to deal with that one single holy day for weeks and months before and after it, to the point that the shovers no longer maintain the integrity of the day and the celebrations and rituals concerning it.

Why yes, I am talking about the behemoth called Christmas.

I do enjoy the carols and songs, the food, and the symbols and stories concerning the holy day. I appreciate them best in their brevity, but I am willing to allow those who celebrate Christmas as part of their spiritual beliefs, their religion, to do so for the whole month, even though that dilutes the specialness and sanctity of the day.

And that's the problem.

Yes, people exclaim that they wish the joy of the Christmas season would last all year round. I think they are going about it the wrong way. The joy and camaraderie are attitudes, not objects, and they can definitely be expressed and appreciated all year long. That's not what we are getting, though.

What we're getting are belligerent people demanding we use the one single phrase they will accept or they'll ruin a business that is more diverse and accepting. We're getting angry people demanding we use their symbols and songs for months before the holy day. We're getting violence from those who demand everyone ignore their own sacred and holy days in order to kowtow to that one holy day - and not just for the one day but every day for months before it.

Belligerence, anger, willful destruction, and violence doesn't embody the spirit of the holy day of love and good will and joy very well, do they? But that's what we're getting with forced peppermint candy canes, snowmen, and the single phrase, "Merry Christmas" with the implied "or else" following silently and aggressively behind.

That just sucks all the joy out of the holy day.

I am (obviously) not a Christian, so I can't alter this militant attitude from within.

All I can do is quietly and cheerfully celebrate as many different holy days as exist between Labor Day and New Year's, each with their own symbols and rituals, and on the day that belongs to them.

That means I will celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday in September with the patriotic symbols and fervor reserved for that holiday and without a vestige of Christmas symbols.

I will celebrate VJ day on September 2nd with remembrances of the end of WWII.

I will celebrate 9/11 by reciting the names of those lost that dreadful day and donating to emergency rescues.

I will celebrate Uncle Sam Day on September 13th by displaying his picture with sparklers and hot dogs.

I will celebrate Citizenship and Constitution Day on September 17 by reading the Constitution aloud and eating cake.

I will celebrate Oktoberfest beginning September 19 with soft pretzels and bratwursts and oompah music.

I will celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day with geocaching and feasting.

I will celebrate Native American Day on the 4th Friday by remembering my father's people and eating frybread and Indian Tacos.

I will celebrate Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashana, Sukkot, Canadian Thanksgiving, Frankenstein Friday, Mischief Night, Diwali, Samhain, and Halloween in October.

I will celebrate All Saint's Day, All Soul's Day, Dia de la Muertos, Veterans Day, Sadie Hawkins Day, American Thanksgiving, Guy Fawkes Day, NaNoWriMo, and World Kindness Day in November.

I will celebrate Bodhi Day, Cookie Day, Krampus Nacht, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Lucia, St. Stephen's Day, Pearl Harbor Day, Hannukah, Festivus, Solstice, Hogswatch, Decemberween, Pancha Ganapati, Saturnalia, Mother's Night, Yule, Yalda, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, Zamenhof Day, Newtonmas, Human Light Day, Soyal, Hogmanay, Chalica, Dongzhi, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, Sadeh, Chahar Shanbeh Suri, Malanka, Feast of Alvis, WInter Veil, Winter Fair, St. Nicolas Day, Christmas, and New Year's Eve in December.

And I will say "Happy (fill in the blank)" on the day of the holy day, and only on that day. If there is no holiday on that day, I will say "Happy Holidays" because there are so many wonderful, delightful, and different holy days and celebratory days.

I will decorate for each holiday the day before or morning of and remove the decorations the night of or the following day.

Yes, even for Christmas.

Some decorations are versatile and can be used for multiple celebrations, so those will be brought out frequently.

Because the way to prevent Christmas bloat is to give each celebration its full and fair attention on its day.

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Date:2014-11-14 20:02

I am reminded of tarot because during this week, a friend spoke of it on his FB, several people mentioned it on their diaries, and for some reason, even though I have never purchased a single deck of cards, let alone Tarot cards, from Amazon, they've been recommending decks to me.

Not just any decks, either. For some reason, they seem convinced I want to use the druid deck. It appears 3 or 4 times in the front page recommendations, and it pops up in every recommendation suggestion, whether I'm browsing for flea goop or sewing supplies.

So, let me tell you about me and Tarot.

I've been given several decks over the years. For some reason, people think if you're Pagan you must do Tarot.

In order to interact with other Pagans (and, I suppose, have some Pagan street cred), I learned Tarot, learned some basic spreads, and used the decks I was given.

The problem with all the different decks I've seen is that the symbols on them don't mean to me what they are supposed to mean. Some of them are on cards in ways that make no sense to me. I couldn't read them based on what was showing.

I was pretty good at reading the cards as long as I didn't actually look at them.

I finally found blank playing cards that you could draw on yourself. I'm not an artist, not a good one, anyway, but by designing my own deck, using the symbols that resonate with me and suit our modern age, I've become even more accurate with Tarot readings.

Honestly, though, I do much better with trinkets, odd bits, and an embroidered cloth I have. The cloth has symbols embroidered on it with directions and seasons and colors that are meaningful to me. By tossing trinkets on it, I can do readings that are fairly accurate - as accurate as I want them to be.

There are so many different divination and communication methods that I am loathe to limit myself to just one.

The decks I have (except the one I made) are pretty, but the only one I'm comfortable wit is the one I made. I won't reject gift decks, but I'm less likely to use them.

And I don't think I'll be buying the deck Amazon keeps recommending.

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Date:2014-11-01 12:19
Subject:Dilly Soup

I love dill pickles. In the summer, I carbonate the dill pickle juice for a refreshing lawn mowing drink. I crave dill pickles in the heat of summer. I stir dill pickle juice into chicken noodle soup to make a Germanic Avgolomeno.

And creamy dill pickle soup with crusty French bread is a delicious cold weather treat.

5-1/2 cups chicken broth
1-3/4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 cups chopped carrots (smaller dice or julienned)
1 cup chopped dill pickles (smaller dice - about 3 large whole dills - I use Best Maid pickles, the giant pickles, and 1 or 2 pickles are enough)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup water
2 cups dill pickle juice (if it's very salty, you can cut it with vinegar)
1-1/2 teaspoons Old Bay or Old Bay type seasoning
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika

Garnish (optional)

sliced dill pickles
fresh or dried dillweed or parsley
black pepper

Simmer broth, potatoes, carrots and butter until the potatoes are tender. Add the pickles and continue to simmer.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sour cream and water, making a paste. Vigorously whisk sour cream mixture (2 Tablespoons at a time) into soup. The flour may form little lumps, but as the soup cooks, it will be absorbed. It's OK if the potatoes mash up some - that will thicken the soup and give it a lovely texture.

Add pickle juice, Old Bay*, pepper and cayenne. Cook 5 more minutes and remove from heat. Serve immediately

*Old Bay seasoning consists of a blend of dry mustard, paprika, ground celery seed, ground bay leaf, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, mace, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, and ginger - all ground together.

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Date:2014-10-27 19:58
Subject:Lacking Provenance

The saga of collecting the info I need to retire meets another roadblock.

I am still not born.

In my quest to secure proof of my birth, I have discovered that my name is NOT my name, that the part that is in common is NOT spelled the way I thought it was, that I was not born WHERE I thought I was, that I was not born WHEN I thought I was.

I have moved past wondering if I exist. I have accepted that I am some sort of space alien.

I had better damn well prove out to be the daughter of the King and Queen of the Universe at this point. I am holding out for nothing less.

If/When I finally get my paperwork in order to prove I was born, I think I will deserve one hellacious and bodacious birthday party.

If I were being appraised on the Antiques Roadshow, they would say I lack provenance. I wouldn't be admissable as evidence on CSI because my chain of custody is missing a few links. And while I can get documentation on my ancestors going back 10 generations as well as for my descendants, finding documentation for me makes me the weakest link.

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Date:2014-10-25 18:29
Subject:In the Closet

Today, I tackled the closet I have studiously ignored for nearly a decade, the closet holding odds and ends of my kids that have been tossed in and forgotten.

Mostly, it was clothes they were "saving for a garage sale" that never happened.

Over time, the closet became packed - and a haven for the field mice that come into the house each fall.

And I still studiously ignored it, since the mice rarely ventured into the rest of the house.

But - it needed cleaning. Desperately.

So I decided today would be the day and I prepared for it. I bought a box of contractor trash bags, and set aside several boxes for things that might be suitable for resale or giving away. I corralled a pitch fork, shovel, and rake (having mucked out my son's room a couple of times, I have experience), as well as a pair of rubber gloves, a face mask, and a broom and dustpan.

Apparently, the mice made themselves completely at home in that closet. The implements of cleaning came in very handy.

Sadly, nothing was worth salvaging. The mice peed on everything and fouled it all beyond cleaning.

I expected to use up all 25 contractor bags, but only used up 5, so it was bad, but not lethal.

The carpet had to go, too. That's OK. I'd planned to remove the carpet anyway as I will be removing the "wall" between the closet and laundry room in order to expand the laundry room in size: put in a folding table, clothes rack, and ironing board, and a proper floor rather than the cement it currently possesses. I have to replace the wall the electrician and plumbers ripped apart and will take the opportunity to use some heat tape and re-insulate the wall and put in insulation for the outside walls as well.

The "wall" I will be removing will replace the door into the closet so it presents a solid wall to the library (currently acting as storage for kids and deceased parent).

This will give me both a larger laundry room and another wall for bookshelves - a win/win all around.

From the height of the clothes rack to the ceiling, I will put in storage shelves and will place seasonal items there.

Next step: to convert the dining are of the kitchen into a walk-in pantry, remove the upper cabinets and replace them with shelves up to the ceiling, replace and extend the counter almost to the window. It will need a new floor, too, since the current floor is linoleum so worn it has holes in it.

I had dreams of converting the window to a door leading out to a screened in deck for breakfasts and such, but in reality, I doubt I can afford that. So I will place a wheeled butcher block/table there.

I will also paint my appliances to all match as they are different colors (what was on sale, you know).

The hole kitchen will be redone in Blue Onion because I like Blue Onion and think it is yummy.

I thought about replacing the wall between the kitchen and the crafting room with shelving and counter, but honestly, I think the wall is better for now. I could change my mind later.

Then, when the pantry is in place, the kitchen re-organized, and the library sorted back into usability, I can sort and organize the crafting room. I have a lot of things I will be passing on once that's done (I reckon 2 years from now) - leftovers of projects I've completed - wood scraps, mostly, since I am a reluctant wood crafter. I have no real skill for it and no desire to develop a skill for it. There are also supplies of crafts I don't think I will continue - once was enough for me. Plus, there are crafting supplies left behind by the kids that I won't keep.

That will then let me re-organize the Snuggery and bedroom and sort out the get-rid-ofs.

None of the rest of the house has had mouse issues, so the things I sort out will be suitable for a garage sale or to give away.

I'm giving myself a 5 year deadline to do all this.

Then I'm putting the house up for sale, retiring, and moving somewhere more suited to my needs.

Yes, I know, I'm putting a lot of work into this house, but it needs it. Once the house is organized and I've gotten rid of all the excess, got it painted and prettified, it will be so much easier to pack up and move. Right now, the mere thought of packing up to sell the house and move just makes me sick to my stomach.

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Date:2014-10-15 09:06
Subject:Haunted House

Someday, I'd like to run another haunted house like I did back in the 70's. With modern technology, it would be way more awesome.

There wouldn't be blood, gore, or strobe lighting, as those are just stupid tricks that ruin the experience.

The patrons would start by waiting in the Cantina, with lively music, aliens, costumed characters, and drinks (but no food - we don't want people vomiting on tour).

I'd have thick rubber sheet walls in a dark hallway with bodies pressing from the other side and moaning like hungry zombies. I'd have blinking eyes in odd places. In one place, there would be a beating heart beneath the floorboards. I'd have a course of pendulum blades and wrecking balls swinging over a moving floor. I'd have holographic ghosts. I'd have a mirror like Erised, and another with a snarky "mirror on the wall" person, and third one that would be like Dorian Gray's mirror. I'd have subliminal music that controls the patrons' heartbeats. I'd have animatronic monsters. There would be a wall of hands in another hallway. There would be portraits that would be "off" in subtle and disturbing ways. There would be odd breezes - some cold and some hot, and "steam jets" releasing cool steam. There would be foggy areas with aliens doing bizarre and therefore frightening things. There would be scary shadows appearing in unexpected places. There would be rooms where patrons would peer into mad scientist labs and alien places and re-enactments of frightening scenes from fairy tales and stories. And there would be other things.

At the end, the patrons would be led through a graveyard with Weeping Angels and other things.

They would finish in the Cracked Cauldron, a bar with calming music, food, drinks, and friendly costumed characters to allow them time to de-brief, vent, and recover - and there would be screens showing patrons going through the house, including footage of themselves. They can purchase the videos of themselves going through the house, and photos of various characters, and other souvenirs.

And they can buy tickets to go through again.

It would be expensive. It would be just scary enough to keep people on the edge, but not so scary that it would cause heart attacks. Because it would be techie, it could be altered for each trip through, things moving around, being slightly different.

There would be no one popping out, no one touching the patrons (except possibly through the rubber walls or the wall of hands - but the patrons would have enough room to roll or squeeze past without contact if they choose).

The pendulum hall could be set to go fast for teens and slow for those using assistive devices. The subliminals could be adjusted for age and abilities, too.

It would be terribly, terribly expensive, and I'd need at least 2 IT people, and a bevy of techs and costumed people and at least one animatronics expert, and design and make-up artists, and people to work in the Cantina and the Cracked Cauldron. Oy - the wages alone would be daunting.

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Date:2014-10-11 19:38
Subject:Fashion vs Style

My whole life, I've been the dowdy one, frumpy and therefore inclined not to even bother to attempt to be fashionable. No matter how nice it looked on someone else, on me, it would immediately become shabby, and definitely not shabby chic, just sadly shabby.

I thought I was doomed to always look like some back country granny and never bothered with fashion. I wore a "uniform" of a solid color turtleneck top and long solid color skirt and flat granny shoes. I wore my hair in a bun or a braid.

Yes, I still looked tatty.

Then, I met this wonderful woman who dressed amazing. She was always put together, and over time, I noticed she pretty much wore a "uniform", too, and it was her accessories that lifted it from "uniform" to fashion statement.

Another friend of mine decided she'd develop a style of her own, as well, and shared the website that inspired her.

That website was filled with older women, like me, who developed a style all their own that didn't rely on modern fashions.

I realized that modern fashions just weren't meant for me.

So, I spent a few months researching style as opposed to fashion. I reviewed what I liked to wear:: colors, cuts, accessories.

I went through the patterns I had, and the fabric I'd collected from sewing for others all the time.

And I came up with a cut of clothing I really, really liked. Actually, I came up with several, but I started with just one.

It was a 1950's "little black dress" that was a princess cut, flared. I didn't like the sleeves, so I used the sleeve from a 1970's dress pattern I had. And I added to that a long, sleeveless vest, sort of a lab coat without sleeves.

I kept the turtlenecks, but now they went under the dresses I sewed.

Serendipitously, the style of boot I loved came on the market in my size and in a variety of colors and at a price I could afford.

It took me most of a year to buy them all - but I ended up with 5 pairs of Victorian style, lace front flat boots in blue, red, green, black, and brown. I'm still waiting to find purple and a dark mustardy yellow, but if I never find them, I will be happy enough.

I had some left over red with black polka dots fabric that I made up into the dress pattern I liked, with black sleeves and the red and black cuffs, and a black lace hem. I can wear the red or black turtleneck with it, with or without the black vest, and with either the black or red boots. I added a black rose barrette and a couple of rhinestone hairpins, and suddenly, it was a style. Yes, it was put together from scraps, but it looks pretty good.

Next up was some fabric left over from curtains I'd made up for a friend. It was pink with red roses and white daisies on it. Not my usual color choice, but I had enough fabric to make a dress, so I did. I could wear a green, pink, or red turtleneck under it, and the green or red boots. With ribbon roses in my hair, it was an outfit, not just clothes.

Then I got 6 yards of a pink and green batik that was on deep sale. It made a lovely dress. It has tiny splashes of dark yellow in it, so if I ever find those yellow boots, I could wear them with this dress. I can wear the black, red, or green boots with it. I put tie-dyed silk flower barrettes in my hair.

I had some blue fabric left from a quilting project where the person had miscalculated how much fabric was needed. On closer look, the fabric looked as if it were printed with teeny beads of different shades of blue that formed hearts. I made that up into a dress (a bit short, not quite enough fabric...). With blue stockings clocked with rainbow butterflies, the blue boots, and blue daisies in my hair, it looks well-put-together.

I still had lots of black fabric, so I actually made up a "little black dress" with the 50's pattern. I added a black and white striped pillow ticking long vest from making pillows. With a black turtleneck and black hair flowers, I add the black boots and black and white striped stockings.

I still had a lot of pillow ticking left, so I made a dress from it. I can wear any of the turtlenecks with it, and any of the boots, depending on which turtleneck I wear. I can match the hair flowers to the turtleneck, too.

Today, I went to the Columbus Day sales at the fabric store and got a lovely Moroccan patterned fabric in blue and green with gold geometric patterning, and a pink and green batik over printed with sprays of gold flowers. Those will also become dresses and will match everything I have so far.

After the first of the year, I plan to change things up a bit. I have this lovely light denim peplum jacket I made that has batiked dragonflies on it. I would like to make up several more such jackets, and pair them up with full cut Turkish/Russian style pants that tuck into my boots. If I keep the colors to the colors of my boots, I should be good. I can continue to wear the hair flowers.

The only actual accessories I have are the hair flowers. I can't really wear headbands because my head is too small and the back is too flat to hold them in place, so hair accessories have to be clip-ons. I'm thinking I might go with daytime "fascinator" style flat tiny hats that I can clip on, as well.

My clothes aren't fashionable, but they do constitute a style, one that has garnered a surprising number of positive comments. When I wore the blue dress and boots last week, quite a few people commented positively, and 2 asked how to design their own style. Today, when shopping, 7 people made positive comments about the rose dress and red boots. One was at Hancock's, so I showed her the patterns I used.

I think I do need to add more accessories.

That's kind of where I'm failing - accessories.

I suppose I could wear necklaces, but they'd have to fit over a turtleneck and not be so long they interfere with my hearing assistance dog, who spends a lot of time in a pouch on my chest (mostly to keep him from getting stepped on - he didn't get as big as expected). I can (and have) made a few pouches to match/contrast with what I wear, so that can be an accessory. The pouch pretty much precludes brooches because it would rip them off when moving, and pinning the brooch to the pouch just hasn't worked so far.

Should I add bracelets, earrings, finger rings?

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Date:2014-10-10 13:47
Subject:It's Quick Bread Time!

This time of year just cries out for the baking of rich, decadent quick breads.

My standby quick bread is pumpkin nut bread, dense, moist, nutty, delicious with coffee, tea, hot cocoa, or apple cider as is or toasted with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

But I'm also partial to cornbreads mixed up with things like creamed corn, sweet potatoes, or pumpkins.

This is one of my favorites for fall eating - it pairs so well with most kinds of beans.

I make it with either canned sweet potatoes or canned pumpkin. Both give it a rich, harvesty orange color. Instead of baking this in a pie tin, as I do with most of my cornbreads, I bake this one in loaf pans like I do the quick breads. This recipe makes 2 loaves.

2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all purpose flour (or cup4cup gluten-free flour)
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups full-fat sour cream or yogurt
1 1/2 tsp real vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 cups canned sweet potatoes or canned pumpkin

Grease and flour 2 9x5 loaf pans. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Whisk all the dry ingredients together.

Beat the eggs lightly, then whisk in the sour cream. When that's incorporated, whisk in the vanilla and butter. Last of all, add the sweet potato/pumpkin (which ever you've chosen).

Add the wet mix to the dry all at once and stir with a wooden spoon until barely mixed. You will have lumps and may even have a few dry spots - this is OK.

Divide the dough between the 2 loaf pans and smooth the tops.

At this point, you can baste the tops with a cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice/sugar blend or a streusel topping. I like the streusel topping, myself.

Put the pans in the oven and bake for 65 - 80 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean).

Cool 10 minutes, then de-pan and cool upright on a rack. Cool completely before wrapping in plastic for storage (it keeps for a week in the refrigerator).

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Date:2014-10-09 19:01
Subject:Election Board Rumors

You know all those rumors that the Oklahoma Election Board is randomly cancelling people's voter registrations?


For starters, the way registration is set up in OK, it takes 4 years to cancel a voter registration - and then only for inactivity (not voting for 2 major elections).

There were some people who, because of FEDERAL mandates, received postcards to verify their address and if they didn't respond to the postcard, then the process to cancel the registration was started.

And mostly this isn't happening because all the election boards in OK are understaffed and no one has the time to sort through registrations to target canceling any group of people or anything like that.

Some election boards only have 2 employees, and they are far too busy keeping up with the regular election board duties to willingly take on anything not essential.

There is virtually no voter fraud in OK (and the few cases there were were caught quickly and too many* of those were people trying to prove how easy it was to commit voter fraud - boy, did they get proved wrong and boy did they have to pay for that error in their judgement!).

So, please, if you were one of the ones panicking and spreading the false rumors that OK is deliberately canceling voter registrations, stop it.

That may be happening in some other state (probably not, at least not to any great extent, because I bet their election boards are also understaffed and under funded), but it's NOT happening in OK.

Oklahoma has neither the funding nor the staffing to execute pogroms of this sort.

We should be proud that Oklahoma has such an awesome Election Board, that works hard to make sure all qualified people are registered to vote, and makes it easy for Oklahomans to vote even if it means the Election Board employees have to work so much overtime to make it happen.

Instead of attacking these people, we should be helping them because what they do is vital to giving us a voice in our government.

*one is actually too many

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Date:2014-10-09 10:10
Subject:Edible Leaves

I sometimes wander through the survivalist forums, and it always amazes me when people say things like "tree leaves aren't edible".

Not all tree leaves are edible, but there are plenty of trees whose leaves are not just edible, but tasty and nutritious.

Spruce and pine needles make a nutritious and delicious tea. It's particularly good in winter.

Linden, hawthorne, birch, beech, basswood, rose, sassafras, Chinese toon tree, Japanese wisteria, Rose of Sharon, red cedar, black tupelo, maple, walnut, hickory, alder, some viburnums, chestnut, some acacias, and even oak leaves are edible in the US.

Range outside the US, and there are more trees with edible leaves - Moringa, Toothbrush tree, Cassod tree, Digudiyara, terebinth, pisoria, baobab...

They aren't good for a steady diet, but they are certainly good for enhancing your diet and as s survival food.

I have no clue why these survivalists are willing to ignore a large and often delicious source of food.

Maple leaves, especially the red Japanese Maple tree leaves, are tasty when deep fried in tempura batter.

Tempura Batter

1 egg
1 cup ice water (can use ginger beer instead)
1 cup flour
Optional: 1 teaspoon sugar (beat into egg and water, before adding flour)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (add with flour)

Beat the egg frothy, then beat in the water. When these are well mixed, add the flour with a light stir of chopsticks, just enough to moisten. It will be lumpy and may have pockets of flour. This is how it should be.

Deep Fried Maple Leaves

Collect maple leaves, wash and pat them dry. Lightly brush the leaves with maple syrup. Heat oil to 350ºF in a wok. Dip the maple leaf in the tempura batter, and fry until crisply golden. Drain.

You can drizzle the leaves with maple syrup or not. I don't because they are sweet enough as is.

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Date:2014-10-03 18:28
Subject:News or Nice

With all the bad news on the internet and TV and probably radio, it's important to know that what we hear there is what reporters want to say, and it's not the whole truth.

They tell us only about the crimes, the tumult, the killings, the wars, the meanness.

What they DON'T tell us is that around that meanness, day after day, century after century, millions of people are doing nice things for others.

You're doing nice things for others, aren't you? I know you are.

And so are you, over there, sometimes even making sacrifices to do something nice for someone.

Sure, it's little stuff.

But it's those little acts of kindness that build civilization. All those nice people who never make it on the news are the civilized millions for each act of cruelty, for each mean-spirited thing.

When we witness someone else being mean, or bear the brunt of their meanness, it's important for us to know that mean person is the aberration, the freak, the odd one out who gets all the attention because it's so uncommon. It makes the news because it's news-worthy according to the reporters.

It's like the weather - it's the tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, blizzards, and killing heat spells that garner the most news. The nice days just get a bare mention.

Or if you work in phone tech support - all your calls will be the ones that have problems, and those are generally just a couple percent of all the people using the program.

You hear the bad stuff all the time, over and over, but all around us, good things are happening. People are doing nice things, kind things, sweet things, for one another. Making sacrifices - small ones, big ones, and doing it just to make someone happy; not for money, not for thanks.

Kindness is common, too common to report on.

Maybe we should be the reporters of kindness, telling others of nice things that we saw happen, that we did, that was done for us.

What it comes down to is this: what do we want to be - news or nice?

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Date:2014-01-30 07:33

I couldn't afford it if my heating bill got as high as $70 (or my cooling bill, for that matter). There are rooms in my house that only get used during the milder times of the year, when temps are between 60ºF and 85ºF. Blankets hang in front of doors, carpet covers the inner side of the 2 exterior doors, windows are covered in winter-proofing film outside and in, draft dodgers block the undersides of every door and window, and my heating consists of an electric blanket and the occasional use of a single space heater. The average winter temp inside my house is 45ºF.

In summer, the winter-proofing film comes off, and my house become breeze-central, with fans in the windows to either bring cooler air inside or blow the hot air outside. The blankets stay up because I do have one window unit, but it's small and can barely manage to cool one room down to 80ºF in the hotter times of summer. Once the temps hit 90ºF and above, the rest of the house is pretty uninhabitable. The average temp inside my house in the summer is 95ºF.

I understand that people who've never dealt with the urgency to keep utility bills as low as possible year round may be freaking out about the need to do so suddenly because of a freak weather pattern and huge spikes in fuel costs. I feel for the woman in the article who routinely spends more on fuel than I spend on my mortgage and utilities combined, but if I could afford her fuel costs, I could have heat and cooling installed in my house and let the utility bill rise as high as $100.

As it is, we huddle in one room most of the year.

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Date:2014-01-15 15:44
Subject:GF Cookbook Status Update

Well, we got the Planning Book done and are sorting recipes to find ones which will work. Still waiting for my friend to compile a list of the dishes she and her family eat.

Step One:Read more...Collapse )

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Date:2014-01-02 11:34
Subject:A GF Once-a-Month Cookbook

A friend posted on FB that she loved the idea of cheap once-a-month cooking but all the cookbooks she looked at for it contained gluten and wheat. She and her daughters have Celiac's and the girls also have a severe wheat allergy - so severe they can't go to school. It's like the worst level of peanut allergy for them.

So, she and I did some research looking for GF once a month cookbooks. We found a few sites on line that offered up GF dairy free recipes, but not all of them were truly wheat-free. We investigated the Paleo cookbooks and while some claimed to be once a week or once a month, they really weren't.

So we decided to create such a cook book for her family.

I already practice a sort of once a month cooking style in that I pre-plan my meals once a month, do all the shopping at once, and then spend a day prepping all the lunches I will eat that month and the meals the dogs will eat that month. I cook all of their food since I don't trust dog food manufacturers.

We can't use my kitchen to test the recipes and all (mine is rather wheat-heavy), but we can use hers. I made her a binder like mine, with places for planning the meals, then using that to plan the shopping and the prep. What I don't know - yet - are the meals her family eats and how we can modify them to be frozen and re-heated, and how to plan out crock pot meals. Unlike mine, though, hers has a critique section that she and her daughters and husband can write down what they think about the meals - texture, taste, re-heatability, appearance, boring-levels, and so on. We can then take those critiques and use them to improve the meals.

I hope we'll come up with a couple of months of different, cheap and tasty meals her family can have.

And this makes me so glad that I don't have to worry about the ingredients in my foods for any reason except orneriness, politics, and general health rather than life-or-death reasons.

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Date:2013-12-28 13:41
Subject:Trait Lists

Trait lists are kind of fun to read, but there's always a large number that are not quite right. I don't know why, but people then decide that maybe they are the flawed one and they try to adapt themselves to make the traits fit them, to cherry pick the words to make them fit better.

It's human to want to belong.

Last time, I wrote about how these lists of character traits are used to manipulate people into buying whatever the author is selling - usually books, seminars, retreats, classes, workshops, clothing lines, accessories, and so on. At least, the successful ones do. Sometimes, they become popular enough to hit mainstream - like the Indigo Children did, and there were a lot of people who made money off the Indigo Children.

Lists like those make me sad, and sometimes angry, if I think the list is written to scam people.

And too many are written to make money off of gullible, lonely people.

I am a cynical and mistrustful sort of person and I don't feel the need to classify myself or to belong to one single group. I enjoy belonging to a variety of special interest groups because I have special interests. They do not define all of me, just parts of me. Only I know all the many parts of me, as they change and evolve and are sometimes discarded or more deeply embraced. I am a puzzle, composed of many pieces that interlock, and I think we all are puzzles. Some are thousand piece puzzles and some are dozen piece puzzles. Some people grow, and their puzzles get bigger, and sometimes they interlock with other people's puzzles.

And the more I think about this, the more I think perhaps that is what a trait list I would create would be about - how diverse we all are, and how it's OK to embrace all the different parts of ourselves, and it's OK to section them off or bring them together as needed. We are all boxed puzzles and are works in progress: adding new pieces, discarding pieces that no longer fit in, meshing with a few people in one place and a few others in other places, and sometimes, those places link up, and sometimes they don't. None of this is bad, it's just the way we are. New knowledge and exposure to new people and new ideas allows us to generate new puzzle pieces from within. And sometimes, those new people and new knowledge and exposure to new experiences help define the shape of the puzzle piece and where it belongs - that Aha! Moment.

So, now to figure out how to write a list of these traits so they can be used by others without it being turned into some scammy thing.

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Date:2013-12-25 02:01

Remember when the list of traits for Indigo Children and Rainbow Children and Millennials and other such New Agey children were passed around?

Well, there's a new list for "Awakening Souls" and it mimics much of these lists in tone if not in words. Like those other lists, it attempts to make the reader feel special and part of a select group of people who are different and better than the rest of mankind.

I've always had a fascination for these lists and their explanations of the traits they list as being so special. I enjoy analyzing them and have been contemplating creating a counter list. First, I have to determine what what the list's purpose would be. Empowering people would be a good start. These lists do anything but that.

Let's go through the most recent one, shall we?Read more...Collapse )

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Date:2013-08-16 13:16
Subject:Things I Learned in the News

The lesson I learned from this news story is that people still respect the white lab coat.

I should wear mine more often. And I'm making one for Itzl.

Kibble is not good for dogs, no matter what your vet says - he's probably getting kickbacks from the pet food industry. I make Itzl, Xoco's and Nigel's food. They eat what I eat, only without the seasonings I use.

I got a Soda Stream and now the soda industry is in trouble. I hadn't realized I drank that much soda. Not that I've ever had a diet soda - those things are nasty and have always been nasty. Real sugar, real calories are the best way to go. SO maybe lots of other people had the same idea. Hellllloooooo, Soda Stream.

Not only are animals going extinct, new ones are being discovered, and long lost ones are being rediscovered.

Whenever an established venue gets too crowded with downer oldsters, a new social networking site will pop up. They have fewer rules and less pressure to be conformative.

The EPA is finally trying to protect bees. Now, if only we could get HOAs and zoning code regulations to allow homeowners to keep bees in their backyards...

Conspiracy theorists will suspect another conspiracy - is that really what Area 51 was about? Or are they hiding something in plain sight now?

People of any size can do yoga - it's slow and bendy and you can move at your own pace. Ignore all those skinny people in yoga magazines. I already knew this, but t never hurts to have a reminder.

Effective ant removal treatments include powdered cinnamon or cinnamon oil, peppermint oil, powdered chalk (the kind used to mark the grounds for sporting events, although regular chalk, ground up, also works), borax mixed with sugar or a protein powder and enough water to make a paste, baking soda mixed with powdered sugar, and the artificial sweetener Equal.

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Date:2013-08-15 15:48
Subject:Top Ten Earning Authors

J. K. Rowling isn't in the Top Ten. Stephen King barely made the Top Ten, in 10th place.

Nope, the top selling author is E. L. James, the author of Fifty Shades of Grey. I've never read her book. I'm not sure I want to.

James Patterson is right behind her, but while her fame is fleeting (only one book), James Patterson is a classic - he out-earns other authors because he writes so many books. One fifth of all hardbacks sold in the US are written by him. He's written at least 70 books spanning the genres from children's and young adult to murder mysteries and thrillers and speculative fiction.

The author of The Hunger Games is pretty hot right now. Suzanne Collins wrote an entire other series called the Underland Chronicles. The Underland Chronicles was written for a younger audience than the Hunger Games, and are delightful books that deserve much more recognition than they are getting.

In 4th place is Bill O'Reilly. It's kind of odd to see a political commenter as a best selling author, but there it is. He doesn't have an author's page to link to so I'll link to his publisher's page.

Danielle Steel is another long haul high earning author like James Patterson - her prolific output is what earns and keeps her in the Top Ten of authors. She's written nearly 100 books. Her upcoming book is one I am anticipating: Pure Joy. It's about her long haired Chihuahua, Minnie Mouse. It's also about some of her other dogs, too; a personal memoir through her pets.

And that's the top five earning authors.

The others in the Top Ten are:

Jeff Kinney - young adult SF (Diary of a Wimpy Kid series)
Janet Evanovich - Stephanie Plum detective series
Nora Roberts - Romance
Dan Brown - Suspense thriller
Stephen King - Horror

Note that 5 of the Top Ten earning authors are prolific authors. They keep their names out there, write lots of books (decent ones, that remain well edited). The other 5 have a hook, a marketing scheme, a movie tie-in and their earnings aren't just their royalty checks.

The lesson, boys and girls, is that to earn lost of money in writing, you must not just be good, you must be prolific or have an excellent marketable product that translates into movies, T-shirts, posters, mugs, figurines, playsets, games, and other collectible things.

Being a great author isn't enough. You gotta be good and prolific or good and have a marketable hook. You have to be good and.

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Date:2013-08-09 12:22
Subject:"Outing" the Disabled

It's not enough that we who are differently abled have to struggle to fit into society, now there are those who want to post our names and addresses to "shame" us.

This "Artemis of the wild" seems to be upset that disabled people also vote, as if being disabled makes us less, or other, or incapable of participating in our government.

And s/he wants to publicize our names, to point us out, to paint that scarlett letter on us so others can do what? Vilify us? Make our lives even more difficult?

The poster of these notes wants strangers to determine if the people who are disabled really are disabled - people who probably have no medical training, no ability to determine degree of disability. The poster, who refuses to out him/herself, hides behind anonymity but has no problem shoving others under the proverbial bus.

My primary disability is an invisible one - hearing impairment sever enough to put my life at risk in many situations. I didn't admit how bad it was until I'd been hit a couple of times by SUV drivers who relied overly much on the back up beeps I can't hear. Looking at me, I look perfectly normal, if a bit aloof and snotty.

My secondary disabilities are also rather invisible unless you look closely. Before I got Itzl as my hearing assistance dog, I was hit by an SUV driver (see above paragraph) and both knees were severely injured. I now have difficulty walking up and down stairs or long distances or standing for a long time. I don't need a walker or crutches because on level ground, I do fine. 2 1/2 years ago, I slipped and fell at work, banging a fist sized bump on my head and breaking my wrist so badly that I've permanently. after surgery, lost 70% of the use of it. Because that was worker's comp, they offered me SSDI, but my employer and I figured out ways to keep me employed, so I turned down the SSDI. They said any time I wished, I could apply for it and they would support it.

So, yeah, I don't receive SSDI because I have a job.

Invisible as my disabilities are, as legitimate as they are, as life threatening as they can be (I might not be able to move fast enough to get out of the way of those backing SUVs in parking lots even if Itzl alerts immediately, thanks to the knees), some jerk like "Artemis of the wild" thinks s/he can put it to a vote of the people to decide if I really am disabled or not. S/he thinks s/he can post the names of disabled people who might not look disabled to the average Jane or Joe on the street and have them decide if we're disabled or not?

If they're receiving disability payments, they've been through a lot of work to prove it - and they don't get to just comfortably sit back and claim it for life, they have to periodically prove they are still disabled.

I have a friend who has no hands and no legs. He's on SSDI, and he has to prove he still has no hands or legs on a regular basis to continue to receive his SSDI.

It's not the piece of cake people like "Artemis of the wild" thinks it is.

How dare s/he try to determine whether we are disabled or not to public, popular opinion? To shame us into not exercising our right to vote? In trying to remove our right to vote from us - because that's what the note seems to hint at?

What s/he is doing is inciting people to violence against us because we are less abled.

That is so very wrong.

Oregon was one of the places I was considering retiring to. I may have to rethink that.

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