Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday, Puppy Sunday: cuddly Chuy

Chuy is a world-class snuggler. The girls are more prone to bounce out of bed and take on that day, but Chuy will hang out and laze with mommy for as long as I'm willing. I've been so busy that there's been a dearth of that. Today they went outside and got food at the usual times, but we went back to bed for a lie-in. Nice to sleep later than usual for a change. 

Now, to take on that day. I have some canning to do!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Blue Ball jars. YAY!!!

I found these lovely pint jars at the store today. I'd like to tell you I kept my mud in a ball and remained composed and ladylike, but I failed on that score. I bounced and giggled and did a happy dance. There was audible squeeing, I think.

I was sorely tempted to swan madly through the store in a fit of Isadora Duncan-style interpretive dance, gaily holding aloft the lovely set of blue Balls. But I resisted on that count, at least.

Apparently they are a nod to the classic blue glass of mason jars in times past. They have refrained from including zinc lids, though. They are really pretty. I'm going to put by some cherries tomorrow, and I'll probably do at least one of these jars for that. I don't want to waste the pretty color of the cherries on the colored glass jar, though, either.

Himself has gallantly been helping me get my kitchen a little more in order, which is saying a whole lot. It's really a mess and needs complete reorganization. I think with help and taking occasional stabs at it, I may put it to rights eventually. Fingers crossed.

Friday, June 28, 2013

This is not paranoia, btw. I'm just being honest.

If the NSA had a recording of Trayvon Martin's swan song of a phone call, And if it proved Zimmerman to be a cold-blooded killer, I think that recording would already have mysteriously turned up somewhere in the public record.  I think they have a recording of that call, and I think it proves the opposite. 

On that score, consider the inane vapidity of most human exchanges via phone, text and email, and consider how soul-killing it would be to have to sift through all that data for the paydirt. What an insulting and steaming pile that things should have come to this pass. I at least take some satisfaction at the sheer volume of photographs of bowel movements they must have to have come across. 

On that score: poop! Poop!  Poop! Poopidoop!

This makes my love of shoes and perfume appear noble and lofty in comparison. 

A prediction:

Trayvon Martin's friend will have a makeover within weeks with a reality show soon to follow.  

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Work zombie.

I worked 12 hours today. With no lunch. My ass hates my chair. Blarg. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Apricot Rosemary Jelly

I found a recipe for rosemary infused apricot jelly that sounded wonderful. I immediately thought of this on pork tenderloin with a sage dressing or some such. Sounded intriguing. 

Bought some apricots to do a batch Sunday night, but they were too firm and not ripe. I put them in a brown paper bag to ripen, and Monday night many were ready for processing, but quite a few were not. I made a small batch of the stuff and ended up with 1.75 pints of the stuff. I was worried it wouldn't turn out clear, but I think it's clear enough. 

Monday was such a crappy day at work that I felt doing something nice for my home and future meals would in some way restore universal balance or something. 

People should talk to themselves more before they open their mouths to others. They should think about how they sound when they complain about things. For example, when booking services for which one pays a flat fee for a job completed, it's really vile for someone to demand that the manual laborers not be given breaks for lunch or anything. I generally do not remark on inanities that are too silly to merit consideration, but I could not allow that one to go unchallenged. I explained that these are human beings and very graciously want to assist them, but I kindly refrained from observing that I questioned her humanity.   But between you and me, she has the social merit and nobility of a taint hickey.*

Thank you for searing that concept into my brain, Mike. I may never sleep sweetly again!  *_*

Monday, June 24, 2013

Say hello to my leetle frames:

These frames are available in funkier colors, but the local optician who cared enough to help me when I came a'callin' only had it in black, so that's what I've ordered. I should be able to pick them up this week. I'm kind of excited, because they are funky and distinctive. I still may want them in another color combo, though.

Lafont seems very well-made. I think I may be seeking out their frames in particular in the future. They certainly have some odd ducks, and I find that tremendously appealing.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday Shining and I'm a rainbow: a post for A & S

What is it about a pretty Sunday that feels so right with reggae-infused music? Today I'm thinking of Sunday Shining from Finley Quaye's superb Maverick A Strike album.

the sun is shining
the weather is sweet

Here's a nice remix of the original Bob Marley version, song by Bunny Wailer. If you have to go through life with a name, Bunny Wailer is a damned good one, by the way.

This post dedicated to Blowfuzzy Von Sassy and her husband S, two of the coolest people I've ever met. You amaze and delight me with your uncompromising and very rugged individuality.
You are rainbows, too.

Sunday, Puppy Sunday: Praline-- Portrait of a Squirrel Killer

Saturday, June 22, 2013

My Rock Rose is going hog wild.

Also known as labdanum. This plant is sprawling about 10 feet wide now, and I'd be kind of okay with it taking over the whole yard. 

The tall purple flowers is a standing variety of verbena. I originally planted the rock rose and verbena 2 summers ago and both have survived their neighbors and thrived. 

Earlier this spring, I cut the rock rose back a bit. I was going to clean the leaves and stuff out around the base until I realized some baby bunnies called that place home. 

You have to love plants that can only look this good if you completely neglect them!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Welcome, Summer.

In the big, lofty ball-room there were only the two candles on the piano, the rest of the room remaining in half-darkness. The clear summer night gleamed through the open windows.

Happy Ever After
Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A ringing endorsement.

Is the peace in your home disturbed whenever someone puts up their dooks? Now there is hope for your happy home.

I'm not going into a lot of detail here. Just trust me on this one: this stuff really works. It's a blend of herbal oils that you spray on the water surface and it lovingly envelops the *ahem* new arrivals in a preservative film of aroma-warfare. This is a little on the pricey side, but a small price to pay to keeping the peace in a household. Trap-a-crap is a distinguished member of the Poo-Pourri family of products.

This is some seriously good shit.

That eyeglass thing...

I had quite the ordeal trying to get the glasses I showed you here. I was going to buy both frames and have a spare pair, but in fact, I ended up not getting them at all.

You ever get the feeling someone regards you more as a nuisance than a valued customer?

I went to the dr's next available appointment, which was about a month later. Had the appointment set up between Chemistry class and work, so I had a limited amount of time.

Appointment was 9:30 AM and I finally went back at 10:07. Just like the last 2 appointments with him, he started off by saying that I shouldn't be surprised by it, because I'll need bifocals any minute now. Yes, he said that two years ago and seemed surprised that I didn't need bifocals at the time. About 5 minutes into my appointment, the Dr said "excuse me" and went off for 10 minutes to go speak to a computer guy about an issue he was having on his computer. The remainder of my appointment took about 3 more minutes, and concluded with him telling me I can keep the same glasses I've had, that my prescription has not changed. Oh, and he didn't mention bifocals again, so I'm guessing I don't need them yet. [What is up with this hard-on for bi-focals, anyway?]

At this point it was so late that I couldn't go get the measurement for my pupil-nose-pupil so they could order my lenses. I came back on a lunch break a couple of weeks later to order the glasses (which were on hold for me) and I waited my entire lunch hour for an optician to at least ask me if they could help me. They stayed involved with other customers the entire time and never spoke to me. Would've taken maybe 5 minutes. I was annoyed.

I went back a couple weeks ago and an optician was working with another customer, but finished after a few minutes. I told him of my experience of waiting the entire lunch hour and never getting help, but that I have glasses on hold I need to order. He checked for them and another customer walked in and started asking him questions and he sat with that man and started talking to him as if he and I had never spoken. I walked up an interrupted him and said "so did you find my glasses on hold?" He said no, he didn't. Thanks for telling me, schmuck. I left abruptly, but stopped by their office part to obtain another copy of my prescription.

About an hour later, their manager called and left me a voice mail saying that yes, she still has my frames on hold and they're sorry for the inconvenience, but they try to wait on customers in the order they arrive and she would be there late that day if I wanted to come to the office to get my order set up. If I spoke to her again about this, I'd tell her that the other optician dropped me like a hot potato when another person came into the room. I'm a courteous person and I'll probably call them back and tell her to take the glasses off hold, but something in me wants to never call them again.

I'm through with them. I think they want my money but don't give a damn about giving me shabby treatment. Plus I found some other glasses I like elsewhere, and they seemed to want my business. Yeah, I'm through with them.

Even on a hot night,

Snuggling with my furballs is one of the best things on earth. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fetch me my parka, Jeeves!

It's been ridiculously, unseasonably cool here lately.  I love it.  Today is forecast for a high of 88 and a low of 72. Arctic!!!

Normally at this time of year, the temperature doesn't dip below 90 until after 9 or 10PM. I'll take this any day. Also my drought-plagued region has gotten several days of much-needed rain. So far, I'm liking the weather this summer. 

Today I begin reading my Microbiology text for the class that begins in 3 weeks. Wow. Time is flying. 

I'm also going to enter an essay for a scholarship competition that's due in September, so I have prep to do on that, as well. 

Set a dr appt for July checkup and Thursday I go in for my first Hep B shot. Glad I took a couple of days off to get my ducks in a row. When you're working 12 hour days, it seems there is little time to focus on other things and take care of business. 

I have 9 days of vacation to burn off before I go part time in the Fall. Sure, I could take the leave as an extra paycheck, but I'd rather use the time to recharge my batteries. Fingers crossed and hoping I can manage a trip to New Mexico in August  

Gathering with friends last weekend was gloriously restorative and filled me with delight. Was very sorry not to see the folks who were absent, but they were all kept warm and close in our hearts and in our thoughts. 

July 1 will mark the one year anniversary of the arrival of my Little Bit, Miss Mochi, into my home.  She is an absolute delight, and though she is a handful, I'm so glad to have her here. 

In other news, I've just been informed that my (dry)brisket rub is on the TSA list. I can't wait to hear the full story on that one!!!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day to my lovely Father

I am lucky, because I have the best possible parents a person could have. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Friday, June 14, 2013

My car is trashy. Here's how trashy:

I mentioned to Dad that as busy as I am, I am nervous that my car is taking on the appearance of one whose owner lives therein. Dad said "yeah. You need to take a day off and clean it."

I'm still laughing at that.  Thing is, I think he wasn't being funny. 

Must have tetanus shot to ride this ride. Hep B for good measure. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wow. A week away?

I posted a Puppy Sunday post from my phone that apparently didn't come through.

Working 12 hour days, and I had the "oh, shit!" phone all last week, so I've been busier than a one-armed paper-hanger. I decided not to be at work 12 hours today, so I may be a slacker and just do my usual 8. Or 9.

Last night I goofed off and practiced my ukulele very late. I now am sporting my first blister. I started off playing my cheapie uke with the tough strings, not thinking about what was happening to my poor wee thumb. Then I switched to my solid-body mahogany with better strings. It's not an expensive uke by a long shot, but it's considerably better, and it's an Eddy Finn with a sharkfin shaped sound hold that is infused with pina colada smell. It sounds pretty good. I stayed up til midnight playing for the fun of it.

I'm working on several things and I'm taking uke lessons from my guitar teacher. Uke's portability and ease make it a better fit for me now, and I'm loving the outlet. And it's good that my repertoire has advanced beyond 2 songs. I'm sure some at work will be surprised when heavy season is over and I pull out my work uke and play something other than Johnny Cash or the Ramones. :)

Odd thing. I purchased the latest Regina Spektor album about a yearish ago and played it on my iPhone3. Well, I played it again on my iPhone5, and there are two songs that would never play on the 3 that are on the file, apparently. Isn't that weird? And stingy. I think if someone has an earlier version of a phone and they buy the album, they should get the whole dad-gum thing, don't you?

Anyway, here's one of the tunes from the record that I never heard until recently. It was kind of shocking, actually, to suddenly have a new tune in an unexpected place.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

The Way We Go

The way we go about our lives
trying out each empty room
like houses we might own
eavesdropping for clues in corridors until
standing at a gate or attic window
seeing beauty in a flag of sky
we're gone. leaving the doors open
all the lights burning

Katharine Thomas

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Most aggressive dog breeds?

Just as a reminder, Praline is a Jack Russell Terrier, Chuy is a Chihuahua/Dachshund mix, and Mochi is a tweenie dog- midway between a mini Dachshund and the standard size model.

On Facebook, my friend Holly tagged me in a link to this article about the most aggressive dog breeds.

The article basically ascribes EBR status to Rottweilers, Pit Bulls and Dobermans-- they look scary but they are not the most aggressive breeds. Don't let the weenie dog's otter-lope fool you-- they weigh in as the most aggressive breed. I have to begrudgingly agree, at least in my limited experience. Mochi is an expert starter of Le Shit. While nature definitely plays its role, in my experience, nurture plays a massive role in how the nature of the dog manifests. Mochi spent the first 5 months of her life chained in yards, and often without food and water. She is a guttersnipe and eternally starving and thirsty, because that was her early experience. She goads Praline and Chuy into sparring with her, and I really think there is no hitch in her gitalong when it comes to fighting: she wouldn't think twice about taking on a grizzly bear. There is no more cuddly dog on the planet, though. And again, the otter-lope gets me every time. Is there a sight more majestic than a loping wiener dog? Probably, but it makes me smile and fills me with delight, so I'll take power-cute over majestic any day.

So far, Mochi's kill board includes the one mockingbird I mentioned here recently.

I continued reading the article, and to my surprise, the second most aggressive breed is the Chihuahua. I looked over at Chuy, sprawled on his back, and ventilating his former ball area, and thought "top two aggressive breeds? PAH!" Chuy is such a cool and mellow little dog. He was from a litter my wonderful vet in Richardson (north of Dallas) rescued. Chuy has always been gently treated and handled, and he just loves Love. When you hold him, the is so sweet and trusting, and you can tell he's never been dropped. He's a love sponge, a love lump, and a power cuddler. He is a little more wait-and-see than Mochi, but if his sisters were fighting something non-pack, there's no doubt that he'd be in the mix. He is more deliberate and takes an engineering sort of approach to things, calculating angles and weighing the odds and all that before taking action. Mostly, though, he's a little Edwardian dandy. He has his little suit on with the proper vest, derby hat and the watch chain swagging across his barrel chest, umbrella in one paw and a folded copy of the London Times tucked up under his arm. Tail curled at a jaunty angle. Chuy's hobbies are being loved and chewing off Mochi's whiskers. Himself teases me that Chuy is a con-man, and I think that is mean because Chuy is clearly sweet, innocent and pure.

Chuy's kill board includes baby bunnies and lots and lots of blue jays. Chuy is Blue Jay death on paws. I've noticed fewer of them seem to hang out here lately, for some reason. I don't think the bunnies have nested in my yard this year, FWIW.

Can you guess the third-most aggressive breed? Yes: Jack Russells. Wow. Praline is a sweet girl, but she's very focused and prone to obsessing if there are furry varmints she needs to subdue. Praline can be cuddlesome, but she is also the one who least likes being picked up and cuddled. Taut as a high-wire, she's always on the case. Like Mochi, she's fearless and always ready to stomp a mudhole and walk it try. (poor frogs). She is the watch dog, and she sleeps on top of the covers to keep watch over our little pack. Nothing slips past her. At the end of the day, though, she's a fastidious and loving little dog, and very happy with her home and her pack.

How did I end up with the three most aggressive breeds, though? What are the odds? Jack Russells were a deliberate choice with my first dog Valentine. I love their intrepid spirit and their jolly can-do attitude. If dogs did silly human things, Jack Russells would be the ones to find the source of the Nile and to climb Everest. Dachshunds, of course, were bred for badger-hunting, and badgers aren't exactly pushovers. Chiweenies? Clearly bred for melting mommy's heart. Chuy and Mochi were both rescues, and dachshund and Chihuahua were the two breeds I said I would never own. Go figure. I'm so glad it worked out this way, though. Turns out I'm very happy with my little pack of aggressive beasties, too.

Monday, June 03, 2013

How a harpsichord works

I have programmed a Telemann-based radio station for myself on Pandora, and I've been enjoying hearing so much harpsichord in its broadcast. While a harpsichord looks very like a piano, its strings actually create sound by being plucked, rather than hit with a hammer as with a piano.

The modern piano did not arrive fully-formed like Venus rising from the billowing surf, but pretty much is a product of evolution in sound engineering. Predating the piano was the harpsichord, which featured prominently in Renaissance and Baroque era music, and is a defining element of music of that period. What came to be the harpsichord was primarily engineered by Flemish instrument makers in the 16th century. Around the beginning of the 18th century, the new keyboard on the block was the fortepiano, and Mozart and Beethoven composed piano music for this exciting new iteration of keyboard.

This is a really cool demonstration of how a harpsichord works.

As you can hear, this is a very distinctive sound. I particularly love the flute music of Telemann, and he has a great body of work in which the harpsichord figures heavily,and with tremendous charm and feeling. Mozart and many other operatic composers used the harpsichord to underscore recitative (the spoken bits between arias) in their operas. Some exceptions would be the singspiel mode which is not completely sung-through. My favorite singspiel is Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) in which the performers speak lines with no music between songs. My guess would be that the use of harpsichord for underscoring the recitative passages is that the orations of the singers will not be overpowered by the sounding of the instrument.

The harpsichord apparently sounded old-timey and fell out of vogue for the whole of the nineteenth century, but has enjoyed a renaissance of its own starting in the 20th century and continuing in perpetuity, one hopes.

Here is one you are sure to recognize: Bach's Minuet in G major, beautifully played by SF Christo:

I hope you'll enjoy this music, and possibly seek out more music in which it is prominently featured.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Squee-worthy juice from Annick Goutal: Nuit Etoilee

In my hay-making mode, the exploration of perfumery continues and is an anodyne to the wire-taut, keyed-up intensity of overtime-flavored tunnel-vision.

I've been fortunate to win a couple of drawings of giveaways by fellow perfumistas, and those giveaways included dozens of decants of gorgeous niche fragrances. Also, I've spent a wee bit on samples of things I wanted to try before handing over the dosh for a full bottle. Indeed, I'm a bit on the picky side and I'd say only one out of 20 or so really blows my skirt up, but when a fragrance makes me happy in my pants, it makes me happy in a big way. I'm picking my way through these scrummy scents and finding what really works for me, and I'll pass the also-rans along for other folks to try in turn.

My latest happy-pants inducement is the wondrously lovely Nuit Etoilee from the perfume house of Annick Goutal.

I only have a small sample, and will soon run out, alas. I'm hopeful I can spend some of the yields of my overtime this summer on a full bottle of this exquisite juice.

Nuit Etoilee opens with perhaps the prettiest citrus I've experienced. It's not that acidic, lemonadey eye-popping lemon or lime zest, nor is it a cloyingly tangy orange. It's a comforting little burst of citron with a faint suggestion of mint. These are the top notes which scarper off quite quickly. Top notes are the smallest molecules in a fragrance mix, and they fly away from the pack first, and are quick to evaporate. They are sort of an overture which sets a framework in which the big picture will unfold.

The heart of Nuit Etoilee is a glory of pine and fir. These notes begin to reveal themselves within minutes of spraying and present a burnished glow after the citrus/mint medley has wafted away. They quickly seem subdued, but I can smell the conifer on my arm in the evening, having applied it in morning time. This is a low-projection scent on me, and more subtle than the pong-monsters I generally crave in scent. Perfume parlance borrows the term sillage from the nautical lexicon, and the sillage is sort of the wake you trail (or do not). Some people favor high-projection scents, and most of my favorites are thus, but this one wormed its lovely, subdued way into my heart. This is probably not detectable on me more than arm's length throughout the day.

The base notes-- which are slowest to emerge but more sustained-- are angelica, immortelle and Tonka bean. Angelica is a flower, but the oil is extracted from the roots, and this is considered a green scent. Essence of immortelle is extracted from its sunny little flowers (latin name Helichrysum angustifolium, thus named for the sun), and has long been used for medicinal/therapeutic purposes. Tonka is a spicy little bean thing from South America that I've noticed listed as an accord in a huge number of fragrances. I have only seen them in photos, but I would imagine them to be similar to the resinsous, sticky properties of vanilla beans. Tonka bean seems to have a vanillic quality to me. (Vanilla is quite often used in perfumes, but can be overpowering and is not a particular favorite of mine, though it is beasting in my beloved Hypnotic Poison from Dior).

The overall effect of Nuit Etoilee is that of taking a tiny sip of limoncello whilst enveloped in a nice wool wrap, sitting by a campfire in a grove of conifers on the first cool night of the year.

I tend to favor Oriental fragrances that are woody, spicy or floral, but this is a Woody Aromatic. I may have Himself wear this one day, and I think it'll probably be more suited primarily to men, but I think the right woman can pull it off. *aherm* One more note on the formulations of this scent: this is truly a unisex scent, but there are actually two formulations available. The one I have is the masculine and is an Eau de Toilette. There is a formulation in Eau de Parfum form which I have not smelled, but also includes accords of amber (for which I am quite, quite queer) and iris, which I generally don't like in perfumes. I'll be buying the "masculine" version of this, in the squared bottle. In my opinion, convention is utterly to be flouted when it comes to scent. Aramis-- the classic 1966 man cologne-- smells wonderful on me. I think it would be a shame if I'd never tried it because a silly label like pour homme make me think a lady couldn't wear it. If something smells right on you and you enjoy it, you should wear it. Full stop.

This is available in sample form from ThePerfumedCourt and also from SurrenderToChance, but I would recommend confirming which formulation you are receiving when you order any fragrance. It would be disappointing to fall in love with a particular scent, only to find out you've committed to a full bottle of its not-evil-enough twin. As always, I recommend you purchase the larger spray decant to get a true sense of the interplay of fragrance notes. Some people don't think it makes a difference if you spray or daub on a scent, but in my mind at least, there is a difference.

Hi. My name is Phlegmmy. I am a workaholic. For the moment.

I to paraphrase Master Pratchett, I haven't run to early rising so much as leapt in bounds toward it, my eyes eagerly springing awake at 5:00 AM. This is sick, I know. I get myself together and hie me to the office to plug away at paperwork for a couple of hours before my shift on the phones begins. This weekend, I have the emergency line, which usually starts ringing at 6AM on a Saturday. I dozed a bit and got out of bed a little before 6:00 am and linked the laptop with the office system. Here it is, 7:42, and not a single person has called. And I'm in my cups. Well, coffee cups, anyway-- I've had 3. I'm (un)tanned, rested and ready, and I've been awaiting that welcome, most un-dulcet of rings, and nothing. If I wanted to sleep late this morning, though, it would have been ringing non-stop. Object lesson, here!