Confess your Eco-Sins and bow down to The Goracle!
Forgotten to recycle any newspapers or tin cans recently? Feeling guilty because you neglected to carbon offset your flight to somewhere, anywhere, outside England this summer?
The Roman Catholic Church is at hand with a new line in “green confessions” to help eco-sinners to find forgiveness.
Dom Anthony Sutch, the Benedictine monk who resigned as head of Downside School to become a parish priest in Suffolk, will be at the county’s Waveney Greenpeace festival this weekend to hear eco-confessions in what is thought to be the first dedicated confessional booth of its kind.
Vested in a green chasuble-style garment made from recycled curtains, and in a booth constructed of recycled doors, he will hear the sins of of those who have not recycled the things they ought to have done and who have consumed the things they ought not to have done.
Being green has become the new “socially correct” form of behaviour for many, resulting in dishonesty as Western consumers exaggerate their eco-friendliness to keep up with their neighbours. A new poll for Norwich Union found that nine out of ten people tell “little green lies” about how much they recycle and how little they consume. More than half think that unethical living is as socially taboo as drink driving.
It goes on from there of course.
Is it just me, or is this absurd?
Isn't this a perversion of Jesus Christ's message? Have we come so close to solving all of man's ills, come so close to fullfilling the "love your brother" message that this is going to be the church's next crusade? Seriously? This is crap.
These Global Warming nuts really have gone over the edge. All the jokes about global warming fear-mongering becoming akin to a religion are all of a sudden a lot less funny. A lot lot less.
I'm absolutely speechless.
I'm completely dumbfounded as to why the church is picking up this standard. Why are they participating? It seems to really pollute the sanctity of their original message, if you see what I mean. How can I take the church seriously when it is doing this? Because, call me a cynic, but all I see here is a monk who wants to be famous and possibly start up his own sect. I'll be generous and suggest that it is merely a ploy to get more butts in the pews, that he's pulling a bait and switch: bring 'em in on a green message and send 'em out with Christ's love, but still...it's strikes me as a cheap carnie stunt and an obvious one at that.
Senator Larry Craig (Republican representing Idaho) recently plead guilty to misdemeanor charges of lewd behavior in a Minneapolis airport bathroom.
This is the part that got me:
Roll Call, citing the report, said Sgt. Dave Karsnia made the arrest after an encounter in which he was seated in a stall next to a stall occupied by Craig. Karsnia described Craig tapping his foot, which Karsnia said he "recognized as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct."
I am sooooo naive. I'm the kind of person that would place no value whatsoever on a tapping foot in a bathroom stall. A secret sexual invitation? Yikes! Is there some secret manual that decrypts these kinds of messages? I'd hate to be sending messages without knowing it, that's all I'm saying.
At least, you'd think so based on the reception of the meat loaf I made Prince Charming for supper on Sunday night. He's still talking about it! Mostly he keeps pointing out that there wasn't enough of it, that the leftovers only gave him one more meal, and that a not so generous one. Whereupon I had to point out that he ate three helpings on Sunday night.
"I can't help it! It was delicious!"
"Well, I'm just sayin' - I didn't skimp - it was a full meatloaff!"
"Can we have it every week?"
I think he's blowing air up my skirt or buttering me up for something big. It wasn't that good. Of course, you can work up an appetite when you mow the lawn twice in the same day, I suppose...
Still, here's the secret of my meatloaf:
I take 1 to 1.25 lbs of ground beef and put it in a bowl. I fine-dice a third of an onion and add this to the bowl. I add half a packet of Lipton's dry onion soup mix and 1 egg. I add somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4 of a cup of Italian seasoned bread crumbs and salt and pepper. Then, I get out the Worcestershire Sauce and eyeball about 2 tsp and mush it all together in my hands. My secret ingredient is about a tablespoon of Tastefully Simple's Merlot sauce. Mix and mush, mush and mix. Add more bread crumbs or worcestershire or merlot sauce until you are satisfied. Form into a loaf shape and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees until done. Last step: 20 minutes before the end of baking, mix 1/3 to 1/2 cup of ketchup with ~ 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and ~1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce. Pour over top of meat loaf and finish cooking. Sauce will be sort of crispy/crunchy sweet/sour. Prince Charming says it is terrific, but he'll eat raw hamburger, so...take that with a grain of salt.
This post should be filed under "Phoenix is becoming a grouchy old lady."
We have what can only be called really good health insurance. It probably isn't the best, but it is definitely very good. Well, what with the whole industry's costs going through the roof, the insurance companies have been looking for a way to do better on eliminating costs and tightening belts.
Which is all well and good, as far as goals go, but our insurance company is taking an odd approach.
Please allow me to elaborate. (Allow? Like you are going to stop me typing? Skip the post if you are bored out of your gourd.)
So, our health insurance company has taken an approach that, to me at least, indicates the following policies at work.
1) smoking is bad for people 2) drinking is not good for people 3) seeing the doctor even when you aren't feeling bad is good for people 4) asking intrusive questions about every aspect of your life is good for people
I will agree that smoking is probably not beneficial to your health. I'll even go so far as to say it is bad. What I take issue with, however, is the fact that the company wants me to get certified as "smoke free" every year. My issues with this are twofold: first - I'm 30-some years old and I've never smoked a cigarette in my life. I'm not likely to start now, even if the cool kids are doing it. Having to get re-certified every year is a huge pain in the ass. Second, the certification process is asinine. The company won't take my word that I'm smoke free, they want a doctor to say so. Maybe your doctor has a spy cam on you at all times, but mine does not (thankfully). So, the only thing he has to go on is my...word. That's right. My doctor asks me if I'm smoke free, I say yes, and he signs the paper. Anybody else see the comedy in this? I pay the insurance company (who doesn't trust me), they pay the doctor (who they trust and who trusts me). He's getting paid as a middle-man for doing nothing more than signing his name and checking a box. And somehow...somehow, me missing work and having to go to an appointment with the doctor to get this done every year is reducing costs. How? HOW? Somebody explain to me how requiring a doctor's appointment that I wouldn't have otherwise is cutting costs?
Alcohol doesn't have the social taboo that smoking provides, so the insurance company doesn't require me to pee in a cup and be certified as alcohol-free, but they do make a big deal about it in the questionnaire, which I'll elaborate on in a moment.
Going to the doctor for the sake of going to the doctor. I'm a busy lady. Lots to do. I believe in preventive care and preventive maintenance. I especially believe that this type of care is most important and most beneficial in children, the elderly, and the pregnant. Normal, non-pregnant, feeling fine adults, however? I don't think they need to go to the doctor just to go to the doctor. Call me crazy! It is true, I'm not particularly fond of doctors in general - I get white coat fever and my blood pressure goes up just thinking about it. But, I still don't see the need for me to go and sit on the beef paper and have my knee tapped. What's the point? Now, if I've been sick, sure! Call the doctor. If I'm bleeding? Get me to the ER! It is a normal Wednesday, I feel fine and have shit to do? I'll pass on the doctor. Furthermore, do you know where sick people can be found? At the doctor's office! Sending healthy people there for no good reason seems...irresponsible (and that's not just the white coat fever talking). Why can I not be trusted to just go to the doctor when I feel sick? Huh? Wouldn't I know better than the doctor how I'm feeling? How does this cut costs, exactly?
And then there's that questionnaire. This thing is so idiotic, I can't even describe it. First off, all the questions are written in the "Do you still beat your wife?" format. They assume that you are both walking wounded and psychiatrically deficient and liable to go postal at any moment. In fact, if you aren't depressed before starting the questionnaire, not to worry!, you will be by the end of it. It is as though they assumed that you would lie on this completely anonymous form, so they didn't offer you a "none of the above" or "not applicable" option. And, they don't give you the opportunity to not answer a question either!
Here's an example of what I'm talking about:
How often do you think about ending your own life in a given week? a) once or twice b) daily c) twice daily d) constantly e) I'm already in the planning stages
Notice how there is no "umm - I don't think about ending my life, I'm pretty content" option?
Then, later in the survey, they ask you if there are any guns in your home. All I'm saying is, they believe you are suicidal and then ask you to look for a weapon. Now that's one way of cutting health care costs: putting the suicidals on the fast track!
The entire thing is just dumb. But, nowhere near as dumb as this: when you complete this anonymous survey, they send you $25. Now really, how is this cutting costs?
As far as I can see, it is increasing costs! First, they have me making and keeping unnecessary medical appointments with a doctor who should rightly be tending to the sick. Then, they have to hire a full staff of idiotic survey writers and IT folks to do all this fancy schmancy web design and data gathering and compiling and analysis. Then they have to have somebody writing checks to people for completing the survey, and finally, they have to pay the $25. The icing on the cake? If I complete two more surveys, they send me another $75. Now, not a lot of people are going to do the first survey, let alone two more. But, that just makes it worse because now the incremental cost of the program is going up!
Bah! This is some stupid way to cut costs, that's all I'm saying.
I have a problem. My problem is that I can't say no...to myself. I don't have a huge problem saying no to other people, just to myself.
I'm not talking about substance abuse, but workaholicism. I am constantly creating more work for myself. For example, I decided that it was high time that the family business had a website. So, I designed, built, and deployed the thing on my own. The family wasn't even sure they needed it! Guess what has happened since then? They've decided that it is very important and I now have more work. Funny how that works, isn't it? So for the past couple of evenings I have been toiling at the keyboard as the rest of my family slumbers.
And that's not all! I recently received notice that the local chapter of my sorority is in desperate need for some advisors. I did it. I answered the call. I am now the Alumnae Advisor for Finance, Chapter Operations, and New Member Education. (I really wanted programming, but the Chapter Advisor (in charge of the whole enchilada) wanted someone strong in Finance and Operations so I bargained the New Member Education as part of the deal. Are you seeing a pattern yet?
And, of course, Halloween is coming up. I have a costume to create. No store-bought costumes for my kids if I can help it! (Or until they beg...)
I want to paint the walls in our house. We've been there four years now and only two rooms are painted: the nursery and the powder room (soft baby pink and British racing green respectively). I want to paint the living room a wine tone with the new Candlelight finish from the Ralph Lauren line. I want to do the Master Bedroom in two shades of cream (darker on top to enhance tray ceiling) and the candlelight finish. I'd like to paint the other two bathrooms as well. All of which takes time and...you guessed it: work.
And that is not all!
The death of my grandmother has been weighing on my mind and I have decided to join the Daughters of the American Revolution as a way to honor her. She was a member and traced our ancestry all the way back to those days and I have decided that is something I can do. So, there's a project!
And did I mention that there is a distinct possibility that the next cake I do will be a wedding cake? Yeah. And, I really need to start planning my Christmas baking and Christmas shopping too.
This is what I mean when I say that I can't say no to myself. I have a condition that makes me seek out work. I am a workaholic. They say that admitting it is the first step, but I don't have time for another program or project right now!
What are you reading right now? Currently I am slowly re-reading HP7 so as to absorb every lovely word.
What magazines do you have in your bathroom right now? None. I'm not big on magazines, actually.
What's the worst thing you were ever forced to read?How about a top 10 list? The very worst has to be The Grapes of Wrath - an entire chapter devoted to a turtle crossing the road? Gimme a break! But, I also hated Lord of the Flies.
What's the one book you always recommend to just about everyone? Harry Potter.
Admit it, the librarians at your library know you on a first name basis, don't they? No, actually. I am a book buyer and a book hoarder. I don't like to share or lend books either.
Is there a book you absolutely love, but for some reason, people never think it sounds interesting, or maybe they read it and don't like it at all? There is a book that I tell people to read when they go all liberal anti-gun on me. That is John Ross's Unintended Consequences. If you haven't read it, you should. It starts slow, but picks up fast, and you will not be sorry you read it. If you can get through the first 100 pages or so, you are going to love this book. That reminds me that my husband's copy is still on loan. Oh- by the way - you may have to go to a gun show or do a serious online search to find it. For some reason there is a sort of...publishing taboo... or embargo on the book.
Do you read books while you eat? While you bathe? While you watch movies or TV? While you listen to music? While you're on the computer? While you're having sex? While you're driving? 1. Yes - breakfast. 2. only rarely - when I'm taking a bubble bath. 3. Nope. 4. Nope. 5. Nope. 6. Are you kidding? 7. Nope.
When you were little, did other children tease you about your readinghabits? I don't think so...
What's the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn't put it down? HP7
What book have you stayed up all night NOT reading (because it disturbed you in some way)? I don't read books like that.
Has a book ever entered your dreams? Yes! Harry Potter, of course. But also, the Stephanie Plum novels.
What book/ series would you like to write an ending too? Or rewrite? I'm not strictly talking about fanfic, just this: given the opportunity, which stories would you like to work on? I'd like to try my hand at adapting a HP book to a screenplay, does that count?
Best book to movie transition? And as a corollary, what books should NEVER be a movie? Not quite sure how to answer this one. The first HP was a seamless transition, it was so true to the text. I can't think of anything immediately that shouldn't be a movie unless it is Animal Farm.
Do you prefer one-off novels or character-driven series books? What's your favorite book series? I have been reading a lot of character-driven stuff lately. Favorites? Too hard! I like: the Blackbird Sister novels by Nancy Martin the Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich the Bubbles novels by Sarah Strohmeyer the Goldie Schulz Caterer novels by Diane Mott Davidson the Debutant Dropout stories by Susan McBride the wedding planner mysteries by Deborah Donnelly the Crime of Fashion mysteries by Ellen Byerrum
Which book character do you see yourself as most like? How about when you were a kid? When I was a kid I thought I'd grow up to be Nancy Drew. Now that I'm an adult, I see my childhood as being like Hermione Granger. I haven't seen a contemporary character a lot like me.
Ever NOT want to finish a book because you were desperately afraid that the author was going to take it somewhere you didn't like? Ever fling a book at the wall because that happened? I came pretty close on HP7.
So, the project didn't turn out exactly as planned. The cake was supposed to be two layers. Unfortunately, I discovered this evening that there is apparently something terribly wrong with my upper oven. The cake was brown on top, cooked around the edges, and nearly raw in the center. When I tried to get it out of the pan, I ended up with a jagged donut: cake in a rectangle with an awkward uneven hole in the middle. Not nice.
There will still be plenty of cake to serve, so no big deal. I just wanted it to be a taller cake. As it is, however, I think the results speak for themselves.
Not a lot of posting around here lately, you probably noticed. What can I say? Life interferes with my blogging habit.
Bunny has been sick and Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights featured a lot of not sleeping. On Tuesday, in fact, I was working on 4 hours of sleep - me, an 8-hour minimum girl. I was worthless.
Yesterday I was busy with work stuff and I am still counting down the days until that cake is due. I have to complete it on Saturday and there is much work yet to be done.
Last night, for example, I made fondant pearls for quite a long time. I still don't know if I have enough, but I have a strong start in any case. This, if you are curious, involves handrolling logs of fondant, prepping the mold with the pearl dust, squeezing the pears out of the log, trimming off the excess, and managing to extricate the pearls from the mold without mashing them. I intend to put these pearls all around the base of the cake and perhaps here and there on the sides of the cake with extra flowers, but also in a lazy strand between the two masks on the top of the cake. It is a lot of work!
Tonight I am baking the equivalent of 4 cakes and taking the pre-baked pieces out of the freezer to defrost as well as mixing the buttercream. Then, on Friday night I will crumb coat the cake with the buttercream frosting and finally, on Saturday, I will cover the cake in fondant and finish decorating. See what I mean by work?
In our ongoing culinary arts project (aka The Cake), I have completed phase one. The masks are now complete and are merely drying a bit.
All in all, I'm cautiously satisfied. Look, I'm no celebrity chef, but I've done a decent job all the same. I'm not going to win any prizes, but my skills are coming along nicely. So, here are the pictures of the completed masks. Feel free to critique. Remember - they are completely edible - made almost entirely of sugar.
First thing this morning I was accosted by the note below (reprinted in entirety from the original, not a word has been altered or omitted) from Anonymous with regard to this post from May 18, 2005.
The original post was about the Madison, WI city council voting to approve low interest home loans to illegal aliens. It appears that Anonymous wanted to bitch slap me over it. Here is what Anonymous wrote:
Wow! These people are paying for your social security and will never benefit from it. They are getting a loan to buy a house (non exactly anti-social behavior) as long as they take the risk of being randomly deported and agree to pay money that will go to your kids social insurance. You make me shudder with the creeply xenophobic evil wierdness about immigrants wrapped in kitch kook language.
To quote one of your other postings "I am the Fucking Grand Master of Bitch." I can only say yes indeed - you are.
Why is it Americans of such evidently common origins rush to view points such as those expressed by you?
Your mannerisms and politics are very assumed and false I speculate when you were in high school you tried very hard to fit in and worked hard on a false, shallow and ultra conformist persona. Camoflage to hide your real self maybe so the other kids would not find out about something -your family probably. Was the problem money or something else? From from a insecure teenager a shallow and mean moth came.
Does creating additional layes of misery and poverty help you to psychologically distance yourself from your mud caked origins?
Altogether this blog is very yuck. I only came here because I googled for Wisconsin! It's like finding a piece of rotten peach at the bottom of the intetnet fruit basket.
I've said a quick prayer that all your children may marry Mexicans.
PS You husband sounds like a bit of a dork in my opinion. My opinion is formed by your writings so I wonder if somehow you actually resent or dislike him, you seem to need to consult with him before you form an opinion and when talking about the secretary of state you refer to rape compeltely out of context.
I smell a divorce.
You know, this is not quite as ugly as it gets, but it gets close. Anonymous still needs to ramp up the hate, but he/she has the personal attacks down pat.
Now, most of the time I just reject comments like this because I don't like to invite hatred into my own house, but this time I'm going to respond.
First, on the merits of the original post:
Look, my problem with the city and/or state making low-interest home loans available to illegal aliens is that, first and foremost, it is unfair. The subsidization of these loans comes at some cost and that cost must be absorbed by the law-abiding taxpayer. This practice goes out of its way to encourage illegal behavior and actually benefits a law breaker in a monetary way. You'll note that there is no such special loans for regular law-abiding citizens just for being law-abiding citizens. And this offends me. It identifies a subset of the population and gives them special benefits that the people who are paying for it are not eligible for. For example, I pay into the system and should I need it, social services will be there to help me pick up the pieces and rebuild my life. But, in this case, because I am not in this country illegally, I am not eligible for these special loans. Is that fair? I don't think so. Moreover and more importantly, these self-same loans are not available to legal immigrants who arrived in this country on the same day as the illegal immigrant, so it is discriminatory.
Furthermore, this practice provides no enticement to following a path to lawful citizenship. It practically encourages a permanent underclass and this is truly loathsome. Anonymous takes me to task as some sort of racist hater of brown people but nothing could be further from the truth. Being a conservative doesn't mean you are a racist. On the contrary, I simply feel that the playing ground should be level and even for all players.
Anonymous says that these illegal immigrants are "paying for your social security and will never benefit from it." I call bullshit on two counts. First, they aren't paying for me. I am paying for me. I am also investing in my own future because I have absolutely zero expectation that Social Security will still be around when it is my turn to retire. So, any suggestion that the illegal immigrant is paying my way is absolutely and completely false. Secondly, the notion that they won't benefit from paying into the system is also dubious. The recent immigration reform bills that were before Congress included a way for illegal immigrants to claim the social security that they paid in, so don't try to pull the wool over my eyes.
Now, to the personal attacks...
Apparently Anonymous has misconstrued my desire for a level playing field and twisted it into xenophobic racism. Frankly, I don't care what color anybody is or where they come from. But, I do expect that if you are going to live in this country that you do so in such a way that abides by the laws of the land. My family - both sides - immigrants. On my father's side, we came to this country before the Revolutionary War. On my mother's side, we came to this country around WWII, I believe, in response to persecution. The suggestion that I am xenophobic or afraid of brown people is ridiculous and I would suggest that Anonymous's own words suggest a deeper hatred of his/her fellow man than I can claim.
For instance, Anonymous refers to my "common origins." It that isn't class-ist and elitist enough for you, perhaps his/her aspersions to my "mud caked origins" will be. Those are the words of a bigot, not mine. Those are the words of someone with some pretty nasty prejudices. If you read this blog for any time at all you will quickly realize that I'm not about color, I'm about action. I seek justice and equality before the law. To suggest that my "origins" are "common" or "mud caked" reveals a hell of a lot more about you than it does about me. And, while we are on the subject, your "prayer" that all of my children will marry Mexicans - again, more hatred from you, cloaked in some sort of bastardized piety masquerading as an insult, let's be clear: if my children decide to marry they will be free to choose whomever they wish. I will accept and love my children's spouses as I should. If they are Hispanic it will honestly make no difference whatsoever to me. They can be martians for all I care. I am only going to be concerned with whether the person(s) are of good character, law-abiding, and will treat my child well. Thank you, Anonymous, for your concern, but I'm not all that concerned.
As to your opinion that this blog is "very yuck", well, I would invite you to search out some other den in which to spew your hatred and your bigotry. You are not welcome here. By all means, click somewhere else.
Let's get back to the personal attacks, shall we?
You take issue with my manners and my politics labeling them - how did you put it? - oh, yes "very assumed and false." I would suggest that you sir/madam could do with assuming some manners yourself. And, as to my politics, there is no "right" and "wrong" in politics. My politics may not meet with your approval, but it is quite clear to me at least, that I neither need nor want your stamp of approval, bigoted as you are and impolite as you are. This is still a free country and I am entitled to my opinion, the free expression of it, and there's nothing in the Constitution that says I have to seek editorial approval from Anonymous, thank god!
As to my high school years, which you trot out as some sort of window to my soul, your arguments are specious and laughable. I've not met a high school student yet who didn't try to fit in with others in high school - at least in some way. I did work hard - at my studies - and I think if you ask around you'll find that I'm not the conforming boob you believe me to be. Why, because if I were, surely by now, as a conformist, I'd be espousing your views...right? So, color me a flower of a different hue, will you? I never camouflaged or hid who I was, despite your suggestions otherwise. All of my friends knew exactly who I was. And let me assure you that I wasn't just another one just like them. I freakin' was the different one in the group! It isn't easy being the farm girl who lives in the Chicago suburbs. I was made fun of for my clothes, my projects, and yes, even my views. And yet, I managed to come out of high school with my head held high knowing that I was still me.
I hide no deep dark family secrets. I am proud of my family and would never seek to hide anything about it - except for from creepy internet stalkers like yourself, that is. And, let's take you to task on that insecure teenager - mean moth bit...I've never known a teenager who wasn't insecure - and frankly, your hate is a lot more vile than mine. Seems to me you are a hell of a lot "meaner" than me. Because, I'm still attempting to answer your vile accusations with a degree of etiquette and grace while you used a chainsaw.
You ask if "creating additional layers of misery and poverty help to psychologically distance" myself from my "mud caked origins." First, I neither invented misery or poverty nor do I seek to perpetuate them. Frankly, you are the one spreading misery - I just want everyone to be treated equally within the law. I don't think breaking the law should confer special status, that's all. And, the only thing I want to distance myself from is you and my attempted rapist.
Lastly, I don't give a flying fuck what you think of my husband or my marriage. We are blissfully happy, in love, and that's enough for us. He is a much better person than you are, I can assure you of that much based on nothing more than your elitist, class-ist, insufferably superior, I-know-better-than-you self. I neither resent nor dislike him - that's so funny my ribs hurt - on the contrary, I adore him. He is the light of my life, my anchor, my peace. And I can't wait to tell him that you think I consult with him before forming my own opinions - he's going to laugh for days on that little ditty. The truth of the matter is people find me too opinionated, not some sort of opinion lemming, so thanks for the giggles!
I'm not sure what that last sentence was supposed to be about, but I've already put too much time into responding to your asinine rudeness to bother to research and refute it. Yes, I was almost raped in college. Yes, as experiences go it was one that changed my life and altered my viewpoint forever. But, your crass bigoted hate doesn't deserve a single detail or any sharing on my part on that item. Why? I don't need to be victimized again, thank you very much.
So, in conclusion, I would again entreat you to not visit this site further, hating the content as you do.
The Grand Master of Bitch
P.S. Just for the record, I could have been much nastier and loaded my response with invective and personal attacks. I considered it, but instead chose the high road and class. You might try it sometime.
Here are some more pictures of the Royal Icing drop flowers that I squeezed out this evening...
To get an idea of scale, the pink are mostly smaller than a dime and the red are mostly larger than a quarter. I am planning a soft yellow center for the pinks and a bright yellow center for the reds.
The yellow flowers shown below will either not get centers or they will be white. My guess is the larger will get the white and the smaller will get orange centers. The photo below is of some of the blue flowers I made. These tend to be about 2/3 the size of a nickel. I'm considering a white center, but may go with the soft yellow instead.
So, I've promised regular updates and tonight you three separate posts full of pictures.
I've been pretty busy, I admit. But, there are those of you who are watching the progress of this virgin project closely, so I wanted to keep you informed on how the skills are developing.
Earlier this week I made these sugarpaste leaves (cut outs) and then I painted the veins on last night.
A close-up shot is below. you can see, perhaps that there is slight marbling in the darker leaves and that the veins are painted on with a glittered paint for "pop". It was my intention to use these on the small mask and make the mask look like a tree - whimsical, romantic, and reminiscent of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Then, after painting the veins on last night, I made a batch of Royal Icing and tinted it in 6 separate colors: pink, red, blue, purple, yellow, and green. This evening, I tried my hand at some Royal Icing drop flowers. (My neighbor/professional baker friend will be so proud! L - I so totally rock! These aren't like my wimpy roses at all!!!) I squeezed out about a bajillion of these things. Pictures to follow in the other posts. Now, all of these flowers still need to have their centers added, but in order to do that I need to make another batch of Royal Icing. (I decided to use the yellow for flowers and also want some white and orange centers for a more woodsy random look.) Below is a big shot of the violet and pink flowers. To get an idea of scale - none of these are as big as a dime in diameter.
The first is this article from the Wall Street Journal's Editorial page. It was brought to my attention by USAdave, The American Geek, who is always bringing excellent things to my attention.
The article is written by an ex-KGB Intel guy by the name of Lt. Gen. Pacepa who defected to the US 29 years ago. The article goes a long way in pointing out how the MSM and the left's anti-Bush clamor and spasms are working in al Qaeda's favor. No kidding - he says it is a play right out of the KGB's playbook. MUST READ! JUST DO IT. Click the link! Here's a taste:
Sowing the seeds of anti-Americanism by discrediting the American president was one of the main tasks of the Soviet-bloc intelligence community during the years I worked at its top levels. This same strategy is at work today, but it is regarded as bad manners to point out the Soviet parallels. For communists, only the leader counted, no matter the country, friend or foe. At home, they deified their own ruler--as to a certain extent still holds true in Russia. Abroad, they asserted that a fish starts smelling from the head, and they did everything in their power to make the head of the Free World stink.
The communist effort to generate hatred for the American president began soon after President Truman set up NATO and propelled the three Western occupation forces to unite their zones to form a new West German nation. We were tasked to take advantage of the reawakened patriotic feelings stirring in the European countries that had been subjugated by the Nazis, in order to shift their hatred for Hitler over into hatred for Truman--the leader of the new "occupation power." Western Europe was still grateful to the U.S. for having restored its freedom, but it had strong leftist movements that we secretly financed. They were like putty in our hands.
Next up, we have this piece by Stu Bykofsky (h/t: Drudge). Bykofsky laments that the partisan bickering about Iraq has squandered the post-9/11 unity at a time when we need it most. He recognizes who the real enemy is..."It is not Bush and it is not Hillary and it is not Daily Kos or Bill O'Reilly or Giuliani or Barack. It is global terrorists who use Islam to justify their hideous sins, including blowing up women and children."
Bykofsky is upset with the distractions and the partisanship that work against the bigger picture.
Because we have mislaid 9/11, we have endless sideshow squabbles about whether the surge is working, if we are "safer" now, whether the FBI should listen in on foreign phone calls, whether cops should detain odd-acting "flying imams," whether those plotting alleged attacks on Fort Dix or Kennedy airport are serious threats or amateur bumblers. We bicker over the trees while the forest is ablaze.
America's fabric is pulling apart like a cheap sweater.
What would sew us back together?
Another 9/11 attack.
I fear that he is right. It is long past time for the partisan bickering and the gotcha game and the Bush Derangement Syndrome and Plamegate to all be in the rearview window. There are people out there who want to kill us. You. Me. Our children. And, if they aren't able to actually kill us, they'll only be satisfied with abject and complete dhimmitude. You and I, long the beneficiaries of our forefathers struggles and sacrifices in pursuit of freedom and a government beholden to us, will be surely classed as second-class citizens, forced to pay dhimmi taxes, and make special accomodations to Allah in the global caliphate if that abhorrence comes to pass.
My thoughts have been on Grandma and her stories since yesterday. For whatever reason, I can't get her stories about ol' Bill out of my head, so I'm going to share them with you.
Please keep in mind that mine is a pioneering family from the Great Plains as you read this.
Grandma and Pompa started out in a small house that, before it was torn down, was known as The Steven's Place. I don't know why we called it that, we just did. Anyway, it was the sort of small place on the prairie that you could imagine blowing away in the wind. It was tiny - two rooms I think - and that is where my uncle was born. As their prospects improved, so did their living arrangements. But, during the Dust Bowl, grandma used to have to get very creative because the dirt would literally sift through even minuscule cracks. Anyway, at some point in time my grandparents became aware of a neighbor whose name was something like Bill McCreary - I could be mistaken on his name. They called him Ol' Bill.
Bill lived in a sod dugout in what can only be considered very rough circumstances. And, though nobody knows the full story, it is believed that Bill was treated shabbily by a woman because he was not fond of the fairer sex. He hated women. Had nothing good to say about them.
That is, except for my grandmother.
Now, the thing about ol' Bill is he was actually rougher than his circumstances. His idea of personal hygiene - from the stories I've heard he didn't know the meaning of the word. Ol' Bill wore the same overalls everyday over the same pair of long johns. From all accounts, he never took them off. Moreover, ol' Bill didn't see the need for a napkin and developed the habit of wiping his hands on the front of his overalls in the general region of his particulars - if you catch my drift.
However, living in a sod dugout often meant that you had all sorts of non-paying live-in guests of the rodent sort. Rodents who, after a time, became brazen enough to begin chewing on the crusty front of ol' Bill's trousers. Bill, it is certain, knew what was going on but didn't care. Because, you see, when those rats got down to the long johns (or deeper), he'd simply get himself a new pair of overalls and put them on over his old pair. Swear. To. God.
So, he was a slovenly, irascible, orneryol' cuss of a woman hater.
My grandfather worried about ol' Bill, living alone as he did and getting on in years, so on occasion my grandmother would take him a meal or check on him. And, when Bill got sick near the end, Grandma took care of him for a while. And, I believe, if memory serves, that ol' Bill left all of his earthly possessions to Grandma when he passed on. (Gee, thanks!)
But, my grandmother did put herself out, looked past the odious beast that ol' Bill was, and did the decent thing.
I'm sure that this speaks to her character, but it also says quite a lot about the way things were during that time. People checked on each other and looked after their neighbors.
There was something else that my grandparents did that was a really wonderful thing too.
Back when my father was in middle school or high school, there was a local family that had six or seven kids. Two of them were high school age and the rest were much younger. My grandmother was casually acquainted with the family in the way that people are in that size of a community.
Out of the blue, the parents of this family loaded up four of their children and disappeared, leaving 2 of their children behind. The kids came home from school and found that their parents and all of the household goods were gone. One of these two kids was a girl by the name of Kay Greene. My grandparents took her in and she lived with them for about 2 years while she finished school. Both of my grandparents were school teachers and thought that Kay Greene's parents were wretched, but that's the way things were. My grandparents even took in their nephew for a number of years and he spent time on the farm as well.
It seems odd to me that all of these things happened before I was alive. Not odd exactly. I realize that there were people on the earth before I got here. It is just odd that I have bits and pieces of family lore that I can't completely knit together.
For example, for the longest time - before I heard the story of Kay Greene - I thought she was the long-lost black-sheep aunt I never knew because she had died or been disowned due to some scandal (I was a fanciful child).
My grandmother died this morning. I'm sort of focusing on that today.
Her passing was not unexpected. We had a scare last fall and I flew out to see her you may recall. She was a very old woman and nobody lives forever.
As it was, she lived a very full life.
Her father was a minister and true to type, she and her two sisters were little hellions. They used to go to school in a covered wagon (swear to God) and whenever they got a bit of the Spring Fever, they'd walk to the wagon stop and hide from the driver. Then, they'd play hookie. She used to love talking about stealing watermelons and playing down at the creek all day, only walking home once they had seen the wagon go past again.
She soon went from skipping school to teaching school. In fact, for many years she taught all grades in a one room schoolhouse. She used to tell such stories!
She was engaged to my grandfather for 7 years before they could afford to get married. When they did finally take the plunge, they were married in the front seat of a car because the minister's wife was canning and wouldn't let them in the house. They were married over fifty years. Maybe over 60 - I'm not sure anymore. A very long time.
She survived the Depression and the Dust Bowl. She helped my grandfather build the farm. She raised four children (only 2 of which were her own). She managed to be feisty enough to survive and ladylike enough to get away with the feisty grit. She was the kind of woman who would tell you to go straight to hell and then offer you some iced tea for the trip. I loved that about her.
She loved the bright red color of red geraniums and loved fancy nightgowns. She used Oil of Olay every day of her life and wore a bonnet to keep the sun off of her face and it showed. She had wonderful skin. She used to make pancakes for breakfast and we would eat them with apple butter and drink Tang (does anybody drink Tang anymore?). She worked every bit as hard as any man I've ever seen and I can still smell the carnation lotion she wore. For that matter, I can still smell the work on my grandfather and see the pile of boots at the bottom of the stairs in the mudroom in the old house.
My grandmother loved fancy things. Fancy dolls, fancy dresses. She used to buy us a new dress every year for the family reunion. We always got dresses with bells in the skirts.
She wasn't perfect - nobody is. She could be mean. She was shy. But I don't want to think about those things today.
Okay. Here are the pictures of the cake project as of this evening. Remember that these are the sugar masks that will adorn the top of the Midsummer Night's Dream themed cake. The masks are made of sugarpaste and decorated with dust that I have used to paint the design on with. I would urge you that these are still both under construction. Lots of work remains on both of them.
So, try not to laugh so hard that we hear it in Wisconsin, 'kay?
Tuesday's Adventure: Lions and Tigers and Bears, OH MY!
Tuesday was a wonderful if blistering hot day. I took the day off of work and went with a friend and her two kids to the Milwaukee Zoo with Bunny Boop. This was Bunny Boop's first zoo experience and I was keen to see what she thought of the animals.
You see, we are not a pet-friendly household. There are a number of reasons, but they are summed up pretty easily as a) our home was a significant and serious investment and we love it and do not want it sullied by animals, b) we don't spend a lot of time at home during the day and getting back to the house to let an animal relieve itself mid-day is an impossibility, and c) I grew up on a farm and personally feel that animals should have plenty of room to roam free and accomodating my personal feelings on a and b would mean subjecting an animal to the biting wind of the Wisconsin Winter and I'm just not that cruel.
Anyway, we don't have pets at home, but Bunny does have some experience with cats and dogs we've run into in our varied travels. Mostly she is intrigued by these animals. So, I thought the zoo would be a good trip. Bunny wasn't all that impressed. She had more fun climbing on the benches and on the jungle gym. She enjoyed the carousel and really liked the train, but the animals didn't really impress her, at least not on this trip. I suspect that her indifference was due to the fact that many of the animals were so far away from us. She liked looking at the big fish, but other than that, eh.
The one exception was at the petting zoo. We entered that area to feed the goats. Not knowing what her reaction would be, I opted to keep the fence between us and the goats for the feeding. This was a wise choice, I think. Bunny really liked the idea of the goats and the idea of feeding the goats. She drew the line, however, at letting that goat's tongue and teeth get anywhere near her hand. It was funny and cute. Next year will be better, I'm sure. In the meantime, we have another zoo trip planned for the end of the month - this time to Brookfield Zoo in the suburbs of Chicago. Should be fun! I just hope it isn't quite so hot on that day.
I realize that I've been a bit remiss in posting lately. There is a reason, though I'm not sure how good it is.
I've been researching a project..., but let me backtrack a bit.
When I last posted, I indicated that I was going to be building a cake to go with a "Two Moons of August" themed party. Well, it turns out there was a bit of misunderstanding about the whole thing on both sides. The party planners didn't realize that their theme was based on an internet hoax and I didn't realize that they didn't know it. I thought they were having a bit of fun with the internet hoax thing and planned the double moons to perpetuate the joke. Unfortunately, all became clear when I shared my ideas with the party planners.
Despite my pleas that it would be charming and tastefully done, and the fact that I said one could serve the cake with the words, "here, have a piece of ass...", they didn't go for it.
They had to go theme-hunting. They finally settled on A Midsummer Night's Dream and I had to go back to the drawing board on the cake. I have finally settled on a concept and the rest of this week (with the exception of Tuesday) have been planning the build of the cake. So, if I haven't been posting or answering your emails, this is why. I'm sorry. I will get back to you as soon as I can.
The new theme gave me some serious fits. Anybody who has read the play will recognize that the idea of modeling fairies and a man with an ass's head didn't thrill me. So, I went a little bit off of that and am now planning something a bit different. Basically, I am building a fondant covered cake that will have a higher elevation on one corner. Resting atop the cake will be two mardi-gras style masks made of sugar (sugarpaste) and painted and decorated in a somewhat romantic, albeit fanciful way. The entire cake will be spilling with flowers and pearls as well. At least, this is the plan.
Last night I began the first non-planning phase work on this. I modeled the sugarpaste masks and set them to dry. They are currently in the open air, but tonite I will move them under a bubble to finish drying. I also started working on the pearls last night and have developed a whole new appreciation for those wedding cake artists. There is no freakin' wonder those cakes are so expensive!
Anyway, I will post pictures of the developing project as I can so that you can cheer or jeer, whatever the case may be.