Friday, November 14, 2008

Sometimes I Just Shouldn't Look

The local paper has run a headline for the last few days in a row to the effect that whoever killed a dog in a cruel manner in the next village over still hasn't been caught. Every day, it's right in front of me again, and I think about the animal's suffering. Then today, CNN is running a story on some teens abusing a kitten. It's been in the "top stories" all day, and I keep trying to look away.

So I popped into the Wooden Boat Forum and scanned the Bilge for an interesting distraction. What I found was 3 pages of posts about how the role of women in the military should be limited for their own good and for the good of those soldiers who they would distract or whose team camaraderie they would destroy. I could have dove into that discussion with spurs flying (and have done so before); but it all just keeps coming around again. People don't generally change their minds - instead, they retire and the general consensus evolves with the replacements.

So I peeked at Facebook, which caused me to look for a second at my older brother's blog. (No, I'm not posting a link.) And I caught his comments on religion, which included the statement that "My grandmothers were both very simple people, and not just because they were Christian farm wives of limited education." My grandmothers were not "simple people." The one was a talented writer who sold every story she ever wrote, as well as an entrepreneur and artist. The other was a funny, thoughtful woman and a matriarch who shared her wisdom with 3 generations. And BOTH, if I recall correctly, attended teacher's college and were among the best educated of their circle, as well as being accomplished canners and bakers, voracious readers, mothers of large broods, and successful survivors of life's varied challenges stretching back to the Great Depression.

So I'm shutting off my computer, and I'm going to go finish the last bit of fringe on the blue shawl (and maybe the sleeves of that baby sweater), and play with my puppy. So there.
NOTE: Okay, I checked. Grandma E taught school for several years, but Grandma B had to drop out and go to work in the button factory to support her mother and siblings during the Depression. She always regretted the lost opportunity, according to Dad.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Just playing

I spotted a few neglected apple trees on my way through the hills today, and just had to get my new camera out to play. I can't believe they were just hanging (or laying) there, going to waste. Don't the owners know that they've got cider "on the hoof" out there?

When I was a kid, we'd take a tarp out to the gnarled old apple trees scattered around the field and pile it high with the "drops." Even if they have a few spots, most of them taste just fine. Apple pie, apple crisp, fabulous apple cider - and homemade apple jack, as I recall. (Dad let us try a taste once or twice. It had a funny "bubbly" taste completely different than the Woodchuck cider I drink these days.)

Three different apple trees by the road. I'm not very good at spotting varieties, but I did find the variation in colors interesting. The apples ranged from Easter pastel to dark plum in the space of 20 feet. It seems a shame to see them go to waste.


Apple Crisp - a basic recipe

6 or 7 apples of the variety of your choice. (Firmer, tart apples are better)
1/2 cup raisins or dried sweetened cranberries (optional)
1/2 cup (one stick) of unsalted butter, not too soft
1 cup of flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flax seed meal (optional, but it makes this officially a healthy treat)
lemon juice
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°.

Crumb Topping

Slice butter into pea-sized pieces. Combine in small bowl with brown sugar, flour, flax seed meal and spices to taste. Using hands or pie cutter, mix until the ingredients resemble damp sand. A few small chunks are not only okay, but add interest to the end result.


Peel, core and slice apples thinly. Mix in raisins or cranberries if desired. Oil casserole-sized baking dish using spray oil (or drip into pan and use an apple slice to spread it around). Layer roughly half of the fruit mixture into the dish. Sprinkle roughly a teaspoon of lemon juice over the fruit, followed by half of the crumb mixture. Layer remaining fruit into dish, followed by another dose of lemon juice and the remaining topping.

Bake at 350° for about 45 minutes, or until the fruit in the center has softened. Enjoy for breakfast or after dinner, with ice cream, cool whip, chocolate syrup, or anything else that strikes your fancy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Happy Thought For The Day.

I just got it for my office. This is the artist's photo - I'm going to have to work on mine, since I talked one of the tall attorneys into climbing on top of my file cabinet to hang my new pretty little thing in the transom section of my office window, and now every photo I take is kind of oddly angled and has way too much contrast. (I'm going to read that new camera manual soon, I promise.) But isn't it pretty? You should see it with my collection of glass paperweights up there.
I love Etsy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hard Frost

In case there was any question on the matter, Indian Summer is officially over. It snowed repeatedly over the weekend on the way to Dane County and back, and we were greeted this morning with the thickest frost yet. Amazingly, there are a few flowers in the garden still trying to hang on.

Meanwhile, I am pondering the latest batch of Deep Thought ® gleaned from the weekend's Lay Academy, and utterly enjoying the fact that when Rick is home (as he is this week), he takes the first turn of the morning running the puppy outside for her potty break. Warm sheets and loving spouses are wonderful things.

Train Hats

(Here is the post I really meant to have up yesterday, if only I hadn't misplaced the cable needed to download photos.)
As you can see, I figured out the whole two-color rib thing during my long weekend ride, and with the help of some basic black acrylic from my stash I managed a "train tracks" hat. But I don't think I particularly like it - somehow the design reminds me quite a bit of the pile of badly-treated acrylic knitwear that lived in the cupboard of our back hall at the farm, right above the rubber boots. It was the kind of stuff you could pull on in a hurry to go pick apples or stack firewood or other cool-weather work which didn't require a sense of style. The the two-color rib does make an extra thick texture, so I will say that the hat should be reasonably warm around the ears. But again, that recommends it more for rough play than those "cute baby on display" events. In case you're wondering, it's 72 stitches around on size 8 needles.

So, I decided to try again - especially since Wally World did actually have train buttons, wonder of wonders. I found a packet labeled "trains, planes and automobiles" that was really intended for crafts rather than clothing, and sorted out all three of the trains found within. So, 80 stitches on size 4 needles with the same yarn, using a 2 x 2 checkerboard rib and I-cord ties, followed by some embroidered train track, and voila! (I'm hoping that it looks like train tracks when the hat is worn, and no some sort of unfortunate uni-brow.)
Finally, I'd been asked for matching mittens, so I banged out these basic red thumbless mittens as a version of the pattern at left. I went up to 20 stitches at cast on, because the other size looked a little too small for a chubby 9 month old fist - and then I added the draw-string ties (just a crochet chain woven in and out at the top of the checkerboard rib) because the finished mittens looked too big. Hopefully, it will all work out once they are delivered to the little guy in question.