Friday, October 31, 2014

Witch Makeup Preview

Last Halloween in Tucson

A cow, a saucy milkmaid, and a cat walk into a glad my sisters aren't grownups!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Time to Put Up Your Ruby-Slippered Feet

This Koch's For You!

I love Jon Stewart. He tells it like it is better than most mainstream news shows. And he makes me laugh. And, okay, I do have a huge crush on him. 

Halloween Eve

I have decided that I'm bringing something similar to the illustration on the left to the party tomorrow night. The severed finger cookie is always a hit. Creepy as well as delicious. I must now go to the room downstairs where, with access to a hot glue gun and various crafty materials, I shall complete the finishing touches for my witch costume. The son has determined that he will go as a character from Gravity Falls. This involves the use of a red hooded robe that he already possesses, which at this point in time, I am exceedingly happy about. It only requires the application of a simple logo that I should be able to accomplish with little difficulty. She says with great optimism. The problem with costume failures is that they have no secondary use. Cookies that turn out cosmetically as failures can still be eaten. As the vampires are wont to say, bleh.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Halloweek Humpday

Bet you thought I was going to title this Wednesday of Halloweek. I thought I was, too, but I'm a sucker for alliteration. Putting together the ultimate witch costume. And while doing so implementing the wise words of Miss Clairee Belcher. 

The ability to accessorize is the only thing that separates us from the animals. 

Witch boots? Witch hat? Witch tights? Decisions, decisions. It is a beautiful autumn day. I can attest to this from having taken a two mile-ish walk earlier this afternoon. Also researching spooky-themed desserts to take along to Emma's on Friday night. Oh, the illustrious trivia team I am a member of won first place last night! It's all about the free beer, people. That and their new pretzel with spicy cheese dip appetizer. I've never been so excited to hear the words jumbo hot and soft single announced as Joe set one down in front of me. Yes, you just read that. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tuesday of Halloweek

I successfully de-knotted the string that my little skull-guy-in-the-top-hat hangs from. Special because it reminds me of the day sisters Pam and Martine and I spent at the Tucson Botanical Garden a year ago. Pam bought each of us this necklace and we wore them for the remainder of the week. In other news, when I get home from trivia tonight I will be able to park in the garage! A nice little seasonal accomplishment. Though the umbrella is still out on the deck. Flapping in the ill wind that is currently blowing. I also need to stash away the butterfly solar lights. As well as remember to disconnect the hose in the front yard. I let the furnace run two cycles this morning in order to banish the chill. My inner frugal Norwegian is telling me that one cycle would have been sufficient. I'll just ignore her and load the dishwasher. That should appease her and shut her up for a while. I think I shall call her Borghild. So now I could say, pipe down, Borhild, it's 46 degrees outside! How about if I load the dishwasher and do a load of laundry? Is that adequate penance? 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday of Halloweek

I have a kitty all curled up and sleeping next to me so how can I possibly get up and do stuff. Plus it's a damp and chilly evening out there. Motivation is not mine at the moment. I am sitting here in my newly rearranged living room, though, and I am most pleased with the result. Other people have fulfilling hobbies. I rearrange my living room furniture on a quasi-annual basis. It's a form of insanity I can live with.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

My Kind of Girls

I cannot express how much I love these pottymouth girls. And their message. The one in the purple pointy hat and dress and gloves channels a much younger me. I especially love her. This is way more fun than anything Disney.

Season Five, Episode Seventeen

Just my two cents, if it's worth that much, on the Renee Zellweger brouhaha this week. It reminded me of a Twilight Zone episode called Number 12 Looks Just Like You. You can watch it here, that is, if you want some insight into how my brain works. I understand if you don't. My short answer quite simply is this. We are our faces. It's how we recognize each other. A familiar face is associated with all kinds of emotions and memories that we attach to it. A face that we recognize and love takes on its own beauty because of those associated emotions and memories. When Ms. Zellweger did whatever she did that so dramatically changed her appearance, for me personally, much of that was lost. Yes, she's beautiful. But in a cookie-cutter, generic sort of way. Gone is her unique beauty, that which made her her, that which became familiar to us over the years as she took on acting roles that came to define her. No question that her considerable acting talent still abides beneath the new exterior. But for me, the new is not the improved. We are our faces.   

Friday, October 24, 2014


I kick off my day with comforting routines. One detail is consulting my movie trivia calendar. I find it gently warms up my brain when challenged by a puzzling question. Sometimes it's more puzzling than usual due to some editor falling asleep at the wheel.

I answered correctly despite this pesky typo. Newton and Einstein watched me do a happy dance with unimpressed disdain. All of this was pushing back kitty treats time on the morning schedule. As we all know, dogs have masters, cats have staff. I'm so grateful that they continue to employ me despite my poor work ethic.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Stop Taking Quizzes!

Somewhere in my brain I innately understand the algorithms by which these quizzes derive their answers. Because the last two I took I said out loud what the answer would be before it appeared! I whispered Lucy as the little wheel spun around. And Lucy Ricardo appeared as the classic sitcom character I am most like. Then a couple of hours later I took the quiz to find out which iconic musician I channel. As the answer was being calculated I uttered, obviously, Janis Joplin. And this photo popped up...

I cannot say what I might do with this new-found skill. All I know is that I have a powerful urge to belt out Me & Bobby McGee whilst stomping grapes. Somebody stop me.

Cousins of the Second Kind

My, how they have grown. The childrens as well as the pine tree. The tree would no longer fit in the viewfinder. The childrens are all grown up. My two boys are on the left and sisters Alex and Annika are to the right. I think the date is sometime in November of 1999. That's right, the previous century. Sigh.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Greening of my Thumb, Part Deux

See that little guy? He's about two inches tall. And he is a miracle because I have, well, a brown thumb. Remember how I have kept my almost two year old poinsettia alive? It even bloomed for me earlier this year! In May I transferred it into a larger pot and relocated it to the deck near the front door. It was happy there last summer and this year nearly tripled in size. Out in the fresh elements on the north side of the house seems to be the optimum place for it. Sometime in July I was watering the deck pots and noticed that a tiny, green bit of a branch had broken off the poinsettia. In a moment of inspiration I poked it down into the damp soil of the pot its progenitor was occupying. I promptly forgot about it. Then a couple of weeks ago when I took on the task of moving the plants indoors that I wanted to winter-over in the house I spied this perfectly leafed-out tiny plant sharing the poinsettia's pot. I know, I know, poinsettias are often propagated this way. But I have a very brown thumb. I have a lousy track record with plants and gardening of pretty much any kind. Only the hardiest of the hardy survive in my care. Which is why this baby poinsettia is pretty darn special. I should probably continue mostly ignoring it since that method has thus far been successful. It is currently potmates with a cutting off my hoya in a McCoy planter that Grandma Esther gave to me years ago.  I'm pretty sure it had a thriving plant in it at the time. Which likely withered in my care in short order. I'm hoping that this time around the McCoy pot is infused with Esther's green-thumbness. That and sharing quarters with a cutting from my magical hoya might be all it needs to survive. Oh, and the mama poinsettia is right there, too. With any luck, my thumb will be upgraded to beige.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Seizing It

The best thing about last night was just being there. Aside from the wonderful food and drink and company, sitting back and immersed in the moment was so very lovely. Not feeling the need to be anywhere else, with anyone else or to miss a minute of the togetherness by running inside to get my camera. I am happy that others took photos and shared them. Sometimes, reveling in the moment is more important to me than preserving it for posterity. The beauty of a moment is, in part at least, the fact that it is ephemeral. Being there. It's what it's all about.

This Is My Garage. Seriously.

Photo Credit, Chris Harding

Photo Credit, Marian E. Hooks

Dinner Last Night

Foolish Chicken, Basmati Rice with Carmelized Onion, Corn Muffins, Roast Potatoes with Lemon Juice and Herbs, Spinach Salad

Truffle, Pumpkin Tart on Shortbread Crust, Pumpkin Bread

*Photo Credit goes to Marian

**Food credits, Potatoes-Chris, Truffles-Jared, Pumpkin Bread-Laura, all else, me 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Twas The Night Before, Um, Tomorrow

The chicken is cleaned and brining in the fridge. The pumpkin tart is all fragrant and cooling on top of the stove. Out in the garage the table is set and decorated. All the various components of the spinach salad are chopped and ready to be assembled just before dinner tomorrow. Also in the fridge is the black bean hummus, its flavors mingling together overnight til they reach savory, spicy perfection. This weary chef can barely type! If not for the Leinie's Oktoberfest beer I'm drinking I probably would feel neither inspired nor capable. I'm in the midst of experiencing the Ballmer Peak. It amazes me how a single serving of an alcoholic beverage can calm the angry, misfiring nerves in my hands, brief though that interlude might be. So. Excited to be hosting my trivia team friends tomorrow evening for dinner. I should probably sleep now. I'll just be here a few more minutes. Admiring how the kitchen has returned to a sparkling clean state after all the activity here today. The pumpkin tart smells delish. Beer gone. Goodnight!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Granted, culturally embedded food traditions don't make a whole lot of sense to outsiders. I'm half Norwegian and lutefisk doesn't make sense to me. And the thing about French chefs, in their desire to preserve tradition in the preparation and serving of an endangered songbird, petitioning their government to allow them to eat the ortolan is this. These tiny birds are captured and often blinded or merely kept in the dark so that they will gorge themselves. Thereby increasing their proportional fat so they will be ever so much more delicious when consumed. Prior to roasting the kill is accomplished by drowning them in cognac. I'm fine with people eating what they like to eat even if it grosses me out. To each his own. But the treatment of these birds is not only cruel, it's unusual to the point of fetish. As far as I'm concerned, this is a case where a groaning and slow moving bureaucracy is an advantage. Vive le gouvernement! 

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Beginning of Goodbye

It seems I am beginning the long process of saying goodbye to this house that has been my home for over twenty-eight years. There is a history of hosting dinner parties of all sorts. Milestone birthdays, graduations, holidays, a pre-wedding celebration. My favorite among these gatherings is the tradition of transforming my garage into a party space. Festive lights and candles and yards of fabric and libations help the guests forget that they are in a room designed for the storage of vehicles and outdoor furnishings. So on Saturday evening my trivia team is coming over to help me accomplish this first facet of farewell. One more garage party should be just right.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


I have sandals. I have boots. I have no practical, in-between footwear. And in-between weather has arrived. Karen needs a table for her indoor plants. It's Saturday. And we need to have a celebratory lunch in honor of her new job. So we're going to Sioux Falls. Yes, we have fully rationalized this. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Channeling Rob Gordon

I've been thinking about a dear friend and this guy she's friends with. She's pretty specific about referring to him as a friend, no more, no less. I get the impression that he's a little crazy about her and would like to be upgraded at least to boyfriend. Then I got to thinking that he probably doesn't even crack her top five as far as what she's devoted to. In line ahead of him are the following...

1. Her daughter

2. Her profession

3. Her extended family

4. Her pets

5. Her animal rescue activism

Do keep in mind that this is my assessment from afar, for the most part intuited from what she has told me and what I get from observing the situation. Also that I have known her for over thirty years. I guess my point is simply that there is some degree of imbalance in most relationships. Things work if they each are getting enough of what they want and need despite this disparity. It's a delicate dance. It's the price of admission. It's what we're willing to settle for, because I firmly believe that Dan Savage is right, all of us do settle. If we didn't, more than likely we'd be alone. I do wonder if it's better to be alone if you don't qualify for the top five ranking. All I know is, if I didn't make the top five of my significant other's list, and I was aware of that fact, I would be sad, indeed. And it would likely be time to reassess the relationship. The price of admission has to be worth it. I expect that price is different for each of us.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Saturday, October 4, 2014

79 Leonard Street

Quite often my motivation for selecting a movie on Netflix is an actor I whose work I enjoy. So how could I possibly miss when all three leads are favorites? Two Girls and a Guy (1997) stars Robert Downey, Jr., Heather Graham and Natasha Gregson Wagner as the points on the most atypical love triangle one could imagine. I found it to be an interesting and intense character study but I must admit that I kept watching for the fourth player in the action. The NYC apartment that Blake Allen (Downey) calls home is nothing short of fabulous! I want to live there! I did find myself wondering how the womanizing, sporadically employed actor managed to pay for these fancy digs. But no matter. Watch the movie just for the setting. I totally redecorated it in my head to suit my taste while the characters were working out their shit. You may find yourself doing the same. 

This view doesn't do the place justice. Such expansive space! From this angle you can't spy a single curvy corner of the grand piano off to the left. Oh, and the other primary reason I enjoyed this movie. Ms. Graham's character is named Carla. Carla with a C. I almost feel as though I've cased the joint. All I can say is, if there is a rooftop garden, I'm ready to negotiate a lease.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Brown Sisters

As one who loves her sisters as well as the photos that document our times together, I must say nothing compares with this. Astonishing. Beautiful. Candid. 

Are We Our Occupations?

I like to think not. To me there is so much more to any person than what they happen to do to earn money. But often that is the very first question anyone asks you when meeting for the first time. And I don't mean to diss any chosen profession that requires education and dedication, sacrifice even, but I still think it's just one facet of a person. Lately, due to my non-employed status, I have sidestepped directly answering the query by saying that I divorced well and I'm a NDOI*. I think it's not merely boring but a conversation killer to go into my work related injuries and all that it entails. Two weeks ago I attended the fiftieth birthday bash of a very dear friend, and to my delight, I was not asked the what do you do question even one time! The forty or so party guests were all people I was meeting for the first time. To my delight I was instead asked, so, how do you know James and Connie? Which brought up the knowing of so many mutual friends as well as connections to their hometown and connections to my dear brother Cullen. How refreshing to experience so many alternate lines of conversation! Certainly at many points we spoke of what we did to earn a living, but I felt as though we were getting to know much more personal and immediate details about each other right from the start. We are so much more than what we "do".

* North Dakota Oil Heiress

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Quizzing for Beer

What I really love about trivia night is spending quality time with friends and quaffing a delicious brew. It's also an opportunity to show off my sometimes dubious sub-genius knowledge. Oh, and winning first place like the other night. And the first place prize was tickets to this! I'm going to require a DD. Anyone care to volunteer?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hello and Welcome, October!

Halloween month has arrived. Let the decorating and spooking begin! Ladies, start your brooms!