Saturday, May 30, 2009

Les Plushies

I don't know why, but the existence of Cthulhu plushies amuses me no end. Not that I've ever read any H.P. Lovecraft (other than The Dunwich Horror). But... plushie fanny packs? I spent several hours in pursuit of this and ended up laughing until I cried because the idea was so funny. I guess it boils down the fact that Lovecraftians get no respect and provoke fits of hilarity when in their cuddly forms... and rather than getting yet another fountain pen, I find myself seized by the desire to track down an oversized Cthulhu plushie to occupy a spot next to my oversized stuffed dragon. Alternatively, I'll attempt to knit myself an oversized Cthulhu plushie.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Ice cream. Chocolate ice cream.

When the theory is more fun than the practice

I want homemade ice cream, but it's just not working.
1. Last night we dug out the ice cream maker and its accompanying instruction booklets. We have two: a Green Mountain hand-cranked one that takes advantage of brawny blacksmiths and an electric one that doesn't. Since we haven't got any brawny blacksmiths alongside the pasta in the pantry, we opted to use the electric one.
2. Examined the contents of the fridge and discovered that we. had. no. dairy. products. Can't make ice cream without dairy products of some kind, right? *sigh* Definitely hard to make ice cream without dairy products.
3. Went out to the store to acquire said dairy products and ask about rock salt. Was irritated to discover they only sell it in 25 lb bags. It's summer, which obviously means I don't need 25 lbs of rock salt to defrost the driveway. Went home without the 25 lb bag of rock salt.
4. Got home with assorted dairy substances and promptly left again to buy 25 lbs of rock salt. *sigh*
5. Spent two hours bringing 3 cups of milk, 1.5 cups of sugar, and 1 tbsp of cornstarch to a simmer, and fumed.
6. Spent the following half hour tempering the eggs and trying like hell to get them to be tempered and not scrambled. Mmph.. Successfully, at least.
7. Put the machine together and discovered the ice trays were half empty. Flat out refused to go out for a third time in pursuit of ice cream-related articles.
8. In spite of not having enough ice to go with my 25 lbs of rock salt, I got the machine going. Surprise, surprise.. the machine wasn't cold enough, so the ice cream didn't get hard. It's now in the freezer going through what the manual calls the "Home Freezer Method". I do not anticipate victory.
9. I now have an inkling as to why people buy ice cream more often than they try to make it from scratch. I also now suspect I'm not likely to attempt to make pots de creme since the process is somewhat similar.
10. I want ice cream....... meh.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Psychic Vacuum

Mom has a knack for making me chuckle--and shriek with laughter, depending on the circumstances--and managed to do so again today. We've been moving furniture and cleaning all afternoon, and while one thing was being moved, something else was bumped. This resulted in my shot glass full of sea salt falling over and some of the salt being sprinkled all over the floor.
Mom realized what had happened, looked stricken, and asked a bit hesitantly, "Is it all right? Will there be some sort of psychic disturbance?"
I told her I thought not and vacuumed up the spilled salt along with the bits of bark and ash from the wood stove--it gets EVERYWHERE even when the stove isn't in use and does it no matter how frequently you sweep and vacuum. Truth is, the salt isn't there as a barrier against things that go bump in the night (Rachael, I know you know what I mean!); it's just there to keep incense sticks from falling over and getting more ash everywhere. And since the top of the stove is now occupied by things other than my paraphernalia--except the little glass of salt-- it might be time to find a new home for it all. Mmph...
At least the vacuum won't suffer any psychic disturbances.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rust to dust

Today was the day everyone was supposed to get together in Harper's Ferry to scatter Dr. Walker's ashes. Her wish, they said, was for it to be done where the Shenandoah and Potomac meet. This would be on Park Service land, which meant a special permit was needed. The scattering of ashes mustn't be conducted willy-nilly, or visitors to the park would find ashy remains on the keels of their canoes and kayaks, or on the soles of their shoes; the ranger who talked us through the guidelines was very careful to explain all this. He met us at the gate, and when all the party were assembled--Dr. Walker's caregiver, some of her colleagues and a few friends-- he led us down a road marked "Do Not Enter", then had us park at the train station before he led us down the hill to the riverbank.
I've never attended this kind of event before, and was uncertain of what to expect. Mom took some of the first roses from our garden, enough for each of us to put one in the river, and Dr. Walker's caregiver brought the ashes. It was disconcerting to see Dr. Walker in a cardboard box; I couldn't not think of the ashes as her, and it's still difficult to believe that she's not present in a fleshly state. Mom pointed out that she'll likely not be forgotten because all her students will remember the throaty voice imparting the intricacies of American Federal Government and her dislike of driving in snow, and that as long as there are people who remember her, she's not truly gone.
The Caregiver invited each of us to take a handful of ashes to throw in the river, and mom gave roses to those who wanted them, and the roses went into the river, too. Afterward, everyone stood by and offered some little anecdote about Dr. Walker: How they remembered her being an exotic, feline beauty in her youth, how valued she was as a colleague, how she liked to buy things in large quantities rather, how generous she was. Before we left the riverbank, a pair of Canada geese came paddling upstream against the current, which must have been a difficult task considering how fast the river is moving after all the rain we've had recently.
An omen, maybe?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Is there a noun in the house?

Mom's the only person I know who actually reads the dictionary. For fun. I'm not sure if an interest in words and etymology is inherited or if it's something you gain in the same way you get a taste for olives and goat's cheese, but I was thinking today. Without bothering to consult a dictionary, which is exactly what mom would suggest, here's what my maunderings amounted to.

1. to detain (v): detention (n)
2. to retain (v): retention (n)
3. to reprise (v): reprisal (n)
4. to deny (v): denial (n)
5. to despise (v): despisal? um.. doubtful, but it makes me laugh.
6. despicable (adv/adj): to despic? mmm.. probably not.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mud Hog

1 tbsp Bentonite clay (always use cosmetic grade clay!)
1 tsp Manuka honey (yes, you can use regular honey)
2 drops tea tree oil
unsweetened peppermint tea to make a smooth paste
10 to 15 minutes to sit, knit, read, or do a crossword puzzle

Mix all of the ingredients in a ceramic or glass bowl and stir until it's as smooth as possible; smooth on face and wait until the mask dries. Rinse with warm water and pat dry.

It helps to dissolve the honey in the tea while it's still warm, which I found out after I got started. Common sense, neh? Also found out it's quite difficult to get all the lumps out of the clay, so maybe using a small whisk might help.