Frankly, I think a lot of women all over the globe can relate to my situation. Men control the world. Sorry guys, but you DO and you have ALL the "boys' networks" set up everywhere. Women are apparently more trusting...or stupid...or...I give up! What makes us (women, married or not) not likely to reach out like men and help each other? It boggles the mind...mine, at least!!!

Come on ladies! I don't care what your nationality/religion/ethnicity and so on, is. You HAVE to have an opinion! And if English isn't your language, I'm SURE someone out there would volunteer to translate for you! Plus, there's Babel Fish (I think that's the site).  Though some translations can be mangled; if we all got together, possibly, just maybe, something would change for each of us. No, I don't think the world will because it's all patriarchal. But maybe if we made a teensie dent in the wall/armor/facade, a wee bit of difference in each of our lives would be noticed.

Sorry all, for going on, will get off my soapbox now, but DO think about it...just a wee difference, here and there and then a wee bit more....  Life is CHANGE/OPPORTUNITY.

Thank you for listening, and for your visit to my blog. Hope it wasn't too negative, because it was meant to be positive and give us strength in all our gods' names. He/She never meant for the world to be so very horrid.

Sorry, with that I will give you a little picture of happiness...  It's my late Siberian Husky who was the dearest soul. With me for so many years and in her favorite place in the back yard, sniffing spring air.
Spring smells SOOO good! I'm in heaven!
P.S. If you don't like this post, don't bother commenting because it will be deleted. But thank you anyways for reading.

Labels: ,



I made the mistake of saying "hallelujah" today in this almost 5 year long divorce. BIG BIG MAJOR BIG MISTAKE.
HE has ONE more (after 4) changes to make. Is this dolt a control freak or what?!

He wants to re-crearte his version of life and that it's ALL THAT  F


Labels: ,


Random Post

Some days I just don't feel like writing about anything in life; like today. My flaming lawyer is just dragging this settlement out and I can't afford it mentally or wallet-wise. I say take "this" out, which he does and then he adds "that". I can't even go any further with this thread. My day was totally blown by it and the amount of time lost so I just escaped into blog-land. Where else do you go to totally escape your life? It's perfect especially if you discover new blogs and books through a post on a blog you like.

So here are today's finds:
First the blog Three Swingin' Chicks by Janet Cole who has a new book out about one of the hottest items of interest lately, raising chickens! (Please note that I have no relation to the author or publisher, etc.) It's called "Chicken and Egg:  A Memoir of Suburban Homesteading with 125 Recipes". The blog is delightful, full of pictures of her 4 "girls" and laced with great stories about raising chickens and recipes. I got a real laugh from one entry about protecting your chickens from frostbite and I have to tell you, nothing can lift your spirits like a good laugh or giggle! Then there's her entry about how to sell your home in a flash, you won't believe it.

From her blog I drifted hither and yon until I found the blog Small Measure. She lives in North Carolina and writes on homesteading, canning, gardening, raising bees, chickens and even homemade butter-making which I intend to try soon. She also has books on these subjects and writes a weekly column on Design Sponge.

Thanks to everyone whose links contributed to this post and a "good night, sleep tight, roses on your pillow and don't let the bed bugs bite", something we said to all as we went to sleep as kids.  Who knew we'd ever have to worry about bed bugs????

Labels: , , , ,


Really Easy

Just the other day I commented on someone's blog who was having a lot of problems with Blogger and spacing, that I (knock on wood) had been quite lucky. Twice with spacing between paragraphs and once with captions causing photos to move and paragraphs vanish. Does Blogger have a secret bug that allows it to monitor comments about it? If they're the least bit negative, it then launches an attack of problems on that blog. Just kidding (I hope). But it came to mind since the next time I went to do something in Blogger (yesterday), I was greeted with a very slow and uncooperative program.

The above has nothing to do with what I wanted to let you know about today, it was just one of those random thoughts that float into one's brain. A while back I shared with you a site that showed how to construct a light box for photographing smallish things, like you'd use on Etsy. Well, over at Under a Blue Moon, Andrea Paulin listed a site in her Friday Favorites. This is just as inexpensive and maybe even easier. It's written by a professional photographer in NYC. Having worked as an art director in advertising for 18 years in LA, I know all the things that the photographer uses in product shots and he's taken all the elements needed, making a super easy "how to" including pictures.
Friday Favorites from Andrea Paulin's blog "Under a Blue Moon"
While you're visiting Andrea's blog, be sure to go back and check other Friday Favorites...love the reds and neutrals in this one! And I just checked in on her blog today and though she normally doesn't post on Saturdays, she showed off the cutest Easter treats for her nieces and nephews! They're just adorable and so easy! Very vintage looking too!

Thanks Andrea, for letting me use your images and links! I hope everyone will check out your blog. Well, I'm off now, time to hard-boil some eggs. No, probably won't color them, but I love hard-boiled eggs (heck, I love eggs of any sort, much to the dismay of my cholesterol numbers) and Easter's a perfect excuse! Happy Bunny Day!!

Labels: , , , ,


Plant Post

In yesterday's post, I was getting off on a gardening tangent and rather than create the world's longest blog entry, decided to save it to post today. Outside it's still cool, drizzly and gloomy. Though I'll gladly take that vs. 90F (32-33C)!!

Getting back to gardening, I seem to have inherited my great grandmother's green thumb. She was born in Denmark and came to the U.S. before the turn of the century. I never knew my grandmother who died in the influenza pandemic of the late 1917-1920's, (source: Wikipedia) just after my mom was born so I have no idea what her green thumb was like.

My mom readily admitted to having a black thumb, though personally think it's because she had so much else on her plate that plant and garden research took a major back seat in her life. I, myself was hooked on gardening ever since I saw the huge aspidistra (commonly known as "cast iron plant", a mainstay in  Victorian households) on my great grandma's sun porch. From there it wasn't far to the sweet potato suspended in a jar of water growing an enormously long vine, to planting seeds from an orange I ate (which actually grew) to a fascination with African Violets brought on by my great grandmother's collection.

By the time I was 23, I had over 300 violets (at least that's when the neighbor who'd volunteered to water them while I was away, stopped counting for fear she'd never finish). I had self-made light shelves and hydroponics using margarine tubs. Finally, I felt a need to branch out into other kinds of plants. Actually this was brought on by a visit to my pen pal in The Netherlands in the late 70's, where I discovered so many more plants including papyrus which grows in standing water! Yeah, this is all common knowledge now, but back then we were not a global society with instant access to scads of info. From the early 70's through the mid 80's I had house plants in every room of the house (that was big back then).
Russian Sage
Well, it's been a long journey since and now that I live in So Cal, all my plants are outdoors. I have my favorites but always enjoy something new. So this year, I'll replenish the herbs I always like to have on hand:  thyme, oregano, sage, rosemary, dill and cilantro. I may add Italian flat leaf parsley. Yes, it's a truly exciting life I live here at Grey House! I'm sure the suspense is just killing you! Lol!
Things I've learned from trial and error:  plant labels are often not all that accurate especially at the big discount stores where the labels are easily switched when they fall out of the pots. Go on line and look up the forms that each plant comes in. For example, Wikipedia lists 20 different kinds of rosemary.  I always choose a vertical growing rosemary like Tuscan Blue, since the creeping kind is messy and I find it hard to use for cooking since it collects dog hair being so low to the ground. Same for oregano and thyme unless you want the herb as a decoration between stones on a path and not for cooking. Dill and cilantro are always, as far as I know upright growers and annuals or at best, self seeders so need to be re-sown each time. Here those two get sown in the spring and after they bolt in the summer they get pulled up. In the fall (aka late October) I sow them again. The others can overwinter well especially if you're in a temperate climate like this or have a greenhouse. Oh and choose your sage carefully, over the years I've picked up Jerusalem sage and Russian sage which after a year or so bear little resemblance to culinary sage. I've enjoyed both cultivars but they grow into huge plants and while great for perennial gardens and color accents, don't fit my bill for growing in pots or cooking. In fact, the picture below is of a first year Jerusalem Sage. By end of year two it's three times this size. I know from experience!
Jerusalem Sage
As far as parsley, I don't care for it so never use it. Recently however, I read that Italian flat leaf parsley has a different taste...which is why I may plant some this year. I love to edge walks with nasturtiums but some black sticky pest seems to have overwintered as did the green tomato horn worm, so nasturtiums and tomatoes are out of the picture for my little plot of land. I will try them in pots though which are set away from their previous growing spots.
I'd like to plant yellow zucchini, but there are just too many slugs to be bothered with making a net frame to hold them off the ground. Definitely thinking Blue Lake beans and probably the climbing kind to cover the "attractive" chain link fence surrounding the back porch. Maybe some kind of climbing peas too.

If I had more room, I'd plant white sweet corn since so much of the commercially grown corn is being used for ethanol and the cost has gone way up in the grocery. About 12 years ago I could get fabulous Chino white corn at farm stands there. The area's now been (over) developed within an inch of its life. And while the air wreaked of cow manure due to all the farms, holy cow those babies made for good corn! But I digress. I was contemplating tiny gold rush potatoes but since this is a rental house there's really no where to do this without mucking up the grass. I may try rainbow swiss chard in a large pot and if I can find a dwarf Meyer lemon for a decent price (like not $90.00/63 Euro) I have the perfect pot for it.

Well I could daydream about this all day in my little vacuum, which is why I joined Brin's community on the blog frog. She has a blog I enjoy called My Messy, Thrilling Life. Her desire to get back to the simpler things in life inspires me and now with this community, we can all share our love of many things like gardening to name just one. So go check it out, I think you'll enjoy it!

Labels: , , , ,


Hot and Cold

I started writing this on 4/16/11:
After all my whining here on this little blog about how cold and gloomy it's been and how I'd like a little sun, the universe got carried away and responded with 90+F (32.5C)! Even though Angelenos are weather weaklings, jumping 20 to 30 degrees in a day or two is just obscene. Where did spring go??? Supposedly it's going down 8 or so degrees by tomorrow and will be 68F (30C) the following day. How crazy is that?

After months of stepping out of the morning shower shivering, I actually had to turn the water to cold, in order to cool down! Mr. Blue wants nothing to do with his pillows or blankets, but is stretching out on the hardwood and tile floors.

Of course, silly me didn't take advantage of the weather while it was cool to dust off the ceiling fans and clean the window air conditioners and their filters, so I don't dare turn them on. I'd be breathing 6 months of dust. Guess what I'll be doing the first cool day this coming week.

I also have to get out back and refresh my pot garden as I said I was going to. Then off to Home Depot, etc. to get herbs in little plastic containers. I'll also be going through my stash of seeds, some of which are over 5 years old!

Continued on 4/18/11:
Roller coaster weather...it's now in the 60'sF (15.5C) and drizzling! How's that for an about-face in the weather?

I'd planned to photograph my assorted seed packs today and then contemplate what to add to the mix as well as what to replace due to age. Oh, don't get me wrong, I never throw seeds away, I just intermix them with newer ones and let nature do what it wants with them. Just a few viable though old seeds could be housing a potential salad!

Labels: , ,


I Forgot to Mention...

Yesterday, I referred to "cube steaks". It dawned on me that some readers may have no clue what they are. I looked it up on Wikipedia and found this definition. Personally, the buddy burner camping disaster is and was my only experience with this "cut" of beef. I can see no use for it; it's ridiculously chewy and reasonably tasteless. I found this link which pretty much sums up my opinion of this meat form as follows "Cube steak is simply round steak that’s been pulverized a bit to make it more tender. There’s no doubt that this economical cut of beef can help save money on groceries, but the challenge is how to cook it so that’s not only edible–but tasty too."
The article included recipes if anyone is interested. Frankly, if I want beef, I'll save up some money and buy fillet mignons at Costco rather than buy a cheap cut like this. Yes, I am a beef snob. Heck, I'd rather eat chicken or eggs if I want a cheap, tasty meal rather than throw money away on chewy tasteless beef. Anyhow, just adding my two cents here for the record.

Labels: , ,


How the Heck Did I Survive Childhood? Part 2

Writing about Girl Scouts yesterday reminded me of another Girl Scout inspired disaster. In fourth grade (9 years old) I spent a week being bused to a local park for day camping. You had to bring a bag lunch each day. After exiting the buses, the first order of business was to make buddy burners.  We spent several hours cutting strips of corrugated cardboard which the troop leaders put in a box. We then set off on a nature hike. By the time we returned the buses were there to pick us up. Before boarding, we were given a list of supplies to bring the next day. It consisted of a block of parafin, a clean empty tuna can, a clean, empty coffee can and string.

You can imagine how thrilled our moms were to have to run around opening tuna cans and emptying coffee cans that evening. Not to mention my dad being sent out to get a block of paraffin. It wasn't something readily available at home.

The next day we returned with all required materials. Out came the tools to the delight and horror of a hoard of 9-year old girls. This was a long process since there were only two can openers. I'm referring to the kind that make a v-shaped opening in a can. We were instructed to make 3 holes on each side of the bottom of the coffee can which would be the "stove". The troop leader then took tin snips and cut a little opening in the top edge of the can so the tuna can could slide through it. It's a good thing that kids back then got vaccinated for everything on earth including tetanus because the ragged metal edge necessitated the first aid kit being whipped out to stop the bleeding on several wee fingers. Not all 9-year olds are that coordinated.

We went on a short hike and when we returned the corrugated strips sat in a pile on a picnic table. Mrs. Martin, the troop leader proceeded to show us how to make the "burner" and roll the strips like a cinnamon roll laying about four 3-inch strings evenly spaced out as we rolled. It was very important to make a really tight roll which was then jammed into the tuna can making a kind of candle. We were sent home that night with instructions to melt the paraffin and pour it into the tuna can till it was full, making sure the string didn't get lost since those were the wicks. You can imagine how thrilled the parents were having to "sacrifice" a pan to melt the paraffin, praying it didn't ignite. My mom put out a box of baking soda just in case we needed to douse an inferno of paraffin on the stove.

The burners cooled overnight and in the morning we all boarded the bus with our "stoves". Mrs. M. inspected them all and "helped" a few but overall we were good to go. So we went on another hike and were sent home with our stoves and instructions to bring a cube steak, potato, paper plate and spatula for  the next day.

The last day was to be the triumphant, culinary culmination of all our pioneering efforts...we were going to cook the cube steak and potato for lunch. Supervising 20 or so 9-year olds in lighting their tuna cans on fire and then shoving the flaming can into the upside down coffee cans took a lot of courage. Many of the girls were afraid to light the cardboard matches. The string didn't want to burn like a candle would and once under the coffee can would snuff out. Meaning burnt little fingers from trying to retrieve the tuna can to re-light it. The paraffin in one of the girls' cans went up in flames in a very un-candle like manner resulting in screaming on the part of everyone near her. She burst into tears. Ironically, her cube steak was the only one that actually was sort of cooked.

This fiasco went on for quite a while with the leader insisting that this would work. Finally she determined that the cube steaks were "done" and we should eat. At this point I'm surprised we didn't start a forest fire or get deathly ill from eating warmed raw meat. Most of us silently declared this a total disaster and relayed the raw meat experience to our parents who were not happy. Needless to say, I never went to summer day camp ever again.

After all these years I think I discovered the problem. The correct directions on several sites state: "To use the stove, light the paraffin-soaked cardboard in the tuna can and get it burning well. Set the large can over it flat side up. The top of the large can soon will get quite hot. Plunk your hamburger patty (or whatever) on the can top and cook it (while your potato is baking in tinfoil in the coals of the campfire). Mrs. Martin must have felt the need for more control over the burner so rather than just light the paraffin-covered cardboard filled can and let it burn, she decided to include wicks. Here's a video I found on You-tube that shows exactly what the burner should look like and no wicks were involved. The potatoes never did get used.



How the Heck Did I Survive Childhood? Part 1

A while back I commented that this little blog seemed to be turning into a food blog. Since then, not so much. Personal life butting in where and when I don't want it to and all. So as I do a 180 degree turn back to food and food blogs I feel compelled to comment on a trend or two I'm seeing. First is the proliferation of peanut butter, chocolate and whatever recipes. I should confess that in my book, peanut butter in any form, even disguised by chocolate ranks at the bottom of things to eat. I have no idea why, but it does. Want to punish me, feed me peanut butter sandwiches for a week. Or make it worse and add jelly. Yuck!

As a kid, I recall maybe once or twice getting PB&J in my lunch box. Frankly, I don't think my mom liked it much so it wasn't a staple in our house. She was more the Oscar Meyer bologna sandwich type. Fridays brought my brother and I tuna salad sandwiches which were so good. As far as jelly or jam, I don't recall having seen it much around the house. My parents were from the toast with butter school of thought. If you put me on a desert island with peanut butter and jelly, I'd probably starve. Now stick me on the same island with bread and butter and I'd be a fat happy camper! Throw in some summer sausage and it'd be a holiday.

But I digress, along with the proliferation of peanut butter and something recipes is a new interest in s'mores. Another anethma to my palette. Though this one I can blame directly on the Girl Scouts. I loved earning badges but did not relish the camping part of the Girl Scout experience. It was in fifth grade where s'mores surfaced in my life. After a day of hiking and crafts we had dinner. Finding and keeping a sturdy twig from a tree about 3 feet long (0.92 meters) was very important because while camping was not in tents but rather a cabin with about 40 cots, there was no real kitchen or grill to speak of.

Dinner consisted of hot dogs on buns with ketchup. The catch was that you had to thread the stick up through the length of the hot dog and then roast it over the campfire hoping that your stick did not break or burn leaving your dinner in the fire. Following dinner it was time for s'mores, the troop leaders would dole out the graham crackers, squares of Hershey's milk chocolate bars and marshmellows. The idea was to stick a marshmellow on your stick and roast it to a toasty brown without having it melt off the twig into the fire.

There should have been a badge for s'more assembly. With no tables or chairs, you balanced the piece of chocolate on the graham cracker, put the melted marshmellow on it (while still on the stick) then place another graham cracker over it like a sandwich and slide the marshmellow off the twig with the "sandwich". The idea was to have a wonderfully melted chocolate marshmellow treat (frankly it was nauseatingly sweet). One problem, it was usually cool at night so as the fire died down, the amount of heat given off the marshmellow was not nearly enough to melt the chocolate. Basically you had a cracker, hard chocolate bar and burnt marshmellow mess.

Then there were those girls who put 5 or 6 marshmellows on the twig at a time to have more heat with which to melt the chocolate. Picture a group of 30 or so 10-year old girls with hot sticky twigs squeezing around the fire all at once. It necessitated some arms and sticks reaching over the heads of those nearest the fire. Now add to your picture all these little girls on a sugar high, with marshmellows in different degrees of melting, trying to get the s'more packages together and still jockey for their spot by the fire. Marshmellows dripping on each other, in hair and on the ground. The diehards would pick up the fallen sticky treat, dust it off and plop it on their waiting cracker. There was about a 50-50 survival rate for the marshmellows. Many just melted off the stick into the fire in all the commotion.

Is it any wonder that the word s'mores makes me just gag? Maybe if I didn't have such bad memories of s'mores, I'd be more open to the new array of s'more creations. I figure it's not so bad, since it just saves me a few more calories and that's always a good thing. Tomorrrow I'll tell you about cooking with a "buddy burner". Oh, you lucky people!  :)



As Promised

Yesterday, I said I would elaborate on my connection with Leonard Cohen who wrote the song "Hallelujah" on yesterday's link. When going to college in the late 60's and early 70's music was a big deal. There were no computers (well, except for the giants in the basement of the engineering building) and one's term papers where typed on a manual typewriter. Just picture that.

Anyway, since I was going all of 80 miles "away" to school, I had to stay in a dormitory the first year. You were automatically partnered with a roommate. None of this finding your own or renting an apartment. So my roommate turned out to be from Shaker Heights, Ohio. I'd never heard of it, (not Ohio silly) Shaker Heights. It's a well to do suburb of Cleveland. Her name was Rachel, and she was in love with everything Leonard Cohen. She was also crushing on a guy she met at a camp in Canada where she was a counselor every summer. His name was Marcus; they were star-crossed, age and religion-wise. I can't really say they were lovers, but he was a lover in her dreams.

She brought her entire Leonard Cohen LP collection and portable record player with her and played it more than often. When I think back, I can see where an I Pod would have been a real blessing. I do like his music but back then, it had a very depressing quality to it which is the thing that drew lovesick teen girls to it I think. I myself was into Santana (yes, he was around back then), The Doors, Janis Ian, of course The Beatles who where kind of off on their own little journeys about that time. I liked The Temptations, Otis Redding, The Four Tops...oh and so many others.

But Rache was stuck on LC and Marcus. The following summer, she was mortified by her love. She'd invited him down from Canada to a wedding for a family member and he showed up in a sport jacket and sandals. Her beloved, her knight in shining armor had failed her...sandals! She felt she would never live it down.

As time wore on, she gradually gave up the fantasy since she was pretty much indoctrinated to marry a doctor or a lawyer. Her father was a psychiatrist and she wound up following in his footsteps to become a therapist. In her late 20's she finally found her doctor and they married. I had the fortune to meet her again about 7 years ago when at an experimental aircraft show in the northwest with the idiot I am still married to, though have tried to divorce for over almost 5 years.

Her ideal husband was pretty disappointing in my opinion. A kind of scrawny, wiry, short guy who had a mean streak, a huge ego and no qualms about involving me in humiliating her. He brought up a number of embarrassing things just to make her feel bad about herself in front of me. I was so surprised. What made this more shocking was that this was a man whose mother had survived the holocaust. As his mother had gotten older, he bought the land next to theirs and built a house for his mother to live in.

It was just so incongruous with his treatment of my friend that I felt sorry for her for being with such a jerk. Little did I realize what was just a few years down the line in my life.

Labels: , ,


One Simple Post

Yeah, once again I'm WIDE AWAKE! I just detest this. To add to that, the temperature tonight is about 40F (4.444C) which for Southern California is quite cold. If I haven't mentioned this before, very, very, very few houses/buildings in So Cal are insulated. Yes, of late, they're built to earthquake standards (such as they are/were prior to the recent EQ in Japan). But insulation? No. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Having lived in the northern Midwest and northern New York, I know what the difference is and it's not pleasant or economical, but try to convince your landlord of this. So tonight I have a fleece blanket, a quilt and another quilt piled upon the bed in hopes of sleeping (note:  beta blockers which I take for high blood pressure {just ask me about the 5 year long divorce and the toll it's taken} slow down the heart and therefore circulation, meaning that my feet and hands get very cold at night). I will be wearing wool socks, a hat I knit as well as a set of fingerless gloves that are a true life saver in the sense of being able to fall asleep.

As I write this, I feel guilty for my feelings since so very, very many people are trying to sleep with so much less. I am lost at how to help. I am so close, due to the divorce, to living in my 11 year old car and not a house of any form, that I can't even think. I will loose my ability to pay for health insurance and therefore will not be able to renew my prescriptions at the end of this month. So my hypothyroidism will put me to sleep and my blood pressure will skyrocket and my depression will no longer be at arm's length. What fun. (Note:  that was sarcasm.)

Fortunately, while I still have electricity and the internet, I checked one of my favorite blogs and she had several links. One stood out and took me by the hand and I listened to it over and over and finally found sleep. More on the history behind the songwriter tomorrow.

The way that things, experiences and events circle about us and in our lives is utterly astounding to me. As the saying goes, "what goes around, comes around"...in so very many ways. It restores my faith in the plan above the plan.

Labels: , ,



Have you noticed (or is it just me?) that in March and now following into April, most bloggers in general seem to post less often than the rest of the year? I myself have noticed it and must say I am guilty of this. I've been absent and I can't quite put my finger on it. Bloggers seem to be a sort of representation of people in general. It seems there's an energy that has left. Has winter over-stayed its welcome and spring taking too long to arrive?

Or is it just the last few years and this economy? Is there nothing for people to write about since gardening hasn't really begun, or if you live in a climate such as So Cal, you're just not in the mood. Too much weighing on the brain? Too tired from the economic and political climate? Just when the pundits start spouting how the economy is turning around for the better, some report is released or natural disaster hits and it all goes back to hades in a hand basket. It just seems that we're all in a holding pattern and I don't know why. At best, it seems we take one step forward and then we're pushed two steps back. Thus, no real forward motion.

I sometimes think of people like little orbs of light with slender glowing wisps extending outward in a gentle floating manner. The happier people are, the stronger and further these tendrils extend. Those who might be brushed by this illumination in passing are touched in a positive way though they may never actually know it. For the last year, and probably longer, it seems these little glimmering threads have withdrawn into each orb and the golden glow of the little spheres has diminished. In some parts of the world, the globes have a fiery red glow, hot and painful to the touch. In other areas, orbs emit only a dim grayish light with little energy.

Well, that's my pontificating on a whole lot of nothing for the day. Embrace and enjoy any happiness you may find, no matter how small or insignificant...it's the MOST important thing.

Labels: , ,