Thursday, August 27, 2009

Drama, That Didn't Have To Be So Dramatic

My sister's daughter, which would make her my niece, has two kids and was scheduled to unleash the third this morning after the OB induced labor. Instead, the baby went into distress and an emergency c-section was performed. Of course I got an hysterical phone call from my mother beginning with:
Mom - "Did your sister call you?"
Me - "Yesterday, but not today. Why?"
Mom - "TS has to have an emergency c-section. Something's wrong with the baby. I'm on my way to the hospital right now. Bye."
Ok. So, I'm worried about the baby, worried about TS, and pissed at my mother for dumping all of this on me and then hanging up! In the handbook of how not to handle a family crisis, the first chapter deals solely with dumping stressful news on someone and then cutting them off while you dash off to either spread the news further, or get your hair done and chat/shout it over with the other girls under the dryer.
Christ mom! I had all of these questions and all I got was a quick 'click'.
Anyway, I called my sister, and TS by that time had the baby (girl, 7lbs 2 oz, 19 inches long, thick shock of black hair, like my mom, that purveyor of doom), and everyone was fine. Junior had seen the baby, and TS was still in recovery. Then I told her what mom had done to me, basically scared the bejesus out of me and then hung up. Junior just sighed and whispered into her cellphone, 'I've got her helicopering around me right now. Makes me wonder why I never tried heroin.'
What a day. To combat my anxiety I made the ultimate comfort food, a pot of chicken soup! I also baked a loaf of bread to go along with. The carrots and onions in the soup came straight from my garden and when I diced the carrots juice was dripping from them! Juiciest and sweetest carrots I've ever grown, just glorious. I may have added too much acini de pepe, but I don't care. The more starch the better.
Finally, welcome to the clan, little Olivia! You and I share the same mitochondrial DNA passed down to us from the ever alarmist, Goo Goo (mom's grandma moniker).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fringe Comic Round-Up, Sort of...

Comics, while a glorious diversion in and of themselves, can also be an informative and fun tie-in to a TV show or movie franchise, providing back story, or just more story. Done right you can have something as stellar as the Buffy Season 8 comic book, and then when done not so right you can wind up with the new X-Files comic dud.
Really, truly, I don't want to come off sounding like some dweeb fangirl gushing over all things 'Fringe', but just as the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, so too have I climbed willingly into this handcart to careen wildly on my eternal descent. Resignation to one's fate can be a virtue, if one wears sensible shoes.
Like nearly everything in my life, I discovered the 6 issue 'Fringe' comic by accident one day at New Dimension Comics. The counter girl was yelling at me, saying that I was too early to pick up the latest in the Buffyverse, so I was feigning shopping to kill time. As often happens while faux browsing, I found something I wanted, needed, had to have. That something was issue #2 of the 'Fringe' comic, issue #1 having sold out ( I later found a copy of it at Phantom of the Attic in Pittsburgh).
Now that the special 6 issue edition of the comic has wrapped up, and the second season of the broadcast version of 'Fringe' is set to resume on September 17 at 9pm, I have an appreciation for the wealth of backstory provided in the comics for both Walter Bishop and William Bell. Two young, brilliant, if somewhat undisciplined, scientists. The comic definitely augments those two characters, and given how 'Fringe' ended it's first season, any information on Bell is more than welcomed! Thankfully it's not just information for information's sake, but framed in tales of time travel, floating heads preserved in jars, clones with heterochromatic eyes, among other freaky goodnesses.
With some luck the comic will return during the show's hiatus again next summer and give fans something to tide us over once more. Until then, I have only the Batwoman comic and the Buffy stuff to divert attention.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Judi, Judi, Judi

When I read the headline: Oscar Winner enters Dollhouse! The voice in my head was pleading, please let it be Dame Judi Dench (here seen mostly topless decades ago), but no. It's Keith Carradine. I didn't even know that he'd won an Academy Award (he won for best original song, according to imdb).
Is it just me, it is probably just me, but doesn't that show need more women on it? Especially a couple of older women? If it's semi-nudity that they're looking for, Dame Judi has shown that she's willing to go there. Just imagine the fun with the teaser the marketing crew could have with a somewhat disrobed OBE recipient on a failing US show. It almost writes itself! "Next week on an exciting all-new Dollhouse, Dame Judith Dench is reanimated as the first 'doll', 'Honey Potts', and has to go undercover as a stripper to discover the identity of the killer dealing in counterfeit Hello Kitty merchandise!
I don't want to see Keith Carradine at all, much less sans attire, and unless he's doing a sequel to "Andre", which is impossible because SPOILER: Andre dies at the end; then I don't care what he's up to. Or down to.
I'm a huge Joss Whedon fan, but I don't know if this show can be fixed. I want it to be fixed because I also love Eliza Dushku, but my whole relationship with this show is a lot like how you feel about somebody iffy that you're dating. How involved do you want to get with this person? One day they're there on your couch eating the last of the Doritos, and the next thing you know they've stolen your dog, car, wallet and headed west to 'find themselves'.
Sigh...I have to say that I much more looking forward to the return of Fringe than I am of Dollhouse.


All Photos By MK and her digital camera of doom

On Saturday MK and I visited Fallingwater, the house that Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned by the Edgar Kaufmann Sr. family to build for $40,000, but ran over $150,000 when it was finally completed in 1937. The design is bold, to be sure, but the whole thing would've fallen in Bear Run (the creek-like water flow it straddles) had massive reinforcements not been added.
Then there's the issue of mold and mildew (Edgar Sr. nicknamed the place 'Rising Mildew'), what with the house built as it is over water. I've been to FW before, and I didn't recall it stinking as much as it did on this visit, but then I was there in dry November instead of humid August. Now the place reeks of various forms of fungi, which I am sure have so thoroughly infiltrated the cushions of the original furniture, which is still in the house, that nothing can be done except to pretend like the joint don't stink. Of course we're constantly warned to not touch anything, and certainly DO NOT SIT on the furniture. Lady, tour guide lady, you couldn't pay me to park my keister on that hot bed of microorganisms. No way no how.
MK got four free passes to FW by donating to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, which oversees the management of FW as dictated from the grave by Edgar Jr. Seriously, Edgar Jr. included so many stipulations in bequeathing FW to the WPaC that during the tour no fewer than 987 times were Edgar Jr's wishes brought up on how FW be managed and maintained for a thousand years to come. It's why the original furniture sits there rotting, why the Kaufmann family's books are disintergrating on the shelves, and why some original artworks by Deigo Rivera and Picasso are in danger of degrading in this damp environment. Don't even suggest running dehumidifiers or installing climate control units because Edgar Jr. specifically stated in his bequest that the house be left as it was and nothing be added or changed in regards to the furnace or lack of AC.
It's not like I had a terrible time there. MK and I enjoyed the company of D and A, D's husband. Before we went D made us the most delicious lunch of homemade pizza with fresh garden sauce and mozzarella. Best pizza I've had in ages! A had been to FW before too, D and MK were newbies, and probably dazzled by the precariousness of the house perched on a hillside over a stream, but A, like me, on this second visit noticed everything that I noticed with the smell of mildew and rot abounding.
Ah well. At least the company and the pizza was great! And FW is impressive, in a way. The guest house is actually a better living space than the main house, with higher ceilings and a bedroom that isn't the size of a walk-in closet.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Things To Come

The 2nd annual Living Dead Festival (as in Night of The Living Dead) is slated for October 30 & 31 in Evans City, PA. I saw the flyer for it this morning while we had breakfast at our favorite greasy spoon, Kountry Kitchen, or more simply, KK.
Evans City's link to the movie classic is based on the early scene at the graveyard and the line, "They're coming to get you, Barbara." Yes, yes, they are.
I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but my mother's side of the family is/are (why do I always mess up that form?) all buried at Evans City Cemetery, and sometimes MK and I take the dog there for a walk. It's a pleasant walk about, especially if we visit all of my ancestors graves because the Germans and the Italians are on opposites sides of the grounds from each other. Typical. The Italians have a better view, as it were, perched as they are atop a hill over looking the Connoquenessing Valley. The Germans are all by the maintenance building, so they get mowed first. Even in death, we all have our priorities.
I doubt that we'll attend the festival, I shun heavy make-up gatherings (my pores clog easily, even from foundation 'drift'), but we might drive by, just to say that we were there.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pastoral Idiocy And Meaning

I'm feeling all pastoral. I went out to my brother's house and these bales of hay were strewn in the sloping field below where the chokecherries grow. I was out picking chokecherries to flavor the cough syrup I'll be making in the fall. I made juice from them and now that's in the freezer so that it'll keep before I add the bark, whiskey, and honey.
Hopefully I keep my streak of not poisoning anyone with my herbal concoctions going for at least one more year.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fayum Mummy Portraits

When I found out about the Fayum Mummy Portraits I was a bit fascinated by them. Many of them are in pristine condition, unlike this example. They came into Egyptian vogue during the Roman-era, about 2,000+ years ago.
I'm partial to panel paintings, don't know why. But I do know that when the encaustic (heated bees wax and pigment) technique is employed on them, the effect is rich and vivid. Not all of the Mummy Portraits use this method, some are rendered in tempura paints, which lend themselves perfectly to realistic representation.
Either way, it's a seldom seen glimpse into ancient art.

Friday, August 14, 2009


My sister, Junior, dropped by after work yesterday. MK and I were out back burning some of the debris leftover after the tree that fell down got chain sawed up. Junior is somewhat extremely vain about her looks. I treasure her as a sister, but it's a fatal character flaw, not to mention exhausting. We all have fatal character flaws, those little and big things about us that when we die somehow get spotlighted during the eulogy. Thank God I won't have to endure what gets said about me after I croak.
So, Junior and the rest of us were all sitting out on the porch, when she started regaling us with a tale of D-Man, her boyfriend (who she refuses o marry, but that's another story). D-Man is terrified of bees. He's not allergic, just terrified. His fear of bees extends to flies, in case it might be a bee. I've seen this phobia in action, D-Man bolting and fleeing if a flying insect gets too close to him. It's funny, absurd even. MK and I saw him tear at his shirt, afraid a bee had flown down the collar (nothing had, once Junior was called in to inspect him). Sometimes Junior gets frustrated with him; how he doesn't believe in history, how he confuses coyotes with werewolves, how he got them banned for life from their favorite bar. My advice to her is that they've been together now for eight years, nothing he does is really 'new', just an extention of his own preposterousness, and that no matter what, she finds him amusing. Hell, we all find his antics amusing. Like how he calls my former girlfriend 'Bermuda'. He's not hinting at some deeper meaning here, he's always called her that.
"Whatever happened to Bermuda?" he asked Junior the other day.
"What? The island?"
"No, the other one."
"You mean XXXXX?"
"Yeah, her."
"I don't know, and quit calling her Bermuda."
As for me, I think that Bermuda suits her.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I've been indulging my paranoia by reading up on what would happen if (when) the poles magnetically reverse. Lots of theories, many of them outlandishly cranky ( the reptilean aliens will invade seriously), but some of them much more thoughtful and posited by geophysicists. Anyway, one guy suggested that the coastal regions of the Earth could be 'attacked' by tsunamis. Is it just me, or do tsunamis not technically attack? It would be like saying that an earthquake attacked San Francisco, or that a blizzard attacked Buffalo.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The sign post up ahead...

Once a sign becomes illegible, can you do whatever you want? Clearly I trespassed. Consequences be damned. I'm a rebel.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Noncrazies In The Family

MK, Bela, and I are off to visit MK's sister's family in Bay Village, OH. This is MK's noncrazy sister, who, like me, is a middle child and harbors a certain bitterness that I can relate to. We get along famously!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My Version of Feelings

Reflections, When Toes Sideways

I kind of like this one as it is, which was why I didn't set it up straight but left it was it was.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bob The Pug

The neighbor girls across the street have a pet pug named Bob. Bob is so agreeable that he allows them to put him a baby stroller and wheel him around the street. It's both pathetic and terrific! And don't you think that Bob is the perfect name for a pug? He looks like a Bob sitting there :)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Life's Rich Pageant

MK ankle deep in Avalanche Lake, Glacier Nat'l Park, MT

I'm still waiting to get three of the rolls of film I shot back from being developed. Supposedly they are done, but they're in Pittsburgh and I'm in Zelie, so MK is picking them up for me sometime today. You know, the goth or emo kid (I can't tell the difference between the two and don't care enough to differentiate anyway) who works the film and photo counter is just so smug. Like we're clueless idiots completely dependent on him to get our photos. Of course we are completely dependent on him to get our photos, but still. Not everyone is clueless. One or two of us has a clue and are willing to wield it! Hand over my vacation snapshots or I'll show you what suffering really is!
Which reminds me of the chick who works at the comic book store. Boy, talk about attitude! Ever since she recommended a comic that I did not fall in love with, we've been at odds. She looks down at my Buffy comic purchases, insisting that the Angel comic is far superior. That's how delusional she is. The Angel comic is terrible! I tried it out when they introduced the 'After The Fall' series, and the art work was icky, the writing was insanely bad (or, as I like to say, worse than terrible and then some), plus it was a bit pricey (3.99 per issue, whereas most comics are 2.99). I asked myself: Am I happy paying more for something I despise just so that I can remain on top of all that is happening in the Buffyverse? The sound of my wallet remaining shut, which is actually the absence of sound, was my answer.
Aw well, there's a lot to be grateful for this week. I'll have my pics in my hands tomorrow and the new Buffy comic comes out on Wednesday. Oh! And it's not raining, for a change! It rains roughly every other day and we have a pool of standing water in the backyard that I call The Lake of The Yard.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Hot Dog Chili Recipe

Canned hot dog chili is, how shall I say, lacking. For years my grandmother made the hot dog chili for the summer cookouts. Years ago I asked her what went in it, and she told me. But, I lost the recipe, and then Grandma got senile and couldn't remember that she'd ever even made chili. For years I've tried really hard to approximate what she'd made with varying degrees of success. Probably because I made my chili from scratch, it was always considered good at the cookouts.
Well, I finally got pretty bold with it, thinking more about the flavors going in than trying to copy something that I fully recall.
So, here goes:

Not Grandma Helen's Hot Dog Chili Recipe:

1lb ground beef, not too lean, you need the fat
2C diced tomatoes
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cans tomato soup
2 cups beef broth
3 TBS butter
2 TBS cumin
2 TBS chili powder (not too hot, I use medium)
1TBS instant coffee

Brown the ground beef with the onion, sprinkle with parsley flakes, salt, and pepper while it cooks.
Do not drain when browned.
Transfer the mixture to a large sauce pan. Add all of the other ingredients. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has been reduced, tasting often to see if anything more needs added (particularly more beef broth, chili powder, or cumin).
Once the hot dog chili has thickened enough to stay on a dog in the bun, then it's ready!
It was such a big hit at the cookout yesterday that no fights broke out!

EDIT ALERT! Add a couple of dashes of worchestershire sauce if you want an even smokier, richer taste.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Away We Go!

There's a big family to do today. A massive, sprawling 40th birthday party in the works. I was asked to make the hotdog chili. It's one of my talents, that is. Wisely, I made it two days ago. All chili is best after it's had a chance to stew in its own juices for a few days, and then decompose a little so that the flavors all mingle like some kind of wonderful rot. In a tiny way, that makes it a lot like revenge, only served hot instead of cold, and hopefully more pleasurable than deadly.
I have several secret ingredients that go into this hotdog chili, none of which is which kind of chili powder I use. I do use chili powder, but the heat is not the highlight. No, the big push goes from a deep, rich smoky flavor (no, I don't use liquid smoke, but I've talked to people (and by 'people' I mean men) who do and I'm not interested in better living through chemistry cooking).
Hopefully everything goes over like gangbusters at the party, everyone has a great time, and all of the fist fights break after MK and I have departed for the evening. Did I mention that this is a party that my family is having? Well, there you go. It's almost a given that someone will break a toe kicking someone else in the shins while wearing flip flops.