Blogsam and Jetsam

Flotsam is the part of the wreckage of a ship or its cargo found floating on the water. Jetsam is cargo or parts of a ship that are deliberately thrown overboard, as to lighten the ship in an emergency, and that subsequently either sinks or is washed ashore. This is my personal blog version of the above. Loot freely.

My Photo
Location: The Hinterlands, Upstate NY

I'm annoyed that the world is going crazier faster than it used to be. But it's interesting to watch.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Kohala Bull Photo Shoot

This last shot has a horrid background but the pose was jaunty. All future pix to NOT have datestamp (and there was much rejoicing.)

Yarn Credits:
Body: Handspun "Kohala Gulch" wool, Big Island, HI.
Pupils, nose, tail hair: Cascade "Leisure."
Yarns for horns: One strand each of Berrocco "Cotton Twist," Lily "Peaches-n-Cream," Knitpicks undyed worsted wool and a no-name no-label yellow wool (very feltable) purchased from EBay years ago.
Horn stuffing: crafty pipecleaners (from Wal-Hell.)
Body/head stuffing: Polyester fiberfill (from local dimestore.)

Bullish Change

As you can see, the snout of the Kohala "Bear" was just not bear-like at all.

Not even after several attempts at rhinoplasty:

So we all accepted the change and welcomed the new Kohala Bull.


Bulls need horns:

Even when the zoom is blurry.

These are the yarns that went into the horns: four strands held together.
(and I was really happy with that particular photo, too.)

Bulls also need tails.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Not A Bear

That's right folks, the Kohala Bear insisted on becoming a Kohala Bull.

No matter what I did, that snout wanted to stay cow-like. Finally stopped fighting the yarn and went with it. Now I'm working on horns.

Pictures to follow...someday.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Quick Notes

The dinner party was a smash success. The guests were a good mix, the kitchen was this FABULOUS newly-remodeled thing out of a home-improvement magazine and the other chef and I were delighted to learn that we worked well together as a team. Everyone was completely impressed.

Kohala bear, on the other hand, had a setback. Got the pieces assembled and stuffed then started in on the snout, sewing very carefully and firmly to counteract the tension of the polyester filling. Was almost all the way stitched shut, feeling all pleased.

Till I realized I'd made a COW and not a BEAR.

That's what I get for not looking more closely at the diagram first. I had gathered the snout into a central point on the face rather than stretching the edges out so I ended up with a poufy cow-snout and not a blunt bear-snout.

I was so disgusted I haven't even finished ripping it back out yet. But I will...and there will someday be pictures.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Serious Moment

Last month my euphemistic phrase "that horrible mess Over There" only meant Iraq.

We've all seen or heard the news, we all know things have gotten worse and we all have opinions and beliefs. One of mine is "we are all HUMANS first." On an immediate note I am stricken by the terrible waste of human life as well as resources and accomplishment in the form of buildings and infrastructure. On a more esoteric note I am saddened that despite this many millenia of living together on the planet we still haven't managed to get better conflict resolution in place and work as an entire species to do things--we all need dreams and that's one of mine.

In any case too many people are dying and having their lives irrevocably changed. I'm not a prayerful person at all but I do think there are balancing forces in the Universe so I urge you to make some extra deposits in the Bank of Good Karma as you go through your week.

It can't hurt.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Dessert Plate



Raspberry Tarts

recipe credit:,,FOOD_9936_12891,00.html

Grating the pre-made frozen dough

After the store-bought jam was carefully spread and a top layer of dough was grated

Cooling on the stove

Meringue Mushrooms

Make meringue. Put in big zippy-bag. Cut about a centimeter off one corner. Pipe stems and caps. Smooth the "curls" off the tops of the caps with wet fingers. Bake at 225F for an hour. Use sharp knife to hollow out the centers of the caps where the stems will go (otherwise the pieces will shatter--rather like predrilling a screw hole [don't go there...]) Coat flat side of cap with chocolate (dark is better; we had extra white.) Stick stem to cap using the warm chocolate. After they're all done, dust tops with cocoa powder sifted through a small strainer.

Elvis Truffles

The supereasy fudge base

After a dunk in butterscotch

Eagerly displayed by most excellent Assistant

The King(s)


Had to ride shotgun with MIL this morning to show her where to find BIL's "Rec Program" (swimming) and the nearest Wal-Hell. We needed to fill time before fetching BIL so we took a turn through the local mall and ended up in J.C.Penney's to see if they had black jersey capri pants for MIL's next trip to Brazil.

Normally I hate clothes shopping and will do almost anything to avoid it. However this time it wasn't too wretched and while I was waiting for MIL I discovered that I was standing with my arm literally brushing up against...a print jersey skirt that I actually liked. MIL noticed and commented that it was a beautiful skirt AND half-price which was her Dave Barry Japanese for "BUY it you twit!"

So I grabbed it and the coordinating top in my size. MIL asked if I wanted to try it on to which I replied, "I guess I'd better before I spend money." Off to the dressing rooms we went and sunnuvabitch it looked good. Maybe even very good. She thought so too.

I was so startled and happy I got myself a rather girly T-shirt also marked down. MIL picked up the entire tab to take advantage of a $15.00-off sale and a good time was had by all.

Came home, told HBF I'd bought a new dress and the first words out of his mouth were "Good for you! My Mom talked you into it, didn't she? You'd never do something like that for yourself on your own." Of course he was right.

I never realized this move would mean I got someone for GIRLstuff...Bonus!

(Oh and the whole Rest of the Family thought the dress was great too; I'm wearing it Monday.)

Friday, July 21, 2006

It's Friday...

...And we're all celebrating a successful first week of MIL. Including alcohol for the grownups.

Eldest Duckling and I have already made the fudge filling for the Elvis Truffles and I have the coating "chocolate"* standing by with grated paraffin ready for melting. Yes folks, the way to make chocolate shiny is to add a bit of petroleum product--sad but true. I suppose the truly organic could use beeswax and in an ideal world perhaps I would, but not when food-grade canning paraffin is sitting on the shelf of the local grocery.

Inspiration for the fourth dessert hit me while making the tart dough the other evening--that dough called for four egg yolks. As I was separating them I realized I would have four egg whites sitting around with no special plans and alluvasudden "Meringue Mushrooms!" popped into my head. "Excellent idea," thought I, since they look really impressive but aren't a bit hard to make, "but what WITH?" (the running commentary in my head isn't always grammatical.) Pondered for a while and thought "hmm...meringue is the dieter's friend and we don't have a 'lite' dessert choice...AH! Fruit salad!"

I'm chopping up whatever's around the house, marinating it in some leftover wine (or perhaps some Cointreau since there's no such thing as leftover wine,) putting it in little foil cupcake liners topped by a couple-three meringue mushrooms and calling it "Woodland Fruit Salad." Can't you just see that in fancy script on some bistro menu somewhere?


The fudge has cooled enough to roll into fat irregular ovals and we're putting them on some of my first-ever roll of cooking parchment paper. You can tell I'm rather invested in this, can't you? Yup, and that was before my oldest friend told me just this afternoon that "I never pictured you as the domestic type."


And "Oh YEAH? Watch THIS, [derogatory noun of choice]!"

Of course pictures will follow.

*I use quotes because "white chocolate" is actually neither. Nor are butterscotch chips, despite their supreme tastiness.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Just Text Today

Although I was pretty pleased to have been able to paste a blogthing and have it show up with its graphic intact, I can't see those becoming a regular feature. On the other hand, I've been identifying with that little animated girl since before I had kids of my own. I particularly like the episode with the fabulous substitute teacher: HBF occasionally jollies me out of gloominess with "do you need a piece of paper that says 'I am Lisa Simpson?'"

No, what I need is a Real Vacation. You know, the kind that isn't spent stripping insulation or hauling boxes or dealing with movers, repairpeople, real estate agents and attorneys. The kind with climate control, room service and interesting sights to see. The FUN kind of vacation. Which isn't going to be happening any time soon because vacation time is at a premium in my department. The earliest I could get away is mid-October. Staying sane till then may be challenging! On the other hand, The Boss announced his retirement plans last week and I'm the Heir Apparent so it's not all bad.

On the home front, I suppose I should run down a complete Cast List for you-all:

1) Yours Truly
2) HBF, husband and best friend...also consigliere, co-conspirator and hugely witty.
3) MIL, Brazilian mother-in-law new to the household as of last week.
4) BIL, autistic brother-in-law who has been a household member since 2003.
5) Eldest Duckling, our nearly-twelve daughter with more spunk than I had at twice the age.
6) Middle Duckling, our just-turned-nine son who is quiet but doesn't miss a trick.
7) Youngest Duckling, our six-year-old curly-haired spitfire.
8) The Critters:
Loki the Beagle
Feyd the Neurotic Cat
Duncan the Feisty Cat (both of them have FIP)
Candy the Gippy God (Youngest Duckling could only say "gippy pig" for ages...too cute!)

You see why I call it House of Chaos.

I'm the only child of an only-child divorcee and was a latchkey kid since about the age my daughter is now so I had a lifetime of solitude. When I went off to college the residence scholarship program meant that I got a single room in exchange for dorm housekeeping and I kept my solitude. (I went nuts the week HBF and I first started cohabitating.)

So this has all been quite an adventure.

I knew I'd reached a milestone last month when BIL and the Younger Ducklings were away visiting and I not only set their places at the table but started serving them till Eldest stopped me.

While I'm on the topic of eating, I have to mention the book I just finished: Scoot Over, Skinny: the Fat Nonfiction Anthology by Donna Jarrell and Ira Sukrungruang (

This book is amazing. Whatever your opinions about weight, body image, society and food there will be something inside to make you think. REALLY think. It will also disturb you. I give it my very highest recommendation.

I wish I had a clever closing line today but no luck. Peace, all.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Jeez, Tell Me Something I DON'T Know...

You Are Lisa Simpson

A total child prodigy and super genius, you have the mind for world domination.

But you prefer world peace, Buddhism, and tofu dogs.

You will be remembered for: all your academic accomplishments

Your life philosophy: "I refuse to believe that everybody refuses to believe the truth"

Little Things

Last night was all small things but good ones:

Finished the other ear of the Kohala Bear and just had to sew them both on right then.

Made the raspberry tart dough for the Party Desserts. Also baked chicken for dinner.

Saw a big tree down across a main road after a line of thunderstorms went through.

Watched Schoolhouse Rock on DVD with the kids and hubby till bedtime.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Kohala Bear Update

It isn't a typo but a pun: the yarn was spun in the North Kohala district of Hawaii.

Here is a picture of his body all limp and unstuffed:

And this is my attempt to show how I've run the bindoff yarn back through the stitches of the snout so that the edge can be gathered up. Yes I'm still having too many technical difficulties getting my camera to speak to my computer otherwise the picture would've been the right way round.

The gathered-up snout.

A finished ear.

I hope to have the other ear done and begin casting on for the back of the body (two narrower leg bits and an essentially identical torso/head/arms bit) tonight.

In Other News....I just found out that a charity pitch-in dinner party to which I'd promised upscale desserts this Saturday evening is unfortunately NOT cancelled or postponed. Pity.

Recipes at the moment include "Fragomammeli" from The Two Fat Ladies
( a good raspberry tart I made a couple of Christmases ago, and an "Elvis truffle" which is going to be the easiest fudge recipe ever (,1977,FOOD_9936_17421,00.html) molded into ovals which are then getting dipped in dark chocolate and dressed up in white-chocolate "tuxedoes" as a white-trash mirror image of those I've seen done with strawberries recently (

I expect a chocolate-spattered kitchen filled with the blue cloud of my cursing!

Monday, July 17, 2006


I'm back to the office for the first time in nine days.

It's blissful. Every single thing was EXACTLY where I'd left it.
It was a pleasure to get back to my usual daily grind.

An old ST:TNG episode told us that every moment of pleasure must be purchased with an equal moment of pain and it's true: looks like the buyers of our house in The Burbs just-this-minute backed out. Yes, after we nearly killed ourselves getting the house ready for a closing date on 7/21 despite our flooded basement up here.

Don't even get me started.

In knitting-related news, the Kohala Bear is coming along nicely. I found my camera in the debris of my overnight bag so there will eventually be new pictures. At least one thing is going right.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Great MIL Move

Is there anyone alive who DOESN'T hate moving?

Nope, didn't think so.

We just moved MIL out of a house in The Burbs which has been in the family since it was built in 1950. I'm sure you can imagine the overwhelming amount of Stuff.


Discovered that dumpsters in South Jersey are "rolloff containers" and expensive as hell. We filled the 11 cubic yards in nothing flat and had to call for a replacement...fortunately that price gives one within-hours service.

The humidity was forty zillion percent the entire time we were there. I got that strange combination of sunburn and pustular acne-like dots called "sun poisoning" for the first time ever. I was not at all amused.

If you're ever offered the option of a "Yankee Crawl Space" instead of a real basement fergawdsake Just Say No. I was cursing the owner of THAT cost-cutting decision (HBF's grandfather now three years gone) for hours as I [the shortest] hauled crap.

Had serious deja vu when I realized much of the Stuff I was hauling had been previously wet and NOT rescued...didn't I just see that movie on a bigger screen with a happier ending last week?!? Moldy nasty wetted-basement smell didn't help matters a bit nor did clonking the top of my head a good one on a joist.

The moving company was small and local and friendly*...but the "biggest truck we have" was still not large enough and their Estimator must've been on some serious drugs the day he came by since he thought the entire house could be packed and loaded by noon then driven to The Hinterlands that same day. It turned into packing from 9 to 3:30 followed by driving up to NY the following day.

It also turned into some Shocked and Startled Words when I discovered just how much Stuff the movers planned to leave behind. MIL managed to schedule a doctor's appointment during the main part of the packing which left me to sort out the resultant mess. Color me thrilled.

The Following Day included pouring rain in The Hinterlands so the three-man moving team was Not Happy. Therefore our two-car garage is now packed to within a few feet of the ceiling...I have visions of a summer-long Sokoban game:

I'd take a picture but I haven't unearthed my camera from the debris pile that became my luggage. The SUV was packed to blivot

tightness and I'm not down to the layer containing my overnight bag yet.

All the mammalian Tribal/Pack issues surrounding adding yet another human to the household (we're now seven just like those dwarves) are best left unmentioned.

What I will mention though is a great little read that kept me amused while I was living through Moving Hell: Hotel Babylon

I was SO-o-o glad my Best Friend From High School M sent it! Books were my first (and best) drug of choice.

When I got back the Mason-Dixon Knitting book was waiting for me on my computer chair and it's just fabbo too:

Surprisingly, I've managed a few more rows on my Kohala Bear and decided to make his face stockinette stitch instead of the garter specified in the pattern.

Other than that Our American Cousin ** is a lovely play.

*highly-tattooed Leader Guy let me bum a drag off his Marlboro menthol first thing in the morning.


Monday, July 10, 2006

More Knitting

As promised, a better picture of the Magic Square:

With closeup.

Also a picture of the Kohala Bear in progress...

With badly focused foot detail.

I've got to work on the photo quality. Finding optimum lens distances and finding a spot with some GOOD lighting are both on the Eventual To-Do List...though we're getting a new high-def video camera that may render my Kodak DX3700 entirely moot.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Mosaic Knitting 3

As promised, the Magic Square very nearly done. It's now off the needles (but no new pictures yet.) Have decided it's going to be the front of a pullover for Youngest Duckling since it's just about the right size to have some shoulder and underarm bands added to stick it to a similar square (different contrast color though; almost out of green) for the back. Haven't figured out sleeves yet.

Meanwhile I've been taking a break from the mosaic technique to make a Kohala Bear:

I apologize for the blurriness of the image but it's blurry on the website too:

He's been coming along nicely in the past couple days and I'm just about ready to cast on for the arms. More pictures eventually.

Meanwhile, the Nasty Insulation and Drywall Removal has been completed (ugh!) and the Great MIL Move is well underway with the Big Truck to arrive here Tuesday night.

Friday, July 07, 2006


Yesterday I desperately needed downtime so I spent far too many minutes in the blogsurfing subtype of websurfing and discovered a metric fuckload (bigger than a cubic assfull, incidentally) of online quizzes.

In Comic Book Heroes I'm Superman with Spidey and Robin coming in a close second and third. Not a girl in the whole top THREE, dammit!

In World Leaders I'm Mother Theresa. Figures but I was hoping for a badass.

In Philosophers I'm Jean-Paul Sarte with Kant running a close second. I can live with that.

In states I'm Minnesota...guess the weather is the same.

In Pinup Girls I'm Marylin Monroe which I suppose makes up for the comic book heroes.

My Inner Muse is Thalia (of Comedy) which was the first thing that made sense all afternoon.

In Disney Characters I'm Goofy with The Beast running a distant second...there we go with the no girls again.

In Mythological Creatures I'm an angel by a LOT which irks me since dragon was one of the choices.

By the letters in my name I'm a Shark, by personality I'm a Monkey and the Bear Spirit is the one that calls to me. Oh and I'm the color Red, which I rather like.

I'm also way too far behind at the office and must get away from this keyboard for a bit!

Technical Difficulties...Again

My mosaic knitting "magic square" is almost (one row away) done so I jumped the gun and took pictures for you-all...

...Only to discover that my camera dock isn't speaking to my newly reinstalled version of Windows. Spent a half-hour just now tilting at that particular windmill and realize I will have to wait for the household IT Dept. to fix the problem.

DAMN but this infuriates me! I can remember when I wasn't a technological caveman: not only was I the only kid in my whole dorm with a Real Computer (Mac 512K; yes it survived the flood) but I had fucking PROGRAMMED my TI-55 calculator to do the quadratic equation for me a couple years prior.

Now I can't restart my own email or make my camera work. This is progress?

In other news, Augusten Burroughs was delightful and moving as always...though I didn't get the cover till the second day.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Happy Surprise

On my walk to the bank this morning I discovered that Augusten Burroughs had a new book out!

I just adore Augusten Burroughs; he's the only writer I've read who had a childhood even more fucked up than mine which also didn't involve serious physical abuse. I now own the only copy our local bookseller had (and have already read the first essay.)

As a bonus I got Ron White's book about which I also had no clue:

When I got back to the office I had fresh email from my mother. Such is the way of the world.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


I heard it again in the grocery today: "All I could think of was the images of Katrina."

No. NO! NO!!

Dammit this may be the worst flooding my area has seen in 25 years but it is not, reapeat NOT anything like a hurricane. I am sick of hearing people trying to make more out of what happened than it was by comparing it to the devastation of three STATES. Katrina knocked a permanent hole in that area's economy and wrecked an entire region; this has knocked a hole in an interstate and wrecked the city of Binghamton and Delaware county. The TV talking heads had to work to find a family whose home and business had been flooded.

Every time I hear someone mention the K name it makes me FURIOUS for those people who DID live through Katrina and had their lives forever changed. Which is why I'm going to be shutting up about my basement very soon: best to lead by example. Everything finally got sorted into "garbage for the dumpster" and "keep" and the final vintage computer death toll was 29. Now it's time to move on to the Big MIL Move.

Yes folks, next week the household expands to seven human beings.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Flood Update

Well, the Great Basement Salvage continues. It's depressing, but it's getting done. The Big Blue Box (dumpster) is already much fuller than I had anticipated.

The GOOD news:
The furnace and hot water heater were fine. No repairs necessary.
The Ohio Scientific C1P, gem of our vintage collection, survived thanks to HBF's immediate rescue and subsequent ICU therapy.

The BAD news:
There was a box we thought HAD been in one of our bedroom closets all this time but wasn't....and it was full of all our old LP albums and vintage magazines. Probably it was still in the basement because it was heavy and we hadn't relished the thought of dragging it up two flights of stairs.

The main losses there were an original JFK Memorial issue of LIFE magazine for 50 cents retail price, an original ZOOM Catalogue ordered in 1972 from the kids' TV show of the same name, and a first edition of the Star Trek Technical Manual that had been a childhood gift from my father.

The LPs were saddening but the discs can be saved and put into new jackets and most had been replaced by CDs anyhow...'cept for an original "Hard Day's Night" by the Beatles which we're drying out now. My Wanda Landowska "Well-Tempered Clavier" wasn't very damaged at all. We also lost a sentimental encyclopedia set and a LOT of vintage computer books, manuals and discs as well as just-to-read books for which we hadn't had shelf space.

We learned that some pacakaging sucks up water like a sponge and doesn't release it, making it mildewy and very heavy. Ditto fiberglass insulation left on the basement floor by contractors...the cubic footage of water it can retain is amazing.

The computer graveyard has been set up in the northeastern quadrant of the basement and is depressingly full already. Count is somewhere around 15 dead machines.

Oddly enough, Youngest Duckling's talking piece of poo ( ) was submerged but survived right down to his voicebox--the stuffed-toy part just needs run through the washing machine.

Of course we're keeping a strict log, not that we're too optimistic about our prospects for eventual reimbursement. We do realize we were VERY lucky--a few of our neighbors aren't even back in their houses yet.

Mosaic Knitting 2.75

Despite the flooded basement I've still been knitting.
A bit.

The "magic square" is nearly done and I'll post more about it later in the week...with pictures I hope.