Friday, November 30, 2012

Little hands

This is a tale of my great-niece. Here she is with my niece, her mommy.

Every other week, my niece comes over to my house while I'm at work and does a little housework for me. I have contracted with her to do this because I tend never to get around to it, and then my house gets unacceptably dirty.

My great-niece is preschool age, and she comes with my niece. When I get home in the evening after they've been here, the cleanliness tells me my niece was here, but I find other clues revealing my great-niece's visit.

The next time I turn on my TV, for example, it's tuned in to a station that shows children's programming, and the volume is rather louder than I generally have it.

A while back, I bought this dog carrier on wheels, thinking I would need it to smuggle my dog into my workplace.

It turned out, happily, that there was no objection to my bringing my dog, so now I just walk boldly into the building with him on a leash, and this carrier stays home.

Meanwhile, back when I was in college, my mom gave me a gift of a little stuffed lamb. Perhaps I was a bit old for such a gift, but my mom doesn't see it that way.

This is what I look like about now:

This is what my mom sees when she looks at me:

So one time I came home after the housecleaning, and eventually I noticed that the little stuffed lamb was in the dog carrier. The next time I saw my great-niece she said, "I was at your house." I said, "I know, because I found a little lamb in the dog carrier." She giggled.

The last time they were here, after I was home a while, I noticed my dog was nosing around the box I got for him. He likes to sit in there sometimes.

I noticed the door was shut and latched, and I knew the little girl had found that interesting. So I opened the door for him, but noticed after a little while that he did not go in the box. So I looked more closely and realized the little stuffed lamb was in there. So I took it out to make room for him.

I'm guessing that my great-niece likes to pretend that the little white lamb is my little white(ish) dog.

It's kind of fun to find evidence of my little sweetheart's playing around my house.

And that's my story.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

One degree of separation

Beautiful sunny clear autumn day today in great state of Washington. My folks and I drove to Birch Bay to look at the water, which was a stunning blue color.

I was going to post some pictures, but I got this message from Blogger:

Whoops! You're out of space. You are currently using 100% of your 1 GB quota for photos. Upgrade storage

Photos are stored in your Picasa Web Albums account and are included in your 1 GB free quota for photos. Additional storage you purchase is shared between several Google products and is in addition to your free quota. Learn more   I will probably buy storage, if I must, but I have to think it over first.   Meanwhile, here's a link to a Facebook photo album, which includes the photos I was going to post here.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Oh, boy, oh, boy

I made my sister laugh by telling her about my dog's reaction when I sing in the car. My dog goes to work with me, and on the commute he spends much of the time with his paws on the dashboard, snorting excitedly at pedestrians, bicyclers, and dogs.

Get your motor runnin',
Head out on the highway,
Lookin' for adventure,
And whatever comes our way.
Sometimes I sing in the car, because I'm such an irrepressibly exuberant lark. Or just because some tune drifts into my mind. The dog pays no heed. There were a couple days last week where I kept bursting into "Danny Boy." He would not pay attention as I warbled my way through the first verse:

Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling,
From glen to glen and down the mountain side.
The summer's gone, and all the roses falling;
It's you, it's you must go, and I must bide.

But come ye back when summer's in the meadow,
Or all the valley's hushed and white with snow...

Until I got to:

It's I'll be heeeeeeeeeeeeeere in sunshine or in shadow...

I'd strain, not altogether successfully, for the note of here, and my dog would turn his head and look at me, then cock his head to one side.

Every time.

Here's how the song should sound:

But my performance is more like Beaker's:

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Tonight I tried to make boerenjongens ("farm boys"), a Dutch sweet or dessert topping consisting of raisins, sugar, and brandy. I looked online for recipes and found them from as complicated as one that involved zesting a lemon -- a thing I have never done -- to one that is basically equal parts sugar, raisins, and brandy.

I tried a combination of recipes. I measured how many cups of raisins I had, then measured that much water and that much sugar into a pan. I threw in some cinnamon and a little ground cloves. I heated and stirred till the sugar dissolved and the water started to boil. Then I put the raisins in. I had bought one box of regular (dark) raisins and one of "golden" raisins. I stirred and simmered the raisins in the sugar water for 20-25 minutes, then I spooned a few raisins at a time into a small strainer and from there into the canning jars (which I had prepared by washing and then keeping in a warm oven). The 12 small glass canning jars I had bought turned out to be the perfect size, the raisins just filled them. Then I boiled and stirred the remaining sugar water for a while to "reduce" it. I poured some into a measuring pitcher then poured in an equal amount of brandy, then poured the sugar water/brandy mixture into each jar of raisins until they were full. Then I put the lids on.

Things got a little sticky -- literally. If I happened to dribble some of that sugar water onto the stove, it was sticky to clean up, the spoons I used got sticky, and I'm fearful that when I go to take the lid off one of these jars it will be glued there by sticky syrup.

I also felt that maybe instead of mixing the sugar water with the brandy to pour into the jars, I should have just poured brandy in, to make them stronger. And I worried that the sugar water was still hot enough to evaporate the alcohol in the brandy so that the final product will not be an alcoholic treat. But, there they are. You're supposed to wait a certain amount of time to open and eat them. That time varied, too, in the recipes, from serving it the next day to waiting a minimum of three months. I plan to try one jar out around Christmas or New Year's.

I already think next year, less syrup, more brandy. But anyway, I'm sure the sugar will help them taste good.

I am a little fearful if they'll be okay. In the old days, canning gone wrong resulted in botulism. But part of me also says, How wrong can it go? It's raisins, sugar, and brandy.

So I decided not to give any jars away until I consume one and survive.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Song search

On the Veterans Day holiday (real Veterans Day 11/11 was on Sunday, but then we had Monday off from work), I was trying to find the perfect video of a patriotic song with accompanying pictures of military folks. I watched a few, then remembered I had intended to do things like laundry and other household tasks.

Sometimes when I try to find a video on youtube to express my mood, it takes so long to find one that I waste a lot of time, or go to bed late. Kind of a silly activity in a way.

But just talking about it makes me want to go look at music videos on youtube.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Season's progress

Three weeks ago, I took a picture of the maple tree in the middle of our cul-de-sac, with its autumn colors.

Today I took a picture of it denuded of leaves.

So the seasons progress through their cycle. Today looks like autumn because there are still a lot of leaves on the ground and blowing around, and not all the trees have dropped all their leaves yet. But the wind and the air temperature feel almost like winter.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

For the record: Stitching

Also, I started a new pillow project today. I was able to see when I started the last one by going through this blog, so now I can see when I started the next one, which is a design of pansies.

Ta da!

Saturday, November 3, 2012


It's just a little over two years ago that I ordered the kit and exactly two years ago that I started it, and tonight I finished it:

Tomorrow, my sister-in-law will help me sew the pillow backing to it (and by "help me" I mean "do the task herself while I watch") and I'll put in the pillow insert I bought, and it will be a finished product.


I had it kind of done last weekend, but when we looked at how the backing went on, my sister-in-law advised one more row of white all around the edge, so I did that this week, yesterday and today.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Favorite things

I'm hearing and seeing flocks of geese in the air this autumn. I say hearing and seeing in that order because I hear them first, then look for them in the sky.

One of the first times I heard them this fall, at first I didn't recognize the sound at first. I thought it sounded like someone's radio cutting in and out.

It also reminds me of the song in The Sound of Music, with the line "wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings." I mostly see them in the daytime, though.