Friday, October 31, 2008

Avast, Me Hearties!

Thar she be! The fiercest and fairest pirate lass ever to roam the seven seas!

Sweetpea, my lass, yer ole' gra'mom hopes ye' have a great, grand Hallow's Eve, and come a-sailin' back home with a hefty booty of chocolate doubloons and pieces-of-eight. Fair sailin', me hearty!



(photos by Kelsey)

Pirate Trivia:

Article VI of the Pirate Code agreed to by Bartholomew Roberts ( Black Bart ) and his pirate crew in the Shipboard Articles of 1721 stated: No boy or woman to be allowed amongst them. If any man shall be found seducing any of the latter sex and carrying her to sea in disguise he shall suffer death.

But in the course of my recent reading on Ireland, I came across one brave, fierce, female Irish pirate, named Grace O'Malley. A story is told about a meeting she had with Queen Elizabeth, of England. Grace was seeking the release of some family members who had been imprisoned by England. While standing in front of the Queen and her courtiers, Grace, whose manners were, naturally, fit more for the sea than a Queen's court, sneezed. One of the Queen's courtiers handed her a beautiful lace handkerchief. Grace blew her nose, loudly, on the hankie, and then tossed it into the fire. The Queen, offended by Grace's disregard of the lovely gift, told her she should have put the kerchief into her pocket. Grace replied that the Irish do not put soiled items into their pockets, and, therefore, must be a cleaner people than the English. Yo ho ho! Way to impress the Queen, Grace O'Malley!

Did you know that pirates are still active?! The luxury liner, Seabourn Spirit, was attacked by pirates on November 5th, 2005 about 70 miles off the coast of Somalia. Pirates boarded the ship from two small boats. The pirates used machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades when attacking. Luckily only one person, a crew member, was slightly injured - due to shrapnel.

Every September 19 is "Talk Like a Pirate Day". If you missed out on it this year, be sure to be a-talkin' like a pirate next September 19, else you'll be a-walkin' the plank and visitin' ole' Davey Jones' Locker, matey! And, speaking of plank-walking, did you know that it was not a common practice among the pirate community? They were more apt to use swords or blunt objects to eliminate their foes. Apparently it was the story of Peter Pan that popularized the concept of walking of the plank. In preparation for next year's Talk Like a Pirate Day, you can brush up on your pirate-speak with a fun little quiz, right HERE.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Daring Bakers' October Challenge - Pizza Napoletana


A whole month has already passed, since our last Daring Bakers' Challenge. This month the challenge was hosted by Rosa of http://www.rosas-yummy-yums.blogspot.com. She chose to have us make “Pizza Napoletana,” a recipe taken from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice. (Recipe HERE.)

The recipe makes enough dough for six small to medium sized pizzas, half of which I froze for later. The part that was most challenging for me was Rosa's requirement that we toss at least two of the crusts! Now I've watched those fellows at the pizza restaurants toss pizzas high into the air, but I'd never tried it before, myself. When I pictured myself doing it, all I could think of was that famous I Love Lucy episode, where she tries her hand at it.


But I finally worked up my nerve to make the dough one night - that part was easy - and then, the next evening, to shape the crusts, top the pizzas and bake them off. The crusts were both tender and crispy, and as good as I've ever had! They had to bake, on a stone, in an oven pre-heated to "as hot as possible," which, for my oven, was 550 degrees. They baked quickly (about 5 minutes each), and the high temperature was what made for the nice, crisp crust, but was also what caused the house (and the pizza chef) to overheat!

Here are a few pictures from the preparation.

For Dan's pizza, I sliced up some fresh mushrooms.

I sauteed them in butter until they were just slightly browned.

For mine, I used black olives, and then topped it with fresh sliced tomatoes after pulling it from the oven.

Both of our pizzas had ground beef and freshly shredded mozzarela cheese.

Here are the results!

Dan's, with ground beef, sauteed mushrooms and red bell pepper.

Mine, with ground beef, black olives and topped with fresh sliced tomatoes.

Click HERE to see a real pizza-tossing pro. Maybe the music is the magic ingredient I was missing.

CLICK HERE FOR PIZZA DOUGH RECIPE.

Other Completed Daring Bakers' Challenges: Lavash

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Here and Gone . . . Just That Fast!

Tuesday night we expected to see Aaron and Snow pull up to the house, sometime after nine or ten o’clock. Marci was especially anxious to have them here, and we tried to keep her mind occupied by playing a couple hands of Canasta. Finally, though, since both Dan and I had to go to work the next morning, we said our good-nights, leaving Marci up to wait for the “kids.”

Sometime around 12:30 a.m., she got a phone call from Aaron, saying that they were only an hour or so from Albuquerque, but too tired to go any further. So they stopped and spent the night in the tiny town of Grants, NM. They planned to arrive in Albuquerque sometime before noon on Wednesday.

Marci called me at work on Wednesday, around 12:00 noon, to say that they had finally arrived, were hungry, and were heading to Chili’s for lunch. I told her I was about to leave work, and would meet them there.

We all pulled into the parking lot at about the same time. I had no problem spotting them – Aaron, our tall, handsome young nephew; his mom, Marci - also very tall and red-headed; and Snow, a petite, fashion-conscious young lady with beautiful, long, shiny, dark hair. Tiny as Snow is, she amazed me by putting down a full rack of her favorites - baby-back ribs - for lunch. Afterward, we headed to the mall; shopping is another of Snow’s favorites.


I enjoyed, immensely, watching how Marci and Snow, during our shopping expedition, began bonding as mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. After learning that Marci was looking for a pair of casual slacks, Snow was intent upon helping her find the perfect combination of pants and top. She encouraged Marci to try on lots of outfits, pushing Marci just a little outside of her comfort zone, but they were both having a lot of fun. In the end, Marci bought a pair of pants, but no top.

From the mall, we headed back to the house. Dan was home by then, and it was his turn to get to see Aaron, again, after his four-year absence from the States; and to meet Snow. Tim came over a little after 6:00, and we all six went out to dinner at El Pinto, one of Albuquerque’s historic and well-loved Mexican restaurants. It was Snow’s first experience with Mexican food (other than, I guess, a Taco Bell taco), and she didn’t find it to her liking. It wasn’t spicy enough, she said! She did enjoy the tortilla chips and salsa, and the sopapillas, though.

There were three talented mariachi musicians strolling around El Pinto, entertaining the diners. I tipped them off to the fact that we had “newly weds” at our table, and they came to serenade them with a love song. (The truth is that Aaron and Snow have been married nearly a year, now, but it is the first time the family has known them as a couple, so I consider them still newly weds.)
Back at home, after dinner, Dan and Aaron found a common interest in the world of computers, while Marci, Tim, Snow and I visited in the family room. Snow and Aaron presented us with a gift of a beautiful Japanese Chokin plate that they bought during their layover in Tokyo. (Thank you, again, Snow and Aaron!)This morning Dan and I left for work at our usual early hour, while the others caught a few more winks, in bed. At about 8:30, though, I received a call from Marci, saying they were heading out the door for the ten-hour drive home, to Prosper, Texas. It was a short visit, but one we'll always remember fondly.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

. . . And Still Waiting

Every day we think, "This is the day that Aaron and Snow will be heading our way." And every evening we find out, through some means (they don't have a cell phone that works in the US), that they are still waiting on the car's release. Marci is still here with us, and I sympathize with her motherly anxiety.

Yesterday, however, we talked with Aaron's cousin, Jacob, in LA, and learned that today (Tuesday) is really the day. They are supposed to retrieve their car this morning, after having been delayed these seven days, and they will drive until they get here to Albuquerque, probably very late tonight. Ironically, Customs warned them, yesterday, "It's ready, and if it's not picked up by 9:30 a.m., you will be charged another day of storage fees." Ha! That reminds me of my childhood pet dog, Fritz. I'd put a piece of dog biscuit on his nose and say, "Stay, stay, stay" (in Aaron and Snow's case, make that seven "stays"). Little Fritzie would obediently wait, quivering with anticipation and looking cross-eyed at that morsel. Then I'd say "Get it!!" and, quicker than lightning, he'd toss the treat into the air, snap his jaws open, and gobble it up.

"Get it!" Aaron!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Waiting for Aaron and Snow

Our nephew, Aaron (Marci's older boy), has been working overseas for a number of years. While working and living in Saipan, he met a young Chinese lady, named Snow (her anglicized name), fell in love with her and became engaged. They began planning for a wedding in Dallas, where Marci lives. However, the red tape for getting Snow into America continued to drag on for nearly two years. Therefore, part way through that discouraging wait, they decided to get married in Saipan.

But now, at last, Snow has the credentials in place to live in the U.S. Monday of this week they flew to California. Their intention was to pick up their car, which had been crated in, and shipped from, Saipan; and then to drive west, to Dallas. On their way they would pass through Albuquerque, so we asked if they'd spend the night with us on their way through. They happily accepted our invitation. We all, somewhat naively as it turns out, assumed they would get their car from Customs on Tuesday morning, putting them into Albuquerque fairly late on Tuesday night. But Tuesday evening we learned that Customs hadn't yet released their car, and wouldn't until they could get the car, and the crate it came in, x-rayed. Aaron was told it would probably be Wednesday or Thursday before he would have the car.

As anxious as we were to see them, we knew that Marci had to be ten times more anxious. She hasn't seen her son, Aaron, in over three years, and hasn't yet met her new daughter-in-law. So Dan called Marci on Thursday morning and asked her if she'd like to fly to New Mexico and be here when the "kids" arrived. Then she could ride, with them, on to Dallas. She thought that was a great idea, and was here by 4:00 Thursday afternoon.

All day, Thursday, our thoughts and prayers were with Snow and Aaron, who were, we assumed, driving west, on I-40, across California, through Arizona, and half-way across New Mexico (about a 12 hour trip), to arrive by 9:00 p.m. or so at our house in Albuquerque. Assumed, that is, until we heard from them, late in the day, that the car had STILL not been x-rayed or released. Disappointed, but not as disappointed as Aaron and Snow, themselves, we began hoping for a Friday morning release of the car.

Last night we got the phone call, telling us that the car didn't make it to the front of the line, yet, and, because of the weekend, Monday is the earliest possible day that it might happen.

As we wait, we are enjoying Marci's company. Aaron and Snow are fortunate that Aaron's cousin, Jacob, and his family live in the L.A. area, and have welcomed them into their home.

After such a long wait to get Snow's papers, and now this new obstacle, we're praying that they will get the car back in their possession as soon as possible, that they will have a safe trip on the road, and that their new life here in America will be blessed by the Lord.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

12 of 12 for October 2008

I have just posted my 12 of 12 for this month. I was a few hours into the day when I remembered this was the 12th, and realized there was some significance to that number! Luckily, I'd been snapping some pictures already, just for fun, anyway :-)

You can check out my day right HERE.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wordle - A Bit of Internet Fun


You, too, can make a "Wordle" (see word picture, above) by going to http://wordle.net/. Just play and experiment with it; it's cool! You choose your own words, the relative size of the various words, the color scheme, the general layout, and the Wordle tool puts it all together for you. Or, you can just hit "Randomize," after entering your words, and let Wordle generate a color scheme and layout for you. I had a lot of fun with it, and wanted to share it with you.

Oh, and let me warn you . . . it's addictive! Here's another one:


[Disclaimer -- People who use Wordle.com have the option of posting their creations to a gallery on the website. It is not censored, so browse the gallery at your own risk. I didn't see any bad ones in my brief look, but I suppose you could run into some.]

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Flower Vases, Fishing Line and Shotgun Shells

I’ve made some pretty goofy mistakes in my life. Two of them were centered around doing the laundry, and both of them were the result of having a cluttered shelf, attached to the wall above the washing machine.

In the first case, I had just started a load of laundry, out in the garage, where our washer and dryer were. Everything seemed just fine until the spin cycle, when I heard a terrible ruckus coming from the garage. I dashed out there, opened the washer, and discovered 3-inch long shards of clear glass mixed in with the boys’ blue jeans and T-shirts. Using my best Miss Marple sleuthing skills, I deduced that the flower vase, which had been sitting on the shelf above the washer, had at some point in time "fallen" from the shelf and into the washer (I’ve always wondered what prompted the vase to fall – any idea, boys?). I had not noticed it when I loaded the clothes into the washer. The vase went through the wash cycles, but when it got to the spin cycle, it crashed and clattered against the sides of the washer, breaking into a dozen or more pieces. I gingerly pulled the clothes out of the washer, and found that the glass has stabbed holes and shredded most of the clothes, beyond redemption.

The second incident was similar, except that this time just the end of some fishing line, which was, apparently, dangling down from the shelf above, got into the washer. In this case there was no noisy warning, but when I went to retrieve the clothes from the washer, I found an AMAZING mess. The end of the line had gotten caught up in the clothes and the spool had been pulled off, onto the floor. During the spin cycle, the line continued to be jerked from the spool (by now nearly empty) and was tangled, twisted and twirled around every piece of clothing, and the agitator, in such a way that everything inside had become one solid, conglomerate of clothes and machine. I would have tossed it all out, had it been up to me. But Dan, bless his heart, offered to spend his afternoon patiently cutting line and untangling clothes.

Which brings me to this news item I heard about today. Call it an effort to make myself look better, by comparison, but I just have to tell you about this lady from Washington state who was actually shot by her cast-iron wood stove this past weekend! She remembers spilling a case of shotgun shells a few weeks ago, and she supposes that one of the shells fell, unnoticed, into the pile of newspapers she keeps for lighting her stove. Just after stoking her stove, on Sunday, she heard a loud bang immediately before being shot, in her left calf, by a shower of shotgun pellets!

Source:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/10/08/ap/strange/main4510023.shtml]

Monday, October 6, 2008

Overheard III

The Balloon Fiesta Park is a gigantic area, so it's nearly impossible to stay together with your friends or family, as everyone wanders here and there, among the crowds, to see what's going on. Thank goodness for cell phones! I can't imagine trying to do this event without them.

On Saturday I overheard a lady talking on her phone, apparently trying to reconnect with family or friends. Here's what she said:

"Hi, where are you? [pause] Uh-huh. Well, I'm standing just beneath Darth Vader's right jaw."

Good thing she wasn't standing beneath Airabelle the Flying Cow; her location, then, could have been "udderly" embarrassing to describe!

(For previous "Overheard" posts, see Overheard and Overheard II.)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A B C D E F G . . .

video
Here's Sweetpea, performing her ABCs.

I'm soooo terrible at taking videos. We don't have a regular video camera, so this was taken with my still camera, which will take short clips, as well. But I need some training, obviously.

ANYWAY, the subject of my poor quality video is TOP BANANAS! They just don't come any sweeter.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

2008 International Balloon Fiesta

It's THAT time of year again - the opening day of the Balloon Fiesta. At 7:00 this a.m. the 650 balloons registered for this year began lifting off for what is known as the "Mass Ascension." The conditions were perfect - no wind at all - although there were a few clouds, as you'll see in the pictures. The forecast says a front is moving in this evening, though, which might cause problems for tomorrow's festivities. But the Fiesta is eight days long, so hopefully the rest of the week will be good.

This year we decided to sleep an extra hour, which meant we'd miss the Dawn Patrol, the dozen or so balloons that go up when it is still dark, to test the conditions and to put on a glow-show. We actually did see them, though, from a distance as we were waiting in line for the park 'n' ride bus.

Here are a few pictures from our morning at the park.

When we first arrived at the park, we stood in line to get some coffee and cinnamon rolls. But I was watching over my shoulder, as the Creamland Dairy balloon, Airabelle The Flying Cow, was inflating.

Here's Airabelle in the air.

This year I was determined to watch Darth Vader during his inflation and launch. Last year I missed it.

He's UP!

There were storm troopers and other Star Wars characters at Darth's launch site.

It wasn't hard finding Nemo!

I don't remember seeing the Strawberry balloon before. Maybe this is it's first year here.

The Wells Fargo stagecoach balloon is always a favorite. It's very large and hard to get into the air, so the conditions have to be very good, as they were today!

This is the first time I've seen this balloon, as well. It's called The Flying Cathedral, and is an amazing thing to see.

Looking at the Cathedral from the under-side.

An upside down pyramid.

This one makes me smile.

The ladybug wouldn't turn my direction, but even from this angle I could tell she was very cute.

This is one of the two bees, lying on its back, waiting to be fully inflated and launched.

Did you wonder who was holding the line you saw in the picture above? The balloon crews work hard.

The bees are some of my favorites. They inflate and ascend holding hands! After awhile, they separate and, if things work out well, the pilots maneuver them to kiss. The crowd always goes crazy when they manage a kiss.

videoThis is REALLY a poor video, but it might give you an idea of how excited the crowd gets whenever a balloon launches.



Here's a balloon just being laid out.





Thursday, October 2, 2008

Am I a Chicken or a Pig?

It was one of our elders, Tobey, who prepared and presented a devotional talk last evening, after our mid-week Bible study. His topic was “commitment.” I loved something he said: “When it comes to ham and eggs, the chicken is involved; the pig is committed.”

I’ve continued to mull over his thoughts. I’d like to believe that, when the cause is worthy, I am committed. But I wonder how often I let myself get by with being involved when I should be committed.

Involvement can, sometimes, fool the people around me into believing I’m committed. What’s surprising, though, is that involvement might even fool me into believing I’m committed. I hate fooling myself!

After giving it some thought, I don’t think I’m completely committed to very many causes. Considering the price that commitment might demand, that’s probably a good thing. I believe I’m committed to God, His church and His way. I believe I’m committed to my marriage and my husband. I believe I’m committed to my children and my grandchild. Am I committed to, or only involved with, my friends, my job, my dreams, my goals?

How do I know the difference? From now on I’ll give it the “chicken or pig” test. Am I willing to give my time, my money, my emotions, my energy, my things? Like the chicken, I may only be involved. Am I willing to give all of the above as well as my own self, if the need arises? Like the pig, I'm committed.