Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chili dog

Not a foodie entry, but perhaps could be construed as food related...

Our mimsical dog is of indeterminate heritage.  Miniature pinscher is pretty well certainly in the mix but her other characteristics have connoted pug or chihuahua or some terrier sort depending on who is looking at the time.

Now the adults in this household are fond of food of spice, simplistically put, we like flavor and if the flavor has a burn to it, all the better.  Resident Kid, on the other hand, breaks out in paroxysms of coughing and spluttering if the slightest burn hits delicate mouth.  Sigh.

I ventured into burn territory recently by picking up a lovely chipotle powder, deep smoky with a hint of chocolate in the flavor.  But quite burny in proper proportions.  So I use it sparingly and even managed a few dinners with a hint of smoke that have gone over well with Resident Kid.

I also am fond of wasabi and, on a recent trip to Portland I picked up some little Japanese rice crackers flavored with wasabi.  I tricked...I mean persuaded...a certain kid to try said crackers and I swear I could hear a train whistle in the distance.  I also had plain rice crackers that were much preferred by kid and munched by dog when her begging got the better of us.

One day I was munching the wasabi version when  little dog came by and very politely asked for a try.  Not really thinking, I gave her one, and then paused to think whether that was a good idea.  (After all, Doppler had gone for a roasting pan with roast juices in it that was on the very peppery side and he gave a hoot like a freighter when the pepper hit his tongue.)  I was fascinated to watch this dog tongue and mouth the cracker.  She never made a sound but ended up crunching it down and asking for more.  Resident Kid should take a lesson.

Back to chipotle, I bragged a bit about my insidious use of chipotle and brought out the supply to be properly appreciated by the other resident adult.  Funny thing, little dog saw the spice packet and very politely asked for a taste.  I stuck my finger in the baggie and held out a sample for her to try.  She licked my finger clean and politely asked for more.

Aye, chihuahua!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A chicken with her _________ cut off

Now be nice.  Think positive thoughts when you fill in that blank.


We have a flock of four lovely chickens.  These are Wyandottes (both silver and golden), which were bred in upstate New York as a more cold hardy variety and we thought they'd fit in well here in high, dry and cold Central Oregon.  We raised them from chicks, first in our bathtub, which earned me the title of Extremely Tolerant, and then in a variety of enclosures, finally graduating to a lovely coop with run.

The chicken run encloses a few volunteer and transplanted volunteer trees that are going on a handful of years old now and who are really showing their stuff in growth potential over the last year or so.  As a result we left a couple of gaps in the "roof" of the chicken run.  The other major gap is in the area over the door to enter the run. 

A little while back, I got a knock on the door from a mom of a family who recently moved into the neighborhood.  Resident Kid was pleased because the new kids on the block attended the same school so there was an instant network.  I answered the door and she said hello and by the way, there's a chicken in the alley.  I stupidly responded, "Is it one of our chickens?"  Duh, we're the only chicken owners on that alley...

I grabbed a can of feed corn, their favorite treat, and went to investigate.  Sure enough, there was one of our golden-laced Wyandotte ladies wandering the alley near the fence backing her run.  I didn't even need the corn because she was very happy to be caught and carried back to the run. 

Later we debated how she got out but, without witnessing the event, couldn't really say for sure. 

A couple weeks later, I looked out the back door and saw one of the silver-laced ladies pacing the run fencing on the outside of the run.  Obviously distressed, she too was pretty happy to be caught and put back with her fellow ladies. 

Finally, Resident Kid witnessed one of the silvers hop up on the edge of some boards we leaned against the coop to shelter their watering dish from the snow and vault out over the run door. 

The motivation for this behavior is obviously a version of the "grass is greener" syndrome with a major drawback being that if only one chicken vaults out of the run, she is too distressed at being cut off from the flock to enjoy the greenery...Leading, course, to her behaving like a chicken with her flock cut off.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Book report - The Lost Symbol

I just went on an escapist binge book-wise, perhaps a hangover from the nasty virus I dealt with early in pre-spring.  The latest in my string of perusings was "The Lost Symbol" by Dan Brown.  It has all the trappings of his previous thrillers:  the incredible deadlines, the frenzied dashes from place to place, the monstrous villains, the mistaken or hidden identities, the close calls, and the flashes of intellectual brilliance from our exhausted heros.  What fun!

As the wind dies down from the page turning race of Robert Langdon against the end of the book, I reflect on the ideas presented and enjoy watching for convergences in the information that flows through my life.  The PBS presentation on Buddhism was remarkably well timed for me to enjoy after finishing "The Lost Symbol" but I really don't want to say too much in the event that there are readers out there who are even slower at reading the best sellers than I am.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Interspecies Contagion

A warm and sunny day
We're driving in the city
Off to do some errands
Boy, the day is pretty

Sunshine in the windshield
I'm feeling kinda groggy
A yawn soon splits my face
Look, the same with doggy

Monday, April 5, 2010

If cats could whistle - 2

During the time between the introduction of New Dog and LWK's shadow boxing, the household socks stayed securely in their proper places.  (Proper place in this context means "where they were last left by a human," not necessarily where they belonged.  Further, I make no value judgments about the quality of housekeeping in our home.)  I started to hope that things were approaching a new normalcy when the first sock appeared at the bottom of the stairs well out of reach of the baby gate at the top.  This sock, upon closer scrutiny, was recently laundered and bore the unmistakable signs of having been "plucked."  Wondering if it was a fluke, I took it back to the pile of laundry on the folding table and found its mate and took the opportunity to fold the rest of the pile.

About a week later, with a fresh source now piled on the folding table, I found two socks on the stairs.  Neither being the mate of the other, I took them back and, once again, folded the pile.

The following couple of weeks was somewhat disjointed in the household with outside obligations creeping in and distracting us from our normal household jobs.  We were getting the minimum done we needed to be able to function (i.e. have clean clothes to wear) but the folding the pile was definitely low on the list of things to do. 

It seemed LWK was taking full opportunity of the lull in our attention to laundry folding because large collections of 3 to 5 socks appeared at the back door.  In fact, so many socks were being hauled up the stairs that I collected a big pile by the phone and soon was able to match pairs.  I have often suggested that every member of the household should contribute to the laundry process in some way.  I didn't expect the contribution to come from such an unexpected quarter, especially because the helper doesn't even wear clothes.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

An Old Found Land

I was cruising through my iTunes library this morning and stumbled across an album a friend had given me after her trip to Newfoundland a year or two back.  I had taken a trip there many years ago with my spousal unit and in-laws (though they might have been out-laws at the time) during the off season when everything seemed half-shut down.  We had a good time exploring the back roads and playing chess on a giant garden set that was the biggest I'd ever seen.  I'm a terrible chess player but that particular encounter left me with a much better understanding of the game, I think because I was actually on the battlefield.

Anyway, these memories came flooding back, not because the music triggered them in the way some people's memories are triggered by music from a significant high school encounter, but more in the way a string of related thoughts link together and tumble each other from the edges of your mind.  We were listening to a demo track that Wild Rye had recorded a week or so ago and iTunes popped up a tune by Great Big Sea after the demo track because I had left iTunes on shuffle.  Great Big Sea is a Newfoundland band that, on their debut album from the mid-1990's, sounds a bit like a collision between the Crash Test Dummies and your favorite pub stompin' ceili band.  Makes me wish I had been an Irish dancer back then haunting the pub scene in Halifax...

Friday, April 2, 2010

A read on the child side

I have a fondness for children's, or perhaps it's called juvenile literature...whatever...the stuff written for the 9+ crowd.  And it's not because I have a kid in the house of that general age.  I have found that this particular target audience has inspired some fun, whimsical fare. 

A few years back I stumbled across the Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage.  I think I was actually in a Harry Potter withdrawal at the time and looking for something to fill the gap between books in that series.  I had passed over the Septimus Heap books (I seem to recall there were only one or two available at the time) because here was yet another series about magic and wizards and young wizards growing up, but I ended up buying the first book, Magyk, for kind of a silly reason.  The book was nice to hold, short, squat and fat.  It turned out to be a fast read and very fun.  I passed of off to my then precocious 7 or 8 year old reader, who read the first chapter and didn't want to read anymore because the main character dies in the first few pages.  What kind of a story is that?!

It was a couple years before I could convince a then older and wiser reader (who read the Fellowship of the Ring and loved it) to pick it up again.  Once the death scene passed, the rest of the story seemed to catch hold of that young imagination.

I don't want to talk too much about the story because of all the twists and turns and funky happenings (or are they fun key happenings?) and I wouldn't want to spoil anyone else's enjoyment but I recommend that you read it with a British accent in mind (assuming that my readers are predominantly of the US ilk) it seems to make the humour that much more funny.

We also are a fan of books on CD or otherwise electronic form.  You can probably track these down on CD but they are easier and cheaper to get from iTunes.  We had a great time last summer on a road trip listening to Magyk.  The person that narrated it produced some fairly unique personas for the various characters, but the most hilarious is the voice for Marcia Overstrand, the Extraordinary Wizard.  Perhaps I betray my age when I say that she ends up sounding exactly like Paul Lynde, but the effect is very entertaining.  Unfortunately, the narrator changes for the recording of the second book so perhaps someone else didn't think the effect was quite as charming.

Anyway, the series is fun overall and the stories are quite detailed and complex so you end up getting a lot of adventure in spite of the big type.  I hear a movie is planned for 2012 or thereabouts -  hopefully they don't Hollywoodize it too badly, but that may be a vain hope.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Slipping into spring

Slipping into spring is about
Escaping winter's glower

The sun shines overhead
And all the world's a-flower

This year is a bit different
My life's quiet from the hype

Of work and hurly burly
And so I write this tripe

April 2010