Category Archives: Life

DFW

In travel adverts we see beautiful stylishly dressed people walking along deserted white sand beaches.  On travel shows, the host chats with friendly locals who are delighted to serve him/her the fabulous local specialty.  That is the fantasy, the reality of most travel starts with an airport, much like this one.

Here’s your friendly neighborhood bar, although don’t get over-served or they will not let you on the plane (unless that is the captain on the next bar stool.)

How about a little overpriced food?  It’s your last chance for sustenance before you reach your final destination.

And if you are traveling on an overseas flight, there is the duty-free shop.   Who doesn’t need another pocketbook or some booze for the long flight ahead?

Ever wonder what the smartly dressed cattle would wear on vacation?

Here be a  dragon that guards the snacks.  I am old enough to remember when airlines served food (typically sort of bad food, but it was food) instead of tiny packages of pretzels.

And what airport worth it’s salt doesn’t have an enigmatic bit of art.  I’m not sure what it represents, except perhaps the experience of travelling.

Books

We’ve had a run of bad weather, first it was ice and snow, then it was gale force winds.  And what does one need to get through a stretch of bad weather?   Some people rush to the stores to get bread, milk and eggs, but I need to to have a lovely pile of books to set by my bed.  So this is what I have been reading.

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I haven’t gotten too far in Ancient Worlds, but The Invention of Murder is quite interesting.  One of the many points she makes is about the number of murders that take place in the novels of Charles Dickens.  She cites the original source material Dickens used, and it makes me wonder why Dickens is still popular (sort of, it’s considered literature, and good for one) while his other contemporaries have fallen out of favor.

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Rain Dogs is a mystery (my favorite genre) set in Ireland (which is almost as good as an English mystery).   Of course I love Terry Pratchett, this is one of his witches novels.   I did see a list recently in The Guardian where people talked about their favorite laugh out loud novels and I was surprised that his work was not included.   Go figure.

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There was not too much to read in this book, but it had some great inspiration to it.

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The quilting book also had some inspiring art, perhaps I will give this a go again sometime (I do have a rather large pile of unfinished quilts).  And the last book pictured is about French culture, it could be handy if I ever go back to France (in real life, not just in my imagination).   These were enough to get me through some rough weather, and now there is more possibly on the way.   I’m ready for that too.

books-blizzard

New Year

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New Year’s Eve comes with it’s own set of traditions, and some of my dinosaurs posed last year for this shot to illustrate them.   One tradition is the wearing of crowns, tiaras and silly hats.   Top hats have not been worn by regular people in my lifetime, but they persist as festive wear, a symbol of the holiday.  Such is the power of tradition.  People also have plenty of superstitions about what to eat on New Year’s Day to bring health and wealth (but mainly wealth).

And of course the other tradition is to drink champagne (or other alcohol) in copious quantities at midnight.   Also to make resolutions for the year, some sort of self improvement; like to resolve not to stay up until midnight drinking champagne.

Here in town we have another tradition.   A bunch of old guys hike up the mountain and set off fireworks at midnight.   As this is a social event too, they have staff and support people, but they still have to climb to the top of the mountain on a snowy trail.   As the top of the mountain is far away from town, it’s not quite as impressive a display as sitting underneath the fireworks on the 4th of July.  But I applaud their efforts, and as it is a tradition I stayed up until midnight to watch this.  [Sorry there are no pictures, it was dark out 😉 ]

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The dinosaurs were not feeling quite as festive this year, but they and I do want to wish everyone a Happy New Year.

Memory and food

I love church festivals, they were a major form of entertainment when I was a kid.   And I love food in general, especially when it is made with a helping of love.  So I was off this past weekend to the local Slavic Festival.   And where was it you might ask?   Way out in the country.

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That distant peak on the horizon is the 14000 foot mountain, looking kind of puny.   And what was I after?

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I actually went out there for the pierogis (potato dumplings), but these were not that great.  I make them with a thinner dough (and love), so mine are much better.  But the kielbasa and halupski (bacon, noodles, cabbage and onion) were outstanding, and the cabbage rolls were pretty good too.   These are not the kinds of food I ate as a child, and I probably wouldn’t have even sampled them.  But I have acquired the taste for these over the years  from when I traveled in Canada (pierogis in Manitoba) and Russia.

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At one point there were a lot of Czechoslovakian farmers in this area and they started this church.   And they have maintained a congregation for over 100 years.  The church is  is quite charming and exotic and  they got a huge turnout of people who remember this sort of food from their childhoods.  And even people like me, who don’t.

Just Peachy

Colorado peaches are an ephemeral thing, some years we have a late frost, so there are no peaches, or not enough rain or too much rain or whatever disaster is around.  This year I’ve gone slightly mad over the delicious Colorado peaches that are available right now.   The trick of course is to buy any entire box.   That way you know that these delicate fruits have not been manhandled by an uncaring produce clerk.   But then you realize that you have an entire box of peaches to peel!   And need to figure out what to do with their deliciousness.

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This bowl was blanched (dipped in boiling water for 10 seconds before plunging into an ice bath) and awaits peeling.

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Ten jars of brandied peaches,  little bits of summer sunshine to enjoy over cake or ice cream on a cold dark winter night.

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One of the jars of peach jam.   I had some on toast the other day and it was a delicious  treat (okay, I did put a splash of brandy in here too).   I did not photograph the sacks of peaches in the freezer or the peach barbeque sauce.   Hmmm, maybe I need another box 😉

 

Fair food

This week was time for the annual County Fair, so like the lemming that looks for it’s cliff, I was off the check out the fair and make sure that nothing had changed.  (Nothing had, really).

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It’s said that an army marches on it’s stomach, and so too do crowds of people.   This food booth featured things that it is possible to fry, and things that you might not think to fry, like pickles.   The various things on a stick, from alligator to chicken reminded me of a character in the Discworld novels of Terry Pratchett who offered a variety of things “on a stick”.

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And if you sell lemonade you might as well paint your business lemon yellow so you can’t miss it.

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If your food is All-American the Statue of Liberty can help you to sell it.

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If your penguins are overheating, then you must get them some shave ice.   And it was hot enough to overheat one’s penguins.

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And fry bread is not limited to pow-wows, but to make really good fry bread one must be an old lady (like me!).

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This was the only food trailer from a local place.   Their version of a small ice cream cone would be called a large anywhere else.   It’s so good that even employees from the rides came over to get some.   (I did mention that it was hot).

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Funnel cakes (I think this is pancake batter deep fried in a spiral and topped with powdered sugar) and corn dogs (hot dogs on a stick dipped in a cornmeal batter and deep fried) are traditional fare at the fair.   Really most of this food is not that great, being deep fried, but it is part of the essential atmosphere of any fairground or festival anywhere in the world.  Next up, the big one, the State Fair.

Sky

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Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

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Thou art more lovely and temperate.

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And summer’s lease hath too short a date.

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Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines.

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And often is his gold complexion dimmed.

 

Many thanks to Bill Shakespeare for today’s guest post!

Dreams

I just finished my stint of working on selling raffle tickets for a “dream home”.   The house is donated and all of the money goes to a children’s cancer charity, but it takes a lot of time from us volunteers.  So I had some time to think about the nature of dreams.

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This is the flyer that we gave to people to entice them to part with $100.   Doesn’t it look lovely with the mountains and pines in the background?   The actual home is in a bit of a depression, so I don’t think the mountains are visible.   It’s out on the windy prairie and all of the trees are spindly recently transplanted things.   Oh yeah, there are houses right next to it, about 10 feet away.

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Of course as it is a display home, it is tastefully furnished, and neat as a pin.

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And if you ever dreamed of sitting in the bathtub, AND being able to see your neighbors, then this house is that dream come true.

But the house is new and shiny, and we were able to sell a lot of tickets (but not all of the ones available), so I think we did some good. The winning ticket was plucked out of the bin by a young cancer survivor and was won by a person from the town south of here, so both of their dreams came true.

I have dreams as well, even if they don’t include this house.

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And this is how I dream.   I sometimes buy lottery tickets.  I don’t consider them to be a waste of money, I think of them as buying a dream for only a dollar.   With each ticket I imagine the fun I could have spending all that lovely extra money, then it is back to reality as I have never won and have a dollar less in my wallet.  (Each of these tickets had exactly one of the lucky numbers, and you need to have at least three lucky numbers to win a prize).  But it’s cheap fun for a moment.

Memorial day

Memorial Day means different things to people.  It’s the official (or semi-official) start to summer.  School is usually out and people take their vacations.   Many folks celebrate with a barbeque cookout and lots and lots of beer.   I decided to go to the local cemetery where they were honoring the soldiers of past wars.

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First up were the revolutionary war re-enactors.  I had a bit of a chat with them, I do have an Iroquois ancestor who fought with the Americans, so I could join the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution, a snobby sort of fossilized organization) if I ever lose my mind.

There weren’t any Civil War people, but there were WWI guys.

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They are not from the same time period, America did not officially enter the war until near the end, and the German is in a uniform from the beginning of the war.  I asked him if he was an ‘evil Hun’, but he denied it.   He said that he enjoys representing anyone other than the Americans, so he also has the uniforms of Brits and French soldiers.  His gear is both originals and reproductions.

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WWII is more popular with re-enactors and I think the stuff is somewhat easier to find.  When I was a young girl you could find this sort of stuff in antique shops, even original Civil War caps and such like.  (My uncle loved to go to antique and junk shops to look for the flotsam of the past.)

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This guy had bought an ambulance and had restored it.  The speedometer says that it could go up to 60 miles per hour, and he laughed and said that was a fantasy.  As this was a consuming hobby, I asked what his wife had got (instead of her own ambulance) and he said a Jaguar!   Seems like a fair trade to me.

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And we remember those who did not make it through the wars.

Memory and Food

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The memory of food is amazingly powerful and persistent.   You may not have tasted a certain food in decades, but there it sits, ready and able to be recalled.  And the desire exists to recreate the experience again.

When I was a little girl we lived in a working class neighborhood of old red brick housing, and many of the neighbors were  Germans and Poles.   We were poor as dirt and did not get a lot of treats, but payday was the special day and it always meant we would get some lovely thing to eat.  At least until my father drank up the rest of the pay.   There were wonderful bakeries that made delicious bread, crusty and chewy, that is what I visualize when I think of bread.   And then there were the pastries, something we might get after going to Mass.   Modern pastries may look like the old ones, but they taste nothing like the originals.   I saw a recipe in a cookbook from an old baker for Danish pastry and decided that I must have this one more time.

Real Danish involves making a yeast dough with eggs, butter and sugar and then layering in more butter, sort of like in puff pastry.  The cheese layer has ricotta and cream cheese, some sugar, but not too sweet.   So  this picture is from the first batch that I made.   It tasted like that way I remembered, with the goodness of butter and sugar, not artificial flavoring.   So I took this to my knitting group, because as much as I enjoyed eating these, I couldn’t eat an entire batch and still fit into my clothes ;-).   One of the older ladies in the group is from Austria, and this is the food memory she has of Danish as well.   She really raved about the taste and asked for the recipe, so that she can have the memory again too.   I wonder if the young people of today will crave the factory produced facsimile when they are old.