Category Archives: Doings

Dino for a day

Everyone who was ever a little kid knows how fascinating dinosaurs are. Giants who once ruled the earth, now extinct (maybe) and existing only in imagination, what’s not to like about them? So I spent a day indulging my love of these prehistoric beasts.

The local dinosaur museum does not have any actual dinosaurs, but it does have rather a lot of bones, including my personal favorite pteranodons. (Dear other dinosaurs, yes I love you too).

The museum is located in a mountain town, up the pass, a gateway to tourists seeking the great outdoors.

This dino is much closer to home, in fact, it’s right in my neighborhood. All lit up for the holiday season, I decided that I must pay these dinos a visit.

How serene a scene.

It was a cold night and I was almost alone with the beasts, freely wandering among them.

What’s more adorable than a newly hatched baby dino? I guess my secret is out, these dinos are part of a miniature golf course. And I did get a hole in one, so now I am part of the tribe.

Italian for a day

I finally noticed that it is quite close to being Christmas (that ubiquitous music was my first clue) and so I decided that I must drive south to obtain some tamales before it is too late. (If you don’t order them in time, there won’t be any for you). So I called up a friend and asked if she would like to go along, and she said “yes”. And she had other goodies in mind, so off we went.

And what she was in search of was Italian treats. So the first stop was a tiny old-fashioned corner store that has been there since 1921. I know that Dean Martin is an Italian icon, but I did not realize that this was also the case for Bing Crosby and Elvis.

I did stand in the long line to buy a few treats, but they had been sold out of her favorite since 9:00 am. But this was not the only game in town.

So off to the tamale place, only to find that they were sold out. Fortunately, there was another batch steaming away in the kitchen, so we paid for some to be picked up later and then it was off to yet another Italian store.

Eight miles out of town was this family-run farm stand (it’s actually a giant steel barn). It was loaded with everything one needs for a festive feast, freshly made cookies and confections of various sorts, locally produced jams and jellies, frozen ready to bake pies, and much, much more. This was definitely the place to be.

There were the bakers rolling out long strips of dough to make potitca (yes, spellcheck that is how it’s spelled). What is potitca? Well it’s some sort of yeast dough that is traditionally covered with finely chopped walnuts, sugar and cinnamon, then rolled into a spiral and baked. And it is necessary for Christmas! We bought some (and a few other interesting things that they had) and it was back on the road to home. Mission accomplished.

Making crafts

Besides making the occasional piece of art, I make a lot of crafts. What is the difference between art and craft? That depends on who one asks, but in general if a piece is decorative, useful or made by a woman, then it’s craft. And here is what I have been up to.

I did not make this quilt top, but I did all the stitching that holds it together. I have a giant industrial sewing machine and I move it around (by hand) to sew the patterns. I used to do this for customers, but I rather lost interest when computers became common for quilting. I only quilt for myself and two others now. The owner of this top said that my name was in the “Navajo Times” for some quilting I did for her, so I guess I am famous for quilting. 😉

I always say “If you can wrestle an octopus, you can knit a sock,” because I use five needles for this sort of knitting. Some of my friends like to knit the sort of things that are art, but I stick to the practical and mundane.

So this is my most recent project, indigo dyeing bits of fabric. I have done lots of dyeing with chemical dyes, but this type of resist dyeing was a first. These bits are not exemplary, but I love them and can’t wait to make more and sew them into some sort of project.

And then there is this sort of craft, done using a machine (laser cutter). I’m not really sure if it counts as a craft, because I had to learn a computer program, and it was somewhat automatic from there. But this is unique, and I caused it into being, so I suppose I can include it.

This really had minimal input from me, it’s someone else’s program and I made no changes to it. What is it? Why it’s a 3-D printed DNA cookie cutter, but I did sit there and watch the machine do all the work. Perhaps that will be the way of the future, but I hope not. It is interesting to see a machine make something, but I have much more appreciation for items that show the maker’s hand.

Cooking

My friend D called me last night to say that something had come up, would I like to take her place in a Thai cooking class? Well of course I said yes! I love Thai food. So this morning I got up early and hauled myself over to the class. Me and seven other women were there to learn how to prepare these delicious Thai dishes. A pair of us were assigned to each of the recipes and this is what I made.

Yes I know that this does not look like much, but, it is red chili paste, the basis for many different recipes. The hard bit is having all these weird ingredients on hand (galangal, lemon grass, shallots, chilis, etc.). I chopped thing up and then whizzed it into a paste with a hand blender (my partner had toasted and ground the spices).

This was being made by another group, and was for a pork and noodle salad (much tastier than it sounds).

This was shrimp and pineapple fried rice, served in a pineapple bowl. It’s a lovely presentation, but I am not the sort of cook who fusses much with the appearance. If food is good it quickly vanishes.

Here’s our tasting plates: shrimp and pineapple fried rice, laab woonsen (pork and noodle salad), tom kha gai (coconut chicken soup). And all of these were quite delicious.

This was the one I worked on, beef Massaman curry. It has thinly sliced beef, white sweet potato and onion, cooked in coconut and beef broth with the delicious red chili paste and other spices. It’s served with toasted peanuts, cilantro and chopped up hot chili. Although I had carefully chopped up the chili per the recipe, neither me nor any of the other diners added this to their curry.

There really wasn’t anything difficult about these recipes, other than they were multi-stage preparations with weird ingredients. So I think that I could make this again, after a trip across town to the local Asian market. I probably shall do this, someday, perhaps.

Fair

Since people first started doing agriculture, there have probably been harvest festivals. Here we have a similar event, the State Fair (without all the pagan stuff of the original harvest festivals).

Yes it features all of the essentials of a good fair, with plenty of free attractions, as well as the sort that cost money. Last November when I was taking the shuttle from the airport there were a number of folks travelling to Pueblo to pitch their acts. So I did hear quite a bit on the trip about the business of being a professional stage hypnotist. Apparently only one of the guys was hired.

This was a troupe of incredibly cheesy cowboy actors, who staged a little shootout between evil do-ers and the good guys. I was quite surprised to see that they had fans of their little melodrama, who knew? (Or imagined this was possible).

Also in the cheesy entertainment category are the racing pigs. Now the pigs themselves are adorable as they run around their racetrack, all for the prize of a cookie (surely it’s not good for pigs to be eating cookies). But the cheesy part of the show is the announcer. He gives the pigs ridiculous names that are puns on the names of various celebrities, while giving out a line of patter. To engage the crowd, he appointed one person from each section as cheerleader. If one’s pig won, the cheerleader was given a plastic pig’s nose to wear while doing a silly dance. It was a prize most coveted by the under 5’s.

What would a fair be without rides? It’s all part of the tradition.

And then there is the food; various foods that are fried or served on a stick, but are an essential part of the fair experience. This stand was serving up all-American Mexican treats, fried sticks of dough covered in sugar. Things that one might never eat if not for the fair, it’s all part of celebrating the bounty of the harvest (and perhaps an echo of the pagan celebration after all).

Out to lunch

One of the good things about having a service dog (even a temporary one like Ace) is that they can go anywhere as long as they are wearing their vest. I had to pop in at the local art museum, and as they have have a rather nice restaurant, it seemed like the perfect place for lunch. And with a service dog I can sit inside, rather than being banished to the outside patio.

This is their take on French onion soup, which is one of my favorites. It was dark and delicious, chock full of caramelized onions.

Because I was sharing I decided to order the burger instead of the salad that I wanted. Again, they serve such lovely food at this place, the burger had pickled onion and peppers on it, and arugula instead of plain lettuce.

You can see how mouth-watering the food was. (Ace could hardly wait to get his portion.)

The most peculiar thing about dining at this establishment is the mural. Who on earth thought it was a good idea to have a man’s butt front and center? Oh those crazy 1930’s bohemians. The amazing bit is that is has featured here in this bastion of conservatism for all these years. I suppose it is ‘artistic’.

Ace took no notice of the surroundings however, so after our repast we went on our merry way.

Ace

It started out innocently enough. I ran into my friend J at the grocery store and she had a service dog. I said something to the effect that I didn’t know that she needed a service dog, and she said that she was just training the dog, getting him ready for the task of helping some unknown person.

So then we had lunch about a month ago and she asked if I would consider hosting a service dog for a short period. I have been looking for a new dog and haven’t found one (the dog must be well behaved, not a pit bull and have floppy ears). So I said yes to the foster, and now Ace resides at my house.

He’s a two year old chocolate lab. This is him hard at work at a class we went to (too bad I wasn’t working as hard).

We had been out shopping and he was just sitting in the car while I put everything away. If he is wearing his vest he can legally go anywhere, so we have run a lot of errands together.

He is pretty good looking and everywhere we go people tell him how handsome he is, but he hasn’t let this praise go to his head (so far at least).

He does get plenty of beauty sleep, here he is taking a quick nap, but he is ever ready to spring into action if required.

He is a fully trained service dog, but his first owner didn’t bond with him, so he came back to the trainer. Now he is studying for a new task, and soon he will be on his way to his forever home. But in the meantime, I am enjoying his company while it lasts.

Books

Besides just being a writing conference, surprise, surprise, there were also books for sale. And me being me, I just had to acquire a few new books (also a surprise). So what did I end up with?

Okay, perhaps there might be a few clues to improve my writing in this tome, which was the reason why I was at this event.

This book was also recommended in one of the seminars, but it was the cover that really made me purchase this. 😉

I sat next to this writer at one of the meals, and he gave me this book because we both think that dinosaurs are cool.

At another one of the meals I sat between a writer of “scientific” vampire stories and a writer of vampire erotica. (Scientific means that he created a plausible scenario for vampires to exist, and he deleted all of the Hollywood vampire tropes. Watch for his series V-Wars on Netflix.) For some reason they did not discuss the differences in their vampire stories. 😉

I also bought this book, because he had given me the free one, so I wanted to support him.

Not shown are two “romance” books that I picked up. They seemed involve erotic possibilities rather than love, and I threw them away because they were boring. I much prefer a good murder mystery (preferably set in England, because we know how murderous the English people are). Who knows what this says about me, perhaps I shall write a book about it for the next conference. Or not.

Write On

If you are reading this, then you have perhaps realized that I am not much of a writer. Here’s a small sample:

This picture hangs in a museum. Underneath the portrait someone composed a poem, in latin no less, about what’s going on in the picture. And one is invited to write their interpretation of what’s going on in the scene. And this is what I wrote:

In spite of all this I had decided to go to the local writers conference to see if I might pick up a few tips. The speakers were all quite serious, the agents were all quite serious, the editors were all quite serious, the writers were all quite serious, and then there was me. I like to focus on the peripheral.

One of the coffee urns had this interesting replacement pull (I’m not sure if is a monster, or perhaps some sort of intergalactic mermaid.) No one that I showed this to had even noticed it.

The parking lots at this fancy hotel were all down hill, so I did a bit of hiking through the cars. And you know how much I love window stickers. I’m sure that this car owner was attending conference.

If you’ve ever been to a conference banquet, then you know all about the rubber chicken (I wish to state for the record, that is not my rubber chicken!) (No offense Floyd).

If rubber chickens can come to these things, then surely Pteri would be welcome. (He is my emotional support dinosaur, so I really should get him a tiny vest).

So did I actually learn anything at this event? Yes. That I probably will have to keep limping along in my old style, with an eye for the oddities of life. And that is not all bad, at least from my point of view.

Making Art

I like to draw and I like deer (but I don’t really know how to draw them). But there was a ‘photo of the day’ in the newspaper (yes, I read a physical newspaper) recently of a rather nice looking stag, so I decided to try to draw him.

So I made this drawing in my sketchbook with a watercolor pencil and I liked it so well that I decided to do another version of it.

This one was done with watercolor pencil and ink on a postcard. I was going to send it to a friend, but I thought it turned out rather well, and I was afraid that I could never do another one quite as good (probably true).

So I decided to try and draw this image in different ways. Here he is in watercolor and ink with a red stripe outline against a dark background.

And here’s the opposite, a dark deer against a light background. (I don’t really like the way this one turned out, I think I should have used a different color for the light and made the darker bits darker. Oh well, that’s another drawing.)

This was a different sort of image, abstract blobs of color against a pale gray background, outlined in black pen. The antlers are a helpful clue, one can guess that it’s a deer.

I found it interesting to try different ways of doing the same image, and I hope that I learned enough to make another ‘good’ drawing. Perhaps I will send the postcard to someone, someday (but not today). 😉