Monday, April 26, 2010

On a Rainy Day

I recently discovered my homemaking side. I started knitting. And even though my niece says that I am doing that sixty years too early, I find it enjoyable and relaxing. I frequently will spin my recumbent bike, listen to an audiobook, and knit at the same time. Windows 7, eat your heart out!

Once in a while, when I feel the need for peripheral human interaction, I will go to a local Starbucks with my knitting, have some coffee, and watch unruly children run around and scream, all the while their parents are talking about the evils of capitalism amongst themselves.

Call me antisocial all you want, but to prove this accusation baseless, I will tell you that I made a friend! Her name is Wanda. Wanda is an elderly thin woman in her early 70s, who always sits by the fireplace at the above mentioned Starbucks and knits prayer shawls for a local hospital's chapel. I have always thought that it is very altruistic of her to donate her skills and time like that. Wanda has another talent: she makes my day a little more surreal every time I speak to her.

Today was one of those days when I was feeling a bit lonely and wanted to be among people. I took a shower, got dressed and drove 4 minutes downhill to reach the coffee shop. I walked in, put my laptop on a very comfortable armchair by the huge fireplace with a stone hearth and went to get my tall, extra hot, double cupped, one pump vanilla, light caramel caramel macchiato. My friend Wanda was already there, knitting as usual. I got my drink, which, by the way, was NOT extra hot, sat down and took out my unfinished black sock.

-Hi Wanda!
-Oh, hello, hello! Did you bring your homework today? (I am not sure what she is talking about).
-No, not today, just knitting.
-Is that cashmere? (feeling my knitting with her fingers)
-No, Wanda, it's alpaca.
-Alpaca? that's a good choice.
-Uh huh, it's soft and wears nicely.
-Such nice cashmere.
-It's alpaca.
-Oh, alpaca!
-Yes, Wanda, I bought it from a guy who has a herd of them near Salem.
-That is such nice cashmere... (still holding my knitting). Well, I will let you get back to your homework. (I still don't know what she is talking about.)

And so I started knitting... These will be awesome socks. From alpaca.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sir Winston Churchill Speech - We shall fight them on the be

We will fight them on the beaches...

I am in a strange mood today: contemplative and a bit nostalgic. I was reminiscing about my growing up in the streets of Kiev, terrorizing the neighborhood kids. Growing up there is inseparable from the World War II. You are reminded of it everywhere: street names, countless monuments to soldiers, frequently unknown, and the people themselves. The horrors of WWII live in the people, there is not a single person who somehow hasn't been affected by it.

What does one do when they are in a mood such as this? They go on YouTube to look for videos and music to nurture their mental state. As did I. I went on YouTube. There I found videos about that war, I also found Winston Churchill's famous speech, now known as "We will fight them on the beaches..." Wow, what a guy! It gave me shivers and inspired me. It also saddened me.

Where are Winston Churchills of today? Today, when we have our President bowing down to every third world nation leader? When we cannot name things by their true names. Today, when our soldiers cannot fight without being persecuted for doing their job?

Will we ever be able to fight for our existence again? Will we ever stand up and fight them in the hills? We will fight them on the beaches...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Flowers are Pretty

I had an interesting day yesterday. Well, interesting is an overstatement, it actually ranged somewhere between amusing and appalling. Let's start with interesting.

I love gardening. Our house, however, takes up most of our huge 5,000 sq ft yard, and leaves very little place to actually plant things. In addition, where that little piece of useable space is mostly shaded and the drainage sucks, so whatever I plant just dies, but I persist. Even my back lawn is completely dead right now. It's a sad little patch of brown and grey with a few tiny islands of green grass fighting for life. Hmm... Maybe it's me, but we'll come back to that.

I went to Home Depot to buy my gardening supplies. I bought (and loaded in the car myself!) a huge 50lb bag of potting soil, some pretty flowers, lawn seed, and organic fertilizer. Yes, organic... Don't judge me please. I am not a hippy, I don't wear hemp dresses, birkenstocks and am allergic to patchouli oil, but I like organic things. Who knows why.

I pierced the bag of soil with my little soil scoop and threw it in my pots and watered it. I had some river rocks laying by one container, which got some water on them and were glistening. After some deliberation, I decided to remove those and make my back patio nice and uncluttered. I bent down to pick up the rocks. I picked one, then next one... Then I noticed a particularly shiny medium sized rock and thought that it was aesthetically pleasing. I reached for it and picked it up and jumped with terror. It felt firm, but with some give, springy and very, very slimy. I threw it on the ground and by then it stopped the charade and showed it's true face. It was an ugly giant slug! I ran into the house to scrub my hands. Then I thought, "Should I kill the slug? Is it too ugly to live?" The decision has been made. I grabbed my container of iodized salt, I am not sure of iodine significance in terms of slug murder, but I grabbed it anyway.

When I got to the back yard, the slug has crawled about half a foot away! That's extremely fast for a slug. He was a champion. But I showed no mercy. I poured my iodized salt over it and turned away to avoid watching it die. And so it did. It died a silent death. I felt bad afterwards: guilty and even a little sad. I got over it. Now I look at every little rock with suspicion. Oh well, maybe I will get over that too some day.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Global warming and Intimate products

So I had a hand surgery three weeks ago, nothing super terrible, but rather painful and inconvenient. You can see on the picture my dressing and sausage fingers. I also insisted on writing "NO" on the unaffected side, to prevent the well meaning surgeon from amputating the wrong hand.

Since I did not have to slave for my food after the repair, my circadian rhythm reverted back to my normal one, and I became a nocturnal animal: much like a raccoon, except I didn't dig in the garbage. Yet.

So, it's 3AM, I had enough of my internet buddies and was on my couch, half asleep, watching reruns of Married with Children. That's a great show, Al Bundy was the last American male, a true man's man. But I digress. Just as Al got his newpaper rolled up under his arm and was heading upstairs to do his business, a commercial came on. It was for Al Gore's (no relation to Al Bundy) global warming movie. Inconvenient something or the other. Right after that, a "instantly warming intimate gel" was advertised. I can't quite recall who makes it, but I thought, wouldn't that be great if Al Gore came up with "Al Gore's Global Warming Gel" for all your intimate needs?

I don't know if anyone else will find it funny, but it amused me. So I laughed at my own thoughts and dragged myself upstairs to brush my teeth, snuggle up to the fuzzy creature in my bed (AKA my husband), and get my 12 hours of beauty sleep.

Monday, April 19, 2010


I am not a huge fan of pizza. It doesn't mean that I don't like it, but I wouldn't kill for a slice of Dominos or Pizza Hut. To be honest, I don't enjoy ordering, waiting, and getting room temperature pizza at my door, AND having to tip for it! Yes, I sound cheap, but only because I am.

So the other day I was driving, singing along with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and it occured to me: make your own pizza! And so I did. I started with the dough, which, of course, is necessary for the crust. I bought some bread flour at New Seasons, threw that in my breadmaker. Then I added a couple of table spoons of wheat gluten flour, salt, and yeast. Kneaded it all with some filtered water and put it an oiled glass bowl to rise. About 40 minutes later, I folded the dough. It felt so good: light, fluffy, yet strong and stretchy at the same time. In another 40 minutes, I folded it again. Then stretched it threw on some pizza sauce with fresh basil and garlic, shredded mozarella, roasted garlic, and some fresh yummy tomatoes.

While the dough is doing it's rising and developing gluten, I preheated my oven to 500F, which, by the way, is VERY hot (I learned that when I opened the oven door and accidentally brushed against the inside of the oven. So, don't stick your hands into a very hot oven.

When the pizza had it's toppings, in the oven it went. After the first 10 minutes of baking, I rotated it and let it sit there for another 10 minutes. It turned out amazing! The crust was light, with a gazillion of huge bubbles. It was stretchy and crusty at the same time!

I forgot to mention that if you attempt that at home, you should either clean your oven before heating it that hot, or disable your smoke detectors... Mine went off about 6 times, but, strangely enough, my neighbors didn't complain.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you make a pizza at home.