Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Preparing for Pandemic

A few years ago, after the Bird Flu scare, I quietly did some internet research and created a flu kit with instructions for home care of flu victims, OTC medicines, and other items one might want to have on hand if quarantined to the house in a major flu epidemic. I've used it often, especially the recipe for home-made re-hydration solution. Now with the Swine Flu outbreak I wonder if I'll get to put my flu kit to the test.

I've heard CNN is getting ready for the pandemic too. The Las Vegas Sun reported this morning that "CNN already has graphics and theme music." I'll sell the popcorn!

Frosting Covers a Multitude of Sins

Seven years ago on this day, I gave birth to a son. This means, of course, that I must celebrate the event by baking cupcakes and delivering them to his school.

I'm not a cake mix kind of girl. I like to bake from scratch, using cookbooks handed down to me from my grandmother. This can present a problem since kitchen equipment is just not what it used to be.

In the "American Home" cook book printed in 1966 there's a recipe for "Busy Day Cake." That's for me, I thought. I sifted the ingredients into the bowl, added shortening and milk, then got out my electric mixer. "Mix by electric mixer for two minutes, or 300 strokes by hand," said the directions.

The batter was THICK. After about 30 seconds, I could smell the motor in my electric mixer burning. When I stopped it, tendrils of smoke wafted into the air. I resorted to hand-mixing, counting out loud to 300 while my three-year-old laughed at me.

I filled the paper liners in the cupcake pans about half-full. Then I put them in the oven. Ten minutes later I went back to check and the cupcakes runneth over. Yea, verily, they looked like little shitake mushroom caps spreading on top of the cupcake pans.

After the cupcakes were baked and cooled I cut off the crispy edges and eased them out of the pans. They were a funny shape, but frosting covers a multitude of sins. With blue frosting and green sprinkles, they still look pretty enough to eat.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sorry, I Don't Read Your Blog

To start out, I'd like to thank all 789 of the absolutely unique visitors who have been to my blog (statistic courtesy of Google Analytics). I do wish I had time to return the favor! I just wanted to say I'm sorry, but in those two or three hours you spend every day surfing the internet, reading blogs and the like, I'm trying to write a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel for readers age 9 - 12.

According to Google Analytics, exactly seven people on the whole internet have actually read the first chapter of that novel which I posted some months ago on my personal website. That's okay. It's only draft four. Wait a month or so and I'll have draft six ready for volunteer test-readers!

Harp Memories

In honor of my recently departed, lovingly crafted 36 string lever harp, here's a link to a couple of audio files I made using it:

The First Nowell

In The Bleak Midwinter

And if you enjoy these you can all thank Pmom for asking if she could hear me play sometime.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Now We Are Thirty-Six

with apologies to Mr. Milne

Creep, creep, the wrinkles creep
And grey creeps in my hair
And round my waist, and at my hips
I'm getting wider there.

If I should go play tennis
Next day it is my luck
To feel as if my arm had been
run over by a truck.

My children jump in to the pool-
I think the water's much too cool.
Instead I sit and read a book
And think about what I should cook.

I used to go to plays and shows,
go dancing, singing in the street.
It seems like too much trouble now-
I'm just feeling kind of beat.

If I should live to seventy-two
That means I'm half-way there!
I think I'll sit and rest a while
And ponder o'er each weary mile
That lies behind, and still ahead,
Or maybe I'll just go to bed.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's Only Pain

My allergies are winning. At dinner tonight, my husband passed me the broccoli and said, "Wow, you look really bad!"

I know I do. I looked in the mirror when I washed up for dinner. The skin around my eyes is blotchy, red, and swollen. It takes all the self control I have not to gouge my eyes out with my knuckles. I meant to go to a show tonight, but it is an outdoor show and I think that if I sit for two hours in the pollen-infused wind my eyes will swell shut.

My eyes feel better when they're closed. Maybe I should go to bed now.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Goodbye Harp

Cracks appeared several months ago in the soundboard of my big lever harp. Last night the cracking got so bad that the harp won't hold tune anymore. I tuned it up one last time and played it for a while, then got startled out of my seat by a loud snap as another section began to splinter.

It lasted five years - not bad for what it was. My friend Heidi James and I designed it on a whim and she spent three years off and on in building it. After I adopted it I continued to work on it, adding levers and reinforcing the pillar. There's nothing I can do about that soundboard, though. The corner of my front room is going to look very empty without a big harp in it.

I am considering buying a new soundboard ($70) and rebuilding it. A new set of strings would be nice too. Or maybe I should wait until I get an advance on my first novel and just buy myself a new one.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

With This Thermostat, Dare I Say It ...

My power company sent me a flier in the mail about a new energy saving program. If I sign up, they send a technician to install a free programmable thermostat in my home. This thermostat is linked to their computer system, and during peak demand times it will go into "conservation mode." The rest of the time, however, it is mine to control! Bwa ha ha ha ha!

Sounds like another good idea for a science fiction story. What if Nevada Energy wants to take control of the Las Vegas Valley by threatening to shut off all our air conditioning units and cook us in the summer heat? Some clever main-character will have to foil their dastardly plan by figuring out how to disconnect the thermostats and hot-wire the air-conditioning units.

I don't think the literary agents will be lining up for that one.