About me

Friday, December 31, 2010

The Season of Jim

A most excellent blogger, Crow, posted this video recently, surely to help me remember, though I doubt she knew she was, then, writing directly to me. She has her own trials and tribulations without any of mine to occupy her time and thinking.

I had seen the video before, and then forgotten all about it. Here at the end of the year, post-Christmas, on New Year's Eve, she reminds me that it's OK to be alone, that it can be quite healthy to be alone, and exactly just what being alone is, like almost every other thing in this world, depends on exactly, not one thing more or less, what we do with it.

After a substantial personal disappointment back during the summer, I decided that the next two seasons were mine, a Season of Jim. Some people have called that selfish. Narcissistic. Unfeeling. Unthinking. And many other negatively connoting words and phrases. Mostly, I've managed to encourage them all to kiss my ass.

Well, I believe the exact phrase has been "kiss my hairy ass," but that might fall into the realm of TMI.

So here we are at the end of my self-proclaimed six-month season of me. I see a few people more clearly. That's mostly good, but a some would benefit from a little fuzz in my vision. Some will never speak to me again, and I embrace, if not cherish, their silence. Most of you will simply nod and write this off as another eccentricity, a Jim-thing. I am quite fine with that.

You know what? I think I'm gonna be doing a little more of this. No need to fix what ain't broke.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Trying to recreate Grandmother's sweet potato pudding recipe

My grandmother, like most other grandmothers, was quite the cook. I've managed to recover some of her recipes from trial-and-error. (Rest assured that not one she would even consider using was ever written.) I've succeeded with chicken stew, which you might call chicken pastry. And I can make a decent biscuit, especially if I stick with drop biscuits OR OR OR I buy frozen dough.

Well, I am the black sheep of the family plan.

For years, I've been trying to make a sweet potato pudding like she made. My memory is faded here. We only had such puddings in the fall. So far, I've not succeeded, and I attribute this on-going failure to (1) my life in general, and (2) my lack of access to a potato field without being shot in the process. Why the latter? Because Grandmother always used jumbos for her puddings.

She used jumbos because they were not particularly valuable. In fact, they were hard, if not impossible, to sell because of the excessive size. City people had set notions on the appropriate size for a sweet potato, and you've likely seen millions of these in your grocery store. We fed the off sizes to the hogs. Later, the small sweet potatoes would become known as canners because a company opened nearby that would buy the small taters, process them somehow, and sell them in cans.

Jumbos remained the domain of Grandmother's kitchen and the hog pen. Bear in mind that my grandparents were products of Reconstruction. They learned to eat what they had, and they often had stuff that no one else would buy.

Of course, I have yet to meet adequate in my personal review on the sweet potato pudding, though each attempt produces a relatively good product that I always eat. Well, I lick the pot and bowl, but that's another matter.

Here's my latest attempt in living color.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A mystery looms in my life

My shower curtain is made in China. No surprise there. It even has a Made in China tag imprinted toward the top. Of course, and I'm rinsing my ponytail, I always see something else. Always. Why is that? Is the shower curtain trying to tell me something?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Making snow cream

Apparently, this is mostly a southern recipe. I'm not sure that I've ever heard the people in the snow belt talking of snow cream, though it seems unreasonable that they never made something edible from the snow. Well, except for pouring maple syrup on snow and calling it good, which I doubt it is.

Perhaps for us, it's the relative infrequency of a decent snow that is important. Often, our snow is mixed with sleet and freezing rain, and that makes the snow not so good for snow cream.

Today, we had a big, for us, snow, purely snow, and this afternoon, we made some decent snow cream.

I sorta followed my grandmother's recipe. She used eggs. My mother could not face the thought of eating a raw egg, and she withheld eggs when she made it.

They both used sugar. I would too, except for this trying to be good thing. I used generic Splenda.

You'll need

1. Some eggs. I used three.
2. Some vanilla flavoring. I used a big splash of artificial vanilla flavoring.
3. Some milk. I used the last of what was in the jug. It was skim.
3. Lots of sugar. I used generic Splenda.
4. Snow. I used what fell on my car this morning.

Mix 1 through 3 together. Well, not the shells, but you probably knew that already. Spoon in snow, and mix it well. It takes more snow than you think, and you'll want to add a little, mix, and then add more.

Here's the video with additional detail.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Remembering things in gardens

While taking a short break from work, I found myself visiting a couple of gardens. Well, two so far. Perhaps I'll be friskier when Christmas is out of the way.

First, there's the J.C. Raulston Arboretum, just a short walk from my apartment. Lately on these visits, I've been smitten with the bees. My grandfather was a bee charmer with many hives, and I have fond memories of gathering honey with him. No, I never have been able to charm a bee.




There's also what we call the Bob Garden. It's a low area behind a mall and next to some expensive housing. There's a pond full of catfish and ducks. Well, a goose or two also. I loathe geese. Well, except when they're in the oven.

The real name is the Greensboro Bog Garden. I don't know when Lily and Josh ever figured out that the name was not Bob, and Josh claims to know the correct name, but neither have fessed up to when their enlightenment finally came. Probably when they finally read the sign.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I hate snow

Yes, I do. A lot. We've had three snow event this December, and it's not even winter yet. I could just spit. Well, I already did. Might spit again. And then guess what? The forecast calls for MORE Saturday night. This is just SO wrong.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

My busy Saturday

It was one busy Saturday, even if we did short circuit one plan to visit Raleigh to watch Lil and Josh run in a foot race. They ran without me. Both finished. Josh ran on no sleep and little food, going back the last mile so he could finish with Lil. Now, that's a gentleman.

He was sleepless in Greensboro because of flight delays that left him sleeping on the floor outside security at Orlando. The only eatery that was open was a Starbucks. He hasn't forgiven them for the prices yet.

Meanwhile, I attended the counter-protest in Raleigh. Five haters from Kansas were in town to picket and protest the Elizabeth Edwards Funeral. Yes, Freedom of Speech takes odd turns now and again. Some 1200 of us appeared to physically separate them from the funeral. We also had Dykes on Bikes and Bears on Bikes (think thunderous), lots of vehicles with outstanding sound systems (think twang with techno tribal ), and one twink on an unmuffled scooter (think grumble bee).

The nonsense lasted some over two hours until the haters from Kansas left in the very cold rain.

Here're a few scenes from the morning.




Following the downtown protests, I found some dry clothes and lunch. I also fetched a half dozen kilts from the cleaner, but that's another matter for another day. Lily and Josh were on the road for a visit! When they arrived, we had a nibble, and Lily taught me how to manage the bread packaging in the fridge.




Then it was onward and upward! Time for Drag Bingo. Drag Bingo (www.dragbingo.com) is a local activity that raises money for HIV/AIDS education, and it averages about $10,000 a month, primarily because of the generosity of so many local businesses and volunteers. Every penny spent during the evening goes directly to Alliance of AIDS Services - Carolina (www.aas-c.org). That's a whole lot of money for a state and community such as ours, where haters lurk in most corners, and speaking of our ugly people from Kansas, they did not make an appearance in Durham, though the police were on the ready just in case.



That was one busy day.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I have found me a church

Like Betty Butterfield, I was out there looking for a church. Unlike Betty Butterfield, I found one.

Now, before you get all excited for me, let me perpetuate a stereotype: Straight people go to church while Gay people go to gym. That's not generally true, though it did make a good line in a movie you probably have not seen. Some straight people also go to the gym, if the ogling I see going on is any indication, and I'm here to tell you that some gay people go to church. I don't know why.

I was made to attend church when I lived at home lest I burn in hell for want of a Mother's love, and very little would please my mother more than for me to show up one Sunday and go to church with her, but it won't be happening, at least anytime soon, not so much because she wouldn't remember it, but because to this day, I loathe religion and the activities therein, aside from a peculiar interest in odd ceremonies.

With all that said, some 12 years ago, She Who Must Not Be Named decided that we could not longer afford the $20 a month for me to visit a local gym and stay sane on the StairMaster. Concurrently, the overseer at the gym would not accept a six-month membership even if my mother did give me the money. So I hit the streets to run, developed plantar faciitis, a nasty form of tendinitis, stopped running, became fat, and then old.

Besides, I could dig holes in the yard, move shrubbery about, and call it sufficient exercise, or so I heard almost daily.

The ensuing physical degradation took me from a mindset of one who could walk as far as was necessary to the fat and bitter old queen you've come to know and, in my dreams, love, if not in the coming then in the going. Many feel goods arose in the interim.

Two years ago, I gave up one feel good for another. Last January, I sought to drop the second feel good. Of course, a third feel good had to be found, and I took up stepping on puppies. Well, not really, but it makes a good story. Actually, I started walking. A lot. Enough to develop injuries, injuries that at one point left me sitting in a patch of blooming iris with fractured metatarsals wondering how I was going to get home. I keep waiting to see that security tape of a bitter old queen sitting in tears by the sidewalk bemoaning the fates to no one in particular.

Through the first six months, I changed shoes some four times daily to confuse the tendinitis. In June, Zappos with two pair of ASICS came to my rescue, though running remained forbidden. Then came heat of a very hot summer. It was glorious. Of course, hoofing through the world is a bit like trouble when the weather's bad, and with winter coming, I worried that I'd stop, fatten up, and adopt another feel good.

After some review, I adopted instead a gym about a mile from where I live. Lots of aerobic machinery. A decent amount of weight lifting equipment that I ignore. And most important, a fee that I could afford. And so towards Thanksgiving, I signed up.

I had forgotten how could it felt to sweat into oblivion. Folks, we were made to move, and move a lot. For me, the hour on the tread mill or bike is a moving meditation or, perhaps as often, the time to read the paper. Or listen to music. Or catch up on the news. Or otherwise mentally process the accumulated information of the day.

Some would correctly suggest that this is another feel good, and it probably is, though I suppose it's healthier than the previous. I do know it's made one gal far happier, and she doesn't even know it, that being the gal who studied her one research methodology class very well, but only gleaned the knowledge, not the wisdom therein. Why is she happier? Because I started each of our days together with a four-mile jaunt on a tread mill watching Angel, and I finished the day with another four miles watching Law And Order.

It was that or chase her with a stick.

So at the risk of being sacrilegious, I have joined a church here after 12 years of walking in the wilderness. There's a small monthly tithe and a minor yearly love offering. It's money, a very little money, well spent, especially a year into a state tax on smokes that makes us look like those northern states. And Canada.

And then it snowed. And did so in December. Go figure.

Friday, December 3, 2010

For whom the fire alarm tolls

OK, so I'm a few hours into an unexpected, and oh so needed staycay, glad for my large mug of coffee, cruising the net, reflecting on last night's comment on one of the essays in _The Fire Alarm Is Not Your Dinner Bell_, when BOOM!, off goes the building fire alarm.

Oh drat, I sort of thought.

Find shoes. Refill coffee. Get a sweater. Generally cooling my heels to let the first wave of humanity pass on the stairs. Besides, if it's a real fire, I can walk out on them.

So...the though...I am so full of it...let's make a quick vid. And so I did. In doing so, the fire alarm stopped, followed by the message telling me it was just a test.

I hate making memories.




http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/JimPenny