Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fast away the old year passes

Hail the new, ye lads and lasses.
More of those covers are here.
"Deck the Halls" is used as a Christmas song, but it's as much a New Year's song. Since before anyone can remember, there's been something about babies around the time we now celebrate as Christmas and New Year's. There is birth and rebirth, and another rebirth every year. So there's Jesus and then there's this baby 2009. Neither will be a baby again. Deborah Cunefare sent me something very interesting, which included the two illustrations at the right, and some others. (Click those to see.) Thanks, Deb! There's another baby to come, in February. He's not usually so young, and he's more dangerous, though I note 1918 has a sword, over there.
From there on, not counting some baby chicks and ducks (made of marshmallow, pretty much) about the time of the crocus and daffodil, the year gets older and older, so rejoice in the baby stages. Babies grow up faster and faster.
By the time it's 2009 at my house, New Year's day will be half over in India, and mostly over in New Zealand, so my baby new year is one of the youngest of all! Have a great day and month and year, all o'ya'll. Thanks for visiting my blog.
P.S. I'm back. I forgot to mention that Holly has named her laughing, peeing doll "Dezmond" (from an Irish boys' names site, because he came from Ireland), and his laugh reminded us of this video, which can be the soundtrack of a Happy Baby New Year!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas 2008

Good, long, tiring day. Very nice day here.

Many DVDs, CDs, books, some tools, some clothes, good candy, a sewing machine (for Holly), new Rock Band drums and a "drum throne" (adjustable stool with nice padded seat for Marty), twelve string guitar (for Brett). Waffles. Prince. Donovan. Norse metal (and pirate metal?) and The Killers and Disney movies, Tenacious D... Humor and music and love.

How Holly came to receive a certain gift, a doll from Dublin, designed in Spain, made in China....

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Lights and invisible tree

With the flash, so you'll know what I'm going to show you:

The silvery thing is a stainless steel shield boss (domed center for a medieval shield), a gift from Duke Artan to Bardolf (translation: from Jeff to Marty), and the flat steel to the left of that is the shield it's going to go onto. They're going to get together to build the shield later.

I'm thinking everyone should put stainless steel things under their trees, though (not that I have "a tree," but no matter...) because look what the lights did on the steel, or what the steel does to the lights, or something:

Here's what the whole thing looks like (or looked like, for those who will see this after daylight on Christmas) in the dark, and what Keith looked like Saturday morning before he went to the Midwinter Feast:

And last, earlier tonight in Old Town. I didn't take a lot of pictures. I took a photo of some joinery in a beam and of some luminarias (farolitos, they're called, further north, but not in Albuquerque). These were taken from where I was standing in a passageway in Old Town, one of the places we stopped to sing. We saw more beautiful things, but it wasn't a good night for photography.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Holly bought a little tree

With the money Holly earned at work, she has bought Christmas gifts, but with the money her grandparents sent her, she bought a bonsai fig tree.

It's going to live in her bathroom.

I took those two photos above
but here's one Holly took
of herself and her tree:

Friday, December 19, 2008

Bizcochito amendment

Not to the recipe; that's fine. To the pronunciation guide.

("Munch, munch, munch a buncha Fritos
Corn chips...")

Friday Fill-Ins These just aren't funny.

When Kirby was little, I would sing the Jetsons theme song to the Flintstones tune, and vice versa, and he did NOT like it and wanted me to stop. Poor guy. And same with this. There are RIGHT ANSWERS. And they lead to good music and great memories and Bethlehem when God is ceremoniously a baby every year and I'm not screwin' with these. I love Christmas music. This is hard for me.

1. Said the night wind to the little lamb, you and I don't have souls, so don't get too excited about all this.

2. The first Noel the angel did say was not in English.

3. Go tell it on the mountain, Over the hills and everywhere,
Go tell it on the mountain that if I don't mail those last few cards today or tomorrow, they won't get there, so I shouldn't be goofin' around on the computer.

4. It came upon the midnight clear, that glorious song of old, from angels bending near the earth to touch their... (Oh. I need to go to the lyrics game now.) .

5. Don't use saturated fats, Let your heart be light. (not counting bizcochitos)

6. And the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing
Hey ringa dinga ding, sweet lovers love the spring??
(This one I don't know at all, unless it's something about sympathetic bells without ropes or clappers.)

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to looking back with satisfaction on the fact that all the cards and letters have been mailed, tomorrow my plans include mailing those last few cards if I haven't done it already and Sunday, I want to not be kicking myself for those cards still sitting here.

or, ideally, tonight I'm looking forward to looking back with satisfaction on the fact that all the cards and letters have been mailed, tomorrow my plans include nothing particular and Sunday, I want to keep just hanging out with my family doing more of nothing particular.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A New Calendar

...and a new book by Pati Nagle.

Pati sings with us and we've known her for a long time. She has a new book coming out in March, and has a calendar designed to go with this new world. It's cool. Click it to go to the site for more about the books. (I guessed from the art here that it was about vampires and sex. We asked Holly what she thought and she said "vampires... (I prompted her for "sex") and she said "Vampires, sex and the Civil War?" (Pati has written historical novels about Civil War battles in New Mexico.) But the art on the website is more fantasy/Tolkienesque and less vampirish.

You can get a 5.5' x 8.5" glossy calendar, too, by requesting it at that page.

And what am I doing? (This being my blog and all...?) Poking around my friends' webpages, drinking tea, looking at the rain outside, thinking I should mail a few more Christmas letters and cards before it's too late. Holly's asleep, Marty's asleep, the house is very quiet.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More snow bits

Monday morning:

Monday evening:

Tuesday noonish:
Icicles forming on the plastic above the compost pile by the drain in back: [this was a slideshow from photobucket that doesn't show anymore; the next one, too. I'm leaving the code because it might be recoverable later; see gallery option below.]

Water bouncing up and forming a raised edge of ice around a bucket in front, ice on the plastic netting, and the sky becoming blue again.

"Shadows" of objects, where the snow didn't fall. Inside the pan is a curve from the tub above. Under the pan is a place where the snow never fell. And it makes patterns as it melts, too.

Added in 2024, a gallery of the folder in which the linked photos abide. It will have the photos that used to be here, but I'm not sure which they were. Click the upper right to escape.

Snow photos from 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Peace and Prosperity

I got a thank-you note and a pointer to this blogpost: It's always good to know someone has gained peace and fun from things I've written, but it's sad for me to go to a less radical site and see that people are so at odds with their children. There's nothing for me to do but keep doing what I'm doing, though.

Holly got her first paycheck last night. I went with her so she could deposit some in savings and cash some out. When she worked her lucrative babysitting job last year she was paid in cash (often in ones because the dad was a DJ and paid her with his tip money). This new one was a corporate real check. She and Marty have gone Christmas shopping, and he will take her to work afterwards, and go to his Thursday roleplaying session.

I'm feeling jumpy and unsettled, and am just using that energy to do little things I've been putting off—things that don't take long. It's kind of a nervous nesting feeling, like I should stay home and gather, or daub, or fortify. Like some cave-mom instinct I can't read. I'm trying to feel it rather than ignore it. It seems winter-related. Maybe changing sheets would satisfy it some.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


This year's first batch is done, and I thought about how I'd like to describe it to people who aren't from New Mexico. The word is pronounced beece-co-CHEE-toas(t) (I can't think how else to show "-tos" to have an s and not a z sound at the end, but the first syllable rhymes with "peace" and the last sounds like "toast" without the "t").

Yeah, that's all true, but here's something easier: Say BiscoCheetos but say it like the Frito Bandito.

There y'go.
Bizcochitos are the state cookie of New Mexico (since 1989).

I've had this recipe since the late 1970's, and I'm going to describe the way I've come to make them. There's a printable recipe with more details at
1½ cups sugar
1 pound (2 cups) lard
6 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons anise seed
2 eggs beaten
¼ cup brandy

Measure the brandy out into a small container and add the anise seeds. Cream together lard and sugar until smooth. Add beaten egg, brandy and anise seed.

In a separate large bowl, mix the baking powder and salt into the flour. Combine. If it's too stiff to hold together, add a little more brandy. If it's too sticky, add a little more flour.

Roll about ¼" thick and cut with cookie cutters. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake on ungreased cookie sheets at 350° F for ten to fifteen minutes (until the bottom is slightly browned).

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A little bit of snow

People who don't live where it snows see the dramatic and artsy snow photos. They don't get to see what a tiny snow does. This was snow after rain, so where it's wet, the snowflakes can melt into the water. There's snow on the roof in the background. That's the north side of the house. Surfaces that collect a lot of heat (concrete) will melt snow first. Wood, plastic and plants will collect it early. Fence wire and string collect snow, and it can pile up high on something narrow if there's no breeze.

Here's a bale of straw, and snow on two bare branches above it.

On chrysanthemum and strawberry plants.

Snow isn't always beautiful. I'm almost always glad to see it, but it's not always Christmas-card snow. It does somewhat water the yard, but it can be dangerous too (for walking and driving). Sometimes, in the desert, it doesn't water the yard because it evaporates instead of melting, but there's usually *some* moisture kept, and it doesn't run downhill like rainwater does.

Holly was just called in to work. Marty's watching The Office (American, on a Netflix deal through XBox 360) Keith came home early so we could pick his motorcycle up from the shop where they rebuilt the engine. I put it on my charge card so I can get Amazon credit. I'm listening to The Blue Sky Boys, farting around on the computer and doing a load of laundry. That sounds terribly non-productive, so I'm going to get up and go make Christmas cookies!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Marty, pretzels, rainbow, dog

The one on the left with it combed to the side was not the serious version. With it just combed back and falling naturally, I liked this haircut but Marty didn't, so it was made "finger long" (just a 1" soft all over, pretty much, with the neck shaved) just before he went to work, but I didn't take another photo (yet).

Here are last night's pretzels. Too fat. Advice welcome. My guess is we used too much yeast and didn't make the ropes of dough thin enough. They tasted good, though. We used egg white and water to glaze, and for the salt to stick to.

I don't know if this will show well, but we have a crystal in the kitchen window that makes prismatic rainbows all over the place when the sun is right, and Holly was standing with rainbow on her face that matched her shirt. Behind her is the library (the room above the garage), which opens off the kitchen.

And the last bit of photographic record of the past many hours is the frame of a dog statue being created at the Highridge Theater. There are two or three dog movies coming out, and they're building a dog, out of PVC pipe, cardboard boxes and chicken wire. I don't know what they plan to put on the outside. It's right on the carpet, so something that's not messy, I presume. They're building a cardboard archway over the ticket-taking station, too. (I don't expect it will look like cardboard when they're done.)

And here's me, looking into the eye of my camera, pondering what's what. And I finally figured out how to get the photos directly into the computer! "Directly" isn't the best of terms for it, but the HP import software that came with the printer can see the camera. The operating system itself doesn't, and the disk that came with the camera doesn't know what to do with a Mac, and vice versa. But the camera's USB presence has been adopted by the HP Photosmart Studio, and that's good enough.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Christmas Meme, Mimi (shut your mouth, it's Christmas)'re with that yuppie scum (my favorite line from "Rent")

I lifted this (including most of the red and greenness) from Frank who got it from from Holly. It's the Christmas Meme.

Twelve Things of Christmas

1. Real tree or artificial? Not artificial tree. Last year we had a real one, but this year we have another person and more furniture, and the kids preferred my illusionish tree anyway. It's not an artificial tree, but it's not a real tree. We've used it four or five times before. I described it on this blog in 2005. Click the tree for more info on the tree you click. (It doesn't work for all trees, and oh yeah—that's not a tree anyway.)

2. When do you put up the tree? Second week of December, give or take a week.

3. When do you take down the tree? Soon after New Year's when I'm lucky.

4. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Some of one and some of another, and sometimes cloth. Depends on the gift.

5. When do you start Christmas shopping? October.

6. Who is the hardest person to buy for? Me, probably.

7. Easiest person to buy for? Holly.

8. Angel on top of the tree, or star? Star. Two cardboard stars fastened together on the top half, open on the bottom, covered in foil paper, many years old. Homemade star. (Only in years of real trees.)

9. What is the worst Christmas gift you ever got? A microwave, because I don't think appliances should be Christmas gifts for moms. Appliances should be the everyday offerings of the supplicants who want their clothes washed and their food cooked and their dishes washed. It was a cool microwave, but it should've come out the day it was bought and been just a thang.

10. What is the best gift you received as a child? Tricycle.

(Frank's books looked quite like my books. Perhaps those were generic-ish photos, or perhaps I have generic-ish books.)

11. What is your favorite food to eat at Christmas time? Bizcochitos. I haven't made any for a few years. I've been buying them at Garcia's up the street, but I think I will make some soon. They take anise seeds, and if you're making your own they can have brandy. When I was little I used to see them very often made in the shapes of card spots (diamond, heart, spade, club), and I looked and looked for cookie cutters like that. Apparently they were common in grocery stores in the 1950's, but I didn't find any until just a couple of years ago, in an antique shoppish indoor fleamarket place. Woohoo! So this year, I think. And lard. They'll be little bundles of deadly sin with cinnamon and sugar on the top.

After writing this post, I found some cupcakes on Neopets that have directly to do with all this. Card spot cupcakes:

12. What do you want for Christmas this year? Having just gotten a new phone, I'll be lucky if I get anything else, but what I'm really hoping for is that all my kids will like what I got them.

Here's an old-time Friday Fill-In, from last year. The blog owner's dad was in the hospital last week, and maybe there won't be a Friday fill-in this week, so I've brought #51 from last year.

1. Snow makes regular things beautiful.

2. I'm looking forward to my oldest, Kirby, visiting in January, and most of the Sorooshian family, too!

3. Dark chocolate is the best gift ever!

4. One of my favorite old tv shows is WKRP.

5. I'm done with non-recovering alcoholics.

6. The most enjoyable thing around the holidays is The MUSIC!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to learning more about my camera phone, tomorrow my plans include a movie with Holly (if she's not working) and Sunday, I want to gather up all the little piles for the thrift store that are started around the house, take them in, and while I'm there look at some cloth (maybe yard goods, maybe bedspreads or tablecloths, maybe skirts or dresses with lots of cloth).

Thursday, December 04, 2008

New Phones

Marty and I got new phones today. It was quite an ordeal, reading all the options before we went, looking things up, asking for advice, deciding this way and that way. Sheesh... I'm excited but exhausted, and I have a steep learning curve here. I was familiar with my little Gilligan's-Island-playing phone without a camera, but now I have a camera that's also a phone. I got a "Motozine," a Motorola ZN5 and then Marty and I went to Blake's to sit and eat and see what we could figure out.

Mine works! (Marty's works too, but he sent it to other people than to me—a photo of me holding my camera with a photo of Marty on it.)

I'm so tired, and hours and HOURS of phone thinking, looking, talking, trying... I remember when the kids were little and they would be more tired after a load of thinking and learning than from physical activity. I feel like that.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Neopets and the Sky (unrelated)

This is a big Neopets day/month. I know a couple of families just started playing recently, so in case you didn't know, every day in December there are gifts (and points some days) at the advent calendar:

You might want to bookmark that for a month.

And once a month (that would be today, again, or anytime during the month) there's a treat and some points here:

Here's what the sky looked like yesterday afternoon. It was pretty impressive. Most of the sky was clear but there was one BIG cloud over the mountains—not touching them at all.

click to enlarge