Saturday, March 31, 2007

Seven Things Saturday--Week 5

It is far too easy for me to find seven things every week to give away.

Clearly I have way more junk than I had realized. Thank goodness for this project.

F0r this week:

TWO lampshades, brand new, that fit no known lamps in our home.

TWO Asian chotchkies, one Thai and one Japanese, given to me by very sweet students. Have collected dust on bookshelf for far too long.

TWO black purses, one leather, one velvet. Both have traveled with me to abodes in three countries; neither has been used more then three times.

TWO Christmas chotchkies from the top shelf of my closet--one cookie tin and one Dickens-themed tea pot with no lid.

ALL are on their way to Salvation Army Thrift Store, which I'll stop by on the way to the knitting demonstration that I am about to do with others from my Kaffee Klatsch.

I should be home working at the computer--but I won't be.

Total this week: 8

Total so far: 39

Friday, March 30, 2007

Odes to Spring--the Winners!

Yesterday it looked and felt like spring.

Today it snowed.

But signs of spring are unconquerable. I checked my email just now and saw that the finalists to the Prairie Home Spring Poetry Contest (Lhude Sing Cuccu) have been announced. Alas, my 20-minute dog poop poem did not emerge as a winner. Did any of you enter? Does your name appear on the winners' list? Is there a Bed of Roses in your future?

I am still feeling punky from my lovely spring cold, so I didn't work as hard as I should have this Friday afternoon/evening and instead watched a wonderful French film (J'adore Audrey Tautou), made apple crisp and knitted.

I am doing a four-hour knitting demonstration tomorrow at a local fiber arts gallery/show, and I am not sure what I will take as a working piece. Certainly not the bizarre black hat (with faux fur trim) that I am knitting up for a new friend who is sort of middle-aged Goth.

Need to go sort through yarn and needles and patterns....

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Home of My Own

Having spent my entire adult life in rented or provided accommodation, I have an intense yen to have a home of my very own.

While my employer-provided housing is very convenient, efficient, comfortable (and virtually free), it is not mine. Nor is it anything that I would chose, given a chunk of money and time.

(The image? NOT my house. An amazing Earthship I found on a Belgian Earthship web site.)

I am very lucky to have been providing housing, and I know that this opportunity elevates my security and financial stability--but I also wonder what it would be like to put down roots, to make a real connection with a place, to invest myself in my domicile.

When in these increasingly frequent moods , I dream, I fantasize, I surf--and I find marvelous--and probably unaffordable--ideas: Solar Row in Boulder, an Earthship in Taos, a co-housing community where I'd find new friends to garden and recycle and knit and cook with.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Wild Thing

You Wild is an initiative from Defenders of Wildlife to raise awareness about endangered species and about our connection to all wildlife.

It is also really, really fun. You can upload your photo and morph it with an animal of your choice. I couldn't find a photo of my current face, but I did find a baby picture. If you click on the link above, you'll see what a great looking chimp I was.

I've had a soft spot for chimps ever since I took a group of teens for a week of service to the captive chimp sanctuary in Alamogordo, New Mexico four years ago. At the time, it was the largest captive chimp sanctuary in the world, home to over 250 abused and ailing chimps who had been used for experiments by US pharmaceutical labs and military.

Now renamed Save the Chimps, the organization's goal is to build families out of chimps who have lived most of their lives indoors in isolation and then relocate them from what is a fairly harsh environment in New Mexico (a former experimental laboratory that looks like a maximum security prison) to a better place: a group of islands in Florida.

I worked with the group for two years, organizing two week-long service projects with my own students, and the school where I work continued to send volunteers down for two more years, Sadly, this year, we didn't send a group, but the work at relocating the chimps continues and is very successful.

I learned a lot about chimps through the volunteer work there--and I also met some amazing people who see as much value (or possibly more value) in chimps' lives as they do in humans' lives. It was humbling to be around such selfless people who are absolutely devoted to helping creatures who are helpless and in great pain.

Even if you don't think you could ever be interested in chimps, I recommend you take a look at Next of Kin: My Conversations with Chimpanzees by Roger Fouts. It is an amazing story and a great read. The cross-species communication will make you think.

Monday, March 26, 2007


It was inevitable.

I overextended myself last week, so of course my immune system has decided to have a holiday. Major sore throat last night, stuffy head and very gross post-nasal drip all day long. I feel grouchy and very, very ill.

I am online in search of effective treatment.

My Slovak grandmother's remedy was a fairly lethal two-step concoction: (1) a drink of hot water, lemon, goose grease and whiskey and (2) Vicks Vapor Rub smeared all over the chest and onto an old sock, which was tied around one's neck. Mmmm. I think I may even have some Rub in the cupboard--but the goose grease is going to be a challenge.

My father's remedy is garlic soup in a chicken stock base. This one is fairly effective and fairly palatable. And when one's congested, one can go extra heavy on the garlic and not even notice (although everyone else around one will). Alas, I just don't have the energy to cook*--and I am a bit afraid of the Wal-Mart chickens to which I have ready access.

I did take echinacea as soon as I started to feel my throat go scratchy and have had several capsules since--but I am a bit sceptical as to the effectiveness of that herb. It doesn't seem to be doing anything at all.

As an alternative natural supplement, I think Mom prefers zinc, although the Mayo Clinic seems to doubt its effectiveness as well.

In Googling around for other remedies, I discovered the following fun items:

  • According to the Mayo Clinic, glands in one's nose and sinuses produce 1 to 2 QUARTS of mucus a day. And that's when one doesn't have a cold. The production only increases when the body tris to clear viruses or allergens from one's nasal passages.

  • The Mayo Clinic also has a lovely video demonstrating nasal irrigation (nasal lavage) for adults. Not very tempted, although it looks very effective.
Do any of you have any other remedies which you have found helpful? I'd love to know. Sniff.

*Spouse, bless him, cooked dinner: a British fry-up (fried mushrooms, tomatoes, bacon, eggs, bread and canned beans), and somehow the smell of bacon even penetrated. I ate it all.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Food Fight

Just had huge fight with husband.

Post Hell-week, I made a meal using up the leftover rice and leftover potatoes that were still in the fridge:
Two different items, two different flavors, two different colors. Served it up, looking healthy and appealing. Smelled great.

Spouse shoveled up a forkful of one dish and then added a good helping of the other onto same forkful.

The same forkful.

Why did I bother making two things? Why spend an hour cooking two dishes when I could have made one thing with one taste in 20 minutes?

When I pointed out that I had made two dishes from two different recipes and that each had a different taste to enjoy, my spouse told me that I was being too directive. That it all gets mixed up in the digestive process anyway.

Maybe so.

But he is now going to be a recipient of one-pot-meals until he begs for mercy.

Grounds For Your Garden

My northern Michigan hometown--which used to be a rather charming backwater--now boasts a Home Depot, a Wal-Mart and a Starbucks. It has become Suburbia without being in proximity to an Urbia. Huh.

But this morning I learned something sort of nice--or at least sensible--about the new Starbucks from my mom.

Starbucks, Mom informs me, will give you 5 lbs of coffee grounds for your garden when you purchase a cup of coffee. Upon goggling this, I find that they've been doing this for years--but it is new to us, since Starbucks is new to town.

Mom is working in the garden today because it is a balmy 52F out. Dad's brought out the patio furniture so that they can lounge in the new spring sun.

Mom's grounds are still warm from the brewing. And Mom is too impatient to actually compost them. (At the moment, her compost pile is frozen). So she's digging the grounds directly into her garden. We are not sure this will work ("Does lettuce like coffee?" she asks), but she reports that the new garden smells pretty good.

I'm back!

The International Board is gone. I got my life back this afternoon, and now I have to catch up on all the things I have been ignoring since last Wednesday.

I'm a bit sleepy and overwhelmed--not sure where to begin. I need to dig out from under my backlog and also keep up with this week. It's all a bit scary.

What I really want to do right now is catch up on the blogs I 've missed last week and cook something really spicy.

And drink Scotch--which I didn't think I liked, but I now have in abundance. My excellent South African house guest brought us a huge bottle of single malt, and we savored a bit into the wee hours on Friday night.

And then I was awarded a bottle of private label blended Scotch last night by the Major General, who thanked me for "keeping the troops in order."

I was bossy as hell all week with people who were intimidatingly important. An ex-SAS guy actually came up to me (as I was hunting for him, since he was late for a meeting) and ask me if he was in trouble. He absolutely was. And I told him so.

It was like herding cats. I think I prefer teenagers--who are moodier but less maddeningly independent.

Seven Things Saturday--Week 4

I continue with the project a bit late this week—but here they are:

1. Aluminum tent stakes which are not macho enough for my spouse. We now have very, very big steel ones that go into rocky New Mexican ground, so we don’t need these wimpy ones that actually came with our tent. Salvation Army Thrift Store gets these.

2. Kitschy metal flowers that I had outside in a pot one year during the drought to break up the horrid dusty brown. But this year we have real flowers and even rain! Salvation Army Thrift Store gets these, too.

3. Le Nozze di Figaro —full opera cassette tapes and libretto book—sold on eBay; payment pending.

4. Cosi fan Tutte-- full opera and libretto on cassette tapes – listed on eBay, didn’t sell, so off to Salvation Army. One can’t list cassette tapes on or Amazon—the technology is too old. I am offloading these lovely operas because last week I offloaded our only working tape player.

5. Brown wool skirt purchased at Salvation army for $1; worn several times, but difficult to iron and not as flattering as I need it to be…so back to Salvation Army it goes.

6. An Illustrated History of Australian Cricket which has been in the bookshelf for years, has been listed on Amazon and and has never sold. Perhaps there is some Australian cricket fan other than my husband in New Mexico who also shops at the Salvation Army Thrift Store.

7. Set of four VHS tapes of lectures on understanding wine which had been listed on Amazon and and eBay—never sold. They are rather old, but the information is still rather interesting. Maybe the Salvation Army shopper who likes Australian cricket will also want to learn about wine?

Total this week: 7

Total so far: 31

Friday, March 23, 2007

Up for Air

I have 45 minutes until the next event--and not enough braincells working to tackle the next project on the pile on my desk. All is going smoothly with the international visitors, who are a very nice and impressive lot. But I've lost my lipstick and my hairbrush and I am wearing yesterday's shirt. And I smell.

Last night, I sat next to a former Norwegian Minister of Education and Church Affairs and of Petroleum and Energy and a retired British Army General. I took them to the local New Mexican family restaurant for the margaritas and the good green chile. Unfortunately, the green chile was a bit too hot for the General.

And in between meetings and during the cocktail hours, I've been hanging out with Dr. Rodrigo Carazo (a former president of Costa Rica) and his wife Etsrella--charming, beautiful people. Luckily I have been to Costa Rica (for only eight days!), so I can ask some questions that are not completely clueless.

Have been doing mostly Girl Friday-type things--copying, phoning, scheduling, reserving, herding, corralling, bus driving--and also hosting a social event each evening.

One more very full evening and another very full day--and we'll be done.

Can't wait until Sunday.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

First Flower

Our first flower of spring has sprung--the first timid daffodil.

My life is not my own this week, as I troubleshoot logistics for an International Board Meeting of about 40 people from about 20 countries (including at least one former Head of State and a Baroness).

We are 120 miles from an airport and 60 miles from a classy hotel. They arrive tomorrow (to a New Mexican welcome of Frito Pie and beer!), and I am their slave (aka copy girl) until Sunday morning.

So, no cooking or knitting or cleaning or blogging for me.


I'll miss you all in the meantime, and I'll post if I can....

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Braai on the Cobb

The last two days have been glorious—it was around 74F (that’s 23C) with clouds (unusual in New Mexico) and mild breezes.

We put the screens on the windows today so that we could have them open (otherwise the dreaded stinkbugs totally take over my house), we turned on the sprinkler for the first time (water restrictions which have prohibited watering anything for the last four summers have not yet gone into action), and we grilled/barbecued/braaied.

“Braai” is the South African term for cooking outside over a heat source. I use the term because my grill is a South African product, and it is fairly amazing.

It was developed for use in rural African villages where fuel is scarce—and so it is designed for maximum efficiency and limited fuel. It is called the Cobb because it was initially designed to cook an entire meal using a few corn cobs.

Tonight I cooked two huge steaks and four potatoes using only seven pieces of charcoal—and the Cobb is still hot enough to cook more. To compare, my last charcoal grill—a Weber Hibachi—generally used 20-30 briquettes for the same menu.

The Cobb is designed with a fuel holding area surrounded by a moat; the moat is a space where I can bake potatoes, roast vegetables, etc.,while I grill meat or other veg above the fire (see picture below—I didn’t have any nice potatoes for good jacket potatoes, but I had some oldish, shriveled ones that I peeled, brushed with olive oil and sea salt and wrapped in foil; I know: cooking in foil weirds me out too, but it works well here).

Instead of using the uniform, pre-formed briquettes that I grew up with, I have switched to natural hardwood charcoal. This means that my fuel is real hardwood as opposed to…what ARE briquettes, anyway? They’re not really wood. Some kind of processed wood product?

I first used natural charcoal when in South Africa at the Kruger National Park (which is, I think, my favorite place on Planet Earth). There was a local economic development scheme in the park where people were combining forest management with the local production of natural charcoal—and the charcoal worked beautifully. Ever since then, I’ve been sold on “real” charcoal.

But back to the Cobb: the Cobb is great because it is very portable and easy. I first bought one for my Dad to use on his wooden boat—it is self-contained, so you can grill ANYWHERE, even on a lake in a wooden boat.

I then bought myself one, not only for use at home but for use while camping--see the carrying case? It just goes in the car with the tent and the cooler!

As noted above, it takes very little fuel and is relatively safe in my dry climate because of its efficient, self-contained design.

If you are interested in getting one (after this stupendous, pro-bono product endorsement), I got both of mine from but have also just discovered The Cobb Store.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Seven Things Saturday--Week 3

I'd almost forgotten! I got rid of my stuff so early this week that I'd forgotten that today's the day to share.

So, in adherence to the rules, here is this week's offload:

For the first four, I have no pictures (because I completely forgot to take them in the delight of ridding myself of four things!). They are two CDs I sold via Amazon Marketplace and two that I sent off in Lala trades. These were CDs we owned but didn't listen to--so no difficulty there.

But the rest of the load was a result of a major closet clean out. I have a guest coming next week, and I couldn't even close the sliding closet door in the guest room. Most of it was just stupid--empty boxes saved for shipping or gift-wrapping, etc.--and much of the rest just needed to be organized better. But the salvageable/donateable were:

a mostly functional boom box (the tape-player and radio work; the CD player does not); a hand-knit bag with a backgammon design (???); two old racquets (squash?) that no one ever uses; an adapter from my early days that would let me use an MP3 player in a tape deck (since our old car had only a tape deck); and a red and black Chinese runner, a gift from a student that was very sweet but that we just haven't used. All went to the Salvation Army Thrift Store with no qualms whatsoever.

Total this week: 10
Total so far: 24

Friday, March 16, 2007

Flower Power

Educate me.

My local Wal-Mart sells bouquets of Colombian flowers for $3.88.

That is pretty darn cheap. What used to be an unaffordable commodity for special occasions now becomes mainstream: I can afford to have fresh flowers in my house all the time, and so I do--for less than the price of a few cups of fancy coffee at the local coffee bar.

Having just read The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World's Most Powerful Company Really Works--and How It's Transforming the American Economy, I also know that Wal-Mart is not making any kind of sacrifice in offering me this low, low price. It is able to offer this low, low price because it has driven down its own costs by demanding lower and lower prices from its suppliers.

I have seen Maria Full of Grace. And I have read reports on the abusive flower industry in Colombia and Ecuador. Apparently YouTube also has some amazing video interviews with flower workers (which I can't watch because I am still on dial-up and they just won't load coherently).

But I also know some actual Colombians. And they tell me that I should buy this Colombian export product in order to support the struggling Colombian economy. They say that in buying Colombian flowers I am supporting a Colombian industry that could be a real alternative to the narcotic crops that are so profitable in Colombia. (Wouldn't it be nice if my country's demand for imported flowers exceeded its demand for imported cocaine?)

So what to do?

Should I not buy flowers at all? Should I buy flowers only if I know they are grown in pesticide-free and humane conditions? (These would probably NOT be Colombian flowers or flowers from any developing economy.)

While I would love to buy flowers from Organic Bouquet, their prices are such that I could afford bouquets only a few times a year, for special occasions. No more weekly purchases. And their sources are probably not Colombian, since they demand sustainable, pesticide-free conditions.

Is it better to provide consistent support for a Colombian product---or occasional support for a (probably domestic) product that protects the environment and improves farm worker safety?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Feminist Knitting

I forgot to tell you about a fabulous post from last Monday on Taoknitter's blog: it's Elizabeth Cady Stanton, her friend Eliza Osborne and "the waste of the female intellect when a woman is reduced to knitting." !!!

Knitting with Dog Hair

Sigh. I've had a hell of a day. Adrenaline flowed freely at work today, and we all just sort of rolled along , bumped and bruised as we turned corners and confronted the next bugbear.

But I did take an hour off to go to my weekly Kaffee Klatsch, where we knit and craft and paint in a local coffee bar. I then went out to dinner with a colleague. And now I feel human again.

At the Kaffee Klatsch, I further investigated knitting with dog hair.

One of my fellow knitters in the Klatsch not only knits with dog hair but spins her own yarn from it. And she does this for others--dog owners who pay her to create something useful and beautiful from their dogs' shed fur.

After carding and spinning, she shampoos the yarn with deodorizing dog shampoo before she knits it up into scarves, hats or sweaters for the dog owners. I saw a selection of her work last week at a local fiber art show; on each knit item, she had a picture of the dog from which the yarn was spun, its breed, its name.

The yarn she was using today was snowy white and angora-like. She did not know the breed of this dog, as the hair had been mailed to her from a client. Very, very beautiful.

For those of you who are intrigued, there is actually a book published on just this subject (yes, that's the image above): Knitting With Dog Hair: Better A Sweater From A Dog You Know and Love Than From A Sheep You'll Never Meet

My boss, a fairly intense animal lover, might be interested in hiring my dog-hair knitting friend.

My boss is also a horse person, and I inquired about whether one could spin and knit horse hair trimmed from manes and tails.

Sadly, no. Horse hair doesn't spin (it's too coarse)--but, I was told, there is a whole industry of braiding horsehair and making jewelry from it. (Who knew?) Check out Suzanne Storms' fairly astonishing work.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

And the Emmy goes to...

Given the content of this blog, I find it very amusing to tell you all that I know someone who works for THE MARTHA STEWART SHOW.

Even more amusing is that I have never seen this show. The mountains get in the way of any television signal, and there is no way I am going to pay a cable or satellite company to watch mostly advertising. I watch Netflix—a lot of Netflix—but I miss out on Martha.

BUT back to the topic: this someone who works for Martha also blogs, and she has just been nominated for a Daytime Emmy for her work on the show.

She probably doesn’t want me to “out” her—if I did, you’d know her name and be able to stalk her at will—but here’s a big Hurrah to her! How exciting!

Cross your fingers and hope she gets that golden statuette!

Upcoming Femminista Fests

Two upcoming events that caught my eye from the BUSTline email--one on each coast of the US, neither of which I'll get to attend. (But if any of you do, I hope you'll fill us in!)

March 23 - Second Annual Feminist Film Festival, CA

The Davis Feminist Film Festival is a grassroots effort of local activists, students, and faculty affiliated with Gender and Global Issues at UC Davis. This festival strives to create a community space where issues of gender and its intersections with race, class, age, ability, and spirituality can be talked about in order to raise consciousness and create social change.

I like what their web site has to say about the word "feminist":

The word feminist can mean many things. To some, it is a dirty word, describing a “man-hating lesbian,” or a woman who dominates and verbally attacks men. Self-identified feminists, though, use the same word lovingly, to describe those who work to end any sort of gendered oppression. Academics frequently use the word to describe those with a critical awareness of the intersections of gender, race, and class.

. . . [W]e define a feminist as a radical supporter of human rights. Feminists address power differences in society and promote equality and understanding . . . .

March 24–25- National Young Women’s Leadership Conference, DC
Young feminists from around the country will come together and network to change the world. [Sounds good to me!]

The weekend, which includes two conferences, will focus on how young women can have an impact on domestic and global issues such as reproductive rights, sweatshops, big oil and war, the environment, the media, and violence against women. Speakers will include national leaders and experts of all ages to share knowledge, experience, and information.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Appreciation for new friends

In the last two weeks I have made many, many new blogging friends. This blogging thing is getting better and better, and I am tempted to quit my day job, hole up and just BLOG. (I am not sure my family would find this a very healthy response...but they don't blog.)

I was stunned today to visit two of my new regular reads and see my very own blog cited right there in today's posts. (Huge super-blush.)

I get to be one of Cherrye's desert island five (!), and Taoknitter very generously includes this blog in her list of what she reads and why.

I am chuffed! It's like getting a hug. I am all alone this week and a bit overwhelmed with work (which I am not doing...because I'm blogging), so such warm fuzzies are all the more welcome and effective.

I feel completely gushy and grateful. As Ms. T would say, "Mwah!"

Post 100

In the sub-culture of blogging, I have learned that when one posts for the 100th time, one is supposed to post 100 things about oneself.

Yawn. Sounds like a drag to me.

However, I did discover a meme at jenandtonic which looks fun and considers 100 things that I love: books.

Instructions: In the list of books below, bold the ones you’ve read, italicize the ones you want to read, cross out the ones you won’t touch with a ten-foot pole, put a cross (+) in front of the ones on your book shelf, and asterisk (*)
the ones you’ve never heard of.
I can't figure out how to stikethough with Blogger, so I'll put the ones I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole in red.

I am NOT counting the movie versions that I've seen of many of these books, but I AM counting the unabridged audiobooks that I've "read"--since I've had full exposure to the words of the author. I am NOT counting the books that I attempted to read but never finished.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. +Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. *Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. +A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry) (probably my favorite on this list!)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)

12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. +A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)

17. Fall on Your Knees(Ann-Marie MacDonald) (attempted; failed)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(Rowling)
20. +Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. +The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. +Life of Pi (Yann Martel)

26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)

29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie(Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks) (saw movie and hated it)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand) (attempted; failed)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)

37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. *I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. +The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. *She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. *Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. +The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)

63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. *Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller) (attempted; failed)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. +Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. *The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. *The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. *Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. +Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)
87. +Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)

88. *The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. *Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. *Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. +The Good Earth(Pearl S. Buck)
94. +The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. +Ulysses (James Joyce) (attempted; failed)

I learned from this exercise that I don't really keep books--even ones that I like. I try to give them away or sell them so that I can buy more. Audible downloads are in my virtual library forever once I've bought them--so I counted those.

I'm pleased that I've read this many--but this is a very arbitrary list of books; I can't make out what the organizing principle is. A huge mix of genre.

My brother and SIL got me 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die* for Christmas, and I've only read about 140 or so off that list. So only 861 more to go!

*I think this is that list. The book is a heavily annotated list--each page is a description of the book. Beautiful images throughout.

Monday, March 12, 2007

An Important Message

Another extraordinary (and oh-so-useful!) find as I search through 300,000 public domain images for my several-hundred-page publishing project.


Today I plucked my first GREY eyebrow hair.

Aberration? Albino hair?

Middle age?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Tablecloth Rug

Regarding my attempt to recycle old stained tablecloths (pictured in Seven Things Saturday--Week 2) into rag rugs: I frogged the first one last night, as it was evident that one tablecloth would not make a very big rug. It makes a strip.

I then used both tablecloths to make one rug, alternating colors.

It is amazing that two rather large tablecloths (the rectangular kind, for a table that seats six) knit on 15mm needles (US size 19) will make a rug that is just 31x19 inches--doormat size. (Sorry, Steph, not big enough for furniture! I think it will relax and stretch a bit with some use.)

I often measure my knitted projects in terms of audiobooks or movies. This one took two movies--Off the Map and The Corporation--and it was done.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Odes to Spring?

Someone has to write them . . .

Am listening to A Prairie Home Companion (it's a spring-break archived compilation opera show--Renée Fleming is fabulous!), and Garrison has announced a spring poetry contest:

Minimum: fourteen lines. Must contain reference to spring. Must be original. Must be submitted by March 28 at midnight Central Standard Time.
On March 31, Prairie Home will present the best poems and lyrics, and the grand prize is

a Queen-sized Sleep Number 5000 bed (with foundation legs) along with three dozen roses — a bed of roses delivered to your door — a renaissance in your
domestic life — a source of untold joy, not to mention untold sleep.
So let's get to work! You can submit yours online here.

Ongoing education: La-la 101

As recently blogged, I've discovered Lala and am trying to participate. (Lala facilitates getting rid of CDs no longer listened to and getting CDs wanted but not yet acquired.)

So far, I've made 9 trades--and it would've been more, had I known this: Lala doesn't email you when you have what someone else wants.

No, it expects you to check in to Lala. Often. Daily. Multiple times per day. Before someone else decides to send the "wanter" the CD that you've been waiting to offload.

No wonder I hadn't traded anything for weeks! Sheesh! I'd been sitting back waiting for an email summons that never would come.

So now I know. And you do too, whether you need to or not.

(In mild protest, I listed all the Lala CDs that I want to get rid of on and Amazon Marketplace. That pile of stuff IS going away, one way or another!)

Seven Things Saturday--Week 2

For this week's seven things to chuck, I have

TWO old tablecloths--one irreversibly stained with wine or curry; the other, a hand-embroidered Hungarian cloth purchased about ten years ago and used regularly despite it being weirdly shrunk (by me) so that it is really too lumpy to use (polyester embroidery thread + cotton fabric = puckering).

I decided to try to transform these useless tablecloths into something useful and borrowed the idea of the Alterknits t-shirt rugs. I cut each of the tablecloths into a one-inch strip (one very, very long spiral strip, from outside edge to center)...

...and then knit each up into a rug. (To be honest I am still knitting, but the transformation of each table cloth is imminent.) I was thinking of sending them to my friend Steph, but I am not sure if they will be nice enough.


I also chucked ONE collective thing: the crap on my refrigerator.

I threw most of it away. It was a bit tough to throw away photos, but the ones I threw out were those of kids of people we never see, photos that had been sent in Christmas cards several years ago. I kept the pics of my amazing nephews, and I tossed the schedules that we never look at along with the recipes that I have not yet made despite the fact that they've been on the fridge for over six months.


Lastly, ONE cd sent to Lala and THREE items for Salvation Army: a CD too obscure to list on Lala or, a strapless bra from the days when I was frequently asked to be a bridesmaid (goodbye, 1990s!), and a sun-faded teddy bear that I have inexplicably kept for the past 20 years.

Total this week: 7.

Total so far: 14

Foolish Femminista

How dumb am I?

After my last post about being able to see you, I inadvertently removed the tracking code---so I have no stats at all from about 3:30 yesterday until now. It looked like everyone dropped off the face of the Earth! I thought I was being shunned by all. I only just figured out what I had done...

Friday, March 9, 2007

Who you are and what you're looking for

For those of you who read blogs but don't actually blog yourself, you may not know that I can see you.

Well, not you, actually. More like your IP address.

Like most blogs, mine has a little tracking device embedded in the code, and it shows me all sorts of information.

For example, I know that I have a new reader in Farmington, New Mexico. (Hi, Farmington! If you feel comfortable, please post a comment so that we can "meet"! If not, please feel free to keep lurking--it's just nice to know I have a relatively local reader.)

I know that of the last 100 views, readers have visited from the United States, Costa Rica, Canada, South Africa, China, Argentina, Indonesia, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, and Portugal.

Most readers come to my blog from other blogs that have linked to me, but at least eight readers in the last 100 have come from a Google search. What were they Googling?

Two Googled me (!)--the keywords were "femminista della casa". The others searched on

  • empowered
  • jemez pueblo
  • busty
  • raising chickens
  • radical lace subversive knitting skull
  • vodka as cleaning agent
How's that for variety?

("Busty" comes up nearly every day. I'm thinking it's adolescent boys hoping for an entirely different sort of blog. Along with disappointment, they get a little education on breast cancer.)

I don't know if most bloggers check out their stats, but I am new and I am trying to figure out the whole blog demographic thing. It has been great to watch the readership grow from my parents and my friend Stephanie to a real international group!


I learned about this effort last year and emailed it on to one or two femministas...but that was before my new blogging life. A reminder came in an email today from my SIL, who got it from her sister, Beth in New York City, and so I pass the information and the opportunity on to you:

Seventh Generation is a company that sells, among other earth-friendly things, organic and bleach-free personal care products. Although I am a rather loyal advocate of the Keeper, I know that not everyone can or will use it, and Seventh Generation has made a commitment to provide fairly-essential-but-oft-overlooked products to women in need:

Women’s shelters in the U.S. go through thousands of tampons and pads monthly, and, while agencies generally assist with everyday necessities such as toilet paper, diapers, and clothing, this most basic need is often overlooked. You and I may take our monthly trips down the feminine care aisle for granted, but, for women in shelters, a box of tampons is five dollars they can’t spare. Here’s some good news: you can help us contribute to rectifying this situation by making a virtual donation below! For each virtual donation, Seventh Generation will send a pack of organic cotton tampons or chlorine-free pads to a shelter in your state.
Click here to make a virtual donation.

And, for some slightly gross entertainment, check out their list of reader-submitted euphemisms. (You can submit your own at the bottom of this page.)

They also have a sort-of blog, written last fall by their mission-fairies--"think Betty & Veronica meets Cagney & Lacey meets Lucretia Mott & Elizabeth Cady Stanton".

The mission-fairies spent 30 days (October 13th - November 12th, 2006) touring the West for Seventh Generation, talking to women (and men) about menstruation, hand-delivering product donations to area shelters, and spreading the good word about the importance of natural feminine care while blogging.

It IS advertising for Seventh Generation, but a by-product of the propaganda is more awareness regarding healthier choices and, I hope, less use of chlorinated, super-absorbent products. You can read their trip here; the photos seem to have gone offline. :(

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Feste delle Donne

Sognatrice at Bleeding Espresso has a lovely International Women's Day post, as does Cherrye at My Bella Vita. As the t-shirt says, Italians do it better....

Femminista Fiesta!

Blog Against Sexism Day
Thanks again to Ms. T at Surviving the Workday for cluing me in—it’s International Women's Day and also Blog Against Sexism Day!

Although International Women's Day is designated in many countries as a national holiday, clearly I got through most of the day NOT EVEN KNOWING it was today.

How sad!

These events prompt me to blog against sexism by explaining why I am a Femminista:

  • Because I believe that women are not subordinate to men.

  • Because I acknowledge that women have been historically oppressed and that this is no longer acceptable.

  • Because I celebrate the work that women do and the contributions they make to society—much of which is unacknowledged. Many women are now working in the professional realm and do get acknowledged for that (although we are still often paid less than our male co-workers). However, much important work is also done in the home--the realm domestic--and that work, still often done exclusively by women, seems to be sadly unacknowledged.

Rock On, Femminstas! It's our Day!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

25 Things for Charity

Just got accepted to another group blog: 25 Things for Charity, in which we are challenged to craft 25 things for charity in a 12-month period.

The rules say I can backdate my time frame--so I am going to go with January 2007 and include the three hats I donated to a local fundraising effort and then try to do at least 22 more projects for rest of this year.

There are some great ideas for charity crafting here--and some great suggestions for recipients.

Monday, March 5, 2007


I just discovered TipNut.

Not only does it have 10 Homemade Laundry Soap Detergent Recipes (although I like mine better because it uses up junk soap bits), it also tells you How To Make A Solar Dehydrator and How To Make A Giant Twix Chocolate Bar!

And, adding to our diuscussion about cleaning with vodka, TipNut offers a recipe for Vodka Armpit Deodorizer. Now won't that come in handy for spring?

Laundry Soap Update

I am happy to report that I have used the homemade frugal laundry soap and, unlike the homemade dishwasher soap, it works!

I did five loads of laundry over the weekend, and they all came out looking clean and smelling great.

I do admit to using three or four tablespoons, instead of the recommended two tablespoons, for the extra-large loads--but that is still very little product and much bang for the buck.


Sunday, March 4, 2007

Knitted Wool Curtains

Follow up to last post:

For those of you wondering what-the-bleep handknitted wool curtains look like (!), here they are, Eucalaned and clean.

They're also still damp--I am using gravity to block them.

I made them from lace-weight red wool yarn and used the Dainty Chevron and Daintier Chevron patterns from Barbara Walker's A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns. Because of the color, it's sort of a Spanish lace look.

It is a bit like knitting a very, very, very long scarf.

I would have knit them longer, but my birding husband did not want his view of the bird feeders obscured. Hence the little, tiny valence on the large picture window. (Ah, the compromises of marriage!)

Eucalan or Kookaburra?

I just took down my hand-knit lace wool valence. It has been up for a few years, and I just noticed this morning how dusty it had gotten. Yuck.

This led me to the bucket and the Eucalan Woolwash.

I LOVE Eucalan. If you've never used it, it is an amazing product. I am not into endorsing products just for the heck of it--but there are some things everyone should know about because they are so good. Eucalan is one.

Eucalan is a Canadian product for handwashing wool. It is called Eucalan because it has eucalyptus oil in it--which makes everything smell good and acts as a moth repellent--and lanolin, the natural oil found in wool. They also have a lavender version--lavender oil used instead of eucalyptus oil.

Many knitters I know use Eucalan, and as soon as I tried it, I was sold. You use just one teaspoon per gallon of water. You put your soiled woollens in the solution, and soak them there for 15-30 minutes. Then you squeeze out (no rinsing!) and air dry (I usually blot first and then block my sweaters). It gets wool sweaters very clean, and the lanolin makes them soft and lustrous.

Woolite--a brand known well in the US--is a detergent, not a soap; it can do not-so-nice things to fibers, and those in the know--expert quilters, knitters, etc.--never touch the stuff.

One product that I haven't tried is Kookaburra Sheepskin Shampoo & Woolwash, which uses tea tree oil and lanolin. Has anyone used this? I think it is slightly cheaper per ounce than Eucalan, (and I love the label). It's on my Amazon wish list, but so far, no bites.

I'd love to hear from anyone who has tried both Kookaburra and Eucalan and has a preference for one over the other.