Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mangled Plans - Kitchen Remodeling

As you know, the Range is a 100 year old work in progress. The next big project, one of several that will be done over the next 10 years is the kitchen. I love the memories in that kitchen, but it hadn't been updated since the 30's and it showed (though someone in the 60's put contact paper over ALL the cupboards, which actually had been really good quality).

A new light fixture (antique) went in, and an antique stained glass window replaced the small, ugly window looking out onto the back yard.  A big white ceramic farmhouse sink, found also antiquing is going in below that window with what is now the sink going to be a huge work area, in what is a very tiny kitchen. Now we have to select floors and cupboards. The stained glass has got bits of yellow, gold,  and green against what in soft light, looks like faintly grey glass. I love old things, especially things that bring back memories of family, as the firearm pictured is one of a father's legacy. In keeping with that, the floors will be some shade of grey, with black or a dark midnight blue trim around the rooms perimeter;  the walls a light yellow and the cupboards white. For my decorative items are my collection of my Mom's Swedish Dall horses, which are white, orange, or black with bright and sunny markings upon them (the one pictured, a new one that Partner and I picked up at a Finnish store while visiting Dad.) We had looked through some of the type and quality  of tile we wanted but I wasn't too sure based on how the colors looked on the computer.  So he ordered me samples so I could see them in natural light

We'd kind of hoped to be further into it, but with everything going on both personally and professionally for both of us this year, there just weren't the hours to do so, even if there was the interest.

But the six tile samples arrived last night and Partner did a phone picture of them  to send down to the crash pad.

So, I'd appreciate your opinion on what would look good. Please indicate in comments which one you prefer from the top photo as: top row right/middle/or left  and  bottom row right/middle/ or left.

I'm not going to select based solely on friend's opinions, but if I can't decide between two, it will help. With the stained glass, a door with glass that goes out into the sun porch and the window pictured below, the room gets LOTS of light.
Above is my mental version of the kitchen.

Partner in Grime however, being a mechanical engineer, pictures the kitchen layout as a whole different challenge.
 But I'll have space for my birthday present!  Which was a brand new food processor
It even came with a card.
First use? Making cauliflower "rice" to serve as a bed to herb roast chicken for low/no carb dinner the following weekend (seeing as how someone ate a fair bit of cake earlier in the week).
Hey, I like getting kitchen appliances as gifts!  My regular readers know that I often come home to find unique things picked up for next to nothing at estate sales and antique stores waiting for me in the garage.
Nothing says "I Love You" like a Mangler.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Invader Zim, Pancake Holsters and Pancakes - Just a Typical Morning at the Range

After staying up late watching cartoons with a bowl of popcorn, like a little kid, while Partner was on the road until late in the evening, I was still a bit sleepy as I read an article on holsters over coffee the other morning.   I read something about "pancake holster" and this vision came into my head.  Oh wait. . . . that's pancake style.

I'd been thinking of making waffles after watching an episode of Invader Zim  last night (do u like waffles?) I.Z. is a cartoon revolving around an extraterrestrial named Zim from the planet Irk, and his ongoing mission to conquer and destroy a dark and satirical version of earth (after his brief banishment to the planet Foodcourtia).
His various attempts to enslave or destroy the human race are invariably undermined by a combination of his own ineptitude, his malfunctioning carbohydrate loving robot servant GIR (who disguises himself as a dog) and his arch-nemesis Dib, one of very few humans attentive enough to be cognizant of Zim's identity. It had a brilliant first season and then was  shortly thereafter canceled, and like Firefly, has a cult following, one that probably includes more adults than the pre-teens it was aimed at.

The Letter M: What's wrong with you? All you talk about is aliens and ghosts and seeing Bigfoot in your garage!

Dib: He was using the belt sander..

Gir:  Let's make biscuits?  LETS MAKE BISCUITS!

Zim: [over video link] Soon, I'll bring the Tallest here to witness my ingenious evil! AHAHAHAAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHA! HAAH! I said evil! AHAHAHAA!


Professor Membrane: [from basement] Son, there'd better not be any walking dead up there!

Dib: It's nothing to worry about, Dad! And I said I was sorry about that!
Zim: Computer, give me all the information you have on the FBI.

Computer: The FBI is a government law enforcement agency.

 Zim: Continue.

Computer: Insufficient data. Zim: "Insufficient data"? Can't you just make an educated guess? Computer: O... kay... Um, founded in 1492 by, uh... demons, the FBI is a crack law enforcement agency designed to... uh, I dunno, fight... aliens?


 Zim: GIR! What are you doing?
Gir: I made mashed po-ta-toes!
Zim: Yes... and muffins...

I'm getting hungry now but it's going to be pancakes.  I had made pancakes using Kefir once. and they turned out pretty good but I tweaked the recipe this time and it was even better

 I cut back on the liquid just a bit, and added an extra step to let the batter rise a bit. I also made them a little bit smaller so they were easy to flip. Success!

These tasted as good as they looked.
These were as good as the banana bread pancake experiment.
 The way they fluff up, it's hard to tell, but this stack is just five small pancakes.
Yes, you can have seconds but we're out of bacon.
Full of pancakes and Amish bacon, it's time to go out and save the planet.

I can't find my holster. I think someone ate it.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Safe Travels - A Story of the NSFW Pet

As I make the long drive back to work this afternoon, a story from Barkleys' new blog on the many different kind of pets that people may have and the surprises they can bring.   Enjoy. - B.
 I wanted a pet of my own though. A dog was out of the question, as much as I  was on the road, but somewhere in my young journeys, I inherited a bird. The sister of a a pilot friend needed a home for the young bird after her divorce. It was just a little Cockatoo. They're like budgies on steroids right? How much trouble could he be? Being a dual science and criminology major I  had named him "Beaker". He was a pretty personable little bird and easy for others to care for when I was out flying, sometimes gone for a far stretch of time.. They're smart, normally learning to talk.  Not this bird. I had inherited mute bird. I tried all the tricks, repeating things over and over, rewards, repetition. Nothing ("No no he's not dead, he's, he's restin'! Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, idn'it, ay? Beautiful plumage!")

This bird was not "restin" he just would NOT talk. Not even a "hello".

Then one night I had a get together on a little  houseboat I rented near my parents for my time off.  It wasn't a real boat, just a tiny bungalow on floats with a tiny kitchen, living room and bath with shower as well as a small  windowed loft with a ladder upstairs where I had a mattress on the floor and could tuck myself into at night.  I loved living out there, the only houseboat in the marina, enjoying the quiet and the lap of the waves against my little home.  (We won't mention the time there were two hippie girls out getting a bit tipsy on a boyfriends boat docked out in the shallows while he was away and I put on a Creature of the Black Sea Lagoon mask and rowed out right at dusk and scratched on the hull and pressed my face to the glass, making my escape as someone squealed and dropped the bottle of Chardonnay).
This night, it was just a few pilot friends, who were as close as brothers though we didn't share the same last name. There are certain lines of work where the bonds between coworkers is more than just coworkers and such it is with airmen.

Civilian or Military, we  remember. We remember Calgary and Cold Lake, Travis and Tuscon. We remember Phoenix, and Philadelphia, Kallispell and Kabul. We've delighted in the perfect clarity of a cold New Mexico sky and remember that late night mambo down an ice slicked runway in Chicago. My Dad's generation and mine began on round gauges, and round engines. for which starting was an artistic endeavor requiring holy curse words and sometimes meditation.

Those that fly now, may have been raised on the technology of the wi fi age, but those of us there that night understood outdated fire equipment, short runways, poor lighting, and cranky crew chiefs.

All of us have relished the cheerful warmth of the coffee in Vancouver and and the pause of an ice cold beer in Denmark. We recalled the icy winds of winter and the soaring thermals of a glider port in June. We spoke as if old lovers of the DC-6 for which landing was not so much a meeting with the earth but a ballet of finesse, prayer, body English and nerve.

We've all had days where we'd have rather have been anywhere else but tired, hungry and on at least one occasion, shot at. But there's the beauty- the quiet mornings as the sun peeks over the horizon on that early flight to the east coast, the beautiful surroundings of a fog draped landscape below. It's evocative and inspiring and sometimes, despite the early, early showtime, the joy of it all reaches out and grabs on to us. And despite the occasional bone weariness and the constant change of the job itself, the happiness takes hold. The happiness is like nothing else we experience, not even the wonderful sanctuary of family, and it grabs hold of us and shakes us like a playful puppy. And we can't imagine being anyplace else or with a different group of comrades.
So these pilots, my brothers, gather, and we gather like family. We grilled, sat out on the deck and had a couple beers. Beaker was in high form, sitting on folks shoulders, mutely walking across the room (he could fly, he just chose NOT to), getting some treats fed to him.

Little did I know that by morning Beaker was going to be talking, and not in a way I had planned.

For the rest of the story, visit The Book of Barkley - The Blog

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Abby - Please Don't Eat Your. . . .

Well, it lasted a month before she did the Michael Jackson treatment on the nose.  Barkley would have disemboweled it in a minute.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Old Houses - Bad Poetry Friday :-)

Old houses have a story to tell,
in the quiet it tolls as clear as a bell.
It wears the lives it held in each scratch and mark,
as silent witness in light and dark.
Old houses bear scars with nothing to hide,
showing you what's important, in what to take pride
Old houses have secrets, in their light you will see,

of loss and of pride and what it means to be free.

So get out your tools, lay past hurts away,
with that cookie cutter house of yesterday.
For your home's now an old one, where treasures abound,
to be unearthed as from Heaven, its angels watch down.
You'll hear the music of the lives that lived here,

and dance to it as the days becomes years.
it is not practical, easy or cheap,
but old houses, unclaimed, never fail to weep.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The World Today - Tools for Preparation

Have you got any matches?
Lord of the Flies - Chapter 2

I had some travel planned  that would take me to St. Louis, but where I was going would have me drive right past where the city is erupting in violence. That's not a place I wanted to be as I looked at videos of thugs burning down local businesses and looting.

So I cancelled that little trip and went to work, getting some large legally things off my desk, then a sandwich and quick trip to the store on my lunch break. There, I picked up a few household essentials, one of them some soap for the bathrooms as I was totally out. I usually get Irish Spring for the guest bath, but that day, I saw a bulk pack of Ivory soap and picked it up as that's what I have in my bathroom. Simple soap, good for my delicate, sensitive skin.  It's also what was always in our bathroom as a child. I remember bath time as a small child, a flotilla of plastic boats trying to avoid the floating  iceberg of Ivory soap, little army men jumping into the water to avoid the collision.  What's that noise? Oh No, a waterfall! Arghhhh!

I could stay in that tub until my little fingers had shriveled up into raisins, as long as I could warm the water up periodically. Mom usually had to come in and drain all the fun so I could go to bed.
When I got the necessities home from the store, I opened the wrapper of soap and the smell was as I always remembered. It's like the smell of Crayola Crayons. Not what I'd call a pretty smell, but such a familiar and comforting one.  Ivory was all we ever had as a child, that and Boraxo powdered soap for washing hands after shop and yard work.  Ivory is what I've washed my face with for most of my life. But I can also well remember how it tastes, for once when I said a cuss word, my Mom washed out my mouth with it. It does NOT taste good.

It wasn't the first cuss word to pass my lips.  That was from the arms of my Mom when I was not even school age and I eagerly tried out "my new word!" on the Lutheran Minister who stopped by the house to see my Mom. I likely learned it from my Dad, career military, he came into the marriage with a few words that weren't to be uttered around the little ones under strict rules from Mom. But rules don't always mean they will be followed. For Dad DID have a shop and sharp tools, so it was only a matter of time before a hammer stroke went awry and Barbie and Francie and friends heard the S-bomb.

My Mom, I'm sure, wanted to crawl under the porch after that passed my lips with a smile and a wave, but Pastor E. took it in stride.  He had raised several children,  the children of whom I would babysit as a teen.  My parents tended to some leeway to the rules we had not learned yet, but there was no quarter to those we were aware of.  Hence the Ivory Soap mouthwash a few short years later.
You can say all you want about what our youth are exposed to, violent video games, bloodshed, sex and violence on TV. But I truly believe that as children, what moral imperatives initially form in us are in response to parenting, not society or entertainment. That's probably why I knew that there would be dire consequences if I tried to drop an anvil on my brothers head or blow up the garage with Acme Dynamite like Wily Coyote tried to do to the Roadrunner every Saturday morning.

We were children, but we knew there was a moral code to this world and that the world as well, did not revolve around our every need and happiness. It was how our parents were raised, and how we were raised. Our parents clothed us, loved us, praised us and punished us, not without thought and not with unwarranted decree, but in a manner firm enough it definitely got our attention.

And we did test those boundaries for we were children, finding that with those boundaries came accountability.  One soon learns that a tantrum in Safeway will not get you that toy by the check stand, it will get you a quick and silent removal to the car and home to think about it in your room, without any toys. One learns that if one lies to a parent, that certain things we enjoy are not a right, they're earned by responsibility. One learns that if one tries to jump off the garage roof with a makeshift airfoil, the ground will smite thee only a little less than Dad will. One often, much later, learns that if you carelessly play with what one holds dear, there are consequences for more than just yourself, lessons that stay long after the aftermath.
Now, many kids are given access to most anything good and bad that the TV and Internet has to offer, at the earliest of ages, not as a lesson in choice, but as way of entertainment for parents often absent. Through expectation or demand, children are given possessions so freely that neither the object or the givers have value to them, and if acting out, in their attempts to cajole or control, their actions are forgiven before forgiveness had been even ventured or earned.

As children, my siblings and I were not insulated from the world and its capabilities for harm. We understood the rudimentary principles of physics, ballistics and stupidity.  Current events were discussed, war, poverty, and man's evil against other men, but only when we were old enough to grasp and apply those lessons. My siblings and I read books  in school in the 60's and 70's that are probably banned today as not being politically correct. We had toys that could cause second degree burns.  We had chemistry sets that could actually blow things up.  We learned how to safely handle certain firearms and respect the trust of their use, their purpose, which was not to impose our will or to take something we had not earned, but to provide and protect.
But they were careful not to give us access to things from which we could obtain knowledge for which we did not yet have the wisdom nor demonstrated the reasoning for.  Remember Jack and Roger from Lord of the Flies?  Imagine them with Wireless connectivity, Mom's credit card and free shipping.  There are no laws that will prevent what a mind unbound by honor, ethics or the value of others can destroy, when their own worth is predicated on unlimited attention and no accountability. And certainly there are no laws which will sway the actions of a mind caught by madness, who act not with rational thought of the outcome, but as a man, out of his mind with a gangrene poisoned hand, thirsts for an axe that with its downward stroke will somehow make him whole.
When such evil, by it driven by mental defect or ego, strikes, it does so at the very lie of safety that are the laws that control behavior, that control our tools, our very actions, for evil knows no such laws.  When they strike, there is little left but the invoked ghosts of ones we can never avenge and the media heralded name of one who should be unnamed, forgotten, buried in an unmarked grave in burnt, damned ground. Then comes the cry that yet another law above and beyond the ones they already broke by their actions, would have stopped them. 

From the beginning of time there have been laws, there have been tools that can be used as weapons, including firearms. There has been good and evil. There have been two distinct and competing impulses that exist among humans, one, the instinct to live by the law, to act peacefully except in matters of self defense, to follow moral commands for the good of the group and the other, the instinct to gratify one's immediate desires without adherence to any such law or moral code, using violence, not as a means of protection, but to simply to obtain supremacy over others or force one's will on someone without defense.

Even as children we were exposed to both types of behavior.  How we reacted to it, how we CHOSE which behavior was acceptable, was due to the example set, not just by society, but by our parents.
Our parents talked to us, not as our "friends" but as our parents.  They knew who we played with, who we talked to, and if one of the neighborhood kids exhibited aggressive, bullying behavior, the mothers all knew it and made sure the bully's mother and father were aware. We didn't not worry about "emphasizing" or "understanding" them or "reasoning" with them, nor were we conditioned to blame ourselves because they were the way they were.

If  their Mom or Dad didn't get them in line through societal pressure, we weren't adverse to a well placed punch in the nose when they attacked again. We usually didn't have to, bullies were handled without patience and kids who were a danger to themselves or others weren't sent back out to the sandbox with the innocents with a "you're special" talk and some meds.  They were put where they could do no harm.
The rest of us? Well, most of us worried more about what happened by Dad when we got home from school after misbehaving there, than any punishment another kid could give out. Our Dad's were, with few exceptions, veterans, they were present, society not yet promoting the belief that one doesn't need a Dad around to grow up well rounded, simply a check, which the government can provide, right? We had  parents who were hands on parents, hands calloused with hard work and scarred from their own mistakes.
I can tell you there was more than one bit of mischief I would have gotten into had not I feared my Dad finding out.

The abandon and innocent glee that was childhood, remains forever lodged in my mind, just as do those lessons, even the painful ones. I put my hands up to my nose and smell the faint, clean scent of soap, something so plain and simple, much like what once stood for truth. Today, I am trusted with the safety of others, with sharp implements, weapons, power tools and another's honorable heart. But what guides me to maintain that trust, is not a law, it is not the dictate of a ruling body, it is bound in me by the honor of the past and the examples of my upbringing.
I hold the bar of Ivory soap up to my nose one last time, the scent calling to mind days of innocence never to be obtained again, innocence we as a society lost yet again so very  recently.  I put a bar in the guest bathroom, I put one in my shower, where it will be used to cleanse, mud, muck and occasionally, blood.

There is much we can be cleansed of, by the Water and by His blood, but there some things formed in the soul, which can not be bound by man, or removed with reason, things for which we should always be ready. For there will always be those whose capabilities for harm we can not always fathom but we should always dread. For  that I am armed with not just the Second Amendment, but the blued steel of eternal vigilance.

 - Brigid