Author Archives: writerinsoul

Let’s make a chimes/mobile thingee!

Here’s what I made this morning.

IMG_20180217_114208

IMG_20180217_114157

IMG_20180217_114344

Against the wall so you can see it better

But what is it you ask? (Pretend you asked.) I’m so glad you asked! For many years I’ve used a vegetable steamer or steamer basket which was prone to falling apart. For those unfamiliar a steamer is a metal contraption placed in a small amount of boiling water in a large pot. Food goes in the steamer, a lid goes on the pot and the steam cooks the food. Steamed food is said to retain more nutrients and it tastes pretty good too. When a tiny leg came off, my basket finally fell apart beyond my ability to repair it. I detached all the pieces (recycling the center piece) and set them aside waiting for inspiration because the metal sections looked interesting.

IMG_20180217_114447_kindlephoto-12262692

A steamer basket


When an idea came to me earlier today, I tied the pieces together with dental floss (cheap & strong) and attached the three links to a piece of scrap wood. I made the top hanger from picture hanging wire. The whole thing is about 2′ long. The pieces make a satisfying “clink” when they touch plus each individual metal piece is prone to spinning. I haven’t decided if it should go outside. For now I’m admiring it indoors.

(NOTE: pleased forgive a day or two’s delay in responding to any comments.)

Advertisements

But do I have enough?

Hello, my name is Colette and I’m a Tomato Hoarder.

IMG_20180212_101454_kindlephoto-26418376

Indoor and Outdoor

Some years ago I coined the terms indoor coffee and outdoor coffee. The first is what you make at home and the latter is what you buy outside. I’m almost exclusively an “indoor coffee” person (and I keep that minimal) unless I’m on a trip maybe.

Yesterday, after a visit to the eye doctor, I concluded there are indoor problems and outdoor problems. “Indoor problems” are those on the home front like a buzz on the telephone line, obnoxious loud neighbors, an ant infestation, a toilet handle that keeps falling off, a fridge that breaks down so you have to throw out all your food, or a wall with a hole that needs patching. “Outdoor problems” include doctor visits, car repairs, issues at work, car accidents, relationship struggles with relatives, people who owe you money, stores that don’t have what you’re looking for (after they assured you they did), harassment of any stripe, and so on.

I find that my problems tend to “clump.” I’ll have a series of indoor problems in short order or a bunch of outdoor problems piling up comsecutively. Sometmes there are a lot of BOTH. I don’t cope with overload of ANY kind especially well; you can hit a point where you cry uncle: I DON’T WANT ANY MORE PROBLEMS. It’s not as if saying that helps but just in case…

“I’ll take a small popcorn, a diet coke and a round of ammunition please.”

There’s a mall about two miles from me, one that’s been there a long time. It’s kind of run down and “mish mash” so far as its offerings. I go there from time to time mainly for specific things at specific stores. There is crime at this mall and I don’t feel particularly safe there. The vibe is just “wrong” in general. Every fourth or fifth person I see looks kind of sketchy. I’ve always noticed that too many people don’t appear to be there to shop.

Not too long ago an animated discussion about this mall occurred on the local community Facebook page. Some people felt the mall was unsafe but many took umbrage at that characterization and defended it. I just read the comments and stayed out of it. It did give me pause, though, was I judging the mall too harshly? Were my opinions about it in need of updating?

With that in mind I spend several hours shopping at the mall today. It was strange and exhausting. I did buy a few things, primarily food so it wasn’t a bust. My mind didn’t change though and I kind of felt the sign in the window of the multiplex theater said it all:

IMG_20180208_113126

If you have to SAY it….

Roz Chast (and my “Humor” file)

Roz Chast is a writer/cartoonist. I first discovered her over 20 years ago. These were the comics, “Bartlett’s Unfamiliar Quotations”, that I saw. I about lost it. Chast is a cartoonist for The New Yorker but I don’t read that publication; I think I saw these particular ones reprinted in a City paper. I clipped them out and still have the yellowing newspaper in my “Humor” file, a thick collection of various odds & ends I’ve found funny. It serves no purpose other than to amuse me. I don’t know if this is unusual but my humor has been fairly consistent; the things I found funny in decades past are still likely to make me laugh.

Roz Chast recently published Going Into Town: A Love Letter To New York, described as a “graphic memoir.” As soon as I heard about it I reserved it at the library. It’s a great, quick-read book. I’ll grant you my reading material as of late hasn’t been all that funny but I laughed more resding this book than any I can recall in a long time.

I don’t think you’d need any particular familiarity with New York to enjoy this book. I spent a little time in New York long ago but that is the extent of my firsthand knowledge. To be honest, I never truly understood the layout of the burroughs exactly or Manhattan’s streets before seeing Chast’s illustratios. Her New York is quirky and fun – this isn’t a book about subway murders or gang violence. She’s a middle class – probably upper middle – white lady; she’s writing about what she knows, not Harlem. I think that I need to make that clear but for me it takes nothing from the book or its point.

After reading the book in one sitting (about an hour) I went looking in my Humor file for that old comic. I would have posted it here instead of just adding a link but I expect that would be a copyright violation. While looking through the file I found a “one panel” comic I drew. The weird thing is, that while I KNOW I drew this – and feel it wasn’t that terribly long ago – I don’t definitively know why I drew it. This isn’t like me; I can remember things I drew in grade school so this memory blank is odd. I can certainly imagine what I must have been thinking/feeling, that’s not too hard! It made me laugh now so I thought I’d share it with you.

IMG_20180202_072552_kindlephoto-4470896

Why I’ll be watching the Winter Olympics

I want to get this post in here now when there’s still a little time before the Winter Olympics begin. I’ve been a fan of the Olympics, summer and winter, going back to childhood. I’m not fanatical; I can’t recite a lot of facts & figures or remember exactly which Olympics happened in which place. Nonetheless I have a strong emotional bond to the games and find a lot of meaning in watching them on TV.

In years past I’d watch the games and by the end I’d get super-excited for the next ones but then a couple years would pass and by the time the Olympics rolled around again, I’d be distracted by other matters and not so gung-ho and it’d take awhile to “get into” them again. This was a a mistake.  I have learned is to DIVE IN RIGHT AWAY. No, I can’t sit through all 18 hours of the Opening Ceremonies, but I make a point to watch a little and some of whatever sport follows the next day or two. I find that jumping in gets me excited and invested; I quickly feel like part of them. When I have dragged my heels and not leaped in, I’d typically regret it because soon enough they’d be over and I’d be wanting more.

I have my favorite sports, sure, but I’ll watch a little of a lot of things. I am amazed by what human beings are able to do. That alone holds me spellbound. I can’t skate or ski  or snow board or ride a bobsled but I sure enjoy watching people who can. The levels of skill people have reached in these sports – and so many others – is phenomenal.  When you watch the Olympics for awhile, you begin to feel like a professional judge too and sling around the language the commentators use: “He didn’t get enough air on that half-pipe.” “She has her legs under her today.” And always: “Look at that amplitude!”

I will watch sports I see no point in; like the luge. How did this become a sport? I don’t know. “Jim, they’re reaching speeds of 110 miles an hour on this turn in the track, which we call Dead Luger’s Curve.”

Bob Kostas, NBC’s main desk anchor for the Olympics since 1992 – 1992!! – has stepped down. I’m a bit disgruntled about this – I loved having him at that desk pulling things together in his affable, confident way – so I’m mighty curious to see how things go without him. At least the humorous Mary Carillo will still be doing her taped segments that focus on the host country’s culture and people. If you see one of her segments coming on, watch it. Learning about the host country is one of the games’ pleasures and she’s a fun commentator.

The Olympics make the world feel smaller. This year in particular I personally really need to feel that. I want to hear about things that unite us. I want to see countries “getting along” at least in the spirit of competitive games. Even North and South Korea have had a little thaw; the two countries’ athletes will march together in the Opening Ceremonies and the women’s hockey team will feature a conjoined team. I’m not naive enough to think “okay, great, everything will be fine now!” but I still find these small things heartening.

Whoever NBC packages as the “it” athletes of the games – the ones they promote and push on the viewing audience – will probably not be the heroes of the games. The Olympics always bring surprises, some good, some not so much. Sometimes a person touted as the best flames out at the games while an up-and-comer nobody had heard of steals the show.  I love this part, watching things unfold.

I am athletically inclined and fit but I am not brilliantly skilled in an sport. I can appreciate what it must take both to become so and to remain so, especially with younger, stronger athletes always coming along behind you. (Note: I will be rooting for Shaun White.)  When you watch the Olympics your notions about age become entirely skewed. An “old lady” in skating  is 28. The announcers will make such a fuss, they’ll make it sound like she left her walker at the rink’s edge before hobbling onto the Olympic ice.

When I watch the Olympics, I feel motivated. I make sure I don’t just sit on my ass in front of the TV for two plus weeks straight. I like to “participate” in my own little manner. I’ll do push-ups during commercials or other little physical things that help keep me in shape.  I have no dreams of joining any Olympic team but I like to maintain myself at my own level. If  THEY can do THAT, surely I can take a long walk!

I will cry. I alway cry when I watch the Olympics. Watching someone do something they’ve worked all their life for moves me. I love seeing the parents in the audience waving their flags and signs; they look like people you know, regular folk.  Sometimes an athlete will surprise themselves with the brilliance of their performance and break down in joyful tears. A winning team will jump on each other and hug as one moving animal. A hard-luck story,  of a skater who traveled 8 hours a day to reach the rink to practice,  or an athlete who learned to ski on cardboard skis or something  in a poverty-stricken sad lttle part of the world, never fails to get me where I live.

 

“Grandma’s Pizza”

This has nothing to do with my grandma whatsoever. I saw this recipe in a bread-making book and the author allowed that she didn’t know why it had that name either. At the moment I don’t care enough to investigate (have at it if the spirit moves you.

I make pizza weekly. This was a switch up. It’s a deep dish in a 9×13 pan. It was delicious! I refrigerated half and froze half in portions. I make my own crust (this was half whole wheat and half white flour) but if that’s not for you the same idea might work by using two store-bought dough crusts combined (the ones sold in balls or tubes).

I put my dough in the pan, added 3/4 cup Furmano’s Chunky Crushed Tomatoes, a conservative amount of sliced Mozzarella, a generous helping of dried Basil, and a splash of olive oil. If you try this and freeze some as I did, I suggest using a toaster oven for re-heating; microwaves make pizza mushy and you lose that wonderful crispness.

IMG_20180128_184850_kindlephoto-101198

Raw dough

IMG_20180128_192550_kindlephoto-1049277

After baking (375 degrees for about 30 minutes till golden brown)

IMG_20180128_193012_kindlephoto-1325984