Fall Flies

It is amazing how fast time fills up when you're not doing anything in particularly. Me? My days have mysteriously been eaten by chores I never expected to have.

I am frantically working away at my apples before they all go bad (having discovered a new use - dried apple chips.) My church has sucked me into several musical numbers, and so I have been wearing out my voice and my wee little guitar with practice, and now have proper callouses on my fingering hand. Halloween fast approaches, and I somehow find myself with twelve pumpkins to carve for the church's "Trunk 'N' Treat." (Though, granted, I opted to do this to myself.) And today I drifted, leaf-like, into my backyard to rake up Massive Pile O Leaves and put down the last fertilizer of the year before the rains came. Many unplanned chores. The Chore Fairy must whisper into my ear at night.

Last week, just as I was preparing to do a guitar number for my church, I sliced a finger while cutting strawberries in my hand. "Oh," I said, and ran upstairs to doctor it. A few minutes later I wandered back into the kitchen, saw the strawberries sitting on the counter, thought "I won't press the knife down so hard," and promptly cut the next finger.

Aren't I clever? It turns out that fingering a guitar with two band-aids doesn't work as well as one might hope.

So I have nothing much deep to say. As you can tell, my brain isn't there so much.

Thoughts of the day:
-Rotten pumpkin smells terrible, yet oddly alluring.
-Cutting decorative paper chains is fun no matter how old you are.
-Dark chocolate 100% is not meant for human consumption.
-If a store puts up a sign that says "Punch Me in the Face," you really should take advantage of it.

That's all.

And then there was randomness...

I went to Homestarrunner.com and made this. I am so proud.

(Click to enlarge)

Here's the start of the path that led to my blossoming career as a cartoonist: http://www.homestarrunner.com/sbemail181.html

Ice Creamy!

Whenever I'm feeling a bit blah in my drawing skills, I bip over to deviantART, an online art gallery. Anyone with half a brain cell and a computer can upload stuff, often random, sometimes impressive. Browsing through it is good for times when most of my attention has to be diverted elsewhere (like listening to NPR.) There's nothing quite as effective for improving my own artistic attempts as looking through the work of better artist...which...is practically everyone.

(Oh, snap!)

I found this one the other day, and it gave me the chuckles.
It can be found at http://nocturnal-devil(dot)deviantart(dot)com

Oh! My Friends and Enemies!

she is read as often as she comments.
she is read as often as she reads.

I am a bad, bad friend because I've fallen so far behind in keeping up with everyone else's blog. Please, I blame the MLB post-season! Have pity and compassion!

I will, I vow, catch up with everyone before the month is through. I will be the bestest of friends, oh yoes. (<-- that was supposed to be "yes," but doesn't "yoes" look better somehow?)

Chaos Kitchen Theory

Oh, hay! I just discovered a bag of forgotten cookies in the freezer! These were from my sad Insufficient Flour Batch of chocolate chip cookies, proof that I cannot read a recipe and have a conversation at the same time. (Disaster was nearly averted when, on the phone to Tizzy, I stopped myself from adding baking powder rather than baking soda to the pancakes. Or was it the other way round? I always get those two mixed up. Isn't white powder, white powder? Eh.)

This time I was chagrined to find that forgetting 1/3 a cup of flour makes chocolate chip cookies abandon all inhibitions about prescribed "cookie shape," spilling out of their little teaspoon-sized lumps (1-2 inches apart) in a liquid dough interpretation of Free Love, intermingling with every neighboring cookie they could reach within the 8 minute bake time. "That ain't right," I said to myself when I opened the oven door, but with a confidence mined from a hundred previous successful attempts at this recipe, I put them on the stove top to cool, perhaps hoping that they would somehow reform back into a tidy, recognizable shape. Alas, after a few minutes I had produced a new dessert, "Brittle Chocolate Doily," which quickly turned into "Brittle Chocolate Dust" as I attempted to pry them off the pan with all the ease of pulling melted wax from a shag carpet, chipping a spatula, scaring the dog, and showering stray bits of failed cookie into the fake flowers on the other side of the kitchen.

Which is not to say that a little chaos while cooking is a bad thing. Quite the contrary; I strive for it. Chaos is the invisible ingredient on all of my recipe cards, the secret element that makes cooking, in my opinion, worthwhile. When family and friends request a favorite recipe - one that I have already made the same way over and over and over again - I get the same sinking feeling as though I have just arrived at a party to hear, "Oh, why don't you sit down and sing that song for us? You know, the one you sang last time?" where all enjoyment is suffocated by sheer expected repetition. Blaaah. The boredom is enough to incite one to...I don't know...substitute roasted mealworms for walnuts in the brownies.

I best delight in my own private cooking experiments, when only I have to suffer whatever becomes of it. Recent discoveries - Coffee does not work well in a salmon marinade. Any type of non-sugary breakfast cereal can turn into an excellent breading. Oysters thrive in stews. Burnt collared green stems smell like cigarettes. Grinding cloves in the Cuisinart results in a permanent frosted look on the plastic. Orange juice does not substitute for milk.

The ingredient ad nauseam of late has been apples, as my premier backyard apple tree has been showered my larder with a constant supply of them. Buckets and buckets of them. I have a tag team effort with the local crows, begrudged though I am with the arrangement, that lets them peck at the apples on the high branches until they come down, and then I pick them up and salvage the undamaged bit. It's very Rabbit Hill, Saint Francis, "There is enough for all," I suppose, if only the crows weren't so blastedly cocky about it. For a while I tried to stave them off entirely, but after my father and I spent an afternoon with a ladder, a pole, a hard hat, and a catcher's mitt, whacking around at bunches of apples with increasing frustration, bringing down showers of several head-bashers at a time (and ducking for cover) while yelling at the dog not to put bite marks in all of them, and at one point climbing barefooted (me) into the upper reaches of the tree with no luck, I resolved to let the crows take their share in exchange for my sanity and the luxury of picking fractional apples off the ground, lazy sod that I am.

Which is a long way of saying, kiddies, prune your fruit trees while they're still young.

The "magic rice bowl" flood of apples has been kept in check by my barrage of apple-related recipes, transforming them into applesauce, apple cookies, apple juice, smoked apples, baked apples, apple ball (where I roll an apple and the dog chases and devours it), and the traditional apple pie, a traditional recipe that I pilfered off of Allrecipes.com. (Grandma Ople's, so it says, and it's marvelous.) But, chaos theory forever presiding, even my apple pie always has an indeterminate of spices thrown in from the spice rack.

Which reminds me, another very important discovery: Many different flavors taste great in a cup of coffee. Sage is not one of them. The jury is still awaiting a second opinion.

Rockin' in the World Series!

NLCS Champions!


I'm not a late comer; I just spaced out on them. They're the Rockies, fer crying out loud. Who would've thought? I just finished reading a blog post dated May 2007 that said, "Colorado? They ain't making the playoffs this year. There's no way this team is winning anything close to putting them near relevance in the next few years. It's a joke to still have them around in this competition."

The spirit of Sweet Irony is alive and well, the Rockies are on fire, and purple looks mighty good on a blue background...

Blog Updates

A few small changes to Fifteen Feet...

My blog links have been divided into two categories. Everything listed in "Dive Buddy Blogs" are written by friends. "Blogs That Swam Past" are interesting or useful blogs listed here for my own future reference, currently including:
Business Writing - basic and advanced rules for professional writing
Brooklyn Arden - from a book editor
Editorial Anonymous - from a children's book editor
Gurney Journey - the illustrator of "Dinotopia," discussing art issues

More are sure to come.

I've added a few useful sites to "Links from Deeper Waters," but time will tell if they pass muster. If I find that I'm not using them much, or if they aren't thorough or accurate sources of information, I'll give them the boot.

I can tell that this new method of organization hasn't sunk into my head yet, because the other day I spent quite a long time searching for "Luciferous Logolepsy" before finally remembering that I have a link to it.

I've also started tagging my posts, humoring my own crushing need for even virtual order, but I'm afraid the categories only make sense to me, and then only late at night.

Blogger is about to kick me off with a scheduled outage...

My profile photo

Gotta love them honeybees!

Writing Drains and Baseball Games

I'm alive.

I've been busy lately dunking my head into the hot caramel coating that is the publishing world, and after reading the blogs of many fine folks who work as cogs in that massive industry, have come to the conclusion that
1) Reading about other people wading through submission slush piles is probably much more fun than doing it myself, and
2) Learning about publishing houses is fascinating on general terms, but encourages the prospective writer in much the same manner as holding a hamburger up to a milk cow. In other words, every agent, editor, editor's assistant, and editor's assistant's intern says, more or less, "Over 99.999% of all writers fail and most of what we see is utter crap, and even if it's not utter crap it will probably never make it through our labyrinthine processes, so abandon all hope, stop writing, and shrivel up into a little ball of shattered dreams while you go back to your pencil pushing day job, you loser."

I suppose the rare (and lucky!) writer might stay blissfully unaware of the publishing process, pop out a masterpiece, and get swept lovingly into the arms of a instant book contract, and that would be grand. The wiser writer might try to see the world through an editor's eyes, learning what the common follies are and how to avoid them, but might also become so discouraged by the odds that said writer scoops up their entire work in progress and throws it into the fire, watching it burn with a maddened eye and cackling something about "freedom." (The computer "Digital Age" equivalent of this would be going to the end of a working file and hitting the backspace key for every single letter. Slow and painful.)

But the editor's perspective is honest, I'll give it that. It's harsh and mean, but at least it's a realistic portrayal of what to expect should you ever be foolish enough to attempt publication. I would much rather read through editors' blogs than the floofy, flouncy blogs of would-be writers, which all go along the lines of "blah blah high art form blah future literature scholars will know what I really mean blah blah and, oh yes. I haven't actually published anything yet." Probably meaning that they are writing a story about the antics of their cat, complete with a sample book cover that somehow includes their name Photoshopped into large glittering letters across the top half of the page. In my own musings on the art of writing, I must be careful not to fall into this category, the hoity class of writers who stuck their pens too far up their noses.

So this I now publicly vow: I will never ever submit a manuscript written on stationary that has the inkwell and plume motif at the top. I will not include glitter in the envelope. Or cookies. Or action figures based on my characters. Or a market analysis. Maybe whiskey. I might include whiskey. I also hereby vow to disassociate my specific writing from anything to do with intent-to-publish, restricting it entirely for the purpose of "fun," and if the thought of publishing occurs to me while in the act of writing, to go soak my head.

There. I feel so cleansed.

But back to the more important matter at hand...

Go Rockies! Woo, we gonna sweep the Championships, hooya! I feel a speck bad for the Phillies, and more than a speck bad for the poor Cubs, but at least the next round pits Colorado against the Diamondbacks. We go, Western Division! They're calling it the Continental Divide Championship. (Does Arizona have mountains? Hmm.) Watch as the Rockies blaze past the D-backs for an unbroken post-season streak! It'll happen.

Still, poor Cubs...

I'm hoping that the Red Sox take it tomorrow, but Yankees/Indians? Whatever. I have absolutely no opinion on that one. A Red Sox/Rockies or a Yankees/Rockies showdown would be pretty fun, though. If the Rockies could blast their way through either of those teams, maybe they would gain some much-needed national cred. The western teams don't get a lot of hoopla, other than the ones in California (which we consider not only its own division, but possibly its own sport.) That's the nice thing about the West. Outside of CA, we only have the Mariners, D-backs, and Rockies to root for. We're all like one gigantic family out here. (Tho I'm for the Red Sox, if the Rockies bail out. Wee!)

So much fun watching the crowd at Coors Field tonight, and wishing I could be in it. The last time I was there, it was raining and mostly empty. CO friends, are you getting tickets to these things? Have a spare one? I'll bring my own broom!

And a random question - Sure, the Rockies have Dinger the Dinosaur as their mascot, which I'll grant you is rather weird. Dinosaur fossils...rocks...it sort of makes sense. But why in the name of the great gravy train is the mascot for the Arizona Diamondbacks "Bobby the Bobcat?" Is there something wrong with selling rattlesnake plushies for the kids to cuddle with?