Friday, October 31, 2008

Our Very Own Political Nightmare

This is definitely the silly season: all of those automated phone messages telling you to vote for Susie Q. McGee, hundreds of flyers in the mail letting you know that Joe Toe's opponent clogged the toilet at a local restaurant, and the Todd Blobb supporters walking door to door asking you to vote for him. I can't wait until this election is over! Unfortunately, though, Chauncey's political nightmare is far from over. No, it's not any negative or annoying campaigning that's the problem, because it's not time yet for any of Chauncey's "elected officials" to run for office. No, our problem, is one that has been around since the local elections last year ... our mayor. Remember her? The one with the toilet in her yard?




Ever since she came into office, she has caused total chaos in our small town. I really wish that I would have kept all of the news articles outlining her bizarre behavior. Basically, to make a year long story short here's what has been going on with the mayor of Chauncelot: (1) When the mayor took office she decided to move herself into a brand new office. Well, Chauncey is poor, couldn't afford it so the council terminated the lease. She refused to give back the keys or the office furniture; (2) The mayor actually tells people not to pay their water and sewer bills, because there has been discrepancies regarding the billing; (3) She put 20,000 minutes and 1200 text messages on the village cell phone over a 4 month period of time. She claimed these were all "work related" calls/messages. (4) She recorded an executive (closed) council session and then turned the recording over to our former police chief; (4) She apparently had an "illicit sexual relationship" with an employee she supervised; (5) The mayor adjusted her own water and sewer bills and allowed residents to do the same; (6) She ordered the water clerk to turn the water on at her residence after it had been disconnected due to non payment; (7) The mayor was threatened litigation and used profanities at several council meetings; (8) She says that she is being "hit on" by male employees of the village and male residents; (9) The mayor also will not listen to the village solicitor's advice because she "knows the law and he is wrong." I should also mention that Chauncelot is being investigated by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation & Identification for unknown reasons.

All of the above, has happened over the last few months. It seems, however, that just when things start to calm down a little bit, the mayor just can't help but to stir the pot again. Take for instance this headline that came across the front page a few weeks ago:


She's taking a leave of office "for a few months" after only being in office for less than 10 months! WTH!? She won't tell anyone why she needs to take leave either, other than to say it's "to deal with personal issues." Oh yeah, she also wants full pay during this time. So, the council had a special meeting to discuss whether she could receive full pay during her leave. Well, I guess the village solicitor told the council that he was unsure whether "the mayor can legally take a leave of absence." So, two days later this was in the paper:


Her "leave of absence" totalled just a few days!

Then a few weeks went by and all of a sudden this is in the paper:


Yes, our own mayor is suing her own village for twisting her ankle in a pot hole two years ago!!! She is asking $25,000 for "lost wages, great physical pain, mental anguish and emotional distress" because she has been unable to participate in her usual activities.

We find out a possible reason behind this ridiculous lawsuit:


Um, she wants $2,000 to step down as mayor? You can tell what a poor area this is, can't you? Most times when you here about people being "paid off" to leave, you hear about them getting like $20, $30, $50, maybe even $100,000 dollars. But, no, our mayor just wants $2,000. Geez! Someone give it to her already!

The next day, this headline appears:


And the next day:



In this article, the mayor finally admits what she's guilty of:


Wow, mayor. You sound so professional! You only used one cuss word at a public council meeting? Good for you.


I guess the reality of the situation is that you can't expect much for only $400 a month:


I am sure this drama will continue until either the mayor gets her $2,000 or the city wins their suit to oust her from office. This means, I should have alot more blog material on this subject in the months to come!

It's always something here in Chauncey!


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pumpkins!

One of the best things about Halloween is carving pumpkins!!! We do it every year. We used to just buy those pumpkin carving kits and then use whatever patterns we found inside. The last couple of years, though, we surf the internet and look for pumpkin patterns or Mason makes them from images we find.

Here are the ones we made last year ...

(Mason's skull and my mummy)

(Michael's and Sean's faces)


This year I really wanted to carve Medusa, but I couldn't find a pattern I liked on the internet, so Mason found an image of Medusa and then somehow made it into a really sweet pattern!




I think it turned out great.


Mason wanted to do Sarah Palin so he found an image and then played around with it until it would work as a pumpkin pattern.




Pretty good, huh? It really looks like her! Mason was worried that his Sarah Palin image might be too scary for all the little kiddies that come out trick or treating ...


Here's a picture of all of the pumpkins. Sean's pumpkin is the moon thingy and Mason did the Homer Simpson pumpkin since Michael didn't want to carve one this year.


Happy Halloween Freaks!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Changing Chauncey, One Picture at a Time

At the beginning of September I took a picture of one of our stop signs in Chauncey so people could see what a large portion of the stop signs around my neighborhood look like ...



The sign is completely washed out. It's just a white octagon. This made me think to myself ... if you went through one of those stop signs, could you still get a ticket? I think you'd have a pretty good argument against being cited. How would you know that you were supposed to stop? Anyway, I am pleased to tell you that we now have brand new stop signs!!!! YAY!!!!

Well this got me thinking ... Ok, I have been living in Chauncey for about a year and a half and the stop signs, at least on my side of the street, have always been washed out octagons. This means that they have been fading for a LONG, LONG time, probably years, and have never been replaced ... UNTIL ... I took a picture of them a few weeks ago!!!!! Is there a connection? Do you think if I start taking pictures of the giganto potholes, or the junk in my neighbor's yard, or even of Albert, they will all of the sudden be replaced with nice, new versions?

I know, I know. I am so conceited to think that I am the reason for the new stop signs! Stephanie thinks that since starting this blog I have become very full of myself, which I absolutely disagree. I am far from having a big head about myself!!! The only reason Stephanie even thinks this is because a couple of weeks ago I opened this package of poptarts that had knock-knock jokes on them and this particular one had my name on it! I admit that I was extremely excited and showed everyone the poptart and even took a picture of it. But, I feel that I'm justified because how often do you hear knock-knock jokes with the name Danielle in it? Not often.



(It says "Danielle at him he didn't do it!")

See? Unique, don't you think? Well, I should tell you that I think I also made the comment, "I think this means something, don't you?" So, yeah, I guess that is kind of big-headed of me ... I mean it's not like an image of Jesus showed up on the poptart or anything. I suppose I do need to humble myself a little bit and realize that just because I have a blog doesn't mean that now all of these amazing things will happen to me like my stops signs being replaced or finding food with my name on it. Crap. I'm feeling depressed ...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Friendvention

Things in Chauncelot have been slow lately. Or maybe I just haven't been around my house enough to really notice what actually is happening? Sure, I have almost run over Albert with my car about five times in the last week, because he plays an extremely good game of "chicken" with passing vehicles. For instance, you will see him riding his bike on the side of the road and then just as you are about to pass him he will look back at you and then swerve out so you have to slam on your brakes to avoid hitting him. Really grates my nerves when he does this. He also hides behind parked cars and then when you are about to drive past he will throw a ball across the street and then jump out and chase it. That kid seriously owes me some brake pads! (Don't know who he is? You should read my first blog.) I also inadvertently found myself in the middle of a mob of people that were screaming threats at each other while I was walking my dogs a couple of nights ago. But, that's about it. So, for now, you're just going to have to deal with stories about me until I get the time to trapse around Chauncey collecting great blog material. So here it goes ...

A few weeks ago, I was going through a really bad time period, apparently, because my friend, Stephanie, was forced to do a "friendvention" on me. One day, Stephanie and I were going to meet Mason and Ryan for lunch during our lunch hour at work. Well, I must have been giving off depressive vibes, because before we left Stephanie was like, "WTH is wrong with you? You're acting weird today." I went on this long rant about how I hated everyone and how everything was going wrong and, blah, blah, blah. Well, then, as we're walking out to her car she sees the "purse" I was carrying and she says, "Oh my god. WTH is that?" I'm like, "What is what?" And she points to my "purse" and says something like, "THAT! You're turning into a hippie. You have a freakin' tote as a purse. WTH is going on?" I was like, "Yeah, I know, but I dropped a pop in my real purse a few weeks ago and I had to throw it away because there was standing pop water and it would have been all sticky. I just haven't bought a new one yet." - Let me pause for a moment to explain the pop and the purse accident. A couple of weeks prior to this, I was sitting in my office drinking a Coke Zero and talking to my coworker, Kelly. All of a sudden, the almost full can slips out of my hand and lands face down right into my purse. It was horrible. My cute, little purse was filled with Coke Zero. I pulled everything out of there to dry off and dumped the pop in my purse in the sink and then threw my purse away. It was a sad, sad moment. - So, anyway, then Stephanie says to me, "You better buy a new purse or I'm going to kill you. You can't carry around some old tote you found at work." I did find it at work, too. I actually use it FOR WORK to carry stuff in when I go to community events and, after I dumped my pop in my real purse, I just put my wallet in the tote and started carrying that around. Below is the picture of the tote:




So, anyway, we get to the restaurant and sit down and order. Then our food arrives and I am having trouble eating it. I have really bad heartburn, which I've had all morning, and I'm kinda nauseous as well. I tell everyone, "I don't feel good. I have bad heartburn and I can't eat this. I think it may have been the apple cider vinegar I drank this morning." Stephanie was like, "WTF is wrong with you? Why have you been drinking apple cider vinegar you freak?" I point to the skin around my nose and mouth and say "Because I have eczema and I read on a website that apple cider vinegar is good for your skin." She's like, "No you don't have eczema and you need to stop being depressed and hating everyone and carrying around a tote for a purse and drinking vinegar!!!" I started laughing and was like, "Yeah I know. I promise I won't drink anymore vinegar and I will get a new purse."

I think Stephanie was worried about me for a few days after that ... I stopped hating everyone and I didn't drink anymore vinegar, but I was still carrying around that tote, primarily because I didn't want to spend the money for a new one. I think I also let it slip that I had recently been using the neti pot and I thought my ears were all plugged up from that. Oops! Since the "friendvention," though, things have gotten much better for me. I did, FINALLY, get a new purse. Isn't it cute? (It only cost me like $2 at a thrift store.)



Stephanie has also become both my medical doctor and counselor. I have decided to run all of my "medical" ideas by her first, before I try them. That way, hopefully, I can avoid the terrible apple cider vinegar incident. Stephanie is my counselor as well, because when I'm depressed it really does help me to hear someone tell me, "I'll kick your ass if you don't stop this," and "I'm seriously going to come over and kill you." Those violent phrases always put things into perspective for me ... or ... at the very least, they make me laugh really hard!!

This post just made me think of something. Do you mind if a digress a little? Oh, good. I didn't think so ... My family has known this about me for a long time, but I'm somewhat of a hypochondriac. I always think that I am dying of some horrible illness. Now, when I text my sister, Brittany, to tell her that WEBMD says I have some terrible, life threatening illness, I'll just get a text back that says, "That sux" or "I hope u die quickly so u don't suffer" or "U will look scary if that really happens 2 ur face." I guess, Brittany and Stephanie are similiar in the fact that they always keep me grounded, in reality. They never let my neuroses or possible psychosis get too out of control before they smack me back down. Thank God for that.

I hate to admit this, but my neuroses or psychosis or whatever you want to call it has, unfortunately, affected other people in my life, namely Mason. Probably about three years ago, I became obsessed with the thought that Mason was going to die of a heart attack, so I began making him take a bunch of daily vitamins, eventually an aspirin. He didn't even know what I was giving him when I handed him a bunch of pills! He'd just toss them in his mouth and chug 'em down with a glass of water. Talk about trust!

A few days after I began giving him the concoction of vitamins and aspirin, he began having a really, really upset stomach. It got to the point where I was really concerned. At first, I thought he had developed some sort of bowel or colon cancer because of his symptoms; I didn't even make the connection that it might have something to do with the vitamins and the aspirin, in particular, that I was making him take everyday. So, I began to do all of this psycho online research, trying to uncover Mason's unknown illness, when somehow I came across a site that said that aspirin can upset your stomach and produce the exact symptoms that Mason was experiencing! Oh my God! I figured it out!

Now, I had to make sure that it was the aspirin that was making Mason sick and that he was not, in fact, dying of bowel or colon cancer. So, for the next few days I only gave Mason the vitamins, but stopped giving him the aspirin. Wallah! Mason's symptoms disappeared and he felt better. YAY! This just wasn't enough for me, though. I really had to make sure it was indeed the aspirin. So, I began giving Mason the vitamins AND the aspirin again. Well, one night Mason got up around 3am to go to the bathroom and when he came back he kept tossing and turning and didn't seem like he could sleep. I asked him what was wrong and he said, "I don't know, but I think I should go to the doctor." He told me that the symptoms started happening again ... I thought to myself, "It really IS the aspirin!" So, I explained to Mason that I had been doing an experiment to make sure that the aspirin was causing the symptoms and that I was sure he didn't have bowel or colon cancer. I thought he was going to be upset, but instead he just rolled over and went to sleep.

I feel really bad that I performed an experiment like this on someone I love. I mean, I didn't intend for him to get sick. It all started because I didn't want him to be sick in the first place!! Luckily, Mason thinks this experiment was really funny ... he doesn't seem to have any post traumatic stress whatsoever. Although, now that I think about it, he is very apprehensive about taking any vitamins or herbs from me anymore. As a matter of fact, Mason and the boys don't seem to EVER get sick anymore ... ... ... ... ... Sorry for the pause. I was just re-reading this and I thought to myself, "Wow! I'm a freakin' psycho!" Ok, I think at this point I just need to stop writing before someone tries to admit me into the local psych ward ...

Well, to end this blog I thought you all might be wondering what me, Mason, Stephanie and Brittany all look like ... Well, maybe you aren't, but I really don't care. Mason didn't want to be featured, although his picture is on an earlier blog .... Oh yeah, my brother also appears in the photos because that's the only picture I had on my computer with Brittany in it. I've done a bit of editing to the pictures to protect my innocent friend, sister and brother since I haven't asked their permission to use these. Maybe someday you'll be lucky enough to see who they really are. The top photo is of me and Stephanie and the bottom photo is of me, Brittany and my brother, Derek.




Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Something Wicked This Way Comes: A Walmart Experience

Actually, I think the full line is "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes." Shakespeare wrote it. Fabulous isn't it? I love that line.

I bought a Halloween card the other day at Walmart with that phrase on it. It was really cool. The entire front of the card was black and white with a spooky haunted house and cemetary. The only thing that was in color were these orange pumpkins that sat outside of the cemetary. At the very top was the line, "Something wicked this way comes." On the inside it said, "Have yourself a creepy little Halloween."

I'm not totally sure what the meaning of the line was supposed to be in Shakespeare. I think it was said by one of the witches in Macbeth, but I can't remember. The way it's written, however, seems to suggest some kind of impending doom. I guess it was fitting, because little did I know that after picking out that card, I was going to have a horrible Walmart experience.

I should back up a little bit ... Normally, I leave my house to go grocery shopping every Saturday morning at 8:45am. My routine is that I head to Aldi first, which opens at 9am, and then I finish my shopping at Walmart. My goal is always to be done no later than 10am or 10:15am, which I almost always accomplish. My reasoning for this is that after 10am, it gets hellish. I mean CRAZY, HORRIBLE, Walmart HELL! The store starts to fill up, the lines get long, and there are people EVERYWHERE. For me, Walmart after 10am is kind of like what would happen to Cinderella at midnight - her dress would turn to rags, the horses to mice, the coach to a pumpkin - but in my case, my blood pressure rises, I get a pounding headache, I begin to stare daggers into anyone I see, my hands get a slight tremor in them, I sweat, I feel like I could turn homicidal at any moment ... yeah, you get the picture. I absolutely cannot handle Walmart after 10am.

So, I'm not sure what I've been thinking these past couple of weeks when I've attempted to go grocery shopping on Friday's. The Friday before last I decided to go grocery shopping at around 7pm. Bad idea. It was crowded and there were only like 2 lanes open so the lines were extremely long. That's another Walmart complaint I have: Why do they have like 30 checkout lanes but only a maximum of 6 lanes are ever open at once? I've never understood this. So, anyway, my stress levels rose significantly when I saw how packed the store was. And, the sight of only two lanes open just made my blood boil. But, what made me even more upset was that there was hardly any food! I'm serious. It was like some evil, psychic human being knew what was on my list and came and purchased the entire stock before I arrived at the store. UGH!

Well, then, I had last Friday off of work so I went to the store around 10am with Mason, thinking, "Oh it won't be bad at this time on a Friday." Ha! We get there and it's the same thing: crowded, with only a couple of lanes open. Immediately, I'm in a bad mood. I think back on this experience and I just think, "Poor Mason." Mason is almost always in a good mood or maybe it would be better to say he's always even-keeled. He never really gets angry to the point where he's mean and crabby, no matter what situation he's in.

So, the first thing we do is buy shampoo at the Walmart hair place, because I love their Olive Oil Shampoo. That experience goes relatively smoothly. Next, we go over to look at the cards, because I need to buy one for a friend of mine. I end up getting even more annoyed and frustrated, because I'm trying to pick out a nice, cool card and Mason is showing me all of these stupid ones with fart jokes and other immature crap. He thinks they're hilarious and that my friend would just think it was the funniest card ever. Whatever, Mason. I end up picking out the cool "Something wicked this way comes" card and I'm ready to head to the food aisles and I look over at Mason and he has this stack of fart joke cards and is threatening to buy them and send them to everyone I know. ARGH! I end up just walking away from him. So annoying!

We finally get to grocery shopping and I'm walking around picking up the items we need and crossing them off of the list. I give Mason a few items off of the list and he walks off to go get them. Well, I'm over in the cereal aisle getting poptarts for the boys when Mason comes back with the items we need, but also with an arm full of other junk food that he wants. Now, don't get me wrong, I really don't mind getting extra stuff that's not on the list, but every week I try really hard to stay on budget and I plan every meal we have based off of this budget. Every time Mason goes grocery shopping with me, he always irritates me by getting a million extra things. He will even tell you that he does it just to "torture you." I mean, one time he even got pickled eggs and pigs feet just to be annoying. Those nasty things sat in the fridge for months until I threw them away. Although, at the time, he swore to me that he was going to eat them. Mason also likes to irritate me by pointing to anything and everything and saying, "Look, DVD's for $4! We need to buy some," or "That plasma TV is only $1500. We have to get it," or "We'll just put it on credit ... to help the economy." So, as you can see, I am the holy crab from hell when I try to go grocery shopping with Mason!

Once we finally get everything off of our list, we attempt to find a relatively short line to stand in. Of course, we pick the "short" line where everyone has some sort of a problem where they need a "CSM" to come and take care of it or they are paying with a check and don't even start writing it out until the cashier has finished scanning their million groceries and putting all of the bags in their cart! I hate that! As we're standing in line, Mason says really loudly, "Sweetie why are you so crabby" and "You're reeeeaaaaalllly mad at me, aren't you?" He also does this just to torture me, because he knows that everyone in line will turn to look at the mean, crabby girl who is horrible to her boyfriend. ARGH!

Ok, I know, I know. My stressful Walmart experience, should really be a "stressful" Walmart experience, because in the bigger picture it really shouldn't be anything that I'm stressed out about anyway, and, Mason is just trying to be funny and make the whole experience a little more exciting, I guess, so I really shouldn't get mad and crabby with him. Yet I do. I know all of these things, but I just can't seem to put them into practice. It's like I turn into a different person when I enter the doors of Walmart. That phrase, "Something wicked this way comes," really sums up my Walmart experiences .... especially after 10am on Saturday's, but probably on any given day. Maybe I should change the line to "Something annoying this way comes," because that really is what the problem is .... everything that could possibly annoy me happens at Walmart after 10am. Although, you know, now that I'm thinking about it, maybe me reading that card that day was like a warning that I was the "wicked" in the "something wicked this way comes." That I was the crabby, evil, wicked woman who was going to be mean to everything in her path.

Wow. That realization just changed my perspective on everything. Maybe from now on there will be a kinder, more even-keeled Danielle that can enter Walmart at any time, even if it's after 10am.

Or ... maybe not.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The (Un)Amish Friendship Bread

Amish Friendship Bread is perhaps the best bread in the world. It is absolutely delicious and full of sweet, cinnamonny, sugary, goodness. If you have no idea what I'm talking about then let me explain the basics to you: it all starts with one of your friends handing you a recipe for the Amish Friendship Bread along with a Ziploc bag filled with a cup of this runny, stinky, starter. The recipe tells you that you have to wait 10 days before you can actually bake the bread. Along the way, however, you have to mush the bag and add some more ingredients to it. Long story short, once you get to the 10th day you end up with not only 2 delicious loaves of bread but 4 bags of starter; you keep one bag for yourself and the other three you pass along to friends. The recipe then ends by saying, "Only the Amish know how to make the starter so if you give them all away, you'll have to wait until someone gives you one back." Well, my friends, I'm here to tell you, "That is sooooooo not true!"

Before I tell you the secret to the (Un)Amish Friendship Bread or as I like to call it F.T.'s Friendship Bread, I should tell you how I uncovered the Amish secrets. Tiffany and I both received our little baggies filled with starter around the same time, at the beginning of summer, I believe. I was only able to do two 10 day cycles before I was like, "Yeah, OK, this sucks," and threw away my remaining starter. (Hey, I can't help it ... I'm a product of my culture, I need things NOW!) Not only did I not like that the bread took 10 long, stinkin', days before I could bake it and eat it, I also hated trying to give away the starters. Well, I should say that I actually kinda enjoyed giving them away, because I knew people really didn't want to take it, but felt obligated to because it's "friendship" bread. Ha! So, anyway, I gave up on the bread and the starters. Tiffany, however, was a faithful, Amish Friendship Bread (AFB) baking machine! She consistently made the bread and gave away the starters! Amazing!

One day, Tiffany and I were talking on the phone and we started talking about AFB and I said "I wish I would have saved a starter because I really want some of that bread right now!" And then Tiffany says, "I think the starter is just milk, flour, and sugar. I don't think there's any yeast in it." So the more we talked about it, we realized that as many times as she has made the recipe and divided her original starter there's no way that there could still be any yeast in it even if there was to begin with. We also knew that the original ingredients had to be milk, flour, and sugar because, as you can see below, on day 6 you add 1 cup each of milk, flour, and sugar and then on day 10 you add 1 1/2 cups each of milk, flour, and sugar and then you divide up the starters before you add the remaining ingredients to the starter that you are going to bake with. Got it? ANYWAY, Tiffany came up with the idea of trying to make AFB by putting 1/3 cup each of milk, flour, and sugar (which would be equivalent to the starter divied out in the original recipe) in a Ziploc bag and then just following the original instructions on the recipe. So, I tried it ......... and ..... IT WORKED!!!!!!!! THE AMISH SECRETS WERE UNCOVERED!!!


After I got over my initial excitement, I realized that none of my other problems were really solved. Sure I got to eat the bread again (without knowing an Amish person mind you) but I still had to wait 10 days to eat it and I still had all of these Ziploc bags full of starter that I either had to give away or throw away. So, I started doing some research online and http://www.wikipedia.com/ mentioned that you could do a 5 day bread cycle instead of the normal 10 days. The site didn't give the specifics of how you would do it though, so again Tiffany and I put our giant brains together and figured out that if you bake on a 5 day cycle you will only have enough starter for 2 loaves of bread, but not for the additional starters. PERFECTO! The 10 day cycle is only needed if you want the additional starters, which is why you add the extra milk, flour and sugar on day 6 ... it needs an extra 5 days to ferment.

Now that we figured out the 5 day cycle we had to figure out the recipe specifics since the recipe we had was based off of the 10 day cycle. Tiffany did the complicated mathematics and below you will find F.T.'s friendship bread or the (Un)Amish Friendship Bread recipe:

To make the starter add 1/3 cup each of milk, flour, and sugar to a Ziploc bag. (Do not refrigerate)

Day 1: Mush the bag

Day 2: Mush the bag

Day 3: Mush the bag

Day 4: Mush the bag

Day 5: Pour everything into a non-metal bowl and add the following ingredients:

3 eggs

1 cup Vegetable Oil

1 1/2 cups + 2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons Milk

2 cups + 2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons Sugar

1 large Vanilla Pudding Mix (Instant)

2 teaspoons Cinnamon

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda

1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder

3 cups + 2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons Flour

Grease 2 pans. Mix 1tsp Cinnamon and 1/2 cup Sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle into bottom of pans. Add batter, sprinkle rest of sugar mixture over tops. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour (mine always takes longer than an hour) or until bread loosens from pan. Run a knife around edges of bread, then turn out onto a cooling rack.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Random Newsletter

So, I drive up to my house after work and, as I pull in the driveway, I notice something sitting on the porch with shiny things on it. WTH??!!


I get out of the car and walk up to it and realize it's some sort of a note with pennies on top of it. Again, WTH??!!



Then, it occurs to me: it's a newsletter! I think I mentioned in my first post that our neighbor's granddaughters will leave us candy, fake money, love letters, and sometimes even a newsletter. We haven't gotten anything in almost a month so it kinda took me by surprise when I saw it sitting there today.

I don't really know if I would call this a newsletter as it seems more like a homework assignment:


I really don't get it. It's driving me crazy ... What does it mean, "Answer the question that makes 8?" What's the answer? I mean, 4 + 4 makes 8, but so does 7 + 1 or 5 + 3 or 6 + 2 or 8 + 0 and then you get into all the possibilities with subtraction, division, or even multiplication. And, WTH is the 0 + 0 stuff at the very top? Is this more than just a math problem? Is it really supposed to be some mathematical metaphor for life? If I solve this problem will I in turn solve my personal problems? Do these girls somehow know that I'm going through an existential crisis? Is this assignment meant to help me through it. AAAAAHHHH, the torture!!!!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Religious Relics & The Big (Plywood) Jesus

I admit it. I am totally obsessed with all things religious. It's not that I am a religious person as I don't do the things that "good" religious people do, such as attend church, read the Bible, be nice to people, and so on. However, I am very interested in all types of religions and denominations. In fact, Mason says that this obsession has taken over my whole life since I have so many religious relics in our house, but I disagree. It really hasn't overcome my life. I just find the whole phenomenon fascinating.



I think this fascination of mine began during my time at the University of St. Thomas; a private, Catholic college that I went to for my undergraduate degree. You see, at St. Thomas, we were forced to take religious classes in order to graduate. I can't remember how many you were supposed to take to fulfill the requirement, but, I believe, I took four classes total. Though, I wish I had taken more and maybe even double majored with a Theology degree. At first, I thought these classes were going to be awful, but they actually ended up being the best classes I ever took.



For whatever reason, I thought that the professors were going to try to brainwash me into being a Catholic and criticize me because I never attended church, but they didn't. In all of my classes the professors took the presumption that the Bible is a historical document, written for a specific people, during a specific time. Sure, they also believed that the Bible is timeless in the sense that it is Sacred and Holy and that there are teachings in there that transcend age and time, but they were also able to recognize that some of the stuff in there is very specific to those people. For instance, you know the "eye for an eye" phrase from Exodus that supporters of the death penalty always use to justify the practice today. Well, the meaning of that passage is totally lost if you don't look at the historical context in which it was written. The whole point of that phrase is to say that if someone pokes your eye out, the most you can do to him is poke his eye out. You can't go and kill him and his whole family because he screwed your eye up. Get it? During the time period of the Bible - yeah, I can't remember the dates sorry! - there wasn't any "law and order" per se, so when some guy, we'll call him, Ismael, came and stole, Abe's, herd of goats, Abe would retaliate by wiping out the whole family instead of just taking Abe's herd of goats. So, the whole point of the "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" stuff is to set limits on retaliation and develop a form of criminal justice, specifically getting your "just deserts," or that which is deserved. Damn! Look at that sheeeeeeeet. I should have doubled major in Theology and Criminal Justice! Alright, alright. Enough of this. The point is that the classes didn't end up being horrible or some kind of freaky-brainwashy-crap. They actually were really interesting.



Oh yeah, speaking of the freaky-brainwashy-crap, I did have this awful ... let me say it again, AWFUL .... philosophy professor who made everyone say the Pledge of Allegiance followed by the Lord's Prayer before every class. I hated him. H-A-T-E-D HIM! He was so pretentious. I don't even remember his name. I just remember that he made us do that stuff and that he thought fishing was the most horrible thing on the face of the earth. He thought people who fish were complete "bores." WAFW (that stands for "what a freakin' weirdo")!



Ok, so back to the point of this blog which is to talk about the religious relics and, of course, the ultimate relic ... the big (plywood) Jesus. I do have quite a few religious items that are now apart of my home decor. Now before I go into this specifics of what I have, I want to say that some people will probably get their panties in a bunch and accuse me of being a religious borrower. You know, the type. The people that borrow what they like from a bunch of different religions and then just discard the rest of that religion. Well, that is not what I do. I explore and read about all sorts of religions and I don't pick and choose from them what I like and what I don't. I admit that my beliefs are complicated and I'm not going to get into the specifics here, but let's just say that I appreciate and respect all religions ...



Alrighty. Here it goes. First we have Native American stuff. Mason is a registered Sioux Indian and grew up on the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana, so we have some of his family's stuff, a dream catcher and sage. The dream catcher is from Mason's Aunt Doris who had it blessed by a Medicine Man on "the rez" and she told him to always hang it above the front door in the house. Normally, dream catchers are supposed to hang over your bed, but for whatever reason this one is supposed to hang over our door to keep bad people out, I guess. The sage is used for "smudging," which is where you burn it and purify the environment to get the bad "juju" out.







We also have several religious books, ranging from The Holy Bible, The Holy Qu'ran, Buddhist writings, Taoist writings, etc.







I have religious candles that I obtained from Kroger, Walmart, and from my favorite place of all www.rootcandles.com .









I also have Buddhist items, namely Bodhisattva's:





Stephanie got me an early Christmas present of the Virgin Mary, which I absolutely love!





There's also a gargoyle for protection. We have two more sitting on our front porch. The other day, one of our neighbor's told Mason his very religious wife thinks we're evil because of our Last Chaunce Cemetary and the gargoyles. Here's what I think .... "Um, lady you live in public housing in Chauncey. Let me say it again, YOU LIVE IN PUBLIC HOUSING IN CHAUNCEY! You have no right to judge."





Anyway, as you can see, I'm a bit obsessed. So, now, anytime, people see cool religious stuff they tell me about it. Needless to say, I was psyched when Stephanie told me about the Big (Plywood) Jesus in someone's front yard. Stephanie found it when her and Ryan were out driving around. I believe their conversation went something like this:



Stephanie: "JESUS!"



Ryan: "What????"



Stephanie: "No, Jesus!" (pointing to the giganto Jesus in the front lawn)



When Stephanie told me about it, I just had to see it. I tried to go on my own but ended up getting totally lost, but, luckily, Steph took me out to snap a picture of it. Big Jesus doesn't look very big in the picture, but that is because he's way off the road next to these people's trailer. I didn't feel right about going all the way up the driveway to take a picture of him, so the one you see is taken from the road. It looks like it's a 12 foot tall Jesus that is made out of plywood. He actually has a purple piece of cloth draped around him ... He's awesome!






Yeah, I know it's a really bad picture, but I have a crappy camera and I couldn't zoom in anymore ...

I guess the one good thing about my obsession is that I live right smack in the middle of the Bible belt and all sorts of religious relics are at my fingertips!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Last Chaunce Cemetary

Yay, it's October! This is my favorite month of the year. Not only is the weather perfect - not too hot, not too cold - but it has the best holiday ever, Halloween! I have always wanted to decorate for Halloween, so last year I came up with the idea of doing a cemetary. Well, the "Last Chaunce Cemetary," that is :-)

Mason had a ton of old wood in the basement and he made 13 tombstones. They turned out really awesome and, if you could see our yard in person, it really does look like a cemetary! Here are some of them:




Once the tombstones were made, I realized that we really had to write something on them, because, otherwise, they were just, well, kind of "Blah." So, I wrote up epitaphs for me, Mason, Michael, Sean, Stephanie, Ryan, and then two of our friends that shall remain nameless due to their high profile status in Athens County. For the purposes of this blog, I shall call them Bonnie and Clyde. All of the epitaphs are personalized, so they might not make sense to some of you who don't know us very well. Here are the epitaphs:

Danielle
One of her talents was her eyes
Though it would be by this from which she dies
She crossed them again without refrain
Until one finally pierced her brain

Mason
Many years he spent on the pot
Making the sewer bill quite a lot
One day he awoke with a smile
But little did he know it would be his last pile

(Hey, he wanted to die from pooping!!)

Michael
In his room he was found
Rotting food and clothes abound
It was the mess that did him in
Because stinkiness was his sin

Sean
Never in the sun
In his room was the fun
Though his mind went lame
As he died by video game

Stephanie
Her sharp tongue finally did her in
Though she left this earth with a grin
For as her shotgun fell
She shouted, "I will see you in hell!"

Ryan
Too many Guinesses were had
What a poor, drunk lad
Though he will be known as the man
Who made the best Black 'n Tan

Bonnie
Though she resisted for years
Those pills relieved her fears
Joy, peace, and happiness she sought
But it really was "the farm" she bought

Clyde
Not by knife, gun, or sword
Nor by chamber, noose, or cord
But rather by a pile of books
That fell upon his handsome looks

The rest of the tombstones just have corny stuff on them like "Rest in Pieces", "I told you I was sick," Vlad the Impaler, etc. Mason made a new tombstone this year to replace the one that was stolen last year, so I have to think up a new saying .... I think I'm going to do a tombstone for Jerry and Marty. (If you don't know who Jerry is, then you need to read my first blog. Ryan was renamed, Marty, by one of his elderly patients so that's his new name now.) Any ideas on how they should die? I need to have a subject before I can write something ...

Here's the rest of the Halloween pictures. The one just below is of Madge, who was on the couch peeking out the window when I was taking these pictures. She is so bad! She shouldn't be on the couch!!!



Happy October!!!