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Sunday, December 30, 2007


Okay, so I might put Floyd on display in January. The club gets a set of shelves at the Trails West Library (wherever that is) to promote the hobby.

Mr. Creosote, definitely. Punk Rocket Girl, probably. ÜberTubester Chixulubster most likely.

But Floyd is huge. I'll have to see what the space situation is, whether I'll display him or not. But he loosened a fin on his first landing, and I hadn't gotten around to repairing it. So I put a bunch of CA glue on the crack and wiggled the fin what little it would move to work the glue in.

How strong and fast-setting is the CA glue? Well, the knife I used to cut off the tip so it would flow, it stayed where it was when I was done with it.


Like I say, we were late to church. Really, really late.

My first mistake was letting both honyocks forgo showers Saturday night. They're at that age where they don't fear being the smelly kid, so if I didn't make them groom, well, they'd be the smelly kids.

Em's started digging boys, so I may not have to battle her to maintain minimum hygiene much longer. Not that the battle I'll be trading that in for is an improvement.

So then there's the sleep-in factor. I guess she's growing, but Em could win endurance competitions for sleeping. This would be fine with me if Mo would also sack out, because I could really go for sleeping until ten. But Mo is ecstatically awake at 6:00 most mornings, 7:00 if I really catch a break. 8:00, and I wonder if there's been a medical incident.

On the plus side, Mo loves to snuggle, so there's often a chance I can get her to come snuggle in Daddy's bed while I pretend I can sleep a bit longer. As she giggles, plays with the air coming out of my CPAP and asks to be tickled and kicks me. And tries to rub my scalp stubble around the CPAP straps. And jumps on my gut to get to something. Real restful, dig?

Church doesn't start until 11:00, but I'm only on time once a year or so. My daughters and me are a cocktail of tardiness made with two parts ADD, one part Autism. Garnish with a twist of bad habits. It's a miracle we ever get anywhere at all.

And having to get all three of us through the shower, with two of us resisting like Ghandi, well...

Last time we were so late it was a 'grab a CD of the sermon' situation, we got the shuttle right away, but it turns out that was a bit of a fluke. Sensibly enough, the shuttle runs when people normally show up.

Maybe I should explain: the Love Shuttle (one of its nicknames) is Heartland's answer to an elementary school parking lot (the church is housed in a former grade school). How many kids did you go to grade school with who drove themselves to school? Exactly. So while the building has enough space for a congregation of a couple thousand to hold services and Sunday School and so on, it has the parking for a teacher in each room and maybe a half dozen in the office. The church is trying to buy a defunct furniture store which has, among other virtues, tons of parking. In the meantime, they have a little bus that takes people from a couple of satellite lots. And even if there was parking available at the main lot, I'd use it because Mo is used to the routine: you go to this lot and ride the shuttle in.

This is why I don't just decide not to go when we're a half hour late. Mo craves routine, and being that the school routine, center of her universe, is on unaccountable holiday vacation, I'm not going to take the church routine out on top of it all.

While we waited for the shuttle, the girls had fun pelting me with snowballs. The snow didn't pack well today, but there were good lumps where the snow ploughs had pushed it aside.

Mo, did, by the way have some fun with the camera she got for Christmas.


Growing up, I never realized brisket was a tough cut of beef. Imagine my surprise, when shortly after me and the artist formerly known as Frau Lobster set up housekeeping and I tried to cook a brisket over an open fire on the grill. Medium rare boot leather.

Of course eventually I'll cave and buy a smoker at Wal-Mart. They're not expensive unless you figure the purchase of a smoker offsets most of a summer's rocket launches. A smoker also costs more than brewing a batch of beer. In other words, there are priorities, damnit.

I use even lower temperatures in the oven than Mom did with her briskets. Maybe I don't need to, I think she used 250°F. And about an hour before serving it, she removed it and sliced it so the broth could work its way into the meat better.

I put mine in chicken broth and let it go overnight, about 15 hours on 170°F to simulate smoker temperatures. Then I sliced it and returned it to the oven for a few more hours while we went to church. Well, sort of went to church. We got there when it was over, basically, but got to say hey to folks. And I grabbed a CD of the sermon.

So then I cut up some potatoes and onions, put some baby carrots in and a tablespoon or so of minced garlic and turned the oven up to 300°F to assist in cooking the veggies, gave it two more hours.

Gawd but my house smelled good by the time we ate dinner.

Now I'm cooking down the broth (spiked with three more quarts of chicken broth) with the leftover meat, having added about four tablespoons of tomato paste. The plan is to make egg noodles to put in this stock. Another childhood favorite.

Snow Runt

We tried to make a snowman.

First on Saturday, because we heard the snow was packing suitably. But it wasn't.

Then today, it seemed perfect weather for it. Temps in the thirties with sun, but it was just a couple of degrees to cold I guess. I have the sore back of someone who has built a proper snow person, but the result is little more than a frosty bowling ball.

Mo got in the spirt, though. When I got tired of rolling the ball around, she started pushing it.

Then she had a seizure, which I'd kind of seen coming. She was spacey at lunch and didn't eat much. She hadn't had any diet cola today, so the phenylalanine link is maybe not as strong for it (my ex found some info that it can increase the risk of seizures, and since I consume a lot of diet colas, the girls generally have access to such). But still, a seizure.

It was short, and it wasn't intense. And weirdest postichtal ever, Mo didn't want to go right in and sleep. She started rolling the ball around the yard again. A lot. Ten minutes or more, an exhausting and futile trip, as the ball wasn't growing. Last time we did a snowchick, the snow packed properly, and this much rolling would have yielded a ball bigger than Mo. This amount of tracked up yard, it should have been so heavy we went on to the middle ball because the base is to heavy to roll.

She did finally go in and crash out for an hour or so.


When we got to the house, Em claimed to have a headache. She does get migraines that make her puke, but I smelled bullshit.

Plus, we'd been driving behind a truck on the highway, so I figured there was a chance it was diesel fumes that came in because when I don't put my car heater on outside air, the windows fog up no matter what else I do.

She tried to sit in the car, refusing to come in. Refused all logic: here there will be a toilet you can puke in if you're going to puke. In my car, you'll make a disgusting mess for me to clean up. Here, there'd probably be a bed you can lie down on if you need to.

Ten seconds after we were through the front door, the headache was gone. She realized she knew everyone here except the host, who's the significant other of someone she does know. Plus, there were good things to eat, cookies to decorate, punch to drink.

I'm struck at how far Mo has come. She'd have taken the joint apart piece by piece at one time. She did go about blowing out every candle she could get to, a compulsion she developed a few years back from an unfortunate combination of Blues Clues and the OCD component of autism. She doesn't dislike candles, but she can't suffer a lit one. She's happy to have you re-light it, just so she can immediately blow it back out.

She rocked in the corner for a bit, maiming one of my friend's kiddos when he stuck a toe under the runner of the rocking chair, but otherwise doing no damage. After awhile, she took off her shoes and socks, and I don't know if this makes her a hillbilly, but I knew she'd decided she was comfortable with the place.

Mo wouldn't try the punch, though. I'm sure she would have liked it, but she was looking for conventional soda. By the time I thought to call the punch 'soda' (it was effervescent after all), she'd already heard me call it punch. So obviously I was trying to poison her.

This post, by the way, goes with a shout out to an old high school classmate who got ahold of me via this blog. When people ask me why the hell I do this, or who the hell would care, I never have a very good answer. Then I get this sort of random positive reinforcement. So hey, Roger, good to hear from you. I'll work on that getting-Julie-to-the-reunion thing. And no, you're not mistaken about who all is in these pictures.

May I Offer You A Bus Pass?

Okay, so going in to work Friday, it had snowed and was still snowing. I kind of hoped like the first day of the ice storm, the chicken factor would keep the herd thinned out for rush hour.

But all of you decided to go to work Friday. Go figure.

And not one but a couple of you decided to get in wrecks that narrowed my route and slowed things to a standstill. And there's no call for it.

First off, all you guys with four wheel drive, and your vehicles ought to be delivered with permanently affixed neon warning labels to this effect, but four wheel drive only helps you get moving on slippery roads. It does fuckall for your ability to steer or stop. You are not invincible and neither is the poor guy you just clobbered while entertaining a fantasy that the pavement is actually dry even though there's so much snow on it you can't see the lane markers.

Second, we have you schmucks who seem to have an almost sexual attraction for the car in front of you: you are following too close even when the weather is nice. I've seen you, standing on it at 75 mph, so close to my back bumper I can't see your headlights. As far as I'm concerned, your license should be permanently revoked, and if you manage to avoid conviction on attempted murder charges, you get a 10% discount on a bus pass for life. Asshole.

And finally, you guys who wait to merge: you are not getting there any faster. But you are making the rest of us later as the column of traffic that had been creeping along at 10 mph comes to a shuddering halt so you can get in line like you should have half a mile back. Contrary to what you seem to believe, you are not more important than everyone else on the road, and it is not more important you get to wherever it is you are going. You don't have to face attempted murder charges, but you don't get a discount on the bus pass. You're not allowed to drive anymore. Ever.

For real, I don't know what excuses these jerks offered the cops, or if the cops bought the excuses, but nobody should have been in the ditch Friday morning. If you were, you either don't know how to drive or you had the bad luck to be driving near someone who doesn't know how to drive. Let's reduce greenhouse gas emissions by getting these yahoos off the road altogether.

Okay, yeah, I had my camera out, multi-tasking behind the wheel. I'll eat some crow when I get so involved in documenting the stupidity of my fellow man that I end up the one in the ditch.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

So Much Noise

Beers and dinner this evening with one of my favorite people on earth. Even if she is a pinko.*

75th Street has some good stuff on tap. We had a Tripel, and I had an Imperial Stout and an 'Abbey' ale.

By the time I thought to get my camera out, we had switched to ice water for more than an hour, so the pic she grabbed of me has the wrong glass.

And the pics are noisy: me snapping her, her snapping me, me snapping the brewhouse and chalkboard, my camera cranked to ISO 1600 to avoid the flash.

But then, the bar was noisy. My ears are ringing and my voice is raw, like the aftermath of a Dead Kennedys concert.

And, as is her way, she egged me on with my writing. Including an exchange that makes me realize I've probably been writing about the wrong shit.

*For real, she's a socialist. Who has lived in socialist countries and liked it. I know, a hard chick to figure. But a great photographer and a greater friend.

So This is Christmas

Well, uncharacteristically for me, more photos than words here.

Characteristically, though, Dad was asleep even before the excitement.

I didn't have my kiddos Christmas day this year, which freed me up to recklessly photograph the mayhem. A niece and six nephews, many of whom are in a deadly-tight cluster (including a pair of twins) who are in a conspiracy to hit college at the same time to ensure the financial ruin of my step-siblings.

My bro played the glass harmonica and next thing, all my nieces and nephews were playing the crystal.

I played four games of Battleship with the niece, usually referred to as Em's favorite cousin. It was fun to explore the psychology of Battleship, a game I haven't played since I was her age. She's an edge player, and once you find a boat on the edge, it's fish in a bucket.

Me, I'm a clusterer. I never put my boats at the edge, but I always put them touching somehow.

I brought beer: the Boulevard Smokestack Series that I got the great freelance gig from is out. I brought a bottle of the Tripel and the Quadrupel. The Tripel was an unqualified hit. My step-brother-in-law (I guess that's what he is) even liked it. It's similar to Chimay's Tripel but at about two thirds the price. The Quad was brought out with dessert to only slightly less universal praise.

After we all ate too much, there was the exchange of gifts. I had worried about one of my nephew's gifts: it was Star Wars stuff because that's the entire universe to him now, but I'd debated between action figures. Then I hear, 'Suh-Weeet! Han Solo! Yeah!' and I knew it was all good.

He got an incredible pop-up book (not from me), a staggering array of die cutting. It'd take me most of a year to tool the dies for this, and I've tooled my share of dies.