Saturday, September 29, 2018

Lessons Learned From the Brett Kavanaugh Hearings

No doubt you are as fascinated, perplexed and repelled by all the testimony and accusations, proven or not, during the recent Senate hearings for Brett Kavanaugh's appointment as a Supreme Court judge.
    (More here, if you've been living under a rock, and have no idea what I'm talking about.)

I waver back and forth.

Judge Kavanaugh has a long reputation for honesty and ethical work. The women who have worked for him as clerks have nothing but praise.
    Could he have engaged in drunken shenanigans as a high schooler or college student? It wouldn't be a huge surprise, considering how many guys -- and women -- have done this. (I wonder if many Leaders of Industry are now wincing. In fact, another situation is just beginning for another senator. Hmmm...of course, only Republicans would have done this... right?)

The women who accuse him of 'sexual assault' are clear that they never were raped. But their accusations of drunken group attacks back in highschool/college days, with Kavanaugh leading the way, are unsettling.

Incidents similar to this certainly have happened before. This is nothing new. So if Judge Kavanaugh is accused of it, he's assumed guilty. Right?

Or should it be assumed that the women are lying? (Because that's happened before, as well.)

Dr. Ford's testimony is difficult to listen to, particularly if you have daughters. Yet why can't she remember which day and place this happened? (Rape and sexual assault victims are generally very specific about these details.)
     Why do some say she isn't lying...and yet others are insisting that she's mistaken, that Kavanaugh was never there at the party?
      Why didn't her family (parents and siblings) sign the statement of support released to support her innocence?

Why didn't she make these accusations after they happened? Instead of having it warp her for life, she could have actually done something about it.

(Actually, this one I can understand, particularly if you are a shy flower, and don't think anyone will believe you. But bringing it up decades later, with any evidence long gone...and they're supposed to believe you now -- even moreso?!?)

 The newest accuser, a Boulder woman, says he waved his penis drunkenly in her face.
(There's at least one more accuser...maybe more by now. Numbers keep changing.)

So where do we go from here?

Brett Kavanaugh could be one of the best Supreme Court judges we will ever see -- and, at the same time, an entitled jerk who drank too much back in college.

Dr. Ford could honestly have been mistaken. Or not. It's clear, though, that bringing up her accusations now have little to do with the real reason why these are coming up now:

It's not justice. It's politics.

If you don't like President Trump, dissing his appointee is a perfect way to tell him to stuff it. 

If you don't like Republicans, ditto. 

Or (a close third): "Somebody else hurt me/groped me/raped me. And they weren't punished. Kavanaugh can be held accountable for that -- and I'll feel better."
      (Only you won't.)

If you want to MAKE Republicans deny Kavanaugh's appointment, corner them in an elevator and harangue them. (Make sure a camera is nearby, so it's caught for the public.) Announce that you are a rape survivor. (Whether you are or not is irrelevant. If questioned, sob -- or scream louder.) Announce that anyone who votes for Kavanaugh is an entitled pro-rape scumbag. Edit the encounter, if needed, to really emphasize your point.

Now go load your video on the public media, and wait for the praise and approving comments. (Probably a few death threats, too. Who knows, with the weirdos out there. On both sides.)

Any politician with half a grain of self-serving interest is going to run shrieking from any notion of approving Kavanaugh, after that... regardless of what the truth is. It's the appearance of truth that matters now.
    And because of that, I believe we will not see Judge Kavanaugh approved. The Senate would be idiots to vote yes. That just makes political sense.

    When that happens, women's sexual rights advocates will shout that justice has been served. 

     A man's reputation will be permanently besmirched -- whether it was deserved or not.
           (I'm guessing we'll never know for 100% certain. God does, though.)

     And a lot of time, effort and expense will have been wasted. (Do you REALLY believe that the FBI investigation will result in actual charges?!?)

But there are lessons to be learned right now, no matter whose side you take:


   Why in the world would you think that attending parties, similar to what the testimonies describe, would be a GOOD idea?

     Is that single action, event or evening worth affecting your life -- for the rest of your life? Because that's what you're risking. Especially in today's climate.


     Every single case in this whole tawdry affair -- including the women making the accusations -- makes it clear that person was drinking. I am sick and tired of reading the phrases "drinking too much" and "intoxicated" -- and the quickie way those incriminating statements are skipped over, as if it doesn't matter.

     One or two drinks -- then stop. Or don't drink at all.

    Given our current worldview, you'll be believed much more quickly. (In fact, the people who make up accusations have also, sadly, been believed, too. Having consensual sex with near-strangers is just asking for trouble; it can destroy your life and your career. College football players, are you thinking about this??)


    If anything, that's the biggest lesson to be learned here. It's sad that we've had to go through so much to have that simple fact reinforced.

     Judge Kavanaugh probably feels the same way.

UPDATE:  He was approved! But the vote was close: 50-48.
                      We have a new Supreme Court judge.


Friday, September 28, 2018

Dave and Dogs - A Photo Essay

     Karma is at our house, while Daughter #2 and So #1 are in Florida with his mom. Which means three big dogs everywhere now, instead of two. They sprawl nearby, while we're working, and crowd under the dining room table during meals. 

Usually they're competing with each other for everything: snacks, the chance to be first out the door and loving.

The Brick takes this all in stride. 

This is the Brick, in all his glory -- and me, looking scruffy, as usual

     Ruby, our resident bossy dog, doesn't know what to think about this. After all, she's been the BWOC (Big Woman on Campus) for months. 

"I'm the Big Dog, Dad!"

     Charley, on the other hand, generally could care less. He loves Karma, and is fond of Ruby. 
    (Of course, he shows Karma his undying love by growling, play-fighting and gnawing on her...something we call the Morning or Evening Chew, because that's when it usually happens. Ruby just stands there and stares at them.)

It's been an interesting mix of dog emotions and demands. We try to love them all up -- and of course, bones and such are equally shared out.

They're starting to get along better. 

Sort of.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Frugal Hits & Misses: September Report

     After a long, occasionally discouraging summer, we're finally starting to make headway. 

     I got behind on business paperwork, after the Brick's hospital stays. I've finally managed to catch most of those up -- plus keep the teaching and judging commitments I made.
    That meant more income this month - but the extra was still sucked away in trailer repairs and the last (hopefully) of the medical bills. I still don't know how we are paying our bills -- but God is good, and we are. 
     Some family illnesses (not us, but people we care about)  have made this not an easy month to live through. It has made leaving for the teaching gigs more uncertain -- do we need to rush back, just in case? 
     We had some hot days in September, but the weather is starting to moderate. The trees are turning beautifully down here. (Up in the mountains, they're starting to finish. Colorado's fall happsn a lot earlier than some states.) 
     I love Fall. 

September was busy -- October will be more so. The Book is due to be released Oct. 8. But during the next few weeks, I have a wedding to cater, and some heavy-duty teaching. That will alternate with hunting season for the Brick and our friends. Off we go.


(Some of these are from late August.)

* Midmonth was the 3-year anniversary of the Brick's retirement. It hasn't been as easy as I'd hoped -- but neither of us regret his decision.

*Free lecture at Denver Art Museum -- plus wine, whiskey (for Daughter #1) and elegant goodies. The talk (on stolen art) counted for my further education appraisal requirements, too.
     The odd thing: I kept thinking how many of the people standing around us looked like my typical clients. I, on the other hand, felt like Sandy in Tootsie:

(I did hide a little cupcake in my purse, as a breakfast surprise for the Brick. Old habits die hard.)

*Two free packages of pasta - rewards at Safeway. Their BIG stock-up sale was also a winner -- paper towels for 33 cents, Progresso soup for 88 cents, Hormel chili for 75...and a boatload of tomatoes and other veggies for much less. The only bad part: you had to buy at least a dozen. (30, in the case of the paper toweling.) Now I have to put these somewhere before we use them up. (Talked to a lady in customer service at Safeway about something else, and she brought up the stock-up promotion. Turns out it drove them absolutely crazy, because customers assumed they could mix and match. That's how Safeway usually does it. Not in this case, though -- if you bought fewer than a dozen, you paid full price.)
     Also on the list: 4 12 pks of pop, a bag of tortilla chips plus jar of salsa: all for less than $10. Scallops for $7.99/lb. (Seven fish dishes entry) Filet mignon ($9.99/lb) for Son #1's upcoming birthday.

*Free appetizer and birthday burger at Red Robin.   (We also got a free bacon milkshake late one night, because the manager wanted to try making it. Delicious.) Other birthday freebies as well: Red Lobster, Golden Corral, Denny's, IHOP, etc. Some used (Golden Corral)-- some not.

*Birthday flowers from The Mama: daisies and carnations. A bouquet of multicolored roses from the Brick. ("They were on sale," he said. What a Hollander -- and that's a good thing!) Didn't buy any chrysanthemums this year, in spite of the great price (4 for $10) -- I won't be home to water them, and the Brick doesn't always remember to.
      He also gave me a lavish bunch of roses and alstromeria mixed for my 60th. What a guy.
      We sent flowers to friend Nancy Kirk's memorial service, as well as to an aunt, celebrating her 90th the end of this month. Happy Birthday, Aunt Ruth!

Thanks, Ma.

*Waited out the flu. By the time I was willing to go to the doctor's office, I was starting to feel better.

*At least a dozen videos from the library's used book sale room. They upped the price to $2 each, the stinkers -- but threw in a damaged set of Leverage for free, so I suppose I can't gripe much. Some of these were for resale on Amazon.
     We haven't watched much, show-wise, although the Brick began the new Jack Ryan series. Which we both liked, in spite of the insistence on showing practically everyone's butt now and then. (Yes, and boobs too. Trust me: I do NOT want to know what Greer's butt looks like. Promise. John Krasinski can keep his butt to himself, as well.) The real surprise has been The Man in the High Castle -- fantastic. Don't miss this amazing look at what might have happened, had Japan and Germany won WWII.

We have, however, seen several FOOTBALL games. What can I say -- keeping our priorities in the right place.

*Three packs of soup veggies stashed in freezer. Some chopped zucchini, too.

*Six packs of peaches stashed -- and fresh peaches enjoyed all month (from the crisper). Bought more, after Sprouts marked them down to 69 cents/lb. Yow!

*New appraisals done -- plus the older ones finished off. Three work gigs complicated matters, but I kept going through them.

*Huge wild plum harvest -- nearly a gallon of fruit picked. We have never had this much on the bushes before. The birds enjoyed the fruit, too -- but I felt a little uncomfortable, picking away, with one robin staring balefully at me the whole time.
     The plums are cooked into pulp and stashed in the freezer, waiting for time to make jam and sauce. I did use the leftover juice to make half a batch of wild plum sauce.

From Bren did -- go here for her link

*Grocery buys: $1.99 pizza.  99-cent cheese (8 oz). And with one other purchase (on sale) to finish the deal: a $10 rewards gift card from Safeway. But that wasn't even the best deal! Safeway marked down some holiday flavors of a specialty gelato to 99 cents/pint. That was nice -- but even better were electronic coupons of $1-2 off that same brand of specialty ice cream. By the time I got done, Safeway was basically paying us to eat it. Hey, I'll 'suffer' through a bowl of rich, creamy pumpkin or eggnog gelato anytime.

*Potatoes, purchased on the way home from Creede -- 40 pounds for $10.

*Thrift shop buys: woolen poncho, $2; some embellishments, 50 cents- dollar each; several Christmas presents -- and a deer print for a buck!

*Careful during working gigs not to go hogwild on food. (Some kindly covered the bill when we went out.) We had some meals from food I'd kept in the trailer...some needed to go. (Leftovers from the wedding...)
    I am proud to say I threw out less spoiled food this month. But that's meant careful use of what we've got -- and not buying more until the current batch is completely done. That's hard for me, particularly for using up packaged items purchased for the wedding (crackers, especially).

*The Brick saved a hundred bucks -- and a dime -- by doing price guarantees on items for trailer repair.

*Several mistakes -- that were costing us -- caught on insurance. One good example: we never got a discount for having combined policies from the same company. The Brick (who found these, the clever guy) estimates that we should get at least a few hundred back. Wouldn't that be wonderful!

*A month of Amazon Prime... on free trial. That's where we've been watching Man in the High Castle, and others. Although it's been interesting, and the free shipping option has been nice, most of the available stuff isn't worth it. I doubt we'll renew.

*Waited to get a haircut. Also waiting for another physical, new glasses and a stop at the dentist. (The Brick had his teeth cleaned, and a filling redone. That's on the docket for me next month, after all the traveling calms down, and we get a little extra in savings.)

*Daughter #1 kept the Outback for much of this month -- she needed it, we could loan it. Win win. It's still up for sale; we hope that will change in a few days.


*Turned 60. Oh well. Actually, other than the number business, this wasn't that big a deal. It does mean I can take advantage of senior discounts more, now.

*Had to pay medical bills -- but:

     Paid far less than we expected -- I still don't understand how, but am soooo grateful. Thank you, God!
    Other scattered medical bills are coming in for doctors' services -- each of them low in comparison. Nonetheless, they've been soaking up any extra I had hoped to add to the emergency fund.

*Hotel bills for an upcoming catering job.
At least I found it for a much more reasonable price than some -- and I get a nice Swagbucks bonus for booking it through that site (and I've nearly enough Swagbucks accumulated for another $25 Amazon giftcard. For basically doing the searches I'd be doing, anyways! (Yes, you can try this, too. It doesn't cost a thing, and it works. Go here for details.)

     I've had to charge a lot of food, as well -- this is a BIG wedding in Chicago, catered for a cousin -- but I will get those food costs back, at least.

*Let a package of bacon spoil. It was in the bottom of a bag of canned soup I hadn't put away. (And should have, sooner than I did.) Aarrghhh...

*Missed out on a few of King Sooper's Friday freebies.  I wasn't home, or near a computer much on those days, due to work. Ah well.

*Some appraisals and restorations had to wait, while I taught or judged out of town. (I do not like having to make customers wait. Shame on me.) Maybe I'm learning patience with what I can accomplish in a given period of time. And it's always less than I'd thought...

* * * * * * *                      * * * * * * *                    * * * * * *                * *  * * *

I haven't discovered much loose cash lately, unlike Thrifty Mom in Boise's $80 find in a parking lot. (Lucky girl!) A five-dollar bill turned up in a winter coat pocket... that was a nice bonus.

Here's August's report -- and last year's September report.  It's hard to notice any difference as we trudge forward each month. (And sometimes backward, too.) But when I chart our progress over the year... I see it. Upward and onward, through October.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Doggy Do, Doggie Don't

     In honor of Karma, our grandpuppy-in-residence...
         (Daughter #2 and Son #1 are on an emergency trip to Florida)

Charles, with his paws around his favorite dog (the Karmalater)

And Ruby, who's not sure whether she likes this 'new' dog here or not...

A new collection of funny dog memes, for your elucidation...and mine.
     (I like to do this now and again.)

Happy Fall.

Updates From the Franklin Expedition Shipwrecks...And More

   Remember explorer Sir John Franklin's doomed expedition?

Sir John and his posse, photos taken just before sailing

Francis Crozier, commander of the HMS Terror --
 and thought to be the only man who possibly survived
(at least for a while)

After both HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror were discovered (the Erebus in 2014, and the Terror in 2016), archeologists have continued to dive on the shipwrecks. There's a new article out on recent discoveries from the Erebus, including a 'backgrounder' (English water jug). Go here for a look.

Season's closed now -- the ice is moving in. It's not been a good year for it, anyways.

Although the Northwest Passage is now officially navigable, due to breaking-up ice, nobody did it this year -- the ice was just too thick. Wait a minute...does that mean that global warming may not be consistently 'melting everything' year after year, after all?? Hmmmm....

Also, the maritime museum in Greenwich, CT has a new polar gallery that includes info on Franklin -- plus intriguing paintings based on his ships and men -- like Thomas Smith's 1895 painting, 'They Forged the Last Links with Their Lives:'

National Maritime Museum photo

Go here for a photo gallery of some of those artifacts. Cool.

P.S. There's a Facebook page for Franklin enthusiasts:
             "Remembering the Franklin Expedition"

It often has not only the latest news, but plenty of interesting meaty bits for those curious about this subject...
     like me.

Franklin's Lost Expedition by Kristina Gehrmann (Pinterest)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

I'm Here...

...just trying to keep up. 

A lot of work needs to be finished up this week and next, and I've been slogging away at it.

The Higher Ground Fair was lots of fun, including a... llama/alpaca parade!

First time I've ever had a 19-year-old guy in a Crazy class. But he seemed to enjoy it -- and loved the painting technique.

I'll keep you posted on what's going on around here.

Charley would do this, if he could make himself small enough. Ruby tries.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Fine, It's Saturday...

     I'm sending this early, Gentle Readers, because I''m hoping some of you can make it to this weekend's Higher Ground Fair in Laramie, WY. Lots of exhibits, some great llama & alpaca shows -- and a quilt show that promises to be very interesting! I'll be teaching Crazy quilting and painting tomorrow morning -- and will have lots of materials with, if you just want to show up and take the class. It's only a few hours. No huge commitment.
     Just come. 

A very weird experience -- from Diary of An At-Home Mom.

Famous people who took very creative revenge.  (From Listverse) Also from them:

Beauty routines from ten women known for their beauty throughout the ages. Bleach your hair in animal urine? Sleep with a mask on, lined with raw veal? Hey, no process is too gross for 'natural' beauty...

Ten non-perishable foods you should be stocking up on every month. (Plus a few honorable mentions...thanks, Living in Rural Iowa)

'Easiest bread ever' -- the recipe.  (From Cheapskate Cook)

Personal lessons learned since the 2008 financial crisis.  (From Financial Samurai)

Homemade Christmas presents for friends -- particularly kids. I wouldn't mind having some of these!   (From Domesblissity)

Plaid fabrics -- how to date and identify them. It ain't easy -- trust me.  (From Barbara Brackman)

Evicted by the very homeless man they tried to help.  This Colorado family is waiting for a hearing to hopefully let them move back into their home.

A controversial San Francisco sculpture is removed, and put in fine arts storage. Who knows what "Early Days" fate will be...
       Hopefully they won't tamper with Lotta's Fountain next.

Iconic film moments -- that happened because the filmmakers ran out of money. (From Cracked) Plus, just for fun:

Five pro- (and anti-) Trump characters with very large skeletons in their closets.

Have a good weekend. See you in Laramie!

One example of the work we'll be doing in Laramie...

Friday, September 21, 2018

Mice for Christmas! (Or Other Holidays)

[Shamed confession]

I've been looking at Christmas stuff... already. 

It's a secret pleasure -- like eating Tostitos in bed while reading. 
                                     Or using your fingers to clean out the mixing bowl, licking as you go.
                                     Or *shock* double-dipping that potato chip. Oh, the shame.

I have a whole stack of holiday recipes to think about. But this item's currently top of the list:


My British books keep talking about 'sugar mice' in Christmas stockings. Lo and behold, there are several different versions to choose from!

This version seems to be the traditional one:

Sugar Mice

Basically, they're confectioner's (powdered) sugar frosting, firmed up. My books mention string tails -- but these have licorice ones, instead. 

Hmmm.   (Go here for specifics -- thanks, Thinly Spread.)

Version #2, originally from, uses regular sugar. It's from Mandy Shea-Eason, who spent several years in Great Britain. These mousies do have string tails, for a specific reason:

"The mice are a British tradition and can be found in high end candy shops throughout the season," she says. "Traditionally, when sugar was a luxury, one was left in a child's stocking with fruit, nuts, and small toys to make up the entirety of their Christmas haul. British children, and adults, delight in eating them much like you would feed the poor mice to a snake...dangling it by its tail."


According to Yahoo, sugar mice (and pigs, too) were hung on the Christmas tree as substitutes for  real animal sacrifices that used to accompany the midwinter German Wotan feast.

Yep, kill a dog for Christmas. Double Ewww. Who cares about pigs and mice, though -- I'm a farmer's daughter. We butchered hogs for winter meat all the time. In fact, farm-fed pork is some of the tastiest, healthiest meat out there. You already know my opinion about mice.

 The Deutscher Wotan celebration apparently is also the source of those wonderful Austrian and German molded lebkuchen and speculaas cookies for sale at Christkindlesmarkts. held all over the world.  I'm hoping these didn't symbolically stand in for human sacrifices too, since the original cookies often depicted pairs of lovers.( Yes, I know about the bog bodies and Stonehenge's apparent sacrifices. Let me think naively about this, just a little longer.)

image from Holidays to -- go here for more. 

Back to the subject. Could sugar mice be made with marzipan (almond paste), instead? 

The answer is: YES!

Marzipan Sugar Mice

Pretty Cake Machine's recipe is here. I'm not sure I can be this artistic, but I do like the pink blush on the mousies' ears and cheeks -- and those beady black eyes. 

Then I found:
Chocolate-covered cherry mice.

Simple. Easy. Cute. Couldn't you see these lounging around the bottom of a cake plate, or poking their noses into a parfait? And all you basically need are maraschino cherries with stems, plus chocolate kisses. And some chocolate chips to melt. (I think I'll add marshmallows to make the bodies a little longer, too.)

And if you're thinking, "Gee, these would be great  for Halloween, as well" -- 
              You're right.

Directions are here. Have fun.   (Thanks, Just A Pinch Recipes... and everyone else.)

P.S. You can order your mice readymade, as well... turns out that Haribo stocks 'sweet mice' -- produced in, naturlich, Germany.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Nature-Made Fall Wreaths... Easy

Take a look at these wonderful fall wreaths from Bren Did.

(She says that her dad calls her the "scavenger Martha Stewart." Hey, if it works, it works!)

Click here for details and how-tos. Wow.

Well, Hi There!

...thanks to Ms. Karmalater, our granddog. (Okay, she didn't do this. I blame Her Parents.)

Hope you're having a great morning already!