Saturday, September 14, 2013

saturday morning meanderings of an over-caffeinated mind...

(Secretary of State John Kerry, U.N. Envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. photo by Larry Downing, Associated Press)
I opened the Oregonian this morning, and saw this picture, which for some reason made me google the term "laurel wreath". 

Which led me to this entry in Wikipedia:
"In Greek mythologyApollo is represented wearing a laurel wreath on his head. In ancient Greece wreaths were awarded to victors, both in athletic competitions, including the ancient Olympics made of wild olive-tree known as "kotinos" (κότινος), (sc. at Olympia) and in poetic meets; in Rome they were symbols of martial victory, crowning a successful commander during his triumph."

Then, of course I had to click the link for Apollo:
"In the Illiad, Apollo is the healer under the gods, but he is also the bringer of disease and death with his arrows, similar to the function of the terrible Vedic god of disease Rudra. He sends a terrible plague (λοιμός) to the Achaeans. The god who sends a disease can also prevent from it; therefore, when it stops, they make a purifying ceremony and offer him a hecatomb to ward off evil."

So, what is a hecatomb, you ask?  I won't go into the full description (you can click on the link above if you're that curious), but suffice to say it involves the sacrifice of a hundred cows, followed by a giant barbecue and feast (accompanied by lots of wine, of course), and much singing and praying. 
At this point, I'm starting to get a little unnerved by where all this is going: Syria > John Kerry > Greek mythology > plagues > barbecues. 

Maybe I should lay off the coffee until after I read the paper.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

almost everyone who has ever worn them has asked this question at one time or another

Have you ever wondered what happened to all the mates to those single socks in your sock drawer?

Mankind has been pondering this mystery for...well, for as long as we've been wearing socks.

Aside from the fact that pairs or sets of objects automatically have a higher probability of being broken up simply due to the law of averages (or maybe it's Murphy's Law - I can never remember), single socks seem to disappear at a much higher rate than say, shoes or chopsticks. Everyone I know who has ever worn socks has eventually had one sock in a pair go missing, and usually they are never to be seen again. So where do they all go? And why socks? We've all seen the occasional single shoe on the freeway entrance ramp and wondered how it got there, but given the sheer number of missing socks people deal with in everyday life, the entrance ramps should be knee deep in them, right? Yet they're not in evidence anywhere.
(photo borrowed from here)

This conundrum has been puzzling me for some time now, so I've done what every other self-respecting person in the 21st century would do: I googled "missing socks".

It's a marvelous tool, Google. Back in the middle of the last century, my father was an editor and my mother was a teacher, and I grew up in a family where everyone was well-versed in the art of research. By around the age of six, all the Russell kids were expected to be able to look up words in the dictionary, and by the age of nine, capable of going to the library and conducting more in-depth research as needed. Fact checking is second nature to us Russells. Yet, Google did not exist back then, and Dad would have scoffed at the very notion of being able to type in a question and access more answers than you could imagine, but that is a story for another time...

So back to pondering the mystery of the missing socks.

What I found in my googling research is that there exists a wide variety of theories; some are totally out there and wild, but some sound so scientifically plausible and matter of fact that any normal person wouldn't even think to question them.  (Any regular readers of this blog have by now come to realize that normal does not apply here)

Here's what I found:
First up, the standard let's be serious and grounded about this: socks do not just "disappear" theories.
So why is this guy so bored?
  • Scientific theory #1: Socks do not get lost in the dryer. The culprit is the washing machine. Supposedly, washing machine repairmen are always being called out to disentangle single socks from washing machine agitators. The recommendation is to put the socks at the very top of the load in the machine so they won't be pushed down to the bottom and tangled under the agitator. Personally, I've never found a missing sock under the agitator and nobody I know has either. And this theory doesn't explain the continuing loss of single socks in the age of front-loaders, which have no agitators at all.
  • Scientific theory #2: Again, the washing machine is named as the culprit. If the socks are placed on top of the load, and the washer is overfilled, the socks (and sometimes even underwear) can float over the top of the washer tub when the machine is agitating and get sucked into the pump or get tangled in the motor. Other times they find their way into the drain. Or they can permanently reside  between the washer's basket and the machine housing. This still does not explain why socks go missing in houses with front loaders.
  • Scientific theory #3: If you were to go right now and dismantle your dryer, you may find a few single socks, along with some underwear lying in a pile of lint under the dryer's tumbler. The theory is that small items like socks and bikini underpants make their way out of the dryer basket and into the blower housing via an open or loose lint screen. I'm not about to dismantle my dryer to disprove this one, but given the number of socks we've lost over the years, the blower housing would be so full of socks the dryer couldn't possibly work at all.
Now on to the less scientific, more commonly held beliefs:

  • Unscientific theory #1: Inside your dryer vent lurks a worm hole, where individual socks are sucked in and spit out on the beach of the Island of Lost Socks. I like to think all my lost socks have been paired up in mixed marriages on a lovely beach somewhere, living happily ever after.
  • Unscientific theory #2: Dryers can not only rearrange matter, they are also capable of short-range teleportation; single socks are transformed into coins and end up as spare change under your sofa cushions. Conversely, your lost car keys? They are now dryer lint. I'm not so sure about this one. If this theory were true, we would end up with random single socks we've never seen before.
  • Unscientific theory #3: Weekly sacrifices must be made to the Laundry Gods.  This theory states that in order to keep things on an even keel, we must make sacrifices to the angry laundry gods, kind of like the sacrificial virgin being offered up to the angry volcano. Otherwise, by saving the socks by clipping them together or cleverly washing pairs in a mesh laundry bag in the effort to thwart the gods, you may end up inadvertently suffering their wrath. It could be a red t-shirt in a load of whites, or something worse. The laundry gods' wrath is not to be underestimated. What are a few missing socks compared to that?
  • Unscientific theory #4: Tiny Ninjas come to steal your socks in the middle of the night. Here's a video explaining it all:
Personally, I have three cats, and I'm still missing socks.
  • Unscientific theory #5: Evil Sock Monkeys are stealing socks to create a Sock Monkey Army hell bent on taking over the world. If you don't believe me, check out this photo:
(photo borrowed from this site)

In my research, I've also uncovered some historical evidence covered up for over 70 years, which seems to support this theory:

And I'm not the only one intrigued by this mystery. The Bureau of Missing Socks  is an organization solely devoted to unraveling the mystery of the single disappearing sock (no pun intended).

Of course, there is also some evidence that a new trend could be developing that could combat this age-old single sock problem:
Once celebrities get on the bandwagon, it could no longer be a sign of absent-mindedness or a disorganized's now a Fashion Statement!

I think I'll go and take apart my dryer now.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

life is good!

The weather has been beautiful here. The sun is shining, everyone is smiling, and spring is unfurling right right before my eyes. Yes, life is very good. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

the rites of spring

I know spring officially began a week or so ago, but up here in the Pacific Northwest, it ain't really spring 'till the sun comes out and the forecast looks like this:
there are other signs, too:
the Knuckleheads basking in the sun like the matched bookends that they are,
The plum trees are in full bloom,
I weeded the raised vegetable bed and found the biggest carrot I've ever seen
(here's another shot just for scale)
and the most important sign of spring? 
Walking around barefoot all afternoon!
Here's wishing everyone a warm and sunny spring, wherever you are!

Monday, March 11, 2013

it's another monday holiday!

It has just come to my attention that today is a National Holiday. It's not in honor of a past President or Civil Rights activist, or Nobel Prize winner, or a religious observance, or a celebration of an event in history. It's not even what you might call a "Hallmark" holiday. It could be quite a Significant Day for some (many of them live in my house, and are observing the holiday as we speak) and just another Monday for others.  

 It's National Nap Day

So, because I myself am not of the Napping persuasion, I'm reposting something I wrote a couple of years ago that seems a fitting tribute. To all you Napping types, I wish you sweet dreams, and to the rest of you dear readers I say, "Rock on!" And I hope this post doesn't lull you off to dreamland, unless of course that's what you were hoping for...

Nap Quest

 I got into a conversation about napping the other day with a couple of friends.  I know this sounds simplistic, but after taking an informal survey of a decidedly small segment of the population (do four people qualify as a focus group?) I've since come to the conclusion that the world is divided up into nappers and non-nappers.

Non-napper types generally feel that sleeping during the hours we're supposed to be awake and productive is wasteful. Time spent napping could be better utilized doing something productive, like checking your facebook page  balancing the checkbook, or  reading blogs emptying the dishwasher.  They employ slogans such as "Sleep is for the weak", or "I'll have plenty of time to sleep when I'm dead", along with copious amounts of caffeine to get them through the day.

A typical non-napper type getting her caffeine fix.

Nappers are generally divided into three camps: the Unabashedly Laid Back,  Guilt-Ridden Snoozers, and Master Nappers. The ULB's talk of the restorative effects of the 15-minute Power Nap. They quote studies that support their theories, and insist that scientists at Harvard have determined that a midday snooze reverses information overload. (wikipedia)  

The Guilt-Ridden Snoozers, on the other hand, also believe in the benefits of napping but due to a childhood spent under the influence of parents who adopted a strict work ethic during the Great Depression, they find it difficult to nap with a clear conscience. A typical GRS can usually be spotted in the prone position with an open book, magazine or newspaper on his or her chest. If caught dozing off, they will insist, "I was just resting my eyes!"
photo borrowed from here

And the third category of napper? Master Nappers are those who have achieved the highest level of Napology. See photos below:

A true Master Napper can nap anywhere, at any time.

This is known in the trade as a Napportunity.

The training to become a Master Napper 
must begin at an early age

and is successful only if practiced on a regular basis.

 Another hallmark of the Master Napper is the Group Nap

where three or more Master Nappers
meet to practice in a warm and cozy place.

Synchronized Napping 

is a highly developed art form

practiced by teams of Master Nappers.

MN's take Nap Form very seriously

but are sometimes mistaken for Unabashedly Laid Back Nappers.

I hope this post has helped to illuminate the plight of all misunderstood Nappers (yawn!). As it is only through understanding and education that we can promote tolerance for all.
Now I really must go and get another cup of coffee, because I'm suddenly feeling very sleepy.... 

Happy National Nap Day!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

one fine day

One fine day, the sun was shining and the wind was singing.
I think spring might actually come soon!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

martha doesn't live here

I love a well-run household. I have the greatest admiration for neatly organized and serene spaces where everything has a place, and everything is in its place.
Sometimes I dream of beautiful, clean, minimalist living rooms with all-white upholstery and freshly painted walls hung with a carefully curated art collection...

...Of kitchens designed to be beautiful and functional, all food stored in matching antique glass mason jars arranged artfully in antique wire trays and placed on earthy wood open shelving made from re purposed old-growth fir.

Years ago I was a devotee of the cult of Martha Stewart. I subscribed to The Magazine (archiving all the early issues, of course), watched The Television Show (eagerly awaiting for months the yearly Christmas Special) and hung on the Domestic Goddess' every pronouncement.

I actually believed I could do it all, just like Martha. I baked my own bread, sewed quilts for our beds, curtains for our windows, refinished tag sale furniture and made my own lamps, painted and rearranged and reorganized and once I even made my own wrapping paper. Of course I realize now that I was completely delusional. (More on that later.)
No one could ever measure up to Martha. She's larger than life. A living icon. A paragon of domesticity. She has Staff.

Comparing her to the Big Guy Upstairs, someone once said
Martha could have made the world in FIVE days:
Two Days to create staff,
Two Days to delegate,
and One Day to redo it all to Her standards.

To top it all off, the Domestic Goddess appears perfectly normal when you see Her in photographs. Well, mostly She does. Even Martha has days that don't go exactly according to Her plans.

But when that happens, She still manages to pull it together and makes sure everyone is at least color-coordinated.
She dotes on her animals, who apparently have such perfect manners (who would dare to misbehave?) that they are welcomed for dinner at the Plaza.
Although, some require a little tough love to let them know She's their mother.
Some say Martha has a dark side, but She says Herself that She cannot be destroyed.
Some have attempted to, but I wouldn't recommend it.

But I digress. I wanted to show that there can be Life After Martha. It's often not pretty, but at least it's real. And it can be accomplished with minimal staff. (Mostly of the four-legged variety)
Welcome to my post-Martha nightmare dream:
It may not live up to Martha's standards, but then...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

what are YOU doing to celebrate?

Today is National Pie Day. What are you doing to celebrate?

Don't tell me you're going to eat 3.14159 pieces of pie, because then you would be confusing it with pi day, which is not until March 14th (3.14)

Personally, I plan to make a pie for dinner, and possibly even one for dessert...and who knows? If I'm up early enough, maybe even one for breakfast!

In honor of this most auspicious day, I'm re-posting my recipe for Veggie Pie, a favorite in my family.

~ Veggie Pie ~

(Recipe adapted a million years ago from the "Eat It" cookbook.
Written by Dana Crumb 
and illustrated by her husband, R. Crumb!)

1/2 onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 carrots, thinly sliced
about 1 and 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
(I use cremini mushrooms, but you could experiment with any kind you like)
about 4 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1/2 cup each of two other veggies, like:
green beans
lima beans
or whatever
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
2 TBS olive oil
2TBS butter
3-4 TBS soy sauce
freshly ground pepper
crust for a 2-crust pie
(I'm a terrible pie crust maker, so I use Pillsbury, but don't let me be a bad influence)

Preheat your oven to 400º

chop your celery, onions, garlic, carrots,
and any other veggies you like

heat olive oil in a large skillet and saute the veggies on medium heat until they're soft and fragrant and the onions are translucent

chop your mushrooms (halve or quarter them first if they're large)

Add the butter and throw in the mushrooms

While the mushrooms get all fragrant and start to soften and soak up all that lovely butter, chop 4 cups of spinach

throw the spinach in, too.
It will be a big pile, but stir and it will cook down to practically nothing in about 30 seconds.

see what I mean?

Add the soy sauce and freshly ground pepper to taste
(the whole 4 TBS of soy sauce might be too salty for some so take it easy and taste as you go)

then mix in the cheese until the whole mess melts into a mass of gooey goodness.

put your bottom crust into your pie pan, and fill with the veggie mixture.

put on the top crust, crimping the edges, and cut a few slits in the top to let steam escape

Bake for about 35 - 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. (But don't do what I did
and take your dogs for a long walk while it's baking)

Let it cool for a few minutes, and Eat It!

Okay, now it's your a yummy pie recipe? Here are a couple of ways to share:
  1. Post a comment with a link to the recipe on your blog, or
  2. Post a link to someone else's recipe on their blog, or
If you don't have a blog, email it to me, and I'll post it here as soon as I get it.
Happy Pie Day!