Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Big Jack looks fierce as Li'l Jack (carved out of a turnip* just like in the original folktale) looks on.



* Well, actually, in this case, a rutabaga. It was big enough to fit a tea light.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

And I shall wear thee constantly

Ever wait for-freaking-ever for something, and when it arrives, it's...

...even better than you imagined?

I almost don't mind having pulled up lame with plantar fasciitis, because it made me get some decent shoes. I love my Danskos!

Monday, October 27, 2008


Remember a while back when I whined that my Netflix hadn't come on time? Now they never come on time. In fact, they take an average of two to three additional days. I'm guessing that by watching two DVDs per week for so long (which is pretty heavy usage for a one-at-a-time renter), I got myself flagged as an unprofitable customer and they are deliberately slowing down my shipments.

On one hand, I can respect that they have to keep their shipping costs below a certain threshold to make a profit. On the other hand, why don't they just charge enough to cover a more realistic level of usage? No need to be dishonest about it. Sheesh.

Part of me wants to go back to the two-at-a-time plan so I can watch my shows, but part of me refuses to be manipulated into paying an extra $5 a month.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

At long last

It's taken me quite a bit of effort to get this sign (they're in high demand, which is good). Finally I laid hands on one. I figured I had better commemorate it here before some rat bastard steals it.

Gooooooooooooooooo team!

Friday, October 24, 2008


I had almost finished sewing myself a really beautiful handbag (if I do say so myself) when I did something to my sewing machine. The bobbin wheel isn't spinning in concert with the needle. I'm going to have to take it to get repaired, and who knows how long that will take. I WANT MY HANDBAG, DARN IT.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dispatch from Charlotte

This week I'm in Charlotte, North Carolina, for a work-related conference. Here's a fun fact that I learned in the elevator at my motel: the N.C. Commissioner of Labor is some unfortunate soul named Cherie Berry.

The conference has been really fun so far, believe it or not. The seminars have been interesting (and believe me, if they hadn't been, I'd have been snoring on the table, because I got in pretty late last night). And this afternoon we got a fascinating behind-the-scenes tour of Hendrick Motorsports. I'd show you pictures, but what we saw was Top Secret, so we had to put our cameras away. I will say this much: For a sport with such a redneck image, NASCAR is the geekiest, most gearheaded thing I have ever seen in my entire life. They fine-tune the cars on special metal slabs that are leveled to the zillionth of an inch. It's like the Space Program in there.

Probably my favorite things I saw at Hendrick were the semi trucks that serve as the teams' mobile offices. The upper level of each truck stores two cars simultaneously: the driver's favorite, and a spare in case he crashes during warm-ups. The bottom level is like the most tricked-out tour bus you've ever seen. It's kitchen, garage, and high-tech communication center all in one.

In case anyone wonders, no, I did not see Jeff Gordon or Dale Jr. or any of the other drivers! Just lots of industrious crew members doing lots of industrious things. I came away feeling oddly warm and fuzzy--I suspect all the people there really love their jobs.

I'm staying in an affordable chain motel out on the periphery of town. I picked it because it's near the city's brand-new light rail line. The rail system turns out to be a total delight. Not only is it fast and easy to use (it takes me about eight minutes to get to the convention center downtown, and the trains run constantly), but the people who ride it are so friendly. On my way into town this morning, I had a really nice conversation with an older woman who was on her way to work. On my way back, I talked with a nice Honduran guy named Angel who is on month five of a six-month work visa. This sort of good cheer is what you get when you mix mass transit with southern hospitality, apparently.

I'm exhausted and I have to be up early, so that's it for now.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A trip to the mountains

Water levels still low at Lake Lanier (the green in the foreground is a bridge beam):

The mind-blowingness that is Burt's Pumpkin Farm near Dawsonville, Georgia:

Rouge Vif D'Etampes pumpkins...and me in the background:

Our haul:

The path to Amicolola Falls is paved with recycled chopped-up automobile tires. It feels dreamy under the feet:

And the falls themselves are totally incredible:

We also got apples, lots of them, but didn't remember to take any pictures of the apple houses. Oops!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Exciting autumn plans

We're opting out of our usual Athens Locally Grown sales this week so that we can drive up to the mountains on Thursday and get our apples and pumpkins. I'm so excited I can barely contain myself--I was so worried we wouldn't manage to do it this year.

We will be buying a few extra pumpkins to sell off the front porch, I think...if for no other reason than to irritate a local lady who last night ruined a meeting of an organization I belong to by quoting Deut. 18:9-12 in full and announcing that Halloween-ish things were an abomination in the eyes of God. "Stricken" doesn't begin to describe the look on the face of the hostess, who had filled her home with beautiful holiday decorations. All religious questions aside, the whole thing was just unspeakably rude.

I am thinking of making a Dr. Who jack-o'-lantern. I would make the Torchwood one, but I don't think Captain Jack looks like Captain Jack.

Woo hoo, comments are back!

Rescued by the Haloscan people!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Dumb luck

On my way to the farmers' market this morning, I noticed that gas was $3.51 a gallon. Four hours later, when I left the farmers' market and pulled into the gas station, it was $3.41. Let's hear it for procrastination! So glad I waited.

Business was slow today, but on the bright side, I was able to lay hands on some really wonderful homemade wheat bread (much better than I could make myself--and the woman grinds her own flour), as well as some cabbage, sweet potatoes, and zucchini.

In other news, the nice Haloscan people are working with me to fix the comments problem, so we should be back up and running soon. Part of the problem, for me, was my upgrade to the new type of Blogger template with drag-and-drop capabilities. As soon as I changed over, my html metamorphosed from something I understood fairly well to a black box of "wrappers" and "skins" and cryptic variables whose purpose I could not determine. Anything I have managed to accomplish since then has been...well, see the title of this post.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The spoils of battle

As I mentioned yesterday, I was an idiot and forgot to actually submit my order at Athens Locally Grown, which meant that I was forced to go on a sort of local foods raid of all the grocery stores in town. What I got was mostly inferior to what I would have gotten at ALG, in that it wasn't as organic or as grown-by-people-I-actually-know, but it wasn't bad. Instead of being from about a 75-mile radius, it was from about a 150-mile radius. All in all, better than blindly buying South African oranges and Indonesian tilapia.

I should mention, before I show you what I bought, that there are a lot of things we don't need to buy. We have a garden full of vegetables (yes, even in mid-October): a few tomatoes, lots of eggplant, cucumbers, kale, mustard greens, bitter melons, and peppers of every possible description. We have herbs, from basil to sorrel to parsley. And we have a freezer full of our own chicken, plus some local grass-fed beef, wild Gulf shrimp, and a 16-pound chunk of pork. We expect to take delivery of half a lamb later this month.

We also have already socked away some locally ground wheat flour, cornmeal, Carolina Gold rice, and grits. We have canned and frozen vegetables including tomatoes and borlotti beans. And since right now is the tail end of the muscadine grape season, we have more of that glorious fruit than anyone could stand.

So with that introduction, here's what I found at Kroger and EarthFare. First, the things that were actually grown in the area:

Clockwise, from the upper left: Organic milk that was certified in North Carolina (this is the one item whose provenance I have the least certainty about, but beggars can't be choosers when they forget to order their raw milk from 70 miles up the road!); boiled peanuts from central Georgia; lettuce and bean sprouts from western North Carolina; Georgia chicken breast (for those times when I need something quick and don't want to defrost a whole one of ours); butterbeans from western North Carolina; and sausage from a Georgia town about 45 minutes west of us. There were Georgia potatoes, too, but I forgot to take their picture.

Second, the items whose ingredients might be exotic, but which were made by local companies:

Clockwise, from the upper left: Terrapin India Brown Ale from Athens, Ga.; Red Brick Ale from Atlanta; Red Rock Ginger Ale from Atlanta (no HFCS!); tofu and fresh lo mein noodles made in the northeast Atlanta metro; organic fairtrade coffee roasted about 70 miles away in South Carolina; and bread from the very same Athens-based company I would have gotten it from if I had remembered to order it from the buying club!

Note the absence of one of the beers in the photo. Several more of them appear to be missing this morning...

One of the first orders of business, as far as cooking all this bounty, will be a big wokful of chicken lo mein, using some of the chicken breast, the lo mein noodles, the bean sprouts, and some of our own greens.

A major goal I've set for myself is to drive up to the north Georgia mountains, as I have in years past, to get pumpkins and (even more importantly) apples. Oh, and sorghum syrup, too--my pancakes simply aren't as good without it. But I'm really busy right now and I have a work-related conference in Charlotte coming up in a little more than a week. Gas prices are also a major deterrent. It's possible that I won't have time to go to the apple houses at all, and that makes me sad. No! I have to find the time. I just have to.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Eat Local Challenge FAIL

Oh, man. When I went to look at Athens Locally Grown today so that I could fulfill all the orders other people had placed with us, I found my own order still sitting in my shopping cart, disabled because the ordering period is over. I never actually placed the order, so now I don't get goat milk yogurt or raw cow's milk or goat stew meat or locally ground coffee or locally baked breads. The breads I can make myself, but jeez, now my enthusiasm is mighty low. I was really looking forward to all that stuff.

I had meant to post a photo of my haul this evening. I still will, but now I am going to have to do some serious scrounging while I am in town.

I would ask if anyone knows whether you can make goat milk yogurt out of frozen goat milk (we do have some in the freezer), but my comments are still botched, so, er, e-mail me!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Oh bother

As you may notice, I've tried to do a bit of sprucing up around here. (Since it doesn't appear that I'm going to get around to doing any major renovations, it's the least I can offer my beloved blog guests!) Unfortunately, I'm having some trouble with the Haloscan comments installer, and while all my comments do still seem to exist, none of them can currently be viewed.

If anyone has any experience with Haloscan (or, indeed, enough grasp of html to help me figure this stuff out!), can you please e-mail me at jlswedberg at y@hoo dot c0m?

In the meantime, let me see if I can get my wishlist and other sundries going again!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Call the waaaaahhhhhhmbulance

For a long time, I've had really good luck with the Netflix shipping center in Atlanta. They turn around my movies and TV shows in one day, meaning that even though I have the ultra-cheapie one-at-a-time plan, I can see two per week if I make sure to stick them in the mail the next morning. I've been maintaining a steady Tuesday-and-Friday schedule.

Today my Netflix didn't come. My whole schedule is shot. And there is NO DR. WHO WITH DAVID TENNANT and NOTHING TO DISTRACT ME FROM THE DEBATE TONIGHT.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Also, apropos of nothing

Is anyone doing NaNoWriMo? I'm doing it sort of informally because I'm breaking the rules: Instead of a novel, I'm going to work on a cookbook.

Et vous?


Has anyone else here in the south noticed that there seem to be a whole lot of mockingbirds this year? Today one was sitting in one of our butterfly bushes, singing his head off at me. He was so cheerful that I had to stop and listen.

This year was extraordinary for butterflies, too. I don't know if that's a function of some natural cycle, or just the fact that we had a 100-foot row of zinnias this summer.

Friday, October 03, 2008


It's October! And I promised you guys CHANGE and NEWNESS in October!

Here's how far behind I am: I forgot the Eat Local Challenge had started, and somewhere in the back of my head I believed that I had another month to think about blogging it.

Well, crap. This is an inauspicious new beginning.

To tide you over until I figure myself out, here is a picture of the doorstop I just made for my friend L2. It's from Lotta Jansdotter's book Simple Sewing.

I love it, and so does she! It was supposed to be filled with dry beans or rice, but L2 has six dogs, none of whom can really be trusted not to get curious about foodstuffs, so I stuffed the top half lightly with fiberfill and then inserted a t-shirt fabric bag full of pea gravel in the bottom half. I may make more of them. If I hadn't spent so much time futzing with the eternally screwed up tension on my sewing machine, it would have taken me only an hour or so.