24 December 2005

Merry Christmas

Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
Here's wishing you a very Merry Christmas! See you in a few days!

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22 December 2005

The Stockings were Hung by the Chimney With Care

Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
Every year no matter where we're living we hang the stockings with care. They are magically filled through the night between Christmas eve and Christmas day.

I made the reindeer stockings years ago for myself and the big guy. The third (the one with the red and green stripes) was made for third daughter upon her request for one. I got the pattern from a magazine, either Better Homes and Gardens or House Beautiful in the 70s or eighties. I have hunted high and low for a copy of the magazine as I have lost the pattern. I would like to duplicate more for the sons-in-law. We could have a whole team of reindeer in case it got foggy one night!

The other crocheted stocking were done by a friend of my mother in law. Each time I got pregnant she made a stocking for the impending child. The first had just the snowman's head and hat. The next a full body. The third had a giant snowman and scarf and some other decoration to make it unique. First daughter always felt short changed a bit due to the size of her snowman. And, the fact that he only had a head.

But even when we the poorest of starving students while getting a degree with three small children in tow, the stocking were hung and filled.

Traditionally each must have a toothbrush, an orange and an apple. Then, anything goes. Hair ties, barrets, candies, small games, crayons, you name it. They're intended to be fun and surprisingly they are always the last thing opened and studied with care.

Such fun we mortals have!

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18 December 2005

Driving Home

Driving Home
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
On my drive home each week from the bakery I pass this area of where I live leading into the valley. It hasn't been a favorite place of mine. Too many things to remember from it.

First, this was the road that led me to the farm country my parents took us to, from the big city. They chose to move there permanently when I was in high school. Permanently away from the city. Arrrghhh! That meant I would marry a farmer's son, instead of a famous (someday) record producer. All is well in that light though.

Second, it was the road, that we broker down on one dark night when my dad was serving in the navy overseas. We were small. We had to get out and walk for miles before anyone drove by and took us into town. It was a scary memory for years.

Third, this is also the road that took the lives of many a friend and the great love of my life. Not romantic love - but brotherly love. This two lane blacktop has needed to be widened for years and the county still has not fit to do it. My brother and one of his sons died on it, along with numerous other over the years.

My brother died twenty years ago. It is still a two laner. That's what is so unusual about this picture. Normally one cannot take a photo while driving on this road, because it is so filled with traffic you risk your life to take your view from driving. It's crazy.

But today was different. There was hardly any traffic. Very unusual so I snapped a few pics of the disappearing farmland. It is quickly being replaced with houses. Sigh.

Farm Country

To the Cheese Farm This is the entrance to the Cheese Farm. They were featured in Saveur Magazine last year. I did an interview with the owner that same month.

And this is our smaller version of Stonehenge:

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12 December 2005

The times they are a changing!

I was reading today about Andrew Gowers. Who is he? Well, he's has been/was an eidtor with the Financial Times for the last 20 years. He has recently resigned that position. He sighted 'strategic differences'. He said specifically, “Working in print, pure and simple, is the 21st century equivalent of running a record company specializing in vinyl.” Ouch!

How is it that industries who've been around forever, can't see the writing on the wall? Emotion? Too close to the situation? Pride? Well, what ever reason, they really need to listen to Andrew. I am not saying he's a genius, he is, paying attention, though! Asked what he would be doing in the future? “Whatever I do next it will not involve ink printed on dead trees.” This is a man who has been able to see the future, and he thinks newspapers have undervalued the internet and continue to refuse to see the power therein.

Professional journalists will find the future exciting. Exciting, that is, if they are willing to step outside the box and learn to be original, innovative and creative. And, we my fellow bloggers, will become another part of that industry. We will become a source from which professional journalist may, or have already, found sources for new ideas and stories. I know a lot if us write about our passion, whether it be self inflicted or something we have no choice in dealing with, we will become the fodder for new ideas and growth in journalism.

What kinds of people? People in my sidebar for one example. Susan is a perfect example of one of those passions: The Indie music scene. I think she has the makings to be a great Annie Lebowitz.

Then there's Kim Carney. Kim is an illustrators illustrator. She honest, she's creative, and she has a passion for what she does. She has inspired me on several occasions.

And Lisa. What can one say about Lisa? Lisa has been given a challenge. Lisa has a son born with severe disablilities. She allows us into that world. A world most of us have never been. We see the heartache and triumph of a segment of our society that is often misunderstood. Excellent.

There's S'mee. S'mee gives us a view of the world quite unlike anyone else. She has passion about the very average world we live in. Except she takes what most of us find average or ordinary and give us a new way to look at it and see it for the first time. She's always amazing me with her ability to enjoy life.

And who can forget Tiny Pineapple? Grettir is a movie critic extraordinaire. His sense of humor is the best. He was actually one of the very first bookmarks I made in my neighborhood. He can make you swoon with his writing and also bring you to tears as he talks about the women in his life.

So what do these quasi journalists have in common? New eyes for each of us. They open the world and show us a better part. A better part of the world wherein we live. They allow us new vision. Clearer, and sharp, and poignant at times. Andrew Gowers saw it. And so do I.

Who gives you new vision?

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08 December 2005

The Who

Every now and then you stumble across something that surprises you on the net. Not shocks you, surprises you. Well, a few weeks back I found one of those sites. I bookmarked it, mentioned it to a couple of friends, and then went on my way.

Wait a minute! Why didn't I tell you about it? You probably would like to know about it too! Well, as the title suggests, it has something to do with The Who. The Who? Yes, The Who. That great band from waaaaay back then. I can hear you singing your favorite song now. "Talkin' 'bout my generation..." Pete Townsend has a blog. Yep. He has written a story which he is publishing on the net. He releases chapter by chapter, read comments, comments back and encourages you to participate. There are also links to his e-commerce site and has one other link. An aspiring musician/artist that he feels is worthy of a link and some encouragement.

Go on over and kick the tires. Just think, you can actually leave a comment, and get one back from a rock musician, one you never thought you'd meet. I like these neighborhoods!

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07 December 2005

Christmas Cards

Christmas cards are something I have yearned to do for years. Usually I am so busy, cards get a passing glance and a nod, and then set aside for future years because there just isn't enough time in a day. This year I have a little more time available and I am going to try to get some done today.

I'll post pics for all to see later in the day!

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05 December 2005

There but by the Grace of God.....

... You've seen them. I've seen them. The homeless are all around us. I remember reading a talk entitled "Beggars". It is an excellent treatise on loving one another. It illustrates, very well, the blindness in all of us.

I love learning. Formal education has its place, but I think it can sometimes bring a false sense of intelligence. For instance, if you have a PhD in physics, people regard you as "the smart guy". Mostly because they don't understand physics. However, if you were to ask "the smart guy" when it is the best time to harvest dates, or cantaloupes, or why it is important to know what the brix represents, he may not seem so smart. So while an advanced degree may get you a job, it is not an indication of how smart you are.

On to my other point of education. There is a fallacy in the US, and possibly the rest of the domesticated world, that education must cost a lot in order to be worthy. I could not agree less. There are so many things that can be learned without having to write a check for a huge sum of money. Education is all around us. We must be willing to share our knowledge. Once we have learned something, we must be willing to share it with others. Instead of standing on the rule that it is "proprietary knowledge", teach it to someone else. It never hurts anyone to share your knowledge. Be willing to learn where you can learn, or teach where you can teach. I have a friend who is currently living abroad in what we would classify as a third world nation. She meets with a group of students each week to discuss topics. They talk of any subject available, as their focus is to learn English. I can say, with certainty, she is learning more than she is teaching. And no one is exchanging money for the experience. It is good.

Back to the beggars, homeless, less fortunate or what ever label you wish to use. What can we learn from them? More than we would ever expect. Each has a story. Each has knowledge that has value. I stumbled across a website recently through a post at Waiter Rant. He points to this post on enabling the homeless. I learned a lot. You could too, by reading this blog.

Most of all he has the best Christmas Wish List I have ever seen. Go there, see what you could do!

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01 December 2005

Fripp - the Genius

We're having fun tonight. We have a ton of music on computer. We have finally figured out how to play music on the TV (using the subwoofer etc) through the airport. So we have the music up loud and the TV virtually off. It's like being back at a concert! We've listened to Deep Purple, Ten Years After, Evanessence, Eric Burden and the Animals, Jimi, Grand Funk, Cream, Foreigner, Pink Floyd and a plethora of others. It has been such fun going back to those times. Reviewing concerts and remembering all the different bands we saw together. You see, I married my high school sweetheart, and we spent most of our dating years going to concerts.

One concert that stands out in my mind though is King Crimson. It was held at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Incredible is how I remember it. Crimson played the longest concert they had ever performed on that night. Fripp was in rare form. He came out prior to beginning the first set, and yucked it up a bit. Well, as good as he could. It went something like this: The crowd is revved. They can hardly wait for the band to hit the stage and begin with the best progressive rock available back then. They chanted stuff like rock on!, boogie!, Fripp, Fripp, Fripp! So out comes Robert. Grabs a mike and a hush fills the auditorium. Everyone was waiting for wisdom from the great one. He says, "what the hell is this 'boogie' shite? He pronounces boogie like boojie. And does a little dance kicking his feet in a marching gait and waving his arms above his head. "boojie, boojie!, he laughed, but you knew it wasn't a laughing with you kind of laugh. It was a laughing at the idiots in his presence laugh. Then he says, "If you came to boojie, you can just leave. I don't boojie, never have and never will. What I play is music. If you want to dance, get the hell out!" Then they proceeded with the concert. Of course, Eric Clapton showed up, and played a set, Marc Bolan, too. Everyone wanted to be around King Crimson. Well, Eric seemed to show up at every concert we went to that summer. It cracked me up, I wondered if he just couldn't get a gig on his own and just kept crashing everyone else's. Still it was great.

The drum cage was amazing. The big guy, being in a band, always took note of the amps, guitars, anything that was used to produce a sound. The drum cage was something never before seen. Ever. It had an actual cage around it made of metal. From the cross bars were all types of percussion instruments. He had two drum sets, and every other drum available. It was incredible to see and even more amazing throughout the evening he used every instrument on the cage. Of course, we went home and encouraged the drummer to build such a cage for himself. Wow.

I didn't appreciate until far later, the genius that was Fripp. He was lightyears ahead in his thinking of manipulating music and stretching the limits and boundaries. Most group were satisfied to break out of the mold safely, using a moog, or a fuzz pedal, rotosound strings on a bass for a real thumpy bass-y sounds or any other safe way of getting groove sound. But it was the Fripps of the world that brought along anything and everything. You listened to him and his band and realized you didn't know jack about music. He was the professor, leading the others, still seemingly in elementary school, out of their comfort zones and trying new and foreign musical techniques. His lyrics rivaled the greats also. He said the stuff everyone was thinking, but were afraid to voice. All bands back then were tired of being used by their company's corporate desires. No one wanted to lose that contract though and didn't come right out and say the obvious. They masked their disgust in clever lyrics. Fripp just said it, Floyd followed suit, then others. Fripp, was, the master.

A sampling of those lyrics:


I guess I tried to show you how
I'd take the crowd with my guitar
And business men would clap their hands
And clip another fat cigar
And publishers would spread the news
And print my music far and wide
And all the kids who played the blues
Would learn my licks with a bottle neck slide

But now it seems the bubble's burst
Although you know there was a time
When love songs gathered in my head
With poetry in every line
And strong men strove to hold the doors
While with my friends I passed the age
When people stomped on dirty floors
Before I trod the rock'n'roll stage

I'll thank the man who's on the 'phone
And if he has the time to spend
The problem I'll explain once more
And indicate a sum to lend
That ten percent is now a joke
Maybe thirty, even thirty-five
I'll say my daddy's had a stroke
He'd have one now, if he only was alive

I like the way you look at me
You're laughing too down there inside
I took my chance and you took yours
You crewed my ship, we missed the tide
I like the way the music goes
There's a few good guys who can play it right
I like the way it moves my toes
Just say when you want to go and dance all night...

At the end of the evening we were all stunned, amazed and satisfied. The tickets cost us somewhere in the nieghborhood of $6.00. A great night's music. History had been made. Crimson never again played a show of that length. It was late. We left the venue and headed home. On deserted LA freeways - yes, empty freeways. I remember mentioning to the big guy, that the only people we were sharing the freeways with were probably stoned.

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PSA #2

Ever feel like no matter what you can't seem to get in the mood of things? Then when it's just about over, you sit back, relax, and finally it sets in? Well I have an answer for you this Christmas season.

A Story a Day 'til Christmas

A good friend, Lisa, has compiled a story for each day of December leading up to Christmas! She does it as a family project and actually prints a book for all of her extended family. She has been participating in this wonderful tradition for years with her family under the inspiration of her Mom. We begged, pleaded, and I think even bribed her this year to put them online. She gave in, and here they are for all to enjoy.

So go there, do that!

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PSA - Public Service Announcement

No it's not an emergency alert, just a knowledge alert.

The internet is a great place, I think we all agree on that. Except occasionally while perusing your favorite places, blogs or other info sites, you hit a wall. A brick wall. It stops you short of that interesting article that you've just read a paragraph of, and decide you want more! More info please! However, instead of getting the rest of the paper, you get an window that says: "gee we really like you! (not really) But because you're here, you must want to give us your name and address, email and possibly in the future a pint of blood, your firstborn child or your credit card number...

What do you do? Well, you have three choices. 1. You can register with them and risk the spam of the day. 2. You can turn away, unsatisfied, hoping someone you know will get the article and you'll get to see it. Someday. 3. (And three is what I recommend!) You can go to this wonderful stroke of genius developed by someone like me! It is Bug Me Not.

Bug Me Not is a key box. The kind of box like is on the front door of a house you've found attractive and is for sale. If you have the proper info, it gives you entrance into your site of choice and you get what you came for: an entrance with anonymity! No more spam! Sometimes you go and get the key, other times, no one has a subscription and you leave disappointed. But you get in more often than not so it's worth a try! What's it cost you ask? Not a thing! All you need is the URL of the place you're trying to enter. Drop it in the box and they'll give you a pre-arranged user name and password. It's great! These guys should be nominated for site of the year!

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