Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring is Here....Maybe

The other day it was warm. I mean WARM folks--day time temperature was 60 degrees! I walked around in the sun, wearing a t-shirt--that's how warm it was! Ok--the breezes still were a bit chilly and I had goosebumps every time one blew over me but it was still WARM! I found my first miniature daffodil blooming!
I love daffodils! They are so bright and happy and so damned cheerful! They bring sunshine into my spirit and this past week--I needed that. They make me happy! HAPPY! I guess you kind of figured that out, huh?
In the back yard, I checked out Quinn's Tulips and they seem to be multiplying. I walked around planning my summer garden. I know what I want to plant, but it was getting a feel of the land. I spotted one of our ferals, MC watching me. 

Then Friday came. I was eagerly planning my Spring Break while trying to finish up some grading and noticed this out the office window:
Please tell me that wasn't a snowflake. Maybe it was a pigeon feather...or two. 
 Please tell me those are pigeon feathers. Seriously, we seem to be supporting all the flocks in town. I know some of them live on the West Side--I've seen them parking their happy butts over there. But that white stuff on the ground isn't pigeon feathers--or any other kind of feathers are they? 

Then I remembered how the weather folk get it wrong some times. So I was hoping for another "We goofed" in the weather department. Instead, this time they were right on the money!
 I ask you--How are my daffodils and tulips supposed to compete with this kind of weather?!?!??! I think someone---probably some governmental official--forgot to tell Winter that his chance came and WENT! Winter has to learn how to share. It's Spring's turn. Of course if Winter is taking his lessons about sharing from our government, then he might just be getting the wrong idea--since our government officials never learned how to share either. Anyway---It's going to be Easter in two weeks.  Does Old Man Winter still plan on throwing one last temper tantrum before heading into his room for a good long while?That might be the example he got from our government officials, temper tantrums because they aren't getting what they want. I better not go there, otherwise you'll have me rallying up the people to SPANK our government officials. But like I said...I'm not going there. 

Just checked the weather forecast for this week. It's going to be a repeat--bright sunny days--which is what's needed to melt the latest snow dump--with SNOW again on Wednesday! ARGH! I can't win here!

Good News---Please check out the newest lanyard made for our lovely but regal Topaz by our friend, LanyardLadyCherin has created miracles from our cats for her lanyards! She's also a great blogger. I'm about addicted to her blog as I am to my morning coffee. Trust me--that's a good thing! She's also made one for Ava--capturing her wicked personality and combined it with Ava's love for flowers. 
 My camera is slow, but Topaz was giving the lanyard an eye blink of approval. D and I love what Cherin's talent is doing--immortalizing our cats. Thank you again, Cherin--this means more to us than you'll ever know!

I hope it's Spring and WARM wherever you are and that the sunny days spread sunshine on your shoulders and warm breezes to fill your souls. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Merlin's Magic

This blog is called Chile Cats. It's supposed to be about cats, ferals, and colony management, right? It supposed to may be...MAY BE have some opinion pieces, a recipe or two, and general comments about my life. It's mainly supposed to be about cats though. It's supposed to be the blog that kitty lovers everywhere would love and enjoy. So what's with all this beading and beads stuff that's been popping in quite often? What's UP with that?!?!?

Well today is going to be a special post. My blogging friend, Cherin of Lanyard Lady fame is about to celebrate her 500th Etsy sale in her wonderful store. Naturally, I asked her if I could help her celebrate. She said she would get back to me. I was envisioning party hats and whistle blowers and may be baking a couple of dozen cookies or so. Ok--not really. Kind of hard to do that in CyberLand and across the nation. I live in New Mexico  and Cherin lives in North Carolina. Nontheless, I did have a party-like attitude and I am very happy that Cherin's lanyard sales have been perking up for her.

Then I received a request from Cherin. Could I send her pictures and a small blurb about our cats so she could design lanyards with them in mind? This is what Cherin wanted to do for her special celebration. WOW! How cool is this?!?!? Naturally, I responded with enthusiasm and started searching through my photos of the cats. I started with our oldest cat in the house, Merlin. I thought I could easily write about Merlin--he's got such history and such grandeur for an older cat who survived being feral. He would be the easiest to write about--so I thought.

I found it wasn't so easy to write about this particular cat. His personality is difficult to explain on paper. So I'm using word processing on a computer and not actually writing things out on paper...the process is still the same. The little blurb I intended became a synopsis about his life and began turning into a whole chapter. Flipping through the photographs did not really help me--there were so many choose and which ones best captured his gentleness, his wisdom, his fierce protective nature, and his generosity? I ended up choosing three, cutting about 20 pages out of the narrative, and crossed my fingers and hit "SEND." 

Now Cherin is a beautiful soul and a brilliantly talented creative woman. You should see what she did with Merlin's short story. I was both humbled and gobsmacked when she sent me a picture of the lanyard she made. Tears came into my eyes when I saw how she took my words and my photos of this cat and created a wondrous piece of art.  D was totally speechless when he saw that beautiful lanyard she called "Merlin's Magic." 
We had to show Merlin. He responded with his quiet purr of approval. Some of the other cats had to come see what the fuss was about. Lacey asked if she was going to get a lanyard made in her honor like Merlin. I told her to just wait and see. 

So please go visit Cherin's blog and her store and see the magic she created and become part of the celebration! 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Snow and The Bead Junkie

Before we go onto my addiction, I have to post these pictures of what we had yesterday. Yep--snow. Enough that D had to go out several times in the night to shake off trees and shovel the walks. Our little town got anywhere from 8-10 inches of the heavy white stuff. Luckily for us, it's supposed to be sunny and warm today. I might get to see the daffodils that were just about to bloom!
Now about the Bead Junkie. I posted about the bead swap I couldn't resist getting into. Then Jen Judd posted about something that makes all junkies drool---yours truly here included. I apologize for the slobber right now because this is every bead junkie's dream! 
Heather Powers, over at HumbleBeads is starting a Sisterhood of the Traveling Beads Giveaway! She's culled some interesting beads from her stash to send around. I'm so excited--I want to be a part of this! I know I have BFs (Beady Friends) out there in my readership, and I couldn't wait to pass this information along! Those who are interested, check out Heather's blog for more details. You will squeal with pleasure! See me digging into my stash this weekend to see which of my beads need to go traveling!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Bead Swap!

Remember the Bead Party last month? Well I joined another bead swap set up by Lori Anderson, the same incredible lady who set up the virtual Bead Party. Unlike the party, it was just a simple bead swap. The rules were--fill a large matchbox full of beads you would like to receive (in other words--no junk please!) and send it to your bead swapping partner by March 8th. 

Naturally, I joined up. This was an occasion for free beads and being the bead junkie that I am, I couldn't resist! I bet you're thinking I didn't try very hard either--and you would be accurate. I resisted for two whole days before adding my name to the list of potential swappers. The selling point was that I didn't have to do anything by a certain time---with midterms and papers and exams coming up this month. 

I got lucky and drew Jayne "Boot~C" from Oklahoma. I'm meeting a lot of really terrific people from that state lately. :D Jayne and I have a lot in common. We share the same age, one of the same astrological signs (ok--I'm half Sagittarius, but it counts!) and we're both in education. Wohoooooooooo! How cool is that?!?! Naturally, we share the best trait in common and that's our love for beads, beading thingies, and pretty things! 

Come time to find a matchbox that was the right size and I hit a dilemma. In our small town, there weren't any large matchboxes--just large packs of small matchboxes. I took the measurements again and hunted all over this house for something of similar size. The only thing I found was an empty Land O' Lakes Butter tub--the kind that's mixed with canola oil. I emailed Lori who said that would be perfect.  

I started rummaging around my bead stashes and adding beads and glittery stuff to the butter tub. Then I took some of the things out and added others. I found that I really wanted to send Jayne a lot of different things and most of it wouldn't fit into the tub. I had to plan this out better. By now, Jayne and I had swapped email addresses and been in contact with each other--she's simply bubbly and cheerful in her emails. They always made me smile. We exchanged information about what we liked, what we didn't like, what we didn't work with well and what we had to have. And I revised her butter tub full of beads again after each email. To be honest, I revised it even the day it was being sent out! "No--no--Let me see if this will fit in too! She will love this!" We weren't supposed to CRAM our boxes full of things--just fill them. I kind of broke that rule. But I have a feeling I wasn't alone. I did try to send her a bit of every thing.

Naturally, I forgot to take pictures of what I was sending to Jayne.  I remember telling myself to get pictures because it would be nice to have a record of what I sent, instead of trying to rely on my faulty memory. And my faulty memory came into play. It's always faulty when I'm trying to get midterm grades in and the life of an adjunct professor is...well it's not always pleasant. 

But when Jayne's package arrived, I was thrilled. This is what I found inside! 
Do you see those boxes? Jayne MADE those cute little boxes! I'm keeping them! I don't know for what yet, but wait and see!
Look at all those goodies! But wait--there's more! Talk about a color combination! I fell in love with those gorgeous colors!
Those lampwork beads at the top, upper right are from Cindy Gimbrone--and they are simply gorgeous! I picture them on a necklace with those divine pink howlites and aqua crystals! The white coral I have plans for!
 This is an interesting earthy mixture! There's snake vertebra, green adventurine, horn beads and prasiolite. I can picture these in my mind all mixed together to form a beautiful down to earth jewelry ensemble. 
These are from the bonus boxes--chrysocolla and teal green adventurine nuggets. I'm so excited about having these stones! Just holding them makes me all happy and warm inside. These will be great but I haven't made up my mind yet of what I'd like to to do with them. I have some other beads that will match these perfectly so I need to see what develops!

Jayne--thank you from the bottom of my heart! This was a fantastic bead swap and it's been fun having you as a partner!  Lori--thanks for another great idea! I can't wait to bead!


Saturday, March 13, 2010

DST and Zucchini

I HATE Daylight Saving Time. Absolutely LOATHE time changes twice a year. I see it as a form of government-sponsored social control mechanism that only has one purpose: To see how many of us idiots will comply to bouncing our clocks back and forth and waking up an hour earlier than we need to.

So long before D and I got married--became married--got married--received marriage as an institution--got married--joined in matrimony--I rebelled. I might have to comply with the stupid government's dictation about changing my schedule but I was NOT changing my clocks anymore. Alright--it was a small rebellion that really didn't have any impact on our national governmental figures but it was still a rebellion and it felt good to me. This was something I could control. 

And that's what it's all about, huh? Control. Who controls whom. Especially at this time of the year. The research I've read says there's no real big energy savings because we're burning it up in the early morning hours just so we can see in the dark. Other research I've read clearly states that it really does make people ill to be constantly changing the time back and forth.

Now--when I was younger, the time change had no big impact on me, except I got to stay up later in the summer. Of course it took a bit of time to adjust to the new time changes but other than that--it was easy-peezy. Things are different now that I'm older. Every year, it takes me longer and longer to adjust to the time change. I normally get up at 4:30 in the morning standard time--the new time change that's happening tomorrow means I'm getting up at 3:30! What's wrong with that picture, I ask you!

I also seem to be more susceptible to whatever bug is flying around during the spring time change. I've been exposed to the dreaded H1N1 like 7 times last semester. I didn't catch it--and no I haven't had a flu shot. (I'm allergic to the flu shot's preservatives.) It's because I was back on normal schedule and getting my sleep and my rest like I should.  This spring I'll probably come down with a mutating variant of H1N1 that will be resistant to every antibiotic or cure known to man, except for homemade chicken soup.  (I made D stock up on chickens today so I can cook them down to broth for soup. He can easily add the carrots and celery and onions if necessary later.) Then I'll be the only Super-Flu victim who will not respond to the normal of TANG (someone shoot me now and save me THAT agony later) and TheraFLU/Emerg-C/Airborne treatment. 

I'm thinking I should head my happy butt over to Congress and talk to them about every day people who don't have insurance or jerky dinky insurance coverage and how it's going to cost our government tons and gazillions of dollars to support those of us who get affected by the Super-Flu because of stupid Daylight Saving Time changes twice a year. What are they gaining? Can anyone explain this to me like I'm a 3-year old, but I don't understand why this is so necessary anymore?!?!??! It kind of reminds me of that archaic method of letting kids out of school for summer--another rant from me later about our antiquated education system. I feel that DST (and doesn't that sound like something that's to be transmitted that's in no way shape or form healthy for anyone?!??!) is also antiquated and needs to be abolished. But then again--I don't have any body in Congress's ear either. *sighs* 

So despite my loathing of DST, I still love spring time. I have bulbs starting to bloom, plants and trees starting to bud, and it's definitely warmer on the days we don't have snow.  Gotcha on that one, huh?!?!? I'm dreaming about my garden plot this year and how we can grow this and that...and I'm craving FRESH vegetables--not that pre-harvested stuff they sell at the grocery stores. Vine-ripened and/or picked fresh is what I'm craving. 

So this little recipe can help ease off those cravings....My Zucchini Stir-fry

You will need:
1 TBS butter
1TBS olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced finely
1 small zucchini, with the ends removed and sliced thinly
1 small green bell pepper, with the stem and innards removed and diced
1 half a red pepper, treated the same as above
3 stalks of celery or just the whole leftover bits if you prefer
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp thyme leaves
1/8 tsp freshly ground or restaurant style black pepper
pinch of kosher salt

How to put it together:

In a medium sized saute pan (aka skillet for those of you who grew up like I did) melt butter in the olive oil. When it's warmed up, toss in the diced onion. Leave it alone to caramelize for a bit. You know by now, I'm all about caramelized onions--love them I do! When they have caramelized, toss in the minced garlic. This should be fresh, but dried minced garlic will work in a pinch--you'll only want to use about 1/4 tsp then. 
Then toss in your thinly sliced zucchini. Mix well and let it cook. Go do some other chore that's not going to take you away from the kitchen for too long. Zucchini can cook fast. Stir occasionally so it all has a chance to cook evenly.
Next add your celery and green bell pepper. 
Stir and let it all cook up together, about 7 minutes. 
Add your spices, except the salt and stir. Let it cook for another 5-7 minutes. 
Your mouth should be watering about now. 
Finally, add your red bell pepper and stir. Let it cook together for another 5-7 minutes.
Toss in your salt and serve warm. It's yummy-good and good for you. It should help those of you who suffer like I do from DSTisease. You can eat this alone with a thin slice of cheese, like white cheddar or provolone and a dinner roll or you can serve it as a side dish to your pot roast, chicken or fish. It's one of those flexible meals. :D Enjoy

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Part of the Big 50

In my post about why I don't fly, I casually mentioned one of the problems living in New Mexico. People don't realize that New Mexico is part of the union called the United States of America. Here are a few of my experiences:

Back in 1981, I happened to be near Denver, Colorado, visiting my gramma, my aunt, and my cousin. Since I arrived by bus, my aunt generously let me use her car for the day. I was traveling down a boulevard at the posted speed limit, wondering why everyone else who were going the same way were speeding past me. Coming from a small town in southern New Mexico, driving above the posted speed limit was the best way to get a ticket. As I was thinking this, I noticed flashing lights in my rear-view and started looking for a safe place to pull over. Once that was accomplished, I realized that the cop was still behind me. I did the normal "What did I do WRONG" panic-dance in my brain. He came up and asked me for my driver's license and proof of insurance. I handed my aunt's insurance card and my New Mexico driver's license. He looked at that--looked at me--looked back at the driver's license and then asked me if I had my visa. I looked at him like he was stupid.
ME: Why would I need a visa? Isn't my driver's license good enough?
Cop: You need a visa or a passport to come into the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. (The latter was yelled out like I could hear him better this way). 
ME:  I'm a citizen of THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA! (repeating a cop's stupid idiocy is not always wise, but I was a brash 19 year old at the time and thought I was "cool.")
Cop: You're from Mexico! It says so right here!
ME: I'm from NEW MEXICO. I live about 100 miles NORTH of El Paso, Texas. You know where El Paso, Texas is right? El Paso borders Mexico--I'm from a hundred miles north of El Paso. Why did you pull me over anyway?
Cop: (Still mulling the quick geography lesson over) What? Oh, you were driving the speed limit. 
ME: (Now I'm dumbfounded) Yeah? Is that illegal....sir?
Cop: You were impeding traffic. You have to drive the same speed as the rest of the drivers or you can cause an accident. (Now he's all smug giving me a lesson about life in a metropolis.) 

I got off with a warning but that incident I just naturally tossed out as someone not as well versed in geography as he should be...Until the next time.

In the 1990s, I worked as a portrait studio manager. At the time, most of the portrait studios' labs and headquarters were based in North Carolina. The first time I had to call headquarters back east, I got a lesson in how to talk slowly--because that was during my days of drinking a couple pots of coffee alone. I also got a lesson that people didn't always know where New Mexico was.

Me: Hi! This is Cathryn from Studio XYZ in Albuquerque, New Mexico and we have a problem with our camera. I think it's the powerpack since----
Customer Service Rep: Hold on Dahrlin--you are speaking way to fast for me. Slow it down. We have lots of time. 
Me: I'm Cathryn from Studio XYZ--
Rep: Ok...From Studio XYZ...Where you located Dahrlin?
Me: (Big deep breath, trying to ignore the screaming of children, moms, and associates) This studio---Studio XYZ--is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico and----
Rep: Since when did this company start putting in studios overseas?
Me: Huh?!?!?! What do you mean?
Rep: I didn't realize that we had studios across the ocean in Mexico! That's a new one on me!

It took me a minute to realize that the person on the phone thought Mexico and Spain were synonymous. Same country obviously. Both speak Spanish and eat Spanish foods. *picture me dying with laughter here*

When I did a lateral move to another company that had their company based in North Carolina--and I swear the portrait studios headquarters were all down the street from each other--I got this interesting experience.

Rep: Cathryn, we are going to send out a couple of service guys. They will be catching the plane in the morning. We feel that you need tech support to resolve your problem in your studio. (I had several electrical shorts that were burning out equipment.) However, one of the techs wants to know if he needs vaccinations and can he drink the water? And will someone meet him at the airport because he don't speak no Spanish. 

Considered me educated by this time.

It wasn't until I had to fly back east for my son's grandmother's funeral. She passed away peacefully shortly after September 11th, 2001. Flying back was an interesting adventure since the Patriot Act had been enacted. At the time, I was in the middle of Washington DC on the metro (subway for those of you who didn't know) I couldn't hear what the conductor said. I was afraid of missing my stop because my son's aunt was specific about NOT missing the connection to her office. So I asked the lady in front of me what stop the conductor said was coming up.

Lady: It's the Blue Line connection coming up. Are you from here?
Me: Thank you and no, I'm not. I'm from New Mexico.
Lady: Wow! Your English and accent are so good, I thought you were a citizen of THIS country. You aren't dark at all--not with your blonde hair! Amazing!
Me: Amazingly, your English is very good too! Thank you for telling me--this is where I get off.

Flying back home, I sat next to this gentleman who was flying into Arizona. He was going to visit some kin who had moved there. He asked me where I was going, and I told him I was going home to New Mexico. He said he didn't realize that we were flying there and he didn't bring his passport. Before I could correct his assumption, he asked the passing flight attendant if he was going to get into trouble for not bringing his passport when we flew into Mexico. I had to explain to him that NEW Mexico was next door to Arizona. 

My husband told me of how when he started using eBay, he had to spell out NEW MEXICO, USA on his address so people didn't try to charge him with international postage or refuse to sell to him because "they didn't do international sales." 

We live in New Mexico and yes, we are the only state that has to add USA on our drivers' licenses and vehicle tags.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Midterms Week!

It's midterms week here--which means it can be hell for both students and professors. I haven't forgotten any of you--just been up to my eyeballs in students, papers, grades and "stuff on that." That's a saying from my best friend's husband and it's caught on with me. Stuff on that.  I'm behind on my blog reading/commenting but will catch up as soon as the last grade is turned in. I promise. 
I thought I'd leave you with a few signs of spring.
Miniature Iris
 Ava sleeping in the sun
MC, Tabby, and Swirly (some of our ferals) catching sunbeams
A definite sign of warm weather....bikers.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Fly Again? May Be Not!

This story goes back a few years--to June of 2005. My son was getting ready to graduate from high school. Now he had been living with his father and his aunt in Virginia for nearly four years by this time and I had to learn how parent him long distance. Not easy--not impossible either. 

Getting him through high school was a major achievement for him and a sense of accomplishment for me. All around me, friends' children were dropping out of high school like flies and there was a time when I feared the same would happen to my son.  He talked about it from time to time. I would usually do the same routine--"Son, you aren't ALLOWED to drop out. It's forbidden, you understand me? Or in your lingo--Do you feel me?!?!?! I guarantee if you drop out, you'll be feeling me...feeling my hand on the seat of your pants all the way back to New Mexico!" Child of mine is taller than me, stronger than me but I had the power of MOM (Mom On a MISSION) backing me up. 

So the wonderful event is about to arrive. D and I searched for the cheapest airfares, hotel rooms, car rentals and got the best package we could. A friend of mine stayed with the cats and the rabbit to care for them in our absence. We got up at o'dark-thirty one morning, got ready, and drove to Albuquerque to begin our journey to Virginia. At the airport, we only had a minor snag. My tickets were branded with a big red X inside a circle. D's were not marked like this but the ticket agent put that on all my tickets, including my return tickets. At the time we figured it was like having to take off your shoes. We just shrugged, slipped off our shoes and socks and proceeded right on through. 

We had to change planes in Houston, and that gave us our first inkling that something might be amiss. As we went through the line, I was asked to step to one side for inspection. The woman agent asked me if I had any metal anywhere on me. I showed her my tongue post (Yes--my tongue used to be pierced!) and informed her that I was wearing an underwire bra. I suddenly had visions of coming back from Turkey (when I was 11 years old and back in the 70s) and getting the naked pat-down all over again--but this time the agents weren't going to check for illegal drugs but for explosives.  I remembered hearing stories about people being stripped searched and cavity searched because they chose flying instead of other modes of transportation. My imagination started to kick into overdrive but the agent wanded me and declared me safe to board. 

I figured then that maybe TSA was using something similar to a stratified sample and my number was one of the lucky draws. We flew into Virginia, found our hotel and got something to eat. The next morning we found Mimo--my son and his family. Two days of graduation festivities passed quickly and D and I got to visit the Lincoln and the World War Two Memorials before we left--one of our dreams. My son had graduated from high school--and that was our pride and joy.

Leaving was a different story. We were standing in line to be cleared for boarding and  D had walked through first, showing his ticket and his picture ID. I was right behind him. She saw that big X inside the circle and looked at my picture ID. She developed an immediate case of memory loss. She wanted to know why I didn't show my visa. I asked her why I would I need one. 
TSA Agent: You need a visa from your country to travel to this country or in this country. 
ME: This is the United States, correct?
TSA Agent: Don't you get smart with me. I can't just let someone in from Mexico without a visa.
ME: I'm from NEW Mexico--we are part of the Big 50. Congress let us join the union in 1912. 
TSA Agent: Mexico has never been part of the United States of America! I can't let you on that plane. 
ME: Look Lady--I'm sorry you didn't pass geography but I'm going  home to Albuquerque, New Mexico--which is north of El Paso, Texas and south of Denver, Colorado. I'm getting on that plane with my husband!
TSA Agent: Don't sass me. I can't let suspicious people on a plane!
ME: Explain to me like I'm a five-year old--what's suspicious about me?
TSA Agent: This ID is fake. It's not issued from a state government source. 
ME: It's not fake--you let my husband pass and he's from the same state. 
TSA Agent: You are on the watch list. 
ME: What watch list? How did I get on?
TSA Agent: You are going to have to to with that other agent for a body search. Otherwise you can't board this plane.

We barely made it in time to make our flight. In Newark, I had to go through something similar again. Ahead of me was this gentleman and his sons and they were from Russia. They cleared without having to prove they were from Russia. I had to go through the threat of being stripped searched again; drink out of my water bottle to prove it wasn't a liquid bomb, and explain that I travel light from practicality. All I carried with me was my ID and my book. D had our tickets and his camera bag. The rest of our stuff was in our checked luggage. D never got asked to come to the side and submit to a wanding or possible strip search, or asked to empty his camera bag, or asked questions about his intentions or origins. 

It wasn't until later I found that I was on the TSA Terrorist Watch List simply because I did my internship at the local peace and justice center in my last year of graduate school. Because of my internship, I traveled to the state legislature a couple of times to talk to state legislators about issues, participated in a local forum that worked to prevent the US Forestry Service from poisoning our local watershed, marched in a couple of rallies for peace, and listened to several tele-conferences about voting reform. I did other things too but those particular events got me on the watch list. I can't get off the list either--there's no protocol or directions to prove my innocence. I'm guilty of being a possible threat to this country. I have been convicted without due process.

It's ironic because when I was a kid living across the Black Sea from the USSR, I was told that in the USSR, people weren't allowed to travel freely like they were in the United States--that people had to produce papers and identification. I was told repeatedly how lucky I was to be a citizen of the United States because I was allowed to travel cross country without check points or worries about being held up because someone thought I looked "suspicious." I was told that citizens of the USSR had to submit to body and luggage searches and weren't allowed to move freely within the boarders of their country without arousing suspicion. 

My teachers drilled it into my head that citizens of the United States were the luckiest people in the whole wide world because we had freedoms that other countries didn't have. The other countries believed their people being guilty of anything, but here in the USA we are innocent until we were proven to be guilty. We had nothing to fear but fear itself. Other countries told their citizens if they weren't guilty, they had nothing to hide; and if they had nothing to hide, they had nothing to fear. My teachers said that's why everyone wanted to come to America because it was the land of the free and that we didn't live in fear, like other people in other countries did. 

Right now, driving is still free.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Almost Spring!

I went peeking around the front flower bed yesterday. It was actually warm for once. Ok...not warm-warm but not freezing cold where I had to bundle up with a gazillion layers before venturing outside. So it was WARM! I was waiting for Mrs. C's soap opera to finish so we could go walking so I was outside soaking up some rays of Vitamin D. I saw this...

This week's going to be a teaser because Winter isn't finished yet. The temperatures are going to be in the mid to high 50s! But knowing New Mexico's temperamental weather, we usually get hit with one last winter storm that's full of freezing temperatures and heavy snow right around Easter. 

But right now, I'm enjoying watching more daffodils and tulips pop through the soil. I have more this year than last year. I'm excited because I don't know what colors will be emerging!
I'm telling you--hang in there! Spring's almost here!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ask And You Shall Receive

A few posts back, I mentioned blueberry cookies and An Oklahoma Granny immediately asked for the recipe. I've been busy--caught up in other things but her request has stuck in my mind. Make that SIDETRACKED by other need-to-post issues and teaching. Wait--make that caught up in my teaching and sidetracked by other issues to blog about. There...can you tell it's Monday?!?!? And the first day of March?!??! It's our first March of the new decade and I should be celebrating...or at least excited.

Anyway I hadn't forgotten Oklahoma Granny's request--in fact it's been there giving me a nudge here and there...."Remember--you were going to post that blueberry cookie recipe for Oklahoma Granny." And the nudge became a bit of a nag..."Cathryn--when are you going to post that recipe for Granny? She's been patiently waiting..." After a bit the nag became a shrew and I really hate shrews--especially when they reside in my own brain. Shrews tend to shriek at every available opportunity and when they are least expected. I'd be in the middle of a lecture or talking to a student and the shrew would unleash its banshee voice: "CATHRYN! You are dwaddling here and there's no excuses for getting her that recipe! Get off your duff and get that recipe on your blog!"

At this point, some people would say that's my conscious bothering me...I call it the way I hear it in my head--the Shrew...The screeching, banshee, wailing shrew. It's like listening to fingers scrape across a chalkboard only can't escape it because it travels with you! Nice image for a Monday morning, huh?

I finally replenished my supply of dried blue berries and fresh blueberries. I really endeavored in  not gobbling them all up before I got to bake the next batch. You see, despite the shrewish conscious jangling of my last nerve, I really wanted to make these cookies so I could remember what I did so I could post this recipe for Granny. Besides the fact that they are simply yummy and make me break my low carbohydrate/low sugar vows for health.  I also wanted to take pictures because these cookies are stupendous. It may come down to that, you know--I can only have pictures of these wonderful cookies, instead of eating them.

So these are for you Granny...and anyone else who wants the recipe! :D

Blueberry Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup denemara sugar (alternatively use 1/2 cup sugar +1/2 cup brown sugar)
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, room temperature
2 1/4 cups unbleached, unenriched flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1--6 ounce container fresh blueberries, rinsed (OPTIONAL)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 

In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside. 

In the main bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and mix well. Add the eggs--minus the shells--one at a time, beating well after each egg. Gradually beat in flour mixture, scraping sides of bowl with a spatula until all is thoroughly mixed. Add dried blueberries and mix well. Gently fold in the fresh blueberries. You want to try to prevent squishing them. 
 Drop by well-rounded tablespoons on an ungreased cookie sheets. As you can see from the picture, you should have a couple of fresh blueberries sitting in each tablespoon-full. Bake on middle rack of oven for 8-12 minutes, depending on your oven. I pull them out when the bottom edges are golden brown, which is about 10 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack and store loosely covered in a container if the air is humid.