Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I am TOO signed in, you pusilanimous reject of a postmodern bellweather

I have been subject to one of the most humiliating experiences ever to befall a thinking person, or indeed an subthingperson, or maybe a very clever bonobo/chimp, therefore anyone who tries to freaking get gas in their car nowadays and choose to do so via a discount card at their local groceria-cum-gas vendor.

It was humilating. I was beaten, and badly. How to say this? .....

Y'all, I was dumped by a MACHINE.

Oh, things started off well enough. I sidled up to a pump with my receiving side ready to open up and take a gusher of fuel right down the ol' tankpipe, like ye do. Stepped out, wielding rewards card and credit card (like a baws!), but was stopped DEAD IN MAH TRAX by a stupid kiosk o' gas that wouldn't recognize my stupid dang rewards card, for NOTHING, no matter how much I flaunted and waved it and flirted it about the wobblering laser eye of recognition, so I broke up with that pump and moved on to the next.

And lo, there was promise with this next pumper o' goodness. It RECOGNIZED MY CARD! Glory! I heard my call for cheap-er gas, got excited, and thus I was so excited that I input 1 too many numbers on the 'what is your zip code' question and got rejected. By the SECOND machine.

Not one to be easily dissuaded, I kept on with the second machine, knowing that it loved me, really, because it recognized my card and so at least had my number (not like that swine machine 1). I restarted, reimaged the rewards card, reswiped the credit card, punched in the right amount of digits on the zip code (yay!), and then accidentally smooshed the 'high test' button with the butt end of the gas delivery handle thingie, which I did not want to do, thus having to back out of the transaction by pushing the cancel button.

At which point the kiosk (BITCH!) told me it had shut off and I needed to see the attendant.

And I did. And she was helpful.

And we did go back to the pump, reinput the info, then see that the pump thought I had no rewards because I accidentally had activated the card without pumping anything at ALL, so she had to call the store, they had to reinstate my rewards (5 cents a gallon!), she had to give me the high sign, and then....THEN, I could pump the 75 bucks worth of gas into the hold that would power us through yet another week.

All in all, I was at the gas station for 25 minutes.

Actual gas-pumpery was 3 minutes of that. Standing in the afternoon sun of a glorious NC Spring day was the other bit.

*Attitude change*


*ticks head left, then right. smacks self upside recently-ticked head for being so stupid as to not notice glorious Spring day.*


Announcement....in a very nice posh velvety voice...

Sometimes, it's nice to have your time hijacked from you when there's nothing else to do but just bask in the sun and take your time waiting, for something. On such a fine afternoon there's almost nothing better than to have your time wasted for you, you know?

I sure hope you do.

Right-minded announcement over.


Do tell about your moments of serendipity, if you have had them. ESPECIALLY if you've been stupidly mad right before they happened.

I know how you feel. It's OK. Love you!


Thursday, March 22, 2012

It's long and random, at first you're hungry and then you're not

I do believe we are going to fire up the grill this evening for some burger cookin'. There are going to be some jealous people in our neighborhood tonight, if they are anything like me, who begins salivating immediately upon catching the first whiff of almost any grilled food.

We don't typically get fancy with grilled burgers, but do add some Worchestershire sauce and other spices to the meat. We're still working on grilling technique, the 'hot' vs' slow' grill seems to be very tricky on a charcoal grill. Any tips would be appreciated.

To go with the burgers I've just whipped up a batch of 'almost-my-mom's' potato salad, which is nommy and came out so good tonight I'mma write it down here just for remembering. Truth be told, I've likely done this before, but not just in this way, so ha. My blog, my rules.

Anyhow, here we go.

Tiff's "Almost My Mom's" potato salad:

5 large waxy potatoes (regular white or Yukon gold or similar), about 3 pounds
1/4 medium onion, minced
1/2 c light mayo
1/2 c 1% milk
1/4 c light sour cream
1 tsp prepared brown mustard
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp coarse-ground black pepper
1 tsp white vinegar

Boil the potatoes, whole, until done (about 20 minutes). Remove from pot and let cool

While cooling, combine the remaining ingredients into a dressing, set aside.

Peel cooled potatoes and cut into 1" cubes. Place in large mixing bowl.

Pour dressing over top, turn gently to combine, cover, and refrigerate at least an hour, turning occasionally.



There's a restaurant in town we swore we'd never go back to because the last time we were there the service was so bad we walked out without ever getting half our order.

Well, that place is now 'available for lease.'

Guess we don't have to bother to remember to not go back there.


It's been another golden day here in Cackalacky, except for a tiny bit in the morning that I could have done without that involved a rather comedic scene first and then abject horror.

The comedy was begun in the early morn, when the coffee pot was not quite done and Biff was getting up and at them for work. In the serenity of a scene of utter domestic bliss (COFFEE!) I certainly did not expect to see him come run-strutting half nakey out of the bedroom, arms pumping like Hans Brinker, with a slightly panicked look on this face, and heading straight toward the shelves where we keep our drinking glasses.

And I quote: 'I am far too naked to deal with THAT right now.'

Well, my curiosity was piqued, so I asked the natural question, 'What?' and the response was a very wide-eyed 'big freaking spider. Under the laundry pile.'

Oh dear.

Neither the LOML or I are very fond of spiders, at all, so it's handy we have a 'you saw it, you deal with it' rule that is invoked whenever spiders, cat barf, empty toilet paper rolls, etc, are involved. In this case that rule played to my favor and I instantly disavowed any interest at all in the spider, being within 10 feet of the spider, nor in plans for how to catch the spider. You saw it, you deal with it. Sorry, babe.

Well, one suit of spider-protective clothing for the catcher, 1 rocks glass, and 1 file folder later, the spider was snug in a new see-through home and being photographed for curiosity and science's sake. Heaven only knows what it might have been, but a wolf spider is the first things that sprang to several minds. A BIG wolf spider. Seriously freakishly radioactively large for this time of year, unless it *shiver* overwintered in the crawlspace.

It is now in the vacant lot next door, I hope eating lots of buggies and loving the great outdoors so much it swears of insides forever. Because if I find it next time? Ka-smoosh!


That's it from here, for now. Tiff out.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

some things, in no particular order

There are certain kinds of games I'm good at. MATCHING games are a specialty. Think 'Bejeweled' and you're right on target.

You do play Bejeweled, don't you? It's only the best game ever. Way better than the games I'm not good at, which include, but are not limited to:

Most card games
and chess

My motto is 'do what you're best at,' but not everyone believes this to be so and thus there are those people who insist that I participate with them in game playing of the multiplayer variety (Bejeweled being a very solitary pursuit). For example, at Lake Week we have frequent card games, some with a rules list that takes an entire page of single-spaced typology to get through. I participate, because it's fun to play games, but I never, ever count on winning anything. Especially if my Mom is playing. That woman is a monster card player.

It is my motto that I tried to hide behind recently when Biff brought home his newest creation - a lovely chess board made from solid-surface countertop material built especially to host a set of chess pieces his father has procured many many years ago. The board is gorgeous, with black-flecked and gray marbled squares, polished until it gleams. The pottery pieces are glazed in gray or green, with pagodas as the rooks, dragons (squee!) as the knights, Buddhas as the bishops, and warriors (natch) as the pawns. The set is gorgeous. And he wanted to PLAY CHESS ON IT! WITH ME!


Words cannot explain my hesitancy, so I agreed to play, if only he would please to explain the rules and movements and such. Yes, I've played before, but so badly I didn't keep any of the experience in the memory bank and so need to be re-taught, each time, how it all goes.

As might be expected, I lost, quite badly. At one point I thought I was doing OK, but then wound up having my King chased all over the board with nobody else around to help him. That part kind of sucked. Bless him, Biff didn't gloat even one tiny bit in front of me.

I had to go play about 30 games of Bejeweled Blitz to get the taste of defeat out of my mouth.

No, I'm not competitive. AT ALL. Whyever do you ask?


We planted our garden this past weekend.

So far, the best crop to come out of it (I know, it's early days yet) are the pumpkins. Which we didn't even plant!

Nope - they're sprouting out of the pumpkin goo that we threw on the compost pile back on October. They're robust little things, too, shooting out of the ground where the peas and carrots were just planted. So nice to know that if all other crops fail, we'll always have pumpkins.

There's nothing wrong with our empathy chips, my friends, because even though it's likely that we shouldn't have, we relocated the sprouts growing in the carrot bed to an auxiliary garden just outside the main garden in hopes that the vines will have room to stretch out there and populate the vacant lot next door with autumnal gourdy goodies. There are a few little kids in the neighborhood that I would LOVE to invite over to pick a punkin, free of charge, for their carving pleasures. The other sprouts in the pea patch? We left those there, as the peas will climb and we can train the punkin vines through the picket and rabbit fencing, out into the vacant lot, to grow wild and free!

Feel free to virtually kick me in the pants if, come October, I'm complaining about being overrun with pumpkins.


List of things we planted in the garden, not at all because you asked:

peas, both snap and English
carrots, both short ('best for heavy soils!') and long ('most heat-tolerant!')
onions, both red and white
spinach. lots and lots of spinach.
broccoli, from seed. First time for everything!

We also have a new rosemary plant, a new pot of basil, are sprouting 'cat grass' for the furry denizens to chew on if they feel so inclined, and are starting tomatoes. Come summer, we'll be planting peppers, herbs, the tomatoes, and zucchini. Then, if we're really feeling Farmer-ish, we can plant fall crops of the cool-weather things we're growing now.

All in a 15x15-foot patch.

What an exciting year of blog posts you have to look forward to, my friends!


This one's getting long, so I'll stop here. Remind me to tell you that we've started another room remodel at the Tiny House. Once we're done there, we will have re-done every room in this 6-room home. Woot!

Y'all have a good Wednesday, or what's left of it, and share in the comments what games you hate or what we ought to be planting in the garden.

See you next time - Tiff out.

Friday, March 16, 2012


If there's a way to access Blogger from the stupid new iGoogle thingie-whatsis, I can't figure out what it is. Now I have to sign into Google, then search for Blogger, then click, then I'm magically transported via fairy dust and navel wax to the wonderful workd of Blogger, wherein I can post a post if I so choose.

Clearly, I'm missing something in all the upgrades that have occurred over the last few months while I was looking at pictures of cities gone to ruin or mountain biking videos or the Daily Mail online. Surely it should be more forthright than all those clicks?

Oh, my problems. Ohhhhhhh!!!


Do you ever talk to yourself in a foreign accent?


I do.


George Clooney got himself arrested today. What made it more special was that he got arrested with his DAD, both protesting the same thing.

Nice to know a man isn't too old to want to do stuff with his Daddy.

(call me, George! You seem fun! We could toast marshmallows and drink hot sake around the fire pit with Biff and Oldfriend!)


There's a girl showing herself up around our neighborhood lately. She's...um..late-teenaged or so, firm of thigh and dark of skin, purely languid of movement and can dance like a boss.

Dance? How do I know this?

Well, because she has danced on our street the past three nights running. She comes up from the right, walking south, at first only talking to herself, then talks louder. The hips start swinging, then the talk turns to song. She then stands and moves shoulders to and fro, head snapping left and right while feet shake an akimbo rhythm to whatever tune she has going on in her mind. She does not care who is there to watch.

Her voice then will rise in song, deep throated and honest, but so odd on this street.

She dances the way up our street, shaking and singing and so fluid you could grease a flywheel with her hips and carpet your dreams with the shimmy of her shoulders. She is lovely, and weird.

I have forgotten what it is like to be her. To be so in the moment of your own making that you are the arbiter of all that happens around you, to be the boss of the moments and winds, so it is nice to see her, crazy young girl on my street, being fetching for that young man who always runs up behind her and walks a little ways with her. He is the reason she goes a little crazy, I think, but there's the hope in me that she keeps a bit of the crazy to herself to pull out and remember when she's older, grayer, but still wild.

Just something I'm thinking, right now. Y'all be well!

Tiff out.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

the ravings of a lunatic

We watched a show on the teevee last night about psychopaths. It is the way of our people to take in entertainment that will either teach us something ('How it's Made') or make us feel better about ourselves ('Cops,' 'World's Dumbest'). By happy coincidence, this program about psychopaths promised to combine those two hallmarks of fine television into one program (much like 'hoarders,' only more intellectual and less heart-stringy).

Now, I can hear some of you pondering out loud 'why on earth would you want to watch a show about dangerous murderous evil people, Tiff? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?' and I would have to answer that 1) there is nothing wrong with me for wanting to watch shows about dangerous murderous evil people, because duh how else are you going to know how to recognize them when you happen upon one in the wild and 2) there is only so much 'House Hunters' one can take in before the urge to Hulksmash the next person who pouts about the carpet color overtakes and you wind up doing something stupid like breaking a coffee table or switching to reality teevee.

So, psychopaths.

Within 5 minutes we got the first kicker. To wit: Not all psychopaths are evil dangerous murderers and sowers of mayhem. In face, MOST psychopaths are not. No, most psychopaths are 1) CEOs, 2) lawyers, 3) other persons of power, 4) charmers, 5) charismatic, and 6) perceived as attractive and dynamic while having no real sense of empathy or social responsibility toward others.

Yep - those people who we hold up as examples of success and achievement can, in no small measure, be outed as psychopathic and probably lacking in the empathy that most people use in daily life to recognize when they're being manipulative, aggressive, and unemotional. Oddly, that LACK of empathy is what makes psychopaths so admirable - they're seen a s 'tough,' with great ideas, a certain recklessness, and a go-for-it attitude that is a siren song to many who don't possess those attributes and who then promote the psychopaths to the top of leadership because by gum that person is GOING FOR IT and that's the kind of spirit we want in our company/army/gang.

Except (and this is the really good part), the psychopathic leader is only good at one thing: self-centered thrill seeking. They're not interested in the welfare of the company/unit/territory, they only crave the next level of exctiement and manipulation, are really only into the whole leadership thing because of the goodies it brings and the power they achieve through ascent into the stratosphere of whatever pursuit or organization in which they find themselves. To actually LEAD that group is not in their interests. Once at the top of the heap, it's quickly found that their leadership abilities are sadly lacking, at which point they self-defensively become bullies or skip town to another company. Psychopaths simply do not CARE enough to make a go of their success - they just want more of it.

It's that thirst for thrill, that power, and a really bad childhood that sometimes perverts itself in the occasional psychopath to turn 'bad,' into a killer or cult leader or lil' Hitler. One of the surprising things I learned was that there are about 4% of us who are psychopaths, who fit the bill both in actions, and, it's being proven, in brain structure and DNA.

4%. That's millions of people!

One of the experts on the show was really really interested in how the brains of 'normals' and psychopaths are different, so he did a little MRI thingie using the emotional aspects of trigger words to track what parts of the brain light up in response to reading the word. There was a mix of nonsense words and real words, some of which are clear triggers like 'death' and 'murder.' Those words 'lit up' areas of normal people's brains that were utterly unresponsive in psychopathic brains (oh, and they used the locked-up kind of psychopath for this experiment, not the CEO types. The convicts, one would assume, didn't care about being remunerated for their time in the tube...). The pattern was clear and pretty remarkable - there was not an emotional component to words in the psychopath's brains, it was as though nonsense words and emotionally-laden terms all meant nothing out of context.

Then the expert decided to scan a group of people in the general population to see what the incidence of psycopathology was an a 'normal' population. What he found was a mix of pictures, with differing degrees of adherence to the 'normal' or 'psychopathic' brain response type, except for one person.

'Uh-oh,' Mr Expert thought - 'I need to do something about this, to let them know maybe, to advise them of some of the issues that might be gong on with them and how they can address them to live a more fruitful satisfying life!' so he broke the code and found out that it was HIM that was the psychopath!


How I did laugh. OK, I snickered, because my emotional responses to most things are fairly blunted except when I've had a few beverages, at which point the emotional responses are as exaggerated as bad street mime's attempts to get out of an invisible box, which is to say, very much over the top. But still, Mister Expert being the psychopath was pretty funny. Droll, really. But to be expected, I'd imagine, because at some point someone with the psycopathic type is going to take an interest in those people who seem so familiar to them yet so distinct in such a graphic horrible way.

It's like a freak show - we want to see people who are like us but NOT like us to remind us how normal we are but how badly things could go wrong. We feel better about ourselves leaving the tent, don't we. We feel more normal and happy about who we are, even though in our heart we know there are still things wrong with us but dang at least it's not claw-hands or alligator skin or tiny little stubby arms! That's what the psychopath expert had to be leaning towards when he started his research, suspecting somehow that he was like these brilliant charismatic people who could be so dangerous, feeling good that he's not a murderous freak with no self-control and an elegant mind. Surely being a scientist who studies psychopaths has to be better than BEING one!

But nothing can stop you from being who you are. Even his family admitted, as did he, that he can be difficult and hard to get along with, that he has moods and (it was intimated) can swing wildly between them, and needs periods of quiet at calm to be at his best.

And that is the point at which I declared to myself that I shall never be tested for psychopathy or any sort, because if his family's description of him is any indication, then I'm just one twitch away from becoming a stone-cold killer. Sure, that happy face you see works nicely to keep the social waters flowing, but if I find out 'I am what I am,' it might unleash a couple of things 1) regret for all that wasted corporate-climbing potential and 2) fear for what shall happen when I become a crazy old lady and one day decide I'm queen of the world. Will I go totally rogue and start charming the folks at the nursing home out of their dollar bills so I can get an orderly to sneak in a bottle of hooch for me, or skulk around the hallways poking a spitty finger into their puddings before dinner time, or start vicious rumors about that One Girl I Don't Like to get her taken down to the med ward for all kinds of horrible tests so I can have the good seat by the window in the rec room that she hogs to herself all that time?

Because I can see it happening. I can totally see me doing those things.

Of course, it might not be psychopathy at all that does this to me, because the night before last I watched a show on Asperger's/autism and I'm even more sure I have the Asperger's. Because it's a rare psychopath who would have named her bicycle as a child and got so upset when it got scratched that she put a BANDAID on the fender to make it feel better. Or who makes sure plates are stacked properly so they're more 'comfortable,' but who is puzzled by a lot of human interactions. And who can't have tags in her shirts. And who don't like to wear tight things around her neck, or be around too many people, or who can assign colors to tastes.

Asperger's, while not something necessarily to celebrate or deride, is a better (to me) option than being branded a psychopath. But when I get old, I'm TOTALLY telling people I'm psychopathic, and might just do that pudding thing from time to time to keep everyone in line. Because, really, life just goes a little better when people don't really know what to expect from you, wouldn't you agree?

Tiff out.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

How many cookery posts can one person do, really?

While preparing to prepare dinner last night ('something with leftover pork roast' was on the menu) I hit a culinary wall.


Sure, yeah, there was the roast to nom on, and I had some notions regarding green beans, but what to go with them? I'm tired, temporarily, of potatoes, and rice just doesn't 'work' with sliced food, and we'd had pasta bolognese the night before, and it all seemed so 'done before' that I was really stuck.

And then, spoonbread popped into my head.


I've never made spoonbread before. In fact, I didn't really know what spoonbread was. Something with flour, maybe? Baked and are there raisins involved, or is that bread pudding? I was unsure, so hit up the Southern Living cookbook to see if it could shed some light on the spoonbread question.

And lo, it came to pass that there was a recipe for spoonbread in the Southern Living cookbook, and it called for 4 ingredients only (not 3, and 5 was right out!), so it was determined that we would be eating of the spoonbread with our evening repast. Huzzah!

FYI - there is no flour in spoonbread. Also, no raisins. It's made with scalded milk, cornmeal, butter, and eggs. Oh, and salt. So, whoops, maybe 5 ingredients. Also, I added cheese, so we're up to 6 now. Dear me. So complex.

In fact, spoonbread, once baked, resembles a cornbread souffle, all high and brown and slightly bubbling 'round the edges, then it settles a bit while cooling and becomes this lovely, silky, tasty tasty side dish that you can, in fact, serve with a spoon. To call it 'bread' is a little misleading. But you can pile a bunch of butter on top just as if it were a nice slab of hot homemade bread, so that's one similarity. Of course, you can butter a cat too and it's not any more like a piece of bread that it was before you buttered it, but don't go down that road because 1) the cats hate it and 2) we are not talking about cats here. It's all about the spoonbread!

So yes. Spoonbread. You should git you some.


Also, I have been using a lot of flour lately. Homemade bread and pizza dough, mostly, is what for. Very satisfying. There's just something about turning out your own product instead of buying something that contains heaven-only-knows-what that pleases my inner hippie.

Shoot, next thing you know I'll be harvesting from the patchouli patch out back and stringing up necklaces made from 'found items.'

Anyone up for a round of hacky-sack?


And, in a fit of productivity this morning and because there wasn't enough milk for cereal, I got up early and made bacon and waffles for the Things' breakfast. When I got home from the school run this morning the house still smelled awesome. There's nothing like bacon n' waffle n' coffee smell to make a house nice to come home to.

They should make an air freshener like that. I'd buy it.


All that, plus the fact that we did not, actually, have any tornadoes last night and it's going to be near 80 this afternoon, means this is going to be a pretty fine day.

Y'all rock it like you mean it, and I'll see you around.

Tiff out.