Sunday, December 19, 2010

And here's one we've already... Oh, wait...

Well, I finished My Jól baking this afternoon. I'm actually a day early--I've been known to start baking at 9:00 p.m. the evening before the equinox or solstice--But I do feel rather like I've just been hit by a large pastry truck.

This year's offerings include the classic Skor™ Cookies that we regularly make here at Astrejurhof. They turned out exceedingly well this year. I attribute this to the fact that I made the balls of dough a bit smaller than usual, which kept the cookies from melting into one another and also allowed them to crisp up very consistently.

I had originally intended to make standard shortbread, but ended up completely winging it. The result: Various festive shapes flavoured with candied orange peel. Any resemblance to shortbread is purely coincidental, but they taste pretty good.

Armed with My trusty Purity Cookbook, I attempted their version of Sugar Cookies. They're not quite the same as the ones I made when I was a young Goddess, but they're not bad and do remind Me a little of the recipe I used way back when.

I also made two types of macaroons based very loosely on our brownie recipe:
  • Melt ½ cup of unsalted butter in a saucepan on low heat.
  • Add 1 cup sugar and stir well.
  • For chocolate macaroons, also add ¾ cup of cocoa and another ½ cup of sugar to offset the bitterness of the cocoa.
  • Add 1 teaspoon vanilla for chocolate macaroons. For almond macaroons, add ½ teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon almond extract.
  • Add 2 eggs and beat until combined.
  • Chocolate macaroons: Add 1½ cups uncooked shredded unsweetened coconut, fine or medium.
  • Almond macaroons: Toast 2 cups of coconut on parchment paper on a cookie sheet at 300℉-325℉ for 10 minutes, stirring once at the 5-minute mark. Add the toasted coconut along with sufficient uncooked coconut to thicken up the batter. (I used about another 1¼ cups to get the consistency I wanted.)
  • Drop spoonfuls onto ungreased parchment paper, no more than 12 macaroons to a cookie sheet, and bake at 325℉ for 17-20 minutes.
  • To unrack the macaroons, let them cool on the pan for a few minutes--At least till the outer edges feel firm. Invert a cooling rack on top of the cookies, then hold the cookie sheet and the rack in both hands and flip the whole assembly over. Lift away the cookie sheet; peel off and discard the parchment paper.
Gleðileg Jól and best of the season to all!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Memories of a Northbound Bus

The date was December 8, 1980; the time, about 10:30 p.m. I was riding over Winnipeg's Midtown Bridge en route to an overnight shift at an all-night restaurant.

Then one of the passengers near the front of the bus mentioned that John Lennon had been shot. My life changed in that moment; the moment itself, burned indelibly into memory even after thirty years.

I will continue to grieve and to remember.

And to Yoko, Cynthia, Sean, Julian, and all others who loved John, may love endure.

Friday, October 22, 2010

How do you fold a mind map?

Okay, I admit it: I am a profoundly disorganized Goddess. Don't let the file box, the notes on the bulletin board and the neatly lined-up CDs fool you -- For every one thing that's in its proper place, there are at least ten more somewhere nearby.

Lurking. Waiting to spring.

Or should that be 'waiting for spring'?

In between playing clarinet, doing yardwork, editing My novel Ice Cream for Lakshmi and nailing an old shirt to canvas stretchers with a staple gun,* I've been attempting to read a book called How to be Organized in Spite of Yourself (Schlenger & Roesch).

It's not working; at least, not yet. About all I've figured out so far is that I don't fit neatly into any of the disorganization styles presented in the book. I can, however, make a good case for fitting into at least six of them, with a pronounced bias towards "Hopper," "Everything Out" and "Fence Sitter."

(reaches for Her glass of single malt Scotch and frowns as she considers the camcorder manual, carving tools and two tape dispensers on the desk, then shoves the computer repair tools over by the elephant figurine and makes a mental note to put Her point-and-click camera back in Her purse where it belongs)

Like I said... Disorganized. I don't even need sticky tape at the moment.

(puts the carving tools and the tape away in their respective storage boxes; makes another mental note to take the flashlight back down the kitchen after She installs the USB and FireWire cards in Red's computer)

So this is what I'm going to do instead: I'm going to spend a few minutes tonight learning how mind mapping works, and then I'm going to see if I can actually make-go.

And then maybe I'll be organized enough to figure out this organizing book.

* Why? Because you can *never* have too many Ming-style dragon pictures, or too few 100% polyester shirts.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Hocus Pocus and Sudoku Focus

It's Friday night at Astrejurhof, and I'm sitting here at My desk practicing creative procrastination. What I think I should be doing doesn't quite match up with what I seem to need to do at the moment.

Apparently that need currently involves classic rock music, Sudoku, and beer. I've already finished a lovely mug of Oktoberfest Lager from Half Pints Brewing, a local concern located just down the street from where I buy the honey for My meadmaking.

And after I finished the Oktoberfest, I started playing Sudoku. That was also about the time I started channel-hopping on My stereo receiver, because new age worldbeat experimental stuff and whatnot was simply not doing it for Me tonight.

Lo and behold, I found a station playing the song Hocus Pocus by Focus. It's been years since I've heard this piece of sonic mayhem, which has it all: Yodelling, flute, accordion, and the standard 70's-flavour organ-and-guitar riffing that I love so much.

The song made Me smile.

Oh, and I won the Sudoku game, too.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Mystery Mead

Tonight I brewed the mead for next spring's Equinox celebrations.

I have no idea how much honey I actually put in, but I suspect it was well in excess of 4 kilograms for a 12-litre batch. I used up the remainder of a 7-kilogram pail of white clover honey, plus a few squirts from a bottle of kitchen honey.

I also have no flippin' idea as to the specific gravity of the mixture, as I had already poured it all into the carboy and put on the S-trap before I noticed the hydrometer sitting on the kitchen counter.

Translation: When this batch eventually stops blorping and there's no more sugar to turn into alcohol, I will have absolutely no idea as to its alcohol content. My standard batch (3 kilograms of liquid clover honey to 10 litres of spring water) comes out fairly consistently at 7% C2H5OH, so with nearly 50% more honey in the mix I'm expecting something at least as potent as My favourite beer. La Fin du Monde.

Either that, or I'll have the first carboy in space.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

No more frogs, please; I'm full.

Tonight, I have good reason to suspect that someone has once again wandered off with Me and replaced Me with a stunt Goddess or possibly yet another Evil Twin.

I mean, really: It's Thursday night, and how many times have I practiced clarinet this week?

Four. That's right... Every day since My last lesson.

Over there on the music stand (on top of the David Hite book Melodious and Progressive Studies and My clarinet practice journal) are some forms to be completed this weekend.

To My right, leaning up against the Linux box, there are exactly zero bank reconciliations to do and zero bills to pay; just a couple of forms that I need to drop off at My Credit Union sometime in the next month or so.

I've also been running errands all over the place, and doing some serious typing at work. Today I logged over 12,000 words of medical transcription. (To put this in perspective, if I could type like that for NaNoWriMo, I'd finish My novel in four days instead of 30.)

To make this bizarre situation even stranger, we're just minutes away from October and the weather is beautiful. I expect to get some serious yard work done this weekend, and also install some lovely new High Places (sundry ramps and platforms) in the Cat Gazebo.

And there are two or three computers I'd like to work on, too.

There's only one thing I'd like to know right now:

Why *is* this desk still messy?

(Evil Twin scribbles 'Clean desk' on scrap of paper)

(Springy G seizes paper and tears it into itty bitty pieces... Over the garbage can)

*sighs heavily* Awright, pass the %&@#!! dustpan and let's get this over with.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

This week's special: 2-for-1 holidays!

First things first: Season's greetings to all in the Southern Hemispere! I wish you all a fine vernal equinox, and may your regional Springy Deity look kindly upon you.

Oh, and happy autumnal equinox to all on My side of the planet, too.

In other news, tomorrow (September 24) is National Punctuation Day. As the Goddess of Punctuation, I intend to party hearty.

Now, where did I put that basket of candied semicolons and parentheses?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Deconstructionalism and Bee Futs

Somewhere in the wilds of suburban Winnipeg, high in the boughs of an ancient garage, lurks...

...a somewhat damp Goddess.

It's a Saturday evening in August, and it's raining. In fact, it's been raining all day (or at least since *I* got up, if you want to get technical about it). However, I am not one to let a spot of inclement weather stop Me, and I did indeed spend a few hours in wrecking-ball mode.

It was too damp to use power tools, so I restricted Myself to the basics: Ladder; hammer; crowbar; and various pieces of safety equipment including steel-toed shoes, heavy gloves, goggles, and a hair elastic. I worked outside for two hours and a bit, and managed to tear off a remarkable number of shingles and quite a respectable amount of fir sheathing in varying stages of decay.

It was a bit after 8:30 p.m. when I finally decided it was too dark to work safely. I heaped up the most recent bunch of torn-off stuff, put the tools away, and wobbled into the house to clean up. Red and I then went out for a snack, then came home to watch Disc 2 of Max Headroom.

By sunset tomorrow, I should have the rest of the roof completely off. Then I can start cutting up the sheathing on the garage walls and strip it down to bare 2x4's. Finally, the roof framing and the stud walls will be taken down, section by section.

But we probably won't take the remains to the dump in My Cavalier... I think two, perhaps three pickup loads or one trip in a Bee Fut* oughta do it.

* In regards to futs (especially ones that are sufficiently bee to hold My entire garage), this guy's son knows whereof I speak.

Photos by Red.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


The nice thing about being the Goddess of Random Equipment Malfunctions* is that You learn a lot about the inner workings of household appliances.

The not-so-nice thing about being the Goddess of Random Equipment Malfunctions: You occasionally find Yourself up to Your elbows in dirt, dust, grease and mysterious bits and pieces of household appliances.

Today after supper I finally tackled Astrejurhof's long-suffering upright vacuum cleaner, which is an absolute must in a house full of rowdy cats. It hadn't been picking up; in fact, it was starting to appear that said vacuum had obtained an unlisted phone number and/or run off to Pango-Pango with the battery from My 2001 Cavalier. (Já, goddesses do have car problems. Really good garage guys, too. But I digress.)

I did find the vacuum sulking and pouting in the back of the kitchen, in The Once and Future Spare Washroom (again, a story and a half in itself). Cajoling the device out into the open, I pushed and pulled and checked the hoses and washed the filters and cleaned lint and hair off the rotating brush.

Then I broke down and searched the kitchen Junk Drawer for the manual. In this way I was able to competently open up the brush compartment to check the drive belt...

...Um. Drive belts are supposed to be loops, not linear strips of rubber.

(throws broken belt and manual into purse) Well, the rest of this adventure should be a snap. If you get My drift.

* My current magisteria are the Northern Hemisphere vernal equinox; chocolate; punctuation; and random equipment malfunctions. Occasionally I think about assuming more responsibilities; then I have a nice lie-down until I feel better.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How to install a stereo receiver

Welcome to another "How-to (and how not-to)" episode of TSG. In today's episode, I purchase a 100-watt stereo receiver of My Very Own, and actually get it configured just so.

What you'll need:
  • A nice, shiny new piece of audio gear (in My case, a Yamaha RX-397)
  • A 19" equipment rack (built here) with a rack shelf that I bought specifically for this purpose
  • Dustpan and whisk broom
  • Floor cleaner, because I'm not getting down on that floor to do any work before I clean up that puddle of cat pee
  • One sheet of disposable cleaning rag (see above)
  • Hand soap (ditto)
  • Two steel angle brackets to add extra support to the back of the rack shelf
  • ¾" x #10 wood screws
  • A leatherworking awl, to make starter holes for the wood screws
  • A slightly-melted fuchsia-coloured multi-bit screwdriver
  • A couple of nice, heavy bookshelf-size speakers which I bought about 10 years ago but haven't yet pressed into service
  • A quick lie-down, because with the humidity it feels like 40℃
  • A peek at the manual, just because
  • Various contortions that vaguely resemble an entire hatha yoga class trying to dance to "Rock Lobster" under someone's front porch
  • A bottle of La Fin du Monde beer and a couple of European wieners with fried onions
  • One ⅛" to ¼" adaptor
  • One set of headphones
  • Another set of headphones, because the first set is only working on one side
  • Red's help to test the wonky headphones and declare them perfectly functional
  • A good night's sleep
  • A coffee run
  • A brand new ⅛" to ¼" headphone adaptor, because the first one was shorting out
  • A spool of proper 18-gauge speaker wire, because the cheap red-and-black stuff that came with the speakers seems to have a break on the left side
  • Another lie-down
  • Scissors and an extremely sharp Swedish-made Frosts knife, to strip the insulation off the new speaker wire
  • A few more contortions to run the new wire through the equipment rack, out the back and under the desk
  • One more bottle of La Fin de Monde beer
  • A hug from My teddy bear, Mikhael Bearzhezhinski; a thumbs-up from My guardian dragon Glori; and an "Ooh! Ahh!" from Red, who has come downstairs to hear what the new system sounds like
What you will probably not need:
  • Five or six MIDI cables
  • Power adaptor for now-defunct 10/100 Ethernet switch
  • Three completely different USB cables
  • A guitar cord
  • Needle nose pliers
  • A copy of Essential System Administration by Æleen Frisch (but only because I no longer need it to hold up the paper tray on My printer)
  • A bag containing 45' of spare Cat 5e network cable
  • A video switchbox
  • A cable from a KVM switch
  • A Command and Conquer disk that has yet to run properly on the WINE emulator on My Linux system
  • A toy car (bright red BMW Z8)
  • A Clue-By-Four™ (parks Her weapon of choice back in the corner next to Her desk)
Elapsed time: About three hours of actual labour over two evenings. Special thanks to Larry, the IT instructor who taught Me that approximately 90% of all computer problems are bad connections. I took that lesson to heart many years ago (and expanded it to include electronic stuff and whatnot in general), and it continues to pay off handsomely. I mean, a broken speaker wire *and* a broken headphone adaptor? It happens.

And if you take anything home from this episode of TSG, let it be this: Life is far too short to waste on cheap speaker wire.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Think Like a God Day 2010: Core Competencies

I'd like to wish everyone a happy Think Like a God Day. As in previous years, July 13 is a day to reflect upon your inner divinity and talk about what you think a god should be.

This year's discussion topic is essential skills. What, at a bare minimum, should a god be able to do?

I have fairly liberal views on godhood. I don't think one need be omniscient, but sentience is probably a good idea.

I've never been interested in Ultimate Power, but I do think that a god should have at least one specialty. I specifically chose magisteria that don't actually require Me to do a lot of heavy lifting 24/7/365. Being the Goddess of Punctuation is probably the most onerous of My specialties, but I find Strunk & White's The Elements of Style and Lynne Truss's Eats, Shoots & Leaves to be inspirational and helpful. Chocolate mostly takes care of itself, as does the Northern Hemisphere vernal equinox. As for random equipment malfunctions, they appropriately just show up whenever they darn well feel like it.

Overall, I think the most important role for a god is a willingness to take full responsibility for at least one aspect of reality.

So, get cracking -- There's a lot of reality out there.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Springy dénouement, with chutney

When I wake up tomorrow morning, it'll officially be summer. I thought I'd take this opportunity to thank everyone for a great 2010 season...

(reaches out and nabs a mosquito that was buzzing near Her ear, then chucks him out the nearest window) Já, you too. Mind those fogging trucks, little dude, and look both ways before crossing the street.

...Where was I? Oh, yes; spring. It's been a pretty good one this year, although I could have done with a few centimetres less rain.

The Astrejurhof crowd has been busy. Red is now graduated from photography school, and in the not-too-distant future we'll have a darkroom in the house. Chala is designing and making jewelry, and receiving mysterious packages of shiny baubles and bits from around the world.

As for Me, I've been keeping on top of My projects.
  • The mead that I brewed at Jól is now bottled, with a yield of about 10 litres and an alcohol content of about 6%. It's a bit sweet right now, but it's still fermenting in the bottles and should be a bit more dry in a couple of weeks.
  • I raided the kitchen cupboards today and used up a few ingredients. In addition to making a layered dip with black beans (just add guacamole, garlic, onions, cumin seed, jalapeño peppers, tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, and All the Cheese There Is) I also constructed some chutney (canned mangoes; about a cup of raisins; vinegar; cloves; allspice; homemade masala; and some turbinado sugar that I had lying around after My last attempt to make a nice crunchy topping on My maple crème brulée).
(pauses to write '#2 medium maple syrup' and 'coffee cream' on Her shopping list)

(pauses again, then writes 'cooking torch' on Her birthday wish list)

(makes mental note to actually use the juicer, the ice cream maker and the pasta machine that are languishing in the kitchen)
  • My 2006 NaNoWriMo novel, The Passion of Marty-Sue, finally has an ending that's entertaining and makes sense from a plot point-of-view; and My 2008 novel Ice Cream for Lakshmi has a much better opening chapter.
  • I'm done with clarinet lessons until September, but I'm already working on My summer homework. (plays an octave of G♭ Major in thirds from the back of Her somewhat battered copy of Melodious and Progressive Studies, Book 1) Dear, sweet Uncle Loki... Arpeggios are actually starting to look easy by comparison.
  • I finally start physiotherapy for My knees next week.
And perhaps *this* will be the week that I resume work on the study floor. But don't quote Me on that.

We now leave you in the capable hands of the Solstice deities. (raises a picnic mug of new mead) Skál!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Darn those pesky mimes.

Awright, that's it. Seriously. Annoyed Goddess is annoyed.

From the sound of things, or lack thereof, I am going to have to spend copious amounts of quality time poring over arcane documents known as HOWTOs. Yes, My sound cards have run off to join the circus yet again -- Both the onboard one *and* the M-Audio 2496 -- and My current Linux distro, Ubuntu Lucid Lynx 10.04, has gone mute for the second time in recent memory.

Serves Me right for installing the newest release, rather than waiting for everyone else to beat the living daylights out of it. It's enough to make Me want to download a completely different version of Linux, burn it to one of these here DVD-R disks, and...

...No, I think I'll just fix the razzafracking sound system. *sigh*

Friday, May 21, 2010

Want to come back to My gym bouncy bouncy?

No, My hovercraft is not full of eels. (opens second browser window; types in ''; gets '404 Cheap Hovercraft Not Found'; sighs heavily)

Last Tuesday, while I was on holidays, I acquired a rather sore back for no particularly good reason. In other words, I was *not* moving hundreds of pounds of gravel, purchasing mass quantities of cat litter, or digging up the back yard.

In fact, I first noticed the aching immediately after getting up from a chair in a donut shop, which followed a five-hour Sudoku session at the dining room table while the new furnace in Astrejurhof was being installed, which followed two straight days of sleeping in till noon.

This unfortunate physical condition (or lack of conditioning, as it may be) persisted right through My week off -- Somewhat hindering My ability to mix concrete, do landscaping and move the aforementioned gravel and cat litter.

But when I found Myself back at work on Monday and the sore back was still there, I got serious. I tried analgesics and muscle relaxants; a heating pad; and finally I just broke down and looked up 'back pain' on the Internet.

A couple of pages later, I found it: Something called PNF stretching. PNF is short for 'proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation,' and it involves varying combinations of static and dynamic stretching.

In My case -- And how befitting a Springy Goddess! -- it was the hold-relax-bounce variety that did the trick. It wasn't enough to just bend over and do some holding and relaxing; I had to add in a very, very careful* slow-motion bounce to take Me deeper into the stretch.

At this point, the real culprits were flushed out: My tight calf muscles and hamstrings were the actual cause of the backache.

So I did some more cautiously bouncing stretches. My back got even better.

Now, on Friday night at the end of a full work week, I'm pretty much back to normal. The leg tension is down about 80%, and when I bend forward with My legs straight I can get the top of My head within 7" of the floor.

Cancel that order for the hovercraft... I think I'll invest in a rebounder.

Or that thing that Van Halen used in the video for "Panama"...

* Oh, and did I mention 'careful'?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Springy Boot Camp 2010

Awright, you grunts, suck in them divine guts! Hup! Hup!

Ah, fitness. *grumble grumble* All those years of lifting weights and practicing martial arts and swimming and yoga and walking several miles to and from work and jogging past the occasional Rolling Stones concert because I couldn't get tickets... You'd think that my body would stay fit.

Well, it didn't. And that's why I'm trying to do something about it.

Currently, due to ongoing leg problems (including but not limited to patellofemoral syndrome, lymphedema, osteoarthritis, various remote fractures and sprains and pulled ligaments, and generalized crankiness) I'm waiting to get into physiotherapy and won't be heading back to karate any time soon. If I want to flex my knees more than 45 degrees, there had better be a wall or railing nearby, or there's going to be a lot of cursing and swearing going on.

Ironic: I can touch the floor with the palms of both hands with both my legs ramrod straight; kneel on the ground for prolonged periods while gardening; even do a respectable front split with little or no warm-up.

But step up off the sidewalk to get onto a bus? Ow.

So now I'm looking for alternate ways to shape myself up a bit and take off some of the load. To this end, I've decided that I need low-impact aerobics and core stabilization (translation: killer abs and back muscles.)

I'm already walking home from work at least a couple of days a week, which is good for an hour of rather laid-back cardio; but it's not enough. After an inspired Internet search for "dance aerobics" I found something called "Bollyrobics," essentially Bollywood-style dance moves with a rather pleasing beat. Learning dance steps has never come easily to me, but I managed to follow along for a good 10 minutes without my brain exploding.

As for the core stabilization, I went upstairs and fetched Rover, a terrifyingly mauve exercise ball that was last seen trying to fetch Patrick McGoohan back to some weird little island Village. Rover is now my official Clarinet Practice Chair. Try sitting on that for an hour while playing G# minor melodic scales, the a piacere sections in Nocturne by Luigi Bassi, or *ack!* Page 22 by Gustave Langenus.

That which does not kill me makes me stronger...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A paean to cat litter and edible frogs

I think I've finally figured out the problem with My weight: I'm carrying around two extra bags of cat litter.

The large bags. The ones that you have to wrestle into the trunk of the car -- Or, more precisely, the ones that two people have to wrestle into the trunk of the car.

And, as there's only one of Me sitting here at the moment, this simply will not do.

In other news, I read a book on the weekend: Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy. It's a quick read, short and sweet and to the point. That point is, well, do something about the things that are bugging you. And do those things first, not 'whenever'...


Shush, you. You're not the frog I'm looking for.


No, seriously. I'm not wallpapering the house tonight. Or researching how to solve the Rubik's Cube on My desk. I'm sitting here with My support stockings duly in place (darned annoying things, they are), trying to figure out how to weigh only 3 bags of cat litter instead of 5 bags of cat litter.

After all, the cats go through the blasted stuff fast enough...

(P.S.: Brian, get better soon.)

Monday, April 12, 2010

I can see My dragon from here!

I did a little gardening yesterday.

And the only reason I say 'a little' gardening is that I did not use power tools or high explosives to do it.

Armed only with a shovel, a dandelion puller, a pair of anvil cutters, a stack of kitchen garbage bags and an old bucket, I successfully removed approximately forty raspberry canes from the front of My yard.

About a dozen of the most viable canes immediately went back into the ground in a patch of soil beside the house. Another ten got tossed into bags and thence into My Cavalier (along with eight bags of topsoil), and were transported in due course over to the Parental Units' home and then put back into the ground. (Mind you, My Dad and I had to shovel away about 50 square feet of limestone gravel in order to find the ground... Fortunately, the earth under the rocks had been covered with polyurethane sheeting so the pH of the soil probably isn't too alkaline.)

The remaining bits and pieces of raspberry plant, most of them dried out and without buds, are heaped up in the back yard and will probably go on to new careers as compost.

And I've already started to confiscate the gravel from My parents' back yard, because I do need a better path through the back yard at Astrejurhof.

Best of all... The sight lines at the front of My house are now clear, and My friend George the Dragon can once more be seen.

I'd say it was worth it.

Photos by Red.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Test lizard, proceed with caution

The problem with being an eccentric artist-geek Goddess is that sometimes You just plain run out of Stuff.

(looks in trashcan and sniffles loudly) In other words, I'm out of glue -- Or, more precisely, the three-year-old tube of Automotive Goop that I did have is all dried out. I only managed to squeeze out enough of it to stick up one glow-in-the-dark lizard. It's currently clinging to the side of the bookcase in My office, with a piece of scotch tape to keep it from plummeting while the adhesive hardens.

And I'm not so sure that the glue will harden properly, after all this time lying dormant in the supplies box. I wouldn't be surprised if a member of the Dark Legion comes trotting into the bedroom at 3 a.m. with the aforementioned lizard in his or her mouth. Startled, yes. Surprised, no.

Whether My test subject survives the night or not, I think I'll pop 'round to the shops for some serious stickums...

...Five-minute epoxy. Give Me a tube of that stuff, and I could -- Dare I say -- Rule the world!

Mm... No, I already did that around the turn of the Millenium. Being Queen of Earth was too much like work.

Mind the lizard, please.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Xtreme Springy Cleaning - 2010 Edition

Here in Winnipeg we've had unseasonably warm daily temperatures. For three days in a row, the daily highs have been in the plus-teens, instead of below freezing. In fact, yesterday afternoon we hit a balmy 18℃. Around here, that's not only shirtsleeve weather -- That's barbecue weather, and borderline bikini weather.

That can't be right.

Especially not the bikinis.

But do I approve of these unseasonably warm daily temperatures? Já, indeed I do. Here it is, the 30th of March, and I've already done *two* days' worth of yard cleanup, spent an hour or two tearing out some old plaster, and went on a run to the Brady Road landfill. This is something that normally doesn't happen until at least the second half of April or even early May, when the snow usually finishes melting.

Between now and the other side of the weekend, the prospects are good for even more tidying and organizing. The crawlspace hatch is scheduled to be raised and widened. There's topsoil to move, compost to turn, walls to insulate, and if it rains I'll work on the study floor.

But right now there's a six-pack of glow-in-the-dark lizards that need to be glued to My study wall. Just because.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Essentials

As the 2010 vernal equinox approaches, I'm getting down to Serious Business. In Springy G terms, this can only mean one thing.

Chocolate! *happy dance*

I'm currently sitting here at My desk with a ramekin full of goodies: Cadbury Mini-Eggs; Macadamia Roca; Cookies 'n' Cream eggs...

...and one lone dark chocolate brandy bean. *chomp*

Red and I have been busy, driving around Winnipeg and picking up mass quantities of sweet stuff... Today alone, we've spent at least $30 CDN on chocolate-related items. Add another seven bucks or so for the butterscotch and caramels we bought on Thursday, and at least $20 for chocolate purchases last week and the week before.

Já, chocolate is Serious Business at Astrejurhof.

In other news, it got up to +10℃ this afternoon.

+10℃? In Winnipeg? On March 13?

(cracks knuckles) Remind Me to have a friendly little chat with the Global Warming Denial crowd...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Remember, order before midnight tonight!

I'm currently taking orders for spring -- Estimated date of delivery, March 20, 2010. (Northern Hemisphere only, folks -- Regrettably, the south-of-the-Equator distributor is back-ordered into the middle of September.)

The basic vernal equinox package includes:
  • Longer days, shorter nights
  • High probability of parties and festivals
  • Occasional sightings of people trying to balance eggs on one end
  • Disruptions of communications satellites *
  • And World Storytelling Day! Woot! **
And the best part? It's absolutely free.

The expansion pack with the bunnies and the chocolate eggs is gonna cost ya, though.

* A nice fit for My role as the Goddess of Random Equipment Malfunctions, n'est-ce pas?
** Also uncannily appropriate for Someone Who writes an entire novel every year.

Friday, February 19, 2010

No, Mr. Langenus, I expect you to die.

Phhtphht. And all that.

My lower lip is completely numb, and slightly shredded, but I'm getting it, dammit!

"It" is the famous, nay, infamous staccato exercise from Page 22 of Book 3 of Gustave Langenus's clarinet method book. I've been staging hit-and-run attacks on this particular study for a couple of years now (I hit a high note, cats all run for it), but over the last month I've been making gradual progress.

For one thing, My tongue is no longer smacking the reed around quite so forcefully. (Insert reference to opening credits of The Tick here)

For another thing, I'm cutting the air off in a more graceful and timely fashion, rather than warbling tremulously like the third runner-up at an Acker Bilk soundalike contest.

Practice makes... Well, better. Perfect can wait for another night.

Instant goddess, just add water

In a classic "D'oh!" moment, I made a startling discovery this morning at work.

I'm dehydrated. Severely so, as in "those little MSG-laden packages of flavouring that come with pot noodles."

I discovered this when I sat down at My desk early this morning and realized very quickly that I had a frightful headache. It's even more frightful when one considers that I generally do not get headaches unless I smack My head on a hard object.

Like the palm of My hand. I reiterate: "D'oh!"

So I went and got a beverage. 20 minutes later, the headache was gone and I had a bloggable epiphany.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Springy G's Beer 'n' Blog

*achoo* Uh, hi. Welcome to the *sniffle* Friday Night edition of The Springy Goddess. (seizes handkerchief and makes prolonged, mournful noise reminiscent of a goose with sinusitis)

No, this isn't Part II of the Mesopotamian Death Flu, that flu+pneumonia+bronchitis combo that knocked Me on My goddessly posterior for nearly three months, late last winter and well into the spring. It's something downright, uh, avoidable. Permit Me to explain:

A couple of nights ago I went to My new dentist and had some X-rays done. As it turns out, for the past few months I've been semi-peacefully coexisting with an unusually polite abscess -- One that didn't actually hurt like the dickens.

Bottom line: I'm getting a tooth extracted next week. In the meantime, I have a whole bottle of Penicillin V to finish up, "q. 6 hours" as they say in the medical lingo.

I also have a case of La Fin du Monde beer which I acquired this evening... And that's when the trouble started. For some reason, possibly attributable to My love of this particular beer, I completely forgot about the Penicillin until midway through supper.

It was the sneezing fit that tipped Me off.

Technically, it could have been the smoked turkey and Edam melt on a homemade bun; or it could have been the potato chips and homemade sour cream dip; but the smart money is on the beer fighting it out with the Penicillin. It was somewhat entertaining when that vicious little *BLEEP* Raistlin went sailing off the table in a scene reminiscent of The Stone Diaries*, but by the time I finished the mug of beer I was somewhat concerned.

I've been sitting here writing for about half an hour now, and My sinuses are just now releasing the death-grip they had on My nose. So I guess I'm not having any beer till next weekend. Or any allergy meds, single malt Scotch, or brandy beans, either.

(starts to write on blackboard: "I will not mix Penicillin, Diphenhydramine hydrochloride, and 9% Québecois beer.")

* A fine book by the late Carol Shields.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My kingdom for a pony wall!

(finishes essay titled "Similarities Between Shakespeare's Richard III and Basement Construction" and sends it to printer) Well, I'm glad *that's* done.

As described here and here, in December of 2008 and 2009 respectively, I thought it would be a Darned Good Idea to block off the crawlspace from the main part of the basement. You see, I have this thing about ice-cold drafts* infiltrating My house and making it unbearably cold in the basement workshop.

And the main floor.

And, by extension, the upper floors as well. Better to have the furnace reheat already-warm air instead of -40°C cold air from outside.

Not that it's been -40°C this winter. In fact, it's downright balmy right now. Warm enough to -- Dare I say? -- work on that razzafracking crawlspace.

So, for two out of the last three days, I have been constructing a very small three-sided compartment (48" x 18" by about 36" tall**), complete with outer sheathing; insulation batts; vapour barrier; and inner paneling to keep the cats from tearing it all apart again.

And it works.

The evidence: Eight somewhat annoyed felines who can no longer get into their Secret Place...

...But who now have a cozy little basement alcove warmed by nearby hot air ducts. All in all, a good use of thirteen hours of hard labour in very close quarters.

Pass the NSAIDs, muscle rub and chocolate, please.

* Not the beer variety of cold draft, alas.

** Large enough for a marginally plus-sized Goddess with flexibility in the top 1% for Her age group, with a little bit of wiggle room for power tools, itinerant cats, and a few oxygen molecules.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Learning Curve

Today, Red and I went down to the Forks, a local tourist attraction and market full of interesting Stuff. Red took her Minolta, loaded with B&W film; and I got to play with Ollie, her Olympus digital SLR.

After the initial fumbling-around and getting comfortable with the buttons, I learned a lot about photography. Somewhere in My closet are a couple of cameras that really need to come out for a romp more often. I have a Minolta very similar to the one that Red has, plus a Canon digital mini-DV video camera. Both are in dire need of use, as they aren't doing anyone a whole lot of good just sitting in their cases. I regularly carry a point-and-click digital still camera; but it was really nice to handle a camera with a good lens and the ability to accurately frame and capture what I was seeing.

So nice, in fact, that I decided to post a new picture on My little-used deviantART page. My short stint with Ollie (about two hours or so) produced several dozen interesting shots that reinforced My appreciation of a good piece of equipment, and rekindled My interest in photography.

I even did My first editing of a RAW image file, by adding a neat little program called UFRaw -- It operates as a standalone program, and also functions as a RAW plug-in for the GIMP.

/Me loves modern technology, and open-source software even more.

Friday, January 8, 2010

I must get around to dealing with My procrastination.

Aah, it can wait till tomorrow.

Something interesting is happening in My life, and that 'something' is discomfort. Right now I feel somewhat like a dandelion that's trying to push its way through a crack in the concrete of an abandoned back lane.

Or, to put it another way, I'm growing again. (checks belt) No, not there. Here! (points to head)

The hard part in all this is getting started. Once I'm underway, I'm fine.

But in the meantime...

Edit a story or read a book?
Start My tax return or install the video camera on My desk?
Practice clarinet or solve this Rubik's cube?

(opts for finishing a glass of Cabernet-Merlot; putting away a hair clip; and straightening a penguin)

And so begins... Springy Makeover 2010. Don't wait up.