Saturday, December 31, 2011

Lucky Kitties!!

Since Santa came yet again this year (this is one of the perks of not having children) and was his usual generous self I decided to use the money to replace the cats' scratching post which is three years old and coming apart at the seams. Since it was Santa money, I upgraded to a three shelf unit which is tall enough for Antares to stretch out to his full length while scratching. Part of the fun was enticing the cats onto the new cat scratcher.

I did this by putting food on each level. Sentinel went first looking for the treats. Antares hung back.

A good long scratch by the little kitty.

Antares makes his move.

Happy cat.

Happy cat.

I bought the cat scratcher at the Oregon Humane Society which is a good place to find them. They have various sizes, they are a decent price and last a long time and by purchasing from the Humane Society, your money goes to support their many programs. Plus you get to say hello to all the cats temporarily residing there.

Friday, December 30, 2011

NWCTC's Hamlet

We enjoyed another great performance at the Northwest Classical Theater Company. Butch Flowers was a fabulous and sparkly Hamlet, and the play just zipped along. I was particularly happy to see Dave Bodin (a delightfully stuffy Polonius) and Dave Burnett (Marcellus/Rosencrantz/Fortinbras) as they were very fun in last year's Cymbeline. Daniccia Noreault was a wonderful Ophelia and we've enjoyed her craft since seeing her as Squeaky Fromme in Artist's Repertory Theatre's production of Assassins in 2006. She throws herself wholeheartedly into her roles.

Once again the costumes were fabulous (well done, Elizabeth Huffman) with Claudius and Gertrude particularly adorned in sumptuous, white, cold weather/Danish castle gear, contrasting with Hamlet's ratty black and simple outfit.

The proximity of the audience to the actors in this theater gives them no place to hide and they always rise to the occasion, bringing quality productions to within four feet of their patrons. Northwest Classical Theatre Company remain one of the joys of living in Portland. Make plans now to see Much Ado About Nothing in March and April.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Helpers for the last of the Christmas Preperations

I've only to wrap the presents for the family and then all my Christmas Chores will be done. What is everyone getting? Potatoes! When someone grows over 200 pounds of potatoes, it pretty much guarantees her homemade Christmas presents will be potatoes.

Antares supervises the selection.

Sentinel oversees the packaging.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

It's! It's! Live Wire!

We've been waiting for this Live Wire show for months because Daniel Handler (better known to many as Lemony Snickett) was one of the guests. Matt finished the thirteenth, and final book in the "Series of Unfortunate Events" just today so he was ready for the excitement, as was I.

The Alberta Rose Theater, decked for the Holidays. They were taping the Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve shows so everything was very festive. The cast all wore holiday sweaters which were available for purchase for $15.00 apiece after the show. Not surprisingly, Jim Brunburg's sweater sold at the intermission. He's an attractive fellow, that Jim Brunburg.

Matt studies the program. Aside from Daniel Handler we also saw Merrill Markoe who discussed her career as a comedy writer and her relationship with her mother. Shelley McLendon, who you might have recognized from the "Did you read" Portlandia sketch, gave us tips for getting through the holidays. Carl Adamshick also appeared and read several poems.

Our musical guest were Duover, a very cute couple with some cute songs to go with them. The first one was a great romantic comedy movie montage sort of song and the second one made us laugh with a well-placed "Awesome." The Lonely Forest played for the second part of the show. They were loud, but enjoyable hipster type rock. One of their songs would have also made a nice romantic comedy movie montage sort of song. Also, their bass player sang along in the background with the singer's words which I found charming. And the singer said some funny things, and then utterly confused me when he mentioned his wife as he looked approximately 19 years old. Which I guess is old enough to have a wife, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Daniel Handler was hilarious, opening with a witty back and forth with host Courtney Hameister about his hometown of San Francisco and Live Wire's hometown of Portland how the cities used to be friends, but now they just try and out-cool themselves. He went on to say some more very funny things and we all laughed. But the best part? Daniel Handler can play the accordion. Daniel Handler and the house band played us an excellent rendition of "When Doves Cry."

At the beginning of the show, Courtney Hameister announced all the sponsors. When she said, "Dave's Killer Bread" a guy in front of me stood up, clapping. "Wow, he really likes Dave's Killer Bread," I thought to myself, then noticed that there were people from Dave's Killer Bread throwing loaves of bread into the audience. Instant understanding. Matt, meanwhile had also stood to better catch any loaves that might come his direction. Two did. The first, he caught with his hands. The second with his face.

Other highlights? Christmas Carols translated into Japanese then re-translated into English and sung. I couldn't stop laughing. A very clever skit involving a drunk woman at a New Year's Eve party. And Courtney Hameister's moving story of her worst New Year's Eve ever.

Do you want to partake of the Live Wire! fun yourself? You can go to Live Wire! Radio and download the podcasts or you can subscribe on iTunes.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Boxing up

My "just one thing" this week involved organizing the shelves above the toilet in the bathroom. Alas, I did not take a "before" picture, but imagine a cacophony of various sizes of cardboard boxes not holding anything very well.

A few years ago (one project at a time, Patricia, one project at a time) I bought two sets of the basic Ikea cardboard magazine holders, intending them for these shelves. Remarkably, though they were sitting in their packages that entire time next to the recycling bin, they were never recycled. I got them out, cut off their tops so they would fit on the shelves, sorted everything, labelled each box with my label maker et voila! Peace and Calm.

Despite the lack of need for a tour of the organized space, due to such excellent organizing, I gave one to Matt anyway. He was amused, but finds the new system works for him.

This project took about an hour total, spread out over two days. Well done me!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Curtains! Or: Nine Down, Two to Go!

Given that the Roman Shades in the front room took me four years to construct, I thought it wise to purchase the curtains and gussy them up, rather than beginning from scratch. The curtains are from Ikea, the curtain rod and tie backs are from Fred Meyer and the sheers have been up there forever, but I think I bought them at Fred Meyer also.

I took a strip of material from the Roman Shades and sewed it to the edge of the curtains to pull everything together.

With the furniture in place, with the curtains closed.

Furniture in place and curtains open.

Closeup of strip. I'm very happy how everything turned out.

The next step is to make a sheer shade for the windows. But that can wait as we have a workable solution right now.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Winnowing the corn, with some grinding too!

I've noticed that its very difficult for me to start projects when I've never done them before. If I don't have a very clear picture of how things will go, I tend to put things off. But my "just one thing" this week was to deal with the corn I grew and so it must be dealt with.

I "threshed" (a term I'm not sure is correct in this case because I've only heard it used for wheat, but which Wikipedia says "is the step in grain preparation after harvesting and before winnowing" and that's what I was doing, so I'm using the term.) the corn easily enough. It had been drying on the table for a few weeks, and I simply grabbed a bowl and the corn and season 1 of the television show Heroes et voila! Done after only watching two episodes.

Winnowing was another matter. I had seen the concept: fan, stool, bowls etc. and had all the supplies. I had even watched some winnowing videos on YouTube. (Nerd!) But it took a lot to get out there and winnow. I also wasn't sure how long it would take, and this was a block. It reminds me of Wendy McClure's churning butter project in "The Wilder Life." She had read all about how to churn, but wasn't sure how long it would take, so she saved the task for a company holiday when she didn't have to go into work and started early in the morning to ensure she had enough time. As someone who has made butter from cream, this was rather amusing because the process takes minutes rather than hours. But how was she to know? And I was in the same boat with my winnowing.

Here is my bag of corn.

Corn that has been winnowed, safe in their safekeeping jars. I used two large Nancy's Yogurt containers to pass the corn back and forth in front of the fan.

Here's the winnowing setup, complete will spilled corn from when I accidentally knocked the fan off the stool and managed to fling corn about while trying to right it. If you google "winnow" you will be presented with a goodly number of pictures of brown-skinned people standing on a square of material covered in grain, holding a basket and flinging grain into the air.
That setup is because back in the day, people who wanted to winnow had to wait for a windy (and sunny) day. They would then throw their grain in the air, catching it in the basket and the wind would take the chaff away. Now that we have box fans and electricty, one can just set up a box fan and drop the grain back and forth between two "baskets" (or Nancy's Yogurt containers, in my case) and the fan blows away the chaff. Aside from the corn spilling incident, it went well and quickly. I think the whole process took 45 minutes with setup and break down. That gave me about 22 cups of grain. Not bad, not bad.

On to the grinding!
My mother brought over my Grandma Collins' old meat grinder. It has three settings of grind. It easily went together, attached to the table and a tiny drop of oil dealt with the squeaking.

An early pass through.


Even later!

My final product and supplies:
The polenta made was good, but not ground quite enough. I'll put it through more often the next time I grind.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pub Quiz

Inspired by the two "pub quizzes" that I attended at my church, I decided to throw a pub quiz of my own to celebrate 10 years in Portland.

Every pub should have good beer, and the people at New Seasons made sure I had a good variety.

The pub also served wine, both in glasses and solo cups.

There were four varieties of popcorn and both salted and unsalted peanuts.

People arrived, teams were formed and names were chosen.

The initial 20 questions (with 8 bonus questions) were read and the teams set to work.
Here the Trail Tigers (Drinda, Mary, George, Kelly & Margaret) ponder.

Total Domination (Blu, Heidi, Lee, Kristen & Julie) wonders what the answers could be.

The Droopy Dogs (Carol, Heidi, Joshin, Mitchell & C.J.) contemplate answers.
Behind them, you can barely see Home Team Advantage (Matt, Amber, Tyler & Geoff) thinking.

The Wasabi Honey Bears (Pat, Kevin, Deborah & Bahar) are deep in thought.

Team Slytherin (Sabrina, Burt, Kelly, Laurie, & Shan) retreated to another part of the house to think and answer.

After the initial round of quiz questions, teams set to work coloring, while I corrected their answer sheets. We had 10 song id's (5 from musicals, 5 more, one from each decade 50s through 90s) and a "dreaded fill in the blank."

In the end, Total Domination did just what their name said and took home first prize.

Prizes were the three listed, as well as the choice of bringing home all the excess alcohol.

It was a very fun celebration.
Incidentally, Total Domination chose the scratch tickets. They were quite involved in scratching them, but no one on the team actually took any home. I cashed them in and got $20.00! It was a prize for me too!

Do you want to take the pub quiz? Questions begin here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Party Preparations

I had two days off before the pub quiz which gave me time to do a massive sweep and mop. Where did all the furniture go?

Oh here it is! Right over here!

The cats, (a book I read aptly said something to the effect of "the cat has a Republican's disdain for change") were not at all pleased with the shuffling of furniture and hung about to see what would happen next.

I do love clean floors. Really clean floors, not only swept, but mopped.