Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Little Christmas Present

I haven't been around much online lately, and I really don't feel very Christmasy this year (for example, I just sent grumpy mail to a service I (monetarily) subscribe to which likes to spam me. There is no setting on their website for "please stop sending me emails." Bah humbug. Except I am feeling guilty now. MERRY CHRISTMAS!)

But in order to redeem a small amount of my karma, and because it might be useful, especially at the moment, I offer you:

How to make a pretty good pie crust

I am not a food blogger, nor a professional baker. I've just made a few of these. This is what works for me.

This is not a how-to (see #1 - get a good recipe). I guess it's "tips". It's things they don't always mention.

I'll preface this by saying I make crusts from shortening & butter. Shortening for flakiness, butter for taste. I haven't ever had a lard crust but that seems like a cruel trick to play on the vegetarians so I'll stick with shortening/butter. If I knew how to make an all-butter crust that didn't have a crappy texture, I'd do that, just for the taste, and because not a year seems to go by without some new study about how hydrogenated fats are the spawn of Satan and will KILL US ALL. They probably will, but not because of a once-a-year pie crust. OK, maybe 2 times a year? Surely less than 10.

When I say shortening, I mean Crisco. Not the butter-flavored kind, the blue-wrapper kind. I've been messing around with the palm oil shortening you can get at some stores, but haven't had enough results to say yea or nay. If you try it, let me know.

I do not use olive oil or vegetable oil. The point of the hydrogenated fat is that it is solid at room temperature and has a higher melting point than butter. This gives you the flaky part of flaky tasty crust.

1. Find a good recipe

I use an old Cook's Illustrated recipe (yes, I'm a fanboy. I like that someone tried 50 different combinations of all kinds of fats with different ratios to flour to find what they liked best. Saves me work). But I'm sure there's lots of good recipes out there.

Make sure it has a high enough fat/flour ratio. The one I use is a 3:2 butter/shortening ratio with about a 1:1.25 ratio to the flour. That's going to be a lot of fat (maybe too much, I might need to experiment myself a little). Just don't let anyone in the kitchen to see. You don't let them see you make fudge, do you? (lordy, another crazy amount of butter. but so good). Not enough fat and you'll get a crispy cracker crust.

I use only flour, salt, sugar, butter, shortening, and water. That's all. I am not on the vodka bandwagon, but you might want to try it and see if it work for you. Vinegar just tastes weird. An egg white just was kind of unnecessary.

2. Better living through technology: Use a food processor

I know, special tools. But the food processor can do in 10 seconds something that takes me minutes. The key here is that you want everything to stay cold. I've started wondering if it'd be better if I refrigerate the flour. I am not kidding. The faster you can get it chopped in, the better. Also, the processor is much better at cutting things up than I am and doesn't leave chunky bits.

If you don't have or can't beg, borrow, or borrow one, I recommend using a pasty cutter. I mean like the one at the top of Smitten Kitchen's post, and not one of those flimsy wire things. You need something you can GRIP and that can CUT. Also, hell is full of people trying to cut cold hard butter into flour with 2 forks (while the flames melt the butter of course). Betcha didn't know that about hell.

3. Mix early, mix often

This is the one I just figured out, on my own. I've never seen it mentioned anywhere, but it works for me and it's absolutely necessary for me unless you want to go the vodka route.

When you are sprinkling on that ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time? Add a tablespoon, then MIX IT IN. Repeat until the dough just comes together (shaggy but it should hold together in a ball. Should NOT feel wet).

I just use my fingers. I never got the hang of using a rubber spatula for this (although it would be better, as my hands are warm)

I started off just as turning the watered-up flour/fat bits over so I wouldn't just dump water in the same place, but then I found that I magically could use LESS water than the recipe called for. Key thing: don't overwork it. Just kind of fold it in, maybe mush a little with your fingers. More mushing is required the more you add, to try to get it together.

All I can guess is it seems to distribute the water a lot better than sprinkling all the water in at once.

Oh, and don't be tempted to do this in the food processor. That magical food processor action will mix it up too much. This is one case where gentler is better.

4. Let 'er rest, part 1

After you get that ball, wrap it up in plastic and smoosh it down with your fist into a thick flat disc, about an inch thick. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (I really prefer an hour).

This step is crucial because you are letting the water seep its way through the whole dough. It will come out more pliable and less dry than when you put it in, although it's kind of subtle.

You are also letting the dough get nice and cold again. Remember that bit about keeping it cold? The goal is to not melt the butter. It's also easier to roll out if it's cold. If you take it out and find it is too mushy, try putting it in the refrigerator longer.

Oh, this is also that point at which I will throw the crust in the fridge and then finish it the next day. Those discs will keep for a few days. If you'll be longer than that, wrap it in another layer of plastic wrap, then one of aluminum foil, then write the date on it and what it is and throw it in the freezer. Should be good for about 6 months. Hoorah!

(P.S. If it's been in the fridge for more than 2 hours, it does need to get a little warm again before you can roll it out. Leave it out on the counter & check it every 30 min or so)

(P.P.S Frozen crusts need to warm up in the fridge for ~1/2 day, then room temp for 30 minutes (maybe more) to make them pliable. Just chuck it in the fridge if you suspect a pie in your near future)

5. Let 'er rest, part 2

After you've rolled out the dough, and put it in the plate, or tin, or whatever, cover it back up with plastic wrap and refrigerate for another half hour. If you are really in a hurry, the freezer works too, for about 10-15 minutes. It should be cold again. Mmm, butter.

I KNOW. Pie crusts: not fast. But this step is also crucial. If you do not do this, you end up with a sad shrunken pie crust if you pre-bake or par-bake. Ask me how I know! And since this is partly a blueberry/apple/pumpkin/wonderful goodness delivery mechanism, you surely want to have as much room as possible in the crust.

6. Bake it with a pan

This is an extra. It's not really about the crust. But save yourself a headache and possible fire alarm triggering and put it on a sheet pan. I use those commercial aluminum jelly roll pans which are the bomb for making cookies, but a regular cookie sheet is also fine. Or a roasting pan. SOMETHING. If it drips, it will drip in the pan (which it ALWAYS does. So I am not a pretty crust maker. Not enough patience. It will, however, taste good). No need to scrape the oven or turn on the fan because of the rolling smoke.

7. Practice

This one isn't popular, but there's kind of a finesse to this and the more you do it the better you get. You get to recognize the signs and feel of the thing. I don't know. But that doesn't mean the first one you do won't be good. If you feel uncomfortable working fast, just shove everything in the fridge while you figure out the next step. My personal belief is if you can keep that butter cold until you put it in the oven, and you don't add too much water, you can't go that far wrong.

Hope this helps someone. I just felt the need to share #3, as it's worked beautifully for me. I could never figure out how to add such a little amount of water as all these recipes say. It never held together with only 4 tablespoons or whatever. And then I started to mix it in as I went and MAGIC. I'm still trying to adjust to it, I keep making crusts that are too wet and sticky. wack.

Hey look, I've totally rambled for a huge amount of text!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Solstice, or Happy Holiday whatever you choose to celebrate or not celebrate. May all your crusts be tasty ones. If you're able to, hug someone you care about; they might not be there to hug tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Monday, November 07, 2011

And for today's cute

The European Rabbit Hopping Championships

Time, she gets away

I'm not sure how it became November. Let alone a week into November. I miss the summer. I seem to be speaking in a lot of sentence fragments lately so please forgive me in advance.

Been reading a lot lately. As always the disclaimer is: what I like it not necessarily what you will like and that is OK. Please don't take it personally.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman. AV Club highly recommended. Audio version (look, I do a lot of dyeing and skeining these days)
I got way way too involved in this book, partly because it is very close to home in some aspects. I so enjoyed this, but it's also sad and sometimes angsty and I find the main character to be kind of a jerk. That's all probably part of why it was a fantastic book. Went really fast. I've got The Magician King on hold at the library now.

Magician: Apprentice by Raymond Feist. Recommendation from an NPR fantasy/sci fi list.
Sensing a theme? Enh. Just didn't do anything for me. OK plot, forgettable characters, too many fantasy cliches. I probably would have enjoyed this book immensely in 5th grade.

Old Man's War by John Scalzi. Hello NPR list. Maybe I'm just trying to be a completionist.
I ripped through this in 3 days. Excellent story, very compelling. Not superwonderfulfantastic literature but a page turner. Went out and bought the sequel because I needed something for the train back. The second one wasn't quite as good but still enjoyable.

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. NPR list again. Audio.
Bailed on this one about 4-5 chapters in. I just wasn't interested. I listened to one other Joe Haldeman book in the past and I've just decided we don't mesh.

Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold. That NPR list from above, although my friend Janet went through a Bujold binge last year and loves them. Audio
I'm in the middle of this. Pretty good story, plus it's nice to see a strong female protagonist (The Magicians had one too, although it's more complicated than that).

The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean, another AV Club recommendation
Hey look ma, nonfiction! I love interesting science books like this and I started off a chemistry major, so it's a slam dunk. Not finished with it yet, but I like this one a lot. I had no idea Mendeleev was so... eccentric (didn't believe in atoms, not withstanding that he developed the periodic table. Explain THAT one.)

Monday, October 17, 2011


A stop-motion camera and a whole lot of yarn. K sent me a link to this neat commercial, via Metafilter. It's got wool. And a cat.

There's also a making-of video.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Happy October! Time for

It's been a very odd harvest year. To be fair, that picture was taken a week and a half ago, and last week's farmer's market was the last one for berries this year. It is now firmly in apple, pear, and squash season, with a big sideline on all kinds of greens. They love this weather - rainy and cool. I'm going to have to start mowing the grass again. bah.

So, how're you doing? I fell down the stairs this week. It's okay, it was just half of the stairs, and I landed about as well as could be expected, mostly on soft parts. The butt bruise is quite spectacular and no I'm not showing it to you. The ones on my shoulder blade and forearms aren't nearly as entertaining. It seems to be matching all my dyeing lately - everything is coming out shades of purple. I blame the cruddy weather.

Otherwise, K got that stupid aerator off and cleared out in less than 10 minutes. The tool of choice appears to be the vice grips (although he scratched it up even more - the masking tape/electrical tape/rag trick doesn't work at all, it just makes the rag spin around).

Monday, October 03, 2011

Why I am not a professional handyman

We are in the middle of taking care of some house repairs that we've kind of let go for a while now. The fence is starting to fall down in places. The stucco on the foundation was cracked and you could remove big hunks with your hands. Our house is elderly and some of the windows are original single pane sash-hung. And the paint is peeling in places since the lovely people who owned this house before decided they would only paint *2* of the 4 exterior walls. WTF? Oh yes, it's the 2 most visible ones.

So I've been going through this parade of contractors, and getting in the house-painting queue (extremely tight this year, and there wasn't much sunny summer weather).

I am not entirely helpless. I can strip and paint a wall. I know how an electrical circuit works. But I have this curse; when I try to do even the most simple things, it doesn't work. This morning I tried to unscrew the bathroom sink aerator to clean it. Now how hard could that be? Pliers wrapped in masking tape, then electrical tape, then a bunch of scratches to the metal later and I still have not managed to budge the thing. Bah. The Love Monkey gets to cope with this one, because I am NOT calling a plumber just to clean out a stupid aerator. Or better yet my OH SO HANDY father-in-law can fix it when he next comes through town. Grump.

Thursday, September 08, 2011


Well, I'm back. Maybe. Kinda.

A few weeks ago we returned from That Thing in the Desert, which K refers to as "going camping with 50,000 of our closest friends." It was an experience and a half. No, closer to experience times 100. It's an emotional, physical, psychological (and not to mention aural) onslaught but it's the most interesting and weirdest thing I do all year. I mean, really, how often do you have pancakes at dawn in the middle of a plant-less desert, served in a mobile 50s diner?

Also, I ate a lot of bacon, and it was good. Something about salty, protein-ey, hot things tastes miraculously good out there.

We got a nice hot week here in Portland once I got back, which was lovely seeing as there hadn't been much of a summer. Finally had one of those days where you just kind of slug around drinking fruity drinks and the cat just walks up to me and falls over sideways, imploring me with her eyes to turn the temperature down (sorry cat, no air conditioning). And then it was over, and someone flipped the Fall switch. Today it is raining. I was hoping for a little bit of a warm September (and wildly, October), but: outlook not so good.

I am a little bummed out by the weather. Rain's actually okay but all-day grey is not my favorite. I haven't felt like I have much of a sense of purpose, or am getting anything done. I STILL haven't stocked up the etsy store. grrrr. I'm dyeing nearly every day but it doesn't seem like enough. Maybe this week.

Autumn is one of my most favorite times of year, and so heartachingly beautiful; but also so sad. It's like I can feel the loss of the light and warmth, every day. Is there such thing as emotionally difficult weather?

I managed to leave for a bike ride the other day JUST as it started raining - it started up a block away from home. As always, impeccable timing. It wasn't a long ride, just up a little hill nearby. I go up, feeling like I'm going to die (although it's gotten better. I don't feel like I'm going to die RIGHT away), then I get to the top, everything's OK, and I ride back down and then go up again.

Although I like riding in the rain (well, not-cold rain). There's something that makes me feel particularly alive. Most everyone else is boxed away, indoors, while I am exposed, speeding through it, all those drops hitting my arms and legs and face.

It was one of the moving-through rainstorms, not one of the unending grey sky dripdrips, and the sunset from the top was beautiful. Everybody had cleared out except for a lens-cap of photographers (but no gaggle of geese or murder of crows).

The phone pics don't do it justice of course. I don't know how to capture the moment when the sun lit up the whole misty-rainy valley just before it fell behind the west hills. If it weren't for the rain, I wouldn't ever see that, as I try to remember when the clouds start to pile up.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I survived Sock Summit

But I did get more than a lousy cold (Yarn Harlot, I am glaring at you). Hey, at least I got it AFTER the end.

The Twisted booth, in all its glory, before the marketplace opened.

I got to meet and talk with lots of lovely people, both new friends and ones I haven't seen for a long time. I'm kind of a hermit. So it was kind of surprising that I decided to go to the sock hop and boogie down anyway. (Thank you Janet for getting me a ticket).

But hey, how often do I get to wear my pink zebra-print pettiskirt? OK, at least in semi-fashion-appropriate settings? (BTW, it's swirly and totally fabulous. I highly recommend it, although the zebra print is, honestly, a tiny bit over the top. I got mine at No affiliation, just a happy customer (they've got plus sizes!))

It was a little dicey near the end, and I ran out of time, but I did actually manage to dye enough I wasn't embarrassed at having too little in the booth. I did pretty well for being a brand-new unknown newbie dyer. It was extremely gratifying having people compliment my yarn or even better, show me the beautiful things they have done with it.

K the love monkey helped out so much; I couldn't have made it without him. This is the pile of dye ties next to the skein winder, from the last DAY of skeining he did for me. (ugh. so much skeining.)

The cold threatened to go bronchitis on me but fortunately mostly stayed above the neck except for the occasional hack. This month I have been sewing, more than I have for the last year. Maybe if I'm feeling brave I'll post the costume bolero I made up last week. Be afraid: it has fringe, people.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I have a secret

Which I've been keeping for a while. But I sort of have to be outed now. Hmph, this is like coming clean about eating the last of the ice cream.

So. I started dyeing for sale last year.

I kept meaning to mention it here but no time ever seemed right and then the winter happened and then I quit my job. Sorry, I haven't ever mentioned that either. It just wasn't working out, and I wanted the summer off, and I could afford it, and I couldn't stop thinking about how my Dad hadn't retired for so long and kept deferring things. It also freed up time for me to spend with my Mom and brothers and my brother's family. Well, I was GOING to take the summer off and then dyeing kind of took over my life.

I've been selling at a local store, Twisted, and while I had a full time job I could barely keep them supplied, let alone do any online sales. Then they asked me last winter if I was interested in doing Sock Summit with them; they'd be featuring the work several local dyers. Since I came back from visiting Mom in May I've been dyeing like crazy, trying to get ready.

Well, we set up the booth yesterday. I still have a hard time believing that this is all my yarn. But I'm doing this because it fills me with pleasure to play with color and texture. It's wonderful to have people tell me they like knitting with my yarn, and show me their projects -- I had a hand in their creating something unique, something beautiful.

Yes, I do have an etsy site, but I'm not going to mention it now because it is so very sad and empty because EVERYTHING is at Sock Summit right now. I have plans to finally get it up and running later in the summer. I don't really want to turn this into a dyeing blog. I just like to ramble here. But I'll post it then.

Anyway, if you happened to be at Sock Summit, I'll be working at the Twisted Booth, #300, Saturday & Sunday mornings and early afternoon. Come by and say hello, I'd love to meet you. I'll be the one with kind of a dazed look on my face, grinning.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

For the quilters

Hi, just popping my head up for a minute to let the quilters & sewers know:

One of the bloggers I read is Ms. Too Much Wool, who is a talented and accomplished quilter as well as knitter & spinner.

While I am terribly greedy and would rather it all be mine mine MINE, because I love you all, I wanted to pass on that she's having some fabric giveaways over at her blog. You just need to entertain her.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Guess what I found?

My sticker collection. Heavy on the unicorns.
By showing this I am truly revealing myself as a girl of the early 80s, aren't I?

Oh yes, I have my collections too, so I ought not to be pointing any fingers. I used to spend hours sorting these, arranging them, looking at friend's albums and trading.
I was a completionist. Look at all the slight differences. Why yes, they are ALL sparkly.

These fabric style stickers were known as "satins" and fairly coveted. Unfortunately whatever glue they used didn't hold up so well.

So shiny. So 80s. So unicorns. Did I really have this deep a unicorn obsession? I remember it was a major part of my collection. So were bears, hearts, rainbows, and butterflies. There were even some scratch-n-sniff in the pile. Oh the memories. I sure loved the sparkly.

The pinnacle of stickerdom: the highly sought-after "liquids", made of liquid crystal. They change colors when you press on them. I think they use liquid crystal for more useful things now.

Guess I wasn't picky. If it was shiny and stuck to things, it was in my collection. A little Lisa Frank action on the bottom left, as I'm sure the connoisseurs will instantly recognize

Crossover! Christmas unicorns. Check out the one with rainbow on the upper left: unicorns, Christmas, AND RAINBOWS!!1!

Somewhat creepy metallic bears. The round one was actually some kind of thick metallic foil. Unlike the satins, the metalies are still quite sticky-strong.

Of course I never actually STUCK them on anything. sigh. I'm giving them to Mom to use in entertaining my nieces. Someone else should enjoy them and actually stick them on things. Except the pirate flag, that one's staying with me. And maybe a couple unicorns mumble mumble.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I'm in Utah, visiting my Mom (note to thieves: K the love monkey is still in Portland, holding down the fort and feeding the cat.)

Utah is not really the place I want to be right now, but Mom needs the company. My brother does live nearby; so does my cousin and her large family. But that's not someone to just have around the house to talk to, any time you feel like. Even if we're sitting in the same room, knitting & reading, at least there is someone there. And you aren't just cooking for one.

I am solidly in suburban Utah, which is my least favorite part of Utah. OK, fine, there are a few farms still left around here. For the moment. Otherwise it is strip mall/residential 'burb hell. I prefer my urban walkable areas. YMMV, of course. Oh yes, and it SNOWED this morning. grrrrrr

The pregnant lady ratio is very high. It is also somewhat disturbing to me that I'm the same age as at least some of the moms of the teenagers I see. Also disturbing? These:

What is it with the big eyes? I know about the manga girls blah blah blah but these are just creepy. Also spotted across the street: a Tangled poster. Yikes, too much eye for one day.

Sigh. I seem to be stuck in grumpus world today. I am cleaning out Dad's office. It's hard, in both the way you'd think and other ways. So, public service announcement: If you have packrat tendencies, please please do me a favor and reconsider: do you really need all those pens? We are up to 10 staplers now, and that's not including the little portable ones.

I have a packrat habit all my own and right now I want to just go home and throw it all out. When Dad finally retired and they moved, he spent months going through and organizing this stuff. He told me this while we talking on the phone, last year. Right now I have an overwhelming urge to go out and just live and not buy any more crap. It's a horrid cliche but but I don't care: any day anyone can just walk out their door and be hit by a cement truck, metaphorically or otherwise.

And now of course, it's not just physical things you leave behind, but a whole computer, hard drives, and CDs full of files. He was in the middle of scanning in all the family photographs. There must be thousands. I'm trying to figure out where he left off. And here's hard #3: looking through all these old pictures, including snaps of me at 11, 14, 22.

I wish I hadn't been such a fuckup in high school and college. I wish I hadn't been so afraid, so self-conscious. There was so much I could have done and didn't. My head was messed up, sure, but I didn't even bother trying to put it together. Not like it's all that great now, but I at least have some kind of concept of myself. I have also dialed the self-loathing far back, which (quel surprise!) helps quite a lot. Maybe I've just gotten to a point where I just don't really care any more, but that's nicely freeing, actually. I look at that girl in those old photos and just want to shake her up. Stop being such an idiot.

Anyway, nothing I can do about it now, except learn.
I need some cute. Who else needs some cute? How about some hot chicks?

We went to the IFA for some fruit trees, and the store was full of a persistent cheeping. Mmm, bring on those google searches.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

This year's cherries

From Thursday. A friend and I walked down to waterfront park at lunchtime to admire them.

The weather finally broke last Thursday, the 31st. It's been up and down since then, but at least it feels like SPRING. My sinuses say it does too. And yesterday it was honest-to-goodness sunshine all day long (never mind the frost the night before)

Not a cherry, but a beautiful old tree near where I work, covered in big white blossoms.

I might have a bit of a blossom fixation right now. Please don't hold it against me.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Beware the Ides of March

You have to watch out for those ides, they get you every time.

The winter was colder than usual, and Spring very wet and grey. The earth keeps up that stubborn tilt on its axis, though, so the sun keeps getting higher in the sky and the weather warms up, in spite of the daily forecast of showers (scattered showers, chance of showers, slight showers, heavy showers, bathroom showers). And despite my mood, there are bright piles of daffodils coming up everywhere, and the plums have gone pink all over town.

I'm not the only one complaining about the weather; my coworker said she is ready to move the hell back to LA, away from the RAIN, and she's lived here for years. Most years around March we get a little peak of good weather, a glorious warm sunny day or too makes everyone act a little crazy before the clouds descend again, but it hasn't happened yet this year.

I frequently don't seem to know what to do with myself lately. I am angry and sad and defeated, and it manifests itself in ugly ways. I've never been very good at anger. Or winter. The anxiety's rising up again; I was all clingy with K the Love Monkey this evening and I worry some car's going to side swipe him on one of his rides. He is turning into quite the bike guy. Such as, defined thighs. I try to bike in to work once a week. I'm falling swiftly behind.

January, February, March are my trifecta of least favorite months (sorry K). Dark, cold, grey, with no holidays in sight. Maybe the weather will give me a break in April. I could use a departure from the gloom.

These are the cherry trees in waterfront park, from 2 years ago, which my photo program tells me were blooming April 2nd. That's about right for this year, too, I think; I bike by them on the way to work and they are in heavy bud.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Thank you

Thank you all so much for your comments. I tried to reply to everyone but I don't have everyone's email address (stupid blogger). So thank you, I appreciate all of you so much.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Going to Canada

with apologies to the Canadians; it's just a metaphor.

The new year never feels much like a new year to me. I look outside and everything looks just the same as yesterday. There are no birds chirping on my window or squirrels singing or rainbows and I haven't magically gotten thin, and I don't feel some profound sense of newness. It's like going to Canada; you cross the border and you might expect everything to be different, but it all looks the same, except not quite. You can buy smarties and codeine now.

My Dad died yesterday afternoon. He has felt unwell for several months now but a month ago he was admitted him to the hospital. He didn't have lymphoma in October, it was just an infection. But then he got sick again after that, and no tests could explain the continuous fevers.

They finally tentatively diagnosed him with multiple myeloma, which is a blood/bone marrow cancer. He had very first stage, almost low enough they probably wouldn't have bothered to treat it, except they also diagnosed a complication called HLH, which, summarized, is where your immune system goes batshit crazy and starts attacking itself because of the myeloma presence (hence the fevers). The treatment is to treat the cancer.

He went through a first round of chemotherapy and was weak but no longer feverish. Then he picked up an opportunistic infection in the hospital. He wasn't conscious by the time I arrived and never came back. Each day he got a little worse. Unfortunately the chemo for stimulating production of new white blood cells didn't work either, so he had no defenses at all, and he wasn't responding to any of the treatments.

When he went, he went quickly. It was so systemic that all his systems just shut down, within a half hour.

Now it's like going to Canada again, everything looks just the same but everything is different. It's the little things that catch you, I think.

I'm really appallingly awful at talking to people right now (I blame genetics, my voice gets all high and squeaky when I'm emotional, just like Mom's) so I'm pretty much dreading the next few days. Ah well, can't be helped. I am hoping very very hard that my cousin does not bring up his racist neighbor again like he did at my grandmother's funeral or I might punch him.

If any one at the funeral asks, I'll tell them what they can do for me is that if they're able to, go donate a pint of blood. I think Dad went through at least a couple dozen of them, probably more, and I'm sure the blood supply could use the help.

Things could be better, but they could be a lot worse, too. Happy new year.

Hello, pretty mountains