Monday, May 30, 2005

Lileks - Da Man

James Lileks has perfected condensed, withering scorn on political stupidity so he has more time and column length to devote to the intricacies of shopping at Target. Which is fine by me, Target shopping has never seemed so fun. Anyhoo, here's a snippet on judicial filibusters:

The entire affair would have been over long ago if Senate Republicans had been less interested in cloakroom comity and more interested in ending this novel application of the venerable filibuster. But the Senate, as we are often told, is where the passions are sent to cool, congeal, dry out and crust over with a thick, furry coat of mold. Senators take pride in their role. And if you had that many servants, drivers, factotums and aides de camp scurrying after your Very Important Self, you'd be swollen with pride as well.

Hence, in the end, the GOP senators decided to represent some mythical idea of senatorial grandeur and collegiality -- as if the exercise of partisan advantage to do the right thing violated the founders' desire for sweetness and light and happy, chirpy bird song.
By all means read the rest.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Memorial Day Post Two

I was going to roll this information in with post one, but decided that those men should not have to share their thank you with my thoughts on this. (thanks Instapundit)

I have been watching the march to European Unification with an uncomprehending disbelief. The premise seems nice enough, being bound by common goals and needs a partnership to strengthen nations put into writ. The execution turning into a welter of over regulation and bureaucracy that replaces national identity with the faceless form.

If in fact the French and Dutch people reject the bloated nightmare of the EU Constitutional Treaty, how could a governing body ignore them? "It is ok little ducklings," croons Chirac and his cronies, "You must not be allowed to speak. Let us tell you what you really want." If that is what indeed happens the people will not need this they will need the American Method.

Memorial Day Post One

The United States celebrates Memorial Day this monday. For most Americans this is an excuse for a long weekend and barbeques. In Small Town, USA, where I live, there are parades and the civic leaders give cliched speeches. Our parade, held on Saturday, started at the middle/high school ballpark and went down Main street and ended up by the post office. The town lines the route with Old Glory (not that the route ever changes - it's not that big of a town) and the flags stay up thru the summer and come down after Veteran's Day. With the naval base on the top of the island, the summer holidays of rememberance and national pride are important to residents because most have friends or loved ones in military service. Businesses display "Welcome Home" banners for all the squadrons and military discounts are de rigueur.

These remberances are not complete without an acknowlegement that our businesses, barbeques, and parades are made possible by the sacrifice of past and present military personnel.. Thank you Beryl, Jim, Bob, Carlson, and Brian for your service for taking up the mantle of George Washington and providing my freedom.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

The Inevitable Sith Review

I hardly ever go to the movies, mostly because I am unwilling to spend the kind of money they are asking for tickets these days. I did go see Revenge of the Sith on Friday. Before I get to the meat of the review a couple cautionary notes: spoilers ahead and I like Jar-Jar Binks. So, no hate mail, I warned you.

Hayden Christiansen is 1000 % better once he was able to escape having to woo Padme. Cyrano, Lucas is not. (Speech patterns catching Yoda's are.) In Clones, HC was best in the scene where he kills all the sand people. You could see Vader emerging in that angry, vengeful young man. Sith continues that same line. Two things hold Anakin back from the dark side: Padme and Obi-Wan. Darth Sidious thru his persona as Chancellor Palpatine really draws close to and influences Anakin. Anakin kills people very easily, even when it goes against his training and judgement. He has ceded his judgement to Palpatine. Palpatine tells Anakin to kill and he does so with hardly a blink. Sidious must therefore either use or divide Anakin from the two to turn him to the dark side.

Lucas' Star Wars universe is one where you can not escape your destiny. Anakin, in trying to keep Padme from dying, brings about the very situation he was trying to avoid. The Jedi Council, by treating Anakin as untrustworthy makes him so. In the original trilogy Vader says to Luke: "Join with me, and together we can defeat the Emperor. It is your Destiny." It was, but not in the way Vader thought.

Sidious not only manipulates Anakin, he manipulates the Jedi Council thru thier distrust of Anakin to seperate Anakin from Obi-Wan's steadying influence. Had Mace Windu not presented a double standard or Anakin had 2 minutes council and perspective from Obi-Wan he would not have turned.

Last couple of thoughts, bad hair cuts are a genetic failing of Skywalkers, same messy mop top. The best scenes were those without dialogue but just John Williams' over the top score.
Of all the casting choices good and bad they have made in this trilogy the best choice was Ewen McGregor, he assumed the mantle of Alec Guiness faultlessly thru all three movies. Even though the love scene dialogue was enough to make you a misanthrope, the love scene score (or whatever is playing when we see Padme) is my favorite SW musical theme, surpassing even the Imperial March.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

All We Have

All we have is purjury and gross incompetence at least for now. Where do these Tennesseans think are, Canada?

I am too idealistic by thinking that we elect officials to administrate, create, and define law; and that they should do so by not lining thier own pockets? I thought the years of the Clinton administration wiped shock at politics from my system. A couple of weeks ago as Captain's Quarters broke with testamony in the Canadian Ad-scam bru-ha-ha, I told my husband I felt a disconnect with reality. These kind of shady deals and raw power grabs happen in banana republics, not major Western nations. He was downright cynical, "Why not? It's happens everywhere."

I think Americans take alot for granted. I think that they expect politicians to spend money and bend rules as far as they will go. They don't think that politicians will act like tin-pot dictators or condesending elites.

What I predict is this: They are going to lash back, soon. We saw it with the elections of GWBush, they like a sense of morality in thier leaders. Say what you will about his foreign policy, his domestic policy, his intellect - you get what you see, he does what he says. He doesn't accost interns and he doesn't rent out the Lincoln Bedroom. We see it here in Washington State - the voters hit back at the gas tax. Pretty soon the voters are going to elect someone to clean house. In local and national politics we will see people elected to do the thankless task of making hard decisions and reforming programs and policies.

Social Security is the just the next stop of the reform train. It started with welfare in the 90's and will sweep social security, immigration, education, elections, intelligence, and anywhere else the people see the need. Not big programs, but streamlined and as unencumbered as possible. Just do your job, will be the mantra, if I can so can you.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Outer Rim

Yesterday I wrote on the judicial filibuster compromise, using scare quotes around the word "compromise" (just like that!). After I posted I read around and some people seemed less steamed than I was, even Hewitt. This morning I was able to think real hard, as I was administering a test and the class was pretty quiet. Am I over reacting? I decided nope. It wasn't compromise I was so upset with as the nature of the compromise.

Just now reading Hewitt again I was reassured because he hit the nail on the head:

Senate members and staff long ago abandoned basic human decency when they decided to cover ideological opposition with attacks on character. How refreshing it would be if, say, Barbara Boxer would stand up in the Senate and say "I oppose Justice Owen because she's a center-right Republican and I'm a liberal." Fine. Boxer won the election in California. She can do whatever she wants with her vote. But to try and turn William Meyer or Janice Rogers Brown or Miguel Estrada or all the others into ogres is disgusting.

That is exactly it. I may think someone is dead wrong and thier ideology destructive, but the Democrats have stooped to pretty awful levels. By not defining the "extraordinary circumstances" Senate Republicans have let those smears stand. The Democrats have painted distinguished, mainstream judges, albeit conservative, as "extreme". The flavor of the compromise seems to be - "we let these extreme judges thru to maintain civility and in return you'll never nominate someone those Jesusland people will like even if you did win the election."
They could easily have defined why a judge would be filibustered. Trent Lott rattled off what would make a filibuster defendable: ethics problem, documents withheld or conflict of interest.

Flan or the lesson's you learn

The lesson learned is you get twice as many hits for dessert as for entrees. That's not the reason I am posting a dessert today. (no, really. It's a PLUS of course.) I am posting flan in honor of my mother, who's birthday is the 31st, I know she loves flan. Also flan is dead easy to make.


1 15oz can of sweetened condensed milk
5 eggs beaten
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup granulated white sugar

You need a 1 quart baking dish or round cake pan. ALSO a pan that will hold two inches of hot water and the baking dish.

Put sugar in small saucepan and heat over medium heat until sugar is half melted, then stir until completely melted, smooth and light brown. Pour off into baking dish immediately and quickly tilt the dish around until sugar coats the bottom. Set aside. Mix together milks, eggs and extract, pour on top of sugar. Place dish in second pan with hot water. (It is easiest to place baking dish and pan on oven rack and pour hot water from your tea kettle around dish) Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Cover and chill. When you are ready to serve run knife around rim to loosen the flan. Place a large plate over the top (a lipped one will catch all the caramel goodness), invert. Give the bottom of the flan mold a solid whack with your hand, gently remove baking dish. Yum!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Triumph! I have just left the Muralist in the Land of Nod. This is a task unmastered by Hercules, putting a two year old to sleep. Challenging even on ordinary days, today required the talents of a titan. Boast, moi? Why, yes, I am.

After taking three children thru an epic 5 hour stint of legal forms, doctor's visits and consultation with a nutritionist, we rounded out the afternoon with a visit to thier cousin's house for 90 minutes of endless physical activity and a trip thru the grocery store. Home again, jiggity jog, to romp with the dog until dinner was ready. Dinner eaten, we find jammie time approach-eth. "But wait!" cries the Verbalist, "Where is dad?"

"Yes, Dad!" echoes the Muralist, suddenly realizing the pole star in her sky is missing.

I explain for the millionth time, "Daddy went on a trip today, he'll come back on thursday."
After a quick recap of when we are (tuesday), how many days until thursday (two), where in relation to the major week markers for them (Sunday school and martial arts class) the Verbalist, while concerned, seemed to understand that Dad was not waiting forlornly by the ferry terminal for us. He seemed to think this was an angle to extract promises of a Darth Vader action figure - "to surprise Dad when he comes home, I'll let him borrow it."

The Muralist is less sanguine. The pater familias is who puts her in bed, supplies drinks of water, and general reassurance. The Verbalist retires after reading a book to his bear, the Muralist with a barbaric yawp, a primordial screech. Howard Dean has nothing on this kid. Wailing, kicking, crying, blowing bubbles out her nose, she will not let her head touch the pillow. It is at last inevitable, the pillow wins.

I'm Tired, Are You Tired?

Politics and judges, judges and politics.

Here in Washington State, the Rossi/Gregoire court battle is in full swing. It is regrettable that the Washingtonians are having thier fates determined by yahoos in King County and a judge in Chelan, but I am much more comfortable with the judge than the yahoos. He has carefully weighed each point of law and ruled in ways each side agrees is fair, maybe not happy with - but no one's grandstanding on the courthouse steps about the unfairness of it all.

Meanwhile on the Outer Rim: a compromise on Senate judicial filibusters has been reached. The left is mad, the right is outraged. Political careers were sacrificed. Democrats have a pretty good spin machine, helped along by a good many Americans who think filibuster is the same as honest Mr. Smith: if they think of filibusters at all. Here is the compromise.

Trent Lott, Orrin Hatch and George Allen on Tony Snow's show expressed thier unhappiness with this "compromise". (yes, I mean the scare quotes) All three interviews on the subject can be distilled into this: base voters are upset, the compromise is only as good as the Democrats' sense of fair play, and the battle has just been kicked down the road to SCOTUS nominations. I like to believe the best about people - even politicians. I'd like to believe that those Senators (Republican and Democrat alike) have signed the compromise out of high minded principles but I think it is more likely they did so out of cowardice (R) and insincerity (D). Something tells me the Great Pumpkin would never visit their pumpkin patches.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Yawning in the Pews

Our pastor is delivering a sermon series on sane families in an insane world. Spouses put each other first, being in submission to each other is the mind of Christ.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Philippians 2:3-8

As our pastor is wrapping up his sermon, from the front his six year old yawns loudly enough to echo thru the church. Priceless.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Letters from Iraq

Jeff Harrell pointed out Steven Vincent's blog In the Red Zone. He is encouraging bloggers to direct traffic to a journalist who is reporting the real scoop about Iraq in Iraq - and not just the Green Zone. There are plenty of fine military bloggers out there, but for those who insist that news come from a journalist - point them at Mr. Vincent. His entries are mostly published correspondence to his wife, Lisa. Who said letter writing is dead?

Mostly Rain with a chance of Sunbreaks

Ahh May! Or, erm, late May when the temperature begins to be temperate and rain falls warm and friendly instead of cold and mocking. This is the time of year when we begin to get the infamous "sunbreak" forcasted by our weather chicks. If you prefer, you can change the channel to a fatherly weather sage, but chick or sage they still have to hedge on the word "sunny".

We are doing that one big push of "clean! Clean! CLEAN!" before my in-laws arrive for Memorial Day weekend-o-rama. Three small children have an immediate nullifying effect on whatever hosework you do. Even Martha Stewart's shock troops demand a special contract for houses involving more than one small child. It is mostly fingerprints. A small child can get a sticky print on something simply by glancing at it. Parents have science on thier side these days though, Mr. Clean Magic Erasers (by the time Mr. Reynolds extolled it's virtue I had long since praised it's makers and exhorted it's use to my extended family), Oxi-Clean, and the Clorox Bleach Pen now demote the budding muralist down to Threat instead of DefCon 3.

I love my in-laws though. They are kind and seem to have an endless capacity to listen to my stories. Plus I have been good to thier boy, saving him from the toils of wicked women who might have broken his heart and never provided them with grandchildren. I suspect that I will feel the same way about the people my children marry.

Anyway, while overcast it is not raining today. While we are cleaning the children have been sent to play outdoors. The dog is with them keeping a watchful eye out for anything threatening - FedEx, tractors and the viscious 3 lb field bunnies that kamikazi into our yard. An unforseen problem arises. Our second, The Muralist, has outgrown her scooter and wants a chance at the tricycle. The eldest, The Verbalist, has no intention of giving up turns on his trike because it's horn has only recently been restored. He pedals around the drive honking it triumphally. Honk, honk! it sounds, infuriating the Muralist. Crisis seems imminent but God is kind, a rain drop splashes down.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Not a Centerfold

Blech. Saddam in his skivvies. This passes for news? And he's going to sue because the pics are "an insult to humanity, Arabs, and the Iraqi people". You want to know what is an insult to humanity? Mass graves. An insult to Arabs? Telling them the Mid-East will never be democratized. An insult to the Iraqi people? Saddam in a cushy US prison instead of a dank pit. That egomaniacal murderer ought to be in a phone booth sized room sunk deep underground, like that cave they found him in. Plus he should be forced to wear underwear with REALLY scratchy tags.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Local politics on a national stage

Political Teen has Dino Rossi's Coast to Coast snippet up. Who? asks most of America. The guy who is contesting the Washington State governor's election. Closest gubernatorial race in US history meets today's letigious system, mixed with incompetent (and partisan) election officials, fueled by overtaxed, angry voters. Forget Gore/Bush 2000, Gregoire/Rossi will change Washington State no matter how it falls out and local politics affect you more than you know. This debacle opened my eyes to local politics and I am sure it has had the same effect on previously forgiving voters.

Huffington Post and Star Trek

Is it just me or does the Huffington Post seem like a Corner wanna be? Or the flip side of the Corner, maybe. Perhaps I am getting this wrong because I haven't spent much time perusing HPost. About a day of lefty dreck coupled with the worst parts of an e-People magazine was about all I could handle. I will look if someone links to a post there but basically I don't have the time to be a Malkin described "looky-loo". When K-Lo at NRO posted John Poderhotz's pictoral riposte to Arianna Huffington, it hit me: this is the "Mirror, Mirror" episode of Star Trek. Wimpy UN- universe vs. practical militarism. Somewhere in the HPost is a version of Ramesh Poronnu with a beard. (yes I know the bearded Spock was in the militaristic universe-go back to your Tivoed Voyager episodes)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Loaves but no fishes

There are life events that prompt an outpouring of food. Births, deaths, surgery, a new house. Ladies (and some some men) fill a need for the grieved and overwhelmed by cooking them meals. When my oldest children were 3 and 1 my husband was in the hospital for 6 weeks. During the stress apex, the week he was in surgery the hospitality ladies in our church supplied us with meals. I will never forget what the first lady said, "I put it in a disposable foil pan so you don't have to do dishes or worry about returning one." What struck me was that if I were to be a food lady for our church, I wouldn't have thought of that. ( I am now on the "to call" list- the hotline of emergency culinary caring)

This is brought to mind by an imminent death in the family. Not unexpected, still there is that mixture of sorrow and resignation, a guilt you can't do more and especially for those who were closer and feel the loss keener. So if you find yourself in a situation where you can support someone who is grieved or overwhelmed by a life event, here is a recipe to use. Make them in a disposable foil pan, really the last thing on someone's mind will be returning a glass pan. Food does not ease the grief, but a little practical caring will be remembered after the crisis is past.


1 1/2 lbs ground meat (I generally use half beef half turkey)
1 med yellow onion minced
1 Tbsp minced garlic
3 slices of bread toasted, crumbed
1 large egg
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
splash of red wine vinegar
1 tsp rosemary

squish everything together until cohesive in a ball then pat into a loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour 15 minutes.

Banana Bread

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
3-5 ripe mashed bananas
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts (opt)

Cream butter and sugar then mix in bananas and eggs. Add remainder of ingredients, flour last. Mix well, then pour into pan(s). Bake at 325 for an hour or until an inserted knife remains clean. Cool completely.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Starbucks and Springsteen

Starbucks, coffee emporium extraordinaire, has declined to carry the new Springsteen album "Devils and Dust". This Newsweek article suggests that the company declined because of explicit sexual lyrics in the song "Reno". The company public relations flak has said it is due to store space limitations. The Newsweek article compares this flap to a situation with Walmart and Jon Stewart's book:

Still, concern could percolate as the coffeehouse giant continues to expand, especially given the numerous Wal-Mart controversies. Last year, for instance, the re­tail giant cancelled orders for “America (The Book)” by Jon Stewart and other writers from “The Daily Show.” The re­tailer objected to a picture in the book of nine aged bodies with the heads of Supreme Court justices superimposed, cit­ing its belief that “the majority of our cus­tomers would be uncomfortable with it.”

Newsweek cites glowing reviews of the album and suggests that First Amendment activist types will be concerned about censorship issues. Now before I get to comments on this, full disclosure: I don't care for Springsteen; I have never clicked with his music. I have worked for Starbucks, slinging java in cups, and consider them to be one of the best employers I have ever had.

First Amendment rights are not circumvented when a large corporation chooses not to carry a product. Springsteen fans can buy the album in Tower Records or online, Starbucks is not telling it's customers not to purchase the album. Even if the company declined to carry the album based on the explicit lyrics, they made the decision based on what would sell best with thier customer base, and whether the album would support company culture. Starbucks is very big on promoting and maintaining company culture.
When people criticize large companies for not carrying a product, they seem to be concerned that the companies attitude influences thier customers. I am sure that is true to a certain extent, but the larger half of the equation is that customers influence company purchasing choices more. Companies want to make a buck, they are not going to carry a product that will offend a large swath of customers. Springsteen's album will succeed or fail on it's merits, he's hardly an unknown name in need of promotion that would be of value to an obscure artist.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Weekend Miscellany

I have been weed whacking this weekend. Actually I have been weed whacking since thursday. Weed whacking is usually confined to the area around our barn and the compost pile, but owing to circumstances, including the advent of our third child, the yard has been sadly neglected. If we lived in a conventional neighborhood I would have been more concerned, but living amid farms some length would not bring down the neighborhood biddies. Still, the sun came out and the yard work cried out for priority.
Kids asleep, all three!, I walked down to the barn and checked out the mower. It needed more work than I could give it and I confess the workings of internal combustion driven machines intimidate me. I have the sneaking fear that a part will whing off and impale an eye or I will electrocute myself. Anyway a weed whacker I could handle, so I made sure the plastic whip was in place, dug out an extension cord and got to work.
It was extremely satisfying. I now understand the allure of power tools. The dog is convinced it's evil. She's convinced it will turn and rend me or leap to life and chase her. She will sit, staring and growling at the quiescent machine, and will bite at one in use. I broke her of her suspicion of the vacuum, hopefully I can break her from challenging the whacker.

Later, I was up at Walmart, filling a prescription and I saw the Sobe Stoner Bus. Really it was just Sobe beverage guys handing out samples, but the bus was green with a flame job and spouting weird NewAge techno music. I concluded that only stoners could listen to that same loop of music endlessly and keep thier cheerful equilibrium.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

ID, Creationism and Evolution

As we say in my family, "Help! I've fallen into a nest of weiner dogs."

Bill at INDC Journal posts evenhandedly on Intelligent Design pointing to a pretty badly argued article here and a coherent piece here. Intelligent Design is the ugly step child of the Evolution v. Creationism wars; it doesn't belong to either and gets scorn from hardliners on either side. (Yes, I'm mixing my metaphors) Mr. McNicoll's point, I think, is that Evolution hardliners are just as dogmatic as Christians who stick to the literal 6000 year timeline for the earth. He says:
I guess what I am asking for here is a little humilty from the "scientific community," a little acknowlegement that you've been wrong before and will be again.
I once made the mistake of bringing up ID with an internet correspondent of mine. (I won't exactly call him a friend more like polar opposite.) You'd have thought I was advocating the flat earth theory. His obcenity laced response was over the top but unfortunately all too similar to the general response I see to ID. I have a theory on why evolution absolutists have a beef with ID - God scares them. God is scary so if I don't think about God; He will go away like the monsters under my bed. More part and parcel of taking any whiff of a Creator out of the public square.

Bill of INDC presents the argument:

Man will never "know" God through anything other than the most personal "evidence," therefore the belief in a sentient Creator is a topic that naturally sists outside of the parameters of a science education. Theology? Philosophy? Yes. Not science.
ID does not endorse a particular flavor of religious belief. Philosophy and Scientific thought are complementary to each other; striving to answer the same questions different ways. I do not think that philosophy falls outside the parameters of a science education. Whether our pathetic public education system is able to facilitate a curriculum of thinking is another ball of wax altogether.

So far I have addressed the evolution faction and to be fair I must address the Creationists also. The problem is there are many brands of creationism beside the easily targeted 6000 year folks. My own particular brand of creationism can accomodate geological dating as not conflicting the Bible and is protean enough to grow more if need be. God is not hindered by what man thinks and is not bound by what man discovers.

Point of scripture for those interested in geological dating vs. literal Bible. In Psalms 90: 3-4:

You turn men back to dust, saying, "Return to dust, O sons of men." For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.

This is reiterated in 2 Peter 3: 8-9a:

But do not forget this one thing dear friends, With the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day. The Lord is not slow to keep his promises, as some understand slowness.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Coffee and Cream Rolls

I love bread. I read somewhere that scents help capture memories. To me the scent of baking bread is forever equated with sunny Sunday afternoons after church service. The church I attended as a child with my parents sat just down the block from Franz bakery. The big hub bakery that sent out loaves to grocery stores. We didn't always walk to church but I remember stopping for donuts when we did. After service the scent of baking bread hit the hungry congregation. It was rough when you were fasting. As small kids, my sister and I were exempt from the rigours of fasting and were given cups of yogurt and told to sit quietly on the back pews. "Be quiet and don't show everyone your food." Thus was the 11th commandment. We knew, no donuts, no after church lunch out. So for those not fasting (or worse on Atkins) here is a recipe for Sundays or any lazy morning you have time for rolls.

Coffee and Cream Rolls

1 tsp dry active yeast
2 tbsp sugar
2 cups bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 cup slivered toasted almonds (or walnuts if you prefer)

3 tbsp butter
3 Tbsp packed brown sugar

1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup Kahlua

If you have a bread machine combine first seven ingredients per your machine instructions and stop at end of dough cycle.
If you do not have a bread machine heap flour and salt on a sheet of parchment paper and crater the center. Activate the yeast in warmed milk with sugar. Combine active yeast to beaten egg and pour into the crater. Using 2 fingers, stir in flour a little at a time. Shore up the outside of your flour heap until all ingredients are combined into a soft dough ball.

Note: It took me a while to do this manual method with out being a complete slob at it. My four year old saw me doing it and remarked, "A volcano! When is it going to erupt?" 2 minutes later it did because I was not shoring up the outside vigilantly. I recommend using a bread machine if you have it or a Kitchenaid with a dough hook.

Let dough rest, covered for 10 minutes. On lightly floured surface roll dough into a rectangle appx 12x8 inches. Spread with butter and brown sugar. Roll up and pinch seams closed.
cut in 1 inch slices and place in prepared pans.

Note 2: Greased pans with sides. Cake pans work well. If you have followed above instructions for the manual method and realized I omitted the nuts, go ahead and spread them on the pan here. I prefer nuts worked throughout dough but I don't have three arms and so have not found a way to work them in manually that doesn't give me fits. Yet another reason to use your bread machine. I am biased and OK with that.

Cover and let rise 30 minutes. Dough should double in size. Combine cream and Kahlua; pour over rolls. bake at 350 about 25 minutes or until browned. Cool 5 minutes. Invert onto serving plate. Share with friends for a warm glow of pride.

UPDATE! Sorry 'bout the major recipe omission, fixed now.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Gas Tax - voters strike back

Washington voters are angry; angry at poorly run elections and at representatives not representing voters. Olympia spends and spends; the state auditor is blocked from audits. When he audits, his office is hamstrung from making real changes. Then 2 things happened and the voters lashed out.

Egregious breaches in elections accountability and security led to a contested Governors race. Governor-elect, now plaintiff, Dino Rossi, was supported by a huge groundswell of popular support when voters across party lines called for a revote or new election.

Second, breaking campain promises, Christine Gregoire pushed through a 9.5 cent gas tax. Voters denied a 9 cent tax hike in 2002. In 2003, the powers that be gave us a 5 cent increase without letting the people vote on it. 2005 here we are again. The gas tax was hung with an emergency clause denying the people a referendum. Referendums have a lower requirement threshhold of signatures while giving collectors a longer period to collect them.

Denied referendum, a bloc of voters spurred on and organized by local radio hosts, began an initiative drive. They hoped to lay the groundwork for vollunteer networks and raise some money (25 grand) to start the process. If in three days (Wed-Friday) they got close to thier goal the planned on structuring for next year. If they met their dollar goal they would push ahead, hoping they had enough momentum to gain the signatures needed in the time allotted. As of Saturday they had raised approximately 80 grand (NOT pledged-RAISED
) and had 6000 vollunteers to collect signatures. The average contribution was 40 dollars. There were no large contributions (nothing over 2000). If only the signature gatherers already lined up were to gather two pages of signatures each, the requirement would be met. THREE DAYS, angry voters. Olympia watch out, you need to represent those you pledged to represent.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

The Hand that Rocks the Cradle

... rules the world. Family, parents, mothers are vital to children. They impress into children a set of values and priorities. The role of a mother is to give; giving time, attention, labor, love. Children often take this for granted. Even as an adult and mother of three, I take for granted my own mother's gift of time and attention. If I call her she is going to give me the gift of her attention, even if it is only for a few minutes. I know I am blessed to be assured of her love. I know that in this world there are those out there who doubt or never have received assurance of love from thier mothers. I am doubly blessed that I am assured of love from my mother -in -law also. I had intended to write about Mother's Day from the prospective of a mother- hopefully humorously. What changed my mind was reading Jeff's post on Mother's Day here.

Jeff, whether he realizes it or not, illustrates how well his mother raised him. You see, for all his guilt and self condemnation for not being perfect in executing his responsibilities, he was there. He gave of himself and returned the time, attention, labor and love when his mother needed it most. There is an "of course" assumed in his letter of love. What child would abandon his mother coming out of health crisis? The very fact that it is an "of course" speaks volumes about the values instilled in him as a child.

Proverbs says, "Teach a child how he should live, and when he is an adult he will not depart from that teaching." St. Paul writes that we should "pray without ceasing". My mission as a mother and child is to pray and teach my children to pray. Love and teach love. Give and teach giving.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Utter Cruelty

Radioblogger writes:

"In Hugh's fevered little mind, there is a sadistic element that is constantly thinking of new ways to abuse the producer, which in this case, is me.

Late last summer, Disney's California Adventure had a large media contingent out to celebrate the launch of their new ride, the Hollywood Tower of Terror, which is basically an elevator shaft on a pogo stick. I ended up riding that ride 29 consecutive times during the three hours we aired our program, and although my equilibrium was oscillating like a tuning fork afterwords, that day is still talked about in talk show lore.

Today, Hugh concocted a much less physical, but far more mentally demanding challenge. It was my task to deliver, in honor of Disney's golden anniversary, 50 consecutive trips through It's A Small World. Stop Laughing."

Three things popped to mind as I read this following the knee jerk reaction of "Oh the poor man!" First, I recalled the trip I took to Disneyland as a kid. I was six or eight an ideal age to experience the wonders of even the most tepid of rides. It's A Small World lost it's appeal after about a minute and a half. 50 consecutive times as an adult is mind boggling to me.
Second, I remembered that Hugh Hewitt claims to be a Christian. Is this Christian charity Hugh? You better hope Catholics are wrong about that whole purgatory idea, because otherwise I get the idea you'll be expiating some sins on endless loops of It's a Small World.
Third, I think this world be the perfect way to break the will of terrorists. It's a Small World at Gitmo. Oh yeah, the possibilities.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Energy thoughts - fossil fuel rut

State politics in Washington are messed up. Whatever your party affiliation, politics here are ugly. With her term in office looking as if it will be severely shortened, the currently installed governor has used her majority in Olympia to do an endrun around voters. Voters passed checks on governmental spending thru I-601. This got evicerated. The much hated gas tax (oh no we'll never do that!) and various "sin" taxes have gotten approval from Olympia.

As I was driving my 10 year old economy sedan, half listening to a local radio personality waxing irate over the gas tax, I was contemplating the need for a mini van. Three children under 5 and a dog. This is what it has taken to get me to contemplate a larger vehicle. It will not get the gas milage that my sedan does. With gas prices nearer to 3 dollars a gallon than 2 dollars (oh for the days when they were lass than 2 bucks!) fuel efficiency is a must.

My thoughts bounced to hybrids which in turn led it to alternative fuels. Why are we stuck in a fossil fuel rut? There are good alternatives out there, bio-diesels for instance. What would it take to skip out of the rut? I think 3 things, or rather one thing with three components working in concert. A car manufacturer, a fuel refinery, and an energy company working in concert to bring a widely available alternative to the American people.

Americans love to drive. What driver goes on a trip not knowing if they can buy gas for the trip home? You are not going to buy a car that runs on turkey gas if you can't get turkey gas at the station around the corner from mom's house 3 states away. Car manufacturers couldn't sell cars running on turkey gas, if gas stations don't sell turkey gas. Gas stations don't sell turkey gas if no one is making it and people will not buy it. People will not buy it if thier vehicles don't use it, a tight little circle that keeps us in the fossil fuel rut.

I feel certain that if the US can break the fossil fuel rut, other nations will follow our lead. Why? US industry can support the financial investment the leap will take. US consumers area huge market that loves cars, big cars, multiple cars. US celebreties (like it or not) influence buying trends, get Oprah on the turkey gas bandwagon and sales will go thru the roof. (if Oprah does a bio-fuel car giveaway I think I should get one -ed) So to any economic big brains out there - how do we make this happen?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Laura Bush - again

Oh my goodness! What a flap about nothing. Can I just say in defense of evangelical Christian conservatives we are not all humorless Bible thumpers? Michelle Malkin is a lovely woman, but she is playing into the stereotype of humorless conservative. This reminds me of a scene in Witness the Harrison Ford flick. Hiding out with Quakers (or is it Mennonites?), John Book (Ford) is experiencing culture shock. His references and jokes fall flat and is offending his religious hosts with his behavior, nothing extreme but the distaste is palpable. The grandfather asks Book how he did milking the cow and Book mumbles some reply.

"Never had your hand on a teat before?" asks the patriarch.

"Not one that big." replies Book. The elder roars with laughter.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Stroganoff or Mother Hubbard's Pantry

There are two wonderful things about beef stroganoff: I almost always have all the ingredients for it and it is a meal that works well no matter the season. Barbeque - summer, beef stew - winter, pumpkin pie - fall but spring? Sometimes warm, sometimes chilly spring makes you hanker for garden fresh fruits and veggies not the tasteless strip mined versions available at the grocery store. So while I wait and glance longingly at the little plantling struggling to stay alive from the attentions of my 2 and 4 year olds, I will make stroganoff.

3 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
12 oz beef broth
beef sliced into strips or small chunks
1/4 cup sour cream
salt and pepper
mushrooms sliced
1/4 cup peas

Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a pan over medium low heat, then whisk in the flour until thick and smooth. Add beef broth.

A note: canned consumme seems to orginiate in the shadows of my pantry. I don't buy it- it just shows up. However, 2 beef bullion cubes and 12 oz of hot water will fit the bill if you don't have consumme on your shelves.

Whisk in beef broth until fully integrated with butter and flour. Pour off into bowl. In same pan brown meat. Liberally coat with salt and pepper.

Note 2: Use whatever beef you have: this is why stroganoff falls into Mother Hubbard domain. You can even use ground beef. Purists may shudder, toddlers are more apt to eat it. Since I interact with toddlers more than food critics, well you get my drift.

When meat is browned set aside on seperate plate. In pan add remainder of butter and sautee mushrooms. As many mushrooms as you want! My stroganoff tends to contain 5-6 mushrooms. Combine mushrooms, beef, and sauce. Stir in sour cream until sauce is smooth and creamy. Add peas. Serve over rice or pasta.

Note 3: Peas are either loved or hated. In my house they are loved. If you are ambivalent about peas, omit them. If the only peas you have ever had are nasty mushy ones froma can, you have never really gotten the full pea experience. You can get the full pea experience rather easily. Pop for the more expensive bag of Petite Peas in the freezer section. Steam them until they are just warm through. They should be sweet and green and taste like May 23.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Speaking of 4 yr olds

I have just been treated to a preview of a song composed for me for Mother's Day. It's insights in the concerns of my 4 yr old's mind are myriad. A lyric sampling:

"Bears don't work
Bears don't pick up toys
They practice alot
to get really good with a lightsword

Bears love peanutbutter
They don't get scared
Bears play with toys

We see the influence of Father (Star Wars) and Mother (School House Rock). Indubitably must end all musical creations since it was glorified on SHR, lightsabers are not imaginary but a worked for goal.

Laura Bush at the WHCD

I love Laura Bush. She is savvy, funny and always seems a real person in the midst of politics. To often, politicians and political spouses seem two dimensional. Laura and Barbara Bush both managed to be substantial to me. So does the junior senator from New York, although I deplore her. You can imagine them thinking about something other than thier pet issues, reading a book for pleasure, or catching a flick during a matinee.

So when I heard that some folks were getting in a twist over humorous comments Laura made at the White House Correspondents Dinner, I was prepared to disagree with them. Risque? For refering to the Chippendales? Maybe in the 80's. After President Clinton and his string of sexual exploits, refering to Lynn Cheney as "Dollar Bill" is hardly something to lift an eyebrow at. Agence France-Presse's corset is laced a little tight to be fainting at that.

For David Korn to play the 4 year old card and reference James Dobson, let's not be hypocritical. Just because social conservatives advocate restraint in the public square, does not make us sex fearing prudes without a sense of humor. Those large family red staters are not fearful of sex - you don't have 5 children by confining yourself to handholding. You don't explain innuendo to pre-schoolers and I seriously doubt any pre schoolers attended the WHCD. Leftist journalists laughed at Laura's jokes and delivery but couldn't admit to even a smidge of Bush liking the morning after.

Laura was roasting those who work with her and the President. It shows an ease of relationship that she could zing them in front of those who would inevitably be hostile later. The chainsaw bit? Hilarious. None of those guys are exactly subtle and they know it.

Sunday, May 01, 2005


I blog, you blog, we blog.
It is Sunday. What is it about Sunday morning which makes rolling over and going back to sleep that much more alluring? There are many days when the pillows seem softer but nothing calls more deeply than a pillow saturated with Spring sunshine. My son is one of those chipper morning people, full of vim and vigor as soon as dawn has cracked. A four year old is a force of nature. My husband opened his eyes and said to me, "Want to go to early service?" I actually entertained the thought for 30 seconds before the pillow pulled me under again.

Our pastor is finishing a series on "Living in the Major Leagues". I am not anti-sports. Heck, I mildly follow the Mariners, am a die hard Blazers fan (one can always live in hope), and watch the ups and downs of the Seahawks and Packers. The sports metaphor is wearing thin though. I agree with premise of living life at the top of your game, not in mediocrity. Certainly I have been challenged to step up in areas of my life, but I am glad he's moving on to a different sermon series.