Political Rants by Judy @ 5:09 PM

My friend K lives in a small town not too far from Portland. She and her family live in a cute little house on a quiet street. Quiet, that is, until the church moved in across the street.

I use “church” in a loose sense. The man who moved in “saw the light” after a life of sinning. He now fancies himself something of a preacher and is trying to form a new congregation. In his garage. Which no longer sports the typical garage door, but now has a regular door, and a sign declaring its status as a congregation meeting place. Nothing wrong with any of that, of course.

But where does your right to form a church end and my right not to join it start?

The members of this congregation are not afraid to cram their beliefs down the neighborhood’s collective throat share their beliefs with their neighbors. On Sundays and Wednesdays when the meeting is in session, the sermon carries throughout the neighborhood thanks to the magic of amplification. At 4:00 am each weekday morning, taped hymns drone through the air along with the rasp of a flaky car starter. Last summer, when K and her family tried to enjoy their yard, the congregation was always ready to stand across the street singing hymns as loudly as possible.

The neighbors are beginning to feel a bit harrassed.

There is speculation among the neighbors that the real “reason” for forming a congregation has less to do with suddenly finding Jesus and more to do with suddenly discovering the tax-exempt status of religious bodies.

An elderly neighbor who had lost her husband of 50 years only two weeks before, lost control of her car and damaged some of the “church’s” property. Being an honest citizen, she confessed to the “reverend” what had happened.

Under the circumstances, one might expect a certain amount of understanding and compassion from a minister. After all the damage was relatively minor. The driver was insured and the church, one would expect, is also insured. Instead, the confession was answered with a threat to sue the driver for malicious damage. Not the most “Christian” of reactions.

But how do you get a church moved out once it’s moved in? It’s not a business, per se, so zoning laws may not apply.

For now, K is sleeping with earplugs to avoid the 4:00 am choir and considering an outdoor stereo system for use during the summer.

Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 9:09 AM

Hazel Patricia and Phinnaeus Walter. Those poor kids. I hope they come up with some fairly mundane nick-names — Pat and Wally, maybe — before they go to school and get creamed on the playground. I wonder if either of the parents bothered to talk to people with unusual names — the Zappa kids, maybe — before deciding to saddle their kids with one.

Don’t parents think?

The ex and I actually considered naming #1 Son “Simon Oliver” — until we realized that his initials would be “SOB.” How would that look monogrammed on his shirt pocket? Ya gotta consider these things.

Knitting by Judy @ 9:39 AM

Lest anyone think all I do is work and then sit around and bitch about politics and play video games (like I wish that was all I had to do), this is a pic of some ornaments that I’m crocheting for my colleagues at work. It’s something of a tradition for me to pass out hand-made ornaments as Christmas gifts to the folks at the office. (click on the picture to embiggen)

So, if you work with me, STOP LOOKING!

Originally I planned to make a candy cane ornament for everyone. But the candy canes take twice as long because I have to crochet two twists: One red and one white. For the wreaths, I only have to do one green twist. Most people are going to get wreaths, probably, because I don’t have enough time to do the candy canes. This candy cane is for my coffee lady, who insisted I make one for her. 😀

The candy canes are taking about 1 hour each, start to finish, and the wreaths take about 40 minutes. (I need to make about 15 or so.)

I used Lion Homespun in Country for the wreaths. The candy canes are made from some generic 4-ply worsted weight that has been in my yarn basket for years and long ago lost its label.

The pattern is mine, and I don’t mind sharing. Click on the link below if you are interested.

Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 11:26 PM

It’s not hard for me to stay away from the malls between Thanksgiving and New Years. I like leisurely shopping trips. Full-body-slamming crowds give me claustrophobia. So “buy nothing day” isn’t really that much of a statement for me, all things considered.

#1 Son was bound and determined not to buy anything today. But, it’s Friday, and Friday is allowance day. I told him I’d keep giving him allowance until he gets paid at his new “real” job. But I didn’t have enough cash today for his allowance.

In a slightly wicked moment that I freely admit to, I said, “It doesn’t matter. You’re not going to buy anything today anyway. I’ll give it to you tomorrow. If you need it today, I’ll have to go buy something at the store so I have cash.”

I could see his desire to make a non-consumerism statement warring with his desire for filthy lucre. Finally, though clenched teeth, he admitted that he really wanted it today.

So I bought some cheese at the store. I was out, and I needed it for my turkey shepherd’s pie (which was yummy).

I don’t know whether #1 Son spent any of his allowance or not. I don’t think I’ll ask.

Food |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 9:39 AM

I refuse to start Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving, regardless of how many decorations merchants put up or how early they start piping in Christmas music. But now it’s time. So below is my eggnog recipe, plus my recipe for post-Thanksgiving leftovers shepherd’s pie, a tradition at my house. And, why not, I’ll throw in my family’s traditional recipe for Tom & Jerry batter.

Over the river and up the freeway, #1 Son and I traveled to B’s & K’s house. Thanksgiving was great fun. B & K put together an awesome evening. It was a smallish, rather quiet group this year. But the company was pleasant, as always, and the food was yummy, as always. K was very brave this year and used paper plates and plastic ware. You GO K! I think that was one of the best ideas I’ve seen for a long time. Who wants to hand-wash all that china and stuff, not to mention ironing all the linen?

Well… OK, some people do. I like to drag my “good” stuff out every now and then, because I don’t get to very often any more. All the same, I thought there was nothing wrong with paper plates. They had turkeys on them, fergodsake, so they were very seasonal. 😆

#1 Son always feels as though it’s not a successful large gathering unless there is at least one crisis. Last year the boyfriend of the younger B & K daughter was supposed to bring the rolls. He found them in the trunk of his car after the meal was over. But we all gave him credit for trying.

This year the rolls were in attendence, but needed warming. So B placed them in a paper bag and popped them in the oven — the time-tested, traditional method of warming rolls.

But the bag accidentally touched the burner and caught fire.

So there was a bit of excitement for a few minutes while B threw the bags in the sink and eldest B & K daughter attempted to douse the still-burning bag, part of it in the sink and part fallen to the floor. For some reason she grabbed salt instead of soda to smother the fire. Salt doesn’t really work the same way… But eventually the fire was extinguised. Most of the rolls made it through the ordeal unscathed (and unheated).

#1 Son missed the whole thing. “There hasn’t been a crisis,” he said, disappointed, during dinner. He was even more disappointed when we told him about The Incident Of The Burning Bag. But he agreed that the evening was, therefore, a rousing success.

But when the evening was complete and left-overs were being divvied up, a new small crisis presented itself. “Where’s the paper bag I brought the sweet potato casserole dish in?” I asked B, while searching vainly through the kitchen. “I want to pack my loot in it.”

His reply: “It’s the one that burned.”

Oh. Oops! But another bag was found, and, loot in hand, #1 Son and I traveled back down the freeway and across the river and home. This year I will be the only one indulging in post-Thanksgiving shepherd’s pie, being the only two-legged household carnivore (the cats do not get my turkey!). So it will be a small batch, but one greatly enjoyed!

Click the link below for the recipes.

Food |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 10:29 AM

The Persistent Illusion household heads north for turkey day. The last several year’s we’ve gone to B’s house. B is an old friend of mine who I’ve known for many years and worked with a couple of times at different employers. We’ve been invited to their house for Thanksgiving for the last several years.

This year I wasn’t sure that B was having Thanksgiving until I received an e-mail that said, “Will you be coming with your sweet potatoes?”

Now, I wasn’t really sure when reading this sentence if I was really invited, or if he just wanted the sweet potatoes shipped up to Vancouver via FedEx. But I assumed the former and replied that, yes, #1 Son and I would be coming along with the potatoes.

My recipe for candied sweet potatoes (that should probably really be called “carmelled sweet potatoes”) has been passed down through the women of my family for generations. I know it goes back over 100 years — back to the days when nothing was canned (unless you preserved it yourself) and all fresh ingredients were used. It’s very specific about its ingredients, and does not include marshmallows, nuts, or other icky things. It’s a very plain, unassuming recipe. People that claim to hate sweet potatoes love these. I only make them a couple of times a year, but I really like them. So if we are invited someplace during the holidays, I always offer to bring sweet potatoes. That way I know I’ll get to eat them. I’ll put the recipe below.

B and his wife K take in strays during the holidays, so there’s always an interesting and eclectic group there for dinner. It’s a lot of fun because I never know who I’m going to meet.

One year there was a woman who was a proponent of medical marijuana, apparently on a frequent basis. She kept something like 50 or 60 cats and didn’t understand why her neighbors complained. She spent a lot of the visit talking about how wonderful pot was, which pissed me off a little since #1 Son was younger then. But she also complained about having no short term memory. Go figure. She actually turned out to be a walking anti-drug-abuse poster, so I forgave her excentricities.

For several years a couple who made the most wonderful wine came. But I don’t believe they will be there this year since they have moved out of state. It’s a pity, because this year I’m actually not taking any medication that would preclude imbibing. Last year I only got sips.

Whoever is there, it’s bound to be fun and interesting. #1 Son, of course, is now vegetarian. So that means I get to eat his turkey and stuffing!

And I wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Click the link below for the “Candied Sweet Potatoes” recipe.

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