All Things Go – The Death of a Favorite Mug – The Birth of Bric-a-Brac

I always pride myself on being able to catch things as they fall. The key is not to chase after it with your hand, but to put your hand where it is going to be. The effect can be quite impressive. It is my super power. Alas, no super power was to save my lovely green mug as it found the gap in my Ikea draining basket a few days ago and crashed onto the ceramic tiles.

Can I tell you how much I loved this mug – the wonderful etched branches in the deep, clear green of the glass? It was a perfect tea mug on a cold day, and was just a pleasure to look at. In order to keep this piece around, I proceeded to lay it on the gas burner to see if I could heat it up and smooth its edges. A professional glass blower I am not, and succeeded in only getting more cracks in the glass. So, here for posterity is a safe digital image, and If I keep this new piece of bric-a-brac at all, it will be on a high shelf. Here is a similar, still intact beauty, but, alas, it is a small tumbler and not a mug.

The Squadron of the Flying Chickens – Adventures in Urban Homesteading – Raising Chickens for Eggs

My friends who raise chickens had the permission of their neighbors to put their chickens into their yard for some pecking. They put a ladder up to see if the chickens might return using it. These two never made it to the other side. Having been perched at the top of the ladder, they turned around and, er, “flew” back to their own yard. Clearly they are not accustomed to nor built for such adventures!

Chocolate and Chili – Melting Like the Ring In Mount Doom

A friend of mine once told me about putting some a little chocolate in chili and I have been doing it ever since. Now I think it is best to use dark chocolate which has less sweetness to it, but I sometimes also use dark milk chocolate because I do not mind just a touch of sweetness to my chili. If you don’t like any sweetness, cocoa works well too. Just don’t overdo any of it.

I made a huge pot of meat chili and a large pot of almost vegan (the milk in the chocolate nixed that) chili this weekend which both turned out pretty decently. In truth I also tried a touch of cinnamon in these which worked out, but I only added a very little bit. To round out flavor picture, I like to add some ground cumin (in addition to that which is in the chili powder), some fresh green chilies (at the begining with the meat), and some black pepper, along with all the traditional stuff like onions and garlic and diced tomatoes, which I like to liquify and use lots and lots of. I was hoping to use soaked dried beans to cut down on the salt, but did not get around to soaking an pre-cooking them in time. So instead I emptied all the cans of black beans and dark red and light kidney beans and pinto beans into a large container and rinsed them several times. It worked out well.

I am sorry all you readers out there could not enjoy the chili, but I hope you enjoy the pictures. I was reminded about the movie version of The Return of the King and Mount Doom as the chocolate floated on top of the bubbling chili like the Ring on the burning was there for a while and then melted and sank under.

Teapot, Schmeepot – The Stein of Tea or Making Constant Comment Manly – A Giant Cuppa

When growing up in Pakistan, my mother and a dear Scottish “Auntie” would make a huge pot of tea and drink it between the two of them. They were rather addicts, and I am afraid so am I. It is not that I particularly dislike teapots (I am drinking a cup of tea poured out of one at this very moment) it is just that not having a nice snug tea cozy for my rather large teapot the tea tends to get cold. And perhaps more to the point, I really do associate drinking tea from a teapot with having another person or several other persons with whom to share it. And, so, I generally only pull it out when company is over or to make a thermos of tea for work. Oh, and they are a rather a bother to clean, are they not?

This rainy morning I came home after church and a big stein of tea seemed in order. Plus, I feel more manly drinking Constant Comment from it ;) a tea which I have always somehow associated with the fairer sex. The stein, or giant glass mug, was a very kind gift from two dear friends in replacement of its predecessor, as was the red electric kettle that boiled the water!

Photographically speaking, I took a number of shots to try to capture a nice whorl of steam. I took so long in fact that some very aesthetically pleasing condensation appeared at the top as well.

Oh, and the tea was brilliant!

A Steamy Night in St. Louis – Ted Drewes Frozen Custard – Image and Background

I actually made it to the St. Louis institution of Ted Drewes twice today, and to my credit I did not order anything the second time around, though my kind friends did give me some bites. I was pleased to be able to capture the image above in relatively low light, though I had to take out a fair amount of noise. I love the butterfly on the shirt.

The image below is worth seeing large if you click on the thumbnail and may be able to be used as a background. It was the only of my extended exposures today on which I was able to capture the car lights. I was disappointed at first to see that, perhaps simply because the filter refracted the light or because it was smudged, there was a halo effect around the bright lights and which also are very over-exposed. But then I began to like the effect which was created. Serendipitously, it looks exactly like a steamy summer night in St. Louis actually feels!

Up With the Chickens – Keeping Chickens in the City – Urban Homesteading

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I think the first picture in this set makes it pretty clear, that, despite the title of this post, I was not “up with the chickens” during the stint when I was “chicken sitting” for friends, as this chook looks pretty testy, “Dude, where have you been? We’ve been up for hours. Let us out of this cage already!” Also, I cannot say that I find chickens to be the most endearing animals. They sometimes cock their eyes and look at one with some pretty intense looks. And when I came at lunch to let the dog out, they ran toward me and my Subway sandwich, bouncing as they ran, like a flock of Jurassic Park raptors. Nonetheless, I find the eggs they produce both soothing to look at and yummy to eat. And even though the chickens were long up, it was delightful to be up in the morning relatively early taking care of beasts and seeing the early light in the flowers.

at trader joe’s

at trader joe’s
i feel the energy
of people getting deals
the sense of making steals
and living to tell about them
(that’s half the pleasure)
like walmart after thanksgiving
but without obesity

i check out
and in my heart I feel
the insidious energy
of scorn

caveat: I really don’t have much against Trader Joe’s. In fact, I admire its business model almost as much as its distant relation Aldi’s, which I adore. I appreciate the fact that they seem to be doing something in the effort to raise meat more humanely, if I am not mistaken. I appreciate the energy of its employees, one of whom very kindly brought a whole case of the infamous three buck chuck to an event of mine. I even really like many of their products. I don’t know, I suppose it is really only the way some followers of the cult of Giuseppe talk that sometimes gets under my skin ;)

How shall we speak of weight?

In writing for Catapult magazine, I have written about pornography, grieving, conflict, and race, but seldom has the prospect of articulating my thoughts and feelings about a topic been harder than writing about weight. My interior landscape as it reflects on my own external form and also how we talk about such issues with one another in community-or rather don’t talk about such issues-are so complex, involving such depth of feeling, that the task seemed too hard, principally because of the wounding it might cause others. And, consequently, I did not manage to write an article this time. After several failed attempts at an essay,though, I did manage to write a sort of poem which gets at some of what I was after. It is not much, but if it precipitates any thoughts which you would like to talk to me about, please do not hesitate to email me.

This issue entitled “Weight,” is not only about the weight of bodies, but also reflects on other conceptual notions of weightiness, with some very personal writing. I especially commend to you the editor’s piece which encourages us who live in privileged Western contexts to ask God for more, not less, weight in life.