The closest to Normal (Illinois) that I've ever been.

Monday, January 28, 2008

More dogpark pictures

Just a couple of pictures of Argos playing with his buddies Lucy, Roy and Ami at the dog park. The people part of the park is pretty empty (with the exception of some frat boys playing Disk), so we have been wandering around the open fields with the dogs.

Here's Argos using his mellifluous voice to lure the other dogs to play with him.

Argos' Grrlfriend Lucy dominates him without even taking the ball out of her mouth.

Argos plans his next move.

Argos uses his alligator-like jaws to pin Lucy.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Finished the blanket

I started crocheting a blanket for Joseph over winter break. Joseph's favorite color is orange, so I tried to use a lot of orange without making it too blindingly bright. It's made out of washable acrylic-wool blend from the "Ewe Knit" in Normal. Joseph was very excited about it, "It has holes in it and it's awesome."

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Cricket porn

I am giving a seminar in a week, so I've been taking pictures and videos of Gryllodes sigillatus crickets. I have been trying to film crickets doing different things, but my camera is a little fidgety. So far, my mating footage is still pretty blurry and dim. I made my best mating video into a movie, so that even if it doesn't look so good, at least it has some humor value as cricket porn. Uploading to Blogspot seems to have made the video all choppy, which perhaps makes it either more arty or more porny?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Bad hair day

It was -4 degrees yesterday morning while I was walking to school. If you think hat hair is bad, you should see my balaclava hair.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Graffiti knitters

Apparently, there is a group calling itself the Graffiti knitters of Bloomington-Normal that made scarves for the trees on the ISU quad. There is no Stitch and Bitch group here, so this is actually the only evidence that I have of young people knitting in Normal. In terms of local knitting groups, sometimes knitters and crocheters meet-up at "Ewe Knit" yarn shop near campus. Also, I know a couple of people at the dog park that knit, so we joke about starting a "Stitch with Bitches" as a combined knitting group and doggy playdate.

Jan 31 Graffiti knitting update: an NPR story about extreme knitting.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The week in food

I feel like I spend half my natural life cooking food for people. So I thought that I would document my week in food. I will post the blog, and then just keep adding to it throughout the week.

On Saturday, I made apple butter from a recipe on NPR. I was curious to try the recipe because it has cinnamon red hots in it. It took 8 hours to cook, but we have a slow cooker, so I didn't have to do anything for most of the time. I am not a fan of apple butter, but it's pretty good--the red hots add a little heat and make it pink. The flavor is vaguely familiar, but I never would have guessed what it was.

On Sunday I cooked corned beef in the slow cooker. The kids love corned beef, but it's pretty fatty, so I try not to make it too often. When I went to Baltimore I brought back a bunch of rice, so I made a mixed rice from black rice, sushi rice, bulgur, and a couple of kinds of brown round rice. It came out pretty well--the whole thing was purple and glutinous, but it had kind of a nice nutty flavor with the texture of wild rice. Also, salad and green beans.

Monday brunch after skating. I fried up the corned beef, with eggs and toast. I like my eggs over easy on rice--if you add soy butter, salt and pepper to the rice, it tastes like hash browns. Also, leftover pineapple. After reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, I have been buying cage-free organic eggs. The problem is that because they are expensive, we can no longer afford to have eggs as often. (So now I am just exploiting all the other animals more.)

Monday dinner: Radiatore and meatballs with salad and green beans. The kids really love green beans--I swear. Every time I go shopping, Joseph makes me check to make sure that we have enough French-cut green beans. He is very specific.

Tuesday lunch: I had corned beef curry with peas over rice. Danny had radiatore with chicken and peas. (The peas aren't moldy, they're still frozen) Corned beef is really good in Indian Masala sauce or Thai green curry sauce, too. Irish-Asian fusion food?

Tues dinner: Salmon with little red potatoes, broccoli and salad. The salmon at the grocery store usually looks terrible, but not this week.

Joseph loves salmon!

Joseph likes to bake while Sam is at TaeKwonDo. So we made peanut butter bars. Mine are popcorn, almonds, dates, cranberry and dried mango. Joseph's are Kix, Quaker Oat Squares, Meijer Essential M (like Special K--get it??!), and alphabet pretzels. Yum!

Wednesday lunch: I have corned beef curry with broccoli over rice, and Danny has potatoes with broccoli and chicken with black bean garlic sauce.

Wednesday night, I was late coming home, so Danny made pizza with pepperoni and meatballs with green beans and grapes. (The meatballs were accidentally left in the microwave until after dinner, but the kids ate them with dessert.) I came home and ate a salad with meatballs.

I make lunch for the kids every day, too, but not so much cooking is involved, so I have not included pictures. Sam could have school lunches, but they are a little gross, and he is a slow eater: if he has to wait in line for lunch he is unlikely to be able to finish much of it. He gets to pick one school lunch a week. Joseph's school does not have a lunch program. I usually give each kid 5 things in their lunches: half a sandwich with some sort of protein in it, two fruits, a cheese stick and some carbohydrate thing. Yesterday, Joseph made bagel snowmen in school and he wanted to make some for lunch today. So, he helped me make snowmen out of bread with soy cream cheese with grapes and pretzels for decorations.

Thursday lunch: I had salmon and broccoli over radiatore with hoisin sauce, and Danny had potatoes, salmon and green beans.

Thursday dinner: oven-baked chicken with lemon pepper, rolls, green beans and salad. Whenever there are rolls, the kids go nuts, so we have to dole them out slowly over the course of the meal to prevent too much carb-loading/anger and retributions.

Friday lunch: I am having chicken curry and peas over mixed brown rice, and Danny is having chicken curry and broccoli over radiatore. I put chopped pecans on top, because I don't like peanuts so much.

I just realized that the Mulberry School Intergenerational Karaoke and Spaghetti night is tomorrow, and I am supposed to bring dessert. (Crap! If I had remembered, I would have baked it with Joseph on Tuesday while Sam was at TaeKwon Do!) So these desserts were made with annoyance, rather than love, but whatever. The first one is cereal/popcorn bars with peanut butter chocolate sauce holding them together. I basically cleaned out the cabinets here, so they are a mix of popcorn, Kix, Quaker Squares, alphabet pretzels, mini marshmallows, white chocolate chips, and mini m&ms. The second dessert is cookie bars with red hots and red sugar. I just make chocolate chip cookie dough, and mixed in cinnamon red hots and red sugar and pressed it into a pan (for speed). Both are pretty good. I might try to make the red hot bars again on purpose.

Saturday the kids made snowmen for lunch. Danny made pancakes for breakfast, so they are made out of peanut butter on pancakes, cereal, grapes, apples and pretzels. Joseph's has a lot of legs for some reason.

Saturday night: Chili with quesadillas, salad, green beans, rice and pineapple


MLK Jr. Day seems like kind of a non-event around here. There are very few black people in Normal. (I wonder if the black people of Normal are having a crappy day, kind of like my crappy Chanukah.)
So, we went skating.

Sam and I practiced board-checking ourselves against the plexiglass for Joseph's amusement.

Whatever you do, don't piss off the kid with sharp metal blades on his feet while you are carrying him.

video clip of the guys (slowly and uneventfully) skating

Sunday, January 20, 2008

So very cold

The weather is a major factor for me. Because I walk everywhere, and I tend to be cold all the time, temperature fluctuations really affect the quality of my life. I have been accumulating warm clothes. So far I have:
--a warm, waterproof winter coat that fits me (although it's a girl's snowboarding coat, so it's neon green)
--tights to wear under my pants (I can't find decently-priced thermal underwear in my size. I have a fantastic pair of silk thermals from Wintersilks, but I can't afford to buy a week's worth)
--overpants to wear over my jeans and thermals when I walk to work (boy's snowboarding pants from Meijer)
--many fleece jackets, wool socks, scarves and gloves (Target)
--hat with earflaps (yes, I look stupid)
--massive dorky insulated waterproof duck boots
--insulated snowpants, complete with swishing sound (girl's snowpants from Target)
--I also ordered a silk face mask and gloves liners from Wintersilks, but they haven't come yet.
I look stupid when I walk to work. I feel like a yeti, and my nose is usually dripping from the cold. (Last week, it was so cold that when I wiped my nose on my glove, the snot froze into snow). The last stretch is bad--I tend to meet all the people dressed smartly as they dash from their cars to their buildings.

Running every day has been really a problem for me. I am already cold when I am outside wearing all of the aforementioned gear, so the prospect of stripping down to a running suit and braving the outdoors fills me with dread. I have developed a running outfit that includes thermal underwear under double-lined running pants, a fleece under a running jacket that is already lined with fleece, a stupid hat, and running gloves, but at any given time, some part of my body is giving off frostbite warning signs like numbness and tingling. I have been told by several sources that I should wear less when running in cold weather to avoid overheating. What are they, nuts? I don't think that I have come close to overheating since November: I am lucky if I can end up pleasantly not cold by the time I finish my run.

I have been really dreading this weekend: the forecast predicted a low of -5 degrees (-15, with windchill or "RealFeel" as they call it nowadays). I was worried that I would step outside, crisp up and blow away. Luckily, this did not happen. I put on my 5 layers of clothes, and things were OK. It did not actually feel so bad. I figure that maybe it's like heat in California--if it's over 95 degrees, who cares how hot it is, you are already wearing your coolest clothes--it's not as if you can do anything else about it. I even took Argos to the dog park, and he had a great time. The playground, Frolf course (or "Disk" as they call it nowadays) and woods were empty, so all the dogs could go wherever they wanted off leash.

I also found out that as ISU staff, I am allowed to run laps at the indoor track at the Student Rec Center for free--yippee!

Much to Danny's consternation (I don't know why the man is never cold), I have been making the kids wear long underwear to school. They love it because as soon as the come through the front door, they theatrically rip off all of their clothes (ala Clark Kent) to become superheroes.

Grey ghost and grey ghost.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

More pissing wars

Yesterday on the way back from running, Argos and I encountered the evil Chihuahua that lives in the house behind us. "Hootie" is allowed to run loose, and all the world is his toilet. When we came upon him, Hootie was strutting around and marking everything as his own with pee. After unsuccessfully trying to engage the rat to play, Argos followed behind and peed a half gallon on each of Hootie's marks. Not to be outdone, Hootie came back around and tried to cover Argos' marks. You could see his little hypertensive eyes bulging, and his little chicken-leg quaking as he strained to squeeze out enough pee. Eventually, Hootie retreated, and stalked off to pee elsewhere. Another win for Argos!

Mighty mighty Argos