29 September 2008

Another Album Cover

In case you missed them before, the rules are here. I broke them by using the first quote this time, since it went so well with the photo. Does anyone know the entire quote?

Original photo here.

28 September 2008

Palin-Couric Redux

I love Tina Fey.

Nom Nom Nom

Since it's raining and there's a hurricane on the way (which likely won't still be a hurricane by the time it gets here, so we're not fretting about it), I decided tonight was a night for split pea soup. I got some dried split peas at the store, but this time I didn't need to buy any parsnips, because I have some growing in my garden beds. I'd been holding off on pulling any, as they're supposed to be a bit sweeter after a frost, but I decided it was time and pulled this monster out.


That serving tray is about 20" (51cm) across, just to give you an idea. And even though there was some splitting along one side and a little bit of insect damage, there was still plenty for the soup pot. And the soup was perfect.

Plotz-Inducing Cuteness

While I was making soup, Tuck took a nap in his other daddy's arms. You can just barely see the tip of his tongue.


26 September 2008

Album Cover Meme

thedreadednyondo did this one months ago, and I've been meaning to play with it myself. The way it works is this:

Go to...

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random
The first article title on the page is the name of your band.

2. http://www.quotationspage.com/random.php3
The last four words of the very last quote is the title of your album.

3. http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days/
The third picture (direction not specified, so this could theoretically be horizontally, vertically or diagonally), no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

Caveat: You should be very careful with this last one, as most people retain all or some rights for their photos. I only used photos with Creative Commons licenses requiring attribution and permitting derivations of the original, which did require reloading the page several times but keeps me safe from lawsuits.

Use your graphics program of choice to throw them together, and post the result in your own blog because it’s more amusing that way.

So here's what I came up with:

original photos here, here, and here.

As usual, no tagging, but I would love to see what other people come up with.

24 September 2008


That's how much folks donated to the Center for Wildlife for the raffle. Well done!

I did do the drawing last night at work, but forgot to upload the file where I could access it from home tonight. Unfortunately, I don't have a photographic memory that would allow me to rattle off all seven winners, but I can say that Paul, the Blithering Knitiot, was at the top of the list and wins first choice! I shall be contacting all the winners directly to make their selections from the prize pool.

Speaking of which, this skein of 50% merino/50% tencel sock yarn from Black Bunny Fibers, will be going in with the sock yarns - thank you, Carol!

Also, Mindy at Puff the Magic Rabbit generously offered a 4oz. skein of handspun mohair/border leicester (seen below) or roving, winner's choice. That will go along with the Paton's Up Country, since it looks lonely all by itself.

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed. Every little bit makes a difference, and your donations are truly appreciated.

22 September 2008

Common Ground Fair

On Friday night, David and I drove up to my parents' so that we could all go to the Common Ground Fair on Saturday. As this fair is run by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, it's really unlike any other fair I've ever gone to. I only half-jokingly refer to it as a hippie lovefest, because to an extent it is, but it's also more than just that. Maine was (and still is) a big center for the back-to-the-land movement, not least because of the influence of Helen and Scott Nearing, so there's an interesting mix here of counterculture and old-fashioned Yankee self-sufficiency.

Anyway, this was the busiest I'd ever seen the fair. The weather was perfect, and it seemed that everyone wanted to be there. There was also someone there I'd been unsuccessful in crossing paths with for quite some time now, but at long last we met face-to-face and the moment was captured for posterity (my only photo of the day!):


I'll leave her to tell her story about smuggling coffee onto the fairgrounds.

Last Call for the Raffle

The Raffle for the Critters ends tonight! If you want to enter and haven't yet, you have until midnight tonight. I just updated my spreadsheet this morning, and it looks like y'all have donated $540 so far to the good folks at the Center for Wildlife. Good job!

19 September 2008

Food Meme

Since I'm feeling otherwise uninspired, I'm going to do this food meme (bold the things you've eaten, strike through the ones that shall never pass your lips) that I've seen in a couple of places. This particular one is an amalgam of two different versions - one found on dcjay's blog and one on tornwordo's blog. It's essentially the same meme, but dcjay's seemed to have a slightly more hippie/vegetarian leaning, so I weeded out the duplicates (and alphabetized). Since I've been ovo-lacto vegetarian for nearly 14 years, there are a fair number of things I didn't get around to eating before that are de facto eliminated from my list. Before that, though, there were quite a few things I tried just by virtue of growing up in the South.

Aloo gobi
Authentic soba noodles - At least I think so. Define "authentic".
Baba ghanoush
Bagel and lox
Bagna cauda
Beer above 8% ABV - Possibly, but it's not something I necessarily look at
Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake - I sure do love me some fried dough
Bellini - Not yet, but if it involves peaches I'm sure to love it
Birch beer - Tried it - too much like root beer
Black pudding - Even back in my carnivorous days this one had no appeal
Black truffle
Boba Tea
Borscht - da, is good
Brawn, or head cheese
Butterscotch chips - Mmmmmm, butterscotch
Carob chips - Poor substitute for chocolate, IMO
Carp - I have, however, eaten pickerel, which is similarly bony
Catfish - See that bit about growing up in the South
Caviar - Does fried bream roe count?
Cheese blintzes
Ceviche - I worked in a seafood restaurant and watched them cut worms out of the fish fillets
Cheese fondue - In Zürich, no less
Chicken tikka masala - Strangely enough, I never had Indian food during my pre-veg days.
Chickpea cutlets - ????
Chitterlings, or andouillette - The correct spelling is chitlins, I don't care what anyone says. I did help clean them out on butchering day once, but I never ate any.
Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl - I'm not sure. I have had beer and cheese soup in sourdough, though.
Clotted cream tea
Cognac with a fat cigar - Why in the hell would anyone want to ruin a perfectly good drink with tobacco?
Corn on the cob - Mmmmmmm
Cotton candy
crème brulee
Criollo chocolate - ????
Crocodile - Though I'm sure it tastes like chicken
Curried goat
Curry - A frequent type of dish in our house. Also the ex's surname.
Dirty gin martini - Maybe??? The last time I had martinis was my 36th birthday, which was 2 weeks after the ex dumped me. I don't really recall everything that was consumed.
Dulce de leche
Durian - Not yet, but I have seen one in the local Asian market and been tempted.
Eggs Benedict
Epoisses - Not yet, but I'm usually game to try stinky cheeses at least once.
Fast food french fries - Hasn't everyone?
Foie gras - Diseased duck (or goose) liver - disgusting, cruel, and unethical
French onion soup
Fresh Garbanzo Beans - I think I've only ever had them prepared from dried beans.
Fresh wild berries
Fried plantain - Nom, especially with hot sauce.
Frogs’ legs
Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
Fugu - Kind of like jumping out of a perfectly functioning airplane, if you ask me.
Gjetost, or brunost
Gnocchi - I've even made 'em.
Goat’s milk - Mmmmmm, goaty
Green Smoothie - ????
Haggis - I made a veggie "haggis" once, but never did the sheep stomach and organ meats deal.
Hare - I assume rabbit counts (they're not exactly the same).
Heirloom tomatoes - See a couple of posts back about my love of 'mater sammiches
Homemade Sausages
Homemade Soymilk
Hostess Fruit Pie
Hot dog from a street cart
Huevos rancheros
Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
Kaolin - Sure, in Kaopectate
Kobe beef
Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut - After all, I am from the Carolinas.
Lapsang souchong
Lobster Thermidor
Louche absinthe
Macaroni and “cheese” - I'm not quite sure what's up with the quotation marks, though.
Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more - Not yet
Mango lassi
Mashed potatoes with gravy
Matzoh ball soup - I suppose I could always make it with vegetable stock.
McDonald’s Big Mac Meal - Probably, but they've been off my list for so long that I don't remember.
Mole poblano
Moussaka - Vegetarian version only
Mulled cider
Nettle tea
Oysters - Though never raw
Paneer - I've even made it.
PB&J sandwich - Who did they think would be doing this meme? Bushmen?
Phaal - Not yet, but the idea makes my mouth water.
Pho - Not unless I can find a veg version.
Piña colada
Pistachio ice cream
Potato milk
Poutine - not yet
Prickly pear
Raw Brownies
Raw cookie dough
Raw scotch bonnet pepper - Not a whole one
Rice and beans
Roadkill - My mom hit a small deer once when I was a kid.
Root beer float - Possibly once before I lost my tenuous taste for root beer.
Rose harissa
S’mores - If only vegetarian marshmallows were more readily available....
Salted lassi
Savory crepes
Scones with buttery spread and jam
Sea urchin
Smoked tofu
Soft shell crab
Soy curls - ????
Sprouted grains or seeds
Steak tartare
Steamed pork buns
Sweetbreads - Surprisingly, no
Taco from a street cart
Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
Tofu Scramble
Tom yum - Maybe if I could find it made without fish sauce
Vanilla ice cream
Vegetable Sushi
Venison - We ate about as much venison as beef when I was growing up.
Vodka jelly/Jell-O - Does Everclear count?
Warm chocolate chip cookies
Wasabi peas
Whipped cream, straight from the can
White chocolate
Whole insects
Wine from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more - Not yet
Yellow watermelon

16 September 2008


This is actually a healthy wildlife photo. Somebody brought this gorgeous little Eastern Milk Snake into us today before I got to work. The poor little thing had found its way into their office building. Fortunately, they were good people and didn't scream and squish it.


One of our techs took it home to show her daughters before releasing it. At this age, its chances of survival aren't super high, since Nature is one cruel bitch of a mother. It's at least equipped with all the instinctive knowledge needed to make it, though, and since it's not injured, it's better off out in the wild where it belongs.

Meantime, don't let that keep you from entering the Raffle for the Critters. You've got another week!

15 September 2008

The Panopticon Comes to Common Cod

On Friday, I somewhat reluctantly left David at home and made a special trip down to Boston for the inaugural meeting of the Common Cod Fiber Guild. I didn't go to join, as my schedule makes it hard for me to get down to the city, but they had a very special guest I couldn't miss a chance to see, especially as he was so close by and I happened to have the night off.

I took very few photos of the event, but it was really wonderful - both to see so many people I know and to hear Franklin's talk, which was every bit as entertaining as one might expect. Here's the author just before he began. It's not a very good quality photo, but I like the graphic aspects of it.


And this one is for Rabbitch, as requested:


Aside from enjoying the company of some wonderful people, the highlight of the evening for me was getting to hold the christening shawl. It's every bit as exquisite as it looks.

11 September 2008

Harvest-y Food

But first, go enter the Raffle for the Critters. Only one person has entered so far, and I'm pretty sure her stash isn't hurting for this much more stuff. Plus, Carol of GKIYH has promised some of her hand-dyed Black Bunny Fibers sock yarn to sweeten the pot a bit more. Seriously, a tax deductible donation of $5 or more gets you a chance to win yarn with the holidays and cold weather coming up. I'll wait right here while you go to it.
Okay, I haven't had much in the way of food pics for a little while, and this week has been a bountiful one in the garden. The other night, I made this garden veggie soup almost entirely with veggies from my beds. The store-boughten ingredients were onion, mushrooms, olive oil, butter, salt, pepper and miso. The homegrown ingredients were swiss chard, potatoes, roma tomatoes, carrots, garlic, noodle beans, broccoli, oregano, thyme and butterpeas (although those actually came from South Carolina and not my own garden).


Tonight we had the leftovers with these wonderfully yeasty rolls I baked - particularly nice considering the temp has dropped down into the 40's (It's currently 46.5F/8C) tonight:


For breakfast (which was at 6:30PM), though, I had my first tomato sandwiches of the season. I got my tomatoes in the ground a little bit late, and then for an eating tomato I went with Brandywine, which is a late season heirloom. I have to say that it was worth the wait - sweet, low acidity and wonderfully juicy.


The perfect tomato sandwich, in my opinion, is a very basic one. The fanciest I get is toasted whole grain bread. Other than that, it's just slices of fresh garden tomato with real mayo, salt and pepper. Anything else just tends to distract from the flavor of the tomato. That may be fine for a tomato from the supermarket, but I say that if that's where you're getting your tomato there's not really much point in making a sandwich in the first place.

09 September 2008

Raffle for the Critters

Okay, you've read this post about the turtles and the excellent folks at the Center for Wildlife, right? So I thought about this blog contest idea a bit and I've gone through my stash and picked a few things - with a combined street value of several hundred dollars - that I think will be of interest to folks. So here are the items that will be up for grabs:

Approximately 6oz. of merino roving from a farm in Massachusetts (I've forgotten which)

Two 100g skeins of Araucania Nature Wool Chunky and nine 25g skeins of Alpaca with a Twist Landscapes (discontinued baby alpaca/silk)

Five 100g balls of Paton's UpCountry 100% soft wool singles (sadly discontinued)

Approx. 1kg cone of orange-brown marled superfine alpaca yarn, fingering weight

Seventeen 25g balls of Austermann Gold der Anden 70% baby alpaca/30% merino sportweight, grey marl

Fifteen 25g balls of Austermann Gold der Anden 70% baby alpaca/30% merino sportweight, blue

Four balls of Brown Sheep's Wildfoote and two balls of Regia Stretch self-striping sock yarn - total of three pairs' worth of sock yarn

Since the goal here is to raise as much money as possible for the selfless work these folks do, I decided that a raffle would be the best way to do it. So here's how this will work:

1. First go to this page and make a donation of at least $5 to the Center for Wildlife. Remember, donations to them are tax deductible (at least here in the US - I'm not sure if it works that way for international donations).

2. Then e-mail me at mel daht vassey at gmail daht com and let me know how much you've donated. Or you can leave me a comment, which goes to the same address. All comments have to be approved by me before being published, and I won't publish individual donation amounts.

3. Every $5 donated will count as one entry into the raffle, so a $20 donation will enter your name 4 times, a $50 donation 10 times, etc. The more you donate, the better your chances of winning something. I trust that people will be honest on this, but I can always go back to the folks at the Center for Wildlife and check up, especially since I told them today that I was planning this.

4. I will leave this raffle open for the next two weeks, so any donation through 11:59PM on 22 September 2008, will be eligible for the drawing. After the deadline is reached, I will use a random number generator to select seven winning "tickets". As in a real raffle, persons with multiple entries may be able to win multiple items. The winning "tickets" will be ordered numerically, so that the first winner will get their first pick of the item they'd prefer, and so on down the line.

So go and do a good thing. You can claim a tax deduction and you may just get some fabulous prizes out of it, so you'll win either way!

08 September 2008

Unexpected Houseguests

Now that summer has passed, I've signed on to pick up a few more Sunday day shifts for a bit of extra income. Today was a fairly busy one that included this rather surprising arrival:

090708Box_turtle 001

Eastern box turtles are actually an endangered species in this state and this one, a female, just happened to be found at the corner of a busy intersection in downtown Portland. She probably didn't stumble into town from the wilds, though. Far more likely that she was being kept in captivity, which is illegal here due to their state endangered status, and either escaped or was released.

Although the chances are that she was caught somewhere down South, where they are far more plentiful, the fact that she's in this state now meant that I needed to try to contact someone from the state. So I called the state's Endangered Species Program office and, unsurprisingly, got a voice mailbox.

Fortunately, I just happen to know someone, who just happened to know whom to bug (only a little bit) on his day off. A couple phone calls and e-mails later, we sorted out a game plan for communicating about a hand-off after the weekend and I decided it would be easier to bring her home with me, in case it meant driving her up to Augusta (on my day off, though I can use it as an excuse to go see my mom).

Meantime, a good Samaritan (actually, they were Jehovah's Witness - or at least they were calling from a Kingdom Hall - but as they didn't leave a Watchtower, I'm going to call them a good Samaritan) brought in a far more common Eastern Painted Turtle that had been hit by a car. This one I didn't take photos of, though. She has a pretty nasty, but potentially fixable, crack in her carapace, and the wound had fly eggs laid in it.

Again fortunately, the fly eggs hadn't hatched out yet, so I did a bit of debriding to try to clean them all out and gave her a dose of antibiotics. Then brought her home, as well, so that I can take her over to the nearby York Center for Wildlife, where I expect they'll be able to put her back together and get her back into the wild by sometime next year.

YCfW is where I take pretty much all the injured or orphaned wildlife that I write about here, and they're a bunch of really dedicated people who do a really phenomenal job. They're also funded by donations, which is why I put that link over there in the sidebar a little while back. I give them a bit when I can, but their costs run about $70 for each animal they rehab. So if you can spare $5 (or even a bit more - it's tax-deductible), I'm sure I can something nice in my stash, possibly several somethings nice - to do a little drawing.

And if you really need the incentive, I'll go stash diving once I've gotten some sleep and take some photos.

06 September 2008



We lost Inga last night after two-plus years of dealing with her chronic renal failure. She'd deteriorated a lot over the past few months, so it was pretty clear that this was coming. Her decline over the past couple days was particularly rapid, though. She didn't try to move from my lap at all when I gave her fluids Thursday night, and then barely managed to walk from the kitchen into the living room afterwards. When I left for work yesterday afternoon it was all she could do to lift her head. By the time David got home, she couldn't even do that.

She was the first pet of David's adult life, adopted from the shelter in Lincoln, Nebraska, nearly twenty years ago at 8 months of age. She'd been with David for practically half of his life. I was a newcomer by comparison. In her last three years she'd had to learn to live with dogs for the first time in her life and with a kitten for the first time in about ten years. She took it all in stride. When Tolo, and later Cougar, tried to play rough with her, she gave them a much needed smackdown and taught them some proper respect for a lady.

A lady is what she always was, and queen of the household. The house and our hearts will be a little bit emptier without her.

05 September 2008

The Daily Show on Palin

Jon takes on the pundits. You'd think they'd know better by now.

03 September 2008

Post-Vegas Re-entry

Has it really only been 4 days since we got home? In some ways it seems like longer, possibly because I haven't gotten much sleep since our return. Anyway, the trip was good. David made some promising contacts and got a good bit of interest at the trade show. We went to see , which was David's first Cirque du Soleil show and my fourth. I got to meet some of my favorite musicians. We got propositioned by a whore. I even ended up a few dollars ahead at the slots.

All in all, a good trip, but it was so nice to leave the desert and get back home, where it's beginning to feel downright autumnal. I finally managed this evening to get outside and do a bit of needed work in my raised beds. Mostly I needed to do a bit of harvesting. I picked some noodle beans, which haven't been great producers (nor all of them red), but a little does go a long way.

There were also several roma tomatoes ready for picking and a whole mess of soldier beans and Vermont cranberry beans ready for shelling (I'll try to get a pic of my own when I've got decent natural light). The noodle beans and some of the romas went into the curried tofu I made for dinner, and even more of the romas went into the guacamole I made as an appetizer. Nom, nom, nom.

Among things that still need to be done in the garden are clearing out dead and spent plants, seeing if I can collect any of the mustard seeds either as a spice or for planting next year (though I wasn't thrilled with how fast this variety bolted), planting some lettuce mix for fall mesclun, planting some kale to see if I can get any decent production before we get a really hard freeze, and trying to do a bit of cleaning up in the front flower beds.

We did a garlic exchange with Rain at Green Label Organic (buy their awesome shirts!), so that will need to be planted later in the month. I've also got what appears to be some sort of Artemisia growing in one of my front beds which looks nice enough when it's small but tends to get leggy and flop over late in the season. I'm thinking I may just dig it up altogether and see about replacing it next spring with this rosemary. In theory, at least, it should be able to survive our coastal winters, particularly if it's planted right up against the front of the house, since we're south facing.

Speaking of the house, we're still waiting on the verdict of appraisal #2, which was done while we were away. If it's good, then we're all set and can close in 12 days as planned. If not, which is a distinct possibility, then we have to figure out what other options exist. Hopefully we'll know tomorrow sometime.

And since I've shown no photos from Vegas (there are a few from my phone, but I downloaded them onto the work computer the other night), I offer you a bit of cuteness that I took this afternoon.