Sunday, October 09, 2005

Books currently being read:

Uncle Tom's Cabin -Harriet Beecher Stowe, of course.

I've been wanting to read this classic since I was a teen. It's a good read, even if it is strongly Christian and moralizing. I suppose that, given the era and the author's intent, the latter was fairly necessary. It's sort of hard for me to believe that A. Such a time really existed, and not that long ago, in our country and B. That anyone could actually believe that such treatment of other humans was moral or humane, and that they could have classed people as livestock based on nothing more than the color of their skin of the percentage of their blood. How could a man sell off his own children unfeelingly, without even blinking, simply because their mother was black or partly black? (Does not compute with Chamoisee's logic)

The Wisdom of the Body Sherwin Nuland

I loved this guy's other book, How We Die, so I was delighted when I found this one. To be honest though, I'm not sure I like it better. There was something awfully fascinating about the process of death (yeah, i am weird and probably morbid, too). Which isn't to say I don't enjoy this book- I do. It's just that there was something riveting about reading through the various descriptions of death, knowing that inevitably, one of them will also befall me. (I ultimately concluded that bleeding to death is the best way to go).

The Desert Southwest Burba, Paniche, Moore

A treasured recent Library Book Sale find. It is a coffe table type book with lots of pictures (and text) of primarily adobe houses. The motive here was to glean ideas for an (adobe style) paper bale or straw bale home.

The Natural House Daniel D. Chiras

A nice variety of alternative building methods.

The Straw Bale House Steen, Steen, and Bainbridge

I am surprised to learn that, contrary to what I had thought, there acually are people who use the straw bales as load bearing walls. This seems foolhardy to me- like asking for trouble. I have dealt with enough straw to know that it's far less dense than say, alfalfa hay, and I sure as hell wouldn't want to use alfalfa hay for loadbearing walls, either- it'd settle too much. I don't think I would feel truly secure using this method without a post and beam framework as the supporting structure.

The Hive Camilo Jose Cela

So far, mildly interesting....but not interesting enoug to hold my attention as yet. It's sort of like War and Peace (which I wasn't able to bring myself to finish even after renewing it umpteen times from the library): there are too damned many people to keep track of! Not only are there a lot of people, but the story (both books) seems to be mostly about the people and their feelings: boring... With War and Peace, there were only two characters that I could even faintly relate to- Prince Andre and...the other guy, the dorky loser who was duped into marrying a girl not really suited to him. I don't remember his name now. I was very hard to maintain concentration long enough to get to where I could read about one of the interesting characters eventually I quit trying.


And what else.....

I've come to the conclusion that what I need is this: a job that is more mentally challenging. If I did that, I could more or less make my job my life, do well at it, and then relax when I got home. As it is, I feel intellectually starved and almost desperate for some sort of mental stimulation: a bad thing because, not only do I get discontented and bitchy/weepy/frustrated/despairing, but at some point I also reach a state where I get my mental jollies out of making sarcastic remarks and exercising a very strange sort of humor and offending/irritating/befuddling the people around me. Or I get to where I make snide comments about stupid rednecks with low I.Q.s and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (which really, if I think about it, isn't funny or nice- FAS babies didn't ask to be born that way) at every turn. Worse yet, I spend hours at the computer constructign topics specifically to get a rise out of people and get them all incensed so I will have someone to deabte with (except, most of them don't give me a lucid debate, just lots of emotion and dreck, which is dissapointing).

God, how I wish I had someone to play Boggle with.... :-/

I've even beat Dave at chess the last 5 times we played.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

One of those "Oh, yeah, right....." moments

I've been canning food for the past few days. Yesterday it was plum jam which unfortunately scorched at the last minute (this annoys me to no end- cheap, crappy, thin enamelware pot!!!). Today it was orange marmalade; I've just removed the jars from the boiling water and set them to cool. It looks nice, except that the orange peel won't stay in suspension but wants to settle towards the bottom half of the jar. I suppose this is due to using a pectin that doesn't set up until after teh product cools. It bugs me, though. I'll have to eat half the jar before I get to the part I like, or stir it upon opening. Neither choice makes me happy. (Yeah, I am crabby today).

Canning is a multi-tasking nightmare for me. I know for a fact that I don't ever want to do anything that requires a pressure cooker! Jams, jellies, pickles, and fruits are stresful enough, thanks. The first time I canned something, I was in mortal fear of poisoning our whole family if everything in sight wasn't sterile every step of the way. My god, I was afraid to breathe on the food... I tend to think that havign the right tools, set-up, and a well designed kitchen probably helps quite a bit. There's almost no counter space or available work surface in the kitchen I have right now. I do, however, have a decent water bath canner, jar lifter, a good assortment of lids, jars, rings, etc, and that helps. It's still stressful though, especially with lot of little kids underfoot.

Anyway, I got everything set up, prepared, the jars filled with orange marmalade, water bath canner steaming away with hot water, and commenced putting the jars in the canner. This is when the aforesaid moment occurred: I had enough water in there for 7 quart jars, so it should be more than enough for 7 pint jars, right? Well, as it turns out, no. Quart jars are taller and bigger around, but they also displace twice the amount of water....I had to add more, all for seven little pint jars. :Chamoisee feels stupid and begins to see the point in the short, very squat little jars that are only about 4" high.....: