Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I Was On A Boat, Y'all

Jetskis are unpleasant machines. In my opinion at least. They are loud, they create a dangerous swimming environment, and they are loud. Yes, loud enough to complain twice. Also, unless they are on, they don't move in the water so well.
Allow me to explain. Yesterday a friend of mine was scheduled to take his boat from Chicago to Portage, Indiana. And he wanted to have a second set of hands on board, just in case. So he asked me to help. This being a chance to go for a spin on the boat, and of course enjoying that friends company, I agreed to help.
Before we could leave, however, we needed to drop off a jetski at a harbor just two or three harbors south of where the boat summers. So we attached a line to it and off we were. As soon as we got out into open water (past the breakwater) we sped up a little. And the line connecting the jetski to the boat... snapped. When we looked back we didn't see it and at first thought it was merely covered by the wake. So we had to circle around it a few times while I tried to reach out and snag it with the boat pole/hook. In order to do this we had to actually hit the damned thing to get it to sort of slide along the side of the boat so I could reach it.
Once it was secured we continued on our way, at a much slower pace. And as we turned a corner of the other harbors channel, the line snapped AGAIN!. This time we got it much faster, as the water was calmer and I resorted to looping the line around the steering column. Word to the wise. Don't attempt to tow a jetski by attaching the line around the steering column. The damned thing flipped over and we ended up towing it upside-down to the nearest dock. And I was so afraid we were going to damage the thing somehow, I got the pole out again and reached out to snag it and pulled it in -by the pole- and held it that way 'till we got to that dock. Once there we attached a whole new line to it and turned it upright. The owner of the jetski was waiting for us and we made the drop-off successfully. With a minor bonus of my getting to hurl a few life jackets at the guy. I officially hate jetskis now.
After that it was no problem. We pumped out the head (had to be done), and off we were. The trip across the lake was nice, if slightly bumpy. The marina we were headed to is down this small channel, kind of hard to see. The building near it used to be painted green. But now they've painted it beige, so it looks like all the other industrial buildings along the lake. It took us a bit to figure out exactly where we were going. Once in the channel the choppiness stopped and we had to go pretty slow. As we got close to our slip, I was standing on the bow, getting ready to throw the line to someone on the dock, and a beautiful heron flew across the channel, right in front of us. It was incredible! I have never seen one that close, and certainly not that close in flight. It was really quiet back there, and so peaceful.
Once docked it was a mad dash to get the boat ready for dry dock. Stuff to be put away, other stuff to be emptied. All the food on board had to come off, and oddly enough, all the booze stayed on board. We got a ride from one of the dock employees to the train stop and took the train back into the city. And while on the train we drank champagne, a tradition I'm told. Every trip back from taking the boat in for the winter he drinks champagne on the train. (Though I must say, we didn't drink champagne the first time I helped with this voyage, that time we ran out of booze much earlier in the evening (while at dock, we weren't boating and drinking) and had resorted to try drinking straight vermouth. Sweet vermouth. I do not recommend it.)
So, because of yesterdays excitement, I am beyond sore today. I hurt. And I have a LOT of stuff to get done before Thursday night.
I'll leave you with a question; what is the last voyage of a season called? Not a ships final voyage, but just the last one of the season.

--Little Bird survived

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Last night I was trying to think of a topic to write about for today. And I had a fantastic idea. Right before I fell asleep. No, of course I don't remember what it was. That would be silly. And unlikely to boot. So I'll just muddle on here, and see what I can come up with.
My trip to St. Louis is coming up, and the weather just keeps getting worse. I hope it's at least DRY this year. Rain would put a damper on things (no pun intended).
This weekend I am making a birthday dish for Mama Bird (birthday was while she was out of town) and I haven't a clue how to make it. It's that dish she had at that restaurant in Taos. The dish is Chiles en Nogado. I've found several recipes for it on-line but every time I tell her about them she says it's not the right thing. That hers was breaded. So this ought to be an interesting experience. I think the yelling in the kitchen is all part of the cooking experience anyway. It's cathartic. At least that's what I'm going to tell my step-father the next time he complains about our yelling.
Thanks to everybody for the container ideas for traveling with spices! I'll figure something out, I have some time left. I did realize that I need at least two containers by Thanksgiving, when Mama Bird and I go to New Harmony. For those that don't know, New Harmony is a tiny little town that has a lot of history to it. We like the quiet. And the quaint, antique-y feel the place has. We're getting a "cottage" this time (we haven't been in YEARS) so we can cook our own meals. The real plus side is the place has a fireplace. We get to sit in front of the fire and stare at it. While that might not sound like fun to everyone, for a couple of city-bound nerdy types, it's absolutely heaven. When we go to New Mexico, we stare at the fire there too. It's like taking a step back, and getting away from all the hustle and bustle. Stopping and taking a breath. Meditating. The fire is like a focus. It's always changing, but always the same.

--Little Bird takes a breath

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Valley of the Dolls

Taking a cue from Nancy over at, I bring you this story from my childhood.
When I was very young I wanted a Barbie doll. All my friends had them. My cousins had them. But, alas, these dolls were not allowed in my house, by edict of Mama Bird. I know now why she didn't want them around. But I still don't agree with the ban on them. When I was eight or so I took it upon myself to buy my own damned Barbie doll. The western/cowgirl Barbie (I think I was still harboring dreams of becoming a Dallas Coyboys Cheerleader. Remember, I was born in Dallas, I couldn't help it.). She came with the hat and boots and a tiny rubber stamp that was a kiss mark. I was so proud of myself for getting it myself (I used my Christmas money) and my grandmother had no problem with me buying it. Mama Bird made me return it the next day, unopened, unplayed with.
Mama Bird thought that I would develop an unhealthy body image if I had Barbies around, what with their enormous boobs and microscopic waistline. That I would think that was how I should look. That I would somehow become as acquisitive as the dolls "character" (C'mon, the bitch had everything).
Eventually Mama Bird cracked, and for valentines day when I was about nine or ten, I got my first ever Barbie doll. Pink 'n Pretty was the version. She came with both a dress and slinky pink pants. I was over the moon. More Barbies followed that one and I ended up with quite a collection. Because you can't just have one. She's got to have friends. And boyfriends too.
I never thought I would look like Barbie. In fact the ones that I thought the prettiest weren't because of their figures. There was a tropical something or other friend of Barbie's who's name was Miko or something like that. Her facial features were exotic. And a few years later there was a strawberry blonde with green eyes I thought was pretty. I wanted her hair. Not the body shape. I wanted to wear make-up, and be a rock-star. Or a clothing shop owner. Or a vet. Barbie had sooooo many jobs over the years.
Because I had a few of them, and it was my constant desire to make everything the way I wanted it to look, I drew heavier make up on them. I tried to crimp the hair of one of them (yes, I had a crimper) and melted it all away. When I got even older I turned them in to punk Barbies, drawing tattoos on them and cutting up their clothes.
I don't think Barbie is the best role model for little girls. But I don't think she's the worst either. I think that if parents take the time to show them how ridiculous she looks, kids will be just fine playing with Barbies. Dolls are for make-believe. Pure fluff. Not for reflecting reality. That being said, I think the Barbie computer games and "movies" are awful. They make no allowances for pure imagination. And they totally push the "I must have every thing Barbie I can find" attitude.
I am able to look at Barbie now and make fun of her. More for the consumerism aspect of her and her world. You could take virtually anything, paint it pink and write Barbie across it and it would sell like hot-cakes. That's the part I totally agree with Mama Bird about.

--Little Bird does most emphatically NOT look like Barbie (and is still quite content)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mixed Bag

It is cold here in Chicago. Nasty cold. The windy kind of cold that wouldn't really be so cold if it weren't for the damned wind! Every year about this time I am reminded that while I own elebenty million coats/jackets (seems like it anyway), I do not own the right kind of jacket for this kind of weather. A windbreaker with fleece lining. Maybe a little bit of batting in there for extra warmth. I have wind breakers. I have fleece jackets. But one does not fit so easily under the other. So, maybe this year I'll finally get that holy grail of jackets.
In the plan for today is SOUP! (What else would you have expected from me?) But I'm switching up the recipe. I'm making a butternut squash soup, just not exactly according to the book. I figure I'll roast the squash, then simmer it in broth with onion and seasonings. Once the squash is really tender, I'll add some cream and puree the stuff. If it works, I'll be sure to tell you what exactly I did (if I can). If it doesn't, I'll.... I'll... figure something out.
Mama Bird and Co. are in New Mexico again. I'm only slightly jealous this time. They've been on the land, they've been to a party (Mama Birds birthday was Sunday), they had to get pulled out of a ditch. Dirt/gravel roads don't really have a shoulder, just ditches. Luckily, no one was injured, not even the car. They're there for a few more days, enjoying the quiet and the views. I used to think that the desert (in this case the high desert) would be an ugly place. Dry, barren, with nothing to see. It is dry, but that's the only thing I got right, and even that was only half right. There is a small river near where we stay, and a reservoir big enough to go boating on. There are colors in the mountains that you might not expect, pinks, yellows, and deep reds. When the sun hits them at sunset, they're amazing. (I'm told that they are equally amazing at sunrise, but I can't confirm that. I don't get up that early unless forced to. And then I'm so bleary eyed and cranky, the landscape is the last thing I'm paying attention to.)
I recently figured out that the tomato tart might not be the best idea to cook for Whirly Bird and her boyfriend while I'm in St. Louis, so I need some suggestions. Got any?

Little Bird is on a quest

Friday, October 9, 2009

Here Fishy, Fishy, Fishy

My bestest friend ever (the one I've known for 17 years now, and known from now on as Whirly Bird) came in to town early Tuesday morning. WAY early. 4 a.m. early. She and her boyfriend slept on the inflatables out in the living room while I went back to bed and got some more sleep. Later that day I had to run an errand so they went to the Museum of Science and Industry, to see the U-505. It rained. Of course it rained. In spite of the rain a good time was had by all and we spent much time after errands and nazi u-boats sitting around talking.
Whirly Bird gets her name from the fact that she teaches pole dancing classes (therefor she "whirls" around the pole). Also she and I are actually veeeerrrrrryy distantly related. She is the most fun, thoughtful, and caring person I think I know. She knows more about me than anyone on the planet. Thankfully, she did not share all that knowledge with my movie friend (who we will now refer to as Rooster). At least not the embarrassing stuff.
Wednesday morning we got up and went out into the city. We stopped at La Perla (just to browse) and decided that, at best, we could afford maybe half a bra. A bra and panty set there costs more than some mortgages! And no, I am not exaggerating! From there it was through Millennium Park and up the lake path to Navy Pier. After lunch we walked around the outside of Navy Pier, the weather cooperated and it was lovely. Now, when we were walking on the north side of the pier, Whirly Bird's boyfriend and I were talking and she was pretty quiet... until.... WB's boyfriend saw the splash of a large fish and commented on it. I , of course, missed it entirely. All of the sudden, we hear this quiet little voice say "Here, fishy, fishy, fishy, fishy!" There was a moment of silence while we processed what we had just heard. We laughed so hard we nearly fell in the water! Whirly Bird is like that, you never really know what she might say. Or do. And that is one of the many reasons I love hanging out with her!
That night we all went out for mexican food and that was when she and her boyfriend met Rooster. Rooster and Whirly Bird's boyfriend got along great which is good because Whirly Bird is hosting myself and Rooster over Halloween later this month, back in St. Louis. I can't wait!

--Little Bird plays hostess

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Misunderestimation

Bread takes a lot longer to make than you might think. A LOT longer. Hours longer! And apparently you have to pray. At least according to the recipe Mama Bird and I used. Mama Bird decided yesterday was the day to bake bread and found a recipe to use. We got the ingredients along with a few other items we needed for the rest of the meal and a next few days. And eggs. When we got home she read the recipe to me, and we decided to sit and rest a bit before starting the cooking process. After all the soup we were going to make wouldn't really take all that much time and the bread, well the bread should be a snap! (Oh how I wish there were a font for sarcasm!)
The first thing about this bread recipe I noticed was the fact that it tells you to pray during the kneading process. The second thing I noticed (when I finally read it myself) was that there is no ingredient list. I know that I don't always include one, but this recipe appeared to NOT come from someone's personal blog (there is too a difference!). Then sometime later as we were actually making the bread we noticed that this was a really lengthy project. Mix, set aside, knead, set aside, punch, set aside, divide, set aside, put in pans, set aside, bake, set aside. Every time we "set aside" it was a 20 minute to 1 hour wait, with two minor exceptions. It took us FOUR freaking hours to bake two loaves of bread! I mean it was good bread, and we learned that my metal mixing bowl could be used as an impromptu loaf pan, but really? Four hours? Maybe we should have prayed.
The soup was creamy potato & leek. And that also was a learning experience. For instance, you need to not let it cook for, say, four hours. And if you do, you will need a lot of milk to help thin it out once all those potatoes release all that starch into the broth. Seriously? The mixing spoon stood straight up in the middle of this stuff. It was more like slightly runny mashed potatoes than soup. Hence the milk. Again it tasted great, but clearly we need to try again another time. I don't think there'll be any complaints about that! Once again, I think it needs bacon! Maybe as a crumble topper.
My best friend from back home is coming up for a visit tomorrow, waaaaaaay early in the a.m. I'm looking forward to seeing her again, and then again at Halloween when I go visit her!
This year's costume is in the bag (no literally, it's all packaged up and ready to go)! I'm going to dress up as Julia Child (I can't remember if I mentioned that or not). And If I can ever figure out the posting pictures thing I will post some from that trip. I will be joined on this trip by a friend, and am very much looking forward to that too!

-Little Bird was not compelled by the power of prayer