Saturday, November 22, 2014

Most Favorite Food

I am a bread foodie. Love bread; love to make it and eat it buttered and still hot from the oven when the bread aroma still lingers in the air. Loaves of French, sourdough, rye, honey whole wheat, rolls, biscuits, whatever, I make them all. It often surprises me to realize my sourdough starter is now older than most of my college students. Besides toast and sandwiches, bread is cut up into cubes to make croutons for salad and casserole toppings, but the best use of bread cubes is for making stuffing and bread pudding. To me they are synonymous, stuffing being the savory version and bread pudding the sweet.

My Dad became a home baker in his forties, and I use his French bread recipe which makes great loaves from four ingredients: flour, yeast, salt, and water. However, one of my oldest memories is of my Mom making Thanksgiving stuffing for the family's turkey. She was very intense in each step of her work. I remember watching her melt the butter and sautéing the celery and onions, salt, pepper, and herbs before pouring it all into in a huge oblong pan. She then added the bread cubes, poured a cup or so of hot water onto the bread, and mixed it with her hands until it was the right consistency before she shoved it into the turkey's back end.

I've loved stuffing ever since. The taste of roasted celery, onion, turkey, and bread is good plain and warm, covered with gravy, or cold from the refrigerator. Maybe especially cold as the celery taste seems more intense. I make mine a little differently, using homemade bread and moistening it with chicken stock instead of water, but the celery, onion, and spices remains the same. I don't stuff the turkey either, but cut it into pieces and place them on top of the stuffing in an ancient roaster. Yum. I can hardly wait for next Thursday. Stuffing is high calorie, so it's a good thing I have it only once a year.

So here's the recipe, but this may be superfluous as I think most families already have their own favorite:  Melt 1 to 1 ½ sticks of butter, add 1 large onion chopped into small pieces, 2 to 3 stalks of celery sliced crosswise, with ¼ to ½ tsp thyme, if desired, ¼ to ½ tsp sage, ¼ to ½ salt and ¼ tsp pepper and sauté until the vegetables are tender. Add 9 to 10 cups of dry (stale), cubed French bread and 1 cup of turkey or chicken broth. You can make a cup of turkey broth by simmering the turkey's liver, heart, and gizzard for twenty minutes. Use the salt in the liquid and omit from the dressing. The heart and gizzard can be chopped up and added to the dressing, if desired. Jerusalem artichokes (I planted some this fall) are also good chopped up and added when sautéing the vegetables. This recipe is good for a 10 to 12 pound turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving!

For more on favorite foods check out the blog postings of the following authors:

Marci Baun
A.J. Maguire 
Fiona McGier
Judith Copek
Diane Bator
Beverley Bateman
Skye Taylor 
Ginger Simpson
Victoria Chatham
Margaret Fieland
Rachael Kosnski
Anne Stenhouse 
Heidi M. Thomas
Helena Fairfax 
Kay Sisk
Connie Vines 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

All Things Six

Cardinal: SIX
Six
Hindu-Arabic: 6
Ordinate: Sixt
Roman: V
Greek: Digamm
Pythagorean number: the hexa
1+5, 2+4, 3+3, 2x3

The Roman words for six is sex (sextus) which gives us sextant, sextuplets, and sextet which shouldn't be confused with the one on one unless it is a double ménage à trois.

Greek has hexa, which gives us the hexagram or the six pointed star also known as the Seal of Solomon. We also have a hexagon in geometric shapes, and hexapods, which are insects.

June is the sixth month, and Saturday is the sixth day when the week starts with Monday. Saturday is named for Saturn, or the Titan Cronus in disguise which ties six to time in another way. Cronus controlled generation as in when the weekend begins or the turning point for a new week,  and dissolution as when the work week ends or the end of the current week, and later became tied to time itself.  So even if it is the fifth or sixth day, it is a in keeping with Cronus's control. Six am and six pm mean a quarter and three quarters of the day is done. Six has been an important measure for a long time whether in time or quantity as a half-dozen.

In science, Carbon (C) has the atomic number six and is the sixth element on the periodic table.

Six is the Christian number of creation and order as God created the world in six days. It is also symbolic of the ending of effort, but six is also a day of imperfection as it is one day short of a complete week. The Sixth Commandment is ‘Thou shall not kill.’ In the Bible, manna fell from heaven for 6 days; Jesus changed six pots of water into wine for his first miracle. Six, as already mentioned represents the Seal of Solomon, and the six-point star of Judaism. Three sixes, 666, represents the devil. The Hexateuch is first six books of Old Testament. By the 9th Century, Sext was a canonical hour for mid-day prayer services.

A sixte in fencing is the sixth defensive position, and in cards we have a six spot or sixer, and in dice Captain Hicks.

Numerology assigns the number six to the alpha letters f, o, x. Six’s Astrological association is the House of Virgo. Six represents the human soul because six is symbolic of the union between fire and water, and is the number of ambivalence and effort. It is a 'perfect number' because it equals the sum of its divisors and is divisible by both a 3 (odd) and a 2 (even), thus harmoniously combining the elements of each; this leads to it becoming a hermaphroditic number. Six is the number of love, marriage, and domestic happiness. The Pythagoreans referred to this number as 'the perfection of all points.' They considered six the form of forms, the maker of the soul, and the articulation of the universe. Its keywords are time, panacea, the world, overabundance, and being indefatigable. Its associated deities are Orpheus, the Muse Thalia, and the Fate Lachesis.

Again, come up on the bad side of six and you earn the negative connotations of being unfinished or imperfect in business, and projects, while conversely, becoming a workaholic. It might mean you have lost your sense of time and place because you are in want or exhausted. Worst of all, it can mean you are working for evil.

In Tarot divination the sixth card is the lovers. This card represents knowledge of the super-conscious by seeing through the subconscious. The card indicates choice, temptation, attraction, and struggle between sacred and profane love. One positive aspect is harmony between the inner and outer aspects of life.

Venus, Diana, Janus, and the heart are symbols of six. Venus governs love, harmony, artistry, feminine sexuality, attractions, affection, physical beauty, and art. A double triangle or circle divided into six parts represents the unity of spirit and body and harmony between man and God.

In common usage, you have a half dozen, a six-shooter or six-gun, a six-pack, a six-penny, six fold, or a six-footer.

There you have it, all things six. For more on six check Wikipedia.
~ * ~
Sources used for information:
The Discoverers by Daniel J. Boorstin
A Complete Guide to the Tarot by Eden Gray
The Numerology Workbook by Julia Line
The Dartmouth Number Symbolism in the Middle Ages site offers much info on numbers in Christianity.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Tenth Friday Six Bits from Crewkin



Crewkin is on special at 65% off. Click link and scroll down to cover.

Isolation makes any population more susceptible to disease. When the Vagrant Spirit’s crew comes down with a new strain caught at the ship’s last docking, disease-resistant Renna takes over the flightdeck for several days. Her actions lead to this scene.

~ * ~

Dom Jake grasped her shoulders and held her against the partition, the ladder pressing into her back. Zak stood behind him.

Renna blinked and tried to make sense of the Dom's raving. “The course drifted one-hundredth of a degree every nine hours,” she answered as her senses woke. “You said to use common sense before calling you. I corrected for the engine misfire. I suspect there is an energy lag in the rotation firing system. The event is noted in the log.”

“You damn stupid podder! Of course there is! You think we don't know? I told you the course was set. Your corrections put us off course! We'll be late, again!”

There was no defense; nothing she could say. He stopped yelling and pushed her against the partition before he backed away. His flushed face and clenched hands revealed his fury. She looked from him to Zak. They both looked dreadful, ashen, and angry. “I can replot the course.”

“No!” Dom Jake said in the same denigrating tone Dom Dukan used when he found her unusually inept. “You stay away from my flight deck. Stay away from anything to do with ship's function. I thought you could handle a ship.”

Renna felt heat filling her face with familiar shame at Dom Jake’s reprimand. Calmness, professionalism, duty. She bit the inside of her cheeks.
~ * ~
Yes, Jake comes off as a douchbag

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Scary Happens Anytime, Anyplace


Here we are before the 'scary' holiday where mostly we laugh, eat candy, and ooh and ah over any costumes we might see, and love the candy, cider, and apples. However, this month's Round-Robin is about the 'scariest thing that has happened to you.' The truly scary stuff comes out of everyday life when you least expect it or unprepared. While we should be prepared when in a car, we all travel by car so much we become complacent, and driving can be boring. Which I suppose, is why so many of us are holding electronics while driving.

I've been in two serious automobile accidents with two totaled cars. I was carried away from one and  walked away from the other. The first I don't remember at all and in the second I remember feeling very calm, like maybe it was just my time. I believe it is the near misses that are the scariest, especially when you have your children with you and are not behind the wheel, which is the incident I remember as being heart-clenching, breath-stopping scary.

Our family was making a Christmas journey from our home in Missouri to see family in Michigan, and while there was snow and ice on the ground, the roads had been dry all the way. Bill decided to take I-55 north to catch I-80 up to I-94 into Michigan. I can't remember what I was doing in the passenger seat, or what our two kids were doing in the back seat, sleeping or reading maybe. As Bill took the the ramp off I-55 onto I-80 I looked up as the car changed directions. The very long ramp was dry and and our car was at least a quarter mile behind a corvette. As the we neared the I-80 merge lane the ramp curves, and as a clear view came into sight, the corvette accelerated and must have hit a patch of ice. It started spinning. I gasped, and my foot hit the break, which wasn't on the side where I sat.

The corvette came to a stop in the merge lane to I-80, but also partially into the right lane of I-80 facing westward toward oncoming I-80 traffic and in our car's direct path. Now on the icy patch ourselves, our car didn't have room to stop.

Bill veered the car to the right edge of the merge lane. The car hit more ice and snow and also twirled and slid onto the right lane of I-80, but we missed the corvette. Two semi-trailer trucks, one in each lane of I-80 were barreling down the road toward us. Bill backed down the road, hit the breaks, and we twirled a half circle into the correct direction, and he gunned the engine, accelerating the car to faster than the approaching trucks. The corvette driver finally moved, shooting his car across I-80 and onto the median just before the trucks reached him. Everything happened in just a few seconds, but everything also turned out okay. After several breath-catching moments of silence, a few comments on close calls, we continued safely to Michigan.

For such a brief situation, the less-than-a-minute experience has stuck in my memory. Bill's version of events is a bit different, as I'm sure our children's memories. I do know Bill's driving ability saved us. Why do so many wonderful, good, positive experiences disappear into synapse oblivion, while one so short should endure so long? Fear.

Click on the below links to read more about scariest experiences!

Heidi M. Thomas
Skye Taylor 
Anne Stenhouse 
A.J. Maguire 
Rachael Kosnski
Margaret Fieland
Geeta Kakade
Marci Baun 
Beverley Bateman
Victoria Chatham  
Diane Bator
Fiona McGier
Ginger Simpson

Friday, October 24, 2014

Ninth Friday Six Bits from Crewkin

Crewkin is on special at 65% off. Click link and scroll down to cover.

Renna finally gets to know the most reclusive member of the crew, Shipdog.

~ * ~
Inside the compartment, the old Jupiter 1090 engine sobbed a steady drone interspersed with a strong counter beat creating a soothing song. Renna felt comfortable here, a place where only training and skill counted. Like most engine rooms, the walls and floor were gray and sedate, a holdover from when ships were crafted of steel rather than the molecularly engineered alloys.

The huge man waited for her by the main console. She stopped a meter from him. He looked at the deck, shifting his weight from foot to foot, looking ready to bolt. He glanced up. “Vera verges code.”

“Vera?” Renna asked, barely able to understand the man’s guttural, heavily-accented speech. She tried to ignore his state of undress. He wore no shoes, which was against all Markham codes, his bare feet slapped against the deck with each step. She could only glance at him and look away again. Ship Dog remained unaware of her impertinence and embarrassment since he never looked at her.

“After mom.”

Renna’s gaze slid to Ship Dog’s face, avid curiosity at his statement about his progenitor overcoming her diffidence. A lightening fast gaze rose to hers and swiftly fell away. Sweat beaded on his forehead. She noticed talking took him effort, like some of her kin—those most often culled. She stepped back giving him more space.

“Needs refit.” Ship Dog’s shoulders slumped as he drifted away to hover over various panels, appearing to read the screens. He explained the problems one by one, using fewer words than her understanding demanded, making her repeat back expanding on his clipped comments. Renna made mental notes. “Questions?” Ship Dog asked clearly wanting none, the focus in his quick glances aimed above her head.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

All Things Five

Five
Five is considered a pivotal number as it is the divider between the nine symbols of numbers (0 doesn't count as it represents nothing or is used as a placeholder). When you reach age fifty and you personally experience how pivotal it is.

Cardinal: FIVE
Greek: Epsilon
Hindu-Arabic: 5
Ordinate: Fifth
Pythagorean numbers: the pentad
Roman: V
1 + 4, 2 + 3 < You can use all the previous numbers to add up to 5.

The Romans gave us quin (quinue, quintus, quini) for for five from which we derive quintuplets

The Greeks gave us penta for five from which we derive pentagram, the five pointed star, and the Pentagon.

May is the fifth month, and here in the Northern Hemisphere it is the height of spring. Friday is the fifth day of weeks starting on Monday, and if you have followed this series you will see I've changed from Sunday as the first day, but ALL THINGS THREE and FOUR cover both. It's quirky, I know, but so is this whole series. This is because five works much better on Friday. We have a five day work week, which,  and thank heaven, usually quitting time at 5:00 p.m. We have five senses, and five fingers or toes on each hand and foot. The name Friday comes from the Norse God Frigg or Frigedaey, the goddess of marriage, who was wife of Woden & mother of Thor, and we all know, May is prime wedding month. Friday is also the Latin day of Venus.

Five is a prime number. If you divide the perfect number, ten, into equal parts your get five. The Pythagoreans called it the number of equilibrium. Boron (B) is the fifth element on the Periodic Table. In money, we have the fifty dollar bill, the fiver or five-dollar bill, and the nickel or five cent piece. Five star is the highest quality in hotels and restaurants, along with five star brandy and five star generals. Reporters are supposed to follow the five W's of who, what, where, when and why.

In religious associations, you will find it is a Christian symbol of sacrifice since it symbolizes the 5 wounds of Christ on the cross. The Fifth Commandment is to honor thy father & thy mother, and David chose five smooth stones out of the brook; five wise and five foolish virgins are found in the Book of Matthew 25:3. Joshua killed five kings. The Pentateuch is the first five books of Old Testament.

In games and sport five is represented in the 5-gaited horse, Little Phoebe (dice slang), V, Vee, Fiver, Quint, and Five Spot in cards.

Numerology assigns the number five to the alpha letters of e, n, w. It is the House of Leo in Astrological associations.

Because five is the odd center of the nine numbers, in prophetic references it represents the fulcrum point, so it becomes the number of chance, the pivotal point where past and future are both visible at the same time. This also puts five as the number of temptation as it concerns the five senses and all of feeling in the sensual world. It is another number of sex and reproduction.

The Greeks considered the pentagram a sacred symbol. The pentagram represented light, health, and vitality; only later in history did it become tied to witches. Because five is free from the disturbances of the four lower elements, Greeks held the number symbolic of ether, the fifth element. Five-point star represents man (head, arms, legs) and his destiny and it is also symbolic of Nature. The deities associated with this number were Nemesis, Bast, and Venus. Five is associated with the intellect, communication, mental and nervous processes, dexterity, ambiguity, writing, and diplomacy. The keywords are reconciliation, alteration, cordiality, sound, providence, marriage, & immortality.

The Roman signifier V now represents victory.

Five has some negative connotations. It can indicate untruthfulness and unreliability, or weakness in someone's mental processes. If you come up on the wrong side of five you have ill luck, imperfection, imbalance, and darkness.

In Tarot divination, the fifth card is the hierophant, who represents traditional or orthodox teaching. It shows a preference for the outer forms of religion, the ritual, and the doctrine or the ceremonial rather than the spiritual. This card displays the importance of social approval, the need to conform to society.

Symbols of five include the God Mercury, Hermes the Magician, the hand, the body, and the pentagram.

In slang usage we have the 5 & 10 or five and dime store, half a sawbuck, the high five, and we all like to take five.
~ * ~
For more information and sources for this information:
Wikipedia has more on things five.
The Discoverers by Daniel J. Boorstin
A Complete Guide to the Tarot by Eden Gray
The Numerology Workbook by Julia Line
The Dartmouth Number Symbolism in the Middle Ages site offers much info on numbers in Christianity.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Eighth Friday Six Bits from Crewkin

Crewkin is on special at 65% off. Click link and scroll down to cover.
Once she had established a connection with her new crew, a new problem arises.
~ * ~
“Renna,” Zak interrupted Lock. “You said they culled your kin. What did you mean? Culling is a rather harsh term for releasing crew.”

“The caretakers terminated those they felt were inadequate for kin needs and a liability for the company. Dom Dukan said I was lucky. If our kin group hadn’t needed a speaker, I would have been culled from my original kin. He accused me of being more dom than sub.”

“I'm sure they didn't terminate the children,” Lock said with a disbelieving tone. “That's criminal. You must have been too young to understand properly. They probably put the children up for adoption.”

A strange look came over Renna's face. She didn't contradict Lock. Suddenly, her expression changed to one of fright. Everyone's expression soon matched hers.

Cutter felt the disruption: a whirling sense of dizzy disorientation, a sudden sensation of lightening. Food, plates, and utensils glided on the table for a fraction of a second before it ended.

“Grav disruption,” Jake said, his eyes scanning the room's monitors, even as he rose.
~ * ~


Friday, October 10, 2014

Seventh Friday Six Bits from Crewkin

Crewkin is on special at 65% off. Click link and scroll down to cover.

In this excerpt Renna has another unfortunate encounter while trying to fit in with her crew. 
~ * ~
Her eyes focused on Cutter when she woke. As she became aware of his presence, she became agitated. Zak frowned, recognized her panic, and stepped back. When she tried to rise, Cutter placed his large hand on her shoulder, pushing her down.

“Relax, Renna,” Cutter said. “Your shift's over, you need to rest.”

“No, no, I must finish my assignment.” She engaged in a losing struggle with Cutter. Zak knew his brother was loath to use the force needed to hold her immobile. Frantic, she slid sideways from under Cutter’s hand and off the opposite side of the bed. Her unsteady legs nearly collapsed. She gained her footing, moving to stand before Zak with her head bowed.

“May I return to duty, Dom Zak, sir?”

He glanced with uncertainly at Cutter. “Cutter thinks you need time off, I think under the circumstances...”

She sank to her knees, arms spread, and palms up. “I can finish my assignment, Dom Zak. Please do not allow me to fail a second shift in a row. Please, Dom Zak.”
~ * ~