Tuesday, February 24, 2009

We are teaching Jeeves to read.


We bought a book called: "Teach Your Dog To Read" by Bonnie Bergin, Ed.D. and have started working on "Sit" and "Lie Down."

According to the book, it goes beyond just symbol recognition. Some dogs can actually get to a point where they interpret symbols they have not seen before. I think that Jeeves can at least get to the average 20 words or so.

Also, it may give us a tool to deter Jeeves from doing things like eat grapes off the counter, eat leftover slices of pie, or eat rising bread dough. Because we can leave signs up to discourage him. I'm not holding my breath on this one, but imagine if it did work.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Saturday, February 21, 2009


These are three things that I have overheard in the last 2 days:

1. "I love coming to Chili Fest. Only nice people eat chili."

2. "Oh My God That Looks SO GOOD. We have to buy it and look, it's glutton-free! I wonder what glutton-free means..."

3. "YOU should watch where your walking, missy."

The last one wasn't so much overheard as it was directly shouted at me, from the window of a car in the Wegman's parking lot. The old man was apparently disturbed and disconcerted by my gradual realisation that I was on the wrong side of the parking "aisle" and the resulting walking somewhat near the front of his (stopped and waiting for another car to get out of the way) car.

I'm glad he had something to tell the wife about, when he got home.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Update: The Great Alice Improvement Project

So, I vowed to be more creative and watch more movies and just be more positive in general. I couldn't stick with the Thing-A-Day thing because it honestly became too much to actually document the Thing I was making every day. For example, I make dinner almost every night and that seemed to count...so...I started to feel like the whole thing was a little redundant. I could have put restraints on myself, like, "making dinner doesn't count" but that's not very fair because I really consider cooking fabulous meals a creative outlet and I do it regularly.

For example, over this last weekend, I made:

Bread and butter pudding
Orange glazed tempeh, with kale and brown rice (I've made it twice now and I think it's one of my favourites, despite all the orange squeezing involved)
A lunch spread of pamboli, humus, olives and zata
Kale and feta salad with dill and spicy mustard dressing

I made stock yesterday and tomorrow's (Happy Birthday Ryan!) piece de resistance will be cake plus a similar setup to the above mentioned lunch spread.

I have started and frogged a project twice now and I have started writing a story that I will probably end up deleting.

Tomorrow, I will start volunteering at the front desk of a local organisation that is designed to help low-income people get back into the work force after a life changing event. While this isn't necessarily a "thing" or "creative" it is something I think will help me with some of the demons I have been dealing with since the move.

As far as seeing more good films, because I have do have some sort of regular form of cultural edification in addition to books, I have started watching things that have been on my "should watch that" list for years. For example:

The Machinist

And I've got copies of some others to watch including:

Badlands (Thanks Nina!)
The Fall (Thanks Nina!)

I have also started reading A History Of The Arab Peoples by Albert Hourani and made Ryan check out 2 books by George Bernard Shaw for me. I am also rereading The Orchid Thief, by Susan Orlean and making plans to accompany this with a purchase of an orchid. Seems to me that if the mold can continue to flourish on our window sills, despite frequent bleach baths, then an orchid would be quite happy here.

Okay, so I still haven't really made any local friends. Well, that's not true. I haven't made any come-over-to-my-house-in-your-pyjamas-let's-drink-a-bottle-of-wine-between-us-and-make-silly-jokes friends. I am working on this, however.

In OTHER NEWS: California is going bankrupt.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mugwump and a repeat of "Spoil Her Valentines Day"

Last years Valentine's Day entry. I'm posting the link because I still find the typography in the pajamagrams.com ad hilarious.

I'm going to be a mugwump again and ask, "What the hell are my downstairs neighbours doing that results in my house shaking? It sounds like they're playing Dance, Dance, Revolution with clogs on."

I'm tired of being the grumpy upstairs neighbour. Have I really turned into a get off-my-lawn kind of asshole? I'd like to note that I never say anything to them. Nope, I just make passive-aggressive blog entries in the hopes that they might one day do a search for "Ithaca + How To Be An Inconsiderate Neighbour" and come across this, realise it's about them and then stop playing loud music at all hours, smoking under our windows, leaving trash out, yelling at each other, drunkenly, in the middle of the day (or night), filling the main hallway with smoke, not recycling, frowning at me in the launderette and giving the wrong address to the take out man when ordering in the middle of the night.

Squished Friend and my brother got engaged in a BART station.

WELL. This weekend was a little different.

1. Ryan's parents came for a very nice stay. I made bread and butter pudding one night. It wasn't as good as Jenny's, but still passable. I also made pamboli, which I had been anxious to try, every since I copied the recipe out of Jenny's cookbook: How To Cheat At Cooking by Delia Smith .

2. A horse flipped over onto Annie and squished her. She has a fractured pelvis and will be wheel chair/bed bound for 6-8 weeks. I may go down and spend some time with her in Cincinnati.

3. My brother and his girlfriend got engaged. Both this piece of news and the last piece of news were brought to my attention within five minutes of each other. My brother sent me this email:

Oh, and I got engaged last night. While waiting for BART in the Powell
street station. Thought you should know.


I responded with (of course):

You know, whatever the bums at the BART station shout at you, you really shouldn't take it so seriously.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Happy Birthday-In-One-Week Ryan!

Because I got my Valentine's Day present early (and at all), I'm going to say Happy Birthday to Ryan early.

I sent the following out to Ryan's school chums:

Ryan's birthday is on Thursday 19 February - I was wondering if you were interested in meeting up and having some cake? We won't sing, because otherwise Ryan will leave.


Happy Birthday, Love. Thanks for the pearls.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Jeeves' second near death experience in 2 days

This morning, in a bout of self pity after my job interview offer was rescinded, I went for a walk. (honestly, who does that? Who sends someone an email asking to interview them and then changes their mind? Not to get all sour grapey but I got the feeling that they were horribly disorganised. I've already worked for one disorganised maniac who couldn't make up his mind about anything.)
After crying a little, with regards to the job interview, I resolved that they were probably jerks, exercise was the best answer, so Jeeves and I went for out to the Triangle Woods, by our house. We've had a thaw the last few days (weather in the 50's!) and so all the ice is melting and the rivers that have been made through the ice are extra engorged and the currents are quite strong.

So, of course, Jeeves fell in. To tell you the truth, it was a lot scarier for me than for him. He just floated around scrabbling at things while I tried to get to him through the mud and underbrush. By the time I got near, he'd managed to find a foothold and was trying to haul himself out. I was afraid to get too close, because the ice could have held him, but I didn't know if it would have held me. And if it had crumbled under me, he would have been lost.

I was perfectly okay, rationalising everything I needed to do, ready to chuck my cell phone in case I needed to jump in (and might need it after). Then he scrabbled out, rolled around in the snow and I burst into tears. Again.

I came home, dried him off with a towel and tried to fry an egg. I'm terrified of egg yolk so if I fry an egg (which is a very, very rare meal for me in the first place), it has to be over hard. It fell apart in the pan while I was trying to flip it over and I ended up with a partially scrambled fried egg.

Today really sucked.

Is this your homework, Larry? Is this your homework?

Last night, I was walking home from Trivia Night at a bar that I went to with the girlfriend of one of Ryan's school chums. I found some kid's homework and across the top was scrawled: PLEASE TAKE MY ASSIGNMENTS MORE SERIOUSLY.

Pretty funny.

Monday, February 9, 2009

When will someone make something better than iTunes?

iTunes and MS Word are 2 ridiculously annoying programs and I think it's awful that any of us ever have to deal with them.

The Worst Thing Jeeves Has Ever Done

Dear Family,

Today, while we were out taking the laundry to the launderette, Jeeves ate a large bowl of rising bread dough, the equivalent of 2,000 calories or 2 loaves of bread. It has been deemed "The Worst Thing He's Ever Done." on account of the serious medical implications. We have been told by the vet that after inducing vomiting, we must watch him in case he becomes "drunk."

He's downstairs at the moment, going through his second round of hydrogen peroxide induced vomiting.

Lots of love,

Alice & Ryan.

Pictures of Jeeves during the midst of his discomfort (or comfort? We can't decide. He certainly did not want to walk anywhere or be in any position that was not lying down on the floor.):

Sunday, February 8, 2009

England shuts down

Hello Alice,
You asked how are we dealing with the snow, well as you may guess with great difficulty. It seems a few flakes fell and Britain came to a complete standstill. London was in a terrible pickle as the bus depots were snowed in and much of the Unground was also snowbound. At the moment some of the counties have been reduced to using table salt for the roads as they have run out of the usual stuff!! Here in Hellingly we were virtually cut off from the world for two whole days. The worst part though was the biting cold - much, much colder than when you were here. It has now all gone but more is promised for next week!! Like Jeeves, Lucy thought it was all great fun.
Sue has now got herself a laptop and one of her neighbours is teaching her how to use it. He used to train the Metropolitan Police force so no doubt she will soon overtake me with her knowledge and skills.
Hope all is well with you both,
Love Fran.
P.S. Done anymore crosswords lately?

Friday, February 6, 2009

I, Anonymous

I found this great column on The Stranger, called I, Anonymous. People write in with their anonymous rants and they are published. It's kind of like Craigslist's Rants & Raves, but usually more eloquent. Sometimes they're sad, sometimes they're disgusting, sometimes they're funny (this one is funny and disgusting).

Felicia's Atomic Lounge plus I'm behind on my Things

I'm behind on my Thing-A-Day. Here's the latest thing:

Anyway. I'm going to make up for it today, as yesterday I was a little swamped with work and the creativity was sapped out of me. I need to make a birthday card for Ryan - I feel like I've got a handle on the felting thing and the rest of the Ron Replacement Placemat and Coaster set will take longer than a day per piece. On to smaller and less time consuming things!

In other news: I may have a job interview next week. It's a part time job at a software company. I'll still be able to work for Paula, but I'll have a little extra cash for clothes and trips home. Plus it'll get me out of this house.

In other, other news, I'm going to see a band tonight called the Hogwashers and a bar called Felicia's Atomic Lounge. This is exciting for several reasons. One, it's live music. (Remember the days when I used to post all the shows I was going to up here? Because I lived in/near a big city that had actual shows that I would want to go to? So much so that I would have to choose? What a great hobby that was!) Two, it's at a place in Ithaca that serves cocktails and vegan/vegetarian food. It's a bar with an ethos! Just like home! Three. My best friend from elementary school is in town this weekend, because she got waitlisted at Cornell Vet School. How awesome is that?

Pretty awesome.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


This evening I had a hankering for some Chinese-esque food. Well, actually it started a few days ago, which was good, because that meant that today, when I really felt like it, I had the potsticker wrappers all ready to go. Here's a quick sum up. Apologies for the short nature of the description, but at least I'm putting up pictures this time!

1/4 of 1 large eggplant diced
1.5 carrots, ghetto-julienned with a potato peeler
1/2 lb mushrooms diced (yes, I know it's kind of a pain)
1/4 of a chinese cabbage, diced
1/4 packet of veggie ground
soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, white pepper (to taste)

Everything was tossed in a wok, then put in a refrigerator, while the brothy soup was being made (miso, mushrooms, water, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, white pepper, cayenne, seaweed). After this it was removed from the fridge and a heaping teaspoon was placed in the middle of 38 potsticker wrappers, which were then folded over and stuck together with warm water. Some of them were then steamed and served with Ryan's version of Gyoza sauce (soy sauce, olive oil, brown sugar, sesame seeds and a splash of rice vinegar) and the yummy brothy soup. The rest were frozen, flat, so they don't stick to each other, in a freezer bag.

That is roughly a pictorial of the order of things, including the final sit down with Ryan, wearing his new shirt from auntie Fran.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Thing A Day - Project 2

You know that awful saying that people say to you about life giving you lemons and such? You know, it's that totally irritating saying which is just about the last thing you want to hear when something shitty's just happened?

I put it into practice (sort of).

Unable to knit a flat circle, because of my very distractable brain (which, mind, is one of the reasons I try to knit - because it incorporates a lot of the things I am really bad at, like paying attention and following directions, at yet I still find it enjoyable.), I knit a very curly one. So curly, in fact, that it's nothing like the pretty felt coaster it was supposed to be. So I sewed the ends together and made a flower. I think I'll stick it on a scarf or something later on.

On to the next Thing.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Thing A Day 2009 - Project 1

Ever since Ryan's work friend Ron urinated all over our placemats in a fit of drunken sleepwalking, I've been searching for replacements. Yesterday, I decided I would just knit them and felt them and I thought I would do a whole set. So I started with a trivet.

Here it is pre felted:

And here it is, felted:

I'm going to try the coasters today. I realise this is hardly the more complicated stuff I'd hoped (nay promised) to get into with my knitting but it's Thing A Day. A mindless rectangle was all I could hope for.