Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Gingerbread Art

Hello, again, beloved readers!  Surprised to hear from me again so soon?  Well, this is the week of final exams, and most of my time is spent grading, but in order to maintain what little sanity I have left, I find it necessary to take frequent breaks.  Today, for no particular reason, I decided to see if I could make gingerbread men.  No, I don't particularly like gingerbread, and it's not a family tradition to make them at Christmas, but, well, it's better than grading, right?  Right!

So I found this recipe on-line and went at it.  Some of the gingerbread men came out looking pretty nice, but others, well, I think they were too thick, and they are quite deformed.  Now, my first pottery teacher, Alicia, told me that when you're making art deformed is just another word for artistic, and that you can manipulate the most appalling-looking vessel into something that says, "Well, um, yes, very nice, but I don't really understand modern art, so well done!"

Thus, I used some red icing to turn my deformed gingerbread men into a dynamic village of ginger persons reflective of all of the emotions evoked by the holiday season.  Alicia, these are for you:

A Nice, Happy Gingerbread Man

"Socks again?"
"Whoa!  That Nog is High Octane!"

Duckface-in-the-Mirror-Makes-Me-So-Sexy Gingergirl

Gingerbread Conjoined Twins
Dead Cartoon Gingercorpse

And last, and most definitely least:

Creepy GingerUncle Who's Had Too Much Scotch
Of course, none of the gingerpersons on this page are based on any real people, living or dead, except the ones among your family and friends.  Happy baking!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Meet the Neighbors

So I have hinted, gentle readers, that I would eventually introduce you to my neighbors.  Not the neighbors that called the cops on me when I was cutting bamboo with a large knife in the middle of the night (which, seriously, I still think was an overreaction), but my favorite neighbors:  A and W.

Now why, you might ask, am I not referring to these neighbors by name?  Are they secret agents?  Romulan spies?  Tea partiers?!  Fear not, my friends, A and W are lovely people, and I just want to protect their reputation by not using their first names which are, in fact, rather delightfully unusual, but would inevitably reveal their identity and, unlike me, they are respectable figures in Our Fair City and do not deserve to be associated with this blog.

Oh, alright.  I admit it:  I like calling them A and W because it makes me think of root beer. 

In any case, I have to admit that A and W are not entirely, well, normal.  Mere moments after I bought my house, even before I had realized just how far I'd put myself into debt, A trotted across the street to introduce herself and beg me not to move away any time soon.  Since she had never met me before, I found that rather oddly affectionate, but, hey, sometimes I make a good first impression, and they had no idea at that time that I would be one of those neighbors who takes five days to pull the empty trashcan away from the curb after trash pickup, thus lowering everyone's property values.

Also, I don't rake leaves.  Or pay other people to rake leaves.  So after A and W have their leaves in neat piles, my leaves spend all week drifting over to their yard where it's nice and neat with plenty of elbow room.  

But in spite of these obvious deficiencies in my character, A and W have become bosom friends and cat sitters, and I love them dearly.  And when you love someone, you must, according to all the sappy love songs and writers of Hallmark cards, show them how you feel.   So this past weekend, I snuck over to their yard and left them a gift:

An Unexpected Flamingo

This is Bill.  Bill the Flamingo.  You see, a few years ago the chair of my department, Vivian, gave each of us a flamingo as a parting gift when she retired.  I was a little disconcerted, but the more I looked at the flamingo, the more I loved him.  I named him Wordsworth and stuck him proudly in my flowerbed.

Wordsworth Showing His Christmas Spirit

Wordsworth clearly improved the neighborhood with his stoic presence.  I mean, no matter what happened to him, he stood there with quiet dignity, and he never complained about rain or snow or empty trashcans in front of the house.

Wordsworth Freezing with Dignity  

Alas, poor Wordworth was crushed two years ago when a giant poplar tree fell on my house!  All that was left of this fine gentlebird were shards of pink plastic.  After a suitable mourning period, I went shopping for a replacement, and you'll be happy to know that Wordsworth, Jr. is now standing proudly in front of the rosemary wearing an elf hat.  But...and I was not prepared for this...when Wordsworth, Jr. was delivered to my house, he Did Not Come Alone.  No!  He was accompanied by his cousin, Bill.

And, as is perfectly obvious to everyone, when it comes to pink plastic flamingos in one's yard, there can be only one.  So I scampered across the street and bestowed Bill upon A and W.

Now not every neighbor would greet the arrival of Bill with open arms, but A and W are not ordinary neighbors.  They were delighted with the unexpected arrival.   In fact, I was a little disconcerted by their enthusiasm.  That was, of course, before I saw what they had, themselves, of their own free will, added to their living room that very same day:

A Most Unusual Reindeer
Yes, my friends, that is a plaid reindeer.  Plaid.  I mean, I thought I was pushing things with Bill, challenging the standards of good taste and neighborly tolerance, but...my neighbors have a plaid reindeerIn the living room.  Clearly, I am overmatched.  So all hail, A and W! Beloved friends, matchless neighbors, and masters of decorative animal-shaped objects!  Wordsworth, Jr. and I are humbled by your presence.

And I promise to think about moving that empty trashcan any time now.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Conversation in Target

Old Man #1:  "Here, darlin', sit down."

Me:  "Thanks.  Are you waiting for someone?"

Old Man #2:  "For the wives.  Once they get going there's no stoppin' them."

Me:  "Same with my Mom.  She has bad arthritis except inside Target where she zips around with that shopping cart and makes me dizzy."

Old Man #3:  "Here, I have an extra coke.  So what kind of tires do you have?"

Me:  "On my shopping cart?"

Old Man #3:  "On your car.  What kind?"

Old Man #2:  "Now, Jim, not this again."

Me:  "Um.  Goodyear, I think."

Old Man #3:  "Are they white walled tires?"

Me:  "What are those?"

All three old men burst into laughter.

Old Man #1:  "The only good looking tires are white walled tires."

Old Man #3: "And you can tell whether or not your tires are clean with white walls."

Old Man #2:  "You people know nothing about tires.  No one has white walled tires anymore.  And who cares if your tires are clean?"

Me:  "Do people clean tires?"

All three old men:  "Of course, you clean your tires!"

Me:  "Why?"

Old Man #3:  "Listen, Miss, you have to clean your tires!  Otherwise, they might not be clean!"

Me:  "Oh."

Old Man #2:  "Do you have a paved driveway?"

Me:  "My driveway is gravel.  Except where it's mud.  Or weeds."

Old Man #1:  "Then you should not buy white walled tires.  They are not for country people."

Old Man #3:  "That is a damned lie!"

Old Man #2:  "Watch your language!"

Old Man #3:  "Sorry.  White walled tires are for everybody who wants to look good.  You get some white walled tires, and you'll be beating the men off with a stick.  They will notice you."

Me:  "I could stand to be noticed by some men."

Old Man #1:  "But you should get your driveway paved.  It's the twentieth century, you know."

Me:  "Get my driveway paved and get a pair of white walled tires because it's the twentieth century and that's what men like."

Old Man #2:  "Don't listen to these old men.  They don't know nothin'.  Men like a nice pair of legs.  They can buy their own tires."