Attack of the Killer Sidewalk

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I was accosted last night, on leaving the movie theater (the SQO wanted to see Kong:  Skull Island again) by a patch of pavement.

I think it must have been tired of all the people walking on its face.  I know I’d be irritated if, all day and all night long, there were people walking all over me.

I get enough of that at work, TYVM….

 

I really DO feel sorry for the sidewalk.  It gets frozen in the winter, with just brief glimpses of sunshine to warm its stony heart.  It gets covered in snow, and then rudely scraped of this insulating layer of semi-moisture.  Most times, it gets salt thrown over it, which is allowed to dry out its surface.  And always…feet.  Hundreds, if not thousands, of pairs of feet in boots, soft soles, and the damn stiletto heels pounding on its face over and over and over again.

Summers aren’t much better.  Baked to egg-frying temperatures by the sun.  Rained on.  Sometimes watered in the cool summer mornings by groundskeepers intent on keeping the grass green.  Used (and abused) by skateboarders and roller-bladers, rolled over by bikes & wagons & strollers.  Tickled in the belly by subterranean bugs and weeds determined to punch through.

It ain’t easy…being a sidewalk.

I’m sure it took my inattention of my surroundings as the perfect opportunity to get even.

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For those of you confused by my words…here’s the simpler version…I fell down and went boom.

Actually, I clearly recall saying Oh, Shit…but I digress…

 

I scared the shit outta the SQO.  I also frightened two innocent bystanders into showing concern.  Chivalry isn’t dead in this country after all.  The one lady behind me was thoughtful (and brave, given my feet) enough to retrieve my shoe, and the other one helped me gather up my keys (the mass of chain, rings and keys separated into 3 different portions).  Between them, D, and myself, I was once again put in an upright and bipedal position.  I managed to finish the walk to my car, drive home, and go up the stairs to the front door.

Oddly enough, today…I do not have any bruises.  I have muscular aches all along my left leg, and my left palm is VERY sensitive…but no bruises to show for this brutal attack on my sorry self.

And I’ll offer this tidbit of advice for all you carefree walkers out there –

Watch out for those sinister sidewalks – you never know when one is gonna rise up and exact a bit of revenge…

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Black Mirror

Just this morning, I read a post.

Not Earth-shattering, by any means.  I read a good number of other bloggers out here on the ‘net – sometimes for the laughs, sometimes for the inspiration, sometimes because I genuinely click with the other writer, sometimes because I WANT to know more of the other blogger’s viewpoint.

And sometimes, to be perfectly honest here, it’s for the reciprocal views.  Kind of an unspoken yet understood ‘pact’ between bloggers.  I read yours, you read mine.

It’s all about the numbers.

This particular blogger had mentioned that people who post holiday pictures every five minutes aren’t on a very good vacation…and it got me to thinking of the episode titled:  Nosedive from Netflix’s series ‘The Black Mirror.’

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For those of you unfamiliar with this series, it’s a British, Twilight Zone-esque series.  Each episode is a stand-alone, centered around modern society and the unanticipated effects modern technology has wrought/will wreak upon society.

From the show’s Wiki page:

“each episode has a different cast, a different setting, even a different reality. But they’re all about the way we live now – and the way we might be living in 10 minutes’ time if we’re clumsy.”

Believe me when I say the writers, directors and cast haven’t pulled any punches on how things could go if we stay on our current path.

The episode that sticks in my head, if only because I can see society GALLOPING headstrong and arrogantly down the path which leads to the portrayed future, is Nosedive.

Imagine…if you will…

A world in which every action and interaction you partake in is tabulated in a single, master social-internet platform which society has initiated compulsory attendance.  Anyone not high on the popularity scale is deemed fair play for discriminatory practices by the popular ones.

Imagine your entire life centered around your rating.  Those with low ratings have predatory rental rates, refused services, employment difficulties.

It’s as if the A list from high school (yaknow…the ‘popular’ kids) was put in charge of everything in society, and now wields enough power to actively suborn those they look down upon from their pillars on high.

The episode continues to draw me in – it’s one I’ve watched easily a dozen times already.  Each time I view (or listen, with my nose buried in a chainmaille piece) I seem to catch some new nuance or bit of buried irony I’d missed before.

 

In this bleakly-painted yet oddly happy-pastel colored dystopian future – I know where I’d rate…right there in the same driver’s seat as the old lady in the truck.

If you’ve access to Netflix – I suggest you look up this single episode.  It’s Episode #1, Season 3.

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The Art Abandonment Project – First Drop

Last summer, I found a project/group/page buried under the political quagmire you find flooding a typical day’s feed on Facebook:

The Art Abandonment Project.

This group has a very focused, and blindingly simple mission:

Make a bit of art …

package that bit of art against the elements …

with a card that says:  FREEEEEEE! ….

abandon your creation in a public place…

That’s it.  No strings attached – No advertising come-on’s  –  No pressure.  Only the project’s name, that they’re on Facebook, and an email address if the findee’s want to let the group know where the orphan landed are included on the FREEEEEEEEEEE!!!! card.

In short – it’s pay it forward, with physical art.  I absolutely LOVE this idea, as it allows the fates to intervene as they will, and place a bit of beauty in the hands of someone who needs it.

The group love to share photos of their abandoned pieces, along with a little story of where they left it, in case those findee’s want to find it on the web.

 

I formally joined the group a bit ago…

 

And today – I’m ready – to drop my first piece.

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I hope the fates put this little fella in the hands of someone who needs some sunshine.

Wish Me STEALTH!

 

The Dog Days of Disaster

 

This is a special little request from Maggie over at The Zombies Ate my Brains

Hot dogs.

In the US – the hot dog can be just about anything.  Technically, it’s a thin cylinder of ground meat – usually a blend of a couple different proteins –  various flavorants and binders, heated until cooked through, then slapped on a thicker tube of sliced, baked bread product before being garnished with the consumer’s choice from a cornucopia of sauces, veggies and seasonings.

historyofchicagodogWe have the world-famous Chicago-style Red-Hots… This is an all beef dog, white-bread bun with poppy-seeds baked into the top, garnished with sweet pickle relish, onions, mustard, tomato, a dill pickle spear, sport peppers and just a shot of celery salt.

They take their dogs seriously in the windy city…

 

We also have your ‘Gourmet-blend’ dogs –  which are ‘flavored with a bounty of the freshest herbs and spices,’ have a ‘special coarse-grind blend of the finest cuts of beef and pork,’ and come in an all-natural casing… served hot and steamy on a 7 grain ‘artisan’ bun, lovingly topped with a generous portion of garlic-and-Parmesan aioli.

 

l278978301In the tiny town of Waterloo, WI – they have a festival around dogs called Weiner & Kraut days.  Every man, woman and child within a 5 county radius descend on this small town for an entire weekend to devour all the hot dogs they can eat, with as much sourkraut, mustard and onions as can be (un)reasonably crammed atop the bun.

They use the collected gastro-emissions to power the town all winter long.

 

We have your standard, mass-produced industrial sausages – sold with catchy jingles, cartoon-dogs dancing the night away, and, if you’re lucky, you might just get a Weenie-whistle from the spokes-Weenie-wagon as it passes through your home town.

But only if you can sing the jingle…

Hell, we Wisconsinites even tied the hot dog to our Baseball team.  At any Brewer’s game throughout the season, the half-time show includes the Klement’s Sausage Races.

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Look at them Weenies RUN!

Everywhere, throughout the States, you can find this ubiquitous processed meat-product.  They’re in convenience stores on the special roller-grills.  They’re in concession stands in parks, stadiums, fairgrounds, and all your better tourist traps.  Hell, in the bigger cities, there are even these little carts that some guy pushes around on the street – dogs on the go, for those on the go…anytime…anyplace!

And…of course – every day the temperature reaches above 50 degrees in this state – you can bet your last dollar that some fella has fired up the grill in the backyard to flame-roast these special little tube steaks in an attempt to blot out the memory of winter.

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I prefer my hot dogs coarse grind, natural casing, slightly spicy, with a good, grainy mustard and plenty of raw onions.  Occasionally, I’ll go for either chili or sourkraut – but I gotta be in juuuuuuuuuuust the right mood.

the Wasband, on the other hand, worships ketchup.  In his mind, that shit goes on everything.  Dogs?  Ketchup.  Enough to float the Titanic.  Steak?  Ketchup.  Enough to kill the taste.  Fish?  Ketchup.  Enough to make the breading soggy.  He likes his ketchup with a sprinkling of french fries, and adds the vile stuff to chili.  He’s the only person I’ve ever seen take one of the little ketchup packets given out by any take-out restaurant, tear the foil, and suck the package dry.

Ewwwww!

I personally disliked ketchup before I went keto.  Now…you might as well just sit with the sugar bowl and spoon the crystallized stuff directly into your mouth while sucking on a tomato.

It’s.  That.  Sweet.

But to the Wazband – ketchup is not a condiment.  It’s a vegetable…and one that needs to be consumed in mass quantities at every meal.

On one of our day vacations, we went to one of the summer water-park tourist traps in the area.   We spent the day frolicking in the huge pool of antiseptically-clean water, appropriately themed  with fiberglass statues and carefully selected plants interspersed through and around the concrete walkways with an estimated 209,000 other people who had the same idea.

For me…this was the perfect opportunity to work on my sunburn.  Nothing turns my pale skin the color of a freshly boiled lobster faster than spending time in the center of a gigantic, sunlight-reflecting pool of water.

For the record, I have two skin tones…red and white.  There are no shades of brown in between.

We splashed in the shallows, rode innertubes in the wave pool, and stood in line for the water slides, the toilets, the single patch of shade hidden in the middle of this concrete jungle.

When tummies started growling, we ducked out of the water to stand in line for one of the multitude of vendor stands surrounding the park.

Their specialty was ‘The Best Damn Hot Dogs in the Dells…’

By this point, I swear my skin was audibly sizzling…and a table opened up IN THE SHADE.  I rattled off a very simple order to the Wazband, and ran to claim the table before I burst into active flame.

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He brought to the table our Cokes, two orders of fries, and a plate full of ketchup.  He swore to me there ware actual hot dogs, in buns, under the red goop.

I bit my tongue.

Counted to 10.

Bit my tongue again.

Selected an even higher number.

Chomped on that sucker a third time….just in case.

And asked – deadpan:  ‘Why is there an ocean of ketchup on my hot dog?’

 

He hadn’t considered, even though we’d been a couple for at least a decade at this point, that I despise ketchup.  He’d dressed the dogs to his preference without any thought.

I ate a lot of fries that afternoon.  He ate the hot dogs.  There was no saving them from the red menace.

NEVER leave a man alone with your hot dog.  They can’t be trusted.

And I still have tooth-marks on my tongue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flirting With Potatoes

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I think I have a problem…

I’ve been doing the keto thing since May of last year.  It hasn’t been without its ups and downs, but far more ups, than downs.

Lately, though…I’ve found more and more entries in my food tracking spreadsheet…

yes, I’m an Excel Junkie – if it needs monitoring, it goes on a spreadsheet

…for potatoes.

When the boys of the Beltempest had their live show – we had burgers & fries for dinner at the bar.  No bun on the burger – and I didn’t eat all the fries…but I had SOME.

For S’s birthday celebration, we went down to Mainstream Bar & Grill – again, for burgers & fries.  Still no bun on the burger – but them sweet potato fries ended up once again on my plate and in my stomach.

Earlier in the week, the kids made their dinner, and on the menu were tater tots.  I snuck 4.

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Last night – it was time to once again replenish my sock drawer – so it was off to the laundromat.  Laundry always equates takeout.  I went to Jimmy John’s for one of their unwiches (meats, cheeses etc…wrapped in lettuce instead of a loaf of bread) – and bought a bag of potato chips.

Ate the whole thing.

Oh…the shame…

 

I’ve only myself to blame.  Potatoes are my Kryptonite  carb-bomb…and I’m reaching for comfort foods again for a variety of reasons.

It’s coming up on the Fiscal Year End at work (for those who work in accounting – I apologize for making you shudder) so the tension level in the office is high.

My boss is once again in one of HER moods, which translates down into even higher stress levels, because flying to the Left Coast to slap some sense into her would result in both being fired and arrested.

Spring is TRYING to come to Wisconsin, but Mother Nature is a biploar bitch and has tripped out off her meds again.  The continual warm, cold, warm, cold cycles play merry havoc with my sensitivity to the Natural.  It doesn’t know if it’s time come out of winter hibernation or not…so mystical energies are at their all-time low.  There’s nothing to reach for to replenish my personal stock against the weather cycles.

And…I’ve been in a keto stall for about a month.  The pants aren’t getting any tighter, but they aren’t getting any baggier, either.

Are you SURE I can’t just sleep until after March 31st?

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European 4 in 1 Chainmaille Weave

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It’s a lovely little weave – most chainmail enthusiasts will call it the ‘beginners weave of beginner’s weaves.’  A LOT of folks start their maille-crafting with this one.

It’s easy enough, I’ll give it that.  Each center-ring in the pattern goes through 4 other rings (which is why it’s called 4 in 1).  It’s easy enough to expand the single-length chain into a sheet weave by adding new rows to your existing one.  You can even collapse a 3-ring strand of it in on itself, add a 2nd row of center rings to stitch up the back and make a box chain out of it.

People usually use this versatile pattern to make all the maille wear you see – shirts, belts, gloves & skirts. Making this weave into an expanding circle will give you the bottom for dice bags and the tops of coifs (those maille caps worn under a more solid helmet).  Some people make thick chokers from this pattern, and because of the extreme flexibility of this weave, you can use it for sculptural applications as well, making triangular patches to stitch together.  Most of the folk doing inlay work (think cross-stitch with little metal rings instead of embroidery knots) also use E 4-1 as their main pattern.

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My Whirly pattern is based off a slightly bastardized version of E 4-1.

European 4 in 1 is the common textile sheet of the chainmaille world.

Now…I’ve only been doing chainmaille for a year and a half, and I’ve only ever built a E 4-1 chain twice.  Both were single-strand lengths of chain, and I hated them both.

At the single-strand formation, the end rings are waaaaay too flippy.  They pop out of place.  They twist backwards.  The weave is NOT stable.

I started mailling instead with byzantine – another beginner’s pattern (and still a pattern I love to this day), and went forward from that into circular chains (the Persian and Turkish lines, mainly) because those are patterns are all stable within a short length.  You can even make a box chain by starting with Byzantine instead of E 4-1.  And, damn it…Byzantine is easier to freaking TYPE.

Chainmaille Dragon Face close in

Well, I’ve wanted to make wings for my little dragon for quite some time…because a dragon just HAS to have wings.  It’s what makes him so majestic and terrifying and stuff.  A dragon without wings has more in common with a horse or a dog than a flying, fire-breathing, terrifying reptile swooping down out of the sky like death on wings.  So I sat myself down this weekend, and decided to make a patch of this ever-so-versatile weave to see if that would get the job done.

 

Remember, I said E 4-1 can fold over onto itself and make a box chain once you stitch up the back end…so the burning question that sat me down to tackle this versatile-but-I-don’t-like-it weave was:  What would happen if I boxed up individual 3-row sections of the sheet weave?  In my head, I could see such a configuration looking a LOT like the skeletal structure within wings.

So I sat down this weekend, and wove my first sections of E 4-1 sheet.  2 sheets of rings 6 sets-of-3 wide by 27 rows deep.  350-ish rings per patch.  Just the right size for my little dragon to have wings.

I must say, I have to revise my position on the weave.  In a sheet, the entire pattern stabilizes.  The thing no longer wants to curl up, the ends no longer flip-flop around like a fish on the deck.

But the whole box chain within E 4-1 thing?  Well…that needs some more work.   Guess my imagination is more vivid than the rings will allow me…

Dragon Wings:  1.   Me:  0.  

For now

700-ish rings now locked in a pattern with no place to go but the ‘Well, THAT didn’t work’ pile, and no real will to tear it all out.

Maybe I’ll stitch the pair together and make a coaster out of it…someday.

 

 

 

 

 

Gotta Hand it to you

 

sleeping_beauty_by_jankolas-d4vbi3aAt one time, I had a dream.

When I started the T&T in 2014 on Google- the initial impetus for the blog was to take the teapot (the one on my banner) for walks.  Pose the teapot in interesting places.  Take photographs, and post with story about how I chose said location, what I did, how I got the shot…

Kinda an offshoot of ‘The Red Couch:  A Portrait of America.’

I was hoping, once I’d established there was this weird short round person in the Waukesha/Milwaukee area who’s eccentricity was taking crockery & cameras for a walk, the project would grow into having strangers on the street interact with said teapot.  Photographs would again be taken, and write ups would include a brief interview of my model-of-the-moment.

I even had delusions to morph this into a secondary blog called “Hands across Wisconsin” in which I would focus on the interplay between guest hands and the now ‘ever so famous’ teapot – a kind of travelling – weekend – long-range project.

 

Now…given that I’m an empathic introvert with a low tolerance for any type of socialization…those ideas got scrapped rather quickly.  I remember taking the teapot out for a walk…once.

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ONCE.

***idea…scrapped***

So ya’ll got stuck with my internal monologue instead 😀

 

I’m still obsessed with hands, though…and the Survey Team blog entry brought that idea back into the forefront of my mind.

Why am I obsessed with hands?

 

No other body part has as much visibility to the individual owner than their hands.  We’re continually touching, moving and manipulating things with our hands.  We bring things closer to our visual range to take a good, hard look.  We bring food or drink to our noses for a deep appreciation of the scent before sliding the morsel into our mouths for an exquisite taste.

We get a more intimate interaction with an object by experiencing its texture, weight, or temperature.  Our fingertips and palms have more nerve endings per square inch than just about any other part of our bodies (oddly enough, only your lips have more), and we use those nerve endings in an almost voyeuristic exploration of our surroundings.

Our hands can even speak when the spoken word cannot be heard – through culturally-accepted gestures.

Our hands are the way we interact with our world…and it shows within a LOT of our references.

“I know this place like I know the back of my hand…”

“He’s wrapped around her little finger…”

“Hey…gimme a hand, will ya?”

A part of me still wants to photographically explore the way we humans use our hands to interact with our world…

maybe I’ll restart that project again…

 

someday…

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