Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Changing of Faces

"Halloween is the one night a year 
when girls can dress like a total slut 
and no other girls can say anything about it."
~ Lindsay Lohan, "Mean Girls"

This quote came to mind as I was driving through the downtown last night. Every manner of "hot" costume was parading in 3-inch heel, off-balance zig-zags down the streets. Firemen with hot pants jambed up butt cracks. Rainbow Brites that could easily bump the lovable cartoon up to PG-13. And several Playboy Bunnies that seemed to be lost not only on the street but also in inebriation.  Yes. Every year I poke fun. And every year I scoff at the long-legged, half-naked sorority clones huddling together for warmth against the forty degree wind chill. And damn it, every year I get that secret yearning to join them in skankdom.

And luckily, just as I was considering a purchase of some kind of skin-baring monstrosity (Like the hot Snow White, or the hot kitty, ...or the hot plumber? Ew.), a bellydancing friend put out the invitation for what is becoming a yearly tradition. Her family owns a small farm house and cow ranch just a few miles out of town - the absolutely perfect location for a Halloween party.* As well as the perfect location for a costume photo shoot. Several of us chipped in bags of costuming and our photography skills until we lost our light for the evening.

Then it was off with the costumes to munch on hors d'ouvres, fry up some burgers, and watch the terrible movie of choice - Fire and Ice. Ah, rotoscoped, half-naked, no-visible-plot line, 80's goodness. 

This was, beyond a doubt, one of the best Halloweens I've ever had. I hope everyone enjoys theirs tonight! Happy Halloween!

*Apparently, this is also the perfect place to test the amount of love your daughter's new boyfriend has for her. Elena tried bringing her boyfriend (now fiance) home for the weekend only to be thwarted by her parents - who weren't exactly comfortable with the two sleeping in the same location. Instead, Andrew was required to spend the night alone in this farm house, several miles away from Elena's house, in the middle of nowhere, with funny smells, inhuman sounds, mouse skeletons and box elder bugs, and only one light out by a decomposing barn.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Thank You Post

It's time. Well, it was actually time back at Mabon - but none-the-less! I feel that these few crazy days before the end of the year are just perfect to dish out some long overdue thank you's...
Thank you to the Witchy Godmother, Faerie Sage and Jennifer for the triple Triple Blog Award (I suppose that makes it the Three Cubed Blog Award... or the Twenty-seven Blog Award?). It feels good to get an award from three ladies whose writings and music I so enjoy. Actually, Witch Godmother, I have to confess that I first followed your site because I loved your hat in your profile photo. I thought, "A woman with a hat like that has got to be fun." And Faerie Sage, I really enjoy seeing your photos of your cooking adventures. Jennifer, I've been listening to your play list as a radio for the last hour. :) I don't normally pass awards along (fifteen is a lot!) but if I did I would hand you all a Three Cubed Blog Award as well. 

Thank you to Plumrose and everyone else who entered the contest for my amigurumi toad. Can you believe it? I actually got a request to make another one from the post office worker who helped me mail the little guy yesterday (Apologies on the lateness PR. He said it should get to you by Saturday at the latest.)! He's even going to pay me for it! Maybe this is a future small business for me? :)

A big thank you to Leeanna for always keeping our spirits up with the absolutely insane videos she finds for us, and for waking up the latent Texan in me. And to Mrs. BC - I love your stories! I especially love hearing about life in, what one of my students calls, "opposite land". ("Jacob, it's not quite opposite. It's just in the southern -" "No! It's opposite land! The toilet water flushes the other way! That makes it opposite!" "...But couldn't we be the opposite ones?" "No, because our toilets flush the right way. Duh!" I tried BC. It was a losing battle.)

And a special thank you to the other bellydancing witches out there - RetroKali and Soraya. RetroKali, I love the video reviews you do. They're some of the only ones I've found that have women (and men) with different body types outside of tall and skinny. And Soraya, I love reading about your Florida adventures in bellydance, college and fire poi. It makes me want to move back! :)

And it might sound like an Oscar speech, but a big thank you to all of the followers out there. Not just the once on DWASW, but even the ones that follow other sites. You really are the ones that keep blogs going, and you're the ones that have kept this blog going. Isn't it cool to have powers? :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Life, Death, & Rebirth

I've been watching the trees so much lately. Madison moves a bit slower than the forests up north, so this week marks the end of the oranges, reds & yellows for the year. One maple in front of the apartment has been desperately trying to hold onto it's foliage - giving the effect of a balding, medieval monk. As funny as it looks, I understand the need to keep the things we know and love. Let's face it, for many of us, change scares the crap out of us. One day we're sprouting buds, and the next day we're losing them again. And while that usually takes years - or in the tree's case, one year - I feel like the change in my life has come like some kind of midnight frost, and all of a sudden I'm buck naked for the winter.

To start, my second niece was born in early August, and already her baptism is coming up in two weeks. My husband and I acted as godparents for my first niece at her baptism. We were so nervous because, although we have been in a church before, neither of us had ever been in any kind of Christian ceremony. The two of us kind of stood like doufuses as the minister gingerly guided us through each step of the process - like he was teaching ballroom dancing to the rhythmically challenged. Everyone was grinning at us the whole time because my sister-in-law had explained to the minister that I was Wiccan, my husband was humanist, her husband was atheist, her parents were recovering Catholic/Seventh Day Adventist, and she was United Church of Christ. He was so happy to hear about a family coexisting amongst religious differences that I think he almost wet his pants. Thankfully, he didn't. But he did end up giving a sermon about religious tolerance. So our family ended up being the visual aide for the entire congregation the week after. This time we're not the godparents, but we still get to go and see my niece swimming around in a yard or two of baptism gown.

I must say I'll need a good celebration of life. After choosing to be off her medication several weeks ago, my last, & favorite, grandma passed away yesterday in her sleep. She would tell me I'm not supposed to have favorites, but I'll never break the love I've had for her since I was old enough to have lasting memories. She was always the grandma that spoiled me rotten (Once she sent me home with two bags of M&M's disguised in a purse she had given me. My parents were none the wiser until they saw the empty bags two hours later and the inevitable sugar high that would last most of the car trip home.).  But she was always the grandma that supported me in every way, telling me, "Lauren, you can do whatever you want in life as long as you're happy and healthy. ... But don't get old! You're not allowed to get old!" Every person has that certain smell, too. And yesterday I buried my face in an afghan my grandma had given me just to take it in again. She smelled like flowery perfume, polyester, and fabric softener; she smelled like the 50's. My grandma is the person that, if I could have been selfish and held onto her just a bit longer, I would have in a second.

But if the season teaches us anything, it's that nature and life have a way of balancing themselves out. And while no one will ever be able to replace my grandma, there are always those to celebrate who are with you through those hard times. Last weekend my best friend finally got married after dating/being-engaged-to his girlfriend/fiance for five years. The wedding day was fairly chaotic, with the florist not being able to get the correct flowers, being an hour & a half late, and delivering the flowers to the wrong church. The bride, who is usually a happy camper, was not. The hair stylist ended up only booking one chair for the bride instead of the whole party, and the veil almost got crushed in the bottom of a suitcase. Luckily, the flowers got there in time, the hair got did, and my friend saved the veil by blowing it smooth with a hair dryer. When it finally came time to watch the bride walk up the aisle, I was focused on the groom's face. We've been best friends for years, and the look on his face when his fiance came in was the same one he gets when he decides that something is going to be fun. It's also possible that he was telling himself a joke. We stayed up all night partying and swing dancing (And I gave a quick toast that was just fine. Although, I kind of forgot to actually give a toast. That's okay, the groom covered for me.). 

It's these moments that mesh together to make life; and frankly, I sometimes think I've had enough of it. The seasons move on though, and we try to accommodate, mourn and celebrate every moment and every memory as much as we can. I'm reminded of the first Samhain ritual I ever attended, and the first Samhain chant I ever learned:

I do not seek to stop,
To stop the wheel of change.
I do not seek to stop the wheel of change.
But to dance.
Yes to dance.
Let us dance in it's turning.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Simplicity Amongst Chaos

Cooking Adventure: Cinnamon Corn Tortillas
Source: Me
The Bellydance Soundtrack: 
 Fleecing Punters by Pentaphobe 
(Because it's a slow, plodding kind of song. And sometimes we need that.)
Prep Time: 3-5min.
Cook Time: 10 min.

Have you ever had that feeling of complete and total boredom that comes when you get into your car to run the tenth errand of the day? Tomorrow I'm heading to our friendly Midwestern neighbor, Minnesota. And despite the fact that it's a trip to serve as the best matron in my friend's wedding, I can't help but want to claw at the car windows. Sure my Corolla is taking me to new and exciting events. I don't mind those. It's the broken days that come from the drumming beat of in-the-car-out-the-car-in-the-car-out-the-car. Trust me. That's a beat that is not fun to dance to.

In addition, I'm in charge of giving the wedding toast to a reception hall of 200 people. This after I've strutted through giving toast speeches for high school and college projects. With quite the undeserved sense of accomplishment, I'd give excellent toast speeches. Ones worthy of the A's I got. And I'd swagger away with my grade thinking, "Suckers. I'm a girl! I'll never have to do this in my life!" And now the hammer has come down on my head. I'm giving the toast for my best friend that I've known all through high school and college, and I have no idea what to say. I believe that were any of my previous speech teachers dead right now, they'd be having a good chuckle at my expense (in that way that only the recently dead who have attained slight omnipotence can do).

In the midst of tediousness and stress, a simple recipe is a welcome relief. These corn tortillas came from a recipe for sweet potato & apple soup (which turned out a bit complex and tedious itself). I nixed the salt to leave it as just a quick, handmade snack for yet another car trip.

- Yellow corn tortillas
- 2-3 cups of vegetable oil for frying
- Cinnamon
- Sugar
1. Cut the tortillas into 1 inch strips.
2. Mix equal amounts of sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Around 2Tbsp. of each does the trick.
3. Pour in the vegetable oil into a large skillet. The trick with frying is to pour in enough oil so whatever you're frying won't hit the bottom. Since we're working with flat tortillas, you don't need too much oil. Heat the oil on medium-high heat.
4. Fry the tortilla strips until golden (Around 2 minutes to start, but the process will go a bit faster with every batch as the oil heats up). Shake off extra oil and remove them onto a paper towel to drain.
5. Immediately sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mix on the tortillas.
6. Let them cool for a minute and enjoy!

P.S. Does anyone else ever feel this need to simplify? I'm curious to know what other people's ways are of slowing things down.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

And the winner is...

Primrose Lane!

Congratulations! You win this frog head and a green olive!
Heh, heh. Just kidding. :) He's in the final stages of being put together. Drop me an email & let me know where I should send him this week.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ah! I Got Tagged!

 "Oh holy gods!! What the? OH GOD! That's some kind of... woah!" This went on for quite a while as I cleaned out the cupboard where I found the rotten, moldy, liquefied bag of potatoes yesterday. For the love of all that is good, people, use your potatoes! Or suffer nasty, disgusting nose-wrenching wrath!

Also, a while back Geeksandwich over at Unicorn Pencil threw out some random questions for me. And if there's anything I'm ready for after a very long week and battling potato stink, it's random questions. :P

**And no. The sewer horse has nothing to do with anything. It just makes me giggle.

1: Would you call yourself a geek?
Hm... I enjoy making Monty Python references. I listen to public radio all the time. And I fully enjoy Katamari for PS2. I think so.
2: Where do you like to hang out?
Absolutely downtown Madison and anywhere that offers free Taquitos. If anyone finds that second place, let me know.
3: If you could have ANYTHING for a pet, what would it be?
God. I'd teach it to do tricks! "Go God! Go! Get the stick! Good job! ...Oh no... a robber! Smite 'em boy! Smite 'em! <Lightning explosion> Excellent."
4: If you could only eat one kind of food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Don't make me choose!
5: Do you wanna help me blow stuff up?
I've already got my safety goggles on.
6: Rock, paper, or scissors?
My pet God.
7: If you could meet any celebrity, who would it be?
Zoe Jakes - most amazing tribal fusion bellydancer ever
8: What kind of clothes do you wear?
The kind without holes, and bellydance costumes.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

These Hallowed Halls

Fall means the beautiful colors, the brisk weather, and the return of kid logic. Ah, how I love this time of year. ... Mostly for that third one.

Today from an eighth grader after hearing a story about a man's ear getting chopped of in an accident:
Miss Lauren. Psst. Miss Lauren. 
What, Amy?
Can your ears grow back?
...No, Amy. No they can't.
Woah! Then that guy lost his ear forever? That's bad!

Yesterday from a sixth grader who chose to play outside for recess:
Are you looking for something, Eric? You look confused.
Yeah! I'm looking for the ping-pong table! You said we could play!
Eric, where do we keep the table?
In the cafeteria.
Then why did you think we'd move it outside?
...You mean it's inside!?
<nodding and trying not to giggle>
Why the heck am I out here then!?

And the best, last week from one of our autistic students who often doesn't think before he says things:
Now we're going to do acroyoga! Woo hoo! Like we did last year!
Wait a minute, Jason, how do you know what acroyoga is? You didn't even want to do it last year.
I know what it is!
Okay then, what is acroyoga?
It's where kids climb on top of each other and do things to each other! Yay!*
*Acroyoga is actually bone-stacking. We had yogis come in and teach the kids how to balance on top of each other in different acrobatic positions. It requires a good amount of trust and concentration, and in no way, shape or form, "doing things to each other".

Sunday, October 3, 2010

In Da UP... Ya Der.

Pulling up to the house late Friday night, my husband had to stop the car so we could stare at the new barn going up. My mother and father-in-law's house has always been an ever-growing project, from the mini-vineyard, to the squash patch, to the gazebo. The barn is the latest edition to the "family plantation".

Saturday we spent most of our time at a local corn maze - dodging the mud patches and chasing after my monkey niece. My other niece, and the newest member of the family, decided to hang out with warm grandpa for the day.

My sister-in-law celebrates our escape from the corn maze. "Deliverance!"

We also visited the Black River State Park. We decided on the theme of the day walking out of the woods that morning: 

"This is so beautiful. I feel like I should be doing some kind of spell, or reciting an incantation or meditating or something. But you know what? Sometimes you just don't need all that. Sometimes things are just really good on their own."