Twitter torture

Monday, 30 August 2010
I love Twitter. I fall into that category of late 20s early 30s group that is obsessed with it. I can't take a bathroom break without tweeting about it. (Not really but you get the idea.) Since I'm always on it, I do lots of "following" and "unfollowing." If someone doesn't tweet for a few months, I'll unfollow them. If someone rants about politics and religion in a way I find offensive or just annoying, I'll unfollow them.  Not anymore.

"Unfollowing" someone on twitter is similar to "defriending" them on Facebook. That means you no longer read their updates and they aren't on your "follow" list.

After a few tweets about Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin (my favorites), I decided to "unfollow" a certain woman. There's nothing wrong with her. I do not dislike her. I just didn't want to read her tweets. Well, instead of "unfollowing" her, I "blocked" her on accident. That means, when she tries to repond to one of my tweets, she'll get a BLOCKED message from me. Not good. 

This woman noticed her "blocked" status and emailed me at work. She mentioned me blocking her and I told her to please not take it personally but I mean to "unfollow" her instead. She emailed back to advise against that and threatened to stop watching the TV station I work for.  She explained in her third email that in "kicking someone to the curb" I alienate viewers. I responded with "Point taken. You are absolutely right!"

She followed up with another email about her interaction with many hotels in the Smokies and her influence on some advertising decisions. She ended the exchange with "See? We need each other."

FYI - Twitter is no longer a personal vehicle for me.  I've never had the account bleed over into my professional life in such a startling way. Lesson learned. What about you? Has Twitter bitten you in the tweeter?

Railroad Ties and Toes

Saturday, 28 August 2010

I dropped a railroad tie on my foot on Wednesday. There were four large ones (thicker than those pictured) lining my driveway and I didn't like the look of it. I did, however, like the idea of using them for a larger, raised garden in my back yard.

It was my day off and I do love a project so using a maddock and shovel, I dug out the corner and used the shovel as a tool to pry them up. I squatted, used my legs to pull one end of the board to my chest and then pushed it to a standing position against my car.

The first two ties went fairly easily. The third one was longer and I didn't anticipate the extra weight. Plus, my shovel was on the ground beside my feet. I slipped, couldn't  hold the weight and dropped it on my foot. OUCH.

I limped inside, not crying, not cussing.  After grabbing ice out of the freezer, I laid down on the floor and did lamaze breathing for about 3 minutes. Violet thought I was there to hang out so she did some rolls near my head and purred. "How can you purr when I'm in pain?" I squeaked out.

After the crushing pain passed, I got up, took two ibuphropen and went back outside. Eventually, my neighbor came home and helped me load the ties onto a wheelbarrow and move them to the back yard where I have a nice area for a garden next spring. Mission accomplished (minus one toe).

Home Brewing

Monday, 23 August 2010

Do you want to brew your own beer? The trend is all the rage in Oregon and Washington. I even had a couple of friends who made their own beer in Eugene, Oregon AND created personalized labels. Would you like to try it?

I'm seriously considering taking the University of Tennessee's Culinary Institue course on brewing. It takes work, it takes patience but in the long run, home brewing is less expensive and you can get the "crafted organic" beer you dream of.

There aren't many varieties of good brews at the stores in Knoxville. Yes, you can find the old favorites such as Kona, Blue Moon and Leinenkugel. Beyond those, what's a girl to try? 

If you think I'm becoming too much of a hippie, I can take it. Just tell me. I do love being crafty, though and I dislike most "domestic" beer choices. Might be an adventure!

PS - The beer thing is too redneck for you? There's great wine courses as well. I'm going to sign up for Wine 107. Hey - continuing education is always a good thing, right?

On the Shelf

Friday, 20 August 2010
I've read zillions of books lately (slight exaggeration) but I especially like the three I'm reviewing for your pleasure today.

The Help (fiction) by Kathryn Stockett. A recommendation by my friend Adrian, I started reading this one right away. The book is thick and the type set is small. It was a welcome challenge for me. The reader follows the lives of women in a small town in 1960s Mississippi. The white women have "help" and the "help" are treated like lesser citizens. 

One young women watches her friends treat their maids badly and decides to do something about it. She writes a book by interviewing black maids and tells their stories regarding how they are treated by their white employers. There is an underlying current of fear thoughtout the book.  The maids fear their employers are going to find out they're telling the truth about their experiences. The writer of the book fears her friends will shun her for standing up for civil rights.  The writer's mother fears her daughter will be an old spinster and needs to settle down like other "good girls."

The read is inspiring, may challenge you to do something positive for your community and will also make you laugh.

Lost Boy (memoir) by Brent Jeffs is horrifying but extememly interesting. Brent tells his story of growing up in a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or FLDS compound in Utah. He had three mothers, was constantly preached a message of obedience (Brent calls is brainwashing) and was even taught in his private academy on the compound that the reason dinosaur bones are on the Earth is becasue God used scraps from other planets to create it. 

Brent writes he was beaten with wire hangers, Lincoln Log poles, metal spoons and belts, pushed, slapped and screamed at while growing up. He says his mothers would also get into physical fights that his father would break up. Brent also reveals the Prophet of the church, Warren Jeffs, raped him at least 10 times while he was 5 and 6 as Warren's brothers kept watch.  Brent also said his older brother Clayton was raped by Warren but he evetually committed suicide.  His other older brother Dan, died from a drug overdose.  Brent doesn't know if Warren also raped Dan. The boys were too afraid to say anything to their parents out of fear of "going to hell".  Also, since the church leaders regularly gave "revelations" they supposedly received from God, the boys feared they would say it was revealed to them that the boys were lying and should be ex-communicated.

Warren was finally caught and arrested in 2006 on charges on facilitation of rape of an underage girl. He is supposed to serve 10 years to life but may be paroled.  Warren also commonly sent FLDS men and young men out of the church because of disobedience or mixing with Gentiles and would keep their wives for himself.

It is shocking what happens in this country. Extremism has so many dangers and faces.
My favorite book this summer was Farm City, The Education of an Urban Farmer (memoir) by Novella Carpenter.  She lives with her boyfriend near Compton in Los Angeles and she starts a garden in an empty lot near her apartment, literally near the ghetto. She doens't just raise corn and beans, she raises chicken, turkeys, ducks and pigs for meat. Her account is one of humor, struggle, heartbreak and hard lessons.  While inspiring, her story is also surprising. She goes so far to provide for herself and her boyfriend in holistic ways, even eating for an entire month only on things she had grown herself or could trade her produce for. Novella even gets a hive of honey bees and cries when she finds they left their cozy abode after just one year.

Please pick this book up if you've ever wanted to grow something, like the idea of knowing where your food comes from or just enjoy a good story. The writer (who has a background in food writing) even includes instructions on how to raise animals and shares recipes with her readers.

What are you reading?

Neo-Nazi Rally in Knoxville

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Picture by 6 News reporter, Josh Ault

On Saturday in downtown Knoxville a neo-Nazi group in conjunction with the Ku Klux Klan marched in support of "white power" and against mixing races (illegal immigration).  The group is from Detroit but they chose Knoxville as a place to exercise their right to free speech.  Why?  Did they think they would have a sympathetic audience?

Yes, there are still instances of extreme racism in the South (and all over the world).  No, there's not as much diversity in this part of the country as others.  But why disrupt the peace here?

Hoards of police officers lined the streets, helicopters circled overhead and the National Socialist Movement (as they call themselves) marched holding swastika flags along side Confederate flags. The leader of the group, a young white man with a shaved head, said during a 6 News interview with reporter Josh Ault (you can read it here) the swastika is not a symbol of hate and his is a while civil rights group.

They were protesting illegal immigration and calling for the white race to be "preserved." A tea party group scheduled a rally on the Arizona border at the same time with 400 supporters.  The two may or may not be related but they demonstrated for the same cause, on the same day, at the same time.

The surprising news? There were so many protesters against the group in Knoxville that their speech and chants were not easily heard. However, it seems there are sympathizers who allow their opinions to come out "anonymously." Just read the comments on online stories regarding the event.

I find it funny that some United States citizens believe "we" are the first ones to inhabit this country and everyone should assimilate to our culture and our language, period.  Imagine if Native Americans held a protest calling for all white people to assimilate to their culture and language since, let's not forget, they were already here when Christopher Columbus arrived.

Ours is a country of Scots, Irishmen, French, English... all immigrants.  My husband is going to immigrate to the US and probably "take a job" from an American. Yes, he'll do it legally and pay taxes but he's also a white guy. What would happen if he was Hispanic? He'd be looked at with disdain from many people, I'm sure.

I'm proud of Knoxville citizens who felt strongly enough to protest the National Socialist Movement.  Way to use that freedom of speech since we all have it as a cherished right. Now, let's hope education about this type of close-minded group continues.

Land of the Free

Friday, 13 August 2010
I constantly encourage others to start a blog. With more blogs on the internet, there's more space for opinions, debate and education.  On my blog, I obviously wax poetic with my opinion.  Below is my opinion about same-sex marriage.  Please feel free to post your thoughts and I ask for your respect, as I WILL respect your ideas and thoughts on the subject.

What is the big deal about allowing same-sex marriage to those who seek it?  The United States of America is supposed to be the land of the Free.  We are Free to pursue whichever religion we want to.  Thankfully, people of color have the same Freedoms as whites (remember it took a war to accomplish this) and women have the Freedom to vote (this took years of advocating).

We are painfully behind the times when it comes to Freedom of choice regarding who people wish to marry.  Canada and Mexico both recognize gay marriage.

I understand and have studied the "moral" debate which comes from conservative religions.  They would say, "God meant for one man and one woman to be together."  In fact, some religious people would say God meant for one man to be with several women to build up a kingdom in heaven.  Again, conservative religious types say "homosexuality is a sin." Cheating on your spouse is also a "sin" but people do it all the time and they are not legally banned from doing so. What's my point? I feel some voters do not realize many United States citizens lack the FREEDOM to marry who they want to marry.

Usually it is the conservative Christians who have the most to say on this subject.  But, from my religious back ground, I just cannot see why people who believe God is "all-knowing, all-powerful and omnipotent" think gay marriage would somehow prove He is lesser or tread on the idea that God is no longer in control. That's ridiculous.

In my opinion, the Freedom the USA stands for should be all encompassing.  We have the Freedom to worship how we wish, vote how we wish and all humans should have equality when it comes to marriage. 

Homemade Salsa

Thursday, 12 August 2010

I have a very generous neighbor who lives across the street.  He has a large garden and grows copious amounts of tomatoes.  He brought over bags every day so I decided to try canning.  Salsa is easy and that was my project last week.

First, you have to remove the skins of the tomatoes. Put them in boiling water for 60 seconds and then submerge them in ice water.  The skins peel right off.  I then squeezed the juice and seeds out of each one.

After chopping up the ingredients, I was ready to go.

Put all ingredients in, bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.

Spoon salsa into hot jars.  Make sure the lids are hot, put them on, screw on sleeves and place jars upside down on towels.  Leave for 24 hours.  Check seals and store jars in the refrigerator. 

Denae's Salsa
Entire head of garlic (finely chopped)
2 med jalapeno peppers (no seeds, chopped)
1 can tomato paste (small)
2c tomatoes (no seeds or skins)
1t salt
pinch of sugar
3/4c vinegar
2T oregano leaves (fresh)

Trying Times

Tuesday, 10 August 2010
My good friend(s) faced a very trying situation yesterday.  We got together to chat. She cried, I cried.  I just feel sad for because I know how excited they were about what they were going through until it went badly.

Why do these things happen?  It seems so unfair.  Life is that way I suppose.  When you're up, you're really up.  When you're down, it is hard to see the light through the tunnel.  We all have ways of coping.  But we each need to be sure to have a way of coping.  If nothing comes to mind when you ask yourself, "How do I cope?" you should find a hobby or an escape for rough times.

I enjoy journaling.  I found a gorgeous Italian leather journal at a thrift store in Putney, London while I was living there.  It has the most beautiful paper, soft leather cover and leather strip which wraps around and tucks in.  The book is so thick that I'm only half way through the journal and I've been writing in it for years.

Most of my entries are about my struggle to be with Kingsley.  The things I've written I'm sure will turn into a book some day.  Perhaps that's what hard times are for - to benefit us later in life?  That sounds so cliche in the midst of raw grief.

Eye on the prize

Sunday, 8 August 2010
Why do I do it?  I try to get things done in an efficient way and I like to work hard, quickly.  Sometimes, that can bite me in the rear.

I canned salsa from fresh tomatoes on Friday night (more about that later) and finished the process with relative success.  It was 8:40 pm and my grass was probably 6" tall.  "Plenty of time to mow the front yard before it gets too dark," I thought to myself.

Literally running to my bedroom to get my "mowing shoes," I felt energized by my novice canning abilities.  Plus, the salsa was decent. (Perhaps a bit too much vinegar and a shade too many peppers for my taste but it will be perfect next time.)

Outside, I fired up the mower on the 3rd pull and with a gleam of smugness in my eye, I started pushing the thing around the yard. I got through about half of it when the mower quit.  I primed and pulled and pulled and pulled and it would not start.  I sat down on the grass to rest for 3 seconds.  What could it be? I stood up and tried to start it again.  I pulled and pulled and pulled.  Nothing.  Then it dawned on me: gasoline!

I collected the gas can, my keys and wallet and drove to the Pilot.  The clerk noticed the can and said, "It's too dark to mow!"  By this time it was getting dark.  "Just a few more strips to go," I laughed, trying to keep the shrillness out of my voice.  Home again.

The gas cap came off easily and I filled the tank.  Feeling confident, I primed and pulled.  Then I pulled and pulled and pulled and pulled and pulled harder... nope. After trying twice more, I sat down on the grass again.  This time sweat dripped into my eye and I quickly used my fingers to wipe it away.  Bad move.

A burning sensation started near my eyebrow and went to the depths of my pupil, growing from a tingle to a roaring blaze. I had forgotten to wash my hands after cutting hot peppers.  My eye was on fire and I couldn't open it.

Fully angry now, I stood up and with only one eye open, used my fury to try to start the mower again.  Nothing.  Not able to open my eye, I muttered choice words and rolled the mower to the back of the house.  Purposefully looking away from the random triangle of grass that wasn't mowed in my yard, I went inside and told Violet it was time to go to bed.

The next day, after 8 hours of work I came home ready to win the yard battle.  Surprise!  My wonderful neighbor had already mowed it for me.  My lawn has never looked so good and I've never been so relieved.  My eye is going to be just fine.  My pride is another thing...   

Visa waiver application

Friday, 6 August 2010
With help from our attorney, this is what I've been working on for the last few weeks:


Thursday, 5 August 2010

Picture from

I looked out the kitchen window this morning and noticed a large pair of yellow butterflies.  Grabbing my binoculars (love that I'm the type of person that now has binoculars near the window), I focused in and could see black spots and blue iridecent spots on the "tail." After a quick internet search, I was able to name it.  It's the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.  So pretty!  I do love watching nature in my garden.


Monday, 2 August 2010
This picture is from DCIST
My neighbor's tomatoes have exploded (he just brought over another bag of them) and I have about 7 on the vine getting ready to blush.  So, I'm thinking about getting equipment for canning.  I've read several do-it-yourself articles online and it seems you can just use a very large stock pot with a rack on the inside.  Some thrifty canners even make their own rack out of canning rims (they need to be tied together).  Others just put a dish towel folded up underneath the jars. 

The point of the exercise would be to make salsa and maybe even pickles when my cucumbers start coming in.  Have you ever canned before?

I remember my mom, grandmother and great-grandmother canning vegetables in the summer but I'm too young to recall the details.  There are some great online articles if you're interested.  I just love the idea of growing and processing my own food so I'll have a taste of summer all winter long.