Monday, November 30, 2009



Yesterday I made gingersnaps for the first time. They came out pretty well, although they could have used a little less ground cloves and a little more ginger and snap. In fact, the came out with very little snap; they were sort of cakey. The taste was good, though, and everyone in the family seemed to find them agreeable. Fortunately, they were very easy to make, so it will be fun to experiment with them to improve the recipe.


I made the cookies after I made some bread rolls with lots of help from the girls. Both daughters really like kneading and shaping bread dough. One of their favorite activities is to work on "twisty bread," which is Jill's name for bread dough that they can pull apart and twist and stretch into various misshapen rolls to be baked. We just use plenty of olive oil to keep hands from getting too messy. The results are always delicious.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Well, my "how Mark views the calendar year" post was such a hit, I've decided to share another view of the life of my mind.


I spend time thinking about my considerations in food as compared to other members of my family, particularly Kim. It occurred to me that I have two separate, and sometimes competing, categories of desirability when it comes to food- "delicious" and "interesting."  To me, something can be interesting-tasting, causing me to want more, even if there is something unpleasant about the taste. Texture plays a large role here, too, for food can have an interesting feel to it that competes with a dislikable flavor.


So I made a chart. Zone 1, of course, is the best, showing examples of food that I find both delicious and interesting. However, anything in zones 2 and 3 are still good. I will eat them and enjoy them.


You may note that there isn't much in zone 4. There aren't many things I won't eat. I couldn't think of anything to put in the far corner of zone 4 that anyone would actually consider food.


Note: I don't actually visualize any charts while I eat. I had to make this up out of whole cloth just for this blog.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cataloging coins


I stayed up a little too late last night trying to finish a numismatic job I undertook almost two years ago: cataloging the world coins that one of my uncles received from his uncle as a child. I've been working on it very inconsistently and could have finished it a long time ago if I hadn't let other projects take priority. The only think I have left to do is put a couple of nicer-looking coins in some protective holders, and I'll call it quits.


It's a really great assortment of coins if you're not interested in high-value stuff. Very few things are worth more than a dollar.  Most have a book-value (a notoriously unreliable estimate) of 25 cents or less. However, most of them are in great shape, and they're a fun sampling of nations in the early '50s.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


 I metal detected at a park during my lunch break today; found three quarters, three dimes, and a penny. It was a little cold.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Yesterday afternoon Jill put a little hair clip in my hair. "Oh," I said, "don't I look beautiful."


"No," Jill replied, "you're not beautiful, but you're cute."


New art supply store in Clifton

I just found out that there's a new store on Frankfort Avenue, though I haven't been there yet.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


 I raked the front yard, and got most of the leaves to the compost pile. Unfortunately for me, I had to leave one big pile in the middle of the yard for the girls to play in. They would have been very upset if I had carted it off, so it will remain for a few days.  The neighbor's tree still has some leaves, so I'd have to do a little more raking anyway.

Pile of leaves


Pile of Leaves


Garlic in two colors, so far

Here is one of the best of the prints I ran a few days ago. You can see the registration problem I was having, especially if you click on the image to enlarge it. The misalignment of lines in the garlic is pretty evident. I suppose that the third and final color, black, could either worsen the problem or sort of hide the error, so this one might still be OK.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Garlic print update

I started printing color #2 on the garlic last night. This was mostly a test; I used some "reject" prints first, and then used one or two that were close to being reject.


Results are mixed. The colors look great together, and I like the overall effect, but proper registration has been tough. This print has more tiny details and thin lines than had the giraffe print, and I didn't leave room for mistakes (with the giraffe, due to the nature of the shapes and how I carved them, very slight registration problems weren't as noticeable.) Being a millimeter off makes a big difference.


The hardest part, though, is the ink. The only thing I've ever used is Speedball water-soluble ink; it's the only thing I've seen at any local stores. However, every printmaker whose opinion I've heard has been sort of down on those inks. At the very least, I'd like to switch to oil based, because the drying time for water based ink is so short that it makes the work sort of frustrating. It's also supposed to transfer better, which I would appreciate.


I won't be doing another reduction-cut print for a while. If I can generate a little art supplies capital, I'll get some better ink and better paper, and then I'll do it again. For a while I'll just stick with single-color prints, though.


I don't want to sound too down on the garlic prints, though. It's tough work, but I'm optimistic about the results.


(photos to follow sometime soon)


Monday, November 09, 2009

Dirty Contact

Well, I'm tired of having that BBC page as the lead post on my blog, so I guess it's time to offer another glimpse into a dark corner of my brain.

Here's something I think about whenever there is lots of food sitting out for picnics, cookouts, holiday parties, etc. This means I'll be thinking about it a lot in November and December, since they are the months that are most packed full of this sort of thing out of the whole circular counter-clockwise running year.

Imagine a food storage container, virtually any kind that has a lid (as represented by figure A, depicting the container with the lid sitting next to it.) It could contain a casserole, or cookies, or corn pudding. You worked hard on the food, using your nice clean kitchen and nice clean cookware, and you washed your hands before handling it.

You put the food in it and close the lid. The food is now protected. Then you put it in your refrigerator, where the bottom of the container sits in whatever has spilled, dripped, or leaked onto the shelf since the last time you cleaned the refrigerator. Then you take it out again to bring to your Christmas party, or Holiday brunch, or whatever, and in the process you sit it on your kitchen counter, then on your dining room table. You carry it in your hands, then your three-year-old carries it for a few minutes, then you sit it on your car hood as you load stuff into the car. Then you sit it on your car seat or in your car trunk. Then you carry it into the party, where it sits on someone else's table, but before you sit it down their dog licks it a few times, then people bring more food and your container gets slid around and moved from place to place to make room.

Stuff gets spilled on the table: cookie crumbs, gravy, juice, pieces of ham, frosting (note the brown crud on the table in figure B.)

The outside of the container it now pretty much like your kitchen floor or your car hood.

This doesn't matter, though! Your food is still in the container. It is protected.

Then the container gets opened up. People eat out of it. It's just the way it works, everyone is okay with it, people reach in and pick up cookies, or use the spoon to scoop out the casserole, or whatever. That's person-to-person contact, with risks minimized by hand-washing perhaps, but everyone knows it's happening and you just deal with it.

But here is the thing that I always notice: People take the lids off the containers and put the lids, upside-down, underneath. The inside of the container lid is now flush against the bottom of your food container. The inside of the container lid is now the same as the upholstery of the trunk of your car.

So then the party wraps up, and everyone puts the lids back on their containers. The food is now stored with everything the bottom of your container has touched. (figure C.)

Why not just go around licking kitchen floors?

I know it's silly. I really don't care that much; I mean, I'd wrestle a chocolate chip cookie from a dog's mouth. I do, in fact, eat things that fall on the floor on a fairly regular basis, even though I know that the 5-second rule is a load of baloney. It's just something I think about, every time I see it occur.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

BBC News headline

The British are pretty funny. If someone at did this, they'd get fired.

A Penny for the Guy

Happy Guy Fawkes Day! Do they say that over there? Or do they just say "God save the Queen" and shoot of some roman candles?


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

I haven't been metal detecting in a long time

and I want to go soon.


House drawing

Here's my most recent drawing. It's 5 x 7 inches, and again drawn with my homemade black walnut ink.
I've also commenced cutting away more of my linoleum block so that I can print the second color of my reduction-cut garlic clove picture.  I'm finding it very difficult to figure out how much to cut away for the second color. It would be nerve-wracking, except that I can't really attach that adjective to such a slow process.
I also painted for a couple of hours last night! It's the first oil painting I've done in a really long time. I modified a painting that I thought I'd completed six years ago but was never happy enough with, and then worked a little on an unfinished but promising painting that I've had waiting in line since October 2007.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

pumpkin carving



We walked in the Halloween Parade in St. Matthews, in Kim's dad's neighborhood. The parade has been held annually for about fifty years, and consists mostly of kids. Then we trick-or-treated there and then again on my parents' street.
(We don't know the bumble bee dog or his owner, they were just passing as the photo was taken.)

School bus

This photo is from a few weeks ago. The assignment was for art class, in which they were studying folk art. The students were given a block of wood and told that they must make a toy from recycled, reused, or scrap materials--in the folk art/craft tradition.
This particular artist took the "recycle" part pretty literally, and focused mainly on stuff she could pull from our recycle bin. She decided to make a school bus, and created it all herself (there was minimal parental help, consisting mainly of helping her press down the Scotch Tape firmly.)
I'm so proud of her!