Odds and Ends, An Experiment for February and Fun

My husband asked me yesterday why I was so obsessed with discovering the make and model of the car pieces I found in the woods last week. I think that my first reaction to his question was certainly a look of disbelief: how could he not understand what fun this was? It was a mystery that I found right at my feet — and it didn’t involve finding gruesome remains or scary people in masks. Not that I think such things would happen, but this wasn’t far from the House of Blue Lights, a legendary spot that has haunted Indianapolis children since the mid-1950’s, so who’s to say that there wasn’t something mysterious in those woods.

I had a FaceTime chat with my son this evening (A first; we both thought it was a bit weird) and I explained my find and how I figured out the make, model and year. I think he was astonished that his mother, who can’t find her own car in a parking lot, could have figured it out. Perhaps because he is a reader of mysteries, he was curious how I pieced it all together. I explained the clues and the research — and confessed that if I had understood the last piece I used to unravel the mystery first, I would have been done. The coding of the part number contained all of the information that I needed. But, like any good mystery, even though the information was at hand, it didn’t make any sense at first. You can see more info and photos here and here and here.

So much for my oddities and foibles. Here are some other bits & pieces:

* This recipe for Chicken Fricasse was Freshly Pressed by WordPress last week. I made it this evening and it was quite tasty. This was my first introduction to the blog Assia’s Kaleidoscope, but after looking through only her most recent posts, I see that she has some wonderful-looking recipes. I’m sure that there are a few more that I will try.

* Since I’m on the topic of food: As the lucky winner of a blog giveaway, I received The Feast Nearby, a collection of essays & recipes by Robin Mather. Many thanks to Amy Gutman of Plan B Nation for the copy of Robin’s book. It arrived on Friday, immediately causing revisions to my weekly menu plan and Saturday grocery list. This, from the cover, describes the book: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on forty dollars a week). I’m looking forward to reading Robin’s essays about her year-long journey as well as trying out more of the recipes. Tomorrow’s dinner: Robin’s recipe for Red Beans and Rice. I’ve been considering beginning a series of posts reviewing the cookbooks in my collection. I have enough to last for several weeks months. The Feast Nearby will be one of the early ones reviewed.

* Another shout-out to Plan B Nation: Amy has blogged about her “year of experiments”, a project involving adopting a particular theme each month and devising activities around that theme. Her theme for February is “Creating Order”. This could be my theme for my life! But, while I wanted to play along with Amy’s Life Experiment project, I have been on a steady organizational roll with my house for several months and felt that I needed to do something else, something not currently on that long, household projects list. I thought of several possibilities but quickly rejected them: something with photography (I experimented and learned new things about photography by shooting daily in January); something involving all of the collected items, awards and pictures from my son’s childhood before he graduates in May (I’m not a scrapbooker, and that is probably more for me than for him; while it would help with two or three boxes of clutter, it is goal-oriented rather than process-oriented); healthy cooking (too guilt inducing); writing letters (my bad handwriting is too embarrassing); listening and reading news sources from the opposite side of the political spectrum (considered this for a few days but one hour in my mother’s car, unable to change the station, listening to hateful talk radio made me want to pull out my own teeth without anesthetic).

I considered one of Amy’s rules: activities should be satisfying and maybe even fun. This, I decided, should be the most heavily weighted in choosing this month’s theme. Finally, thanks to a suggestion that Amy posted on Facebook, I decided to participate in the 30 Days of Good monthly challenge. This month’s challenge is Good Citizenship. Today’s task: Visit a news source you don’t agree with. I laughed. I have already done this once or twice recently and I will continue to do so on occasion — just keep me away from talk radio because if it isn’t fun, I’m not participating. I’ve set up a February Experiment Tab on my home page. Check back weekly for updates.

* I can’t end a post — well, I could, but I won’t — without a photograph. I’ve been experimenting with macro photography this week. There wasn’t much that I liked in today’s batch of photographs, but that’s okay. I did play around with a few of them, cropping and changing the contrast, tint and saturation levels to create abstracts. Still not wild about them. To me, a lot of photographic abstracts just scream: I took this with wrong lighting, wrong aperture, wrong shutter speed, wrong focus, but I’ll turn it into something arty. Meh. What do you think?

Blue and a Twist


9 responses to “Odds and Ends, An Experiment for February and Fun

  1. Pingback: My February Experiment, Update 1 | Four Deer Oak

  2. It is a way cool photo!!

  3. So many interesting things! Plan B Nation is something I need to pay some attention too. And wandering around good.is I ran across a link to the Telegraph article about the world’s oldest living thing (which is in danger of death through global warming and development) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/9066393/Ancient-seagrass-Oldest-living-thing-on-earth-discovered-in-Mediterranean-Sea.html.

    • Wow! That seagrass story is fascinating. 10 miles long and 100,000 years old? Mind-boggling that it exists — and that modern civilization may be threatening it. I have an oak tree on my property that the former house owner said was about 200 years old. I have no basis to know if she is right, but the tree it one of the tallest, and largest circumferenced oak trees in the area and can be seen from nearly a mile away (being at the crest of a hill helps that). Whether accurate or not, I am frequently reminded that that tree has lived through a lot and it helps me, when my ego gets out of whack, to smack my own importance in the universe into the proper perspective.

      Definitely spend some time on Plan B Nation. I think the things that Amy has posted are thought-provoking. Plan B Nation is on Facebook, too, and she frequently posts tidbits there that are related to the longer posts.

  4. Thanks for the shout out, Anne! And I love reading about your personal perspective on the Plan B Nation journey. Coincidentally, I am thinking that next month’s Life Experiment may be photography oriented (I recently acquired a digital camera that I’ve yet to learn now to use). Glad you have Robin Mather’s book in hand and hope you enjoy the recipes (as well as the essays, of course). The one I’ve tried so far–sausage & acorn squash–is a wonderful winter meal.

    • The sausage & acorn squash almost made it to this week’s menu! Happenstance intervened with the Red Beans & Rice, but I’ll make it soon.

      Making your March project photography oriented would be a great way to learn how to use your camera. If your camera has both automatic and “creative” modes (e.g, you set some or all of the controls for shutter speed, aperture, etc.) you could do something like take a picture in auto mode and then recreate it in manual mode, varying the settings to understand what effects you can choose. Your camera is only going to choose ONE setting, but by adjusting speed and aperture, you have multiple choices, each of which will change the way your photo appears, yet each could be “perfectly” exposed. It took me a long time to start shooting in manual mode but then I realized that it took nothing to do; if something turned out poorly, all I had to do was hit the delete button after studying what I did wrong. Besides, as the great photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson said: Your first 10000 photographs are your worst. If my experience is typical, the next 10,000 are improved, but not by much. Still, there is progress! 🙂