Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

We’re Ready – Are You?

Filed under: Daily Life,Gryphon,Holidays,Special Events,Spinning — folkcat at 2:54 pm on Tuesday, December 19, 2006

On Saturday, Gryphon and I got out the gingerbread house kit we’d bought – and the massive piles of auxiliary candies – and decorated it.

Gryphon Piping Icing
Gryphon Knows How to Work an Icing Bag

Gingerbread House - Front Door
The Front View

Gingerbread House - Rear Door
The Rear View

Our gingerbread houses always have a bit of a split personality. Partly from each of us working on opposite sides simultaneously, and partly from our decorating getting sillier and sillier the further along we get.

Starting Sunday afternoon and continuing up until just a short while ago, we decorated our tree.

Christmas Tree Chez Folkcat & Gryphon, 2006
Ta-Da!

No time for close shots of ornaments now – I’ll try to do that later this week. We’ve got some nice ones there – my brother, who runs Disney’s Photo Library out in California, has sent me some wonderful Disney-themed pieces.

There are presents under the tree as well.

Craft Goddess Presents, 2006
Craft Goddess Gifts

No, the item on top of the center one hasn’t fallen over. That was the first package I wrapped, and I didn’t realize until the second one that I could get those cute little marshmallow characters to stand up under the bows.

Gingerbread House and 'Zzy-'Zzy
‘Zzy-‘Zzy and the House

Then there’s the gingerbread house in its final display spot. The table is dressed with a Swedish handwoven table runner that was my grandmother’s.

And as you can see, the largest gift I’m receiving this year stands in a place of pride, right next to the house. Her name is Dizzy Lizzy, but I’ve taken to calling her ‘Zzy-‘Zzy for short. More about her later!

The final decorative touch we’ve put in place is a new one this year. I was lucky enough to find one of the exquisite paper-cut garlands by Tord Boontje at Target. Before the meager supply sold out and was never re-stocked, that is. It is now providing a very elegant touch around the top of our entertainment center.

Tord Boontje Garland
Paper Cut Swans – Beautiful!

I love these because they are a modern take on a very traditional Scandinavian holiday decoration – paper doll-like garlands of holiday images. Usually full-color printed and die-cut, they probably stem from an even earlier, home-made, hand-cut garland. These laser-cut (I assume) designs by Tord Boontje blend the simple elegance of the originals with a modern sensibility, and an intricacy that would have been almost impossible if cut by hand.

So, there we are – decorated and ready, at last. The Craft Goddesses come for our annual party tonight, and then, Gryphon and I get to enjoy the decor until we leave for Syracuse this weekend to spend the holidays with my family.

It’s hard work, but it’s so much fun. And the results are so beautiful!

Special Surprises

Filed under: Daily Life,Gryphon — folkcat at 3:41 pm on Thursday, December 7, 2006

Sunday morning I woke up after a fitful night of restless almost sleep. My coughing was pretty bad and wore me out. As I described it to Gryphon, “I started today with a spoon deficit.”*

We had only a couple of errands to take care of, and he went out to do that without me so I could rest up. When he came home, I thought I heard a cupboard door or two in the kitchen, but I didn’t know what was going on. (Our only entrance is through the kitchen, and it’s possible to go all through the house without someone in the living room knowing it if the living room door is closed.)

Eventually, Gryphon came into the living room, big grin on his face and one hand behind his back. Once I had paused the show I was watching, he pulled out this:

Sunday Flowers

He has his moments, doesn’t he? The carnations are a beautiful shade of deep pinky-purple. And they accomplished his goal – they made me smile, and helped me remember I’ll always have him whenever I need him.

You’d think that would be enough, but you know what? It wasn’t, not for Gryphon! Later on, I went into my bedroom to discover this on my dresser:

Dresser Flowers

He’d set aside a few small carnations and a little baby’s breath and put them in a bud vase on my dresser, so I’d have flowers in my bedroom, too.

I think I’ll keep him around a while.

*I hear you. “Spoon deficit?” you’re wondering. It’s a reference to a wonderful essay I stumbled across on the web recently, called The Spoon Theory. In it, a young woman with lupus finds a way to explain to her healthy friend what it’s like to live a life where you must think carefully about the energy cost of each and every thing you do. Since discovering the article only a couple weeks ago, phrases like, “I’m out of spoons,” “I used up all my spoons,” and “do you have any spare spoons I can borrow?” have entered the vocabulary in our household.

Holidays in Review, Part Two: What Gryphon Did

Filed under: Cooking - Folkcat in the Kitchen,Daily Life,Gryphon,Holidays — folkcat at 4:24 pm on Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Perfect Turkey
Perfect Turkey

Gryphon Carves the Bird
Carving the Beast

Gryphon took complete charge of Thanksgiving dinner this year, and considering he’d never roasted a whole turkey before, he did a wonderful job.

Okay, there were some slight hiccups. For instance, since he opted not to cook the stuffing inside the bird, he really should have remembered to at least make the stove top stuffing a little later on. Oops.

Lack of stuffing aside, though, we had a wonderful dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and two kinds of pie for dessert. (That’s how we each get our favorite.)

As for the bird itself – Gryphon used a brining method (as suggested by a faithful reader of this blog – thanks!). The brine recipe was one of many brown sugar and salt variations found at www.recipezaar.com. For the actual process, he followed the steps in the All New, All Purpose Joy of Cooking (the 1997 edition), where we found a recipe for Roasted Brined Turkey. This involved cooking the bird breast side down for the first couple of hours, then turning it over for the last hour or two.

The bird, let me tell you – so tender, the drumsticks simply pulled off with the slightest tug. Juicy, flavorful breast meat. Not a bit of it dry or flavorless.

If and/or when we do this again, it’s absolutely going to be a brined bird. And if it works this well, Gryphon might even get me to help out!

W is for William

Filed under: ABC - Along,Folkcat's Fotos,Gryphon — folkcat at 2:35 pm on Saturday, November 18, 2006

The love of my life. The reason why I can do it all. The reason why it’s worth doing it all.

W is for William
Gryphon at his computer, 1998

Other than our wedding photo, this is the oldest picture I have of my husband. It’s taken at least seven or eight years ago; as you can see, his hair is darker and still long enough to put in a ponytail.

I know I call him Gryphon on the blog, because that’s his “alter-ego”. Much the way Folkcat is mine. But his actual name is William Louis Kubeck.

When his parents were expecting him, they thought they were having a girl, so they had no boys’ names ready. Then, he suddenly arrived, born on his father’s birthday. It only seemed natural to name him after his father. As he grew to adulthood, he appeared to be very like his father in every way – physical appearance, mannerisms, etc. Gryphon has often told me he considers himself and his father to be “twins born 32 years apart.”

How the Monsters Get Into My Refrigerator

Filed under: Cooking - Folkcat in the Kitchen,Daily Life,Gryphon,Special Events — folkcat at 4:38 pm on Friday, November 17, 2006

It’s happened again. Just like last year, there’s a monster in my refrigerator. (You can see a picture of last year’s monster there – scroll down a little.)

For the unitiated amongst you, here’s the story: here in New England, many small manufacturing companies still take a very paternal approach to their employees. One of the ways that manifests itself where Gryphon works is in the annual handing out of 20-lb. Thanksgiving Turkeys to every single employee.

And I mean, 20 pound Turkeys. To every employee.

Even the single ones who live in studio apartments with hot plates.

Don’t get me wrong. This is a very generous thing that they do, and we’re grateful for the bird.

It’s just that, it’s only the two of us for Thanksgiving. We’ll be freezing a lot of leftovers.

At least we have an actual oven. And a freezer.

Last year, I did the roasting of the bird. It was certainly something I’m capable of. But I don’t find much joy in spending my entire day tending a 20-lb. bird in the oven, basting it every half hour, etc. I’d rather be watching the parades and eating a Swanson Turkey Dinner. (At least, the way they used to be before they updated everything a few years back. Don’t mess with the classics!)

This year, I got to go along for the monster pick-up.Unlike many companies which hand out certificates you can take to the local supermarket, Gryphon’s employer actually collects a small truckload of the turkeys themselves. For second shift workers, that means going in a few hours early and bringing the bird home.

A Truckload of Turkeys
The Truckload of Birds

Not only that, but the birds (still in the original wholesale packaging of two birds to a box) are all directly labeled with specific employees’ names. So when you show up for your turkey, they have to hunt through the truck for your turkey.

The Monster Hand-Off
The Hand-Off

Phil was doing the searching when we arrived, and he poked among the boxes until he found the one labeled “Bill Q”. Which I guess is their way of saying Bill Kubeck. But we knew it had to be ours because, oddly, Gryphon is the only Bill working anywhere in the company.

Gryphon and the Turkey
Gryphon Gazes in Wonder

Now, after last year’s turkey, I had declared that I wasn’t going to do this again. But Gryphon, bless him, decided weeks ago that he enjoyed the whole thing enough that he would take responsibility for cooking the turkey and preparing Thanksgiving dinner this year.

I suspect the look on his face here comes from the realization of what he’s gotten himself into.

I’ll be doing my share. Something I actually enjoy is making the jellied cranberry sauce from scratch. I’ll do that this weekend, and between now and T-Day I’ll be deciding what we do about a pie or pies for dessert. If I get really ambitious, I wouldn’t rule out making one.

Mind you, we’re going to thoroughly enjoy Thanksgiving dinner. It’s actually something of a special holiday for us – we celebrate it as an anniversary. Way back in 1992, we had known each other for two years online already. But it wasn’t until he came to Syracuse to have Thanksgiving Dinner with me and my family that we ever laid eyes on each other.

So we like to have a nice Thanksgiving Dinner, and the Monster currently thawing in our refrigerator will be the centerpiece of the celebration.

Still and all – once again, there’s a Monster in my Refrigerator!

Refrigerator Monster, 2006

Tuesday in the Wayback Machine

Filed under: Daily Life,Gryphon — folkcat at 1:15 pm on Tuesday, August 8, 2006

You know I must be short of blogging ideas if I’m digging into the photo archives, right?

Well, dig I did, and I found that it’s just over a year ago that we did this to Gryphon’s hair:

Cropped Head Gryphon
Shorn Locks

The picture was taken on August 4th, a year ago last Friday. (You can read my original post about it here.) I didn’t realize it’d been this long. The event was significant because he’d had long hair all his life. As he’s gotten older, though, it’s grown thinner and become harder to keep tidy. So he asked me to help him cut it off one day. He’s kept it short ever since, and I don’t think he misses the length at all.

A Look at the Significant Other in My Life

Filed under: Family,Gryphon,Retired - Folkcat's Fiber Crafts — folkcat at 11:29 am on Tuesday, May 24, 2005

This is my husband, Bill. He’s incredibly supportive of my art, to the point of even trying his own hand at it so he can really understand. Here he is counting and bagging beads for our (once) bead store. He made the necklace he’s wearing.

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