Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday Morning with TJ

Allow me to introduce you to
The Amazing Atheist.
TJ Kincaid.

You might think he's just another privileged middle-class white guy
with the inability to keep his controversial opinions to himself.
I think you're wrong.

I don't mind listening to this guy holler every once in a while.
He's usually saying the same things I'm thinking.
Sometimes he's a few steps ahead of me.

This is all that I have for you today, I'm afraid.
I think it's enough.
This week I'm focusing on making things out of paper, not the interwebz.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

John K. King's Used and Rare Books of Detroit

So, I finally went to King's.
It was inevitable.

Here's a peek into our trip into Detroit's
What began as a 4-story glove factory
is now a sprawling maze of books and other
paper items concerning every topic you could 
possibly imagine, and then some.
King's downtown location is Michigan's largest
book shop. I wonder where it ranks on an international scale...

I was overwhelmed, but also underwhelmed by what I found.
I'm not sure what I expected, so I cannot say what it lacked.
Nonetheless, this place is absolutely AMAZING. 
King's was established in 1965, just three years before Curious opened.
I've only been to a handful of shops like Curious and King's.
These places are usually dusty, disorderly and rather whimsical.
They're full of treasures lost and found, as well as a lot of rubbish.
Stores like these are increasingly rare - much rarer than the items they offer.
Finding a place like this can make you feel as though you've 
entered a rift in time, or someone's junk shop. 
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.


 Did I mention how HUGE this old factory is?
I wish I could properly describe it, as well as where
it sits within Detroit. It's practically invisible, if you don't know 
to look for King's. In the muted landscape that is downtown,
the bookstore's faded facade easily blends into the 
downtrodden haze of Detroit's cityscape.
There were signs in the stairwell to help direct cold winter customers to
one of the few "warming stations" available. The cost of heating this entire building would be
astronomical, and you can rule out space heaters in a four-story pile of paper and dust!

I wandered further and further into the building with eyes wide and camera ready. 
I refused to look at the books themselves, trying to take in the forest rather than the trees. 
It's too bad that I hadn't brought a list of books to look for, 
as this wasn't the sort of place to just start browsing. 
I was too anxious, flitting from one little "room" to the next, 
weaving between the cases and boxes and trying not to focus on the spines.

King's is doing about as well, economically, as the other remaining stores of its ilk. 
Can you imagine how many people it takes to run a sinking ship? 
I admired the bookkeeper aprons worn by the roaming staff members, 
with bulging pockets and what looked like permanent dust stains down the fronts. 
One long-time clerk with whom I spoke for quite some time seemed a bit jaded. 
For once I was grateful for the limited space that is my little Curious Book Shop.


Planks and cinder blocks - sometimes you can't wait
for just the right bookcase, even if you're a bookseller
who is offered dozens of bookshelves every year!

King's was astonishing, wonderful, terrifying and utterly unique. 
I can't believe it had taken me so long to get there! 
The Husband couldn't believe that I only bought 2 books, for a grand total of $10.
Next time, we're going back with lists of books to look for, as well as flashlights...

Basic Banana Bread

One night a few months ago, the Husband came home with a sack full of bananas. 
Bunches and bunches of bananas. 
15 pounds of over-ripe, discarded bananas 
that he "got for a steal" ($2) at Quality Dairy after they had ordered far too many.

Bananas. What can you do with 15 pounds of bananas!?

Well, we made dozens of banana muffins, 
a few loaves of banana bread 
and a sack full of dried banana chips.

Flash forward to yesterday, 
when we got back home from the cabin 
to be greeted by three over-ripe bananas hanging in our fruit basket. 
Their skins were so thin and brown that I figured the bananas 
would practically mush themselves! 

Just right for a nice loaf of banana bread to see us through until Thanksgiving.

This tasty, healthy bread is a snap to make and tastes 
simply divine when you toast a slice and spread on some peanut butter.

Baking time: 60 minutes at 350°
Recipe makes 1 loaf

1. Chop the butter into a few smaller pieces and cream it in an electric mixer. 
 Beat in both eggs and the banana mush. Set aside.
2. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. 
3. Stir the wet banana mix into the dry mixture, only until just combined. 
Stir in the vanilla, nuts, cinnamon, etc. Don't over-mix it! It should be a bit lumpy.
4. Plop the batter into a greased bread baking pan.
I swear by my trusty Pyrex. The easiest way to grease a pan
is to use the wrapper from that stick of butter! I also recommend
sprinkling flour into the pan, to help the loaf come out cleanly.
Let it cool fully, then run a butter knife between the bread & pan to loosen it.

"Life Lessons in Simplicity, Service and Common Sense""

A great debate has been raging in recent years about how to
improve our schools. I believe all good schools must recognize that the
moral growth of students is at least as important as their intellectual growth.

That's what some educators mean when they say that the only
proper education is amoral education - which is
not to be confused with a sectarian education.

The goal of Quaker teachers is to imbue students with the desire
to let their lives speak when they graduate and enter the adult world.
Non-Quaker educators express the same view somewhat differently
when they proudly describe a former student as a productive and
useful member of society, an exemplary parent, a warm and responsive
human being, an altruist. We can't simply focus on turning out
academically well-prepared graduates who will be accepted at the
colleges of their choice or enter the workforce with
excellent prospects for advancement.

Formal education is only a jumping-off point for a lifetime of learning and doing,
and what concerns good schools and good teachers is how
students apply the learning they acquire to living their lives.

From Robert Lawrence Smith's A Quaker Book of Wisdom (1998)

Smith's book has been floating around the house for the past few months,
and every time I pick it up I find little golden gems of truth and sensibility that
I find even more special and inspiring as the year winds down to a close.

Right before we left for the cabin (literally, while the guys were packing the truck)
I decided to dismantle the living room in preparation for the holidays.
I had tricked it out thoroughly with little gourds and pretty goldenrod
and other harvest-ish things. When we got home from the cabin, I came to
the sudden and horrifying discovery that we have pretty much zero
holiday decorations. We used to have loads... but I just can't find them.
So, we're back to a bare walls and a sad-looking mantle for the interim.

Our trip Up North was fun! The goal was to come home with a few
deer to eat for the next 12 months. Three experienced hunters, in blinds,
with bait apples and de-scenting spray... and the most exciting thing spotted
was a lone turkey. Just two days before on the same land some friends bagged
two does and a buck, so we know they're out there. Somewhere.

We hit up Shorts Brewery, in Mancelona, on Friday night. SO COOL!
I loved their sample paddles. For about $8 you can choose 5 beers
from their list of 20 or so. The Bourbon Wizard is not my friend,
but their grape juice based "Da Vine" was delicious!

We're headed back up right after Turkey Day lunch in Williamston
for Bag Some Deer, Round Two! We're also on the look-out for
Christmas trees and decorations, as well as some cheap land
on which to build our dream compound.

Here are just a few photos from when Sean and I went to
Elk Rapids on Saturday.

(If anyone can make these last two crazy shots into
an epic .gif, PLEASE DO SO. Then, send it to me. Please.)

EDIT - Blahhh! The centering/spacing is all off. I don't feel like fixing it again.
Sorry if it loads for you like it did for me.
Hopefully, your browser is better/smarter/faster/stronger.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

And I disappeared into the Groove...

I wish YouTube had a "repeat" feature,
so I could set it and forget it.

One of my favorite songs,
covered by one of my favorite musicians:

The song: Home
The original artist: Marc Broussard
The cover artist: Mysti Mayhem

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Giving up on NaNoWriMo 2011

It's been one week,
and I'm officially throwing in the
NaNoWriMo towel of defeat.

Each November, this writing craziness
affects people in different ways. Some,
obviously, end up writing the first draft
of a new novel that they can then stuff
into a drawer, or possibly edit. Some
struggle for weeks, trying to meet the
daily requirement of about 1700 words.
Some have no trouble, breeze through
their first novel and end up writing a
second one "just for fun". And some,
like me, realize that they have
and so they give up and get back to all
of the tasks they'd been avoiding while writing.

I'm back.
Classicon 40, the book shop's big pulp and comics
show, is this weekend. There's enough on my plate,
and I don't feel too remorseful in giving up.
Maybe next year...

My story was a pleasure to work on!
Post-industrial America, specifically the northern
bits of the Lower Penninsula. A bunch of survivalists
and their quirks, quandaries and qualms.
Good stuff.
I quit writing on the 3rd day, but I am up to 4595 words.
Back into the drawer you go!

The weather is crummy and cold,
but things are still blooming in our back yard.

Look at these pretty pea blossoms!

I love this colorful riot of Swiss Chard.
It's stalks become brighter after a frost or two,
and the leaves get even tastier!

These flowers were the first we planted last spring.
They're hardy little buggers!

full sized pick-up trucks in our little driveway.

I'm loving Christina Grimmie's cover of Stereo Hearts:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Photo Dump

I've decided to give NaNoWriMo a go,
so I may not continue to post as often as I have been.

I might as well try, though!

Here's what we've been up to, this week:

We hit up the East Lansing Farmers Market - the last of the season! We've only missed a handful of these Sunday markets since it began a few years ago.
We get most of our shopping for the week is done here,
and we've made some good friends along the way!

With the colder weather, most everything in the garden
has been frozen to death.
Last flowers of the season!

And, as requested, here is my awesome Halloween costume.

I realize that this post is mostly pictures, rather than words.
Normally I would apologize, but...
Whatever, it's NaNoWriMo!