Friday, December 22, 2006

New Home-Kissing Blogger Goodbye

Blogger has been giving me way too many problems lately so GrowingSense is moving to Wordpress. From now on you can find me at or just click HERE.

Please be patient as I figure things out over there. I already have my first post up though if you want to pop over.

BTW, if you blog at Blogger, do not "upgrade" to New (Beta)Blogger if you think you ever might want to switch to Wordpress. For some reason you cannot import archives if you switched to New Blogger. For this reason, I'll keep my archives here at Blogger.

See Ya, Blogger. See ya later GrowingSense readers!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Prairie Creek Farms Holiday Open House

Duane sent me these photos from his open house (I forgot my camera), which is usually the 1st Saturday in December--Mark your calendar and bring your checkbook.

The goodies (at the "LUNCH" counter)

One of Duane's personal favorite pieces

The tree with Daniel's Train and Grandma Tia's Village. (Duane said he couldn't get a good shot with the glow of the village and the twinkle of the tree lights with his digital camera. Either the flash eclipsed the lights or it was blurry without. I think it still looks beautiful.)

Fun Snack Names

Back in our break room where all the Holiday Snacks wind up, there is a box of "Jack'n Snack."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Mall Observations

Sneering is never attractive, but it is an especially bad look for people with pronounced overbites.

A boy about 11-years old with a generally disinterested look on his face voluntarily held open the swinging trash can flap for me when I had to dump my tray at the food court.

A few religious traditions require that women wear long skirts, or skorts, and that they never cut their hair. Some of these women like to glam up and wear sequins, big curls, flashy jewelry, high heels, even furs. They face some of the same fashion challenges that drag queens do.

Three grown men in suits looking out of a 2nd floor window as they ate lunch made fun of a woman for talking to Santa Claus as he got into the backseat of a Cadillac.

The breadstick I had at lunch was the most garlicky thing I’ve ever eaten. I believe the scent it left with me and the fact that I was a nearly 40-year old man standing in the girls’ section of Hollister looking for clothing for my niece kind of freaked the sales girl out.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


John felt a cold coming on the other night on the way home from a party so we stopped by the drugstore for some Vitamin C. I waited in the car for him (yes, I should have gone in to buy it for him. I can't remember what excuse I had ready for not doing so). When he got back in he said he got the flavored chewable kind of vitamin and asked me if I wanted one. I like a good chewable vitamin. I think of them as healthy Sweet Tarts. He handed me one, and as I put it in my mouth I remember thinking it was strange for a chewable vitamin to be so big and capsule-shaped.

Biting into it was like eating concentrated lemon powder mixed with aspirin. Turns out it was just a regular vitamin. At first I didn't realize it wasn't supposed to taste that way. I just remember thinking this is why I don't buy more generics. But when I couldn't swallow I asked John if he was sure these were chewable. He looked at the label, "Oh, I guess they're not. They were right next to the chewable ones though."

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Claire's Bear Scare

Claire and I walk the same route and argue about pretty much the same things in the same spots every morning. For instance, for two and a half months now, every time we walk up to our favorite dumpster to deposit a bag of her crap, her nose becomes a high-powered electromagnet drawn to one spot approximately four feet northeast of our drop point. She goes there because it was the final resting place of a half-eaten and tire-flattened chicken wing that she discovered back in September. It was rapturous love at first smell, and for all of the right reasons I immediately forced her to leave it alone and move on.

Moving on, however, is not one of Claire's gifts. Today the only thing left of the chicken is a greasy spot in the parking lot that, at best, smells like seasoned asphalt. None of this makes any difference to Claire whose powerful nose and imagination recreates the gnawed wing in all its glory each day. She plants her nose in that precise spot every morning knowing full well that I will be yanking her away directly. I would gladly sniff the greasy ground if it resulted in that kind of optimism.

There are other predictable rituals--the forced tug away from the place where a hot dog lay in mid-October. She snagged that one and tossed it back like a sorority girl doing shots in Cabo before I knew what she was doing. I suspect we then dropped the hot dog in the dumpster the following day, but being party to all of this doesn't keep her from obsessing over the spot where she found it. She's very sentimental.

Until today, Claire's history with us suggested there were no animals that intimidated her. I've seen her get the best of German Shepherds, make friends with enormous Rotweilers and sidle up to husky Pit Bulls for a butt sniff. This morning, however, as we walked down College St. for home, we passed a mechanical polar bear. A yard ornament about Claire's size with a little motor that moved its head from side to side in a jerky and completely unconvincing motion (at least if the effect of a polar bear surveying its bed of Boston Ivy was the desired effect). We've passed this thing at least 10 times already on prior walks, but for some reason Claire only noticed it today. She threw her hackles up and immediately ran to hide behind me. Then she started growling and eventually barking.

I wasn't sure what to do. I thought about going up to pat the bear, suggesting to Claire that he was friendly, but I was worried the homeowner would come out and think I was either stealing it or crazy(why not both?). I settled for the truly insane option of explaining to Claire that this wasn't a real bear at all. The scale and texture were all wrong. It was just a poorly conceived seasonal ornament with no logical connection to Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or any other winter holiday. I think in her own way, Claire was trying to tell me the same thing, "this whatever-it-is doesn't belong here."

I'll be interested to see if I have a new obsession on my hands tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Decked Halls

This is the first year I haven't put every Christmas thing I have out. I never understood why my mom didn't put it all out until this year. By the time midnight came and went on Saturday, I'd just had enough. Part of the challenge was this sparkly antiqued silver garland that I saw at Michaels and thought I might like to use. (It doesn't really look silver in the picture, but it is.) I was about to give it a pass (I could tell it would be pretty hard to work with) but David talked me into picking it up ("You know it'll be gone next week." For some reason, fear of scarcity always seems to push me over the purchasing edge.)

I like how it turned out, but I'm not sure I would do it again. It was like massaging a porcupine.

One thing it does allow me to do is show more ornaments. The one with the frowny face I bought about five years back when my friend Felley and I were shopping at Carly's in Batesville. Felley said it reminded her of the phase her daughter Clary (a two-year old at the time) was going through. She considered buying it, but said she didn't think Clary would appreciate it later. I told her I'd buy it then because it reminded me of my brother-in-law, Paul who picks on me all the time. I didn't care if he appreciated it or not. It is one of my favorite ornaments.

Since my parents are coming for Christmas this year I got a real tree. I haven't bought a real tree in probably 10 years. I wanted a Noble Fir, but there were none to be found around here, so we got this nice Frasier from Weaver's in Broad Ripple (they have the best poinsettias, too if you need them). Funny thing though, there aren't enough branches on the tree to put all my ornaments on. Thank God for the prickly garland!

When I was over at Dave's helping him move a few boxes in their garage he pulled out this little elf. It used to be on the courthouse square in Danville (the Batesville, AR of Indiana). I told him I liked it, and he insisted that I borrow it since it would go with my other decorations. I feel a little nervous about hosting a piece of Hoosier history for the holidays, but he does seem to fit right in.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Booze and Cookies 2006 (Part 2)--The Return of Team Kifle

The heartier B and C’rs form Team Kifle to make the little cream cheese and powdered sugar envelopes that go around the filling. TK has to be hearty because they work outside in the freezing cold. They had to do without Julie again this year, but they picked up some new recruits. Veterans Dave and Kathy trained Duane (who felt guilty for having gotten by for the last two years without braving the cold), Eric and Marc. Dave referred to the newbies as TKIT (Team Kifle in Training).

Marc (whose fuzzy parka I admired all day) and Eric preferred the "no table, stand n’ pat” method of disk making, which raised some eyebrows but produced good product in the end.

The back porch is also where all of the beverages are kept because it’s basically a huge refrigerator. Duane brought this beautiful punch made with fresh cranberries, cranberry juice and white grape juice. I thought it was so pretty. It was great over ice, but for those who wanted mixed drinks, we added a splash of vodka. Duane called the new cocktail a “Snowbird” (I think in honor of all of the Mainers who leave the Northeast for the winter).

We don’t usually see a whole lot of Daniel and Mari until it is time to pack up cookie boxes. At that point Daniel is all business. Years of patrolling the hospitality table after church have made him a cookie expert. He also demonstrated his excellent new shoe tying abilities for me.

Finally, I love the picture of Mari below. It’s so America’s Next Top model. She's two years away from an editorial spread in the Fashion Issue of New York Times Magazine. If you look closely you may be able to see the little pink butterflies embroidered onto the shoulder of her parka. Unlike Claire, Mari pays close attention to what she wears.

We love the folks who are willing to come to our house and bake. It’s not really a sit around and relax event, but it and Duane and Todd’s Prairie Creek Studios Open House the day before always start our holiday out just right.

Booze and Cookies--2006 (Part 1)

Last Sunday was Booze and Cookies 2006 and as you can see by the enormous hunk of cubed Crisco (might be cream cheese) John is holding in this picture, there were no restrictions placed on the use of hydrogenated fats (seems to be a theme with our get togethers). I went a little crazy with pictures, and I’m kind of low on post topics so I’ll be posting this in two parts.

Claire, sporting her holiday sweater with polar bear appliqué on the back, which I guess is sort of the front when it comes to dogwear since she couldn’t care less about the design on her sweater, met everyone at the door. I was so focused on not yelling at her in public that I really didn’t keep track of how well her “no jumping on people” lessons were paying off. She seems calm in this picture, but I think I caught her between leaps.

Booze and Cookies usually manages to draw a guest or two from foreign, non-Hoosier places. I call this the “‘furin’ factor.” Normally, the “furiners” drive from Arkansas or Ohio; my friend Adam from China came one year. This year we got us an Alaskan! Joe, Marc and Karen’s friend, was visiting his family in Indiana so he came with them. He’s the one in the middle of the picture above holding the container of Chocolate Cherry Cookie dough, which was his favorite cookie growing up, along with Hershey Kisses (for the tops) and required baking stone(!). And he brought index cards so people could write the recipe down!! Somebody’s momma raised him right. Oh, Marc brought a bag of ice. Actually that is what I asked him to bring. He said it was an old family recipe. Joe is a fishing guide in Alaska. Since that's what I did during the summers when I was in college we had a lot to talk about*.

Dave, shrouded in his new 13.5 foot(!) scarf Sally just made him, helps Karen and Joe put the finishing touches on the CCCs. The scarf is breathtaking by the way. Not too many accessories can take you from “Autumn in Aspen” to “Yiddish Grandmother” with just a few simple flips of the wrist.

I don’t mean to obsess over these cookies, but I was crazy about them. Timing was very important—you had to eat them when they were set, but while the chocolate on top was still warm and soft. I tried really hard to capture the glint of melted chocolate with my camera.

Some of you may wonder why Master Baker, Linda, aka John's mom, isn't in the pictures? She's in the middle of a big house remodel and thought it was better that she concentrate on that this year. The group in this picture sat down to talk about how dissappointed they were that she didn't come. Actually they're watching the Colts game, the sugar shocked mind's rest activity of choice. But Linda, if you're reading this, you were missed. Everyone was sad that you and Jim weren't there.

(Coming soon: Part II—The Return of Team Kifle)

*Just kidding--I worked at Dillard's Department Store all through college.