Friday, September 30, 2005

A Little Late

But that has never stopped me from rattling on. Warning: if you have not seen the movies or read the books *The Lord of the Rings* this post might not make a whole lot of sense. It also contains spoilers.

*Lord of the Rings,* written by J.R.R. Tolkien, is just about my favorite fiction work. It is beautifully written, the characters are worth caring about and the setting seems almost real.

Peter Jackson's films of the trilogy are incredible and beautiful; I love them. His attention to detail brings Middle Earth to life. The characters are wonderfully portrayed by the actors.

I have a few issues with those films, however. "Fellowship of the Ring," the first part of the story, is pretty true to Tolkien's story except for Aragorn. Tolkien's Aragorn accepted who he was; he never flinched from his duty to become king. Jackson's Aragorn seems unwilling to acknowledge who he is and that weakens him.

In "The Two Towers" we see more changes from Tolkien's story and because of the constraints of the movie format this is understandable. I do not like what Jackson does to Faramir in his story. Tolkien's Faramir is a much stronger person than his brother Boromir who dies because he tries to take the Ring from Frodo. He states this at his first meeting with Frodo in Ithilien. If he feels the call of the Ring we do not see it in the books. Jackson's Faramir almost repeats his brother's error but finally sees what the Ring will do.

Jackson's Faramir is pretty rough with Frodo and Gollum. I cringed seeing the abuse of Gollum at the hands (and feet) of Faramir's soldiers. Tolkien's Faramir is extremely gentle with the Hobbits and their guide; he displays true strength through kindness.

Jackson's Faramir is a weak leader while Tolkien's Faramir is described as a Captain who can master both men and beasts. Personally I prefer the Tolkien character as he is truly strong and noble; a man of Numenor.

There's a huge inconsistency in "The Two Towers." Elves show up at Helm's Deep and help save Rohan from Saruman's hordes. We never see anything of them though after the battle. Were they all killed? If so why is there no mention made of it? Did they go on to fight for Gondor? We never know.

Frodo, in Jackson's "Return of the King," is duped by Gollum into sending Sam away. Tolkien's Frodo would never have done this. Sam is not treated too well by Jackson, either; he was quite gentle with Gollum in Tolkien's story. When he tied the Elven rope to Gollum he made the knot quite loose. He didn't love Gollum but he was never mean to him. Jackson has Sam treating Gollum quite badly.

In spite of my criticism of the movie version of "Lord of the Rings" I still think it is a brilliant achievement. Is is, however, very much Peter Jackson's story rather than J.R.R. Tolkien's.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Catch Up


Floods seem to be happening. In early August I went to Carlsbad Caverns which is an absolutely gorgeous and wonderful cave. See it if you can.

A couple of days after returning home we were hit by a flood, the second of the year. Ow. No water got into the house, thanks be, but there's an awesome mess to clean up. Several of my neighbors were not as lucky and did have soaked homes.

A berm now surrounds my place. My heartfelt thanks go to my County Commissoner Charles Gallegos and to the Road Superintendant of Socorro County. They arranged for a county equipment operator to start the berm. Benny is an artist with that front end loader. He makes operating it look easy and he also uses it as a precision tool.

My losses are nothing compared to the mess in New Orleans. I cannot imagine the devastation in the lives of the survivors. My losses seem trivial compared to theirs. I have a small idea of their feelings.

May the survivors of Katrina find peace.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


A friend of mine told me that she thought her hands were ugly. She has a couple of enlarged knuckles and her nails are not perfect but I think her hands are beautiful.

My friend's hands are competent hands. She spins, knits, weaves and does glass work. She has made gorgeous sculptures from clay. Her hands can bathe a dog, fix dinner, make beautiful things. She cares for her grandson too.

Picture perfect hands with manicure-shop nails are overrated in my opinion. Give me useful hands that can do things and I'll show you truly beautiful hands.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Walking with Cats

The Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico is my home now. My place is about a mile from the Rio Grande and just across the road is a tract of government-owned land.

Most evenings I take a walk out there and the cats follow me. Taking a walk in desert arroyos with three cats is a hoot.

They usually run full speed around me, for each yard I walk they run several. They will pounce each other, chase each other and occasionally scare each other.

Few holes, which might be home to a mouse or other small critter, go unsniffed.

Much of this land is covered by mesquite "trees" (for a desert area like this they're trees, in a well-watered suburb they'd be bushes) that are 3 - 8 feet high and too thick for me to walk through. Like most desert plants it is quite thorny.

The cats love the mesquite because it is home to many chase-able things. I've never seen a cat catch anything on a walk; they sure have fun hunting and chasing.

I'm not sure why the cats need to accompany me on my evening strolls. They can get tto the arroyos without me. They can travel faster and quieter than I can. But if they are outside when I cross the road they will gallop after me. Perhaps they do not want the Filler of the Food Bowl to get lost.

Saturday, July 09, 2005


We are getting further away from our food all the time. As life gets more crazy we have less time to start with real fresh ingredients and end up with a healthy meal.

It certainly is easier to buy a box of frozen something and heat it up but what are we sacrificing?

Real food should have color, texture and (most importantly) taste. Nutrients will most likely be there if your food is fresh and colorful. Tofu has none of those attributes but I have been told it is very nutritious.

Sweet is nice but it is not a true flavor. White corn is sweet but it does not have rich corn flavor. Corn should taste like corn. It should also be nicely colored, yellow at least although there are a lot of varieties of colored corn.

Peppers come in a riot of colors: red, yellow, purple, orange, red and green. They are loaded with flavor and vitamins.

The more I read about nutrition the more I am in favor of brightly colored food. Lycopenes in red tomatoes and watermelons have gotten some press recently. That red stuff is good for you.

Beta carotene is another good-for-you color. Interestingly, it must be ingested in food to have the most benefit. Taking a pill won't help you much. A study of smokers taking a beta carotene supplement showed them to have more lung cancers that smokers not taking a supplement.

So lycopenes and beta carotene are good for us but only if we get them from real foods. Yum, please pass the tomatoes!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Kitchen Sink Meatloaf

There's not a formal recipe for this. Mix about 1 cup of tomato juice (drained from a 26 oz can) with 3 chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped garlic (lots) a chopped onion, a good dose of medium red chile powder and about 3/4 cup of oatmeal.

Add 2# of good ground beef and about 1/2 of a pound package of frozen corn kernels. Mix it all up and let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Prepare a large cast iron pan by drizzling a little olive oil into it and adding a thick layer of thinly sliced onion (2 large ones). Place the meatloaf mixture on the onion layer, cover with the tomatoes from the can you got the juice from (stewed, dcrushed of diced: it's all good) and bake for about 1 hour and 15 min at 375°.

Serve with a salad and corn biscuits.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

I just don't get it

"When in the course of human events . . ." begins a very important document in the USA. We are losing out rights very quickly in the good old USA. The Supreme court decision allowing local governments to take property (with compensation) from a private citizen and give that property to another private entity is just plain wrong.

Granted the local government must have a well planned plan for economic development, and it must be to the public good. I wonder how quickly a plan could be developed? A few generous campaign contributions might surely speed the process.

Carried to its ridiculous extreme (something humans are pretty good at) trhe case could be made that a local government must require that all property be used in the way that generates the most tax revenue.

Goodbye home, hello automall. Yeah, that is the absurd extension. I hope we get a little sense back in the court soon.


Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Lace is fascinating to me. I've tried various lace techniques (bobbin and needle included) and, for me, knitting lace is the most satisfying. A yarn over makes a little hole; a decrease makes a slightly raised area. Combine them and you have shapes.

My current knitting projects are shawls with lace. One is a finer gauge navy blue circular one. It has bands of Celtic knot and key designs. There are a few free charts for these patterns on my web site. The second is a Faroese style with lace in the center panel.

Knit on.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Be Safe

As I have had more to rattle about I decided to join the rest of the world and blog. When the Space Frontier Foundation had FFO running I posted the following:

Why Space?

I look at the night sky and wonder what's out there. Many stars, maybe planets like our own Earth. Or not. In my mind's ear I hear a voice, my son when he was about 8, "Mom, we're going to the creek to explore."

"Be careful, son. Want to take some cookies with you?"

"Sure, thanks Mom. See you later." I know what's at the creek, the dangers, but I have to let him go. He knows what to watch and listen for. He knows to sniff for fire, listen for the rattle of the snake, he watches for danger. I hope I have taught him well.

Several of you who are trying to go Out There are very dear to me. I see in you the explorer that is in my son. You have That Look in your eyes when you talk about the stars and rockets. I don't know all the dangers out there, I cannot know, I cannot teach you. "Stay here! Be safe! You could get hurt! You could get killed!" are the words I want to scream because I care. Instead I say "Be careful, Friends. Want to take some cookies with you?"

Be Safe, Dear Friends