Thursday, July 31, 2008

George Bush's Vault 2

We set out around 5pm with the proclaimed goal of "going to George Bush's house." Yet even at that late afternoon hour, it was still swelteringly hot and humid out, so we only wore bikini tops... a choice we would partially regret!

We traveled along a hiking path we've trod many a time in the past, and were delighted to see that even though we've had no rain, the scorched earth was already regenerating!


The ground

New life

Even this "dead bush" shows signs of revival!

I love this shot

More ferns

And the unharmed forest looked as beautiful as ever. We call this section Lothlórien.

The Golden Wood

It was then time to step off of the beaten path and follow a deer trail, that immediately had three dark signs. The first was a large fallen tree that blocked the path (and would be a perfect spot for a rattler).

The second was a skull.

The third was... Snape's potion bottle, which meant he was out there somewhere...

We passed through some very pretty groves.

...From then on it was rather torturous, bending and contorting to avoid poison oak, getting our backs torn open from branches, until, just when we were about to give up, I noticed a cable.

A few steps further, and I could see a eucalyptus tree. Native to Australia, these trees are obviously planted by humans when seen in California, so I knew we were close.

Still, seeing the looming structure through the brush was just as horrifying as if it were unexpected.

As we approached we noticed that... unfortunately as we'd suspected... it wasn't a vault at all, but rather a series of tanks. To make all of our cuts stinging with sweat burn even more was the discovery that there was a nice cleared road leading up to it on the other side.

The very old tanks:

George Bush, we weren't impressed.

I knocked on a few and they sounded empty... maybe propane?

The trek home was even more harrowing as we climbed over the ridge to return along a different path... a path that not only sliced up our backs once more, but also cut our legs in so many criss-crossing patterns that it looks like scrape latticework. Along the top of the ridge I found a mountain lion track on the sandstone.

And discvered that the fire retardant that they dropped to put out the blaze killed all the leaves it dropped on, creating more fire fuel. Um... right. My only guess is that it suffocated the manzanita leaves, killing them, but doesn't have that affect on other plants, or else why would they be using it if it creates future fire hazards?

Much of the way back was on the slippery crest of the mountain with steep drops on either side. Spooky! We finally made it back to familiar territory -- the burnt mountainside.

New bushes!

All in all, the trip was about three hours. And there were no WMDs! Actually, come to think of it, we should've expected as much from George Bush...

Here's something neat. We call this tree the Ghost Eye Tree and due to some sort of optical illusion, as you walk along the flat path the tree will suddenly go from being straight up and down to being crooked!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

George Bush's Vault

This is just a quick post to warn you all that I may not return.

Remember that fire we had here two months ago? A woman we know said that the only reason they put it out so quickly was because George Bush has a vault in the mountain. A vault. George Bush. I assumed she'd gone off the deep end, as we often do with our friends, when suddenly I remembered that, while hiking on a parallel mountain, I in fact had seen a tank/vault thing in the mountainside before.

I'm writing this to let you know that this afternoon, my sister and I are going out to investigate. Maybe it's really the SGC. Maybe it's WMDs. Maybe it's his cheese collection. Either way, there's a chance that there are armed guards like at Area 51 and that we'll be shot on sight! If I don't blog again tonight or tomorrow... assume the worst.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Berry Pie!

Welcome to Shash's Kitchen!

Today you'll learn how to bake a homemade blackberry pie. Sit back, kick off your shoes, wiggle your toes, and enjoy!

Step 1: Picking berries

Alex works away

California blackberries grow sporadically all over California. Unfortunately for us, the nearest patch is along the road we share with our neighbors... one of which says she owns the bushes. We've heard horror stories about her shouting "you're stealing food from my children's mouths!" at the berry pickers that she catches... which I'm sure is true, given the number of SUVs and horses that she owns.

At any rate, you have to be quiet, quick, and have all your hobbit senses on full alert. Alex and I felt like Pippin and Merry stealing from Farmer Maggot. Lucky for us, the only witnesses were curious horses. Unlucky for us, we both got scratched and stung all over from the mean bushes. But Pippin -- I mean, Alex -- found a great, hooked stick that we were able to use to tug berry clutches closer. Unfortunately, there were still some luscious berries that were out of reach. The torture!

Mean berries out of reach... my inner bear felt very cheated

Usually there are plenty of blackberries... given the fact that bears used to eat them but the Spanish killed all the grizzlies that once roamed all over California. :( But today we were lucky to get enough for a pie.

You will get very... berryized

The day's success

Step 2: Making the Pie

First you must wash the berries and pick out any bugs or stems or other unwanted... things.

The washed berries

Then you make the pie crust. For the first time I used a food processor to make the dough. It was so much easier... the 20th century feels great!

About to become a crust... and cooked in 350 degrees, hahaHA!

Next you take your ball of dough and divide it in two.

"My name is Humpty Lumpty..." ...I'm scaring myself

Then you lightly sprinkle the cutting board (I made ours!) with flour and roll out the dough. Once flat and vaguely circular, you wrap the dough around the rolling pin and carefully drop it into the pie tin that you kept from the last pie you bought at Marie Calendar's because you're cheap.

It looks very... very.

Then you put butter in it because you're a fatty and want to get even fatter so that some mean chick will blog complaints about you.

Fat fat fat!

Teyla, the genius, watched me make the whole thing. Hope springs eternal!

Then you examine the berry filling and, if you're a woman, try not to feel sick to your stomach. I recall one time when my summer sister, Piglet, and I were making a pie and/or tarts with the berries we'd picked when my older brother wandered into the kitchen at a most inopportune moment. I'd just pointed at the berry mush and said to Piglet, "...You know what that looks like."

My brother desperately wanted to know what we could possibly be talking about but we were too busy laughing and gagging at the same time, at which point he began to figure it out and stated "Nothing that comes out of a girl looks like that." Of course we laughed even more and thanked him for enlightening us with all of his experience. Now you'll never eat a blackberry pie again, will you?


You then fill the pie crust with your, uh, berry filling.

It even sparkles... it must've been blessed by fairies!

Then you roll out the dough for the top pie crust and if you're cool like me, it will turn out to look like a really fat and demented version of the bat signal.

...Or a skinned armadillo

You then put your skinned armadillo on top of your menstrual fluid and feel real proud.

They like each other

After trimming off the excess crust, it's time to tuck in the upper layer of crust under the lower.

...And it looks really boring

To spice things up a bit, you pinch the sides. That's right, you pinch them, as if the poor pie isn't already going to be in enough pain baking in 350 degrees, you sadist!

The tortured pie

But then you put a pretty sun on it, because it's summer and you want your victim to look pretty.

Very... summery!

Teyla continued to supervise.

All she got for her efforts was a crumb of gross pie dough

Then you cut slits in the upper crust so that the steam can escape as it cooks. Make sure you do them like I do or you're going to Hell.

Almost done!

Then you do my secret step that isn't really secret. You cover the top with milk so that it bakes even prettier, then put even more sugar on it because you're fat.

...After what I said about the berries, I'm just gonna keep my mouth shut about the milk.

Then you put tin foil around the crust to keep it from burning and put it on a cookie tray since juice is going to shoot out as it dies.

All dressed up and ready to go!

You bake it for 25 minutes with the foil. In the meantime, you take the leftover scraps of dough and make a little tasty with them, sprinkled with sugar and cinammon and cooked for those 25 minutes.


(it's now heading for the toilet)

Also, if you're me, in those 25 minutes you figure "what the hell?" and whip out a chocolate chip nut torte that you modified into a pie because you happened to have a pre-made organic pie crust.

Everyone can see that it looks like puke, I don't need to open my potty mouth...

After the 25 minutes you take off the foil and cook for another 25-30, at which point it comes out bubbling, golden, and scrumptious!


Let cool on a wire rack for as long as you feel like it. Don't put it on the windowsill because Pete from O Brother, Where Art Thou? will steal it.


Then you make your mom pull out the other pie after it has baked it's 40 minutes because you can't stand being in the kitchen anymore.

The... other pie.

...What the heck is in the bottom right corner?!

(Then... you take a break from your blog to go eat pie and watch The Saddle Club, a cheesy, hokey kids' show that we're addicted to.

The bloody mess

It was scrumdiddlyocious but the crust was a bit chewy! )

After you bake a pie, you flee from the kitchen and play Runner with your sister. How do you play Runner? I don't know, but this is how we play.

I change into clothes that are suitable for running then take off while my sister tacks up one of our horses. Today it was Sparrow. I'm not allowed to go off of the horse trails until I find a good spot to hide nearby. Then I hide.

Today I ran and found a pine tree and climbed it, adding many more scrapes to the ones I got from the berry patch, along with green and yellow moss/mold stains and pine sap all over, even in my armpit, but it worked! Alex and Comanche came along a bit later, looking for me. Chee Chee followed my scent right up to the tree then got confused. Alex was looking around making comical Wraith sounds and I had to hold my breath to keep from laughing. After she and Comanche passed me without noticing, I said, "Hell no!" in a Southern accent like Ronon randomly did last episode.

She then turned back and began to look for me again and when she didn't find me right away I said, "Ever seen a Satedan pole dancer?" (because there's some shot in that episode "Sateda" where Ronon is on the ceiling and... something about how he was posed made me joke that he looked like a pole dancer). She looked up then and saw me. I was about 20 feet up! Getting down was... interesting. My sports bra got full of pieces of bark.

Once on the ground, an interesting conversation occurred between Ronon and the Wraith.

Wraith: Now I'm going to eat you!
Ronon: Wait, hold on a sec, I wanna show you something really cool first.
Wraith: *sighs* Fine.

Ronon leads the Wraith on horseback past several ponds and down a hill to some equipment, including a large scale for trucks. On the way they converse as follows:

Ronon: So you work for some big bald guy who has you hunt me, right?
Wraith: How do you know about Alfred?!
Ronon: One time when you thought I had my eyes closed, I didn't, and I saw him.

All three step on the scale and weigh 1,260 lbs.

Ronon: This is what I wanted to show you.
Wraith: Arghhhhh... I already knew this existed!
Ronon: Yeah, but now you know how much I weigh...
Wraith: I don't care, I want to eat you!
Ronon: Well this is a company write off, isn't it?
Wraith: Uh...
Ronon: I mean, I'm several pounds of lean meat here. I'm just trying to make sure you get the most for your buck. If you're gonna be reimbursed you wanna make sure you know the quality of meal you're having.
Wraith: Hmm...
Ronon: All I'm saying is, I think Alfred's ripping you off...
Wraith: I must go speak with him!

The Wraith gallops off. Ronon raises his hand in a lone goodbye.

Ronon: So long, buddy! Good luck!

Ronon smiles and wanders off, having survived another day.

mackenzie's momma - OMG. Imagining a 300lb dude in a 50ft glass box is both hilarious and disturbing. Wow. So what's your job? I can't even conceive of the idea of letting yourself get to 300lbs... mostly fat. And your farm set up sounds cool! We should emulate it a bit since we have about the same acreage. What type of goats do you raise?

Will - LMAO what the hell? Beautiful.

mo - I'm so sorry about your injuries as a child! That must be so frustrating! And wow... your thoughts on obese children in the classroom - I never thought about that before. That's so terrible. I'm glad that you have very strong feeling on the subject! We need more people like you expressing concern rather than judgment, you know? And I'm so glad you enjoyed the films! Haha! Yes, demented English major humor... Moby Dick and all... but now that I hold an English degree and am in a creative writing program, I'm probably even weirder. Okay - I'm totally intrigued. What's the difference between "Canadian" and "Canadien"?