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Saturday, December 30, 2006 4 comments

New Year’s Festoovities

Family Man described the quiet New Year’s the FFamily is planning. We’re going down to Big V’s — it will be interesting to see how it goes. I don’t think anyone will get wearing-lampshades smashed, after the Hallowe’en party she threw a few years back, but things could get interesting.

I think my favorite New Year's at FAR Manor was the first one, when The Boy and I built a brush fire in the burn cage out behind the big garage (Mrs. Fetched called it a night early on). We tended the fire, I drank some rum, we let it die down and said goodnight. It’s likely to be rainy at FAR Manor tomorrow night, so we won’t be able to repeat that one this time around. The rain should also put the damper on fireworks displays, although I expect a couple of people will choose to get wet and shoot them off anyway. Fireworks seems to be a Southern phenomenon; I certainly don’t remember people doing that in Michigan… probably because it’s usually too dang cold to stand outside at night this time of year.

Oh, and is anyone having (or had) a Festivus celebration? That “Airing of Grievances” part seems like a dangerous thing to try with the in-laws without some modifications (I’m thinking the grievances would have to be posted anonymously and not name names, although some things would be too obvious anyway). Letting Mrs. Fetched wrestle me to the floor might be fun, though!

Friday Night Cinema

OK, it’s probably Saturday morning by the time you read this, but you probably don’t want to watch this one at night anyway. Tonight’s feature is a departure from the normal fare — instead of a free short, you get a free feature-length film! Not just any film, you get The Corpse Vanishes, from 1942, starring Bela Lugosi. Thanks to the magic of copyright laws working the way they’re supposed to, this film has passed into the public domain.

The above link takes you to the details page on archive.org. Direct links:

Wednesday, December 27, 2006 2 comments


So Mrs. Fetched called me at work today with a list of things to pick up at the grocery store on the way home. (She swears I forgot to get the shrimp, I swear she didn’t tell me. But I digress.) I grab the stuff and stumble across a checkout that’s both staffed and has nobody waiting behind the person buying one bottle of wine — hooray!

The other shoe was soon to drop. After ringing up the total, the little twerp at the register asks me: “Do you qualify for the senior discount?”


I wonder if he’s getting a commission for every guy who goes back to aisle 18 to get the Grecian Formula goop.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006 2 comments

Winding down

I will always remember Christmas 2006 as the first Christmas where I woke up to thunder. Talk about starting off with a boom….

Now that Christmas is over, the crazy time is starting to wind down. Of course, it doesn’t happen all at once — there are clearance items to buy (and put away for next year) and some shopping to do for Three Kings Day (aka Epiphany) on Jan. 6. We have our major gift exchange on Three Kings Day at FAR Manor — it gives us an opportunity (not always taken) to reserve Christmas Day as a religious observation, plus it gives us a week & a half extra to get presents (often at steep discounts).

Yesterday it was cool and wet; today it was cold and wet. Two of my basil plants are still hanging on; I’ve managed to remember to bring them inside on the coldest nights and the frost hadn’t got them yet. On the other hand, they’re not going to perk up and give me enough leaves to make one last batch of pesto… but I can’t bear to kill good plants. The third basil plant went to seed and checked out a couple of weeks ago; I’ve moved it under cover to dry out and then I’ll harvest the seed pods. I found a couple of seed trays laying around outside today; they’ve also gone under cover. I’ll plant basil and cilantro in them first thing next year.

I took this picture with my new smellphone; a Samsung A707 (The Boy dropped the old Moto, which prompted it to retire). It has a lot of stuff that I don’t really need, like an MP3 player and a 2.0 megapixel camera, but the price was right (after rebate, which Stinkular has been pretty good about honoring). I’ve started to go through the manual (which, so far, I’m not impressed with) to figure out how to set up the camera and so forth… but it beats the heck out of the Moto (which isn’t saying much, granted). It’s too nice to not worry about, though, so I’ll probably have to get a case for it soon.

Back to work in the morning for a few days, then another three-day weekend.

Sunday, December 24, 2006 7 comments

Buried treasure

My grandmother’s “Parker House” rolls were both a family treasure and the source of a running joke. Everybody looked forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, in part, because Grandma would make enough rolls for everyone to both stuff themselves silly and take some home. The running joke was when the daughters-in-law — and in later years, the grandsons’ wives — would ask for the recipe… Grandma would hand them some incredibly convoluted set of directions, or leave off some critical ingredient, or proportion the ingredients to serve a 4-H camp (which she did some summers), or nobble the recipe in some other way.

So some years back — before The Boy was born, in fact — Mrs. Fetched and I went up to Michigan to visit my family, and she met Grandma. Now while her family is mostly a bunch of straight-laced types, although they’re loosening up in their later years, my Grandma was drinking beer and cracking dirty jokes. If dictionaries had video, a clip of Mrs. Fetched meeting Grandma would have been next to the definition of “culture shock.” So something very predictable happened: Grandma made her Parker House rolls, Mrs. Fetched tasted them and quickly asked for the recipe, and Grandma handed her six pages. Mrs. Fetched didn’t even bother trying to make heads or tails of it, and just put it away when we got home.

Years went by, and along the line I learned how to make bread. More years went by, until last week Mrs. Fetched was trying to figure out how to get the house ready for Christmas dinner (and get some made) without straining herself. She came to me and said, “I still have that six-page recipe from your grandmother for her rolls. Do you want to try making them?”

“Sure,” I said — I’d wanted to take a stab at reverse-engineering the recipe sooner or later anyway. I thought maybe I could combine my bread-making knowledge and my tech writing skills to distill the actual recipe from the filler. As it turned out, that wasn’t necessary: Mrs. Fetched pulled out the recipe, started looking through it, and found an index card with the real recipe on it! All those years, and “makes 12–16” was right there. Between the do this-es and do that-s on Saturday, I managed to clear the decks and make the rolls, doubling the recipe since we had a bunch of people coming in.

And… it was the Real Thing. The only difference was that the recipe says to cut the rolled out dough in a grid; I remember her using a round cutter, so I’ll have to get one.

We also got 10 lbs of snow crab, two large-ish shrimp trays, I made the rolls and boiled the seafood while the dough was rising, and some other stuff got brought in. The shrimp disappeared quickly, there’s still about 1/3 of the crab left (some of the best frozen crab I’ve had, the shells weren’t soft at all)… and five rolls out of 36. One of the ladies sat at the table and ate five of them, one by one. Yup, it’s The Recipe, all right. I think these rolls might be even more popular on this planet than the challah bread.

Sometimes, it’s good to not throw anything away.

Thursday, December 21, 2006 5 comments

Podcast from FAR Manor (#3) - news, iPhone speculation, early holiday memories

I battled an almost-flu kind of cold, chicken house duty, light-hanging duty, and a house full of indifferent people, to get this podcast put together. I hope you think it was worth it!

Listen up! direct link (10.2MB MP3) | archive page (listen online)

And the lights that delayed things by a couple of hours:


00:00 - Intro (including special holiday music!)
04:35 - News from FAR Manor
07:00 - Shiny Things (digital voice recorder wrap-up, iPhone speculation)
14:00 - Stories of early holiday memories
30:40 - Closing comments, thanks
31:20 - "Rockin' Jerusalem" sung by the DCHS Chamber Singers

Special thanks to those who shared their holiday memories with us all:

Thanks also to Family Man and Olivia for their kind words about last month’s podcast.

Production Notes
Audio recorded with an XtremeMac MicroMemo iPod accessory, then extracted to iTunes. Audio files were edited on a G3 iBook, running MacOSX 10.4.8, using Audacity 1.3.2-beta.

Theme music: “Jump Around” by Psycho Maniak (no link/contact info available — help!).

Audio content hosted on:
Internet Archive

Monday, December 18, 2006 3 comments

What's in a name?

Ask the poor folks in this Swedish village.

Could be worse. They could live in Cumming, Georgia, instead of some place interesting like Sweden.


Sometimes, things just work out.

I went looking for sound effects on archive.org last night. I didn't find many, but I found a bunch of interesting and downright weird music instead. One of the better albums is the shortest, The Mosaic Effect from Simon Slater of Cold Sun. Very nice chill-out music for doing nothing in front of a fire, or just about anything else.

Saturday, after caroling and gift basket delivery, I took Daughter Dearest over to the school so she and her chorus could sing the national anthem at the Hawks game. (I found out after the fact that WGN was broadcasting the game as well. Sorry 'bout that.) She had planned for me to ride the bus with her, but there wasn’t enough room… putting her somewhat out of sorts. So Daughter Dearest handed the director my ticket, and he handed me a larger one, and I piled into a van full of kids and adults. What I didn’t realize was that I’d just been handed a suite-level ticket — the guy driving the van works for a place that rents one of the skyboxes at Philips Arena and he’d reserved it for us. Daughter Dearest wasn’t left out; she traded with a girl who had a suite ticket but wanted to sit with her friends down on the lower level. Everyone should experience this at least once in their lives — they cater in food, there’s a fridge with beer and soft drinks, and it has its own bathroom. With that kind of seat, who cares if the Hawks blew a 10-point lead and lost in overtime?

The payback is that I’m spending my so-called “vacation” time this week in the chicken houses, at least during the mornings. And I’ve caught a cold. But I’m going to get the podcast started (if not finished) tonight.

Saturday, December 16, 2006 1 comment

Catch Daughter Dearest in action... tonight at 7

Daughter Dearest’s high school chorus is singing the national anthem for the Hawks game tonight about 7 p.m. (EST). If you’re so inclined, you can catch see & hear them on Fox Sports South or NBA League Pass.

But before that can happen, we have caroling and gift baskets this afternoon. Two more weeks and it will be January, then maybe we can get a little rest…

Monday, December 11, 2006 5 comments

Never a dull moment

Tonight, Mrs. Fetched is in the hospital, recovering from a hysterectomy. I can’t remember the full name, but it’s the kind where they… let’s say, punch a couple of skylights in the roof and take the equipment out the front door. It went a little longer than I would have expected, but they didn’t run into any major complications of the kind that would force them to change tactics.

So naturally, tonight would be the night that The Boy has to move out of where he had landed after last week’s episode. So now he’s back home, making the right noises but I’m skeptical about the right actions. He was trying to tell me his girlfriend needed a place to stay and she’d have to come here for a couple of days (this should sound familiar to long-time readers). Heh… she has parents less than an hour away; she can go live with them. I told him no way, no how, and feel pretty confident that Mrs. Fetched won’t pull one of her mind-changing stunts (not this time, anyway).

So much for a quiet night at home. Can’t seem to get one even when Mrs. Fetched isn’t here.

Saturday, December 09, 2006 5 comments

Post-Company Party Yawns

The company party was tonight, and was really nice this year. For one thing, it was on a weekend instead of after work so Mrs. Fetched came along — she doesn’t like doing the drive that I do five days a week. Heck, I don’t much like it myself, but someone has to deal with the cost of living. For another thing, they moved it from a restaurant near the office (last two years) to a club. Lots more room, better selection of food, and the bar served a great rum&coke. They cut back on the door prizes to offset the extra cost… but when you don’t win anyway, who cares?

But now I’m ready for bed. 'Night.

Friday, December 08, 2006 3 comments

Next podcast… wanna join in?

I'm hoping to have the next Podcast from FAR Manor ready next weekend (16th/17th). My plan for this month’s final segment is “earliest holiday memories” — basically, the first thing you can remember that was related to the holiday season. My own earliest memory takes about a minute and a half to describe — two minutes, if I ramble about it — and that’s not long enough for a proper segment.

So here’s where you come in.

Think about it for a minute, then scrounge up a microphone, plug it into your computer (Sound Blaster cards all have a mike jack), and record it — give a first name (or a blog name, or whatever), how old you were at the time (you don't have to say how old you are now!), and what it was about. Then email the sound file to FARfetched58 at aim dot com (sorry, trying to confuse spammers’ address-guessers). Don’t worry about getting it perfect; if you stutter or stumble, just pause and start the last sentence again. I’ll clean it up for you. Also record a few seconds of silence at the beginning or end; I can use that as a template to remove background noise.

I know I can work with MP3, WAV, and any QuickTime format. If you have to use some other format, send it along and I’ll try to deal with it. If you have to put it on a cassette or CD, that’s fine too — but you’ll have to hurry and get it in the snail-mail… the USPS gets a little busy this time of year.

Thanks for reading and listening — hope to hear you soon!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006 4 comments

My son, the graduate

The Boy passed his GED exam! And except for the math, did very well — he averaged 525 out of 600, and that was with the math pulling it down somewhat. Good enough, apparently, that he can apply for a Hope Scholarship.

The question now becomes: is he ready to take the next step(s)?

Monday, December 04, 2006 6 comments

What to do?

Daughter Dearest has been AIM’ing with various people for a while now. She’s hooked up with a 19 year old college student from Indiana, and now he wants to come down and visit for the holidays (for whatever reason, neither of his parents want him around, nice people).

Oddly enough, I’m the one being paranoid for a change. Mrs. Fetched, who would usually lead the opposition on this one, is leaving it up to me (which means she has already telegraphed her answer and will ignore me if I make the “wrong” decision). I’ll have to admit, her people instincts have been better than mine in most regards. (That is different from getting tangled up with FAR Manor, everything I warned about back then has come to pass.)

I think I’ll have to make a “decision” by tomorrow, which means I need to agree to this visit. It’s probably fine, but I could use a little encouragement.

Saturday, December 02, 2006 7 comments

I don’t know about you…

…but any day that starts out in the chicken houses, and ends by tossing The Boy, I would have to define as a not-so-good one. (Yeah, katiebird, we would probably have some stuff to talk about. Email me some time; maybe we'll put our phones on speaker so the spouses can contribute too.)

Thing is, the part in between was pretty good. A coroner in a town called Demorest has a sort-of Christmas party every year; they put luminaries on all the grave sites and invite the public — innovative, and I told the owner so. Daughter Dearest’s choir was invited to sing outdoors, so we went along to videotape the performance. Their second set was after sundown, so I got audio with the iPod/MicroMemo combination — they did five Christmas songs, only one of which most of you would be familiar with, all a cappella. I’ll include a couple of them on the next Podcast from FAR Manor (Special Holiday Edition) if the director doesn’t mind. Daughter Dearest winced a couple of times at the recording, which she listened to on my iPod on the way home, because she knows how each song should sound and can identify the mistakes.

When we came home to find The Boy’s band milling around between the house and the detached garage, we weren’t too put off by that (we knew they would be there). But when Mrs. Fetched walked into The Boy’s room (to tell him to turn down the music) and caught him and his girlfriend in flagrante delicto… well, you can imagine. This, after he agreed to clean up his act as a condition of his continued residence at FAR Manor. If it had been me, I would have run laughing to grab a camera and then threw them out. She got straight to the point, as usual, which was probably the best course of action.

While he packed, I talked to a couple of his friends outside. I was pretty blunt: I told them that The Boy had no respect for anyone, probably including himself. Maybe they’ll remember that while he’s living off them. The thing is, I’m not sure how we’ll reconcile this when the time comes. Right now, I think he’ll have to give us some kind of token gesture like cutting his hair and ditching the piercings.

My Rosemary Wood Floor beer needs one more week, I think, to be mature. I guess I’ll hit the rum for now.

Friday, December 01, 2006 No comments

Hello December

November said goodbye with a warm, wet kiss — I had the car window open a little yesterday as I drove home. It was still quite pleasant outside at 11 p.m. as I went to the outbuilding to grab a book and a bit of rum to help me get to sleep.

Very soon after midnight, December came roaring in with pouring rain and high wind. Then we woke up this morning to plaintive bleeps from the phone as the power bounced up and down a few times. It wasn't until Daughter Dearest came down to get a ride to school, though, that we realized the power was out completely. It was out at least from FAR Manor, nearly halfway into town, and I don’t know how far in the other direction. Since my car was in the garage, and we have an electric garage door opener, I grabbed a car outside for the commute.

It was still windy this morning, and never got any warmer. We’re in for a cold weekend here. ’Course, that’s all relative — here, anything below freezing is “cold.”

Stay warm this weekend, OK?


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