134_KingMaharGingerbreadWitchCookieHere is the PDX Gingerbread Witch Spider Cookie that I ate.

Sickly sweet with a hint of spice, but definitely not nice. I got a small stomach quese-out after eating her. You’d have to be on serious business to eat a cookie like this.

Looking at one of my old tarot card paintings, I see the word “haiaa” written randomly in the folds of the volcano. Searching for the word on the Internet, the first thing that comes up is that in India it’s a word for “become”.

There’s a great horned owl outside. He’s established a territory in the woods around the secret treehouse I’ve been hiding in. Identified him and what he was doing through the sounds he makes.

Lots of woodpeckers too. Pileated, Northern Flicker, and two others I can’t identify yet. They like the food put out for them, and the plants all around on the porch that make the feeding seem safe.

I obtained a Bee Adventure Kit for the mason bees and put it together. It sits outside amongst the plants waiting for arrivals. A friend of mine also donated a bee hive to a struggling family in my name. More beekeeper experience points.

Lunar full moon in Scorpio releasing so much supportive energy towards me that I felt extra-energzied. Frankie was an absolute terror, escaped the treehouse and had to be recaptured—her favorite game. She needed lots of attention and a walkies to finally settle her down to the OMG level.

Got some horoscope clues about my life destiny. Very strong indicators that what I want match up with the things I’m here for. Getting there is the part that’s unknown to me. Clear goals, not so clear path.

Wore my Shiva message bracelet in the wooded park today, as K and I made our rounds along the crowded trail. I don’t want to be destroyed, but I’m also feeling like the trap I’m still in is greater than my abilities to escape from.

I don’t know what comes next, exactly. Now that I’ve faced my fears and vanquished my dragon, regained myself—deliverance is coming. The form it will take, still unknown. Brontosaur, my trusty UFO, flies on towards home. Soon I’ll know what comes next!

133_soundoftheswarmThe killer bees are swarming, the vuvuzellas are buzzing, the earth is glowing. There’s some serious party action going on here, kaboom kaboom thunder from beyond the deepest reaches of inner space.

The nightchild is dancing.

That Gingerbread Witch is screaming something fierce, but I keep on tending the fire of that brick oven. What a din! Fire good.

I hear the sound of a bell. Oh! Look, the Gingerbread Witch is done. All burned up to the crisp, nothing but ashes and smoke blowing in the wind.

Oh, and a number of gingerbread spider cookies hovering in the flames. I use my mother’s spatula to bring them out of the brick oven and onto a plate. One of them is the King Mahar cookie I must eat.

You see; if you slay the dragon you are obliged to taste a few drops of its blood.

There it is. Mmm. Tasty.

Hey, look. This Gingerbread Witch had a bunch of treasure in a flowerpot. K and I stuff our pockets. This is now an official cookie party.

Dance, killer bees, dance!

132_aceofwandsThe posts have been scant of late mainly because I’ve been embroiled in the Battle of the Galaxies. Anything that shows up here has been what extra my psychic engineer has been able to coax out of the warp engines, so to speak.

This has been one Hek of an inner-stellar conflict. The entirety of the Booey Fleet versus the forces of the Gingerbread Witch. Several times now I was sure I’d been beat, only to bounce back into the fray with a renewed process.

I’ve been building a brick wall of the mind, followed by a brick oven of the windy spirit with which to throw that Gingerbread Witch into. I found suitable divine fuel in the form of the bountiful Ace of Wands bursting forth with Spring luck and potency. I’m going to blast that witch into ashes and smoke with healing fire ignited from my deepest soul.

That’s all I’m capable of doing now. It’s the only way to live my life and let those who love me live theirs. Everything else I tried bounced off her like dynamite or missile explosions against the giant tarantula. A psychic napalm of lava-storm is all I got left.

Kicked that Gingerbread Witch into the oven and I’ve shut the hatch! I never wanted to do this, but here I go. It’s time.

There is a flash of lightning, followed by the boom of thunder. The brick oven fire is ignited!

Here we go.

I’ve mentioned the illustrious Pizza of Doom before. However, I don’t think I’ve actually ever posted any pictures of the magnificence that is summoning your own personal pizza to serve you good tasting satisfaction. Well, worry no more my illustrious 1d6 non-bot readers!

I have yet to try the recipe since moving out to the Pacific Northwest wildlands, where bigfoots roam and beers beg you to drink them. How will the water and climate affect the dough rise and ultimate consistency? The cooking, if you allow for an oven variance, how long will it take and how will the crust turn out? Questions galore that refuse to be put off any longer!

I must practice my kung fu in a new way and in anew time zone cooridnate, solar systems are go and wooo!

Luckily, I am able to assemble the ingredients in an appealing manner. Pepperoni and cheese are whatever you can scare up, but because there is the Tillamook cheese manufacturing power in this area, i am able to score a grated cheese combo attack of mozarella, provolone, and parmesan all in three! Yowza. Feel the power.

Oh, and bonus. The package has enough to cover the pizza. Those other cheese conglomerates, always short you cheese such that you can never quite cover the mega-mutha. May they roast in profits hell. You see, these little details matter! One must always have access to the proper goodies. Every small ingredient, physical or mental, affects the space time continuum of crafting.

Came out well too. I like it when the ingredients sink nicely and the rim forms a good crispy final bite to a slice. Sauce was iffy since I had to go with the tomatoes I could and the pre-cooking of the sauce is a random variable I have not compensated for in the phase variance. But still tasty. I ate it. K ate it. Our tummies thank us.

But wait, there’s more! We also went picking triple crown sweet blackberries and brought some back for pancake toppings, general snacking, and cobbler. Alas, I could not translate my cobbler recipe so I had to crib from the internet. More work is to be done, yes I need to meditate on my cooking powers. But the topping was cooked well, and the blackberry sauce was delicious.

This thing will not last the week, I tell you. Iron rations for dungeon adventures in the Cascade range!  Eeegah, prepare for doom.

So, what’s going on in doomsville? Been a while since I took a seat and rapped on the corner side here. The menagerie is alive and well, if at times it seems to have sprouted wheels and is sighted all about town.

I’m working on book two.  Book one is in a final stage of transformative elation text-wise; I promise to have the Gimmie Stuff page updated as soon as that is complete. Also working on a cover for the souvenir physical version.  Once that’s done I’ll look into converting for e-book files. My brain stem is acquiring all manner of new knowledge during this feisty process of refinement!

Seems like the planetary forces have been all stirred up.  Meteor showers, solar flares, floods and earthquakes.  Hek even on the metaphysical plane we got Cardinal Climaxes lined up, not to mention a heavy dose of psychic interference from all manner of weirdzo dimensions and denizens.  I’m having to expend a lot of mental energy keeping my health and my attention up to snuff.

The summer is a scorcher over here in the central wastes of indecision land. The garden is taking a lot of supply runs to keep going. Those bio-nutrient counteractants come at a high price in mosquito bites, sunburn and poison ivy, let me tell you! Onions, potatoes, basil, and tomatoes are bringing in the reinforcements in small amounts; hey whatever margin of survival we can manage we will. Corn, sunflowers, and peppers bringing up the rear.

The cats are in hyper reorganization mode, which is good. No news is good news as they say. As long as they are able to keep the hydroid bombers at bay with lazors, hey that’s good pattern.  Michael has a new nickname though: Tarball.  He’s big, he’s fat, and he needs to protect you from yourself by laying on you until you get the picture. Is this what Mad Max survival has been reduced to? No cool car chases here, just scavenging eroded out gas tanks on hulking wrecks, hoping to score some ten year expired dog food.

The crummy spaghetti and stir fry recipes we’ve been working on have been refined to our tastes. It’s helpful to have new fall backs we can hit the automatic switch with and get something to eat without panic. Have to say its a success. Though we still need more do-fers in our bag of tricks to make it more complete a meal plan. Still, anything that is cheap and easy and healthy is good. Keeps us out of the McFood troughs.

Long drawn out patrol while repair and reprogram procedures are refined and worked on. Lots going on in the furnace, just no heat yet in the hallways. The trans warp warm up takes a while.

Had a little bit of that dragon’s blood on my slapstick where his nose got stamped Cat In The Hat pink.  The folks took it and mixed it into the rum punch, baking and mixing our healing feast.

I celebrate community and survival, those things we are thankful for as we recognize the blessings of our life.

I mourn those who suffered savage brutality at the hands of settler colonialism, on the backs of whom many of us enjoy our privileges.

We hear the song of nature, and guided by the spirit of Sister Piscotti whose vase we must fill, sinners that we are, and go into the deep old woodland chaparral which refuses to let human beings push it around.

The old path that is normally there is overgrown, for the first time I can ever remember.  The unseasonably warm weather and rain have caused an almost spring like growth to emerge, lichens growing on tree trunks and moss in full bloom!

Rabbit escapes our sight through the roots and tangles of the path that is no more.

We roll with it, nomads that we are.  Many paths through the forest, but you have to pay.  Human remains.  Scratches of sharp spines on flesh, I am bloodied, roots trip us up, wet pine branches swipe us.  The forest doesn’t move, yet it has motion.

Fog swathed ways that come and go, lightning struck trees out of a dream, and all manner of growths.  We clip and gather a harvest for the vase cussing and swearing but somehow swerving both ways to the way out.

Explosions, the Grand Turkey Lord shooting off a series of cracks and pops in the deep to scare our pants off and make us laugh as we trudge out of the mud and back to the places where kids play, the first step back to home where a sacrifice awaits to feed us.

Celebrate, and mourn.

Singing ELO’s “Don’t Bring Me Down”, we brush off the brambles and retie shoelaces.  Back home, having paid our respects to the ancestors and the within, we toast and serve, candles lit.

Now that the Celtic New Year has started up, it appears that the seas have calmed for a while.  Into this spare time I’ve been practicing my physical routines and learning the recorder.  Got to keep up the psychic kung fu training for Mother Mary’s Personal Assistant.

She upped the ante last week and I felt it in my ankle (which made me think of Xtine’s current ankle recovery mode), plus I got smoked in recorder practice.  If I wasn’t dedicated this is where I’d be getting real discouraged about now.

But I’m committed to the routines.  I know from past experience you have to go for the long haul with these kinds of lessons.  And I’m learning a lot about undeveloped aspects of my mind and body.  This gets me from the blind side but it’s good training.

The activity has inspired K to try some new bread kung fu.  She’s been experimenting with sour dough batches.  Starting them, nourishing them until the generations of yeast get attuned to their environment, and drawing out of them various flavors.  Then having to bake loaves of bread out of the mix.

Side benefit—some of the tastiest pancakes I have ever had.  Dense and absorbent enough to handle syrup, but still light and fluffy enough to cut with a fork.  They practically leap into my mouth they are so darn good.

The killer bees have settled into the new honeycomb hideout nicely.  They’ve kept to themselves, mutating and self-directing their destiny in mysterious ways.  I got the bonus round too—Lucerna (that’s MMPA’s name) got me seriously hooked onto raw and rough honey now.  All the granules of pollen and other goodies on top make for some wicked honey-tea.  She said I’d been taking such good care of the bees, that this clue got unlocked as a special maneuver.

Plus, she helped me locate my beloved Portland-Oregon black with white trim alpaca sweater, which had been missing after the first year in the haunted house.  Just in time for winter, so warm and snuggly soft is this wonderful garment.  Whoo!  I guess I need all this training and recovery.  Got work to do after all.

The spread of microbreweries throughout the country has had a positive effect I take considerable delight in—the proliferation of draft ciders.

When I discovered the pleasures of draft cider consumption, it was as if I had run into an old childhood friend—and discovered we had only truly begun to enjoy each other’s company.

Having taken the time to appreciate various kinds of the stuff, I now pass onto you the knowledge of my explorations.  Many brands are not represented, for the reason that I either haven’t tried them or haven’t been able to get my hands on them enough to form an opinion.

For example, there are a number of French ciders that come in wine bottles that I’ve tried, but haven’t been able to do so more than a handful of times.

I’ve rated these ciders by a 1-100% number.  This represents the chance that every time I drink a pint of these ciders, I get a point of Oh Yeah.  Every point of Oh Yeah can be exchanged for a psychic coin toss to see if the scene you are in becomes Good Times—or you can get rid of a point of Jackup.

Because with every pint your body is dishing out a point of Jackup.  3 Jackups means You Lose.  The body takes over, hope you are insured!

Hornsby’s (Regular and Dark And Dry)—31%
I started out with this brand, and put it through the long haul.  Pretty bleh taste; slightly dry and tangy, a lot like a wine cooler. Once I found other brands, I left this one behind.

Hard Core—39%
A little sweeter than Hornsby’s, but something about the body felt a bit light.  Tried to get into it, and for a while this was my alternate when the common Hornsby Jackups got tiresome.

Woodchuck Regular—53%
Pretty reliable flavor and effect.  Very sweet, almost sickly so.  Clear taste, potent effect.  This became my staple for a long while.  Slightly cheaper than Hornsby’s at the time.  I felt the sulfites on this a lot less.

Woodchuck (Granny Smith, Dark And Dry, Pear)—63%
Switched to these when they became available.  While I like “sweet”, the Woodchuck Regular was too sweet.  The Granny mixed sweet with sour, and really felt like a quality cider.  Dark And Dry mixes sweet with smoky, making for a heartier cider flavor.  Not bad.  We’re finally getting somewhere!

Woodchuck Rasberry—27%
Woodchuck rules, right?  Not so fast!  This flavor was way too sweet, a real disappointment.  Like Hornsby’s, the flavor overwhelms the rest of the cider, only in this case it’s a little too strong.  I’d really like to see a drier version of this, with less sweet.

Dry and bubbly, almost too tart.  I wanted to like this one, but Ace isn’t a cider you can really gulp.  It’s more of a sipping draft, something you’d serve at a picnic or casual dinner.

All natural organic and low sulfite cider.  Okay, this has got some good make-up.  Strong, tasty flavor and packing a bonus round punch.  Maybe too strong for me.  Part of my ritual is about spending time with people.  This takes me out a little too fast for my taste.

Original Sin—43%
Not bad.  A little too much of a Woodchuck clone, cashing in on the flavor and feel.  I found myself not handling these well after a while, perhaps due to a little less quality than Woodchuck.

Lacking much in the way of taste, or feel.  Not the worst, just simply nothing going on here.  This might work better for someone looking for a featureless cider.

Newton’s Folly (Granny Smith and Regular)—54%
Started hitting this at Trader Joe’s.  Basically a less expensive, less sweet version of Woodchuck, with a little less punch.  Have to say not bad at all!  Got used to this for a while, always delivering and very little payback.

Strong, sour flavor but grows on you.  Doesn’t pack much of a punch though.  I felt like I had to keep going to keep up.  Not exactly my favorite.

Maybe the English just know how to make real booze, I don’t know.  Dry, strong, satisfying, but with a slight hint of sweetness.  Packs a wallop up front, and follows up with a coup de grace if you aren’t careful.  I think I’m in love here.

Cider Jack—54%
Back in the day, I used to have six pack of this every once in a while.  Sweet, not very strong, and a little headachy.  Then this brand disappeared and I haven’t seen it in a while.  But now it’s come back several years later, and wow what a difference.  Dry, strong, still some aftereffects but much reduced.  I am impressed.

Tomato canning season is upon the clan once more.  We’ve been shifting strategies over time.  The most significant to date has been the staggering out of the bushels.  Rather than do 6 in one fell swoop, struggling to finish the tail end before they turn to mush we do them in rounds.  1 here, 2 there.  Takes longer, but we get to rest in between cycles of canning.

Well, now we’ve upgraded the process significantly, with the Norpro Sauce Master Foodstrainer.  Before, we had to boil the tomatoes, scoop ’em into a bowl, and while still hot skin and slice the little hot coals.  That’s all ancient history now.  Just dump in the hopper, crank twist, and the pulp and juice comes out into the bowl.

Skins and seeds are left behind, and the jar gets filled with puree.  No need to open a jar and dump it in the blender first.  This stuff is raw material nutrient plus, mutha-scratcha!  It’s a little disconcerting to see a major part of the equation completely removed.  No more need to develop asbestos hands, no more nicks and cuts on the fingers from handling a knife willy-nilly for days on end.

I’d say that easily we’ve cut our time requirements in half.  The boiling of the filled jars still has to take the time it does, but now we can move the loads along without any delay due to not having enough pulp on hand to do a load.

Oh, man, and the delicious wonder of having a tasty treat in storage in the winter.  It’s awesome, being able to open a jar of tomatoes as fresh as harvest day, popping the lid open with a snap.  This is what it means to do honor to the fruits of the earth.  And all those skins and seeds?  Oh yeah, compost baby, microbes will be getting busy to-night.  Down the line for next year’s garden, oh you know the earthworms will be eating good on next year’s menu Hek-yeah.

It’s all about farm games.

K and I break out the tea collection and get busy organizing the life support system module number tea-oh-yeah.  My friend Snow would be modestly and politely moved by our devotion, as so Level 3 it is to her Level twenty-four forward-slash seven, know what I’m sayin’?

Side note:  I mean it.  When you’re that level, you are big dudette generous and make it look easy.  “Here, have everything you need to start.  Here’s a location on a map.  Get adventurin’ and maybe you’ll connect with ultra-power tea-ness your own special way.”

Back to K and I.  We’ve bought a number of glass milk jars from the local upper-cruster Whole Foods.  Plastic caps, but what the hey weeds have to make do with what they have right?  While we do have tea bags, our focus is on resealable containers of loose-leaves for mix and match.  Since I’m a honey-freak, I have my honey in the rough for getting my freak on.

Now K is pretty crafty.  We get tired of boiling the water the usual way, so she investigates a location on the map and we find ourselves with the bonus round—an electric teapot that rapid-boils water in less than five minutes.  Just fill with water, plug in, flip the switch, and pow.  Yes, this is very much dependency on instrumentality (not to mention electricity), but as I said this is the approach of the lightning age (which is very aquarian).

So now we can make large quantities of water for brewing tea.  When it’s cool we fill the jars and put them in the fridge.  Goodbye, buying high priced tea in the store!  I’m also a soda-fiend, so anything that alleviates my vice for soda varieties is good.  Water’s too boring for me, juice too strong, milk too bland and coffee too strong.  Tea gives me the watery goodness, and a flavor, so I can drink lots of it and not burn out.

Special bonus:  I tell Snow about this amazing teapot and she’s floored.  I give her the info hookup and I get the feeling she teleports one to her kitchen while I’m standing there talking to her.  Next week I run into her again and she tells me the thing opened up a new level for her in the tea-realm, allowing her to adventure in a new area.

The teacher shares what they know and maybe it’ll pay off in those hidden rooms you missed when you were fighting the tea ogre with squid tentacles back on level eleven.  When you hold onto that hunger for knowledge, keep striving with joy for what you do, it pays off.  Snow polishes that gemstone of a hankering she has a little more, while K and I get life support system bonus for more XP.  That’s what generosity does for you.

So what does this have to do with farm games?  Well, seems like on Facebook lately there’s been a surge in farming games.  You socialize with your friends, care for each other’s farms, raise crops and harvest goodies.  Mainly in the dungeon and dragons kind of reward cycle—you kill monsters so you can get better at killing monsters, only here it’s grow crops so you can get better at growing crops.

It’s a slight paradigm shift in games, I think, which bears careful watching.  Is this the seed that falls in the right ground at the right time, the spark that kindles a new way of thinking that will grow grow grow?

The thing is, there’s a growing interest in resource management games (SimCity, the Sims, Civilization, and so on).  The shoot-em-ups and the side-scrollers are still there.  But now you have a growing awareness of “Hey, it’s fun to farm.  To raise animals, plant corn, and build wells.”

Yes, the reality is hard work and thankless repetition.  But it depends on how you look at the reward cycle.  K and I are looking to be healthier and happier.  This formula (of many) is about the reward of having something we make that keeps us going without resorting to the kiddie pool that is mainline industrial food production for loyal, stunned workers.  For Snow it’s about a passion for the pursuit of what interests her.

Both operate under systems that farm games mimic to a degree.  You look for stuff, gather stuff, make stuff, improve your skill with stuff, and then the stuff benefits you.

Then you get into complex games like Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility, where you need to have good relationships with people to get the stuff.  There’s lots of stuff to master—mining stuff, cooking stuff, animal stuff, plant stuff, clothing stuff.  You’re in the realm of a community and the need to ration your time to develop the stuff you need.  The ultimate goal:  To be the best “stuff” person you can be, in this case the archetype of the farmer who are their own means of production.

What does being a good farmer mean?  That you can court a partner and raise a family (and the game allows you to do this, ending only when it is the next generation’s turn to find their fortune), and you can also save the world (or the world of this game anyway)—your knowledge as a farmer revives the Goddess of the land and brings blessings back to the community.

You got that?  Your ability to beat things up here is worth zilch.  Your ability to be patient, adaptable and friendly can save the world for everybody!  Or allow you to have a happy home life—either as a farmer who just loves making bread for the Hek of it or as a family person moving things forward to the next spiral of that life that is greater than ours.

I’m living it a little, others are living it, and the games are representing it.  What level is your watering can skill yo?  Can you make perfect pickles?  How’s that ability to make butter?

I’m wondering what the next signpost will be to what’s evolving right before our eyes.  In the meantime, I need to get more and better skills, talk people up more, and get busy on the farm!

Because I think there’s a comprehensive picture here forming.

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