Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Artcar

Sorry for the extended silence. Things have been nuts around here, what with tying up loose ends ahead of Christmas break and then tying up loose ends ahead of our trip to Illinois to visit family for Christmas. Throw in three migraines, two kempo lessons, and a partridge in a pear tree plethora of unnecessary last-minute hassles, and … well, something had to give.

Aaaaaaaanyway … in between wrapping presents, scheduling visits with old friends, sorting Trip Guide ads, putting together trays of goodies for office parties, making arrangements to have the chickens watered and the fish fed, cleaning the house, and venting my frustrations on a focus pad held by my longsuffering kempo professor, I managed to find a little time to do something for myself:

That’s right, kids: I finally finished the passenger’s side of my fabulous art car. Here’s a closer look:

Richard Bach fans will recognize both the feather and the quotation from the novel Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah. I’ve been leaning heavily on Bach’s wisdom this week, so it seemed appropriate to finish the Bach side of the car this afternoon.

While I was outside, I touched up the tie-dyed sunburst on the hood, as the Oklahoma sun has not been kind to the paint. I’d like to say it looks better, but spray paint does not like cold weather, and orange spray paint especially does not like cold weather. The red part looked fine, and then I added the orange, yellow, and green, at which point the orange began dripping and running like crazy. (I don’t remember having this problem the first time around, but maybe it was warmer that day, despite the fact that we had six inches of snow on the ground the day I started this project.)

In any case, the hood is brighter than it was this time three hours ago, which I suppose is an improvement. If I get sick of looking at the drips and runs, I can always sand it down and repaint it over spring break. The beauty of an art car is that once you’ve destroyed your mythical “trade-in value,” you are pretty much free to sand, strip, paint, glue, and otherwise deface/embellish/reinvent the surface of the vehicle as many times as you want with total impunity….


Chocolate pi

This is what happens when a math teacher accidentally melts too much chocolate and then remembers that she owns a silicone tray that makes pi-symbol ice cubes. Not quite as geeky as the cake my sister made the other day (she constructed a three-dimensional replica of the Starship Enterprise out of marshmallows and fondant for my nephew’s birthday), but nerdy enough for my purposes.

I’m thinking of using the Wilton candy book’s recipe for “sparkle jells” to make some pi-shaped candy for my Algebra I kids. We’ll see how that goes. It’s pretty hard to screw up Jell-O….



I forgot to mention this last night, but we went to the Circle Cinema yesterday evening to watch Howl. It was amazing. It deals with the obscenity trial over the Allen Ginsberg poem of the same title.

I’ve loved Ginsberg’s work since I was in high school, and the film definitely does it justice. James Franco plays Ginsberg, and the movie includes many scenes of him reading the poem in a spot-on imitation of Ginsberg’s weird cadence, sometimes in black-and-white before an audience of hipsters, and sometimes narrating a visually stunning animated interpretation of the poem.  The poetry reading scenes are interspersed with footage of Franco-as-Ginsberg being interviewed about his life and work and scenes from the trial, which feels particularly topical and timely in light of the ongoing Prop 8 trial. I find it interesting that 55 years later, the government is still wasting time and money trying to justify immature decisions based on homophobia, while the intelligentsia are still eviscerating the arguments in favor of such decisions and making their proponents look ill-prepared at best and silly at worst.

If the art director doesn’t win an Academy Award, I’m going to stop paying attention to the Oscars altogether.

Sometimes I secretly wish I could open my own private school for the children of subversive iconoclasts. Kids would be required to read at least 100 banned books in order to graduate, and we’d have an entire course devoted to the study of Quentin Tarantino movies. We’d also have a linguistics class that would include a study of profanities, their etymology, and the sociocultural reasons one word becomes a socially acceptable euphemism, while its synonym is declared “dirty” or “vulgar.”

I’m pretty sure our test scores would be off the charts, and disaffected teenagers would be lining up like soccer moms at a Black Friday sale to try to get a spot on the waiting list….


Ask the Hippie: Artisanal Honey

Q. I saw an ad for something called “artisanal honey.” What is it, and is it worth an extra $15 to $20 a pound?

A. “Artisanal honey” is a misleading term that a handful of beekeepers with questionable scruples are using to take advantage of ignorant snobs who spend way too much time watching the Food Network and way too little time watching the Discovery Channel.

The term artisanal refers to monofloral honey (that is, honey made from the nectar of a single plant species), which is produced by placing a beehive in an area where a particular plant is blooming, then harvesting the honey as soon as the nectar flow ends.

While this practice gives the beekeeper a measure of control over the flavor of the honey — for instance, tupelo honey is very light and mild-tasting, while buckwheat honey is dark and intense — it does not make the beekeeper in question an “artisan.”

The word artisan refers to someone who is skilled at some type of handicraft: baskteweaving, pottery, metalsmithing, cooking, etc. People who render beeswax and use it to make soap or candles are artisans. People who take honey out of a hive and sell it are not artisans. They are simply beekeepers. There is no “art” involved in picking up a hive, putting it on a truck, and driving somewhere. If moving heavy objects made one an artisan, Mayflower Trucking would set up booths at craft shows and Ren fairs.

I hate it when monofloral honey is labeled as “artisanal,” because the term reinforces the false perception that beekeepers make honey. We don’t. We just give our bees a comfortable place to live, try to protect them from predators and parasites, and swipe a little of their honey now and then in exchange for our services.

I don’t have a problem with beekeepers charging more for better honey. If I end up with a frame or two of unusually flavorful honey, I want it to end up in a good home where it will be savored and enjoyed and not just poured over some toddler’s Chicken McNuggets, so I’ll probably charge an extra dollar a pound for it.

I will not, however, attempt to convince the buyer that I am an “artisan” just so I can overinflate the price. Local honey should cost about $4 to $8 a pound, depending on the kind and quality. Any more than that, and you’re probably getting ripped off, no matter how artistic the beekeeper claims to be.



I was making a Braum’s run tonight to get bleu cheese to garnish the giant bowl of pesto linguine I’d made for dinner when I glanced up and noticed this utterly spectacular sunset behind the bare trees in a neighbor’s yard.

I ran back inside the house, grabbed my camera, and shot the sunset before remembering that I’d been meaning to photograph the Christmas lights in downtown Red Fork at dusk, and I just hadn’t had a hand free to do it this week. With the camera already in my hand, I didn’t have much excuse to procrastinate, so I made a five-minute detour before finishing my errand:

Check out the new header to see the rest of the lights. I think the side trip was definitely worth the extra five minutes.

Dinner was pretty spectacular, too:

If anybody’s interested, I’ll post the recipe later.

I think I’m going to make myself a cappuccino and curl up with a magazine this evening. Hope your weekend is off to a good start, wherever you are.