"Some calls it madness...I calls it HiDeeHo." - Cab Calloway
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Friday, August 08, 2003


I spent about 10 minutes just now surfing through pundits' blogs and all sides continue to become more shrill and hysterical. It looks as though there is no terminal capacity for politico-alarmism. Sure, stuff continues to happen. The world has been a hotbed of conflicting ideologies ever since nature invented predators and prey. Why should people be any different?

For goodness sakes, pundits. Go outside and walk around for a while.

posted by Julie Neff  # 8/08/2003 05:21:00 PM


Morgan did come back from England with a greater willingness to try new foods, or different combinations of foods.

This morning, I was trying to figure out how to use up what I had left over before I went and blew another $50 on groceries. I experimented. I threw something together while she was watching PB&J Otter. She gave the big thumbs up to the mix of garbanzos, chopped raw red pepper, black olives, chopped raw tomatoes, olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, a little black pepper and a vague sprinkle of parsley. She demanded that some grated parmigiano-reggiano go in the mix too. She also said, you should mix this with pasta.

Meet my daughter, the gourmand.

I shouldn't be so surprised at this. We went to Lake Geneva a few days back, and ended up in a gourmet shop/bakery that had loads and loads of samples. She tried and approved of, in no particular order, sesame-tamari on rice cracker, sweet pepper jelly on fresh white corn tortilla, artichoke-black olive tapenade on day-old baguette, lemon-wasabi on rice cracker (but she did say this one was almost too spicy), black bean-chipotle on corn chip, and a tiny cube of the damn sharpest cheddar ever, sharper than the toothpick with which it was stabbed. This shop had a big old back room with wines and vodkas and whiskeys and such, but there were no samples. Darn.

It goes without saying that the jellies, jams, cookies, muffins and pies we sampled all earned the Mo 'MMMMM!' of Approval. We practically ate lunch at that shop. To justify the voracious sampling, I bought a loaf of sourdough made with yeast culture from SanFran (so they said) and a pot of peach preserves.

Mo still wants to have a cooking show. She wants it to be, "Morgan's Breakfast in the Afternoon," all breakfast foods, all the time.

How many 6-year-olds can claim such an adventurous palate?


I keep saying I'm not going to do a journal-blog, and then I go and do it anyway. Well...until I get that digital camera and that server space, it's going to have to be a journal-blog, isn't it? Besides, whenever I swear off publicly chronicling because it appears there's nothing to say, stuff happens.

Much like Ellen Cherry Charles in Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins, I'm taking a scrubbing brush to the walls of my mind, on which is scrawled "You are a writer!" Nah. I'm not a writer. I write, but I'm not a writer. I'm not a transcriptionist either - I'm just doing it for the money. What am I going to tag the inside of my mind with once I clean off the "You're a writer" and "You're a transcriptionist" garbage?

Josh suggested once that, regardless of not being employed as such, I was born to be a park ranger. I'm always going out just to see how things are going, picking up trash, fixing signs, watching miscreants until they get so uncomfortable they take their misbehavior elsewhere, etc. Sometimes I speak of going to my territories as though it's a compulsion, I have to do it - not because I have to do it for the money, but because I HAVE to. Like the old man staffing the desk at the KMSF headquarters said, "It's usually just me and my little forest." We, he and I, don't enjoy it any less because it's a compulsion, but it adds nuance and depth to the identity.

So the upcoming photoblog of my little forest/prairie/marsh I call home will serve to fill in the space when I scrub the writer and transcriptionist tags off the wall of my identity.

posted by Julie Neff  # 8/08/2003 10:13:00 AM

Thursday, August 07, 2003


Wednesday night has been RPG night at my place for quite a few months now, ever since we moved it from Mike Holmes' place on Thursday nights last fall. Last night, we had planned on doing our usual hybrid Shadow World/Hero Wars, but one of our players wasn't able to make it.

So we sat around, shot the shit, and basically had a Forge thread plus a Tangency from RPG.net happening. Mike and Josh, once they get going, more or less give seminars on gaming. They are almost what I'd call elder statesmen. I learned a lot about Traveller, in point of fact. They went back and forth, explaining the history and revisions of this game, seeming to know it inside and out. Then they got on what they wanted to run in the next couple of...years. Yes, YEARS. They plan far far ahead. It harkened back to my high school days, when in my geek clique there was always someone wanting to run something. There isn't enough time in a solvent adult gamer's life to run or play everything they want to.

They spoke of GenCons past and present and social engineering, and how they can't imagine why anyone would go to a con and NOT want to play. Why would anyone go to a bar or a booze-up when the con is on? I wonder that too, although I've been known to imbibe while playing. I took down nearly an entire bottle of blueberry wine one night, playing Solani, and it still went great.

Somehow again it came up that I had never once run anything for anyone. I had never GM'ed. Mike and Josh both tell me, it's easy. I say, I don't know. They say, especially Mike, oh come on. I demur. Mike says, okay, we're free-forming. You run, he says to me. Ack! The pressure! It's like Yo Yo Ma, upon hearing that you love cello music, hands you his bow and says, "Okay. Play."

And so I freeform GMed. We did about an hour's worth of slapstick topical spy-themed roleplay, with Josh's character being the straight man for once and Mike's being this whacked-out paranoid drug-addled wreck of an agent. I sent them to Monrovia by way of Algiers by way of O'Hare by way of an undisclosed location. Hijinks ensued. All three of us were laughing so hard at some points we couldn't breathe. They never made it to Monrovia, by the way.

And then after all that, right before he left with his sleepy 2-year-old son on his shoulder, Mike says, "Freeform is probably the hardest kind of GMing to do. EVERYTHING is easier than that."

Damn. The veil has been lifted. I've known Mike about only a month less than I've known Josh, maybe less. I always thought Josh would be the one to insist that I run something. Go figure. It's a rite of passage of sorts. I think I need a few more lessons, and a game/system/setting that really jumps out and grabs me before I do any sort of extensive prep and framing...but the wheels have been set in motion.


posted by Julie Neff  # 8/07/2003 03:54:00 PM

Tuesday, August 05, 2003


Well, what a day, and no mistake. The bugs were so thick on the Ice Age Trail in Eagle, even I wussed out after a mile, but oh so many blackberries!

Why do insects seem to like to fly straight into my eyeballs? They go around sunglasses and again, straight into the eye. I've taken to carrying a little tiny mirror so I can get the bastards out of my eyes without rubbing, as my hands are always full of Off with 1150% DEET. Toxic, but effective.

I wasn't ready to go back home yet despite the bugs and so I set off in a different direction - southish - and drove to Bald Bluff, a few miles south of the town of Palmyra. It's also on the Ice Age Trail.

Try as I might, I can't seem to find any links to pictures or the historical facts of this place. As I recall them from the sign, General Henry Atkinson camped out at the base of the hill during the Black Hawk War of 1832. The top of the hill was a beacon and signaling hill for the Potowatomi and/or Sauk, I can't recall which. They had dances up there and, when the south wind had blown for a certain number of days, they would light a frickin' huge bonfire and have some big old party.

Anyway, so at the top of the hill is a little fence and a sign that exhorts us to stay on the trail, as there are many rare and even some endangered plants up there. The view is indeed spectacular. It's nearly as good as the view from the top of the tower at Lapham Peak. Greenhilly as far as the eye can see.

While walking the half-mile up the hill (damn good for the ol' gastrocnemius and quads and glutes) I espied a young lad, brush axe in hand, shirtless, sweaty, blondish, tannish, Heath Ledger-ish in the face (just like that but without the armor), slightly muscled in the way of young men who work hard over a summer, and smiling at me. Maybe he was hoping I had a water bottle. He was maybe all of 20, at the oldest. A conversation ensued of the massively flirty variety, the content of which shall remain a secret, but for these points: The lad is not allergic to poison ivy (like myself) and is working for the DNR just this summer (like myself, back in '92, I'm old, so old).

A trio of nuns in heavy blue habits and headcloths with a red cross on a white background (are they Nuns Templar?) passed by us, and the lad said, "Now THAT was surreal."

Hah. The cute, sweaty, outdoorsy lad said "surreal." I hied myself politely out of there, lest I topple the poor boy where he stood, on the flowered hillside. I lept down the trail, cackling MILFishly, and thinking how Josh would have liked to seen that.

But I digress.


I did find a link to pictures of scenery and plants in my neck of the woods, and then some.

Virginia Kline has folders upon folders of botanical images.

This is a place I will take Josh and Mo: Parfrey's Glen. More Parfrey's Glen. Sigh. Just an 1-1/2 hour drive away.

And here. This is Copper Falls. I haven't been there in years, but we'll all go back someday.

posted by Julie Neff  # 8/05/2003 10:15:00 PM

Monday, August 04, 2003


Do not overindulge in gummi worms, gummi bears, gummi peaches, gummi melons, gummi strawberries, gummi octopi, gummi caterpillars or any other kind of sour gummi. You will end up nauseated regardless of their small volume. Both Josh and I have suffered the ill effects of excess gummi. "Oh, but they're SO GOOD!" We both say, moaning deliriously, holding our tummies, having just one more.

Only we can get wasted on candy.

When you run out of gummi worms, you should not go buy more. You should say, "enough, already."

They ought to put a warning label on those things.

posted by Julie Neff  # 8/04/2003 03:39:00 PM


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