Saturday, December 29, 2007

Something I Feel Strongly About

If you have curly hair LET YOUR FREAK FLAG FLY!

I hate reading about celebrities who claim to have "very curly hair" and who you never see with curly hair. Are they ashamed of it?

How annoying is it that in the movie, " The Princess Diaries," they straightened the main character's hair to make her acceptable? Tedious!

Straight haired people are always telling me "Oh I wish I had your hair!" And yet there's all this cultural pressure on curly haired people to be "normal" and iron their hair straight.

Curly hair needs a higher profile so those of us who aren't famous can feel less freakish and more beautiful. To this day the only person in the media that I vaguely resemble is Johnny Whitaker. Sure, he's adorable, but he's a guy!

Okay, no one should look to popular media as a source of self-esteem. But we all do one way or another. Everybody's always talking about positive role models in the media. Where's the curly hair?

And yes, it builds character to be thwarted at every turn and to base your sense of self-worth on hard-won truths regardless of the opinions of others and not on the fact that you look like someone who is rich and famous and therefore presumably successful. But how much character does a person really need?

It's too late for me - hell, I've got tons of character - but, ironically enough, I'd like the way to be smoother for other curlies making their way through life.

Curly haired people of all walks of life - come out!
Shed your shame!
Flaunt your curls!
Stick it to The Straight Haired Man!
He's keeping us down in the bathroom with a blow-dryer for hours!
We don't need this!
Reclaim hours out of your week!


Friday, December 28, 2007

P.S. - World News Comment

I'm really bummed about Benazir Bhutto.

Complainy Gutteral Noises

I shouldn't be blogging. I have responsibilities!

Up theirs!

In case you're wondering, Fay's doing crappily. Her legs are weaker and her new medication gave her the dreaded bloody D. Of course this happened the day her neurologist went on Christmas break. By sheer luck I got to talk to her anyway (the neurologist) so we were able to get a prescription for the antidote med.

The antidote med is another med that is used in humans, this time to reduce cholesterol. It is an orange flavored powder and Fay HATES it.

I have tried everything I can think of to get her to take it. First we tried a banana shake. Then tuna, yogurt, hot dogs, Spaghettios, chicken, hamburger and now finally liver. I have spent most of today boiling chicken, hamburger and rice and frying chicken livers.

In the shot above you can see Fay driven to distraction by the smell of frying chicken livers to the point at which she will touch her peanut butter-filled kong (she's been off the kong all week too) Beside her is a bowl of the dreaded medicine mixed in with Spaghettios, tuna and hot dog chunks. She's also wearing the harness to her wheelchair.

Everything we've tried has worked a bit in the beginning. But she has to take so much of it! I don't think I've managed to get her to swallow a whole dose.

It's been worrisome. Why wasn't I a pharmacist? Then I'd know how this med works and what happens if she doesn't take the whole dose. As it is I just do my best. That rotten side-effect has minimized (I hesitate to say it's gone) so I guess it's going okay.

But also bad is the loss of use of her back legs. Let's just say it can be messy and she needs frequent baths.

She's kind of off her feed a bit too. I don't know if she feels bad from medication or from being asked to eat all this weird food or if she would rather just eat the weird food without the medicine than eat her regular food.

Tomorrow's the last day of the antidote med, thank heaven. I'm hoping that when that's over she'll start feeling normal again and just get back to her regular eating habits. Then I wouldn't mind the back leg thing as much.

The travel, the time changes, the bizarre diet - it would throw anyone off.

Ugh! Grunt! Urg!

More Differences Between Us And Them

Back in Brookline.

Pete and I went to The Washington Square Tavern for dinner last night. We sat in the front window and watched people come and go. Everyone was all excited that it was 35 degrees out (and therefore not freezing) You could tell because they'd all taken out their leather jackets and were wearing them instead of true cold weather gear.

The artsy shots are of the frost on the windshield and the roof of my car.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Sunny CA

Southern California weather update:

You know, just f.y.i.

Monday, December 24, 2007

A First Class Blog Entry (Ugh. Sorry)

Ah yes, kicking back in sunny San Diego!  Woo!  So relaxing!  Yeah! 

Tell it to the dog who is still on eastern time and wants to be fed and medicated at 3 AM Pacific time.  That's all I'll say about her.

Here's something exciting:  our flight out to CA.  We flew out of Boston on Dec. 20th, a day when three inches of snow was predicted for the area.  We got about eight inches instead.  Our flight was delayed three hours.  Pete and I have been through worse.  At least they kept us in the terminal for most of that time.  I unzipped the top of Fay's carrier so she could have her head out of the bag.  She sat there and made a lot of friends.  

But here's the exciting part (to me at least) I got bumped. Up.  The beautiful, darling, super-kind gate agent put me and Fay in first class!  Woo for real!!!

Part of me felt guilty:  there were others who could have used a shot at first class like Jim and Dina and their three kids.  Every time I saw Jim he had another plastic child seat hanging off of him like a giant, unsightly Christmas ornament.  But there was only one #1 seat available.  Or Pete could have used it since he hates sitting in the center seat and that's where he was headed.  I took it though and with gratitude.  I wished I'd brought a nice bottle of scotch or an expensive smelly candle to give the woman.  All I had was heartfelt thanks.

So first class... It's nice.  I always smirk when they come over the loudspeaker and say "sit back and enjoy the flight."  You can enjoy the flight in first class.  The benefits start right away while you're sitting in your spacious, comfortable chair as other people board.  There's enough space between you and them that you don't have to worry about getting bashed by someone's carry-on.  You can ignore the sea of humanity as it passes by.  The flight attendants take your coat and hang it up for you (unless you're me and you've already balled it up and stuffed it under your chair - how uncouth!)  You get a drink right away - any kind boozy or non.  Not only do you get mixed nuts, you get warmed mixed nuts in a ceramic ramekin (my brother says to say "ceramekin")  

As I sat there in my cushy leather chair, listening to my music, sipping from my glass of red wine, I did enjoy the flight.  The food was even high quality airplane food.  There was food.  They offer and offer and offer refills of whatever you want until they run out and then they offer you an alternative.  But the booze does hit harder at altitude.  My only regret was saying yes to a refill of my wine. 

Don't worry, I didn't go berserk, hop on the service cart and do a loud, self-accompanied striptease, throwing my clothes and mini alcohol bottles at everyone.  I just got a little head-achy.

You know what else? Towards the end of the flight they bake chocolate chip cookies for the first classer's.  No lie.  You can smell them and then you can eat a hot, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie.  Sick.

It's still a six-hour plus flight and therefore boring.  But it's definitely better in first class.

Fay travelled well, doing her usual imitation of an ordinary carry-on bag.  I think that was a relief to my seat-mate.

So now we're in California.  They all think it's cold here.  It's funny to see them in their flip-flops and down jackets.  Okay, I only saw that once but once is enough to get a good laugh at.  It is in the forties sometimes at night.  I'll admit that's cold.  Yesterday it was in the seventies though.  Nice!

Mom and I hit the mall and manifested our shoe mania.  More on that in another post.

California is as different from the East Coast as another country.  The landscape, while beautiful, is almost like that of another planet.  The hummingbirds are noisy and aggressive.  The people wear really different clothes than they do in the East.  Some of the men here are really tall and good-looking.  A significant number of them.  Of course the women are good-looking too.  It's all really interesting.  And I never noticed when we'd come here when I was a kid.  All I noticed then was that people had really different hairdos.

I always feel weird when I come here.  Northern California, Southern California - it's all strange.  Whenever we come I feel like I ought to think about moving here.  Everyone we know who has moved here LOVES it and urges us to move out too.  Maybe someday.  It would be a huge adjustment but I'm not against new experiences.

Monday, December 17, 2007

So Glad To Be Able Bodied

The feet of snow we got in VT was light and fluffy and beautiful. City snow is a different matter.

I'm back in Brookline now and the snow here is piled high high high since there's nowhere else to put it but up. It's also rock hard.

At our place we've hired a neighbor kid to shovel for us when we're not home. I think he's twelve years old and I'm pretty sure he gets help. I hope so - our driveway is huge. He did a really good job. The sidewalk and driveway are clear and he cleared a path around the side of the house that the driveway's not on. Nonetheless there was some fine tuning to do when I got in from VT - a bit of chipping to be able to both get the car into its parking spot and to open the door. I still had to climb over a few feet of ice that I couldn't remove to get at my stuff in the back of the car.

In addition, it's trash night. Our trash can is very full. While it has wheels, the shoveled path is too narrow for me to use them so I just dragged the thing sideways down to the sidewalk. Then I hauled the it two or three feet up and balanced it on top of the snow barrier that the plows left. I hope to GOD it doesn't fall over. I'd lay it on its side but then the lid won't stay on.

Today and yesterday have involved a large amount of snow-related exertion: digging, chipping, chopping, climbing, hauling, heaving. I'm really glad I'm fit and healthy and can do these things but the day will come when I'm not and I can't.

I hope I'll be rich when I retire and can hire somebody else to shovel the snow and take out the trash. Maybe I'll live in a ritzy apartment building. Or maybe global warming will take care of it one way or another. Cataclysm anyone? Just call me Miss Winter Sunshine!

In any case someone's going to have to do it for me someday since I can't imagine retiring anywhere that doesn't have cold weather sometimes.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Make-y Day Concluded

So I had these intentions of posting about what I did in my studio today. I had a lot of intentions today. Like I was going to make Jenn's molasses cookies and I was going to hang the new curtain rod in the guest bedroom and I was going to start working on my album in addition to working in my studio.

What really happened was I shovelled mountains of snow and then cranked away in my studio while my camera battery recharged.

I didn't get my camera into my studio today so instead I'm posting some photos of Fay in a sweater I made for her a while back. So silly looking. You can see her shaved leg in the top photo. She's not wearing her leg warmer. The sweater is kind of like a dress with a ruffly skirt. It looked really good on the Yorkie it was shown on in the pattern book. However while Fay is close to the length of a Yorkie, she's the girth of a beagle. Kind of a different figure. What a cute little wad she is!

So today was, in fact, a make-y day but I have no photographic proof of it other than the muffin shot in the last post. I've also been working on the vest I mentioned back in September. I've got the back done and I'm about four inches up on the left front. Judging by the picture online mine appears to be coming out small. I don't know... We'll see.

And now, can I go to bed yet? I'm looking forward to eating more muffins tomorrow. So ends a make-y day. Goodnight all...

Intro to Make-y Day

We've got over a foot of snow so far and it's still falling. It makes me so bakey!

So this morning I made these pumpkin muffins. Since I didn't have the unsalted sunflower seeds you're supposed to sprinkle on top I used candied ginger chunks instead. Next time I might just mix a bunch of them into the batter and maybe cut the sugar some.

I'm off for a big day of making now. I intend to post more about it later.

See ya!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Beware the Stinger!

To make a Stinger:

2 oz. Cognac
1 oz. white (not green) Creme de Menthe
lemon twist

Fill a mixing glass two-thirds full with ice. Add the cognac and white creme de menthe. Shake well, then strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with three or four ice cubes (not crushed ice). Garnish with a lemon twist.

I got the recipe from Washington Post Spirits columnist Jason Wilson. Can you believe there's such thing as a spirits columnist?

So tasty but beware - have too many and you could end up in bed 'til noon the next day!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Nothing Much

We're having another snow storm here and it's got me crazed to bake something. I have to figure out what I can make with what I've got here though. I have less than one stick of butter. I'm sure I'll think of something.

In the mean time there's always dinner.

My "In Rainbows" disk box came today before the snow got too deep. That's exciting.

Maybe I can make something with booze in it. Like a baba au rhum or something. Hmmm...

Things in the studio are still going well. I spent part of today drawing little boobies and little penises. And thinking about what my Mom and Pete's Mom would say when/if they saw them. By the way, anatomy is not my typical subject matter. I was in some kind of mood.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Some Things I've Been Wanting to Blog About But I Haven't Had The Time

  1. Mayhem, Lust, Greed
  2. Don't Be a Punk Rock Casualty
  3. Vine Strength
  4. Things I Love
  5. Things I Learned in November
  6. When Your Palette is Better Than Your Painting

Monday, December 10, 2007

Knitting Trouble

The only thing that prevents from being BIG TROUBLE to me is that I can't decide what I like best here. Normally I'm a wool gal but even the cotton /nylon and nylon/viscose blends are intriguing. And the prices tend to be really right.

Peppermint Bark

I bought a tin of peppermint bark the other day.

Guess what I found out? Pete doesn't like peppermint bark!

What a shame. I'll have to eat it all.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Apparently I Buy Things Too

I wish I'd bought five of those lip shirts.

I also got these gloves which I can't recommend highly enough. They're convertible and fleece lined so they're also really toasty.

Who shops at Urban Outfitters in their forties? I'll tell you who - goofballs.

My Awesome Outfit

Voila mon awesome outfit! I am wearing it to perform my rendition of "Santa Baby" at the Weisstronauts' annual Christmas party gig. This year's party was at Toad in Cambridge and it was a particularly good one. Those of you who couldn't make it were missed but those of us who were there had a really good time anyway.

Now back to my awesome outfit. It all started with the sneakers which I couldn't resist.

From there I spun off into some 1979 seventh-grade fantasy of what would be great festive attire. Have I mentioned that I'll be forty-two in a few weeks? Thank God I've arranged my life so that I can do stuff like this and not get locked up.

I wasn't 100% sure about the wisdom of the shorts but then I decided that this outfit isn't about wisdom. So I went for it and I was really glad. I'm still glad! I LOVE this outfit. Can you tell? The odd thing is that I can't stand wearing shorts in the summer. Blech.

Back in about 1981 I bought myself some high tops kind of like this from Commander Salamander, the punk rock supply store in Georgetown in Washington, D.C.. The original pair has aged beyond wear-ability. How could I pass up this replacement pair?

As for the rest of it, I believe I'm genetically part clown.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Good old Jenn - she memed me. I'm supposed to fill in the blanks with things that start with the first letter of my name.

1. Famous Singer: Michael Jackson
2. Four Letter Word: Meal
3. Street: Massachusetts Avenue
4. Color: Magenta
5. Gifts/Presents: Myrrh
6. Vehicles: Maserati
7. Things In A Souvenir Shop: Maps
8. Boy Name: Maxwell
9. Girl Name: Marjorie
10. Movie Title: Men In Black
11. Drink: Manhattan
12. Occupation: Mechanic
13. Celebrity: Matthew Modine
14. Magazine: Mad
15. U.S. City: Minneapolis
16. Pro Sports: Moxing
17. Fruit: Mango
18. Reason For Being Late For Work: Major congestion
19. Something You Throw Away: Mushy lettuce
20. Something You Shout: Moron!

And now, to pass on the meme... Marilyn, you're it! Sorry about the M thing and how I've already done it.

Luckiest Girl In America

This is why I can never leave Vermont. These are the views from my studio windows:

The view below is actually the view from my deck which the lovely folks at Single Speed Design threw in for me when they designed Pete's studio. Taken in front of one of the windows, it's the same view only no window screen or flies.

Finally, less scenic but somehow still compelling to me:

Sunday, December 2, 2007


I just took Fay out for her last business before bed and I saw something I've never seen before: infinitesimal ice flakes glittering all through the sky. So pretty! I tried to take a picture. The top of my head is in there for scale but it doesn't really help. I turn the outdoor lights on when I take Fay out at night so I can see that nothing is waiting there to eat her. Tonight it illuminated these tiny ice crystals. Beautiful.

An Ordinary Post

I guess it's become a habit. You'd think I'd hold off on a dull, ordinary post after the last month. But I have time. Lucky you.

I had roasted delicata squash for dinner. It's very easy to make and delicious. You just clean out a delicata squash, no need to peel it, and cut it into half-inch slices. Toss the slices in a roasting/baking pan with some olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme (or whatever herb you have) and roast them at 450 degrees in the oven, flipping the slices around in the pan once in a while. The slices will brown around the edges and become nice and toasty tasting. It can take a while though. You wouldn't think so at 450 degrees but there it is.

I also toasted the seeds with olive oil and salt in the toaster oven. It's my new favorite thing to do when I make squash. That only takes a couple of minutes. I don't rinse them or dry them or anything. Just plop them on some foil in the toaster oven pan right out of the squash. Toast, stir, toast again, EAT!!!! Rewarding.

Not exactly a square meal but big deal.

We're looking at our first winter storm of the season tonight. So far not much is going on. It is dang cold though. Fay's fur hasn't grown back from her surgeries back in July (or was it June?) Her right rear leg is bald! I'm going to go upstairs and knit her a legwarmer after this post.

Oh yeah, the vet actually upped her new medication dosage. And I found out that Walgreens totally ripped us off on the price of the medication. It's WAY WAY WAY overpriced there. I can get a month's worth from the vet for $14. I won't even tell you what Walgreens charged me - it's too embarrassing. I'll just say that it was probably more than you're thinking. I called them to see if there had been some mistake and they told me that if I could find it cheaper elsewhere I should do that. Hmph!

I had another good studio day today. I'm working on a concept. Maybe I'll post photos of what I'm doing tomorrow.

Ooh, I'm hearing the pitter-patter of little snowflakes - or sleet pellets, I can't really tell which. I'm thinking it sounds more like sleet. I hope the power stays on. Ice storms can be rough on those power lines. No power means no modem and no posting. Oh, and no furnace going on.

Ugh, and it's trash night. Nice.

Also, I had some time to look around the NaBloPoMo website today, now that NaBloPoMo is over. I joined a few groups: Redheads Who Blog, Feminist Bloggers, New England Bloggahs, and Ravelry Bloggers. Yes, I'm a Ravelry member and I haven't blogged about it yet. Possibly because if I'm blogging I'm not Ravelling and vice-versa.

I should maybe take a few days off of blogging. Maybe more than a few days. I feel like the last month has really watered down my blog quality. I'll blog about any old thing now. And I just went to my Ravelry page and it's looking really sad. I only have four projects up.

On the other hand I was checking the blogs I normally read today and really hoping somebody had posted something new. Jenn did. Lotus did. They were the only two who posted today. I love living vicariously.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Strange Love Affair

Our thermometer says it's nine degrees out.

I love the night, I love the stars, I love the moon and I LOVE THE COLD!!!!!

Love Love Love!!!!!!!

I am, of course, wearing long johns, a hat and a down jacket. I'm dressed appropriately. I still love the cold.

Friday, November 30, 2007

That Has To Be A Record

I seem to have a thing about records. Maybe it stems from my childhood when I couldn't get a star sticker at tap dancing class when I was four.

Today's record: sixty cookies baked before 8:30 AM. It's a record for me at least.

Back to tap dancing. I went to the Art Linkletter Dance Studio franchise at the Westbard Shopping Center in Bethesda, Maryland back in about 1970. I was four. I was (and still am) uncoordinated.

Everyone in the class was listed on a chart. Every class we'd learn certain steps. Learn a step, get a shiny foil star sticker for your spot on the chart. You see where this is going. I was too uncoordinated at four to earn the stars. One time I actually screwed up the courage to ask if I could have a star. That rotten teacher said to me "No. You didn't do the step right." B!tch. Okay, yeah, I didn't get the step. So just give me a star to take home - don't put it on the chart. It was a stinking piece of paper! It's bad enough to be a failure at tap dancing but then to be denied the star when everybody else got one! She was a bad teacher at the very least. Maybe she didn't want to be teaching four-year-olds. Why am I making excuses for her? Why am I writing about this?

You know, I wonder if that incident right there is why I HATE to ask anyone for anything?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

My Neighbor, Michael Dukakis

Oh my Lord, one more post and NaBloPoMo is done! Whoo! And I can get back to thinking like I normally do and not "Do I have time to post now? Do I have anything to post now? I have an idea but I don't have time to post now!" Duh.

Today's post: My Neighbor, Michael Dukakis.

Michael and Kitty Dukakis live around the corner from us. I saw him this morning at about 6:30 charging down the street with his wheelie bag. I guess he was taking the T (that's what we call the subway around here) to the airport, or possibly to the train station (he did run Amtrak for a while there after all) We waved to each other (I was out with Fay. I am not a morning person and I don't have kids so there's no other way I'd be out at that hour)*

I used to have this game that I'd play with him that he didn't know about. I would try to see who would wave first. He won most of the time and he wasn't even playing. The man is friendly.

I haven't seen him in a while and I have to say he looks great. More pepper in his hair than salt and moving along at his usual urban clip. The rocking chair won't be getting him any time soon.

And now, it's time to make the cookie dough. I will be making World Peace cookies from Dorrie Greenspan's Baking, From my home to yours. They are chocolate cookies with a bit of fleur de sel in them. Should be interesting to eat. I like to do something unusual for the cookie exchange. One year I did Spicy Mexican Chocolate cookies with cayenne pepper and cinnamon in them. At least I liked them.

*Is that a record for parentheses? Two sets in one sentence and three in a single paragraph?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I'm still in the chair

I just read about the online game, Eve, on the New York Times site. It sounds cool. I don't know how to play games like that.

Wait a minute - I don't have time to play games like that!

Somewhat Stream of Consciousness

When I was working out I had all these great ideas for blog entries. Now that I've had lunch and fixed a billing snafu I can't remember any of them.

If you're my Mom you might not want to read the next paragraph (now she won't be able to help herself!)

It's okay I guess. Maybe they weren't that great after all. Like those erotic dreams you have where, for example, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is whapping you on the head with his hat and it's the hottest thing you've ever experienced and you really hope he doesn't stop, don't stop, don't stop and he stops and you wake up all disappointed and think "What was that all about?"

Sorry Mom.

I had a good studio day today. That blog entry from before where it occurred to me to go in with a destructive attitude really helped. "Let's see what I can wreck today" turns out to be a good motto.

I have another good motto I'm working on but I think I'll save that one for later when my brain's working better.

I have to go back to Brookline tonight. My Sister-in-law, Kristen's holiday cookie exchange is on Friday. I need to be prepared. As usual, though, I don't want to go back!

Oh suck it up! Post this entry! Get out of that chair! Pack up and go!!!!

But I just packed up and came here two days ago (whine!)


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fay Update

Here's Fay keeping up with Marc, Pete and I during a game of off road croquet in Amagansett:

The terrain's a little bit rough but she finishes with a satisfied sneeze.

The prednisone bombs weren't working so they've been discontinued. Instead she's taking a new, outrageously expensive drug that's used to treat rheumatoid arthritis in humans. It's the last drug we can try. So far though, no improvement. No horrible side-effects yet either.

I've got a call in to the vet as scheduled. I imagine she'll tell me to lay off the new meds.

I guess that means we'll gradually wean Fay from the prednisone - if we don't it would cause side-effects worse than her disease - and she'll just gradually get worse. She's been getting worse anyway so maybe it won't make much difference.

I don't think there's any way of predicting how fast she'll decline. We may still have her around come springtime. We're all flying to San Diego for Christmas to visit my parents. I bet she'll still be okay for that. I'm hoping they let us carry on her wheelchair.

Monday, November 26, 2007

T-Day Wrap Up

The pie came out fine. Not ideal of course but tasty, not ideal pie is still better than no pie.

Please remind me never to pack like a man again. Six days in the same pair of pants and sweater is not for me. Normally I'm a heavy packer but we had to fit three grown ups, their gear, a dog, her gear, her wheelchair and a cooler in a Subaru Outback Sport. I stuck to one large tote bag. Next time I'm shoving in one more sweater and one more pair of pants.

I am comfortable with my maintenance level. I don't need a decrease.

That sounds suspiciously like an affirmation.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Good Smack...

One great thing about this blog for me is that there's a record of all the fun I'm having.

Sometimes I get all bummed out and lonely and whiny and complainy. Should I be tempted to head in that direction I can now look at all the fun stuff I've been able to do and give myself a good smack upside the head.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Massive Yet Invisible Planet Effecting Spacetime Around Him?

Wow, NaBloPoMo is almost over. That month went really fast. Gee, time really flies. And yet George W. Bush is still president. How does that work?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Another Pie Adventure

Look what happened to my crust! It fell! There aren't any pie weights here and the crust needed to be pre-baked. I just went for it. I should have left a lot more overhang I guess. Instead the sides collapsed down into the crust.

So, in the spirit of going for it I'm putting the filling in and baking it anyway. The filling might seep around the sides and make pumpkin crust goo. It'll probably taste pretty good whatever happens. Hey, it's an adventure! For people like me who don't get much excitement.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!

Dom Perignon for you?

YOU RUINED Thanksgiving for EVERYONE!!!!!

This was supposed to be cooler than regular Thanksgiving.


Thanksgiving So Far

Pete, Marc, Fay and I are having Thanksgiving in Long Island. Pete and Marc's parents have a full house with Pete's other brother, Chris, his wife and their three kids down in Florida. My family's in Las Vegas with my brother's girlfriend's family. We couldn't go because there's no way Fay can stay in a hotel without making a mess of the floor. I can't have that! I wonder if they're frying the turkey again this year? So it's just the four of us having a slacker Thanksgiving.

It's a beautiful day in Amagansett, NY. Sunny and in the sixties. Marc sets out for some surf-casting in some antique waders he found in a closet:

Fay relaxes in the living room beside her stunning and comfortable Jonathan Adler dog bed that her Grandma (my mom) gave her. I guess it's too high for her to get on to with her back legs the way they are. Bummer. She's content though.

I made another tarte tatin:

Pretty, if I do say so myself.

Marc returns:

Pete and Marc then got in the car and drove the fish back to the water. They set it loose and it swam off in a wobbly fashion. We are hopeful for it.

Quote from Marc, "I never thought I'd catch two stripers and snowboard in the same week." Looks like he's having a good time.

We're going out for dinner. Tomorrow we're making stuffing, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie and filling them out with whatever left-overs we bring back tonight.

We might stage an alcoholic rage-fest later at dinner just to keep up appearances. I'll bring my camera and see what we can come up with.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Outdoorsy Day

It snowed Monday night in Vermont so Tuesday was an outdoorsy day.
To begin with, Pete decided to cut the waterspouts off the pear tree. Behold, the last pear of the season. It was pretty much frozen but still tasty. I split it with Fay.
We decided to light the burn pile:

We nursed it all day long and into the night. For lunch we cooked hot dogs over it:

There's nothing like a Nathan's hot dog cooked over a gigantic fire:

Who is that hot chick in the nerdy Harry Potter hat? I want a date with her!
Sorry folks, I'm spoken for.

Later in the evening Pete's brother Marc came by and we continued to hang out by the fire. We made nice, grown-up vegetable packets and baked potatoes. The men had more hot dogs too (I love hot dogs but two in a day is good enough for me)

A moonlit night, some tasty food, a little wine, a tiny splash of whiskey...and now we're looking around the property for other stuff to burn. It's a really pleasant way to spend a day/evening if your schedule and the weather allow. All we missed was a few more friends to share the evening with.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007

Bugs are SO COOL!!!!!! Have I used enough exclamation points in my titles yet?

I just took Fay out to take care of some business and there was an owl hooting its head off in the woods across the street. It's broad daylight. I love the country!

Today Pete and I chopped down some bug-infested trees (small ones) and hauled them up to the burn pile. Well, Pete did the chopping and most of the hauling. I told him what to chop down. We won't be burning them until the weather gets a lot more disgusting.

The trees were infested with woolly aphids. I went to look them up on my favorite bug identification site: If you page down on just that one page you'll see some really remarkable bugs. Like the Peanutheaded Lanternfly from Mexico or the "Cerogenes auricoma. No common name, but the Latin translates to 'wax producer with golden hair.'" That one flies so slowly it "looks like it's floating." Bugs come in the most amazing shapes and colors.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cluster Flies. Beware, This Post Is Unsavory

This is the view from the top floor of our barn/studios to our house. The black specks you see in the upper-right-hand corner of this photo are Cluster Flies. What you can't see is that there are about thirteen of them.

Did you ever notice a giant, slow-moving fly buzzing around the room in the middle of January and wonder where the hell it came from? Chances are it was a Cluster Fly. We've got bajillions of them here in VT. If you live in a rural area I'm sure you're familiar with them.

In the fall when the days are warm and the nights are cool they bask in the sun on the south or west facing walls of buildings. As the evening grows cooler they worm their way into cracks in the buildings so they can stay warm. On cold sunny days they come out of hiding into your warm house and hang out by the warmer sunny windows, buzzing around annoying and disgusting everyone.

In fact, this window faces north. These guys got turned around somewhere and are doing the best they can with what they've got. My south-facing studio window had even more flies in it but I couldn't get as good a photo of them. Not that this one's so awesome.

On a sunny winter day I spend the first and last ten or so minutes in my studio opening the windows and evicting flies. They really don't understand windows so it can take some time till they figure out where the opening is. Unfortunately you can let out or swat all the flies you want but there will always be dozens more making their way in.

As gross as they are, the very worst thing about them is that mice eat them. They die overnight and fall on the floor or the windowsill and the mice come along and have a juicy snack. They leave the legs and the wings behind along with their mouse droppings. Such an attractive pile. I try to keep my studio free of anything edible but the mice always manage something.

It's only a matter of time till one of my paintings contains fly parts. I'd put in some mouse droppings too but I don't think they're as archival.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Tarte Tatin

Now I have to go wash the caramel crust out of the cast-iron pan. Wish me luck...

Oh No! I Sat Down!

Michaela and I finally had time to garden today. Pete and I had a a big pile of mulch in our driveway (in VT) that needed to be moved before it snows enough for the plow to come. Our job today (Michaela and mine) was to move the pile.

The wheelbarrow and the mower both had flat tires and the string trimmer was out of string but we prevailed anyway. She hauled the whole mulch pile load by load around the garden on a tarp. I yanked out piles and piles of enormous weeds. The voles helped me quite a bit by tunneling very thoroughly under everything I was trying to rip out. Thanks voles!

We covered ground. Who needs smelly power tools? Michaela said that she'd earned her dessert tonight. I think she earned three. If I'd taken a before photo you could see what kind of bulk she moved. Didn't.

It was cold and sunny today - it snowed a little yesterday - and a great day to be working outside.

Fay kept us company for quite a while in her wheelchair. She didn't move around all that much but she seemed to enjoy herself. Now she's napping. I haven't noticed any difference in her since yesterday's pred bomb (except she seems to be a little weaker still in the hindquarters) I guess I'm glad we upped the dosage so far (as long as we can avoid bloody diarrhea and kidney failure) and I hope it works soon.

So if I get out of this chair in time I might muster the energy to make a tarte tatin. I'll need to pick a few more apples off the trees in the upper meadow. I'm lucky there are still some up there.

Alright - I'm off.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Prednisone Bomb

I'm nervous. Fay was getting a little worse - weaker back legs. So on the vet's orders I'm now giving her a prednisone bomb every other morning. Today was the first day - 30 milligrams. She had been getting 20 every other day. I just hope it doesn't make her sick or feel bad. I hope it helps. But I feel like we're just holding back the tide. It'll be great if she can walk better but for how long?

On the other hand we've bought her many months of enjoyable life and we can continue to do that. She's happy. She gets patting and treats and everybody wants to know about her. Everybody wants to talk to a dog in a wheelchair.

On a different note, I LOVE RADIOHEAD!
They can do anything they want and they still want to have fun. Luckies!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A New England Aesthetic

One thing I love about Boston is that everybody looks like crap. Okay, not absolutely everybody but polish is not highly valued around here. Most people have dingy, coarse skin and wear a lot of black. Not sophisticated, elegant black but beat-up black. Worn, slightly faded, out of shape, saggy at the knees and elbows black. People have crispy or messed-up hair. We look rumpled in an urban way. We have a patina. It's kind of a declaration of our human frailty.

Here one does not strive obviously to be the most beautiful or the most brilliant. Sure, you want to be the best but you don't want to look like you want to and you certainly don't want to look like you're trying. It's an affectation but one that I can relate to and one that I'm comfortable with.

There's still an aesthetic of austerity here in New England. Overindulgence is a relative thing but there isn't much here that people do to the extreme, except maybe hold back. Sure, people stay up all night partying or spend tons of money on stupid things but it seems to me that such things are done with more joie de vivre in other places. Our autumn colors are probably the most exuberant thing we have.

Austerity can be very beautiful. I find it comforting because it doesn't ask more of me than I want to give. Exuberance requires commitment and commitment implies the possibility of failure. Austerity is achievable. It's something we New Englanders can do, no problem.

Oh, so now I'm a New Englander?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Indian Food!!!

I'm stuck in Brookline again waiting to hear from the vet. Nothing major, just whether Fay gets another dose of Lomustine or not and when I can pick up her prescription. But I'm still not in the country or near my studio.

So to cheer myself up I got take-out Indian food. Tons of it. Breakfast looks like vegetable pakoras tomorrow.

And I'm working on another ad for The Plough. Big night.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Pretty good studio day today. I took on something I've been working on/avoiding for over a year. I did get some paint applied to canvas. Mostly I mixed a lot of paint and rearranged my work space. But that means I'll be able to go in and really k!ck @ss tomorrow.

Oh wait. I have to take Fay to the vet in Boston tomorrow. I'll have to k!ck @ss on Thursday.

Monday, November 12, 2007

JOLT, shock, startle, impel, stir, spur, prod, urge...

Today I made this ad for the Plough & Stars, a restaurant/bar in Cambridge MA. I used the Mac application Pages plus some Photoshop for sizing.

I wish I could go to the event. I love whiskey. Plus the food there is excellent and the people are great. If you're in the Cambridge area give it a shot. If you read the Phoenix, hopefully you will see this ad in the issue that comes out this Thursday. Hopefully it will look wicked pissah (as we say in Boston - it means "good")

In other news we're back in VT. I had been gone a little over a week. When we got back we found that the mice had had several orgies in our absence. My evening was spent bleaching the kitchen. Woo-hoo! I even found mouse poop on my sports bra which I had left drying on the top level of the laundry drying rack. Nice! No food there that I'm aware of. That's a puzzle.

Tomorrow I hope to get back into my studio for some no-holds-barred experimentation. Perhaps I should galvanize myself with an "I'm going to wreck every G.D. thing I've been working on for months and then wrest it all from the jaws of failure at the last minute" attitude.

Galvanize. What a great word. Here's what my thesaurus widget says:
That's a screen shot unfortunately. Hard to read.

I want a t-shirt that says all that. Well, not the part about "the reverend's words..." or the shot in the arm.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Cheers, Juichi!

Today is Juichi Kamikawa's birthday. He was a friend of my parents' and a real character. Even when I was a tiny little girl he always treated me like a person. He was never, ever dull - he had a wild mind. He was kind of like a male Auntie Mame. He passed on a couple of years ago (he was in his eighties but you'd never know it) and the world's a little less fun for it.

Juichi means "eleven" in Japanese. He was the eleventh child in his family, born on the eleventh day of the eleventh month. My Dad wanted to name me after him, only I'd be called "One." I'm my parents' first child and a New Year's baby (But then my Dad also wanted to name me "Onion" because he liked the sound of the word)

Juichi loved martinis so November eleventh is International Martini Day for me. I always toast Juichi whenever I have a martini but today is the day I make a special effort to have one. So if you happen to have a martini today, think about sending up a toast to Juichi.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I've Kind of Been Stressing About This

My dog urinates
All over the kitchen floor
Invest in Bounty

I hope that wasn't too disappointing.

Friday, November 9, 2007


I don't like the way these forced posts are going. I'm not always interested in what I'm writing about. I'm just writing to write something and trying to interest myself in it. Nobody has time for all these words!

So my next post will be a haiku.*

I haven't written a haiku since tenth grade. We'll see how it goes.
*Unless something really interesting happens.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Every once in a while I like to learn a new skill. Web design, gardening, crochet, computer animation, dog training - these are all examples of things I've taken up in the past and still like to do. I think that this time-frame's skill is cleaning my house. I say time-frame because I don't know how long it will take me to pick up and if I do pick it up, how long it will last.

I believe I have mentioned before that I am not a tidy or mentally organized person (try Saturday, August 4, 2007) My friends know this about me very well. A couple of weeks ago my good friend Alex sent me to the FlyLady website. The overall tone is a little sweet and kind of sexist (the assumption is that only women are responsible for keeping the house clean) for my taste but the system looks very sound so I'm giving it a try. I love a system!

So far the sinks in my house have been spotless and shiny for over two weeks. I didn't know that the way you keep your sink clean and shiny is to dry it out at the end of the day. It's so easy! I wish someone had told me this when I was a little girl. I bet my Mom doesn't even know. I could have had shiny sinks for my whole life. Better late than never though. Once you've done one sink and you see how easy it is you just do all the sinks you use. Then you start keeping the counters and surrounding areas clear too because it looks so much better that way.

The philosophy of the system is that you take "baby steps" that eventually become habits that help you get rid of your clutter and keep whatever you have left clean and tidy. You start with shining your sink and proceed very slowly from there. I'm expecting there to be further cleaning-related epiphanies down the line, like how to get a vacuum cleaner to actually work or how to keep your shower grout from turning black.

The downside is they send their members probably twelve e-mails a day. They say up front that you don't have to read them all. You just read the one about the day's task and one evening reminder. If you have some extra minutes to kill you can read any of the seven or so inspirational ones that come rolling in all day long or the promotional e-mails about system-related books or organizers or products (like a timer so you know when to stop cleaning or a feather duster with purple feathers) I usually end up deleting most of them unread. But some of the inspirational e-mails have been just that and I've archived them.

The point is that these are skills I don't have that I need to acquire and this seems like a system that will work. So I will ignore the schmaltzy sexism and try the damned system. And it's working so far!

Here's an added amusement factor: the Hey Tom website. They answer questions for women like "why does my husband leave the toilet seat up?" and "why does my husband have a garage full of junk?" Info for men is about seasonal home care (I imagine things like gutter cleaning and air filter changing) that are usually Man Jobs. I haven't looked at the site much (I just found it while writing this entry) but it looks intriguing.

This is the world we still live in: people still expect that women do all the women's work, men do the he-man stuff and never vacuum or dust. I don't know, some information is not gender specific, like how to scrub a pan. It's just useful information.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Artistic Impulse and Getting Stuck

Making things is a compulsion. It's bigger than me. The impulse takes over my body and must be satisfied one way or another. The muscles in my hands and arms actually feel itchy and uncomfortable when I don't make something on a regular basis. The act of making probably provides my brain with some chemical reward that I don't know how to get any other way.

For me the itch can be satisfied by making pretty much anything. Sculpture, painting, knitting, brownies, jewelry, pies. The more intense the better. So salad doesn't cut it. Maybe also because I'm not that happy to have a salad when I'm done making it.

Making art is riskier than making brownies because if it doesn't go well the reward is complicated. On the one hand I am using my make muscles and hopefully my mind to explore and experiment. I get some reward for that.

On the other, I'm spending precious time doing something and I want the result to be "good." This is where the problems start.

Sometimes it's nerve wracking to explore and experiment. It ought to just be fun and gleeful but sometimes I get to thinking more about how I hope I didn't "waste my time" or "ruin it" and that I'm not going to end up with a mess I can't use for anything. This kind of thinking leads to playing it safe, sticking to what I already know and not going all out. This kind of thinking is hobbling and guarantees that I will waste my time. It also robs me of a full reward. I'm making but I'm second-guessing myself, failing and feeling bad about it.

It's possible to work for months in this terrible mindset with only the occasional day of good, all out experimentation. That gets demoralizing and makes you dread going to your studio.

But still you want to go because the high of going all out is so exhilarating when you can get it.

I think I'm going to have to draw myself a cartoon of the demon of the studio. It's going to be looming in the door saying "This had better be good!" and "If you ruin it you'll be sorry" and "Be careful!" A big, ugly cartoon.

A good art-making day is really satisfying. Sometimes, though, you just want brownies.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Virtuality V. Flesh

Lucky all of you. You know, you three people who read my blog! I joined NaBloPoMo which requires me to post every day for the month of November.

I will try not to run off at the fingertips just writing whatever damn thing comes into my head. I can't make promises though.

I shot myself in the foot today, posting at 3 AM. I thought, "get it over with early. That'll be one down." Now I want to post again and I feel like I should save it for tomorrow. But I won't.

For today I discovered Facebook. Thank you Kirsten and Ben. Neither of whom, I believe, are two of the three.

Wow, talk about a time sink! I thought MySpace was bad. Facebook is way more fun in my opinion. Ben and I were shooting sushi at each other all day, sadly, all of it virtual. Then he and Debbie (also not one of you three) and I gave each other fish for our aquariums. They gave me more fish than I gave them so I'll have to go back and be more generous. I'm just learning how things work here.

The ways to waste time and be juvenile appear to be endless. You can buy people virtual drinks, throw sheep at them, take sexy back from them, trip them, use the force with them. There are innumerable useless and fun toys here. I read about some kind of interactive Scrabble game you can play with other people. There have got to be more games like that.

Of course this is a social network and the whole point is to make friends or perhaps to be "friends" with people you already know. There are all sorts of unpleasant ways to stumble across people from your past on Facebook. They make a lot of awkward suggestions like "You might want to be friends with these people from your high school: Sally 'Class Bully' Smith, Irving 'Wouldn't Deign to Talk to You' Wilmore, Noreen 'You Were Mean to Her and Now You Regret It' Simpson' "etc.

I have a lot to learn about this and much exploring to do. When I'm not cleaning up after Fay. Or doing something that actually has meaning.

Now NaBloPoMo turns out to be a social network too. I joined two in one day. Will this be as life-enhancing as making flesh and blood friends in person? I don't know. I know it's very nice to be in regular contact with old friends you don't see very often because they live on different continents from you. But as you can see from my last few posts I'm kind of on a flesh kick right now. And as my Facebook Picture Personality quiz accurately distinguished, I'm a bit of a loner. I'm feeling a lack of solid people in my life these days and I'm not sure what to do about it. I am pretty sure that sitting in my kitchen and staring at my computer for hours is not a good solution though.

What Time Is It?

Bloggin'. Why, it's 3:18 AM. How strange. Why am I blogging right now? Probably because I just got back from an emergency trip to the Vet.

Fay came crashing down with drooling, gas, nausea and diarrhea at around midnight. I waited a little to see how she'd do but she was clearly feeling so lousy I just took her in. It could be so many things (a reaction to one of her medications, compromised immunity etc.) that I thought it would be good to just take care of it.

She's feeling ton's better now. She even wants food again. They gave her a camel hump (subcutaneous fluids) to treat dehydration and an anti nausea drug. Now she's snoring.

Soon I will be too - in a sleeping bag on the kitchen floor. And I was really good and got myself into bed around 11PM. I had good intentions.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Old Spice and Other Things

I was thinking of posting about more old flesh in the news. They've taken the mask off of Tutankhamen's mummy so those who visit his tomb can see his face. If you go to this site you can page down and see some photos. He has a pretty good amount of face left for a body that old. I imagine that the 400 year old clam's complexion was fresher looking however, since it was still alive.

I wonder what they did with that clam? Chowder? Pasta? Certainly dissection. Wow, people really stink sometimes.

What I'm really excited about today is that the hour has come to start taking out the trash. Finally I can get rid of the recyclables and the fifteen-year old dried parsley leaves (okay, that's really an herb. But I also threw out a bottle of Accent. Can you consider MSG a spice? If not I'm sure there are some spices in the bag too) and the tea that I bought in 1990 that I just cleaned out of the pantry. The dozen bottles of hot sauce (spicy!) that our former house-mates left behind when they moved into their respective bachelor pads earlier this year. The six bottles of barbecue sauce and the instant rice and/or potato side dishes that appeared in the kitchen somehow that I will never use, make or eat.

Fay will have more room to maneuver her wheelchair now. This is very exciting.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Eating and Stuff

Some days I really don't want to bother to eat. But then I get REALLY hungry and there's nothing for it.

Then I have to decide (like everybody else on the planet who's lucky enough to have a choice) do I go cheapo and have a bowl of cereal or a piece of pie or (heavens to Betsey!) stop at McDonald's (only on the drive to or from VT) or do I be a "good" grown-up and make a salad? Stupid salad. Why does it always have to be a salad?

Usually I love eating but today I wish it were optional.

I continue to be in MA, mainly because I can't stand to miss another trash night here. We have something like seven bags of recyclables waiting to go out and the curbside trash can is full.

I'm not enjoying it that much. I had dinner with my friend Tammy one night, Fay has seen some of her dog friends, I handed out candy on Halloween and I'm purging the house of detritus (since I live here there's plenty of it) but I'd rather be in VT with the birds and the bugs and my studio.

T.S. I guess.

Is there anywhere where nature and culture co-exist?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Methuselah Clam

I am listening to "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" the public radio news quiz show. It's my second favorite public radio show after "Marketplace."

They just said that a scientific group in Wales recently dredged up a living four-hundred year old clam. You can read more about it here.

Naturally they had to kill it to find out how old it was though I don't see why.

One lump of flesh lived peacefully for between 405 and 410 years. I wonder how many babies it had? Oh Lord - can I eat an animal that has the potential to live so very much longer than I can? What does a clam know? Flesh that lived that long!

It looks like a regular quahog like you find all over the place on the U.S. East coast. In fact, I have a quahog shell not ten feet from where I'm sitting typing this that I picked up in Amagansett. Now I have to count it's rings.

I'm going to be thinking about this for quite some time.

Photo credit: Bangor University

Friday, November 2, 2007

I'm Wussy

I grilled the oysters for lunch today. I got the recipe from License to Grill. The smell was amazing. I did use some of the sauce they suggested in the recipe but really I prefer oysters either plain or with a little squirt of lemon juice. Mignonette sauce is good too. Unless you're in New Orleans in which case a mix of Crystal sauce, ketchup and horseradish is the way to go.

Really though, I think oysters are best raw.

When Cecily gave me the oysters yesterday I went out and got myself an oyster knife. I was going to try to open those suckers up. I got instructions off the web and was all set to go.

You hold the oyster, cup side down (flat side up) in a dishtowel with the hinge on the outside of the towel. Place the point of the knife right near the hinge, push the knife in, then twist to open the shell. There's more but I got stuck after the part about the towel.

Where the hell is the hinge? The way back? What do you mean "near" the hinge? What do you mean "push" the knife in? I couldn't get the knife in. I couldn't even make out where the seam was on some of them. And I was honestly nervous about intruding into this oyster's home. I'm trying to eat the poor thing but I don't want to break and enter.

I love to devour oysters but I'm too wussy to detach them from their shells myself. When we go to Legal Seafood for our oyster orgies I tell myself that shucking them kills them and I'm not really eating them alive. Right. I don't want to kill them but I'm happy to eat them if someone else kills them. Right.

I should be a vegetarian. Or at least find some way to honestly come to terms with my cowardice. I'll never like killing things. I don't even like killing bugs or plants. That's not a good trait in a gardener.

Anyway, I resorted to the passive aggression of the Weber grill. I killed the oysters but not with my bare hands. And I ate them with respect and appreciation. That's the best I can do today. I couldn't leave them to die in vain in the back of my fridge.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

More About the "Burger" King

The Burger King left his scepter on our front porch.

A Lovely Gift and a Halloween Follow-Up

I was just out in the back yard with Fay when Cecily, our next door neighbor, drove up and gave me a dozen fresh Wellfleet oysters. Someone had given her two dozen and she couldn't imagine using them all. In fact she said she couldn't imagine eating more than three.

This made me feel strange. Pete and I could easily eat two dozen oysters each. More. Are we oyster devouring monster freaks? Are we unhinged and out of control?

I've got the radio on as I type and I just heard that two people were stabbed and one was shot in Salem last night. Considering the numbers of people there for Halloween it doesn't sound that bad. It sounds like it could be the toll of a fairly ordinary night.

I shall leave you with a final frightening Halloween image:

No wonder the gummy fangs were so popular!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Report '07

Where to begin?

I stayed in Brookline for Halloween this year. I couldn't go spend a wild Halloween in Salem with our friends John and Nichole because Fay needs her medications on schedule. I couldn't bring her along with me due to her tendency to make puddles.

Halloween is truly scary in Salem - the place is packed with hordes of Halloween fanatics to the point where if I had a kid to possibly lose there's no way I'd take it there. I don't mean that I think someone would take my child with evil intent. It's just that there are so many people there going in different directions that I could see a kid just getting swept away - like in a flood. The sheer number of people is terrifying. Plus some of the celebrants are really intense and truly wish to become the vampire or barbarian warrior they are dressed as. Of course some of them are just drunk. For an adult it's exhilaratingly alarming. For a kid it's probably just unfathomable.

Then there's the supernatural spook factor if you're into that kind of thing.

Halloween in my neighborhood is a big deal for the trick or treaters. Our house is on a fairly busy main road where the front yards are small and can't sustain a full-on graveyard with reanimating zombies and vats of dry ice or animatronic pirate ships. The neighbors on our street tend to just have something like four or five jack o' lanterns plus fake cobwebs all over everything and a few fake bats hanging on the porch. Just around the corner though it's a different world. Many of the houses on the side streets do elaborate displays. I have heard about this but not seen much of it myself. How could I go looking around when there are hundreds of kids coming to the door looking for candy? I think they truck extra kids in from other neighborhoods.

I have to say though that my display this year was especially pathetic. I'm going to have to invest in good decorations next year (or better - this year on sale) All I had was my lone jack o' lantern. I could hear parties of kids going right by my house to greener pastures (or should I say, blacker wastelands? It is Halloween after all) It may also be that my house and yard are naturally spooky. Pete and I aren't around enough to do as much upkeep as many of the other (normal) neighbors.

The garden's unruly. In fact I designed it to take after a neglected churchyard. I knew I'd neglect it so I tried to give it structure with trimmed box woods - four cones defining a rectangle and two globe shapes flanking the entry point. Then I filled in with perennials you can kind of let go and they still look pretty: peonies, roses, ornamental grass, clematis. However I also put in a wisteria vine (which should be a whole other post) and some mint (for Cuban Mint Juleps) Those two have taken over so the garden looks more crazy neglected than romantic neglected. I also put in a rose arch that has tilted over the years. I keep meaning to right it but I haven't yet.

Fake cobwebs are one thing, actual dereliction is another.

So Fay and I manned the candy basket. The best costume of the night? In my opinion it was the Leonard P. Zakim Bridge. Runner up was the iPhone. There was also a very good table with spaghetti dinner on it. Not as many Hogwarts students as I expected this year.

Then there was the pair of six-foot teenagers, one dressed as a king with a sign that said "Burger" around his neck the other dressed as a hot dog. They looked really tired. The "Burger" king was limping. I hope it was a prank-related injury. The king said, patting his friend on the shoulder, "This is my wiener. I like to touch him a lot." They were my crudest trick or treaters.

This was my worst year for a costume ever. Even worse than the times that I had to do inventory at the Gap until two AM and afterward go to parties as a "Spooky Gap Employee." I did no costume this year. I think the only other time I went without a costume was in seventh grade when I was "too old." Naturally in eighth grade I was back to costumes. This year I left all my wigs in Vermont along with the costume bag. I tried to think up some way to put together some things that I had on hand but I couldn't fathom a costume that didn't involve a wig. I'm losing my touch.

I got a lot of compliments on my candy though. I'm proud of my candy distribution. I consider myself an expert. I concentrate on the major chocolates: Milky Way, Snickers, Three Musketeers, Reeses Peanut butter Cups, Almond Joy and Nestle Crunch. Then you have to satisfy the Fruitists: Starburst, Skittles, Nerds if you can find them. This year I found gummy fangs which were a big hit. I was also told that I was the only one with Starburst. Everyone else had Reeses and Butterfingers. This was said disparagingly.

I also got some compliments on the jack o' lantern. That was nice. I'm always doing my jack o' lantern at the last minute. One kid asked me how I got the zig-zag effect at the top. I was shocked. I thought everybody knew how to do that.

It's funny, I love everything about Halloween: the identity changing costumes, the fright factor, the candy, the jack o' lanterns. But somehow I'm never prepared. Oh well. Maybe next year.

Finally, after things had calmed down Fay and I went to see some friends from the dog park on another street. Fay walked all the way in her wheelchair. It was almost like a normal, pre-disease walk. She was really excited to see everyone and explore their apartment. And then she weed on their bedroom floor. Nuts! They were really nice about it. It's a good thing they're dog people.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Adventures in Pie Making

I made this apple pie a few days ago with the apples from the trees on our property.

Our apple trees are almost all entirely neglected. We had two of them pruned by an expert but those apples are so tasty that the animals get them first. The apples for this pie came mostly from a long, straggly tree near the crossroads of Mill Hill Road, Meeting House Lane and Route 35. It looks like a volunteer but it produces beautiful, tart, firm pie apples.

This year when Pete and I harvested the apples there was a big, yellow backhoe parked on our land in the brush right beside the tree. I felt lucky that they hadn't parked on the tree itself. I guess the phone company was supposed to be working on the lines nearby but they must have been on a lunch break. We found this out from the guy in our town who's in charge of the local infrastructure. He's the guy who does an amazing job of keeping the roads clear in the winter and drivable in mud season. He had come around to chew the crew out for something or other but he was disappointed because they weren't there.

He seemed concerned that we might be irate about having a strange backhoe parked in our brush. I know he was happy he came by when he did so he could make sure we knew it wasn't his. Since it wasn't parked on my favorite apple tree I wasn't irate. Pete found it a convenient step stool for reaching the higher apples.

The recipe for this pie came from Patty Pinner's Sweety Pies: An Uncommon Collection of Womanish Observations, with Pie. I made "My Grandmother's Hand Made Apple Pie." That's Patty Pinner's grandmother. I don't know that either of my grandmothers ever made a pie in their lives. My maternal grandmother's repertoire consisted of broiled lamb chops, baked potatoes and sliced apples. Oh yes, and ham, cream cheese and cornichon pinwheels. I believe she was also able to scoop cottage cheese from a container. I never ever saw my father's mother in any kitchen that I can recall.

The fat in the recipe for the crust is shortening plus a little bit of heavy cream. In years past I've been a butter crust person. At least half the fat would be butter. I have to say that the shortening based crust was just as good as a butter crust as far as I can remember. It was also easier to make than I'd remembered and handling the shortening made my hands feel much smoother.

To help with handling the dough and getting it into the pie plate in one piece, I rolled it out between two sheets of cling wrap. Good system. Also, before you put the top crust on over the filling you're supposed to dot the filling with two tablespoons of butter. I just took my stick of butter out of the freezer, marked off two tablespoons on the stick and grated it off over the filling with the cheese grater. Take that butter dots! I'm going to do that with all my butter dots from now on.

We picked more apples than would fit in that pie so next on my apple agenda is a tarte tatin. I'm going to use pre-made puff pastry though. Cheater!

Thinking of my paternal grandmother makes me want a Manhattan. She had one every evening. She was a pilot and also used to shoot rattlesnakes with a revolver. You'd never know it to look at her though. I only saw her at family events in nice, tasteful, brocade or knit skirt suits and carrying a pocketbook. I definitely remember seeing her enjoying her nightly Manhattan.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Am I Writing About Baseball?

I have to say that going to a World Series game was very exciting. Don't kill me but I'm not a huge baseball fan - no, I don't think the ticket was wasted on me. An experience is an experience.

I'm happy to report that the National Anthem was not sung by Carly Simon or Steven Tyler or by any of the New Kids on the Block. They had John Williams write and conduct his own arrangement and it was played by the Boston Pops.

The most viscerally exciting part for me came next: the flyover by the Vermont Air National Guard. Four F-16s. LOUD, core-shaking, exhilarating, frightening. It gave me the kind of deep, dark thrill that I've been relishing so lately. You know, enjoyment of something it's wrong to enjoy? How could I think that flying a war plane is SUCH A COOL JOB!!!???? It was so cool.

Then whoever was left of the '67 Sox came out with Carl Yazstremski to throw out the first pitch. Good to see Yaz.

The game itself was easy to watch for a Boston fan. Everyone knows the Sox won 13 to 1. The first few plays were mayhem for the fans. By the fourth inning it seemed like everyone was taking it like an ordinary baseball game. By the sixth inning I felt sorry for the Rockies. Pete and I left early in the eighth inning to avoid getting stuck in a sea of jubilant yahoos. It takes a lot for a Red Sox fan to feel confident enough that they're not going to lose that it's okay to leave the game early. I took a moment at my favorite spot in the ballpark, right where you first come out into the stands, and said goodbye to my World Series experience.

Yeah, it kind of rained but it was a beautiful night. If you have a large pile of extra money and a chance at some tickets, you might want to try going to a World Series game.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Go Sox!

Pete and I are going to game one of the World Series tonight. I hope it's not a rain-out!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ordinary Day in Vermont

A couple of photos of some wet grass seed heads outside my door. It rained last night in VT for the first time in weeks. The wet seed heads are lavender colored in real life too.

I downloaded the new Radiohead album today: "In Rainbows." I've listened to it three times so far and I really like it. It's outrageously beautiful.

Also, I made a butternut squash polenta from a recipe I got from the Washington Post. Usually I'd bake the squash first to make the puree but this time I nuked it. It came out perfectly cooked. That butternut squash was so sweet just plain, I couldn't believe it. I'll be making that again soon.

I find that lately I've been using way too much salt and eating too much sugar. What's that about? Not too much for me, but more than experts would approve of.

Whoops! A certain aroma just reminded me that I'm also toasting the squash seeds in the toaster oven. I didn't burn them - phew - they're just done. But I did over salt them! You know, if I made the extra puree into soup I could use the toasted seeds as a tasty garnish.

Other aspects of my ordinary day in VT: I finished reading The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman, worked in my studio, did my Yourself!Fitness XBox workout, ate a (frigging) salad and got the dog to chase a tennis ball in the house while in her wheelchair. Eventful! Productive! How ordinary is that really?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Procrastinatory Post

I wish I were knitting right now but I'm about to start working on a website update instead. Yeah, after I post this.

Today I ate two banana flavored Twinkies. They come in a pack of two after all. I don't think I've had a Twinkie in twenty years. They've never been my favorites, even as a kid. Probably because they don't have any chocolate in them.

There's nothing like grunting "ugh"with distaste then stuffing the last bite of your second Twinkie into your mouth and still not being sorry about it. A strange pleasure.

I read that the original Twinkies were banana flavored until the banana shortage of the 1930's when they had to go vanilla (I could easily have the date wrong - but the song "Yes, We Have No Bananas" was from that period) How could I not try the closest approximation available to the original Twinkie?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Yesterday Was Fruitful

I was just going to start this post with a bunch of photos of the things I made yesterday. Then I bothered to read the Blogger intro page and I found this:
If you click it you can see the images being posted to Blogger in real time. It just goes to show me how lame my photos are. Oh well, c'est la vie. Maybe next time around I'll come back as someone more interesting.

So now for the things I made:

The yarn I ordered came and it was better than I had hoped. I immediately started making the Marloes Sand Hat from Rowan Knitting and Crochet Magazine #40.
You can almost see the cable knitting on the front. I can tell from the photo that I'm going to have to adjust the tie thiniges. And probably my hairdo as well. I attached the pom poms today but that's only because I had to make a jig for my five centimeter pom pom maker so I could also make a seven centimeter pompom.

I also made a pear crisp with the pears from our tree out front. They all ripened at the same time. Isn't that just the way?

The photo could be a picture of a tuna noodle casserole from all you can see. It's pear crisp - really.

Today I started on this vest by Norah Gaughan. Mine is in this color:
which is called Beet Root. It's more purple in real life (at least more than it is on my screen) The pattern calls for US size 7 and 8 needles. As I am the loosest knitter on the planet I will be using sizes 4 and 6. Yes, I should be using 5 and 6 but I can't find a 5 and I don't want to either drive an hour to the nearest yarn store or wait five days for a 5 to come in the mail. Maybe I'll pay later but I'm trying to get away with it.

In Fay news, the wheelchair came.
In my fantasies I skipped a few steps about what would happen when the wheelchair arrived. I skipped the part where she has to get used to it and to build up her muscles and endurance to be able to use it well and enjoy it. Whoops.

It seems to me that it fits her perfectly and she doesn't mind being in it as long as I'm holding food in front of her face. She took to it right away in that she seemed not to notice she was in it at first. But she doesn't like going up hill and if I haven't got any food she has a tendency to go backwards. She likes it better in the house. I bet when we get back to Brookline I'll have to hold her back on the sidewalks.