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.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Garlic Fest September '07

Why did I go for the "big photo" option? It's not a particularly good photo.

This is pan roasted brussels sprouts with pine nuts and smashed garlic potatoes (I've already eaten over half of the sprouts) My dinner, along with an insignificant piece of steak left over from a couple of nights ago. Pete's out to dinner with my former employer so I can use as much garlic and salt as I like. (I was invited too but I don't love the gear talk as much as they do)

I can also drink as much Cuban Mint Julep as I'd like. Woo-hoo!

However, since I'll probably be taking the dog out at 5 AM, moderation is the key. Stupid moderation.

The potatoes are easy: boil some small potatoes until you can easily stab them with a fork (15-20 minutes) then fry them in a pan with a heapin' helpin' of olive oil. Smash them in the pan with your spatula (or a fork if it works better) add salt (I like kosher, the funnest of all the salts) pepper, chopped herbs if you have or want them (rosemary or thyme would be good) and towards the end add some minced garlic. Flip them at some point, in case you didn't already know.

The brussels sprouts are a little more labor intensive but so worth it.

Here's what you need:
brussels Sprouts
olive oil
pine nuts
salt 'n' peppa
butter if you want

Trim the sprouts (slice off the bottoms and remove the outer leaves) and cut them in half. Rinse and drain them. Slice the garlic thinly (I'm not helping with the amounts here. I'm sorry. If you get a package of sprouts use three cloves of garlic. If they're loose, well put a bunch of them in the bag and if you can hold them comfortably in two hands, use three cloves of garlic. Or whatever. Maybe you don't like as much garlic as I do)

Pour two tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan. Heat on medium high. Fry the garlic until golden, remove the garlic from the pan and reserve for later. Put the sprout halves face down in the garlicky oil in the pan (be careful and watch out for spatters from the slightly damp sprouts) sprinkle on two or three tablespoons of pine nuts (or more - they're really good) and salt with my best pal, kosher salt (or plain table salt) add pepper if you like. Cook sprouts until browned on the cut (down) side.

Remove cooked sprouts from the pan and put face up on a plate. When all the sprouts are done and only pine nuts remain in the pan, add a splash more olive oil (or a tablespoon of butter if you're feeling decadent) and the reserved garlic for a quick final frying. Pour the garlicky, salty, pine-nutty oil over the brussels sprouts. Try to stop eating them. Good luck.

They happen to go very well with a julep. Go figure.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Morning Pie

I was in a bad mood yesterday so I made this pie. It's pumpkin caramel from Dorrie Greenspan's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours. It was very easy and quick to make since I used a store-bought crust (a nice, deep dish one) It's also damn good.

The key is that you make your own dark caramel sauce to add to the filling. It's an extra step but it's fun and it doesn't take too long. You just heat sugar in a non-stick pan on the stove until the sugar melts and turns dark brown. Then add heavy cream, butter and rum and cook it a little longer. The pumpkin filling is just canned pumpkin beaten with some seasonings and eggs. Easy peasy. Make this pie!

I think I felt better after I made the pie. Today is a new day to be in a bad mood though.

What an attitude! Some people!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Autmnal Noises

Woweee - you should have heard the coyotes last night! A long chorus of blood-curdling shrieks! I decided that if Fay needed to go to the 'throom in the middle of the night she'd damn well better do it in the kitchen. Fortunately the subject never came up.

I hope they do it again tonight. It was beautiful as well as frightening.

The geese are going by constantly now. Mostly I can hear them but not see them. They go by so frequently though that I don't always feel the need to rush out of the house for a viewing.

The cooler weather and the fall colors make me want to knit knit knit. I've put in a couple of yarn orders today. I'm hoping to knit Pete and myself some matching orange and brown striped socks. I also have a few hats planned and an alpaca vest. Is the yarn here yet?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Back from the Neurologist

SO- we're halving the cyclosporine, injecting more cytosar, adding baytril (an antibiotic) leaving the prednisone as is and anxiously awaiting the arrival of the wheelchair. We'll deal with the lomustine in a couple of weeks. The neuorologist said that if Fay doesn't improve over the next few days there are a few other drugs we could try. We could also try increasing the prednisone again, only giving it every other day which helps the body tolerate the side effects.

The poor Blob is really dragging her rear around these days. Again, her front legs work just great. She can do a mean wheelbarrow. This talent is useless when she needs to go to the bathroom though.

She let me sleep through the night last night - no 2:30 or 4:00 AM trips outside. I got to sleep all the way until 5:30.

The wheelchair comes next Tuesday, the same day that Fay has an appointment with an acupuncturist. The acupuncturist treated our friends' dog a few days ago and it made a HUGE difference in her ability to get around. It would be so nice if it could work as well for Fay.

As for how the next couple of months could go, there seems to be no change. She might get a little better, she might get worse, she might be paralyzed in the rear and wheelchair dependent. She might become incontinent and need diapers. The vet doesn't seem concerned that Fay could die in the next couple of months. But we do need to keep the disease from spreading to her brain because that would be the beginning of the end.

I have no idea how to deal with a paralyzed, incontinent dog. There has to be a Yahoo group for it though. All these new things I'm learning.

One interesting thing I've found out is that I'm a very practical caretaker. I find that I can just deal with things that could be upsetting. And I don't waste a lot of time thinking about what Fay used to be able to do or wishing that things weren't as bad as they are. I just feel like this is what we're doing now.

Of course sometimes I'll be in the shower and see a dark shape on the floor outside and for a split second I'll think that Fay's come to keep me company in the bathroom (I'm really nearsighted and I can't see a thing in the shower without my glasses) Then I'll realize that that's impossible, she's downstairs and can't come up on her own and that those are my pants. That's a bit of a bummer.

Mostly I just take things as they arise. It would be harder if I thought Fay was feeling bad. I think the decreased mobility is starting to get to her. It sucks to have to drag yourself through your own wastes and to fall down when you're trying to drink some water and to be unable to reach the treat fragment that's just a few inches away. But she still enjoys treats and chewing things and seeing old friends. The weather's been somewhat cooperative so she's been able to stay cool.

I hope to God this wheelchair helps!

The photo shows Pete playing Big Brain Academy on the ferry back from Long Island.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Posting Under the Influence?

I'm gorging on potato chips and gin. Well, potato chips at least. I have a big gin and tonic. Only one, so far...

Pete, Fay and I are in Amagansett at my parents' beach house. After wrestling with some very unruly toilets today, Pete and I went to the beach. I actually went swimming too. It's pretty windy, kind of rough and not that warm so I wasn't in long. I'm glad I went though.

After a day at the beach there's nothing like a gin and tonic in the back yard.

We've been really lucky with the weather. Long Island can be rainy. We've had, dare I say it, September Eleventh weather. Couldn't be more beautiful.

Maybe that's why I have this ominous feeling. We're having a really nice time and I think we should relish it.

Fay's latest treatment has not gone very well. Despite the ten milligrams daily of prednisone (her regular dosage) and the Cytosar, Lomustine, and Cyclosporine she's on she's still getting worse. If the prednisone doesn't even work anymore I don't know what's going to work. It's not looking good. With all these drugs she's on she doesn't feel all that well either.

I'm hoping to talk to the neurologist tomorrow and maybe get a better idea of how the next couple of months could go.

But for now, we're enjoying a lovely long weekend at the beach and eating other peoples' cooking.

I made my own gin and tonic though.

P.S. - There's a really good special on Pink Floyd on VH1 right now. Drama drama drama! David Gilmour can still really rock!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Definitely a Set Up

They look cozy don't they? Get your mind out of the gutter - I'm not talking about her boobs! Victoria B. and Marc Jacobs after his show.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Marc Jacobs

Photos: Don Ashby and Olivier Claisse

Check out the new Marc Jacobs show on

And don't miss the detail shots. The shoes are really cool, kind of surreal, and I love the chunky frog clasps on some of the bags. The bag-stuck-on-a-bag is definitely going to be ripped off in the coming months.

If you're not in the habit of viewing fashion shows here are a couple of things to think about:
  • This one has been staged backwards. Usually the designer comes out at the end to take a bow.
  • They also usually start with the more casual things and build up to the eveningwear. Here they're building up to the less formal stuff that people might be more likely to wear more often (well, you know, relatively)
  • Finally, don't think "wow, what a weird looking outfit." Try to think about how cool it would be to see people actually wearing those clothes. What kind of world would that be?
There's so much talk in the press about what Victoria Beckham wore to the show and how her style was antithetical to the aesthetic of the show. I'm wondering if the Marc Jacobs crew set her up? I wonder if they invited her and told her what to wear so they'd have a foil in place? She doesn't seem to care about bad publicity so she may even have been complicit. Could it have been a "happy" accident?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Radiohead Illuminates "Riverdance"

First, about Radiohead:

There are a number of things about Radiohead that ought to be deal breakers for me. The first several times I tried listening to them all I could think was "Pink Floyd did that bombastic, over-dramatic whiny thing twenty years ago."

For some reason though I kept trying and finally something clicked. I realized that they don't sound all that different from a lot of other things l like to listen to.

Now I'm obsessed. I can't stop listening even though I want to. Some mornings I wake up after a night of their songs going through my head and I think "I really have to stop." But I can't. I need to hear those strange sounds. Their sounds twist my brain in a way I really love. It's almost consciousness altering. They open other worlds up in my mind. I LOVE that. Because heaven knows this one's not good enough. And I can do it myself but it's nice to have help from time to time.

I would think that the relentless moping or the U2 level drama or T.Y.'s whiny tones would drive me nuts but no. His voice scratches an itch I didn't know I had. Can't. Stop. Listening. They don't even have that many albums and I don't even have them all. Some of the stuff I used to like to hear sounds lifeless and dull now and I blame them.

It's all about compulsive behavior that you don't like but can't help. Sex, death, and consuming. Painfully animal - and natural and beautiful. And then there's escape into the ether of one's mind. Torn between the carnal and the ethereal - being both and needing both.

This is why we invented monsters: because we are monsters. Every one of us has a Mr. Hyde that doesn't always stay inside. Sometimes we don't even notice that he's out and active.

Drama drama drama! And I can't get enough. As long as it's in the art I like and not in my life.

At the moment my favorite is "Everything in its Right Place" from the Kid A album. It sounds multi-dimensional. No I have not been smoking whacky weed or ingesting other illicit substances.

And what the hell's with Thom Yorke anyway? He ought to be unbearably annoying but no, he's kind of fascinating. That's a guy with charisma.

There's nothing annoying about the drumming though. Phil Selway is one of the rare drummers who uses his kit as a musical instrument. Most drummers seem to think only about rhythm or texture but he thinks about the notes he's playing too.

John Waters once said that the best art is the kind you don't like at first. I think that's right: it's the kind that really bugs you to the point that you are forced to figure it out. Art that comes and gets you without your permission.

This is where Riverdance comes in. I tried to understand the appeal of Riverdance once, since it was all over PBS and it was bugging the hell out of me. I sat down and watched it a couple of times and then I spent weeks with it in the back of my mind trying to figure it out. During those weeks Pete and I drove out to Las Vegas for a wedding. We passed innumerable houses in the middle of nowhere. Places where it was hours worth of driving just to get to a gas station. Maybe these were the people who made Riverdance such a huge hit? Or Monster Trucks or Rob Zombie movies? They have plenty of natural beauty around them to develop an aesthetic sense, but not much access to culture. Obviously they get some culture but not much in the way of variety. Riverdance must appeal to people who don't have much in the way of man-made spectacle to compare it to.

Art is supposed to transport the person experiencing it to another level of awareness. Now, probably ten years later, I suppose that Riverdance (and monster trucks and Rob Zombie movies) evokes the same sense of mystery, strangeness, beauty and otherworldliness in some people that Radiohead does in me. So for some people I guess it would be art. I could definitely see Riverdance starting some people off on their search for the extraordinary.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Dark, Cold and Wet

The weather broke finally and we're all back in Vermont. Fay's not as steamrolled as she was in the heat but she's still not walking so great. She's happy though. As long as her jaws work everything's fine with her.

"Extreme Makeover, Home Edition" is in the neighborhood working on a palace for someone down on the lower road. When I go into Saxton's River I'm always passing blue t-shirted people riding around the roads in golf carts like we're in some bizarre rustic Fantasy Island or something. Fantasy Farm. You can hear them working all night long. It isn't loud where we are but if you listen you can almost always hear the beep beep beep of some construction vehicle backing up. I bet those folks will have the nicest home in Athens by the end of the week. I'm looking forward to seeing the episode. I hear it's airing sometime between Christmas and New Years.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Too Effing Hot

I'm pissed! It's in the mid-nineties in Boston where Fay and I are right now. It's so hot she can barely walk and she doesn't want to go outside. I'll definitely be looking at some piles in my kitchen later tonight. Mostly it's disturbing how strongly the heat impairs her mobility. It's frightening in fact. I gave her her next round of new drugs this afternoon. Maybe they'll work this time?

The weather is supposed to break tonight. It can't break soon enough for me.

Dinner Last Night

It's not exactly restaurant food but I made myself a pretty good dinner last night. Whole wheat spaghetti with zucchini, corn, roasted red peppers, sliced hot dogs and feta cheese.

When I cook zucchini I like to cook the crap out of it. I mean I slice it and caramelize it in olive oil in a pan. Add some garlic and some salt and pepper and even Pete will happily eat it. Onions are nice too if you have them. Cook the crap out of them too - but not the garlic. Garlic gets bitter if you're not nice to it. Add it last.

So caramelize the zucchini, add corn off the cob from the night before and sliced hot dogs - I brown them - then toss in the chopped store bought red peppers and some minced garlic. Put it all over some whole wheat spaghetti with some extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and crumble in a little feta cheese. It's quick and it covers all the bases: plenty of vegetables, HDL cholesterol, some protein, a bit of calcium and complex carbohydrates. If you have some other herbs you want to use of course throw them in. And/or the aforementioned onions. Onions would have been nice but I didn't think of it. Maybe next time. It still tasted good but it might have benefitted from the sweet taste of well-cooked onions. As I said, I used hot dogs but if you have other sausages that you prefer use them instead. If the mustard greens hadn't bolted I'd have added some of them too.

My beverage of choice was the Cuban Mint Julep - mainly because we had the ingredients. Plus it was over 90 degrees out and humid and it's a darned refreshing drink. I got the recipe from the License to Grill cookbook by Chris Schlesinger and then I made it my own due to faulty math. People really like mine so here's my interpretation of the recipe to make one drink:

• a pint glass or other large, sturdy vessel
• a great big fistful of fresh mint leaves (about half a glass-full, un-tamped)
• half a lime, quartered
• three teaspoons sugar (not measuring teaspoons but table teaspoons. I use vanilla sugar - sugar that has a vanilla bean stored in it. I just keep my vanilla beans in the sugar - double duty)
• ice cubes cracked into dice, not crushed ice (too slushy)
• light brown rum ( I find white rum to be too sharp tasting and dark too heavy)

Put the mint leaves and sugar in the glass (If you like less sugar use less) Squeeze in the juice from the lime quarters and drop the squeezed fruit in the glass as well. Take the teaspoon and muddle the mint, sugar and lime quarters together in the glass. Fill the glass with cracked ice (I put ice cubes in a dishtowel and smack them into chunks with a meat tenderizing mallet) then top off with straight rum. Stir thoroughly with the teaspoon. It looks a mess but it tastes wonderful.

When you're done with the first you'll think you should have another. I suggest leaving the dregs of the first one in the glass except take out two of the old lime chunks and some of the more beat-up mint leaves. Make your round two right on top of the first round. It's my way of watching it with the rum. The extra vegetation takes up some rum space but adds flavor and how much more rum do you really need? Unless you have a rum deficiency - ARRGH! LIKE A PIRATE ARRGH!!!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Must Try Knitting Technique

Sorry - I know, third post today. But I found out about this knitting technique just now and it could change a knitter's life:
How to knit in ends as you go!
If you like stripes or changing colors - I'm telling you, life changing.

Vermont Nature News

It's dry dry dry here. I don't know when it rained last. Our pond is just about empty. The grass is brown. Our land has springs so usually it's a bit boggy in spots and you have to watch where you drive the mower. Not this year. It's a quiet year for frogs.

The cilantro and mustard greens bolted weeks ago. However I did just have a couple of really good pears from our pear tree and the butterfly bush is crowded with butterflies. We've even seen a hummingbird moth on it a few times. A hummingbird moth looks like it's part hummingbird, part lobster. The link leads to a really good bug identifying site:

Today I was coming out of Target and three flocks of geese flew by right over the parking lot. Two nights ago Pete heard coyotes yapping in the night. Every night we hear owls. I haven't seen turkeys on our land lately though. And we have a new woodchuck - unless Sylvie, the neighbors' dog, got it yesterday. I like woodchucks. They're kind of cozy and domestic. I don't mean you invite them in the house, I just think of them as having nice families. They can really do a number on your foundation though - and forget about having a vegetable garden.

And yes, we're starting to get a little fall color here and there.

Passing for Clean and the "European" Shower

Passing for Clean is when you go out in public unwashed when you think no one will notice. The "European" Shower - putting on more deodorant in lieu of actually bathing - can help one Pass for Clean.

Okay, I'm off to my studio. Finally a day when I'm not waiting for the vet to call me back! And how am I using the time? Blogging about stuff that nobody cares about!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Nintendo DS Lite Continued

I've gone through at least three pairs of Weasly twins (so unfair to them - they're competent) but I finally figured out how to duel. That's at least three humiliating whippings at the hands of Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle (probably four) but now I know how to kick their asses! I'm going to have to get trounced many, many more times by Hufflepuff to even begin to get the hang of Quiddich. I don't mind losing to Hufflepuff that much though.