Sunday, December 28, 2008

Boring Aprés Holiday Post

Fay, Pete and I are in California where, as usual, we find it warm and beautiful out and the locals are freezing.  Not literally obviously.

The holiday eating began the moment we arrived at my parents' house, around midnight Thursday night.  We've only just got our acts together enough to open the Christmas presents this morning.

Today we also went to the dog beach with Christian and Sarah and their dogs, Atlas and Johnny.

Now I'm going to go see what else I can eat and then play with my loot.

Good loot to you all!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Party 2008

We had our holiday party on Monday night. It was supposed to be on Sunday afternoon but the weather didn't permit it. If I didn't think to invite you please accept my apology. It wasn't exclusive and I didn't mean to leave anyone out. I'm a great, big space case. Send me an e-mail and I'll invite you next time, hopefully before 2019.

I got the grocery shopping done in between snow storms and cooked and cleaned for a couple of days ahead of time. The weather report early on Sunday morning called for a mere four inch snow accumulation. Foolishly I believed them and made a HUGE white chocolate raspberry trifle. The party was supposed to start at two in the afternoon. I had all the preparations finished by 2:30. It didn't matter though because no one was coming. We told everyone we could reach to come the next day after six if they could.

Naturally not everyone could come on Monday. I almost didn't make it myself. At around four I noticed I was getting a migraine. "We're having this damned party," I thought to myself as I stuffed a banana into my face to cushion my stomach for the heaps of Advil I was about to take.

Pete's brother, Chris, and his family arrived first. That was great because my sister-in-law, Kristen, is the Party Queen and helped me put the finishing touches on the food. Then we were off.

It was an interesting mix of people (hi Alex M. and Liz K! I'm pretty sure they're reading) Most of the guests came solo and without knowing anyone there besides me or Pete. I am very impressed with their pluck. It seemed to me that everyone mixed very well. All conversations appeared to be moving smoothly while I passed by doing hostessy things. I'm proud that we know so many amiable people. It made me want to have another party just to see how other combinations of different friends would go.

Other things on the menu included Piquillo Pepper Cheese Crostini, which I found to be better the second day and perfectly fine but not all that compelling, and Spanish Olive and Cream Cheese Canapés, which I will make again at home but not bring to someone else's house since they need to be broiled (I did them little by little in the toaster oven as people came and went) There were chips 'n' dip, crudités, two kinds of cupcakes, The Devil In A Bag (Trader Joe's kettle corn) and the reason we had to have the party in the first place: the eight different kinds of gourmet cheese that my mom and dad sent us for Christmas.

I believe a good time was had by all and our last guests left at 2 AM.  Not bad.

When I have a migraine I can usually manage it with Advil. Advil takes the pain away but doesn't alleviate some of the other migraine affects. For example I find it very hard to focus and my language skills are diminished. I feel like I did a decent job of keeping up with the party even so. I suppose it could be equated with drinking alcohol. I did just as well hostessing with a migraine as I would have done if I'd had a martini or two. Unfortunately the migraine affects are lingering. For the last couple of days I've found myself forgetting what I'm doing in the middle of doing it.  I'm working really hard on these blog posts and hoping you can't tell that I'm still stupider than usual.


You're probably going to think I'm really twisted but I still like snow.

Sure, I whine and complain and moan and despair when I have to shovel it just like everybody else but afterwards I love snow. Last night Pete and I went out to the Beacon Street Tavern. While crossing the street I found myself admiring the moves of a particularly nimble man on the other side as he made his way over the snowbank piled between the sidewalk and the street. It dawned on me that I often enjoy watching people deal beautifully with adverse conditions.

I'm a bit klutzy myself. I love to see how other, more physically adept people handle these obstacles. I don't know if I think I can learn from their example or if I just enjoy witnessing a job well done, but you don't get the opportunity to see such things often on a summer's day.

I also enjoy maneuvering on and around snowy objects. I've always loved climbing on things and scrambling around. That's part of why I love rocks, trees and boats. Snow has the added advantage of unpredictability. Will the bank hold when I plant my foot on it or will I sink in up to my knee? For an able-bodied person snow can add a little fun and excitement to an ordinary walk to the grocery store. I even love the crunch crunch crunch sound that boots on snow make. Plus, falling on snow doesn't hurt much. Ice is a whole other bunch of bananas though.

I get my best work done when there's a fat blanket of snow all over everything. For some reason I find it reassuring. Everything's cozily tamped down and muffled and I don't need to worry about it so I can get on with my business. I think I've written about that before. It's still true!

I've been feeling a bit out of touch with my usual appreciation of the seasons lately. My projects and ideas and the other things that are going on inside my head have been more compelling. This year I noted the arrival of fall without my usual relish. I've been distracted. When I was a kid I loved snow without reservation. I've been mostly grouchy with it so far this year. It was nice to have an appreciative moment for the weather and the season last night.

It seems kind of backwards to want things to be a little bit more difficult than they absolutely have to be. Maybe it's a funny kind of coping mechanism? If you're dealing with something difficult and some minor irritation pops up maybe it distracts a little from the full impact of the real problem - it draws a little focus away. Or maybe I'm just a bit perverse.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Inanimate Objects

Last night at around eleven o'clock Marc and I went out to shovel the driveway. Sorry neighbors!

Why eleven? Because it took me that long to talk myself into doing it. I am a very self-indulgent person with somewhat poor impulse control. I'm trying to fight it but I don't know how well I'm doing. I do get the things done that I need to do but not until after I've watched too much C.S.I. or read the Manga that I wasn't supposed to buy myself or bribed myself to get out of bed with a piece of peppermint bark. This is part of the reason that I never go to bed on time.

Anyhoo, shoveling last night reminded me of some other tools that I LOVE: my rain coat and my good winter boots. Those items aren't clothing, they're shelter. I have a pair of Sorel boots up in Vermont. They are little houses for your feet. When you're wearing them you can walk on/in just about anything without a care and your feet will be WARM. I have city Sorels here in Brookline. They have silly faux fur on the outside that would get dirty and gross in Vermont. They have excellent city condition traction and also keep the old dogs WARM. I'd rather wear the Vermont ones to a bonfire though.

I invested in my first good raincoat back in the early days of Fay. I got a bright orange Patagonia. If you can stand to pay Patagonia prices their gear is the best. They really pay attention to the details so you get the best protection from the elements with the least visibility/mobility interference. The raincoat I have now is not a Patagonia. I got a deal on it. I'm still grateful for it but it's a little skimpy in places.

Gratitude is the key for me and tools. When I find a tool I really love I am grateful to it and respectful of it. You might think that's a funny way to treat an inanimate object. The thing is, here's another thing about me: I think everything is alive.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


The drive down to Brookline on Saturday morning was incredible. I've seen ice storms before but not like this one. Everything you could see was glazed with a thick coating of ice. Like the Pyrex fairy had run amok. The forested hills were white with sparkling ice.

Along the roadsides all the trees were bent over, their branches drooping under the ice's weight. Huge, tall trees bent over to the ground. It looked like the roads were lined with giant frozen fountains or as if massive tidal waves of ice were about to crash over the road and obliterate the cars.

It was outrageously beautiful and astonishingly threatening. It was as if nature was saying "Look at my glory! Nothing is more beautiful than I am! I will wipe you off the face of the earth if I care to"

No one had power, only a few gas stations were open. In one small town cars were lined up for a mile and a half down both sides of the road to get in to the only working gas station for twenty miles. I'd never seen traffic on that stretch before.

Down in Boston everything was completely normal. Pete's band's Christmas party was scheduled for that night so he was hoping I could stay and go to the party. Our Vermont neighbors had offered to watch the fires for us so we took them up on it for Saturday night and I stayed in Brookline.

Pete decided to take the next fire-tending shift so on Sunday he went up north. About half an hour after he arrived, at about 7:30 PM, the power came on. Two days early! Thanks again CVPS!

So now Fay and I are back up in Vermont too. On Monday it was a balmy forty five degrees out. Today it's snowing again. My friend Michaela lives on a mountain top just outside of Brattleboro. Her power is still out and is likely to be out until tomorrow. I heard on the radio today that over one-hundred thousand "customers" in New Hampshire still don't have power.

Modern Western life is so much easier when the power and the plumbing are working normally. Unfortunately we know that we Westerners use power at an unsustainable rate. It's very likely that in the somewhat near future we're going to have to learn to live differently. Obviously it's possible to do - we've only been using electricity for a tiny fraction of human history. But wow, what a change that's going to be. God help us if it's a sudden change forced on us by uncontrolled events rather than a decision we make on our own.

In the mean time I'm going to try to remember to shower whenever I can and to keep the car full of gas!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ice Adventure

That's my man, always on top of the promotional opportunities. It wouldn't kill me to follow his example a little more.

So that was one heck of an ice storm. The power's still out at our place in Vermont. Rumor is it will take until Tuesday at 8 PM before our power's turned on again.

The power went out Thursday night. No electricity, no heat, no water, no modem. Fortunately the phones are up and running. As Pete reported I stayed behind to keep the pipes from freezing. I was kind of looking forward to it. I was thinking it would kind of be like a snow day and I could do all the reading and knitting I've been wanting to do. It didn't really work out that way though.

Mostly it was dark and cold, uncertain and a little lonely. At the time I thought "this would be really fun with a bunch of friends. We could toast marshmallows and drink whiskey together." Yeah but we'd also be sharing the non-flushing toilets too. Less fun. I didn't get creeped-out or anything though.

I spent most of my time being the fire jockey. I had never been in charge of a wood stove before so I had to get the hang of it. I love new skills! I made a lot of trips between the house with the fireplace and the studio with the wood stove. Home base was the house since a wood stove mostly takes care of itself after you get it good and hot. In the beginning though I was going back and forth every fifteen minutes to check on things. Pain in the ass! It was a little stressful too wondering if I could achieve my objective and keep the buildings warm enough. I got splinters in both of my thumbs.

At least it was very beautiful. The moon was full that night. Iced over trees and plants are beautiful in any light. Each time I crossed from the house to the barn and back I got to admire the scenery.

First I want to say HEAD LAMPS. I can't emphasize that enough. Candles are cheery and sometimes smell good but if you really need to see what you're doing head lamps are the way to go. Get Santa to bring you some. Also, WATER. You've got to have water. I didn't have enough. My dishes are still dirty. Baby wipes are decent for washing your hands in a pinch but you can't flush the toilet with them. I collected what water I could from the roof melt in whatever pots and pans and bowls we had but it wasn't enough.

I was also very grateful for the gas oven/stove. Remind me to never switch to electric. Nothing keeps my spirits up like eating and cooking!

Fay and I slept on the sofa in front of the fireplace so I could keep the fire going through the night. That worked out fine. When I awoke in the morning it was about forty degrees in the house, fifty-one degrees in the studio and there were enough hot embers (thanks Mij!) in both the fireplace and the wood stove for me to be able to get them going again easily. Mission accomplished!

I fed Fay and made myself some coffee with a french press. In the mean time Fay, no longer on top of me in a pile of comforters, started to get too cold. I decided I should spend the daylight hours taking her down to Brookline so she wouldn't get sick. Then I could pick up plenty of water and other supplies on my way back up.

That didn't happen either. Instead it's Sunday, Fay and I are here in Brookline where there's power and heat and Pete's on his way up to work on the pipe project.

Yesterday is another story which I might tell tomorrow.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Guest Blogger: Pete

Hi everyone. Pete here, Mel's ball-and-chain. Wanted to let you all know that we lost power due to the severe ice storm, so Mel (who is in Vermont) is unable to post today. I had to go to Boston today for some errands and a rehearsal for my band's 10th annual Holiday Jubilee show, and for the show itself, which is tomorrow night. Hopefully the power will be restored soon -- Mel is supposed to come to Boston to be a guest vocalist at this show (her specialty is singing "Santa Baby," sometimes perky new wave-style, sometimes femme fatale-style.)

Oh, I should say, Mel stayed in Vermont to keep the fireplace and woodstove going so that our pipes don't freeze.

Watch this space... will let you know how this all plays out. Hopefully we won't have to put a wig on Kevin Quinn and have him sing "Santa Baby." (Or... maybe that would be a good thing... hmmm...)

Happy (icy) holidays,

PS More info about this Holiday Jubilee is here:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Holiday Gear - A Big Pile Of Shiny Things

I am LOVING looking at all the shiny things people are selling right now. For example the Cusp website. Everything shiny! I love those Dogeared necklaces. The sweaters, the scarves, the makeup, the clutches - it's all shiny and fun. (I'm not so psyched about the Tory Burch humongo logo stuff though - just in case someone's looking for birthday gift ideas here. I'm not a logo kind of gal. It would make me really uncomfortable to be a walking billboard for someone else)

However, I already have a lot of stuff just like that. I should get it all out and play with it.

AND, all that stuff is giving me ideas for fun things to make!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Down Side Of Flashbacks

Driving up to Vermont last night I saw gas for $1.69 and it gave me the creeps. I'm not sure why but I think there's something wrong with cheap gas. Is it a flashback thing? I'm not comfortable when something triggers powerful feelings of being in the past? Do I think it's an OPEC or a Bush administration plot? Maybe it's just that I know gasoline is a dying fuel so it shouldn't be that easy to come by?

The other night Pete, Marc and I were out at a bar that was playing some 80's revival band's music. It sounded pretty good. It had a very accurate 80's sound. I was giving them credit but not that much credit. The music made me remember why I really liked New Wave almost thirty years ago: because it sounded new, like the future. Now the "New Wave" sound is retro. Its sounds fresh(ish) to people who are nineteen now and weren't around to hear it then. It's not ground breaking anymore, it's nostalgic.

Someone out there right now is making the new sound, the sound that will make us think of the future as progress. I can never imagine what it is. When it registers with the popular culture and I finally hear about it I know I'll be really surprised. I certainly didn't predict Grunge (Actually I found Grunge disappointing after Punk. Not in a Robert Hughes "young people today can't produce anything but trash" way though. Grunge just seemed apathetic to me - I couldn't relate so well)

I probably do have an aversion to being propelled into the past. I'd like to preserve some distance between me and the mistakes I've made. I keep hoping that the future can provide something better than what's already been. In my experience I keep becoming better equipped to deal with whatever arises. I consider that improvement.

Some things just seem to be getting worse and worse though. Then I think, "well people have always felt that way". That doesn't mean they were wrong - some things have been getting worse and worse. But we find ways to adjust. Sometimes we find ways to improve things. For example there's a flock of wild turkeys living in the Brookline High neighborhood.

I hope to God we can improve on gasoline.

Monday, December 1, 2008


I was waaaay too cranky to not go running today. Fortunately the weather is beautiful today: it's sunny and sixty degrees! What a break!

I found out that I'm kinda out of shape. Crap! I had a nice run at the reservoir and ran with my iPod for the first time ever. I'm not so nuts about the flapping earbud cable and the music did distract me a little from what was going on with my body. That said I'll probably try it again.

So yesterday when I was talking about the good people I've been encountering lately I neglected to mention the little old lady that ran me and another girl over with her wheelie suitcase on her stampede towards the D train we were all trying to board. I'm not exaggerating - she came from behind us and ran over our feet with her bag! That wasn't so awesome. It was okay though, no harm done. I didn't mention her, obviously, because she was off topic.

My job this week is to reclaim our house for the humans/pugs and make it less hospitable to the rodents. On Saturday I took a large load of stuff to Goodwill. We have a lot of recyclables ready to go for trash night tonight - yay! Progress continues. It feels good to get rid of the useless crud that seems to collect when you're not paying attention.

My goal is to make the house presentable for some kind of party I'm hoping to have soon. Inauguration maybe? It's been something like eleven years since we've had a party. That is inexcusable!

Before that I am intent on becoming Christmassy this year. Intent! Cleaning out the house is part of that. I'm also determined to either make my Christmas gifts or to get them at little "shoppes" this year. I've done my Christmas shopping on line for many years now. It's so simple and efficient. But once in a while I'll make it into a little brick and mortar and be really sorry I didn't go there in the first place. When you go to an actual store they have music playing and decorations up and people are (usually) feeling jolly. Sometimes they have nice stinky candles or potpourri going. It sort of gets a person feeling festive.

Okay, I'm going to stop babbling and move on to productive work! Then later maybe a bath (!) and too much C.S.I. watching and knitting. Cupcakes?

So much for my crabby mood!

Sunday, November 30, 2008


It's cold and rainy in Boston tonight so I took a bath. Then I thought "why not go nuts and see if we have any vanilla vodka for a tasty nightcap?" We don't have vanilla vodka but we do have half-and-half, some cheap-o brandy from the 1990s and some creme de cacao. It's Brandy Alexander time!

It tastes like lighter-fluid ice cream but it'll do.

Bonsoir IBloPoMo! Adieu!

Do I Know You?

I've been running into good people in the world lately.

Today on the T two alterna-teenagers got on at the Hynes stop. Watching them through the window I could tell that they didn't know each other but I thought they'd make a good couple. One was a tall, very slim girl with stick-straight white blonde hair and cool purple velcro high tops (much like a pair I had in the '80s) The other was a tall guy with dyed red hair. The girl got on first and headed past one open seat for the seat next to me. When she got there she noticed that someone had spilled a diet Coke on the seat (they left the can there too) In the mean time the boy got on and started to go for the seat the girl had passed by. She backed up, not seeing him, to take the first seat. He noticed her backing up and with a sincerely gallant hand gesture, offered her the seat. It took two seconds but it was really sweet. They didn't ever speak to each other.

Lately I've been thinking about the really great people that I know there are in the world who I haven't met yet. I have great friends, old and new, but due to all of our travels I don't see them as much as I'd like to. My life is really fun and interesting. Sometimes I get to do really cool things. Sometimes though I wish I had an active social circle. I don't think I'm in one place long enough or at regular enough intervals to make that happen right now. Who knows what the future will bring?

With all the ugliness and with all of the horrible things that are going on in the world right now it's nice to feel optimistic about something. I am optimistic that I will be able to interact with interesting people who I like more frequently soon.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Wild Clouds

An amazing Florida sky. Yes, I took that photo myself.

I should mention that I made fish cakes on arugula beds last night for dinner. I didn't want you to think I haven't been making things lately. In fact I'm knitting a gift for someone right now. They probably don't read this blog but just in case...

Why, if I'm a vegetarian, did I eat fish? Because Marc caught it months ago and I didn't want it to have died in vain. Marc, you ichthycidal maniac!

Now I'm going to go make some vegetarian spaghetti and tomato sauce.

Friday, November 28, 2008

After Thanksgiving

Here we have a photo of Pete with some very nonchalant wild turkeys that he and Marc discovered wandering around the grounds of Brookline High School on Thanksgiving day. You heard me. Well, read me. Brookline has a fair number of trees and small parks for a rather urban area but I wouldn't have thought it could sustain a flock of wild turkeys. There they are though.

When Pete and Marc returned from their walk they made Thanksgiving dinner.

We had striped bass that Marc (or our friend Ben) caught, spinach, green beans and baked potatoes. I shouldn't say this but my favorite thing was the potato. It almost like a little ball of glue. I LOVE gluey food. What a freak.

We also had a store bought pumpkin pie.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Three More Days

I'm sorry. I probably won't even win a prize. I don't really care about that though. I just apologize for the poor content of the last few posts, including this one.

Heck, everybody's probably too busy today to even read blogs. I know I am!

So hug your families (especially if you're having a fight) and pet your pets (although I consider pets family) for me.

Now I'm going to clean off the dining room table so we can sit down at it and have a meal.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

No Luck Today

So you know how I said I hoped I'd be able to post better content today? Well no dice. Sorry. My fret list is way too long.

Tomorrow's Thanksgiving. Well Happy Thanksgiving everyone and safe travels if you're making any.

Happy Pie!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Okay, we're back in Brookline, we've got beers and there's a formerly frozen pizza in the oven.

Fay had a great time at Ruff Life. She's full of business and not in the least bit P.O.'d that we left her there.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll be in a position to write better content.

Off to glug 'n' chew...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Six Days To Go

Is IBloPoMo over yet? No? Okay, here goes:

Today Pete and I went looking for vultures to photograph. I have an "artistic vision."

Unfortunately the vultures were uncooperative today. But while we were looking for them we came across a few Great Blue Herons and one otter. I've never seen an otter before.

When we got back to the house Marnee told us the story of a friend of hers who'd had a run-in with an otter. Aparrently this woman was walking her small dog when an otter started to chase them. She scooped up her dog and started running. The otter chased her and bit her eight times while she tried to run away. Finally she wedged herself between the screen door and front door of somebody's house. For some reason at that point the otter backed off.

Otters always look so cute and playful on T.V. The one we saw today was cute and not the least bit interested in us. It was chomping loudly on a cruchy fish and lolling around on the grass. Who would think they'd go all homicidal all of a sudden?

As for my "artistic vision," I have one more day to execute it. We're going back north tomorrow afternoon. Then we'll see how Fay enjoyed her stay at Ruff Life.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

One Of My Best Purchases

This is me and Marnee, my mother-in-law, in their kitchen. The pajamas I'm wearing are one of the best things I've ever bought.

I got them two summers ago when Fay was first becoming incontinent. I'd have to take her out in Brookline at three or four o'clock in the morning and I didn't want to have to put on real clothes. I didn't want to go out in obvious pajamas either - Brookline's pretty urban after all and the neighbors already think I'm odd. I think these almost look like clothes.

I also really like the colors and pattern of the top. It's goldfish and waterlilies.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Well, I'm in Florida. It was very sudden.

Fay started to feel better yesterday. Dr. Reuhlmann saw her at 1:00, exammined her, tested her kidneys and gave her a clean bill of health. Fay had developed a U.T.I. and Dr. R thought that maybe the antibiotics hadn't kicked in yet and Fay was feeling bad from that. So by 2:30 I had an O.K. to go to FL.

I called my mother-in-law to let her know and she said "get in the car. I'm booking you on the 6:15 flight out of Providence."

So that's what happened. I tossed everything in the car and went down to Ruff Life where I dropped Fay off. Before I knew it I was on a plane. Definitely not what I had expected to happen. It's a good thing I'd packed the day before yesterday.

The report from Ruff Life is that Fay's doing great, making doggie friends and having a really fun time. Phew!

And now all of a sudden I'm on vacation.


Friday, November 21, 2008

So Far Today

I put him up there again because people seem to like having him there. He has nothing to do with this post though.

So, so far today hasn't gone all that well. it stared at 4:30 this morning when Fay scrambled off the end of the bed. We sleep on a futon so the fall wasn't far but she was definitely not feeling herself. By 6:00 we were at the vet for an emergency visit. We're back home now and I don't think it's life threatening but we still don't really know what's bothering her. It might have something to do with her bladder/kidneys.

The complication is that Pete and I were supposed to go visit his parents for early Thanksgiving today. We were going to leave here at 8 AM, drop her at Ruff Life for the weekend and catch a noon flight from Providence. Now I'm still home and Pete's gone to the airport. I should probably call and cancel my ticket come to think of it.

The fun stuff continues...

10:30 AM

Okay, the flight's cancelled. On with the story.

So I was sitting in the dog emergency waiting area at the vet where they had the news on T.V. A story came on about a fourteen year old girl who survived for four months on an artificial heart while waiting for a second heart transplant. They showed footage of her walking in a hospital hallway while attached to a panoply of medical devices and using the artificial heart. She also had a number of staff helping her and her equipment move down the hall. I almost burst into tears. God, the agony for her and her family. I didn't cry though because I didn't want to have to explain to the emergency vet that I wasn't crying about my dog. I would have been crying about my dog too, and about some other things as well but that's too long an explanation to give a stranger at six AM.

The girl is doing well now, she's received her latest heart transplant which seems to be working fine. Hopefully that will pretty much be the end of that chapter for her.

I don't know about T.V.s in hospital waiting rooms. It's hard to find programming that doesn't make the wait worse. Yesterday it was the economic wrap up in the waiting room (yes, Fay and I were at the vet yesterday too) The Dow's in the toilet, everybody's getting laid off and what's going to happen with the Automobile industry? Yesterday it made me laugh but not in a good way - and it didn't make the wait any better.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Short 'n' Cranky

Ah, the fun that was today!

Maybe I'll tell you about it tomorrow. Probably not though. It wasn't interesting, just stressful.

There you go IBloPoMo.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Little Random

Photo number one:

This was apparently sent by me to me from "Men's Health," some weird little daily digest newslettery thing, subject line: RE:ja.Doctor Phyllis. Fishy much? If I hold my cursor over one of the many links in this digest, like how to follow Daniel Craig's workout (and NO I AM NOT CLICKING THE LINK!!!!) a little window pops up and shows where the link goes. Each one goes somewhere different, like "http://www." Oh great, I just got another one from myself. XOXOXO Love it. And I can't label it as spam since it appears that I sent it to myself.

The copy claims that "James Bond always gets the women. And while part of that is his charm and swagger, the way his muscles fill out a tux is what the ladies first notice about him." I don't know. Maybe it's unwomanly of me but that kind of muscle doesn't really do it for me. They look a bit overinflated. Not my thing. I won't deny that Daniel Craig is easy on the eyes but it's not because of the muscles.

Almost entirely unrelated:

I like mummies and bog people! No, not for ogling or dating etc. Gross. They're just fascinating. This is the mummy known as the Loulan Beauty who is on display at a museum in Urumqi, China (photo by Giles Sabrie) Mummies and bog people look just like us except for their mysterious accoutrements the meanings of which we can only guess. So cool! So many things to think about! What were their lives like? How did they die? What's the significance of that tattoo? Why does her hat look like that?

It's as if I have all the time in the world to think about random junk like this and then tell you about it.

I Can Do It, Infinity!

I just realized something a little disappointing.

I was finding some comfort in trying to understand what's going on with the economy. Trying to understand something can be a distancing technique: something that you're thinking objectively about has less emotional impact than something you're just "going through." That's fine if it helps you "get through."

What I just realized is that it doesn't necessarily lead to a solution to the problem. It took me long enough to notice! Maybe I can understand what's going on with the economy but I can't predict what's going to come crashing down next or what that thing's going to take down with it. I certainly don't know how to turn the situation around or even slow its progress. Thankfully that's not my job and I know there are people with more training and experience and it's their job. But I like to figure things out! I tend to think that if I work at something I can figure out what best to do. It doesn't always happen that way.

It's kind of funny really. I have a feeling that I've been "solving" problems all my life by just thinking about them. In fact they've been developing and concluding and having their ripple effects with no help or hindrance from me - I haven't done anything to affect their outcomes at all! I just felt like I'd done something positive because I thought about it.

What's more, it wouldn't surprise me if at some point in my thinking process I got distracted and started working on some other, fresher problem without even noticing. Ha!

Maybe I just like thinking about problems and I don't really care if I solve them. Is there any value in that? Is it because I feel from the start that I won't be able to do anything about a problem so I might as well get some entertainment from it? Maybe it's a product of my education: when studying texts or artworks you tease out their elements but there's no problem to solve. I can blame the system! Or maybe that's why I'm better at English and art than I am at math - I'm not really interested in a solution, I just like thinking about the problem.

I wonder if this is a problem I ought to try to solve? Maybe I should think about it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

All The Details About Fay's Health

If you had glanced in the window of Fay's examination room this morning you would have seen three medical personnel crouched on the floor over a small dog, heads down in full concentration, bodies tense with effort. You would have thought, "Wow, something dire is going on in there. I hope everything's okay."

It was her toenails. They needed trimming. She's the Tasmanian Devil about her toenails. That was the least serious treatment she got today.

Fay is in fact doing really well. Once she recovered from the problems she was having this summer her condition improved dramatically. She could stand up on all four legs again. Not for any useful length of time but she could do it. We had a nice period from late August to late October when she was feeling great and functioning well. She was still dragging her back legs and still incontinent but after the hell that was July that's nothing.

She's still doing pretty well, just having the slightest hint of a setback in that she became unable to urinate on her own. Because of this we increased her prednisone dosage and I learned how to squeeze her. It's all wrong but squeezing her is actually fun and she doesn't mind. She makes these grunty groany noises while you're doing it and afterwards she's grateful. Everybody wants to squeeze her anyway. Now it's useful.

These days she's able to urinate on her own again and we've lowered the pred. dosage a bit. I think she's lost a tiny bit of strength in her back legs since the pred. went up. I'm hoping she'll regain some strength now that her pred.'s lower again because I think I heard that prednisone can cause some muscle atrophy. I might be making that up. She could easily be weaker from her disease.

So all told today she had her weight checked, her temperature taken, her reflexes tested, a CBC, her skin checked, her urine sampled (they use a needle stuck through her abdomen into her bladder to do that - it's standard) her toenails trimmed, she got a rabies shot and the first of four Cytarabine shots she's going to get over the next forty-eight hours. The most horrifying looking thing (and the most difficult) was the toenails.

Now I need to do something really nice for Doctor Reuhlmann and her assistant, Jim. They have been really good to us.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Koigu Mitts

It snowed last night - heck - today too. Just flurries. But still it's a good thing I made myself these fingerless mitts. I designed the pattern myself and knitted them out of Koigu KPPPM.

I was inspired to make them back in late June when I was staying with my brother and his girlfriend in Las Vegas while my dad was in the hospital there. Sarah is an avid knitter too and their guest room is where she keeps her stash. That's dangerous when I'm the guest. She had a pair of stockinette mitts that she'd made from Koigu that kept catching my eye.

Those Koigu colors are so subtle and complex and I think they look so beautiful when they're just plain knit. But I also thought this particular color scheme would look good with a cable too.

I chose this cable pattern because to me it symbolizes an interweaving of diverse ideas, sort of a play of different thoughts mixing and mingling with each other in a somewhat orderly fashion. The pattern is a little complex but still symmetrical.

If you look closely you might be able to see that the mitts themselves aren't strictly symmetrical (and that the first photo is a composite) I made them up as I went along starting with the left one. I made some changes in the design on the second, right, one. If I were to make more of these I know I'd make even more changes. I'm not perfectionistic enough to frog and reknit the first two drafts though.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Veronica's Out Late

Not that this is interesting at all but it is IBloPoMo and I have to post something. Plus it's windy out today and I can't count on the power staying on.

Here is a lovely stalk of late veronica that is in full bloom right now despite the fact that everything else in the garden is pretty much done for the year including every other part of this plant.

Last night at ten PM it was actually sixty degrees out here and i even heard a frog chirping away. When I took Fay out at six this morning it was fifty degrees out. When Pete got up at around nine it was down to forty. Ah, the weather in New England. I'm thinking that frog went back to bed.

Resume and cover letter? Artist's statement? I don't know what you're talking about.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bento Boxes

Jenn wanted to know what my bento box looked like. Well here it is:

And here it is open.

It's hard to see in the photos but there's a little bit of iridescent glitter in the cherry blossoms. I got it on J-List, a site that features all kinds of interesting Japanese products including porn of course. On the homepage you tell them whether you're over eighteen or not and/or if you want to see "adult images" or not. I went with adult and was introduced to images of people with unusual body parts doing things you don't see every day. Mostly (but not all) cartoons. The world of ideas keeps getting bigger and bigger. Don't get me wrong, should you go to J-List you wouldn't be bombarded with porn, it's just easy to stumble on in the adult pages.

Woo! Lots of noisy gun shots outside today! People don't wait around once rifle season opens.

I also couldn't resist this bento box:

You can imagine why:

And you can also tell which one I'll be using the most - the bigger one. I'm a hungry girl. I've got a lot of important eating to do.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Country Life At The Twilight Of The Year

Things are cooling off in Vermont. It happens to be an unseasonably toasty fifty degrees out right now. That and the moths out flying around got me thinking about salamanders.

There was a kind of salamander I'd never seen before hanging around the entry to our house last week. It looked kind of like a baby snake but with legs. About three inches long and narrow like a worm but with something of a head and, like I said before, legs. I hadn't ever seen a salamander in the fall so this one was new to me. It looks very different from a spotted salamander. We used to have a spotted salamander who lived near our front door and who would come out in the spring when it rained. When we put the patio in a few years ago one of the guys who was doing the stonework found it standing there looking at him. Michaela was there at the time so she told him to put it in the woods. I haven't seen it since. I hope it found a better home.

The frogs have all gone into hibernation and of course the crickets are done for the year. The snakes are probably all asleep by now too. To be honest, it's getting a little lonely. I miss all the creatures who eat bugs.

We used to have a bat who weekended in our barn. At least that's what the bat expert thought - the guy we hired to get the bat out. It was just one bat so he thought it would come to our barn once in a while for a night or two here and there. If we were using our barn as a barn that wouldn't be a big deal but since it's our studio spaces and Pete's clients sleep there we couldn't have a batty guest flying around. And that bat would fly around at night when the clients were there. So we hired an expert to find out where the bat was coming out and going in and attach one-way doors so it could go out but not get back in. It took him several months and five or so visits but we haven't seen bat poop on the floor since maybe September. I'm hoping that means that the bat guy was successful and not that our bat has succumbed to the bat fungus that's going around. I have a very large soft spot in my heart for bats and I'm very worried about them these days.

Unfortunately cluster fly season has begun. It's the time of year when the bugs head indoors. Now on a sunny day when I head to my studio I'll find dozens of flies buzzing at my windows from the inside. Yuck. At night when we go to bed it's not unusual to have to evict four or five flies. They make a lot of noise buzzing around and bouncing off the ceiling. I really don't miss them at all in the summer when they want to live outdoors.

The mice seem mostly content to stay outside so far this year. Soon it will get colder though and we'll have to stay on top of the traps in the basement. We've learned from experience that you can't be lenient with the mice. If you're not careful they'll have an orgy in your pillow and then where will you be? I'll tell you where: you'll be waking up in a pile of mice poop and fly parts. Nasty. Nonetheless anti-mouse warfare is pretty unpleasant for pacifists like me and Pete.

The bees and the dragonflies are asleep, the butterflies and hummingbirds have gone south. I have to admire the persistence of the moths. We've had a few frosts so I can't imagine what they're eating these days. Soon they'll be gone too. Things will get very quiet. At least we'll still have the owls for company.

My Lunch Looks Nothing Like Hello Kitty

Here's a shot of the first bento box lunch I've ever made. Washoku-wise (balance of colors, flavors, cooking methods and textures) it needs work. Obviously I'll also need some more bento accessories (hint, hint, Christmas and my birthday are coming) However it was a really delicious lunch, just left-overs from last night's dinner.

Last night I made Zucchini Köfte with Beet-Bulgur Pilaf from a recipe I got on I didn't have bulgur so I used giant cous-cous which saved me almost ten minutes of cooking time. The beet cous-cous was a bit bland that night, just as the reviewers had warned. It was much tastier cold for lunch today. The colors are pretty much unbeatable (like how I didn't say "unbeetable?") The only thing I really wished I had was a couple of orange slices for dessert but I don't live at the grocery store.

I took my bento to run errands today in Keene, NH. On the way I passed a jeep with a dead stag tied across its hood. I guess it's deer season in NH. I heard on the radio that rifle hunting season starts in Vermont tomorrow. Time to start sporting our orange hats.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I want to revise what I think is going on in this photo.

Now I think it looks like G.W. is telling Barack a dirty joke under his breath and Barack is thinking "I only have to put up with this guy for a few more hours."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


There are some great jobs coming out of the current economic crash. Not a lot of them but...

Consider the Planet Money team. I wouldn't mind being one of them right now. As horrible as this crash is and will continue to be, it's also really fascinating. Those Planet Money folks get to research every aspect of the crash. They're traveling the world finding out how the economy is affecting people of all economic levels. Planet Money is finding out about arcane financial products, what they really are, how they came to be and how they're causing domino-effect destruction in markets all over the world. Then the team boils down all the information and figures out how to explain it to us in an entertaining and understandable fashion. What a great job to have!

Then there are the lucky visionaries who are going to revolutionize the auto industry. That's going to be the job of a lifetime for somebody. To paraphrase a surfer dude I used to know, it'll be heavy but it'll be killer. Heads are going to have to roll, old, dead wood will have to be removed. But think of the opportunities for new designs, new concepts, new systems, better vehicles! It might even produce more interesting jobs for the workers who build vehicles.

Again, it's painful to have to change and move into the future but it can also be really exciting. We're being forced out of our self-indulgent ruts (Working in a dying industry may not feel self-indulgent but if you know your industry's dying and you stick around because you already know how to do the job and you can't be bothered to learn a new skill, that's pretty self-indulgent) If we're lucky, creative and keep our eyes open there are good pieces of pie to be had.

We're all going to have to learn to be flexible and try something new. I think that's very exciting. Like training for a marathon, it's going to be a lot of work but look what we'll be able to do afterward.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Something I Don't Get

I'm not sure why but the return of this perfectly reasonable 1980's boot is giving me the heebie jeebies. They're very practical, they're comfortable, I loved them back in 1980-whatever. You can even get many styles in purple which was my dearest wish twenty years ago. Now they just give me the creeps.

Maybe it's insuppressible memories of the annoying girls with giant hair who also wore those boots? Not that there's anything wrong with giant hair. I don't know. Maybe I'll figure it out sometime down the line. I don't think I'll be succumbing to the charms of a pair of them any time soon though. I already did that.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pictures - A Lot Of Red And Brown

I have a feeling that Laura bush wore this dress as a form of protest. It looks to me like she really didn't want to look her best.

Look how it clashes with Michelle Obama's dress. That color combo only looks good in a Jonathan Adler pillow. I don't know how they plan these photo ops as far as color coordination goes. Maybe she didn't know that Ms. Obama would wear red. But she had to know that that is one homely and unflattering dress. While I'm at it, were all her good bras in the laundry for today's historic occasion?

If you look at google images you can see that Ms. Bush does know how to dress to impress and she's chosen not to do so here.

While the concept of the above photo pleases me greatly - the transfer of power from G.W. Bush to Barack Obama - the aesthetics of the following photos are more pleasing to me:

Photo by Mark Baker, AP

Photo by Daniel Munoz, Reuters

It's Monifa, the three-week-old baby pygmy hippopotamus who lives at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia. I hope she has some other kids to play with. Babies need to play. Pete and I saw a baby pygmy hippopotamus at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. back around 1991. It was zipping around in a big swimming pool like an adorable poo. So cute.

I swiped all of these photos from Here's another one I just spotted:

George looks SO relieved and now Barack looks like "Holy crap, what have I got myself into?" Remember how terrified George looked when he first took the job on?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha! Another One!

My friend Debbie sent me this via Facebook a couple of weeks ago. I just got around to watching it.

Random Mayhem

One holiday season several years ago I was walking around some mall with my friend Chris McCoy. You know how malls are decorated at holiday time: clusters of giant ornaments suspended from every possible location. While going down an escalator in an atrium with a very high ceiling we were suddenly both struck by the same image seemingly out of nowhere. Chris started to chuckle and he said, "I'm imagining those ornaments crashing down and crushing everyone under them!" He said it but I was thinking it too. I have no idea why. We hadn't been talking about anything like catastrophe as far as I can remember.

That moment has stuck with me to the point that whenever I see any sort of large decorative object suspended somewhere I can't help but imagine it resting atop a small pile of crushed and bloodied corpses.


My thanks to everyone who wrote to tell me how much lamer their Halloween was than mine. I really appreciate it!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Two Good Things

Eggplant Dengaku style! I made it for dinner last night. It's flanked by four onigiri. I'm looking forward to having some of those on my drive back to Boston today.

And the coolest spiral notebook I've ever seen:

It's pretty, it's got a nifty zipper pocket in the back:

It's got five sections separated by paper pocket dividers and clear plastic pockets of various capacities: business card, postcard and full page sized.

There's lined paper, unlined paper and the piece de resistance - graph paper:

Will I use it all? Probably not but it's so pretty. I got it at Borders but I can't tell what company made it. Sorry about the cruddy photos.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Don't Get Me Wrong

I said back on Nov. 5th that I think it's beautiful that we elected a black President.

I didn't vote for Obama because he is black. I voted for him because I thought he was the best candidate. He's prudent, insightful, cool-headed, rational, extremely intelligent and compassionate. I agree with most, though not all, of his stands on the issues. I believe he will bring healing and progress to our country. The fact that he's black is extra special icing on the cake. I would have voted for him if he was white or Asian or Latino or female or whatever.

Because he and his family are black we're going to see a lot more black faces in every level of American society. People who don't know any better will begin to find blackness just as normal as anything else it's possible to be. People who have been marginalized because of their appearance will begin to be evaluated by who they are and what they can really do. That is beautiful.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Quick One On Prop. 8

Proposition 8 is plain discrimination.

You know who makes laws based on religious principles? THE TALIBAN. If they're wrong to do it how can it be right for Christians to do it? It's wrong to force your religious views on other adults who are entitled to their own beliefs.

Gay marriage is coming. It's the future, a matter of time.

To all the gay people who want to get married: Massachusetts still respects you.

A Pile Of Battery Corpses

I finally made it back up to Vermont yesterday evening.

Last night as I was wrapping things up to head up to bed the power went out. Fishing a Maglite out of the junk drawer I thought, "huh, the weather's fine. Did the out of control wisteria finally yank the power line down?"

I twisted the Maglite on and the light showed pathetically pale and orange. New battery time. It worked well enough to get me to the other room to find the bag of knitting where I keep my Pak-Lite*. That lit up nice and strong.

I went and looked out the front door and saw nothing but blackness everywhere (except for the tiny salamander crawling around our entryway floor - I hope it's not living in one of Pete's boots) My neighbors' lights were out too. In the back of my mind a faint vision stirred of a little yellow postcard from the power company. Scheduled maintenance? I should have read that more carefully.

Flash lights work great (if the batteries are fresh) but for some things, like carrying your dog up to bed, you need hands. I went to the next room to look for candles. No luck there - all burnt to stubs. Add candles to the shopping list. We keep a couple of head lamps in the junk drawer so that was my next stop. Headlamp number one: another dying battery. Headlamp number two: success!

Next hurdle: is there enough water in the pipes for me to be able to brush my teeth? The answer is yes.

Finally I climbed into bed with my headlamp on and read a little of "Washoku: Recipes From The Japanese Home Kitchen," by Elizabeth Andoh. It's a very comprehensive study of traditional Japanese cuisine beautifully presented in an almost coffee table book style. Who would think that reading about desiccated fish could feel so luxurious?

When I woke up this morning at 6:30 the power was still off. I took Fay out, then fed her. Just as I was reaching for the french press to make my coffee the lights (and the heat) came back on. Thanks CVPS!

Now I know we're not really prepared for winter snowstorms. Gotta re-stock the alternative light sources.

*A Pak-Lite is just a nine volt battery that has a little plastic cap fitted with two very bright LED bulbs on it. It's tiny but bright. It fits easily in a jeans pocket. You should get one. Or get one for the dude in your life. Or get more than one. Pete gave me (and my brother and father) the Super Glow Gift Pack for Christmas a couple of years ago. My dad liked it so much I think he bought himself a carton of them.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Onion Does It Again

Here's what The Onion says:

WASHINGTON—African-American man Barack Obama, 47, was given the least-desirable job in the entire country Tuesday when he was elected president of the United States of America. In his new high-stress, low-reward position, Obama will be charged with such tasks as completely overhauling the nation's broken-down economy, repairing the crumbling infrastructure, and generally having to please more than 300 million Americans and cater to their every whim on a daily basis. As part of his duties, the black man will have to spend four to eight years cleaning up the messes other people left behind. The job comes with such intense scrutiny and so certain a guarantee of failure that only one other person even bothered applying for it. Said scholar and activist Mark L. Denton, "It just goes to show you that, in this country, a black man still can't catch a break."

Thanks Jill!

It's A Whole New World

But we've still got to eat. I mean, it's not that new.

I'm forty-two years old and it finally occurred to me that you could reheat left-over fries and have them as home fries for breakfast. I put truffle salt all over everything so I had truffled eggs and truffle fries.

After voting yesterday I felt so giddy that I went on a book buying spree at three different bookstores. I got a couple of Japanese cookbooks, some knitting/crochet books, a few novels and the best notebook I've ever seen. I almost forgot that I had to take Pete to the airport so he could go to New Orleans and record a horn section.

As the election results rolled in I hid out from T.V. news and its constant rain of hyped-up speculation by watching as many crime dramas as I could find: C.S.I. and whatever BBC crime shows were on P.B.S. Periodically I'd go check on my laptop to see what was really happening. It was SO exciting to watch those states turn blue! New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, FLORIDA! It's so nice to know that the majority of Americans are somewhat rational. We took the high road in so many ways. Finally.

I am overjoyed that we have a black President of the United States. It's a quantum leap for black culture in the U.S. I can't wait to see black intelligentsia take it's rightful place in American culture at large. That is the most beautiful thing to me.

No matter what though Obama's going to have a tough time if he's going to make the changes that need to be made. We know that change is necessary but the bottom line is people don't like change. I hope he has the strength to move forward with his plans and I hope that we the public have the stomach to put up with the hardships and readjustments that change requires. The truth is that there is no option. Are we going to be proactive and face the problems confronting us or are we going to turn our backs on the choices we've made and let the results bite us in the ass? Whatever happens Obama's going to get a lot of blame.

Last night at around midnight Marc and I split a bottle of champagne, made some buffalo popcorn (popcorn with Red Hot sauce in the butter) and watched some of The Simpsons Movie. I can't wait to hear what Pete did in New Orleans.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Biggest Loser I've Encountered Today So Far

There was a girl on the phone behind me on line to vote this morning. She was telling the person on the other end that she'd given herself an hour to vote and if that wasn't good enough then too bad. About five minutes further into the conversation I heard her say "This is ridiculous! I'm out of here!" She hadn't been there ten minutes yet. So much for her hour.

She would in fact have had to wait an hour and a half if she'd been determined to vote. But you know what? She was still being asinine.

So you have to wait a friggin' measly hour and a half! So what?! That's nothing. There are people in the country going through much worse than that to be able to vote. There are people who will go through worse and still not have their vote counted. That idiotic girl just threw her opportunity in the gutter.

I don't know, maybe she'll try again later today after she gets to work and starts bragging about how she left because the line was "too long" and nobody thinks she's cool. I can dream.

I'm dreaming about a lot of things today.

We've got it really good here. For the most part we aren't threatened with weapons, threats and/or death when we try to vote. There are too many places on the planet where people are faced with those things.

The G.D. least any of us can do is SHOW UP!!!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Our Latest Brush With Fame

Pete, my dad and I were having dinner at The Whaling Bar at La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla last Tuesday night. I really don't understand why that place isn't packed every night. Maybe it's too old-fashioned or Eastern for Californians?

I LOVE that place. I'd so be a regular there if I lived in La Jolla. You know - it's all red inside with leather banquettes and dark wood. The dining area around the corner from the bar area has a fireplace flanked by life-sized ceramic cheetahs. There's all kinds of antique-y whaling implements and art-work on the walls and the staff is excellent. It's the place to go to get your Manhattan or gin Martini. They'll wheel up a cart and flambee you some Crepes Suzette or Cherries Jubilee at the end of your meal if you like. Not exactly a budget-friendly spot but I could stop in for a Manhattan a few nights a week if I lived there.

Okay, I'm off the subject which was our brush with fame.

So we're sitting in our booth in the dining area when all of a sudden some kind of alien vessel pulls up outside. All you can see through the restaurant's window is aluminum clapboards and round portholes. "What the heck is that?" we all declare. So does a waitress in the back of the room. Our waiter, also in the back of the room, answers her, "That's Neil Young's tour bus."

"Who is Neil Young?" replies the waitress who is probably twenty years old. Never mind that.

Pete, star-struck, gets up to go outside and look. I get up too but what I want to know is how that aluminum pod can be a tour bus. It turns out that it only appears to be alien if you can only see the middle. The back of the bus looks like a bus. It really does have clapboards too. Anyway, out comes Neil and family looking a little bit tired. They head in to the hotel.

Back at our table the waiter tells us that the Young family might be eating in the bar later and points to the table set up by the fireplace for a good-sized group. We tried to eat slower but we weren't slow enough. That was it for that particular brush with fame.

So now I'll tell you that if you're ever in La Jolla and can swing it La Valencia is a fantastic place to stay. It opened in 1926 and has a definite family feeling. It doesn't feel corporate at all. The pace there is slow, I believe because they want you to take your time and enjoy yourself. My New York relatives didn't like it much. It was schmancy enough for them (maybe) but I think they like their service more "Yes Sir! Right Away Sir!" snappy. I find the service there gracious rather than obsequious and that's what I prefer.

Ain't I something? Getting service! What I mean is, they act like people there, not service automatons. Some people like service automatons, I like people.

I also like lunch so I'm off!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween Is Over But I'm Still Scared

I'm listening to Weekend Edition Sunday with Liane Hansen. They're talking about polls and exit polls and their predictive accuracy.

WE GOT SO BURNED IN 2004 AND 2000!!!!!! I'M SO SCARED!!!!!

Come to think of it, while I'm listening to the radio I'm also reading an article in the Washington Post, "Failure Is An Option", about how best to get over a loss or failure.

The last paragraph from the article and the one I found the most helpful is a quote from Pat Williams of Chattanooga, Tennessee:

"Regardless of who wins, there will still be rich, there will still be poor, there will still be homelessness, there will still be cancer. Think about who really controls your destiny."

He pauses for effect.

"You do."

Saturday, November 1, 2008

IBloPoMo Entry Number One

That was probably my lamest Halloween ever.

I love Halloween but I can never seem to plan ahead for it. This year was the worst. I didn't even carve a pumpkin. Pete went out at dusk and searched the town for Jack O' Lantern material and came up empty. I was considering painting a cardboard box orange, cutting out a face and putting a candle in it. Pete thought that would be a fire hazard. Finally he found the last rejected plastic electric Jack O' Lantern at Walgreens. MIraculously we had a round or two of Trick Or Treaters before he got back with it, before we had any decorations up.

Our neighborhood gets TONS of kids on Halloween. We always run out of candy. This is in spite of the fact that I often see gangs of kids passing our house by. My theory on this is that our yard is unkempt and our aluminum siding is really old and cruddy looking. We look less prosperous than most of our neighbors (yes, we're that house on the block) so some of the kids think we're weirdos and don't want to risk our candy. Theoretically that would mean more candy for me but in reality it doesn't matter. Even though we're the rejects we still run out of candy (They're right about the weirdo thing but we still have great candy)

I was going to lame out on a costume this year but Marc, who had a monk's costume complete with tonsure wig, egged me on. I managed to cobble together a rather sad Disco Diva outfit: long pink wig with iridescent strands, glitter on my face and hot pink lip gloss, an awesome silk-esque poncho, pants, gold platform sandals and sunglasses. That was a serious comedown for me. It drives me nuts when girls (not little girls but girls, say sixteen or over) go the cute/sexy route. It just seems like such cop out: "I'm gonna be a cat (so I can wear a leotard and ears and the boys will think I'm hot)" Maybe that makes me a no fun sourpuss. I prefer scary for Halloween. But this year the best I could manage was Disco Diva. If I'd thought about it some more maybe I could have been an O.D.'d Disco Diva. That's okay. All I did was hand out candy to kids and I wouldn't want to have to tell them (and their parents) what I was. I got a lot of compliments as it was from the girl Trick Or Treaters. The other bummer thing about my costume was that as someone who dreamed of being a disco diva back in 1978 I know how inaccurate my costume was. The wig was all wrong and I should have been wearing gold stretch pants and a tube top under my poncho.

Fay got a lot of compliments too.

The final nail in my Lamest Halloween Ever coffin was that I went to bed at 9 while the Trick Or Treaters were still coming and going. I was still pooped from our red-eye.

Well there's always next year.

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Few Random Thoughts

Maybe I should save some of these for NaBloPoMo which starts tomorrow. I know I said I'd call it I-NaBloPoMo but now I've decided to call it IBloPoMo because that's shorter.

I slept twelve hours last night. I could have kept on sleeping but Fay wanted her breakfast.

Pete, Fay and I had been visiting my parents in San Diego (La Jolla to be precise) and we flew back yesterday on a red-eye. Pete and I tried really hard to stay up till 8:30 but we didn't make it. I ran a bath at 7:30 to occupy my time (maybe I was asking for it) and fell asleep in the tub for ten minutes. I only woke up because I had to cough. So I went to bed at 8 instead of 8:30. Now I kind of wish I'd gone to bed at 7:30 like I really wanted to. I was just afraid I'd wake up at 4 AM.

So now we're back and I have to pay the bills and go to the dry cleaner and clean the house and it's so much easier and more fun to web surf. Thinking about fashionable clothes that I don't already own is so much more fun than doing the "dumb things I gotta do" (That quote is from "Put Your Hand Inside The Puppet Head" by They Might Be Giants)

Since I took Fay to California I left my laptop at home. I have a 17" Mac Power Book and I don't recommend them. It's a perfectly fine computer - it does everything I want it to do. But it weighs a freaking ton and it's bigger than most bags. Inconvenient. I bought it used from my brother and I thought "I do a lot of artwork on my computer. I need as big a screen as I can get." No I don't. I move around a lot more than I make big, fancy computer artwork. Dumbass.

That's my new favorite word: dumbass.

So anyway, traveling without one's laptop is also inconvenient. I recently had a PayPal security breach so I went around changing my passwords here and there in a systemless fashion. As a result I couldn't check Twitter or update this blog since I couldn't remember my new passwords. Not that I had tons of time to do either thing. I also got really behind on my e-mail.

Hope asked how much the socks were from Gorsuch.
They still sell them and the current price is $32.00.

And now this dumbass is going to get on the stick and go do some dumb stuff. Blech. I will have plenty more to say tomorrow and for the rest of IBloPoMo.

Friday, October 24, 2008

If You Don't Laugh You MIght Cry

I've been following the Planet Money blog and podcasts so I can understand what's going on with the money world these days. These folks explain everything so clearly that I actually do understand and can explain to others things like what a Credit Default Swap is and why they are dangerous.

Today they have this ad for Washington Mutual posted on their blog as a novelty. Maybe it's the O'Hara's stout I just drank at Matt Murphy's but I thought it was really funny.

Whatever else Washington Mutual did wrong they sure hired the right advertising agency.

Planet Money Twitters too.

If you're scared and confused and feel blindsided by all of this then you should definitely check them out. Once you understand what's happening as well as anybody can at least it's less confusing. It's still a bit on the scary and unpredictable side. It's also really interesting.

Rich Yeti

Once, back in the early 90's, my mom gave me three pairs of cotton socks which she ordered from the Gorsuch catalog. I still receive the catalog in the mail once or twice a year before Christmas. I always enjoy it because they have some really freaky bizarre stuff in there. I guess you'd call it a high-end ski resort catalog with Alpine undertones. It depicts a lifestyle that I can't relate to at all. But hey, I don't know everything. I just have no interest in wearing my money.

Here are some of my favorite items. By favorite I mean the ones I understand the least.

If you're wearing this out to dinner better not order the soup.

This is a cashmere poncho with paillettes (a.k.a. sequins) and detatchable fox/ostrich collar. It goes for $2,498.00

There's probably some cultural reason for this that I don't understand because I'm not Austrian. It's hard to see in this photo but the stags and piping are pink. The coat alone is $2,250.00

Another rich yeti look:

Coyote jacket with fox collar for $11,500.00

Here's the breakdown on the image at the top of this entry. The coat, by the way, goes for $5,499.00. Ostensibly one is supposed to wear it while skiing.

Mostly I'm amazed that there are people who want to walk around looking like that. Then it occurs to me that they pay outrageous sums of money to go around looking like that.

To be fair there are some very nice looking things in this catalog that I would definitely wear if they weren't so crazy expensive. Everything looks to be very high quality and well made. I still wear the socks my mom gave me and it's been over ten years.

Well to each his/her own I guess.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Am I Done Yet?

The first thing I've had time to do with my nail decals.

They will be used to make more Mayhem, Lust and Greed plates (or something like that) farther down the line.

In Case You Don't Read Comments

Here's what Michaela said about her peony massacre:

"Halloween Gardening Tips from Michaela:

When a peony massacre involves multiple heads, or several individuals, one should clean the axe or hatchet with alcohol to prevent the spread of disease from one head to another head.

If massacring only one head, then the alcohol,(preferably rum), is only necessary for personal consumption.

PS: Carving pumpkins with an axe is a much more interesting and challenging process. I recommend saving the alcohol for the END of the procedure in this case."

See why she's my hero?

The Red Knife

I LOVE a great tool.

Get your mind out of the gutter! I'm a maker. Tools are my best friends.

I was just re-reading my post from last night. I didn't get far before I noticed the red paring knife in the first photo and I started thinking about knives. I love that knife. I got mine on sale from Williams Sonoma. I saw the exact same knives (they come in green and yellow too) at TJMaxx a couple of weeks ago. Go out right now and get some! If you need a good paring knife. I'm not advocating going out and buying willy-nilly. Although I do it myself all the time. And come to think of it, the economy could use a little action. Okay, I advocate buying willy-nilly! I'm a wasteful capitalist sheep!

Blah blah blah... Where was I? Oh yeah, tools!

I LOVE a good knife. They really make cooking a pleasure. I love knives so much that I want to give them to people as gifts. People who don't enjoy cooking or think they don't cook very often tend to skimp on their knives. If they only had a good knife then cooking wouldn't be the pain in the butt that it seems to be to them. Chopping and slicing would be easier, go more quickly, feel more pleasant. Your food's not flopping all over the place under a bendy, dull knife blade. No wonder they think cooking is aggravating! It's very rewarding to use a good tool: it's a nice feeling.

I'm not superstitious but a lot of people are. Some people think that if you give them a knife it means you don't like them. Some people believe that if someone gives you a knife you have to give them something back, like a penny, so that the knife is "paid for" and therefore not a gift. I found that out back when Pete and I were engaged and I'd registered for knives. You never know who is going to believe something like that. That means that if I give a knife to the wrong person it puts a burden on them to find a coin to give me at the last minute. It also makes me feel weird that my gift made them uncomfortable when all I want is for them to enjoy their cooking experience. So I don't give knives, I just recommend them.

I've had several favorite tools over the years and I'm noticing they tend to be made of metal. There's my beloved steel half-round jeweler's file, my stainless steel etching tool/burnisher, my Addi Turbo circular knitting needles that I use for everything I knit (nickel-plated brass) my garden fork and a fine steel modeling tool that has a tiny ball at one end and a slim triangular scraper/stabber blade a the other. Then there's my Cutter Bee scissors. They have small very sharp and very pointy blades. Fantastic for precision scissor cuts. I'm not sure why but I'm not as in love with my X-Acto knife (check out the alarming sounds their web page makes as it loads!) Probably because I don't trust my ability to use it properly. I'm always making mistakes and cutting into things I didn't want to with that one. However it is THE precision cutting blade: nothing else can compare with it's sharpness and accuracy (as long as the person using it is accurate!) I've tried other brands and you might as well just throw your money away. In fact they're disastrous because they just rip whatever you're trying to cut so carefully. That's much worse than accidentally slicing into an edge of something.

Most people (including me) don't consider metal a "friendly" material but when I think about my favorite tools I really do love them. Even my nail scissors which my grandmother gave me when I was probably ten years old. Funny to think that pointy metal objects give me that warm , fuzzy feeling. Clearly I need a new blog label: tools.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Bit Of Catch Up

I've been a bad blogger. One post (besides this) for the month of October. I don't know what to tell you. Maybe I'll make up for it next month with NaBloPoMo, or as I'll be referring to it, I-NaBlaPoMo. Really, it is international. Unless they're referring to "Blogger Nation" which would be ridiculous.

I've been doing a lot of cooking this month. Lot's of recipes from Harumi's Japanese Home Cooking. Behold, for example, the lurid pile below which I produced this evening:

This is a simple, traditional Japanese potato salad. I thought I'd bought red potatoes at the farm stand but in fact they are pink. Throughout. I think the pink gives my potato salad a certain Hello Kitty-ish air. Serendipity! This is the second batch I've made.

My favorite recipe from the book so far is Eggplant "Dengaku" Style. I also like the Tsukemono (Japanese Pickles) recipe which ends up being like a really tasty salad that will keep for a few days. What's not to love about a salad you make once and eat three or four times?

Speaking of salad, here's tonight's dinner:

Mixed greens, cucumber, raw golden beets, feta cheese, pecans and dried cherries. I don't know if eating a whole raw beet by oneself is allowed. If I have any problems with it I'll let you know.

Earlier today I also tried to make Kabocha Nimono from Let's Cook Japanese Food, by Amy kaneko. I'm not sure the item I cooked was a kabocha, a.k.a. Japanese pumpkin. I've never actually seen one that I know of. I bought a giant chunk of orange-fleshed, green-and-yellow-speckle-skinned pumpkin-like vegetable at the Super 88 market in Allston last week. It might have been kabocha. The dish didn't come out exactly as described but it's fine. It's not especially photogenic so just imagine rectangular orange chunks. That's about what it looks like. I've really got to work on my food styling.

Below is a photo of what happened to the last of the pears:

This is the Brown Sugar Pear Cake from Dorrie Greenspan's Baking, From My Home To Yours. This was another example of how things take longer to cook for me than they do in the book. While the cake looks well browned on the outside it could have cooked longer. I even tested it as directed with a long bamboo skewer poked to exactly half the depth of the pan and it came out clean. It wouldn't have if I'd poked it to a three-quarter depth. Think of that the next time you make a bundt cake. It's a very good cake though. You can really taste the brown sugar and the flavor goes well with the pear flavor.

That's not my kitchen by the way. That's the kitchen at my parents' beach house. Just if you care. And why would you?

Whoa, I've also been gardening my heinus off (that was a "Your Highness" pun - see, I'm clever and not very annoying) I ordered seven peonies and thirty-six lily bulbs this spring when I must have been smoking crack. It took me three days but I got most of them into the ground in locations I think they'll like. Never mind that I had a plague of lily leaf beetles this year. Well, really I do mind a lot. Along the way I learned that even when you have to make a really small hole (like for a bulb) it's much easier to use a full sized shovel rather than a trowel. A shovel can make a perfectly good, deep but thin slit in the ground between plants. It doesn't have to dig a trench.

Later in the week Michaela came by to help me with the garden's master plan, plotting which shrubs to buy and put in next and where they should go. While we were wandering around the jungle that was a vegetable garden about ten years ago (before I lived here) we stumbled on two more peonies. Michaela decided we should dig up, divide and move them. Well she dug them up and I was so glad it wasn't me that I told her so. One was normal sized and easy to split into three new baby peonies. The other was a mass of intertwined sweet potato-like roots bigger than a basketball. She said, "do you have a hatchet?" We need to go buy a hatchet but we do have an axe.

She was giving me all these directions like "Soak the root ball to remove the dirt until you can see where you want to make the divisions" and "when you divide the root ball make sure you wipe the blade with alcohol before each cut" and "don't worry if you lose a bud or two." She could tell I was getting scared about doing it myself. I gave her the axe and asked her to show me.

Then she took the axe and started CHOPPING AT THE THING like it was her ex's (or a certain politician's) HEAD! Now I was really scared. That's not peaceful, cool-headed "dividing," that's a massacre! And what happened to the alcohol? When she was done there were seven more viable baby peonies. She axe murdered that peony into a grand total of TEN MORE PEONIES that I had to find a place for! And then she left. She'd done the hard part after all. I gave her nine lily bulbs to take along. They'll be happier with her anyway. I don't think she has lily leaf beetles. She's my hero.

Somehow or other I found decent places to plant the ten new peonies (plus an armload of rooty things that might someday become peonies) by sunset the next day. With luck I'll have fifteen new peonies next spring (counting two divisions as old plants) Good thing I like peonies. They have beautiful foliage in the fall.

And now I will end with two photos of Fay that Pete took.