Friday, February 17, 2017


Feeling so warmly toward attorneys and judges and their support staff who are doing their jobs and upholding our laws.

I made a valentine strawberries and cream pavlova. My first meringue cake! It came out in texture and everything. It could have been improved by fresh berries but this is winter. White and pink and yum.

To my surprise I found the meringue tooth-aching-ly sweet. It was 6 egg whites to a cup and a half of sugar and that ratio 1/4 cup of sugar per egg white is a common ratio. But here is someone who has experimented with reducing the sugar and gotten good results with 4 tsps of sugar per egg white. I'll try that next time I want to meringue out.

British discoveries
New to me blog voxturturis is explaining things. Things I have waited a long time to understand:
  • Link to an explanation of what a lime tree is in Europe. I knew they couldn't be citrus trees but hadn't understood that they are also called linden trees. Lovely scented blooms and dense even wood prized by woodworkers. I had hear of Berlin's Unter den Linden boulevard ('under the lime trees') and was confused because northern Europe is not in the citrus zone.
  • Why British housewives were so into cleaning the front step (and the flagstone in front of that) of the house. I knew it was a source of pride and that it was done daily. But why scrub it so often? Soot! This makes so much sense. We are lucky not to live in a city in the early throes of industrial expansion.
Hoarding for later
By Singing Light posted a list of fave novels with romance in them. With Gaudy Night starting it off, I am sure I need to look at these. I haven't read any of the other titles:

Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

The Scorpion Rules and The Swan Riders by Erin Bow

The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

Betsy & Joe by Maud Hart Lovelace

Chime by Franny Billingsley

A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

The Medair duology by Andrea K. Höst

I just picked up a novel I had requested:  Aaronovitch's latest Peter Grant book . So exciting! Currently I am in the last third of All The Birds in the Sky which is a good read. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Good distractions

Serious cake
This citrus cake ends up tasting a little like a scone but with a lighter crumb. It was a success and didn't take much effort to whip up. I made it with tangelo rind and juice and I think you could use absolutely any citrus fruit at all. I can't remember where I got the recipe, I copied it out on paper with no attribution. Thank you, mystery cake recipe source!

Half a stick of butter, 4T, softened and creamed with
3/4 cup sugar
Beat in 2 eggs, one at a time
Add 1 T grated zest (this sounded like a lot to me, I used zest from one tiny tangelo and one medium orange) and 1 T juice from your citrus fruit of choice

Whisk together dry ingredients:
1 cup a.p. flour
1/4 cup corn meal
3/4 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt

Add the dry ingredients to the batter alternating with:
2/3 cup plain yogurt thinned with some milk (or use buttermilk)

Pour in a greased cake pan, sprinkle some sugar on top, bake at 350° F for about 20 min, until a toothpick comes out clean.

It would also be good with a glaze but I was completely happy with it as is.

Towering letters
A game recommendation from who says it's "an addictive little game that's like a cross between Boggle and Candy Crush" Spelltower, Maybe this will be a good change from my favorite evil indulgence Bubble Candy.

Disturbing folk
Parking this here to dip into in the future. The BBC's list of 10 of the most disturbing folk songs. And the counter suggestions of the FBookers who discussed it:

Here's the first version i ever heard
Planxty - The Well Below The Valley

Much more disturbing I think but some variants related, you're right there!

How could they leave off The Two Sisters?

Yes, The Two Sisters was one of the first that sprang to mind for. Also whatever lineage "Son, Oh Son" (as done by Boiled In Lead) came from. They changed the verses so the brother doesn't get off scot free.

Boiled In Lead - Son O Son (live)

One of my favorites of theirs! Here's another excellent variant:

What Put the Blood?

The last word on "The Cruel Mother":

The Twa Corbies/The Three Ravens/Willie McGee McGaw

Lyke-Wake Dirge

Down in the Forest

The Water Lily ...

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Lemur posing

Bring me my lemur.

Detail from the portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Cortaud and their pet lemur found at the Gods and Foolish Grandeur blog. The artist is Leonard Campbell Taylor and it's worth clicking through to see the 1930s hoity toityness of this couple and their room.

Long haired cat Zing is the closest lemur substitute in our house. She wanted me to get up and entertain her this morning at 6:10 after my alarm went off. Or maybe she was lodging a complaint about the outside temperature being below 20F. At any rate I ignored her nibbling and went back to sleep.

For the last week I've woken up with at least one blocked ear. Usually it resolves itself by midday and I feel better in the afternoon. I've encountered many people with terrible colds in the last week or so and I am hoping my luck holds.

Who is collecting
Very interesting talk on educational technology in terms of the present political climate. There is so much personal information collected about every student now. It's stored in a patchwork of locations, more and more in the cloud and not under direct school control (and of course not under student control). There are businesses trying to leverage all that info to sell new products to schools. The talk points out the evolution of information gathering tech and how it was used in, yes, wait for it, Nazi Germany. I hadn't considered all of these angles before. I agree with the conclusion that personal relationships both in and out of the classroom are what needs to be valued. To get us into the future.

Franchise opportunity
I try not to read Mimi Smartypants posts too soon because they are few and far between these days. She recently tweeted a link to a 6 year old post that is high value. Sustainable walrus farming will be making me smile for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017


Not feeling as scared and teary as I was on Sunday. Guess it will come and go. As I told my husband, I suppose the gift that this administration is giving us is the clarification of our values. I feel more confident saying that I support access to education and healthcare for everyone to build a stronger society. I believe in compassion and caring for the most vulnerable in our society. All anarcho capitalists should go to their private tropical islands and leave the rest of us in peace.

I'm reading Headlong, a novel about how the British royal family was wiped out in a freak Hindenburg-like accident and an obscure chorus boy from Cornwall was found to be the next in line for the throne. I haven't quite worked out the tone. It has made me chuckle a couple of times.

I laughed much of the way through The Flood Girls. That's something to cherish in January. A recovering alcoholic comes back to her tiny godforsaken Montana hometown to make amends and decide if she should stay there. The small town characters are cussed and low-down and I like how much the author obviously enjoys them and their mayhem. But there are plenty of plot problems such as -- Laverna couldn't go pee by herself with two broken arms, sorry. And then there is a sacrifice near the end of the book that is a pointless plea to add pathos and meaning to the other characters' lives. It doesn't work and you should not have made that choice Mr. MFA Dumbhead. Recommended for the first three quarters, then lose the book.

Looking forward to watching British History's Biggest Fibs.

Monday, January 30, 2017


Best explanation of the ramifications of the removal of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from the National Security Council in favor of Steve Bannon. It's from metafilter commenter Kafziel:
Okay, so, we used to a have a system in place for determining when to target someone for killing, especially when that person is a US citizen. The Pentagon, the Joint Chiefs, and the National Security Council all had to agree on it for the use of force to happen. It was a big deal. 
Under Obama, this system was replaced with the Disposition Matrix. The Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs were removed explicitly from the decision-making process, and the decision was left entirely in the hands of the National Security Council, based on a complicated set of priorities which are not public. This is less of a shift than it seems, because since the National Security Council has existed, the Joint Chiefs have never not been on it, and the Pentagon answers to them, so not a lot actually changed, but it still wasn't a great move for a lot of reasons. 
One of those reasons is becoming clear now, because the Joint Chiefs are no longer on the National Security council. It consists entirely of Donald Trump, Reince Priebus, and Steve Bannon. So the decision to approve the targeted killing of a US citizen lies entirely and exclusively in the hands of Donald Trump, the head of the RNC's campaign finances, and a Nazi propagandist. Without review or oversight. 
This is a very, very bad thing.
Other commenters jump right in to predict war with Iran or China. I am reassured by the lack of consensus on those predictions. But I still feel pale and faint. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Off and stumbling

Year has started. Semester has started. Presidential term has started. We are underway. Hang on to your hats.

Pinking in Topeka
Our pioneer mother shows off her pussy hat:

Ride impaired
Both our cars took damage this week. Last Wednesday evening I hit a deep and vicious pothole that did for one tire. Bang! Scream! I was lucky that I was still able to pick up and deliver kids and get us home without incident. It was flat by morning and wheel was cracked. Just got a replacement wheel put on at noon. Whew. Got in the other car on Monday and after backing out of the driveway I heard the sound of the muffler falling down to the pavement. I managed to park on the street without ripping it off. Nod bungy-corded it back up and we're waiting to hear from the mechanic. That's the car we're thinking about driving to Texas in March. Hm.

I'm having trouble setting a date to get a massage. My esteemed life partner gave me a xmas present of time with a great bodyworker who is also a friend. And I can't seem to get the day and time nailed down. I guess I'll treat this as an opportunity to practice. Surely I can get this on the calendar.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Entertain Me

Written Words
My first world problem today is that my historical novel is too thick to lie flat. So I can't easily read it at meals. It's a library copy, a crappy new paperback copy covered with the thick plastic library cover. The pages have half the title and the page numbers cut off at the top of every page. If I wasn't being impeded in this way I would be whipping through The Fool's Tale because it offers plenty in the way of entertainment. It isn't wowing me with sincerity but there's a lot of history in there as well as English and Welsh stereotypes I hadn't really considered before. It also showed me the root of the Harry Potter house elf/sock system.

I'm also reading The Flood Girls. It's a hardback that lays open fairly well. (I may add a rating to all of my Goodreads reviews to say how well the particular book I read laid flat.) I picked it out at random off the fiction shelf. The scene I opened to had a middle aged date that was quickly heading to sex and I was hooked. It's about a godforsaken little Montana town and the recovering alcoholic who returns to see if her life is there. I think. So far anyway.

Movies seen in December and January:  Manchester By The Sea, Rogue One, Moana. A few impressions, will try not to plot reveal.
MBTS. Before the movie, I had to sit through the preview for the horror film Split. Because those audiences overlap so much. Gack. MBTS is full of such good acting and sense of place. And yet, it's one of those family dramas that might make more sense on a stage. And it's total Oscar bait. How do these families earn enough money to keep these big houses? Why are we put through this emotional wringer for very little resolution at the end? Maybe some would argue that makes the story more realistic but I'm not sure that's a good enough reason. Give me an arc, let the main character discover one new emotional outlet maybe?
Rogue One. I went back and forth on this and whether I wanted to see it in the theater. It was plenty entertaining but I could have survived just fine until DVD time. I liked The Force Awakens (ep. VII) better.
Moana. Oh that was a lovely time. I really liked the music and my eyes leaked during all the songs. I was pleased at how demigod Maui didn't just feel like a stand-in for Dwayne Johnson. It was a complete character and DJ was really acting and everything. I was delighted with the Shiny song sung by Jemaine Clement as the treasure hoarding crab.
Up next:  La La Land.

TV on the laptop
At a friend's repeated recommendation I've been watching Crazy Ex Girlfriend (CW and Netflix). It's cringe comedy but for me it's on the right side of the line: I find it funny rather than desperate/sad. And the fact that it's hybridized with musical numbers helps a lot. Plus lord knows there do exist people who have enormous brains and very little common sense or emotional boundaries. We hope they can get better!