Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Steppe It

Just finished Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear. I enjoyed it with its pan Asian sweep and comic book cliffhanger ending. The Mongolian/Tuvan herder culture is compelling. If you've heard Tuvan throat singing you have experienced some of this. Yurts and ponies and wide open spaces. Oh! I just searched for Kongar ol Ondar, the first throat singer I ever heard and found that he died last summer. Here is the website in his name and an obituary in the LA Times. I feel sad at this news. Another series that uses the touchstone of Genghis Kahn as a jumping off place is The Lens of the World by R.A. MacAvoy. I was swept away by those books when I read them initially. They seemed absolutely new and strange and yet engaging adventure reading. I am waffling on re-reading them, fearing a loss of magic. But Tea with the Black Dragon still holds its pull, so I should give it a go. Oh! Here you should read this interview with RAMacA too. I am all feely today. (But I can't really recommend Death and Resurrection, her newest, try one of the others. Maybe she'll write more!!)

Ms. Bear's writing I like although I find it a bit mannered. Sometimes I do not know what her meaning is, as though she has sketched the scene or backstory without actually putting all the bits down. It's preferable to being bludgeoned by repetition I suppose. I like how she rolls herself up in the storytelling. She has a good sense of moments of ultimate drama and sets them carefully. The steppe bowman standing in the saddle and loosing arrows atop his running mare was the one that got me in this book.

Neurotic avoidance was temporarily defeated last weekend when I got off my rear and communicated about the lodging we are trying to locate for 4-6 people for a wedding in San Francisco this July. I don't feel very competent to arrange such but the conversation needed to be started and I could do that. Spoke with my college friend Statsgirl last night and it was lovely to hear her voice. She is a low drama / high results person and I am encouraged by our start on this project. It'll be fun to hang out and be touristy with her. I realized that I have never stayed at a hotel in San Francisco.

I'm rather excited to have such a fun trip ahead of me. Now to plan what kind of ridiculous hat to wear for the fairy tale theme. I'm thinking the tall cone with the floating gauzy ribbon and chin strap would be a hoot. Yet perhaps impossible to pack. I can't face a poofy dress on my 47 yr old bod, I would rather wear something I feel good in. I can get with a silly hat.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Made this last night and it is a success. Kat liked it straight from the pan. I have a resistance to whole chickpeas* so I whizzed it up with the immersion blender and find that a great improvement. [*So starchy.] It uses all the spices that there are and has some zip due to the cayenne plus half of a fresh jalapeno. I bought some turmeric for this recipe and will look for other opportunities to turn things yellow. I haven't ever used turmeric before and am intrigued.

Blog about gut flora and using fermented foods and probiotics to help reduce eczema symptoms. I am reading with interest but haven't yet gotten motivated enough to try and understand the ph and bacteria population stats. In short: yay for sauerkraut! I think the entry on women possibly needing more fiber in their diet than men is interesting.

More recipe links because who am I kidding. Food, food, food.
Stovetop Mac&Cheese&Kale

Artichoke, Kale, Ricotta Pie

Roasted Banana Caramel Milkshake
Caramel Sauce for the milkshake

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Spa Day

Should you ever find yourself feeling scared and desperate about ordinary things, you should probably read Swistle's latest. She gives easy steps to being your own therapist. It's so full of gentle, practical self-love that it makes my toes curl. She even includes signs that indicate a real professional should be consulted. I'm in favor of counseling when needed and in favor of self-acceptance at all times. I am looking forward to trying this (maybe later today!) -- out loud.

I think we all need to look at something beautiful today. How about a closeup of the tiny rocks and ground down shells that are the grains of sand on a beach. That link is just one guy's photos but here's a tour of the world's beach sand magnified. Oh and now I've found a lovely rabbit hole, this page is a visual tour of the life in the sandy beach at Santa Barbara, California. I never knew about blood worms, they seem like something my father would have used for bait when surf casting. He used sand fleas, I loved digging those up on California beaches. Ahh, I can almost smell the sea.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Less gnawing

Face is better so the doctor said to cut my antibiotics dose by half. I find that the near-constant hunger has lifted. At least it was hunger for good stuff, I was busily plotting to cook vegetables and beans and whole grains in amongst the white flour and cheese. It feels like I will be able to think of something else for a change now. Here and there at least.

I went for a bike ride yesterday evening. I grabbed a fleece layer and needed it. The skies were clear but came with a nip to the air. Riding a bike doesn't feel like exercise to me. Just an outing and a quick opportunity to zoom. I found no traffic at the major cross street so I went out past the grain elevators and turned around at the south end before the underpass. Some skateboarders were doing tricks in the underpass and all was right with the world.

I am trying to wash the dog's ears every day and put anti fungal drops in. She hates it but maybe this will help clear it up. The vet said the thyroid test was fine and now we are waiting to see if they can determine the allergen from a blood test.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


I am picking at Queen Lucia by E.F Benson. It is a definite flavor and I'm glad I didn't try to read it when I was younger. Although maybe I would have found the characters more purely funny, now I have to think about whether I want to laugh at all these older duffers. I guess I'll read some more and see where the plot leads before I decide if I like the book.

Just finished The Manual of Detection by Jedediah (woo!) Berry. I wonder if that first name comes from family archives, a religious expression or whimsy. It reminded me of Dark City a scifi noir movie hardly anyone has seen with Rufus Sewell. The movie is slanted more toward suspense, the book is not so scary but still has a world contained within a city where the population may be manipulated when they are asleep. I will look for something else he's written.

Mary Poppins is bedtime reading for Bun, Kat has opted out. We had a pitted argument one evening when Kat insisted that I've read it to them before. I haven't but it's the sort of British classic kiddie claptrap that I'm liable to bust out with at any moment. So I can understand her confusion. She's well into YA distopian reading and trying to find the adventure stories she prefers to the romance stories. Ooh, I just checked the Rotten Tomatoes rating for Divergent, the film adaptation of a series Kat loves. That's not a good rating.

We all four went to see The Wind Rises last Tuesday evening despite my crotchety resistance at going out on a work/school night. I'm glad we did it after all. Ours were the only kids in the audience at the art house downtown. The movie was wonderful. Some of the characters are reminiscent of others from past Miyazake movies. I wish it had been in Japanese but it was dubbed in English. Nod said he wanted to go see the Muppets movie en famille but lately he's been waffling; we may go without him. And then Bun wants to go see the new Captain American movie that opens this week. Wow, that one is scoring high at RT.

Bun's birthday month started early last Saturday with getting her ears pierced. We went to Claire's downtown when they had two clerks so she could get both ears done at once. There was a six y.o. waiting to go after and she had the worried brow, her mother was saying they didn't have to get her ears pierced that day. Bun was calm and only had a little lip wobble after the pinch. She seems very pleased with the result.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Say what?

Sexy wolf men are not so sexy in Book 2 as they were in Book 1. But it had me turning the pages. There is a third book listed in Goodreads but without cover art and I don't see it on Amazon. Curious. Selfishly, I hope they'll complete the arc.

Had a bout of miscommunication today. Once at work which required me to go hat-in-hand to my manager and request her diplomatic help. That seems to have been smoothed over. Then in email with the gifted teacher who was requesting a meeting. I didn't think we needed to meet because I thought he was talking about my other child. He straightened that out and we're on for Bun's review. I hope this doesn't come in 3s. Or that the third miscommunication is really funny. That would be worth it.

Posting a recipe because the only place I can find this is on a junky ISP website. (Tho' it brings back fond memories, I used to have free email with them.) I think the corn in the batter is optional. I like green onions best but a little cooked white onion is okay. I made these for lunch on Tuesday using chard instead of kale. I like to use the word 'fritter' when I make savory fried dealies like these for the family. My kids, especially the youngest, have a problem re-directing their expectations if they hear 'pancake'.

Corn Kale Skillet Cakes, adapted from Witch in the Kitchen by Cait Johnson

1 cup flour
1 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 cups fresh or thawed frozen corn
2 cups finely chopped, firmly packed kale
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons melted butter or olive oil
2 cups milk
2 green onions, diced  [or 1/2 cup minced onion, saute before adding to batter]
Butter or oil for frying
1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal, salt, corn, green onion and kale.
2. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs, melted butter or oil, and milk to combine. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix briefly.
3. Heat butter or oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion, if using, and saute until golden.
4. Add the sautéed onion to the batter, mix again, then drop about 1/4 cup batter per cake into the hot skillet, adding more oil or butter as needed to keep cakes from sticking. Cook until cakes begin to bubble, about 3 minutes, then flip and cook until the other side is golden, 1 or 2 minutes longer. Serve warm.
Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Shied away

I'm treating myself like a spooked animal right now. Trying to move slowly and take advantage of all the helpful supports I can find. I came home from work last Friday under a black cloud and didn't get all the way out from under until Monday morning. Last week I was wrangling confidentiality issues and HR actions and a tool that did not work as expected. It was diplomatically dicey. My manager was out of town and so I was left feeling like I needed to go to confession or argue with imaginary high muckety mucks that my actions had all been logical and correct. Or at least well-intentioned and constructive. Nod said "you're vibrating" and I was, all weekend, with spots of feeling like a failure generally and specifically. It was sunny, there was a surprise snow dusting Sunday morning. Nod and I went for an anniversary bike ride that was lovely. There was yoga and swimming and sad basketball game watching. But I couldn't shake that dread entirely. Monday my manager was back and it was clear that no blowback was coming my way so I could settle those fears. I called Nod while walking the dog in the snow yesterday to tell him the good news. Not being fired! It's a wonderful day! (It was just a little wet March snow, could easily have been rain, it was very pretty coming down.)

I need to get back in communication with far flung friends and that sounds really hard, I failed at it all last week. Danish, if you're reading, big congrats on your new job and I am sorry that the Baker has been battling the hbp. I have been thinking of you and will call/email/text/mail boxtops or something soon. I need to buy that plane ticket and email/talk with the college friends about lodging.

Speaking of lodging and relief, on Friday Nod made us a reservation for a place to stay in Crete! Such good news. Now he's looking at renting a car and reports that they all seem to be stick shift. We both drive stick but I know scads of Americans who don't. I wonder if Euro car sales are still majority standard transmission?

I will continue to keep my self-talk soothing and warm. Sometime in the future I'll feel resilient. In the good news column, I have the next sexy wolf novel to keep me company.