Thursday, March 16, 2017


Just read this post from The Millions by Sarah Stephens on a grief comforted by a series of mystery novels. That's my kind of therapy. I was reminded by Ms. Irby that I need to keep up with the book chatty websites.

I've started my first Vorkosigan novel by Lois McMaster Bujold. As the series is long I consulted a guide to the reading order. I'm sticking to novels to start. If I get worked up I may go look for the stories later.

Our town's St. Pat's Day parade is tomorrow at 1pm. The parade committee posted signs yesterday on my street that we can't park on the street for the duration. I'm only a little grumpy about that. Mostly I am not a fan of the fact that one of the main historical sponsors for this parade has been a strip club. I like a good Irish beer but don't like the American holiday insistence on alcohol consumption. I think the Friday occurrence of SPD and the fact that our college men's basketball team is playing at 5:30p mean that there will be some big bad drunkenness downtown this year. Perhaps I'll make boxty potatoes with a recipe in French instead of carousing.

Friday, March 10, 2017


Hot tub in a tree picture is from a local journalist covering the effects of the 3/06/17 tornadoes in the Kansas City environs. The worst was all to the west of us. It was fun to see a big storm blow in and I'm glad we got rain. Storm season started with a bang.

Sneezeweed. The Feds tell us that the name is from the use of this dried plant (leaves and flower heads) as snuff. Such a pleasing Seussian name.

Have you heard about the Order of the Teaspoon? Making me cry here.

Turning 50 means that I do things like google jeans-for-mature-women. I have been dealing with wrinkles for a while now. But as I close out another not-so-fit winter, I find that in addition to wrinkles there is also droop. Sob with me now. Surprisingly that search string brought up a good page with info on figuring out one's shape and what rise will be most flattering. More deets hidden below.

If you have any fond memories of BtVS on tv you should read this interview with James Marsters. I'm so happy he feels positive about that chapter of his career. Oh and here's the AV Club's whole week of anniversary goodness.

Measure the distance from your armpit (A) to your natural waist (W).
Then measure from your waist (W) to your bottom of your buttocks (B).
If the distance from armpit to waist is less than the distance from your waist to buttocks, then you have a short waist. Sometimes this is called a high waist.

If the measurement is longer then you have a long waist or sometimes it is referred to as a low waist.

Here's the equation:

A= armpit
A/W>W/B= Low waist or long waist
WB>AW= High Waist or short waist
WB=AW= Balanced or normal waist
Now that you know this, you are in a better position to select a pair of jeans which will suit you.

For women with a short waist, stay away from high rise jeans. Opt for jeans which are a normal or lower rise as this will lengthen the look of the torso.

For those who have a low waist selecting a pair of jeans with a higher rise will give the illusion that your legs are longer.

For those whose measurements were equal, you can wear either high or low rise jeans depending on your preference and the overall look you want to achieve.

Lee curvy fit straight leg jean
Talbot straight leg (they have curvy fit too)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Low pursuits

New to me
Talking stack is a meeting management approach I had not heard of before today. It's set up to allow all participants to speak and to avoid meeting dominance by a pushy few. I like the description except for the hand gestures. That seems like a step too far, too silly. And damn, if your group is too big or too loud for people to be heard then you have problems that hand gestures probably cannot solve.

Beet schemes
I have successfully used my crockpot to cook beets. Scrub the beets, wrap each one individually in a piece of foil with a glurp of olive oil and place in crockpot. Cook on medium low (? still trying to figure this out) for 4 to 8 hours until a knife pierces the beet easily. I was impatient and got a few firm or even crunchy beets. But beets can be eaten raw so undercooking was not a tragedy and they all tasted good in the brine I put them in. After a brief, lackluster search I haven't found the fridge pickle recipe I used originally. I'll transcribe it later from the paper in my recipe box. I added more sugar for the beets and threw in some cracked black peppercorns. I pickled some carrot slices with the leftover brine and had a good sour veggie week.

-----Lots of online TV has taken place lately.

Crazy Ex
I've watched more eps from the first season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I particularly liked the episode where Pamela's marriage gets rekindled. But I am not sure I have it in me to get through the next six or seven eps to the end of the season. So much lying and self sabotage by characters I've become fond of, it's so frustrating.

Nod has tried for quite a while to get me to join him in his love of the Raymond Reddington character on Blacklist. I resisted until the start of season 3 and now I find I'm there with him. I want it known that I disapprove of the high body count and disposable people in all these episodes. For example Liz's behavior on the boat in season 2 was highly problematic. But I've let go of the expectation that these are real people; clearly actual government agents would not behave this way. So I view it as a weird violent soap opera and that works for me. The presence of ye olde Jas. Spader helps. I have a mental block for the name of this series and always want to call it Black Hat or Black Fish or Black Anything But List.

Solvers Problem
After all the shooting and gore I am delighted to lighten up and watch some 30 Rock. I am so lucky that I haven't finished that series yet.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


No pancakes yesterday but I had some donuts and that filled the bill. I'm happy that it's March. My 'hairy baby' pot has sprouted and I'm enjoying watching the grass grow. I have a hollyhock sprouting and will cover it up for the two hard freezes to come this week. I'd love to see some blooms this year.

Got a reply from my San Antonio chica B that she still has a house after the tornadoes. She was driving through some of the worst of it though, so she has a story to tell. Extreme weather, here we are. I'm happy she didn't have property damage and is off to her cruise this month.

We are preparing to drive down to Austin/SA for spring break, leaving the 21st and coming back that Sunday the 26th. I won't see B there because of her cruise and I'm ambivalent. It's always fun to set out on a road trip. But neither of our cars is in extremely good condition. We're mostly going down to see Nod's college friends. They're friendly to me too and I enjoy them. But I feel like I'll be doing MIL and kid things rather than hanging with the my-age cohort. Also maybe I should just stay home and enjoy the quiet and save the pet sitting money. #hermitstyle

Bun just finished her Model UN sessions in Topeka. She got 'best delegate' in her council and had a good time overall. I'm proud. Kat missed out this year and I still feel badly about it. Since she started dishwashing she's already saved the money to go to Chicago next year. Last weekend she got to work the cold line and was happy about that change. I think she'll get to move on from dishwashing and work up front this summer. Good wishes to the cute little cafe that employs her.

The stomach flu knocked me down for a while. The recovery was slow, it felt as though I'd had surgery or something major. I resented it richly and complaining about it helped. Kat has a sore throat and cough and has been out of school two days. She's going to drag herself in for the short day and start the catching up process.

I just finished The Complete Dykes to Watch Out For vol. 1 and it was a lovely way to revisit the '90s. Is there a vol. 2? My search was inconclusive. Interesting to read about the political resistance in that era and see what matches the now and what's different. The book is one of the comic collection we got from Nod's good friend who died a few years ago. I think I should get a Hothead Paisan book to keep it company on our shelf. Oh, Chicken!

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.