Friday, April 29, 2016

Weeds

Sticky Willy
Also known as Cleavers and Galium aparine to be scientific about it. I discovered it in our backyard last night while picking up before mowing the grass. Every bit of it has hooks to cling to you so I had to get gloves to pull it up. The Cleavers name refers to the way it disintegrates when pulled. You cannot pull it up by the root. Frustrating! This piece from the Austin paper taught me the Sticky Willy name and is pretty entertaining. I can't imagine gathering enough of the teeny burrs to roast and brew into a coffee substitute. I would just switch to tea.

Time
I wish I could read faster so I could read more books. But then each book wouldn't last very long at all so maybe I don't. I'm currently reading The One From the Other in Phillip Kerr's Bernie Gunther series. From a review blurb I learned that he wrote this one 15 years after the first three. The first ones are hard to beat for their air of menace in pre-war and post-war Berlin. I'm riveted to this one but Bernie sure let himself be led along the garden path for the first half. The chickens are coming home to roost now and he's just gotten himself smuggled out of Vienna...

Morning
No healthful exercise this week. I hope I can climb back on the horse. Once the inspiration evaporates it's hard to reconstitute it again. Nod reminds me that I 'get to' exercise, a privilege not a punishment. Yeah, but.

Invasion
6th grade sleepover tonight. It should be an okay deal. I'll feed them and get out of their way. I hope my husband has his ear plugs handy.




Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Musing

Itty bitty tailfeathers
The eaglets in DC have left their fuzzy puff stage behind and are well into the awkward weeks. I thought earlier that one was bigger than the other and immediately worried that the little one might lose out. But they both look good! What good parents they have.

Power in the sky
Severe thunderstorm weather came and went last night. Just noisy and rainy where we are luckily. The clouds in the evening before it arrived were amazing. It looked as though we were on the bottom of the ocean watching the underside of the waves. Nod squoze the second car into the garage because big hail had been reported with this stormline. I admired his accomplishment because there are not many spare inches when both cars are in.

What it takes
Thinking about housing and the Utah accomplishment of dramatically reducing their chronically homeless population. They have good results for keeping people in housing for 2 years or more. It sounds as though it requires a lot of social worker time and effort. Apparently it's still cheaper than dealing with the ER visits and crisis intervention when people remain living 'out in the wild'. I think that as this planet gets more crowded we are going to need to recognize and cultivate those who are good people herders. Some of us need a little help now and then. Some of us need a lot of help most of the time.

Value
The Big Short is a great movie. It's based on a great book and the movie makers deliver with entertainment, information and a message about what our country values. Oddballs in finance could be an alternate title. Here's to more people learning what mortgage loan tranches are and can we please have banking and investment reform now? Our 12 year old was interested throughout despite the language and the strippers. Her favorite joke was when one of the investors said that collections of mortgages not losing value when the mortgages themselves were failing all over the place was like 2 + 2 = Fish. Nod says we're raising skeptical anti-capitalists. Heck yeah. You need to know what goes on in this big world and decide what you think is a good life. Don't get taken in by a shiny package.

Heh -- just learned that the director of The Big Short also directed Ant Man and the Anchorman movies. Seems like we like him. He also directed Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and Daddy's Home so I will not be delving into the full catalog.




Monday, April 25, 2016

Weekending


Here's our coffee table lab enjoying the green and beautiful weather. She's mostly barrel chest. Her gallop is sort of a rocking horse movement as her hindquarters try to catch up.

Sixth grade band performances, With my advanced age parental wisdom I've learned to appreciate them. Bun did a good job with the trombone section. She seemed happy with the performance. I dutifully collected the brochure for the rent-to-own instruments. But found out that they only have one standard trombone size! What is my teeny tooter to do? I asked the band director for guidance. She didn't think it was a problem, offered to have the instrument guy bring one by the school so Bun can try it. That should give us a better idea.

Whipped through Japanland by Karin Muller over the weekend. I remembered reading reviews about it when it came out in '06. Anyone who's lived in a foreign culture for a while can relate to many of her experiences. I am still puzzled about why she stayed so long in the Tokyo suburb with the family that was such a bad fit for her. In fact many of her motivations escaped me but that's acceptable. Lots of interesting idioms and moments that I liked. I wonder if our Japan traveler will read it.



Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Hottness

Nod says I'm looking hot. That's a good thing to hear from a life partner. I've been doing the jogging thing pretty regularly and am feeling good in my skin. Although at the same time I am watching the Droopening occur in many regions. The side boob phenom is a drag. I'm not wild about the general state of my belly. Just looked at the prehistoric Woman of Willendorf figurine for reference. Wikip tells me that the 'Venus of Willendorf' monniker is falling out of favor. I am trying to decide if she's laid her scrawny little arms on top of her breasts or if that's some other sort of decoration. This somewhat cranky male art historian says yes it's her arms. He suggests that she was sculpted by a man and equivalent to a centerfold. A competing idea would be that she was used for female masturbation! Ah the distant past is so convenient that way -- so little information comes to us across the vast gulf of time and any interpretation could be correct.
Venus von Willendorf 01.jpg

I can't compete with Willa and I would like to have some tightening so I guess I should do those damn planks and pushups and see what happens. It's a month til my last 40s birthday. Besides the Droopening I am not enjoying how long healing takes in my current decade. Tedious!

Oldest was chosen for the performance troupe in her circus school. Of course. Very happy for her. She also overslept this morning and I don't know yet when she made it to school. Sigh.

Fabulous night out on Sunday at a patio show. The patio part was cancelled when the rain clouds rolled in but we were able to get a booth and everything. Fun to spend time with Akira too.

Achieved carrot cake with cider glaze last week. Grated five medium carrots and everything. It is a good spice cake using olive oil rather than butter for its fat. The cider glaze is pleasant but forgettable. I was expecting an ambrosial appley crown and it's really just a sweet slick on top. No regrets, only new knowledge. And cake!

Oldest child requested jogging at the west side rec center. We picked up her friend Re on the way. They chose to workout inside but I picked the trails because the temp was in the 70s and still plenty of daylight. There weren't as many people on the trails as I expected. The tracks were steeper and more gravelly than I expected as well. Used more muscles than usual for the ascending/descending and slipping a bit on the rocks. I'm glad to feel more oriented on the trails now. My conclusion was that I would rather have stuck close to home and not had to drive to workout. Suggested as much to daught and gave her the school field track as an option if she doesn't like the paved trail I usually pick.

Nod has just given up red meat, April 2016. I'm still suprised. But certainly pleased. I can't hardly bring myself to buy it anymore. I am working my way through the frozen chicken breast leftover from the xmas meat gift. Have discovered that poaching it with ginger and green onion and plenty of salt is a good technique that doesn't require all the work of chopping and stir frying. I like to eat meat but can't justify either the animal treatment or the environmental cost for cow and pig. If I eliminate those I think I can make the effort and spend the money for more humanely raised chicken or turkey. I'll have to check my snooty store options.



Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Up and Down Date

Aging out
Youngest is now 12 years old. She reminded me that in our nuclear family we have birthdays in March, April, May and... November. We got Nod launched into the 50s and Bun is now the pre-teenest. I've just done the arithmetic to confirm that I am turning 49 in May and there's no going back. Kat will turn the wise old age of 15 in November. In the next few weeks I need to get her and her birth certificate to the DMV office to obtain a learner's permit finally.

Weary
I was out sick Monday which surprised me. I thought I'd take the morning off and sleep in, then get there for at least half a day. I had been up in the night with cramps. But despite staying in bed in the morning, I could neither sleep nor be entirely awake and alert. I worried about everyone before they left the house, I hope they appreciated that. Got up and dressed. Planned to run two errands, then go in to the office. Found that I was still squinting vacantly at the world and there wasn't enough brain functioning to go to work. I went home and finally was able to sleep (thank Morpheus!) on the couch. Tottered around for the rest of the afternoon. Slept fully that night, more gratitude. Nod helpfully told me that insomnia is a common symptom of menopause. I told him that menstrual cramp pain and menopausal insomnia made for quite a mixed message.

Early spring weed ID
Help with identifying three common plants in this region. I call all these purply weeds henbit and that's wrong. I'm going to try to learn and do better.

Two Lamiaceae

Hard Scrabble
Had a desperate family bout of Scrabble last night. Bun and Nod collaborated and he howled in disappointment each time Kat took the spot he had been eyeing. That Kat girl then proceeded to whale on me in a rematch round in which she played all 7 tiles (AMOUNTS) for a cool 50 point bonus. Who taught her to play word games?!



Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Arguing, new adventure, peril, candy disdain

I am having an argument with a recipe for baba ghanoush. Add oil in a thin steady stream. Or blop in in there while beating and then continue to beat like Jehosaphat until it's blended. As someone who struggles to achieve an ideal stream, I prefer the second method. I like baba ghanoush with no garlic, the green onion is enough allium for me. Broil, turning occasionally, until charred on all sides and completely tender, about 1 hour. Naw, are you crazy? Broil the eggplants until black and slumpy, then put in a glass bowl with a plate over the top to steam for 30ish more minutes. Broiling for an hour sounds like a tedious way to produce carbon rather than the desired roasted eggplant goo.

Nod got a cherished invitation to a sauna and potluck gathering last weekend. There is a couple he does 5 Rhythms dance with who live out in the country on a beautiful hilltop and have a sauna out behind their house. I went along but did not sauna. I like a hot tub or a pool but sauna or steam isn't my favorite as I am slightly claustrophobic and overheat easily. I think it made some of the gathered uncomfortable that I didn't disrobe and join them. But I think it was the right call. Potluck was nice and the 6 week old baby was a charmer. I don't know that I'd go back but I was curious and had that satisfied. In the future I can send Nod off to be hot and peaceful and I'll sort of know what he's in for.

Going around my Fbook circle, Frontline stats on how bad the US opioid addiction crisis is. The one that got me: it's killing more people per year than car crashes. In 2014 40% more deaths from overdoses than car accidents. Boggled. Anyone prescribed opioids needs to approach with extreme caution. Clearly it doesn't take much.  

Candy trash talk. I love some of these nasty, sticky outlaws but I still enjoy the vigorous airing of opinions.



Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Crow or Raven?

This Let's Go Exploring page has a good list of distinguishing marks to look for. I didn't realize that ravens have a tail with a point in the center rather than the crow's more fanlike tail.

This http://authormarycsimmons.com/2013/10/31/whats-a-corvus/ also has a nice graphic that shows the tail shape difference:


I live in a region that only has crows so we know if we see a really big black bird that it's a big crow, not a raven. I miss the ravens of Los Alamos, New Mexico. They perch in the ponderosa pines and play in the wind currents at the edge of the mesas. And eat garbage out of dumpsters and make a bunch of noise sometimes. I'll have to ask my mother if she ever sees ravens in Albuquerque. I don't remember seeing them there. I assume they prefer the mountains and high mesas.

The Cecil Younger series by John Straley includes some very good Alaskan raven descriptions. I had a wonderful hilarious time reading aloud to my kids all the Joan Aiken's Arabel and Mortimer books as I could find. Mortimer the raven seems like an only slightly exaggerated character even though he eats a staircase at one point. I need to look for some more fiction with raven characters.

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You may enjoy this article from The Toast about the comfort in a Penzeys Spice catalog. Retreating from the news into a gentle alternate universe.

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Tulips are edible. It sounds like only as a last resort. I never knew. A link from Eat the Weeds via Kingfisher Feathers. The petals are edible raw or cooked and the bulb (peeled and with the center bit removed) can be eaten cooked. But I also learned that tulip allergies are common, florists and tulip workers can experience 'tulip fingers'.

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I like the crow and raven graphic so much I'm tempted just to update down here for a while. Linking to another cheater veggie lasagne recipe. Sounds good!

David Lebovitz recipe for orange syrup cake. Oh my lord. Only if I can acquire 4 organic oranges, 1 organic lemon and 3 cups of sliced almonds.