Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Flyday

I had a recent "health screening" appointment. I did it to get the $50 gift card which was the carrot for state employees. They took my ht and wt (I kicked off my shoes for this and exposed a hole in my sock. How old am I?) and stuck my finger to measure cholesterol. I had to fast but had a 7am appt. so it was relatively painless. The peanut butter and honey on whole wheat sandwich I ate in the parking lot afterwards tasted heavenly. My 'good' HDL cholesterol is low. My 'bad' LDL cholesterol is low. Cardio exercise is supposed to help raise HDL levels. And you can take omega 3 supplements (fish or flax). I have tried walking at my lunch hour but haven't made it more than twice a week so far. This week I haven't been out walking once. Walking fast sounds so good to me right now. It's not very hot (highs weirdly in the 80s again) and the illusion of flight is appealing as well as the idea of helping my physical being. I have to figure out how to make it happen.

Additional important news about me: I don't like hazelnut butter in chocolate. I like hazelnuts (or filberts as my mother calls them) just fine on their own but praliné filled things, the Belgian specialty, leave me cold no matter how good the chocolate is. I just ate one to make sure. Yup, still don't like it. It tastes unctuous (which ought to be good but not in this case) and almost spoiled to me. Which seems unfair -- why am I prevented from enjoying this variety of luxury chocs?! I like plain chocolate of all qualities and don't mind crispy rice (I typed 'krispy' first, packaging spelling is getting to me), coconut or almonds. Cookie (twix etc) tastes good every once in a while. I went off of peanuts for a while but am back to them now. Just no high falutin praliné, thanks very much.

Nod had the meeting with the bankruptcy attorney yesterday. He was dreading it but came back in a much better mood. The remedy is there and will help us. So far we are looking at chapter 7 b/k and giving up the house. I think that's best although there will be the chaos of moving and apt. hunting. It should buy us a few more months in the house at any rate so I can get methodical about how we will dispose of / contain our belongings. Nod is also finding jobs to apply for. He had two interviews this week and has two scheduled for next week. I'm so glad he's able to carry on.

I'm ready to leave for the week. It's very quiet here so lots of us are on vacation. Next week there will be more instructors in town prepping for the start of the semester. Turn turn turn. Happy weekend, all.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Caliginous

From the queen, Dooce.com, an excerpt from her post 7/28 about pregnancy with her second child:
...here's where we take a moment of silence to honor Jon and what he had to endure for the following nine months as he basically lived with two pregnant women. Double the complaining and bitching and neurotic pacing over the weight gain. Seriously, how do polygamists do it? I mean, at least Jon could drink. Polygamists not only do it willingly, THEY DO IT SOBER.
This reveals Heather's Utah roots of course. Just to be pedantic I will assert that in the history of the world there have been simultaneous pregnancies in a polygamist household that did indeed include husbandly drinking.

Reading update. Finished Inkheart last night, in case we talk about it at my next book group meeting. It was long. I would have liked it as a young person. And I liked it pretty well, esp. the ending. But long, people, all 528 some odd pages of it. Finished (to my own satisfaction) Good-Bye to All That by Robert Graves. I started this when I chanced upon the following quote, which was whipped out in Language Hat's comments:
Professor Edgeworth, of All Souls', avoided conversational English, persistently using words and phrases that one expects to meet only in books. One evening, Lawrence returned from a visit to London, and Edgeworth met him at the gate. "Was it very caliginous in the Metropolis?" "Somewhat caliginous, but not altogether inspissated", Lawrence replied gravely.

—Robert Graves, Good-Bye to All That, p. 372.

I just couldn't resist. (Part of the appeal being that I didn't know either of those words. Instead of referring to heat as I guessed, they refer to darkness and obscurity.) (Oh and that's T.E. Lawrence replying there. Lots of lovely English letters name dropping.) I enjoyed the beginning and end of the book. But I found myself skipping over the meat of the book, which is Graves' WWI personal history. "Reminiscences" is what I wrote first but that word has a warm and comfy glow inappropriate to his stories of death and extremity. He was shell shocked after the war and found that he had waking dreams (flashbacks) of scenes from his first four months of combat. No intrusive memories of his service after those first four months. After that time he says, my imagination must have given up.

Still reading Persuasion. We're in Bath now and cousin Mr. Elliot's hard-hearted scheming has been revealed by Anne's invalid friend. Oh I see I'm almost at the end. It's lovely but I'm still wrassling with what the word persuasion means. The more I think about it, the more slippery it gets. This book has renewed my desire to visit Portsmouth and Lyme and the coasts there. Fossils and British naval history, what more could one want? Onward in my Austen revels! I have worked from least appealing to most appealing on purpose. Though MP was the only slog and even that provided much food for thought. Which #&# will I choose to go on with? Probably Pride and Prejudice as I've watched S&S recently and want to end up with that one.

My mother-in-law is en route from Austin. We expect her tomorrow night. She's here to help us out by enjoying her granddaughters during their last week of summer with no preschool or school substitutes. It will be good to see her. Not sure whether we'll talk about our latest money troubles or not.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Last weekend's play by play

Saturday, determined to enjoy cool non muggy weather this weekend. Up and at ‘em with the kids. Got package ready to mail. Got children and husband to contribute notes/pictures for package. Took youngest child with me to post office. Post office strangely quiet, only one person ahead of us. Mailed pkg, picked up husb’s registered letter from atty. The one that tells us that the mortgage holder actually wants all that money we haven’t paid since March. But I’ve already cried over that so I felt nothing but happy with little girl who is looking for metal things to stick her magnetic doll to. Inside mailbox handles, fail. Outside railings, success! We cruise over to the Catholic thrift shop. School desk out front tempts me. We go through the kid clothes and sewing stuff. Lexi decides she doesn’t need any of the toys (hurray). School desk still available, $3, twist my arm. It almost fits in the hatchback; I drive back quietly so as not to bang the back windshield against it. Friend calls, walk to park for free music? Yes. It was an all day fundraiser for the local American music school. (They need some volunteer web help too.) Music midday was painfully dull (“Where have all the flowers gone” played by the cheery folks just 10 or 15 years older than we are. Truly should have been a private, not a public performance.) But the actual flowers in the park were dazzling and it was a great day to play Frisbee with Katy.

Returned after early dinner. Oh but first Lexi threw a tantrum when I wouldn’t disconnect hose from outside tap. Then Katy burst into tears when it was revealed I had mailed the wrong drawing to our cousins. I had no idea what demons had crawled inside them. But it was just hunger. Feeding restored tempers and we boogied back to the park. Music much better at this point in the lineup and the crowd was filling out too. It sounded as though they had made some money already. Good. Cowgirl band and a great local group that played Keep on the Sunny Side, Dark as a Dungeon, and that old country classic Tequila! They also played one I’d never heard. Some research reveals that it’s ‘The Gold Rush Is Over and the Bum’s Rush is On' by Hank Snow. Highly recommended.

Sunday, felt like I was moving through water or maybe had invisible heavy boots on. I was slow but efficient. Grocery store quiet. This must be the week that everyone is on vacation, our town is really sleepy. (Note to add that my commute has gone from 8 and a half minutes to 3 minutes. Freaky.) Told Nod that I was waiting for this malaise to go ahead and be my period already. if I didn’t start bleeding then I would just have to cut my head off. Reconsidered, too much work. I enjoyed going to church. Both girls need haircuts. Lexi tells me she wants hers bobbed chin length again. I keep asking her about it and she’s sure. So I think I’ll take her to the kid haircut shop on the east side. With a photo.

Monday morning finally brought the shedding of the uterine lining. Whew. The thing about pms is that you worry that it’s the new normal. No doubt I will look back on this in ten years and laugh.

Reading Robert Graves’ memoir Goodbye to All That. He had ten brothers and sisters. The last two were born when his mother was 44 and 48 years old. Good gravy. Sure hope I don’t get to experience that.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

July Misc.

JV

An article about writer Jack Vance in the NY Times. Found via the Crooked Timber post and discussion that I'm still reading through. Mmm, vicious fantasy adventure stories with elaborate and drily humorous language. I am not widely read in Vance, but I love what I've found. It's nice knowing that there's lots more out there left to find too. I loved reading that PGW is his literary hero. And what a great two syllable name he has: Jack Vance. You can practically see the testosterone shimmer coming off of it. Perhaps related: he never wrote a good female character. Someone in the CT discussion describes him as one of those "reactionary artists whose work I love anyway." Yup.

Rejected

Because it made me laugh, here’s a link to a list of revered literary works the article writers say you can safely skip: http://thesecondpass.com/?p=1663 (via kottke.org)

I’ve read two on the list: 100 Yrs of Solitude which I loved; Absalom Absalom which was fun because I read it for book group and I enjoyed listening to people complain about it. I also enjoyed the texture of his prose which is like nothing else.

I wish it was real

Hello Kitty Vader from the recent Hello Kitty post at Cake Wrecks. Scroll down, the rest of the post is just mediocre for Cake Wrecks. But that photoshopped Vader costume is mind blowing.

Awww Dept.

Yesterday Lexi came home and asked for reindeer (Ranier) cherries. She's my dumpling. I got to watch her at the playground on Sunday evening, jumping to catch onto bars to swing from. She was happy and beautiful and I felt very lucky.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Far and Near

Tribute in NM

Went to ABQ and saw Mom and Bro. On my flight into ABQ I sat next to a friendly Canadian who was starting a week's vac in northern NM. Told him about Los Alamos and the Jemez and Bandelier. We discussed China and climate change and it was civilized fun. My mother seems well, and my brother is okay. I hope he and I can both feel more prosperity soon. It was a good visit and included plenty of spicy food.

We went up and did the memorial service for Aunt Betty on Sunday in Santa Fe. I enjoyed the drive up and seeing cousins and so on. But it was draining. Somehow I expected it to be more schmoozy (sorry Betty), but it was definitely about grieving. I had a very awkward conversation with a woman who grew up in Paris but has lived in the U.S. since the late 60s. My mother waved me over so I could speak French and talk Paris with her. That didn’t go so well and I just clammed up. I can think of all sorts of self deprecating ways to smooth it over charmingly now. But in the moment I had nothing. Sorry, Dominique. The next day when I flew out, I found one of my younger cousins on the same flight to Denver. It was nice to talk with her, it made a good ending for me. She is one of my adorable Iranian American cousins who is working on a law degree at Cornell. I think she is going to take over the world once she’s done because she is warm, smart and disarmingly beautiful and I can’t imagine who would dare to stand in her way. Mayors will be handing over keys to cities and so forth.

So obliged

Finishing Emma was just lovely. It provided plenty of charm and delight. Emma Woodhouse as a character is attractive and attractively flawed. She is well intentioned and fairly generous and yet a sinner. She shows determination to improve herself and then laughs at her own backsliding. She is bright and mischievous and admires cutting up in others. Such a contrast to Fanny Price, an almost entirely unattractive heroine. After finishing Emma I was able to read the last chapter of Jane Austen and Food which was devoted to this book because there are more explicit food refs in it than in any other of the novels. And I do recommend Maggie Lane’s book. She ends by describing her own interpretation of the author’s meanings as open to criticism as unproblematic and too cosy. She then discusses the inequities portrayed in the book in more stark terms. I like how she shows she can whip out the social/gender critiques, just in case you thought she couldn’t. And that she is comfortable with her decision to interpret JA as prizing balance and harmony within existing hierarchies. The world of Emma Woodhouse Knightley is a lovely world indeed. If only we could all be beautiful twenty-one year old heiresses with good hearts.

I remember actress Sophie Thompson in the role of Miss Bates in the 1996 film. (I saw the first half in a San Francisco movie theater that went dark in the middle due to a power outage. Don't think I ever saw the end.) It is a wonderful part and her performance stays with me.

I hear there is a Bollywood version of the story going to go into production next spring. Don’t know how long it will take to get to theaters or whether we will hear much about it in the US. But I will be watching out for it; the title so far is Ayesha. It stars the daughter of Anil Kapoor (who will produce it) who I looked up after seeing Slumdog. He's the actor who played the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" host and I loved watching him.

Back to the real world/wreck

Got a letter yesterday from a law firm in our region. It states our mortgage holder’s rights and that they intend to collect the five months we’re overdue. It gave me a shake and I sobbed for a while. I’m going to have Nod call the HUD counseling number listed at the end. I had hoped we could be moving out of this by now. But we are stuck as fast as ever. We can’t pay them anything unless Nod generates some income. Our nest egg has dwindled. But we have enough to move if we need to. Lordy. I realize I need to do some reading on foreclosure and bankruptcy. There’s some unappetizing homework.

P.S. I'm making more chicken tikka masala this weekend.
P.P.S. to Bee: I've started Persuasion. I'm thoroughly enjoying catching up on my Austen for the summer.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Goddammit

Pwnd -- this is a link to a Snopes.com article about the names with "dash" in the middle.

Turns out I have participated in repeating a racist urban myth. No "pronounced dash" trend after all. Sorry for spreading my gullible white sense of superiority there.

As you were, dashed or not.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Comments and Emma tidbits

Why blog commenting is hard. I have been thinking about this because I am a voracious blog reader but an infrequent commenter. Recently Schmutzie asked all readers to post a comment, tell where they were located and answer a question. (It was a great question: What crazy belief did you have as a child?) But instead of making me want to comment, most blog posts inspire me to the following reactions: 1. Whee! You're right and you stated that in a funny way -- I have nothing to add! 2. I think you're wrong but I like your writing. 3. Your life is summoning my pity. Or last but perhaps most frequent: 4. That reminds me of something in my life. Attaboy flattery comments get boring really quick. Goofy jokey responses can be fun or can fall flat, especially considering vastly different senses of humor. Self involved answers can seem selfish and be off topic. (Oh you and your husband both lost your jobs in the same week? That reminds me of my personal financial woes which don't resemble yours, but they're still woes!) If there's an established commenter group that can be intimidating too. Excuses all. Will make an effort and comment on something today.

Gems from Emma
"...and half an hour's uninterrupted communication of all those little matters on which the daily happiness of private life depends, was one of the first gratifications..." So well put, the comforts and joys of female relating. The satisfaction of telling a sympathetic friend all the tiny ups and downs of the day. Something I get from blogging often enough these days. But I'm still hoping to establish a few local friends who like to share these things.

"It was rather too late in the day to set about being simple-minded and ignorant" Ha.

"Human nature is so well disposed towards those who are in interesting situations, that a young person, who either marries or dies, is sure of being kindly spoken of." That phrase 'interesting situations' is wry but the meaning seems warm. A little arch but warm, it's an uncommon combination.

Yesterday's post today!

From Jonniker's comment section for the baby name discussion:

"... my best friend worked in a NICU for awhile, and the best name story she has is the name La-a. The doctor came in and said, “La … a?” And the mother said, “No, it’s pronounced LADASHA.” TRUE. STORY."

Wow. It took me a minute to even get that one. And then there are two more examples of the Pronounced Dash, so it's a whole trend I didn't know about.

Names are the most fun, aren't they? I had a wonderful time arguing with Nod about names while pregnant. We have a daughter Elizabeth in the parallel universe in which the two of us could agree on a nickname for that wonderful name. Damn, I still regret that just a little. There are so many! Betty, Bess, Eliza, Lizzie, Ellie, it just goes on and on. Someone else admitted in those comments that as a high schooler she had wanted to name a baby Skilre (to be pronounced Skyler). She was properly abashed. I have admitted before to having a teenage dalliance with the Elizabeth variant 'Elspeth' which at the time seemed all ancient and magic-y. But now seems just devolved and dorklike.

Cake alert!

Here's what I baked on Wednesday evening.

My variations: I made it with two peaches, peeled and diced instead of the berries. And I used plain yogurt instead of the buttermilk. It was scrumptious. We ate it up for dessert last night and breakfast this morning.

The smitten Deb is pregnant and I figure she went and did that because it's about the only thing that could make this cooking blog more attractive. She's stylish and casual and NY chic. With her fastidious nature she produces pretty pictures and well enunciated cooking instructions.

Off to ABQ this weekend, to visit the relations and say goodbye to my great aunt Betty. She was a lovely person. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Insight!




I love this image. First of all it reminds me of packaging for anti itch cream. Second the graphic artist erred and picked a nonsequitur for the photo. This woman is scheming to win her gin rummy game, not contemplating the future as revealed by the tarot deck. And third I love giant psychic advertising. There's a billboard by the freeway in Albuquerque that I see every time I come in from the airport. "Ask Ava" is the copy with a big spooky face. There's just something about the urgency of big form advertising recommending psychic services that makes me laugh.

Hol Report

Our Missouri jaunt was great fun even though we got a bunch of rain and the 4th fireworks were almost entirely rained out. Robert’s grandson Jared is just a bit older than Katy and the three younger kids had a great time palling around together. Jared is always up for a swim in the pond or a boat ride so he was happy we were there to enjoy those with him. It was too chilly for me to get in the spring fed pond this trip. I have no regrets.

The kids loved it despite the cool temps. Katy specialized in the slide and paddling out on a body board. Lexi stayed at the sandy beach and, as usual, was happiest playing with sand/dirt. Katy enjoyed ordering Jared around (a change of pace from ordering Lexi around). She had him push her out on the board while she scooped up dead tadpoles in a bucket. She called them all “Swimmy” (she thought that was very funny). She pointed to the side and told Jared to steer her thataway toward a dead tadpole. “That one might be... That one’s still alive,” said Jared. “But it’s sick!” returned Katy cheerfully, scooping it up. In between the scooping, Katy made sure to shriek about how gross dead tadpoles were. After collecting the dead (or mostly) tadpoles in the bucket, she left it on the beach and got busy with something else. Soon after I heard Katy howling at her sister. Lexi had offended her by dumping out the Swimmies so she could use the bucket. Funny and yet tiresome all at once.

We’d been told that a neighbor had bought $2,000 worth of fireworks to set off at the boat dock on the 4th. This neighbor is some sort of an heiress who is a river rat. I don’t know if she is known for anything else. There had been lots of rain (and thunder and lightning) the night of the 3rd and through the morning but the forecast was that it would clear for the late afternoon and evening. Robert took us out on the boat around 7p and we enjoyed the view of the rising moon, some fluffy white clouds, swallows, and a pair of roosting bald eagles!! But the clouds were lowering and by the time we’d floated near the eagles, it had started to sprinkle. And then rain, luckily a warm summer rain. Back at the boat dock, the fireworks woman had decided that maybe it would just be a quick shower so she would go ahead with the fireworks that she’d spent a couple of hours setting out. We got out of the boat and it continued to be wet. We sat in the car while she started lighting fuses. And the rain got harder and harder.

When the windows in the car fogged up I rolled them down and told the kids, “Now we may hear some cussing.” Jared told us that he knew all the cuss words already from his teenage sister. He said something about calling people cuss words. He looked at me doubtfully and said, “Can I say one?” Oh yes, one is fine, I said, figuring we were going to have a discussion of ‘shit’ and its variations. Thus advancing my educational agenda. But Jared said “Stupid. It’s not allowed to call people ‘stupid’.” Aww, then he and his parents went up in my estimation.

Nod borrowed a blow torch and tried to help. But even when he got some fuses lit they would get put out by the rain. There was much yelling and laughing to be heard. Finally they got a nice sequence lit and we clapped and whooped (from inside the car). But the sluicing rain finally discouraged even the determined and we gave it up.

Our sweet hosts fed us fresh veggies from their beautiful garden and we lounged on the porch and had the resort experience. Their tomatoes are coming in early. The day we got there Robert discovered a huge tomato had been chewed while still hanging on the vine. It looked like a cartoon apple core, chewed all the way around. We couldn’t agree on which type of critter would do that. And speaking of critters we also saw cardinals, indigo buntings, deer, bunnies and a fox. The frogs and toads were profuse, despite the tadpole body count in the pond. I especially liked the itty bitty toad I saw by the front door one morning. It was the size of the first joint of my thumb.

Oh and speaking of thumbs, Nod received the sacrificial fireworks injury of the holiday. A disintegrating sparkler (of all things) burnt a spot on his thumb. It blistered but didn't require ER and looked much better the next day. I was mildly sympathetic but mostly grateful that none of the kids got hurt.

Tues: I am sleepy and bored this afternoon. This condition could explain my sudden fierce yen for a bowl of red licorice or something sweet to munch. But tasks are being accomplished so I suppose I will keep sipping my rooibos tea and getting things done.

I'm giving up on my Norwegian detective novel. Harry Hole is no Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg if you ask me. Alexandria on the other hand is just as delightful as I had hoped. I recently tried foisting the Aubrey / Maturin books on a coworker. He's working on the first one. It remains to be seen if he'll sign on for the full voyage.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Language

Northanger Abbey was a lovely little read. The narrative voice was charming, very light and spry. I found some notes by Ellen Moody on N.A. that our heroine and hero, Catherine and Henry, are likable because they are "beautifully good natured." How true. The joke is that the author has created a heroine unfit for the overwrought emotions and adventures of a novel. She is healthy, cheerful and her naivety is perfectly appropriate to her seventeen years. Much more enjoyable to read about to my taste than the extremely sensitive and scrupulous Fanny Price.

No ear complaints from Katy yesterday. I do suspect she may have been inflating the degree of pain in her enjoyment of the drama of discomfort. She squeals lately whenever she bumps an extremity. It's a sound that saps all sympathy.

Lexi enjoyed her pizza outing and came home with multiple new tiny rubber animals (25 cent crap vending machines).

My latest fairly pointless parent dilemma: should I teach my kids to cuss? To this point Nod and I have both been very good about keeping our cussing away from the kids. So now I hear Katy hissing Absolutely Not! at her sister when she's mad. Or saying Jeez! And I congratulate myself on that. But on the other hand, I don't want them to be baffled or hurt by cusswords they encounter later. I felt very uncomfortable with the cussing I encountered in junior high and beyond. Then I enjoyed exercising the f word in college. I have thought about listing a few of the top ten words for Katy. Especially after she was asking me what sticking up your middle finger meant. Nah, laziness and the knowledge that they are still little have won for the moment. I will pledge to define as needed in the future.

Speaking of educating the children about dicey topics, I found a good sex ed book at the library: It's So Amazing by Robie Harris. Lexi was asking some anatomy questions and that book had the best pictures of girl parts I could find. Girl parts are a little hard to understand so I appreciate an illustrator who can deal. We've flipped through and read most of the chapters now. My audience was most interested in the hardware for girls and boys and about baby formation.

We're scampering off to Missouri to spend the 4th by the river. It should be a fun getaway, I'm looking forward to it. Laundry and packing are not insurmountable obstacles. Although I've thought of about a dozen errands to do tomorrow morning. Perhaps I should get a few done tonight. Happy summer, all!