Thursday, February 18, 2010

A few

Turn of the century (1900) French shepherds on stilts and knitting too. Fabulous! Now I want to go striding over the countryside on my stilts. Watch out for low bushes and rabbitholes though, that'd be quite a fall.

Late again, I am going to overcome my habitual resistance and acquire some US history. I've decided to memorize the first ten US presidents and their dates in office. It's the time of year when I feel like doing something 'good for me' in the green vegetables sense. No promises that I'll get out of the 19th century.

Despite the sugar monkey on my back I did not get around to celebrating February 15, Half Off Candy Day. But the day after Easter will come in due time.

Am still wriggling in housing uncertainty. We have two places to see (if the spheres align) this weekend. Must decide by end of February. Thank fod for a deadline.

Three things to intrigue or delight. This blog is doin it rite.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Flat cakes

I hear that as an Episcopalian I am supposed to eat pancakes on Shrove/Fat Tuesday. I can do that. It's coming right up -- next Tuesday! But I've started early. Here's the Homesick Texan recipe for gingerbread pancakes. It's from the Magnolia Cafe in Austin, a brunchy landmark. My friend SuzTiki sent me to the Magnolia Cafe once upon a time, and I was glad she did. These are not thin little crepe-y pancakes, they are thick with gingerbread spices and butter built in. (But I couldn't commit to so much cloves and nutmeg, I used a scant 1/2 tsp of each. And I added 1/2 tsp salt.) Go forth and pancake.

This picture was so funny - doesn't she look pleased with herself? - that I had to look up la fete de Ste. Catherine and find out what was up. Turns out that there is a French (and specifically Parisian) tradition of honoring Ste. Catherine and all the Catherinettes on November 25. You are a Catherinette if you are a woman of 25 who is not yet married. You get to wear a crazy hat in green and yellow (thus the wacky picture). And drink a lot with your friends. Here is La Coquette (who must be the most jealousy inducing blogger I can think of with her cute enthusiasm and her American/French fashion career) explaining it nicely.  Oh and while we're in Paris, let's check in with Stuff Parisians Like because Olivier is still writing wry funny posts and his commenters are bubbly too. Salted caramels must be on the way out.

Yesterday the sky cleared. The temp was in the 20s but oh the relief and joy of seeing the great blue again. I picked up the children yesterday which took a long time because it's always best, they feel, to delay our homecoming until everyone is extra tired and hungry. But when finally we got to our door I saw that the sun had not *quite* set. Thank goodness for nitrogen and whatever else it is that makes that sky blue.

One more link to a poem, of all things, entitled "Nine". Nine is one of my favorite numbers and also one of my favorite words so I was intrigued when I saw Language Hat's recommendation. There is some poetry I am fond of but I'm not much of a poetry consumer. I often find it hard to concentrate and my eyes can start to slide off the text, just like when I read history in high school. But I was all aglow after reading the 27 stanzas of "Nine", a very life affirming poem with repeated reference to death and packed with word play. "Zendo cushion run for it go. Long ago Labrador." That's my kind of tongue play. Ptarmigan turtle blast!

Tacky bumper sticker: Divers Do It Deeper. Very stale 70s schwing vibe, no? I wish I'd had a blue sharpie to trim it down to "Divers Do". That is a much more interesting phrase.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


February weekend
Not a magical phrase. I've floated back up from a brief dip into the winter blues pulled down even deeper by foreclosure failure anxiety. Those phenomena are still here but I am not taking them so personally now. I am glad to be back. I haven't seen any snowdrops but I could see the buds at the ends of tree branches last week. That reminds me I should cut back the roses now. February will not last forever.

It took all weekend to complete the preparatory steps (because not having the gumption to go to the grocery store is one of my depression indicators) but Sunday evening I finally roasted a chicken and potatoes. That bird was just as salty, golden, crispy and delicious as I was hoping. The potatoes were not as lemony as last time. Note: poke more holes in the protruding end of the lemon.

Bad *and* Ugly
Visited three rentals two of which smelled of mildew. The brisk dripping of water from the ceiling by the entrance explained that in the first house. Another house featured a washer and dryer that had somehow been wedged behind a toilet and sink making them 1) an eyesore 2) only partially usable as the front-opening dryer door couldn't open all the way and what, did they stand on the toilet to load the washer?? 3) not removable by civilians. Decided that my husband and I are too old to live in any of these places.

The search continues. We may get to see a property this weekend, depending on the availability of the landlords. I am tempted to pin all my hopes on this little house. Such a pig in a poke, I have no idea what its condition is and I am sternly trying to lecture the wild hope out of myself. But it's in such a good location... Back to work I go, winnowing the Craigslist ads.

Is it possible to put a bunkbed genie back into the bottle? By dint of determined whining and finally covert disassembly of the two beds, Katy convinced us to set up their beds as bunkbeds. This was over my faint objections. Because I am lazy and do not wish to do any climbing in order to change the occasionally wet sheets. What I did not expect was that I have not slept through the night since. Even if she wakes up in time to go to the bathroom, K calls out for an escort as she gets down the ladder. So it's *my* turn to whine. This is taking the edge off my parental scheming powers. How do I undo this? Would the children's howling if we rescind the bunkbeds be worse than interrupted sleep? I'm having a hard time weighing these evils with my diminished capacity.

Misread newspaper headline: Local bitterness report. That might be interesting to know. Is bitterness going up or down? Is the big city more bitter than the small city?

--Bunkbed update. I told Katy last night about how I hadn't slept well since the onset of bunkbeds and how I didn't know if it could last. I told her to try and get herself to the bathroom without calling me. And she did. Of course then Lexi woke me up to pull up the covers she had kicked off. So I haven't really enjoyed any unbroken sleep yet. But still, it's progress.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Late Luck

From boingboing:
In Japan, February 3rd is Setsubun no hi. Technically the day symbolizes the first day of spring, but this year, with snow from Monday night still lingering on rooftops, it hardly felt like it. Most of us who grew up here think of Setsubun simply as the annual bean-throwing festival. It's a sort of follow up to New Years — to bring good luck in and keep bad luck out, we throw roasted soybeans inside and out while reciting the mantra: "Oniwa soto! Fukuwa uchi!" or, Demons out! Good luck in! After the ceremony, everyone gets to eat the same number of soybeans as his or her own age.
I am late this year, but I am going to practice the chant. It's a good idea to shoo those demons out regularly. I have some edamame in the freezer. I'm sure I can eat at least 42.

My father brought home an oni mask from Okinawa. (A bit like these but with a longer nose.) Made of painted plaster, it was too heavy to wear, I'm pretty sure it was just made to decorate the wall. (My mother allowed it to be hung on a home office wall but it was not prominently displayed in our home.) It was red and had fangs and a big old nose. I read now that it's a tengu mask. The tengu is a birdman demon (but it sounds like a friendly demon, which has me confused) mixed up with the story of Buddhist hermit monks who lived alone in the mountains. And then there's the fertility aspect of the big dong nose. And that there is a different symbol set than the one I grew up with.

I have started to re read Jane Eyre twice now. But I am finding our Jane's hard start in life discouraging. I don't know whether I have the stomach for what's coming: miserable school and chillblains and the stolen egg. Maybe I'll try a different classic instead. I'm also reading Sea of Poppies which reminds me of a Patrick O'Brien novel crossed with a history of the British opium trade in China. Plus Indian characters' points of view. It's good stuff.

Ancient of Entries
"Blogging is for old people." Embracing my maturity, I am proud to have an attention span. According to that study, anyone under 26 is texting, no tweeting or blogging for those younguns. I am curious to see what happens with texting over the next five to ten years. It seems simultaneously very useful, very distracting and very awkward. I will guess that it stays on the scene but evolves. Or will it be overtaken by some other technology?

Katy keeps getting mine. She's had that ability since she was fourteen months old. Last night I was not at my most diplomatic and a homework session had us complaining at each other. There were raised voices but we quit before the screaming and slamming of doors. The intensity of her negative expressions galls me in some particular way. I need to get a handle on that. Because yelling at my children because they're grumpy or rude isn't going to help. Katy was extra tired last night and once I realized that it helped me not be so reactive. A field trip to the Kansas History Museum in Topeka can exhaust a kid.

Tomorrow we are going to go around with a real estate person and look at rentals. (As it's been whirling down all day I guess we'll do it in plenty of snow. It changed from rain to snow this morning at about 7am and the snow just poured down. It was beautiful. And slippy getting to work.) We've gotten word that the mortgage holder is not moving quickly and there has been no sheriff's sale yet. So we have at least another month in the house if we want it. Both Nod and I are ready to sign on for a new place. But he is still more willing to leave the school district than I. So I am reading the listings to see if we can find something workable in our current neighborhood. I'm going to keep trying and not get discouraged. Even if I don't find anything at least I will know that I tried.