Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Bear-shaped Eileen tells about a phenom I haven't encountered yet as I do not read much in Spanish. I can pick out useful nouns but am not a speaker or a reader. She observes that in online communication (texting, etc) @ can be used as an inclusive ending to indicate both the masculine 'o' and the feminine 'a' endings. Cool!

I have used up all the butter in the house. This seems like an excellent indicator that the holidays are about over. It's on the grocery list but I hope we won't be consuming it at the same rate. The penultimate 6T of butter went into some Indian Pudding Muffins that were delicious despite my scorching them on the bottom. A link to the library book I found the recipe in is to come. So far Bun has made apple oatmeal muffins in her tiny muffin pan. She likes the itty muffin pan and the pig whisk just as well as I had hoped.

MIL's visit is done. It was good to have her with us for Christmas. The last few days were harder, I felt like we should have had some more structured activities. Much of Nod's anger over childhood experiences has abated. Selfishly, that is a relief to me. We talked about his emo-rating of this visit and he agreed with my observation that he seemed less angry, more irritated. He helped her call the airlines to straighten out the tickets to Crete that had to be deferred because of health crises last year. He hated doing that but seriously, one has to help one's almost-deaf mother wrangle with corporations. Despite his grouchiness he made progress and there is a possibility that we will be able to leave the day after the girls get out of school in May. I am a leetle bit excited. 

The car had a pronounced shimmy after the tires got patched. We took it in to have that and the expected rear axle repair done. I like Jake the repair guy. We need to buy four more tires which I also expected. Nod says that can wait until we've paid some Christmas bills. I am going to put it on the calendar to get the tires ordered by Jan. 10. I want to be free to hit the highway when the spirit takes me.

Explore is my one word new year's resolution. I can hardly lose with that. Many good wishes for peace and discovery to all.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Puny or

The best explanation I could find of why we say someone is looking peak|ed when they are unwell. You can skim past the 'humorous' intro paragraphs or just read the important bit here:
The full definition in the OED, to which I alluded earlier, gives a clue to the logic of this “peaked”: “Sharp-featured, thin, pinched, as from illness or undernourishment; sickly looking.” And there’s your answer. We refer to a sickly-looking person as “peaked” because illness frequently causes weight loss and a haggard, wasted appearance resulting in “sharp” (i.e., bony) facial features, making the nose, chin, etc., appear to end in sharp points (“It seemed as if my aunt might have gone on for ever, getting a little dryer and her face more peakit, as the years went by,” 1914). ...In general use, in fact, a person exhibiting nothing more than a sickly demeanor or a bilious aura is also often described as “peaked” (“Bill looked a bit peaked after his third helping of clams”).
... Incidentally, this “peaked” is, in the US, frequently pronounced in two distinct syllables (“peek-ed”)...
I had been wondering why that word was used. Now I will just have to wonder why we pronounced it in two syllables. Another obsolete word encased in idiomatic amber. All this was started when my co worker went home sick today. Knocking my desk and hoping to skip that for now.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cat's mother

Best comment read today:
This reminds me of an old Kentucky expression: “I wouldn’t know him from Adam’s housecat.” 
From a discussion on Language Hat about the politeness of referring to people present in the room by their names and/or titles and not by a 3rd person pronoun. In correction a parent might say, "Who's 'she'? The cat's mother?" This seems very old and creaky to me but the comments indicate that it lives on in some corners of the globe. I wasn't raised with this specific injunction. "Adam's off-ox" is also referenced in the comments. What a nice menagerie.

I haven't any pictures to post showing our Christmas pajamas and rumpled hair. Despite the lack of photographic evidence, we were a happy crew and well fed of course. I have a headache today as though I'd been tippling all Christmas day. This is very unfair as I drank exactly one glass of wine with my lunch (that I cooked). I'm left with the feeling that my husband needs a toy, he received the gifts he asked for which were all very manly and practical and mostly job related. Luckily he gave wonderful toys to the rest of us. And he likes to play with the ones Kat and Bun got (remote controlled helicopter and build-yr-own marble maze).

Monday, December 23, 2013

Dark and Light

Solstice was observed and candles were lit. The ice storm that night was pretty definitive in its own way. I like the thought of the year swiveling on its hinge on that long night.

My Friday night scurrying was rewarded by being able to stay in most of the weekend. Sunday's pageant dress rehearsal was cancelled. I was sorry because a) Lexi's donkey ears and tail have been improved and I am vain about my craftiness, b) I haven't yet picked up my plum pudding from the church ladies. The pageant is tomorrow, Christmas Eve. We'll pick up my MIL at the airport in the afternoon and get back in time. Katy is not singing with the children's choir and so is not in the pageant for the first year in a long time. It's interesting to experience it with one kid being lead donkey and one being the cool middle school observer.

Lightly working today and finishing up. I would like to get to the part where I can put my feet up and have a glass of wine and enjoy the glowing Christmas tree. Seems like there are hoops to jump before that.

Our dog is not enjoying doing her business in the snow. The morning after we got three inches on top of ice she stood on the porch staring for a bit before venturing out. Here's to melting soon for the comfort of dogs.

I accepted another pet sitting task on behalf of the kids. They are watching two little dogs that are crated when no one is home. I am worried about us spending enough time over there. But whatever we manage, at least it's better than boarding them. Their people will be back Thursday night. I figure it'll make the kids *really* happy to be able to sleep in for the rest of their vacation.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


My efforts at removing the accumulated items on our living room floor have been very successful. There is still a big box I'd like someone else to take down to the basement. We still need a place to put our afghans (besides the floor where the dog makes them into dog beds). Perhaps a large bag... I brought up a card table for the tree and another chair and we still have more floor space than before. I win. Got a 4' tree with some green dye and poky needles. But the smell is first rate and it cost less than $20. Nod and I tried to collaborate on getting it into the tree stand. We failed and he stamped off to take the dog to the off-leash park. Which is about the most constructive temper tantrum one could have. I had some food and drink and looked at the tree and fiddled with it. Found the problem was a low branch that was keeping it from seating all the way down into the holder. I got out the hacksaw and solved the problem. I was very proud of myself.

In November I hung up some autumn leaves by threads from the ceiling. This put the cat on alert, she stared at those things for hours. I enjoyed putting them up. And then I was tired of them. I'm ready for the next thing! So I have cut snowflakes and ironed them and strung them with some sequins and I am thrilled with the result. I only have two strings up so far. I'll try to get a photo after I finish them all. Crafty joy.

I stayed home sick Tuesday. I wrapped presents and received several package deliveries. It was hard to make myself rest. Finally at 2:30 I resolved to spend the next two hours in bed whether I slept or not. I had to write down my to do list in order to lie down. It was good I insisted. Got up feeling much better, had a shower, cooked broth and dumplings with kale (big win), and took the kids shopping. Back in business.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Displacement activity

Today's phrase is "painting doorknobs" from Julia's blog. Here's her post about preparing for a holiday party. That one and the follow up post have wonderful comments appended. It seems that lots of women have tales of their husband's odd party-prep behavior. Like raking leaves instead of making sure the house and the food are ready for guests. One of the commenters even admits to such behavior. I'm glad because it is my modus operandi. Under pressure, I would much rather color coordinate my sock drawer than make the living room presentable.

As a matter of fact we're not doing too well on the living room front at the moment. I think I will take drastic action and get out a tarp and put all the small movable objects on the living room floor into it and then bundle it into the basement. Cue maniacal laughter.

Assuming the tarp idea produces results, I want to obtain a tree this weekend. That plan also assumes that our cars are cooperating. The Dreadnought needs its front tires patched. The Maroonbaru could use an oil change and new wiper arms. I am doing a certain amount of denial about these tasks. I've abandoned Dreadnought when its tires got too low earlier this week and have been driving the Maroonbaru. I'm just bad at using a tire gauge. Am I not pressing firmly enough? Am I trying to measure when it's too low? I don't know what the source of my ineptitude is but I respect it. I wanted to buy two new tires for the front but I found out that 4-wheel drive means that you get 4 tires at a time, not 2. So I've come around to the idea we should patch if possible. The Maroonbaru is drivable but old and thrashed. The driver's seat is entirely compressed and getting in is a definite descent. The wiper blades are shot and at least one of the front wiper arms is rusted out and barely attached. The dome light doesn't come on when the front doors are opened. The headlights are pretty dim. But by damn it does fine for my 10 minute commute.

Here's the champagne punch recipe! Isn't that pretty? I remembered the cranberry and lime syrup but forgot the ginger beer. I'd still like to try...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Kymm Zuckert is now posting movie reviews at All Things Girl. I will have to poke about and see if there is anything else on that site I want to read. But even if not, big happy thumbs up to them, for giving Kymm an outlet for her very personal take on pop culture. She recaps the Oscars and the Emmys and the Tonys every year and is always sidesplitting. She has fervent enthusiasm for good acting and writing and entertainment of all stripes and brow heights. I used to read her blog and her livejournal and even her facebook page for the minutiae of her dog-walking gig, her Christmas rituals with her Mom and any off-off-Broadway productions she was performing in, teching for or producing. A world where I can read Kymm is a good world. Here's her take on watching this year's Tony Awards show. Happy sigh.

==recipe placeholder==
Easy Enchilada Casserole
9 corn tortillas
1.5 lbs ground beef
1/2 cup diced onion
1 cup sour cream
1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small can el pato tomato sauce
1/2 cup black beans
1 teaspoon cumin plus 1/2 teaspoon
1 tablespoon chili powder plus 1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon garlic powder, divided
Salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
First, prepare your sauce. Just warm the tomatoes and the el pato sauce over low heat with 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon chili powder, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, with a dash of salt and pepper.
Brown your ground beef with the onion, drain off the sauce, and add the spices. Add more if you like your taco meat zesty. I make mine fairly mild so the kiddo will eat it and ask people to add hot sauce if they desire a spicier version. Add 1/2 cup of water and simmer the mixture down so that everything is well-coated but not runny.
Put a couple of tablespoons of it in the bottom of a 9 by 11 casserole dish. Then dip your tortillas in the sauce and make a layer of them on the bottom of the dish. I did two whole and then ripped one in half to fill in the gaps.
Layer on 1/3 cup sour cream, 1/2 the meat, 1/4 cup black beans, sprinkle with cheddar cheese and 1/3 of the sauce. Repeat. Then add one more layer of tortillas, sour cream, sauce, and cheese to the top, and bake for 15 minutes. Cover the dish for 8 or so minutes to avoid burning the cheese on top.
Serve with chips and a simple side salad.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Sing, Sang, Sung

We caroled and quaffed and it was good. I do feel more Christmas-y now. It is just about as much party as I am comfortable hosting:  cheese and crackers and something to drink. Nod did well getting xmas lights up in and outside and notifying people via FB and not freaking the eff out about What If Nobody Comes?! We had one guest who arrived and seemed put out that the singing did not start at 6:00pm sharp. But he was an outlier and everyone else was much more relaxed. I did not make champagne punch because a) I cannot find the recipe I copied out, b) it was less work to make spiced cider and buy a bottle of Sailor Jerry for spiking than to make an alcoholic punch and a non-alcoholic punch. The cider was good local apple cider plus lemon and orange juice a couple of cinnamon sticks and a few cloves in the crockpot. Easy as pie. Other folks brought bread pudding, cookies, Bailey's, beer and homemade slivovitz. I like the idea of slivovitz but I find the actual drink pretty medicinal.

Today at work I have hit a happy medium. I am warm enough at my desk, hallelujah. I found my nicer wool blend cardigan and am wearing it over a 3/4 sleeve knit shirt. It's a balancing act being warm enough without ending up sweaty. I've retired my old cardigan that was all pilly and slightly too small. It's in the trash without its sleeves which I have made into wrist warmers. I feel warm and triumphant!

Our dog is doing well in the wintery temps and snow. She has not demanded lots of walking although she's willing if we are. A subfreezing temperature makes picking up dog poop more bearable. She's also been busy shedding and I find that black dog hair that is visible on the carpeting is making us vacuum more often than the light colored cat hair that we can't see on the carpet.

Both girls are playing Silver Bells on the piano this year. We've heard it a few times in our house. (Every day for weeks.) I still like the song and am trying to learn the harmony. It comes from a Bob Hope movie called The Lemon Drop Kid. I am quite disappointed that our library doesn't have a copy. Isn't it the responsibility of the public library to own all obscure Bob Hope films?

Just heard a radio piece on the one year anniversary of the Newtown massacre. When a parent spoke about what they would do to mark the day I had to turn it off or I would just sit and cry.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Cold, gifts, books

We made it to 20 degrees Fahrenheit today which is a degree or two more than what was forecast. It's actively unpleasant to be outside. If the wind stops it's better but still no picnic. Tomorrow is the horse-drawn wagon Christmas parade. I think we're going to miss it, for the first time since we've been in town. It's funny how sincerely I am wishing that the high would be in the 30s, that would be so much more bearable.

Kat's season of footwear has begun. The snowboots I ordered for her have arrived. She loves them and I think they will be very warm so that's good. They're big on her and that is a good thing for longevity but I hope the shoes and boots of Christmas do not all fall off her. Damned either way I guess, I have to buy big for kids.

Delivered gifts for two kids to church today. Waited until the last minute of course and finished the shopping last night. Now for the family who will need gifts. I had better make a list. This puzzle looks fun but it also looks like a big hunk of plastic.

I'm reading another Jeannette Walls book, Half Broke Horses. It's going down much easier than The Glass Castle did. I like her writing voice very much, it was my favorite thing about Glass Castle too. The Rook was good entertainment. Now the only trouble is that he's set up the sequel but it isn't published yet, not even a title is out.

Our caroling party is tomorrow night. I have to make my cranberry lime syrup tonight for the champagne punch!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Prime Roasting Age

I have hit my turkey roasting prime. I can cook one without stressing out and the results are delicious. I was right about the turkey wings, they *were* the best part. Salty from the dry brine, golden and crispy. Three of us eat turkey and have eaten a great deal of this 13 pounder. I have frozen the remainder and green chile stew is on the horizon. Only two of us will eat that because it will be too spicy for Bun.

The girls thought we should eat off china and silver and they were right. I'm so glad to have them around to get excited about those things. By table setting time I was ready to settle for the plain old plates. Good to have a push to get out the special stuff.

After our feast we trundled off to see a friend in the country who hosts a houseful every Thanksgiving. We don't know her family well so it's a little odd to rattle around with the multitudes and only interact with the one person. Still it was a good outing. Nod had been feeling sick earlier in the day so I was pleasantly surprised that he could manage some mild socializing. The girls found cookies and whipped cream and eventually Bun told me that even though she wanted another cookie she could not eat another bite. I drank coffee so Nod could try the home brew. I love coffee.

Kat's pet sitting gigs worked out well. She conscientiously checked off each feeding/walking on her list. And gloated a bit about her sudden income. I'll help her open a bank account with the dollars. She's got somebody re-upping for Christmas already. I told her this is a good job for her because it combines two of her favorite things, animals and making lists.

The girls are getting shoes for Christmas. Other things too. Between the grandmas and me, Kat's getting 3 pairs. And she will still need sneakers. Hm.

Pasting a link to the King Arthur Flour recipe for Lebkuchen recommended by Gingerbread Snowflakes. I love that they have a button on the page if you want to "CHAT WITH A BAKER"!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Applesauce Therapy

I had some sort of fast moving digestional upset yesterday evening. Luckily it hit after work and I was able to hobble around and then go to bed early. Before collapsing for the day I cut up and peeled all our mealy little Rome apples and made applesauce. It was heavenly. Those crappy little apples were transformed by saucification with a bit of coriander, ginger and cinnamon. No sugar needed. Guts better today and now I just wish I had more applesauce.

I have a turkey. I have a pumpkin. I have cranberries. Nod is waffling on where he wants to consume these things. I will tell him to buy the good wine and then I will cook for him. He only has Thursday off. I am taking Weds to be with the kids and get Th and Fr as holidays.

Got my crown installed yesterday. They color matched my teeth very well, yellowed ivory. I will schedule the next one in the early spring after I've forgotten this one.

I have been getting cold at work and have decided it's time to knit myself some half gloves. Or maybe find some nice wool blend socks to cut holes in. That'd be quicker.

In case I didn't mention them: Thor, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Ruth Downie's ancient Roman murder mysteries, all thumbs up experiences.

Friday, November 15, 2013


Tiptoeing through some Thanksgiving recipes. Carefully avoiding making a practical plan for the holiday (maybe this weekend). Here is The Bitten Word guys' Sweet Potato Cake with Marshmallow Frosting. That looks incredible and also appeals because I have a large amount of sweet potatoes in the pantry. Here is their Mexican Chocolate Tart from 2010 which I would like to eat now, please. With the almond extract and the cinnamon it wouldn't be the thing for my husband who has very traditional chocolate pie desires. Like this I think, and now I want to make one of those. I like turkey too but at the moment I wish I could just buy a big pile of turkey wings and roast those. It would look a little funny on the serving platter but it would taste good. I don't suppose anyone wants to buy their roasting bird without wings.

This weekend will be for birthday party planning for Kat. The 12 year old sleepover is a week from tonight. Eeek. Must plan timeline, food stuffs and extra entertainment options. Must get bday present too. That's easy because Kat cut all her hair off and is now favoring dangling earrings. I can find some of those.

We may all go see Thor this weekend. I get the impression that reviews are B-. Per Rotten Tomatoes it's edging out Bad Grandpa, I'll take it! I'm glad that CHems gets to deflate now. Looks like I should go see Enough Said before it leaves our downtown theater. Julia LD, what can't she do?

Dinner recipe bulletin board:
Red Lentil Thai Chile (with coconut milk and red curry paste!)
Turkey Black Bean Chile (with cocoa powder)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Out and about

Back from downtown Chicago and no, I didn't see Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. Darn. Nevertheless I enjoyed my brief sojourn among the skyscrapers. Loved this public art project on State St. I just saw it on my shuttle ride in so I didn't know it made noise, not sure it needs to. The lights look a bit like stylized cattails and the frosted glass makes the colors soft. The conference was a good opportunity and I don't think I did it justice. I have a hard time being a committed conference participant. I attend presentations and events but I rarely put myself forward to make new contacts. Heard that the river tour was chilly this time of year. I would love to go back with the fam in a warmer month. I took myself out to see the bean in Millennium Park. Got to ride the El and had to ask a ridiculously nice ticket office person to show me how to use my ticket. (I watched the real commuters but they all had cards that they scanned, rather than my $5 paper ticket that had to go in a slot. Badoomboom!) Bought some decadent chocolate raspberry cake at a French cafe/bakery. So glad my colleague had a birthday to provoke such behavior.

That's me in the pink jacket giving centerstage to the pigeons.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Still chewing on JB and his wizened, flinty, ass-kicking ways. I wonder what his scriptural basis for opposing slavery was? The book hasn't discussed that. Probably partially because it was assumed and partially because the author isn't interested in biblical justification. But he tells how JB referred often to Gideon and the Gileadites, some of those Old Testament warriors who had jwh on their side. The OT seems like it would agree with JB's basic personality type. Yet there was plenty of slavery in the OT. JB visited former slaves and freedmen and invited them to this home. He seemed to treat them with more respect than most of his fellow mid 19th century white folk including other abolitionists. I wonder if JB's anachronistic belief in the equality of all men regardless of skin color comes from the NT message that in Christ there is no Jew nor gentile, no slave nor free? Is it that simple? Perhaps I can find a book written on this subject but what I'd really like is a short essay.

On beyond pizza at home, here's CN's pasta for a crowd with crock pot tomato sauce recipe. Looks easy. Score!  http://benandbirdy.blogspot.com/2013/10/perfect-pasta-for-crowd.html

New name of wonder:  Shamoil Shipchandler, first name pronounced shame-oil. Heard a reference to them on Morning Edition and can't stop saying that name.

I received a postcard yesterday from my college friend who still likes to correspond via the mail. He made the postcard out of cardboard from a catfood box, a crow's feather and packing tape. I'm delighted to see that he liked my feathers and packing tape craft idea. It's so much fun to be mirrored and have someone else find amusement in my amusing thing. JLew is planning a wedding to his wonderful Jason in San Francisco, possibly for next July. I'm happy for him and also hope the party planning doesn't overstress them. Hellwiththat, I will raise a glass in anticipation of a good nuptials fiesta.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

John Brown

I'm reading Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War by Horowitz. I now have a much better understanding of the battle of Black Jack. It happened near here five years before the start of the civil war. Mean old John Brown felt called to resist the institution of slavery with violence and all the squishy eastern abolitionists had a use for him even if they found him distasteful or were ambivalent about his methods. Here, they said, have some guns. This book tells that pro-slavery forces mostly from Missouri (they were handy) but also from other southern states were raiding, assaulting and had killed a few anti-slavery settlers without significant resistance until JB came along. He not only resisted, he went out on his own raids and killed pro-slavery settlers. Knocked on their doors and took them out to cut them down in the road. A ghastly retaliation that made some of JB's followers/henchmen (mostly his sons and sons-in-law) sick and sad. I'm surprised at how readable this book is. Does that mean I need to fact check? So far it feels informative and well balanced.

I finished HP and the Sorceror's Stone which was very good October comfort reading. Am trying not to start murder mysteries that I won't want to finish. It's hard to give up on the whole genre.

The neighborhood community is hosting a Halloween party on Sunday afternoon for the kids. I'm going to bake cookies for them to decorate. 4 dozen or so and frosting in two or three shades. I'm happy doing that (with my girls' help, bien sur) rather than doing crowd control during the event. Kat will help with the kid herding since she's good at that.

Bun's Perry the Platypus costume still needs a duckbill but I found a good homemade scheme. We'll make some feet flaps out of the craft foam too. She's already cut a tail out of cardboard and wants to paint it. Painting seems like unnecessary extra effort to me. Bun and her dad will do that part. Turquoise gloves occurred to me but it's hard to do things with gloves on so I'll let that go. We'll pin her hair up under the hat. Kat may paint Bun's face blue but I hope not. Kat's got most of her gypsy fortuneteller costume together. I think she still needs a psychic accessory (crystal ball, cards, magic-8 ball?). Nod suggested that she dye her hair black last night and I vigorously vetoed. I am uncomfortable with 'gypsy' as a costume and trying to be swarthy really sets me off. Plus dying her blonde hair black might have weird color consequences for weeks afterwards.

I've just been given two 24" monitors at work. They get bigger and bigger and bigger. I've gotten used to working on both screens, my team uses so many applications that it's nice to have the real estate to stash everything without it all being behind the scenes. I do wonder where this will all lead.

I must try the lazy pizza recipe from Smitten right away. Though th500° oven temp is spooking me. Deb mentions Orangette at the end and you should probably read her recent posts about pear clafoutis and the women's writing retreat on Whidbey Island. We have friends who moved to the Island last spring and I have heard about it since the early '90s. Must get to the west WA coast before another decade passes.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Humph. Waiting for rain today and hoping that when it starts my headache will be gone. This cold is a slight thing, no suffering to speak of until the sinus pain this morning. Sounds like it's (a good excuse for/)time for chicken soup and a hot toddy. I don't actually know if I like hot toddys but I like the idea of them. Maybe with honey instead of sugar. This digression reminds me of Auntie Mame pronouncing the secret to her host's daquiris with a shudder, "It must be... honey."

Many things to remember for today and this weekend. Youngest can go to archery tomorrow if we give $4 and permission slip to her leader today. No idea if she wants to do archery. Big sis says she will so I guess I'll email scout leader. K needs to do science homework and prep for test on Monday. L sings at church on Sunday.

Rain started and it's sleety, temps in lower 40s. Am going to scurry and pick up kids after school. If I'd sent youngest out in waterproof winter coat and boots I'd let her tough it. Or so I tell myself.

That cat is not mine, it is from Cute Overload. Makes me laugh and is the correct season.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Have decided to read the word "evangelicals" as evangelicats" from now on.

Saw many colorful hot air balloons fly in ABQ last week. On our last day we watched a couple go over my mom's house and then land in a field down the way. Good landings, must have been good pilots.

Got a call that by taking my child out of school for 5 days I've triggered a school district letter warning me of excessive school absences. Oh well.

Have some homework of my own to do, downloading our balloon pictures and finding the most delicious eye candy.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Thank you to the Go Fug Yourself wimmen for letting me know that filming of Into The Woods is underway. Anna Kendrick is Cinderella and ol' Meryl is The Witch. Humming now.

This Belgian window pumpkin that Waffle featured on her blog looks remarkably like a pig's butt.

Which reminds me of the butts song from Bob's Burgers that we saw last night. Here's a list of Bob's Burgers songs: these all look good, and I haven't seen any of those episodes yet. The Capoeira episode is my favorite so far.

I am emphatically hormonal at the moment. I snapped at all three of my nuclear family members on Monday evening. I cried at the 12 y.o. pianist story on NPR yesterday and my boobs hurt all day long. I sniffled after screwing up at work today. I want to spend the rest of the afternoon sighing and eating chocolate. But I'll be brewing a cup of tea and getting through what needs to be done here. A week of vacation next week plus no coworkers on site means no frivolous vacation hours for me this week. Grrrr. The grudgingly admitted upside is that I'll get through with all this before I travel.

Have been trying to enunciate to myself the nature of hormonally skewed thinking that I experience. I would like to communicate this to my daughters who will experience something similar at some time in their lives. I'd like to let them know to distrust absolutist awful thoughts. Sometimes I feel especially ugly and unworthy. Sometimes I feel that doom is hanging over me and soon the worst will happen (no idea what that would be, this doom stuff is very nonspecific). Sometimes I feel that other people are going out of their way to make me angry. Once I could recognize these as temporary emotional weather conditions I felt much less caught up in them. Oh that, it'll blow over.

Yes, even on beyond my cranky state in general,  I am disgusted by my government at the moment. There's so much to loathe: posturing, the statements that mean exactly the opposite of the words in them, the refusal to do any damn work. It's not just the Republicans. I'd like to see the budgeting credentials of every national politician from now on. Can you draft a budget? Can you compromise on a budget? Have you enacted a budget? Have you reviewed a past budget with actual income/expenses? I'll take a home budget, this doesn't have to be for an entire state. But I want to see some evidence of the ability to a) effectively communicate during this process and b) bring it to a conclusion. Here's a good expression of my attitude toward the reaction to the new health care insurance law. Fah!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Champagne Coffee or Pumpkin Cake

I am the hasty recommender. Here's a wonderful bit from Bizarre Victoria which seems to be a blog by a history grad student (no doubt I could read the 'about' section but then where would the mystery go?!):

Just a quick one today. I found this story in Barbara Holland's The Joy of Drinking.

"Frederick the Great of Prussia, in the eighteenth century . . . always drank seven or eight cups of coffee for breakfast, but he brewed it with champagne instead of water" (124).

That sounds just nasty. But I guess if you need to be really fast and really drunk at the same time, that's the way to do it.

This makes me laugh. 

From the frighteningly enthusiastic autumn lover, Unemployed Lawyer Mom, a link to a recipe for pumpkin yogurt cake which needs to be on my plate now.

Monday, September 23, 2013


Best blog bit of the day from the Reluctant Launderess:

At this point a mouse dashed across the bedroom floor, giving me a fucking heart attack. I tell you, it’s non-stop wildlife in these parts. Once I had regained my composure, and climbed, acrobat-like, from the bed to the hall (without touching the floor), I went in search of the Boy who picked up the dish-brush and announced, in a very serious voice: “Leave it to me, Lady.” Well he upended every piece of furniture in my room, but no sign of our furry friend, until – SQUEAK! – there it was ON TOP OF THE CURTAIN... The Boy picked up my shoe and flung it at it, whereupon it jumped down – I think I’m going to vomit just thinking about it – and scuttled out of the room, down the half-stairs, into the Boy’s room. The Boy WHOOPED for joy, legged after it, and disappeared into his room, slamming the door behind him. I have seen neither the Boy nor the mouse since, but there’s a Godawful racket coming from up there. (Update: The mouse has, so far, escaped. The Boy has just left the kitchen with a block of cheese. “I have a plan”, he tells me.

The "cunning" before "plan" is silent.

Monday, September 9, 2013


From metafilter and the rest of the intertubes.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Smaller, Doggy, Cosy

I have drifted down to a more acceptable number on the scale over the course of the summer. My waistbands are no longer strained and I feel better about my general physical manifestation. Sunlight, fresh produce and getting off the couch more often have all helped. It seems that I've also finished growing my bangs out and am no longer threatening to cut it all off so I can see out. It's not a style revolution but I'm enjoying it so far. Belly droop, dark circles under my eyes, the semi regular acne and so on are still with me. But damn it's good to be able to move and to have most of the parts working as advertised. I find myself mildly resentful at being in my late forties. I suppose I should try to enjoy them as the numbers only get more and more unlikely sounding.

This critter has come to live with us. She is happy to see you.

She is a very easy customer, her only shortcomings seem to be chewing on pencils/markers/popsicle sticks left on the floor, frequently infected ears and a lack of interest in retrieving a ball. She's half lab (thus the cute baby lab face) and half something short giving her a long torso and stubby legs. The Humane Soc. thought the other half was bassett hound but the vet says that doesn't match up with her feet, coat and tail shapes. Maybe corgi?

She had the name Hettie at the Humane Society but none of us liked that so we've clept her Snickers short for Snickerdoodle. It was the only one we could all four settle on (there was a campaign for Mickey or Minnie and our neighbor suggested Stubbs, heh.)

The dog also likes to get on the couch when we're out but I don't blame her for that. I just barricade it when I remember. We haven't heard her bark yet. She'll whine if someone leaves the house and yip if Zing connects with a claw but overall a very quiet dog. When we brought the dog home the cat went sideways, fluffed up, arched and hissed for a few days. She got absolutely no response from Snickers who avoids cats. Z has relaxed now that it's been a couple of weeks and will now occasionally go up and sniff S without attack. She only arches and hisses if surprised. Not fast friends but I'll take a general state of toleration.

I am working on delegating and telling the other family members (the ones that wanted a dog for years) to do the doggie things that need to be done. I've told them they'll be putting on boots and taking el perro out in the rain/sleet/snow. (That reminds me: the kids need boots.) I had trouble sleeping the first couple of nights wondering if she'd bark or whine or need to go out. No troubles, she sleeps through the night shut in Katy's room so the cat can have the run of the house. So far so good.

I picked up a murder mystery on some sort of blog recommendation: Cold Granite by Stuart MacBride. I didn't have a good feeling about it and finally read the first couple pages last night. It starts with a killer's reflection on the beautiful purity of dead things. I've certainly read such things before but at the moment it's not for me, I'll be returning it forthwith. I enjoyed the very cosy Quebecois mystery Still Life by Louise Penny. I can't quite buy the psychology now that I've gotten to the end but that's my general problem with mysteries these day. And that is some high quality Canadian cosy right there. I'm chewing my way through Scott Lynch's Red Seas Under Red Skies. It is taking more effort that it should. I may have to jump ship.

Saw The World's End last weekend with some friends. I was hoping for some after flick rehashing but it was not to be. The movie was fun but not one of the ages. The best bits were the skyhigh embarrassment when 1) Gary proves to his friends how he has not let go of his high school days and 2) Gary tells the kid at the urinal how the old gang is out on the town and he could come along with them. I liked the therapy circle beginning too. Oh and did you know that every British movie is contractually obligated to have Bill Nighy in it? Shaun of the Dead is still the best one.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

At the brink

It's been a good start of the school year for both my girls. Today was the first day they left it until morning to make their lunches. I plan to campaign for the evening lunch prep, it makes mornings much less rushed.

Everyone likes their teachers. Kat has at least eight of them so that's saying something. She says she's not sure about the science and gym teachers but still a grand majority get her seal of approval. We staggered through her schedule with her at the open house on Monday evening. She hits all four floors of the school during the course of every day. It's a school that's been expanded several times since it was built in the 20s. It has dedicated up- and down- staircases, an odd little top floor and the sweetest built-in wooden cabinets in some of the older rooms. Katy is going to play percussion in band and is psyched. We need to purchase sticks and a bag and... there's a list. She starts Mandarin Chinese tonight with our multilingual neighbor.

Bun is happy with her 4th grade teacher who "likes to have fun and likes to do arts and crafts". Definitely sounds like my youngest. Bun sewed on a button this summer by herself (she told me about it later) and has made two batches of oatmeal cookies so far. So she gets the homely arts badge. I did take the cookies out of the oven both times because I was scared she might burn her arm.

Next Monday is the start of university classes and in my work group we are fielding lots of questions and requests. The normal state for this time of year. I need to leave for work early on Monday morning so to allow for the traffic and general anthill frenzy that happens on campus.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Nod was telling me that the people who are most likely to post on Facebook about peace and light are those who desperately need it in their lives. I am sometimes confused by people who send out messages about the bliss of the universe. It grates on my own personal experience of existence which contains despair and pain as well as bliss and beauty. I don't want to perceive only one side. If I just concentrate on the pretty side it feels dishonest and discounts part of what makes existence sweet: the unlikeliness of it all. (Cue the Galaxy Song from M Python's Meaning of Life.) I think he's right and it helped me understand why all the overstating.

When I was searching for larger meaning in my life as a 30 y.o. and had set aside Judeo Christianity as untenable I thought about dedicating myself to my own immortal ideals. The three Graces appealed to me and I decided that my three Graces would be Welcome, Generosity and Festivity. It seems clear to me now that I was trying to draw those things to me. Venerating and invoking those qualities still seems like a good idea. And clearly they take effort for my personality, not my first inclinations.

I thought of this when Kat asked if we could add a fourth girl to our long-planned amusement park outing. She asked me the night before and with the girl present. It went against my druthers but I said that we had room in the car and that would be okay, Kat said that 4th girl would pay for her own entrance ticket. Then there was some back and forth because it's hard to tell from the website how much the (whopping) entrance fee is. It seemed that it was settled by bedtime. The next morning I sent Kat over to their RV (temporary situation) to see if 4th girl was ready but they had decided the price was too steep after all. I felt very happy to be back to my preferred three-girls-and-me team and we set out with high spirits. This seems like a clear example of me being ungenerous. I don't regret it, everything worked out like I preferred. But part of me wishes that my first instinct was to include rather than to pick and choose.

The park was great, the weather was not broiling until the sun came out in late afternoon. We hit lots of good rides, some more than once. Bun had a good time on the less thrill seeking rides. I think she said her favorite was the Flying Dutchman which is cute little boat swings on cables that swing in a circle. She closed her eyes and said it was very relaxing. I liked that she tried the Viking water ride that had spooked her initially. She said it wasn't her fave but it didn't terrify and she has a frame of reference now. Kat wanted to go on her first big roller coaster. Her friend Coral turned out to be not so daring so Kat and I hit the Prowler, a fast wooden roller coaster. It was slightly awful on the first two drops but after that was fun. We rode it twice because the line was so short. Kat and Coral enjoyed Spinning Dragons too and talked me into it at the end of the day. I like the name better than the ride experience itself and found it banged my head around too much. We began and ended the day on the Fjord Fjairlane which is whooshy and fun but not wrenching at all. I was proud of all of us for walking all day and managing to get fed and hydrated and not lost. I imagine Kat at thirteen running all over the park and owning it.

Told Nod this morning that now the amusement park is over I need a new goal. Time to plan another trip!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


My eye feels better. I'm sure the meds did their work but it certainly felt good to stop putting the stinging gel in my eye every four hours too. I can put on eyeliner and mascara on both eyes again and I feel less plain.

During the thunderstorm yesterday, Katy: Can I take the Japanese umbrella outside?
Me: Do you mean the silk parasol? No!!
Katy: But I don't have an umbrella. It's an umbrella, right?
Me: No, it's a parasol which means for-the-sun and it's old and silk and no!
Add umbrella (2, because I'm sure umbrella equity will be important to the small scorekeepers) to the shopping list. I evaded the grocery store last weekend and our list is about to overflow its small rectangle of paper.

We've had lovely rain for a couple of days and temps that seem autumnal. But we're going back to steamy today. 

Rearranged Katy's room on Sunday. She had a plan and I provided the muscle. Some things were thrown out and most of them got off the floor which pleased me. We all cleaned up the living room and I think we'd better have someone over quickly before the effect wears off. 

I started watching Game of Thrones as pop culture homework. I'm liking it better as we go along but I'm not in love yet. I like that our stolid good guy Ned Stark is not the hero. He's honorable but short sighted and reactionary. I respond to three characters as heroes: Arya, Tyrion and of course Daenerys (kind of hate that name, glad we can call her the Khalisi). Nod and I are both staying up too late to watch. Four more episodes for season one and then we only have 2/3 of the available spoilers to avoid. 

Do I have a mantra? "Another chance to start again" is one of my favorite world explaining phrases. I truly believe that it's a message I am here to learn.

Monday, July 22, 2013


My eye hurts! I'm unhappy! My eye is gooey from the medicine! This is making my eye sting!

To sum up, dabbing antibiotic ointment in one's eyelid for the treatment of a bacterial infection is gooey and inconvenient. (A phrase never used in advertising: gooey and inconvenient.) Seven more doses left. I am mad that medicating this one small body part affects the whole of me. I feel bleary and not just in my right eye. Argh!

Linking to my friend Elizabeth's piece about being struck by the sacred while going through the quotidian grind. She's a strong flavor and a sweetie. She says it's very funny that she's participating in the woo these days after being such a skeptic for so long.

Now I know another person who sliced off a fingertip with a mandoline. Be very careful. Use the grip handle if you have one. If you don't have one, consider throwing away the damn mandoline and just using a deadly, yet safer for your fingertips, knife.

Friday, July 19, 2013


Needle phobia site maintained by a science writer. Good stuff here including info on a cool new product: Buzzy. I would get one for new parents. Am going to see if we can find the tripod massager we used to have. If not I will buy something similar to try for Kat, along with an ice pack. I like the advice this parent shares. Am encouraged that I can help her with this. May try just the first hpv vax shot next week and see how it goes.


World Harvest Christian Academy, misread as 'World's Heaviest..." Sumo Christian school? Now that I think about it the 'world harvest' phrase is consistent with the evangelical message but creepy as well.

I had a mis-hearing last night to add to my pile. While discussing the weather (hot as anything Thursday and Friday, supposed to be better starting Saturday) I heard the local weather guy say "Tomorrow's high temperature will be ass" which I thought was accurate yet remarkably crude for a Kansas City local tv person. But he went on "...high or higher than today's." So I heard 'ass' when he said 'as'. Still making me laugh.

Now I need a third mis-perception to round out my bumbling progress through this week. I'm tired and ridden by hormones at the moment. Continuing as I began, I am too tired to think of one.

You know you're in Kansas when: Yesterday a coworker asked his friend, "are you going to the gym at lunch?" The friend answered, "No I was baling hay for three hours last night."

An Eva Ibbotson tribute site: Tea with Eva.

Started The Cold Dish after hearing recommendation on NPR and am liking it except that the crime committed by the high school boys is stomach turning. That's the story driver though because one of those boys has just turned up dead. Maybe I can skim the back story bits. I really like big fat Walt who doesn't like donuts and the Wyoming setting.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tally ho!

Bun's last softball game of the summer was last night and they had ice cream afterwards and got a trophy. It was a nice evening, lots of camera ready clouds moving around and a steady breeze. We got 90 seconds of rain as we headed home. I wish it had rained all night, maybe we'll get some of that action in September.

I am trying to figure out how to schedule the fishing trip with Bun, the amusement park visit with my girls plus Kat's friend, the next roller skating outing, the giant robot fights movie for everyone but me. These are important things and I don't want to lose this last month before school starts. Just realized that I could take a vacation day and go to the rides, we wouldn't have to do a Saturday. Scheming now.

Scalzi's Red Shirts is good fun. I was sad when I couldn't get through Fuzzy Nation. But this one moves right along and the challenge of figuring out this universe is a good tussle. The characters are a little thin but they're sassy and it's tolerable. Clearly this writer is gifted with much plotting and that pesky character sketching is secondary.

Katy's softball team lent a couple of players to field for the other team who were short-handed. I hadn't seen that happen before, thought it was a good neighborly practice. Watched a little boy with a magnifying glass setting sticks on fire behind the bleachers. His parents were watching too and encouraging him. Oddballs. It was on concrete and did not escalate. But what the hell! Clouds went away unlike Monday night. We were all panting and Nod sent Bun to the snackbar to get me some ice. Had to lie on the couch when we got home. Didn't get anything but reading done before bed. Am reading Half Magic to the kids because they said they didn't remember it much. I like the narrative voice and should now give some witty examples but don't have the book to hand. Kat just read Little House in the Big Woods and said that the vocabulary reminded her of this book which is intriguing. I wouldn't have thought they had anything in common.

Going to see the doctor about my goopy eye which is better but still goopy every blasted morning. I've been using eye makeup again this week because I felt too plain during my two weeks without it. Am ready to pitch the pencil and mascara and buy new if instructed to do so. Must remember to use correct card to pay. Have made checkup appointments for both girls. Asked about the vax's for Kat and what to do about general anxiety on that front. We have a family friend who could give her a counseling session or two. I don't know if she'll be interested in that. I have to tackle her on this in the next few days.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Just reminded by Mighty Girl's post about my need to have certain summer experiences in order to feel seasonally fulfilled. I think I'm well on my way to summervana.

  • Watermelon. Yes! I have to steel myself not to buy any until the very end of June because the early ones are rarely any good. I got one the week before the 4th and will finish its deliciousness tonight.
  • Snocone. We went to Tad's and had some after one of the first softball games. I will probably need to go to the County Fair and get another one to feel that I've really achieved this.
  • Swimming outside. I've been to the outdoor pool twice and the lake swim beach once. Feeling anti pool since I got violently ill after my second visit (norovirus?). 
  • Glasses fogged up when exiting the grocery store. Hasn't happened yet but I have faith in humidity.
  • Fireflies. Nod told me that I must go see the fireflies in the garden on Sunday night. I wanted to just stay on the couch and read but I hauled my bones out the door. And lo, it was great. The lightning bugs were flickering in the garden rows in a beautiful show. Fairies really seemed like the only correct explanation for all that beautiful random patterning.
  • Some sort of midway/carnival rides. I don't need to ride them just stroll among the colored lights and shrieking humans. Still thinking about this. Nod says he is boycotting the county fair this year, that he has seen the sights it has to offer and is done for now. I agree that it offers the rattiest, most flea bitten midway ever but still think I would enjoy a stroll around it one evening. Plus maybe a ferris wheel ride. Am thinking of taking the kids to the Kansas City amusement park dealie. Nod says that sounds even worse so he is being no help on this item.
  • Stone fruit. The Georgia peaches may be done, sigh. Am waiting for the bigger peaches that were in the store this week to ripen. Don't expect to have any to bake because I eat them all.
  • Softball. Yup that one is being thoroughly checked off. Four more games and we're done.
  • Baseball on tv. Bun and I watched the Kansas City Royals beat the Yankees in NY last night. It was pretty great.

Good Lord, perhaps I was meant to be Canadian. I base this on how much I love this blog interview about love of reading. Lord Peter Wimsey ca. Gaudy Night? But wait -- I saw him first! Jam and Idleness is the best blog name since Nothing But Bonfires. The lines that one comes from can still make me cry even though I find they are from The Winter's Tale and not from Lear as I had assumed. I might have to find a version of TWT I can watch, I find that I read plays very badly and don't understand everything that's happening.
First Gentleman: The news, Rogero? Second Gentleman: Nothing but bonfires: the oracle is fulfilled; the king's daughter is found: such a deal of wonder is broken out within this hour that ballad-makers cannot be able to express it. 
Why does that get me so much? Guess it's the found child plus the formal and pagan celebration of bonfires.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Heard someone refer to the "smell of cordite" after fireworks last week. Realized that I'd heard the word before but didn't know what the difference between cordite and gunpowder was, if any. Hasty research revealed that cordite is a smokeless accelerant used instead of black powder by the British military through WWI and II and retired after that. Weirdly I followed this reference on wikip to soldiers and factory girls who chewed cordite to get high. It's mostly nitroglycerin which has a sweet taste. At least a few of them blew themselves up with too vigorous chewing. My friend Gen said she is often struck by what a foreign country the WWI era is. It's long enough ago that many basic assumptions were just different.

MIL is perkier and more settled now that she's in the assisted living place. I've been gently trying to triangulate between her and our bro and sis-in-law as to what's happening with the overseas travel. Nod wants to put it all off until next summer since E paid and there's at least a chance that she could go then. Sis-in-law (the driver in that relationship) wants to go this fall but to more modest lodgings. I haven't heard anything directly from MIL on the subject. I want there to be consensus or at least an accepted plan. I spot checked some tickets to Wales just for fun and $1200 a ticket left me snatching my hand back. Maybe later.

Reading a mystery novel set in Aix-en-Provence. The setting is the star and I like that part but I'm plodding through it waiting for the plot to lift me along. Our protagonist juge is not appealing to me at the moment either. Lots of fairly realistic French sexism which I think the author is trying to spin as romance? This book may just be too old fashioned for me. Good to know it's possible. I've started a Carl Hiaasen novel which is full of zoomy development as a foil. I find his sexism less problematic.

Pitch Perfect, I finally got to see the ending. I liked it. But why with the firehose vomiting? I know, if you have to ask then you just don't get it. That's me.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Caution tape and camel

We ducked under the plastic tape and stepped over the wire fence. We were aiming for a spot on the levee to see the fireworks which are shot over the river. I thought the plastic CAUTION tape was put up by people who were marking a field to charge for parking. Then the show started and we were lit up -- in the field directly to the north of the launch site. Aha - so that's what the caution tape was for. We skibbled to the edge of the field and ducked out under the plastic tape again. Spread our blanket and had the best view of fireworks I have had, maybe ever. It was worth feeling like a stricken dumbass when those first shots went up. It was the best 4th evah!

Mothers are well. Mine came and stayed for five days and left on Tuesday morning. She was in better spirits than the last time I saw her. We were all a little sorry she couldn't bring her poodle puppy with her. We didn't do a lot of things but I think she and the girls had some good time together and I was glad to see her. She doesn't get a lot of joy out of life but she is witty and loves me and I want her to be as content as she can be. My MIL is in the assisted living place while her house's sewer pipes are fixed. The plumber's contract has been signed and we are waiting to hear when the work will start. Today would be good. E is healing but not too quickly. She's able to get outside and walk, I was very happy to hear that.

SIL called me at work on Wednesday and I was worried a crisis had come. (i.e. Who died?!) But it was just the crisis that she doesn't want to give up her holiday in Crete. I guess if you live in Wales you need the promise of occasional travel to a sunny vacation destination. I have to hold Nod down and get him to discuss this with me. He wants to push the tickets out til next summer. But Renee is firm that they are going, will rent a smaller place and that we should come too without E. I would like to take the girls overseas but don't want to rock boats. Need to decide what I want the most otherwise will just be sloshing between those two strong opinions.

Here's yer camel picture. Every year a fireworks stand by the highway has free camel rides for a couple days including 7/4. It was positively chilly after an early evening rain shower. Good fun to see the girls on the camel and to see Nod having such a good time picking out $15 worth of fireworks. Of course he did go back to the stand last night to "get a few more things". Which he ultimately did not have time to set off. Ah well.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Hoping I don't have pink eye. I have been assuming that my slightly goopy and itchy right eye was due to allergies. I'm going to keep operating with that assumption unless it gets a lot worse.

Spoke with my MIL last night. We'd swapped a couple of voicemail messages but I hadn't actually spoken with her since the surgery. She sounds tightly wound. Which is her right because she is unable to live in her house right now. This is the house where she was going to gently convalesce with the help of a network of friends who were going to visit and bring food and do chores for her. But it is uninhabitable because there was a sewage backup only a few hours after Nod and the girls left Elaine to come back to Kansas. E's house is 50 years old. It has enormous live oak trees in the front yard and a long slope from the street to the house. Of course it is tree roots that are blocking the sewage line. Austin has a heritage tree law that complicates the plumbing estimates which are both over $10K.

E has been at a friend's house for almost a week. It sounds like an assisted living facility has been identified for her to move to for a while, to wait out the plumbing repairs. E's also having some trouble working with her appliance, ostomy bag, which makes nursing assistance more urgent. I am shying away from all this. Nod and his brother have been working the phones and coordinating estimates and insurance claim info and I'm quite proud of them both. I just want to curl up in a ball and fast forward a few months to when everything is more stable and less sewage-y. I'm bothered by the tardy pathetic fallacy of E's house having a sewage line emergency right after she had her colon removed. It would have to be edited out of fiction as obvious and heavy handed.

My mother flies in this afternoon and we will have a long weekend with her. My big houseclean while the kids and husband were out of town has not carried all before it in an irresistible wave of tidiness. But it's a whole lot better than before. We'll crank the A/C to the low 70s and hope that she'll be able to sleep upstairs.

Which reminds me that I may have agreed to a 5 girl sleepover for Kat's 12th bday party in November. If we do that they'll be in the living room and we parents will have to hole up in the master bedroom. Maybe we can farm Bun out to another friend's house that night to reduce the younger sibling exclusion. Or I can think of any alternative to a sleepover.

Nod and I both fell asleep to major league baseball last night. It was nice until the phone woke us up. The night before I went to a last minute women's night gathering. I was the only one for an hour so I'm glad I made the effort. A little red wine taught me that I like Argentinian Malbec. Thumbs up on the socializing. Orchid was telling me that she had read that if your blood sugar dips your body draws extra calcium from your teeth. I will have to find some other sources for that. She's a hoot and a holler combining science-based info with lots of more new agey opinions.

Which reminds me that I watched a weird movie so you don't have to. Paul Giamatti playing a version of himself in Cold Souls. He's good and I liked the ending of the movie but I never could really go for the fantasy premise: you can have your soul removed and stored so you feel lighter and more positive about life. Even if I don't quite believe in a soul I would never want to have it removed. That's bad magic right there. My favorite part was the physical appearance of PG's soul when he has it removed. "You're telling me that my soul is a chickpea?!"

Monday, June 17, 2013

Book swerves

Word of the day: bumptious. Obnoxiously assertive and proud. I almost wish there was dumptious to bounce along with it.

MIL is recovering at the hospital and is expected to be released Wednesdayish. The surgery went well we are told. Though at the same time it took two and a half hours longer than the estimate. Nod was able to speak with his mom last night. He said she sounded lucid if a little frail. I am glad they made contact. Her cousin and friends have made their presence felt at the hospital and the nursing staff have banned them except for visits lasting 30 minutes or less in the mornings. I expect good nurses to be pushy, that's part of the toolbox. Update: She's going home tomorrow! good news.

Nod will be tackling many responsibilities. I hope the girls are good distraction and comfort. I hope they will be able to find things to do with themselves besides kindle games.

Finished Blue Lightning and I am astounded by the author's plot resolutions. It almost makes me wonder if she's got some sort of meta-genre commentary going on. Or maybe she got sick of her own character development arcs? It seems like the end of the series. Even if she writes more, I'm done. My Goodreads review is flagged because of spoilers. It should also be flagged for outrage! I would recommend any of the other three books in the series, not this one.

Am trying City of Bohane. So far so at sea.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Found Pebbles

Important news, movie lovers, about a site that will tell you definitively whether a dog dies in the movie you are considering watching. Does the Dog Die? is an important resource brought to me by the ever-relevant Nag on the Lake.

Still reading this New Yorker article about a start up company with a new design for a nuclear reactor that can shut down safely all by itself and will consume nuclear waste. I haven't yet gotten to an explanation of what kind of waste *it* produces. That seems like an important aspect. But yay new engineers with new designs in this area. I feel like we've been stuck at WIPP for 30 years as far as nuclear waste disposal goes.

Hot this week, Kat's softball game on Wednesday evening had multiple girls getting crumpled by heat exhaustion. Kat was redfaced and a little loopy herself by the end. Hoping for different conditions next game. I was thinking about how Bun has really good concentration on the field. She is dreamy enough and tends to have her nose in a book and not hear us the first time we talk to her at home. But on the softball field she is tuned in and knows where the ball is. She made a couple of good fielding plays at her game. She's loving the morning creativity camp. I will get to see her castle model tonight as well as the invention.

I will miss them all as they head out next Tuesday. But I plan to enjoy the quietude for a while too. I look forward to getting some major housecleaning done. Need to plan for some fun stuff as well as my puritan chore list. A former preschool parent acquaintance just let me know that her African drumming group is playing on Thursday night at the outdoor pool of all places. We happened upon them playing at South Park one night, it was a beautiful twilight and Nod and I grooved on the drumming while the kids climbed trees and hit the playground. Serendipity, man.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Stone Fruit Scorecard

I'm going to be making slow cooker potatoes soon. I love the idea of not turning on the oven and even skipping the 5+ minutes waiting for the microwave to steam my spud.

Then I'm going to be making some sangria. I looked up a juice-not-wine recipe to include the kids. It's so pretty and everyone should have the fun of fishing fruit bits out of their glass. Deb at Smitten has two wineful variations. Her post about hosting dinner tugs at my heartstrings too. I think I might have a sangria party and ask guests to bring appetizers. Maybe have a crock of soup for those who want plain food.

Am eating an insufficiently ripe plum. Last week's peaches and nectarines were the first I've bought this year and so good. My stone fruit score card is still winning. Waiting impatiently for the new batch of peaches in the fruit bowl on the table to ripen.

I tried staying up to watch the rest of Pitch Perfect last night. I started watching it with the girls but it is all college student hijinks and we all agreed not really a good match for 9 and 11 y.o.s. We switched to Men In Black II and were very happy. I thought I'd finish PP off before returning it but of course left it until the last night and couldn't stay up for it. Bun called me at one point and wanted comforting, she couldn't get to sleep. It hardly ever happens with her. Got her settled and got myself to bed by 10:45 but I am dragging at the end of this week and having a hard time getting my extra half hour in the morning at work. I have a request in at the library. I'll probably get to see the end of the movie by the end of the summer.

Sounds like Nod will drive down with the girls some time the week of June 17 and stay a week with his mom. I hope everything goes as well as possible. I need to do some research on this surgery and am dreading it.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

State of the state

Things are happening, just not much writing. Kat is at church camp this week. Nod will pick her up on Saturday. I am missing her but not as tightly wound about it as last year. Got cookies baked and mailed to her at camp by noon on Tuesday. Should be in plenty of time for her and her cabinmates to receive and devour them. They were snickerdoodles made with very soft butter and they ended up looking like very tasty little cowpats. I wonder if she'll send her postcards this year. Which reminds me that I need to check our mailbox.

Bun is at morning arts center classes this week. She wanted a ceramics class and what they had was half ceramics/half theater. She says it's fun. Next week she'll do another morning session at another day camp. The chauffeuring is wearing; I'm coming to work half an hour early so I can leave to deliver her. But I can do this for two weeks.

My MIL had an active stage two colon cancer found and is going to have surgery June 14. The surgeon will remove the entire colon so this is a major life changing event. Nod is figuring out when he'll drive down. Looks like he will take the girls and go down for a week. The possibility that we'll have to cancel our international travel is the lowest priority consideration at this point. I am a little disappointed in myself that I don't want to go help. I will plan to see her later this summer esp. if the Greek plans get scotched.

My mother has tickets and will fly out to see us at the end of June. She will be staying with us too. I started scrubbing the shower stall after I heard this. I suppose I'll have extra time for housework chores while my three co conspirators are in Texas.

I've jogged twice this week and start a Saturday am Zumba class in three days. Feeling ready to go in general. Here's hoping I can summon the discipline for a good push this summer.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

May Sweetness

Birthday was good even with the working in the middle. I made this for dinner. Thank you, Martha! I got too hungry while getting it done but after splashing some beer down my front I sat down and ate something and everything improved. This tart is so good I can hardly believe it. It's an olive oil crust and was easier to work with than I expected. I rolled it out and then pressed it into the pan to be a fairly even thickness. I made it in a metal pie plate and it got too dark but not quite scorched, a narrow escape. I will check it after 25 minutes next time. Didn't know if I had enough greens, one and a half pounds is a lot of leaves. I used all of the spinach from our farm share, a little nub of frozen stuff plus some chard. It was enough. I didn't chop the greens after squeezing them. I just squeezed with my hands, no towel. I had no red pepper flakes so I added a little chile powder, I would try more of that next time. Kat didn't think the finished product looked appealing but she liked it once she had a taste. I can't fault her adventurous approach. If it's veggie, she'll try it. Bun had something else, her adventurous approach to eating hasn't emerged yet.

The beer was Odell's 90 Schilling which I have decided is my current favorite. Another good one from Colorado. We like their 5 Barrel too. It's a pale ale which is more Nod's thing but I was surprised how much taste it has.

Bun sang me the birthday song. I bought lunch for my coworkers which was fun for me. I wore clothes I liked and sniffed some roses. May all your birthdays be so happy.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Talent free

Elementary school talent show. It was today. Both girls performed and both Nod and I attended. I had forgotten that there is no screening process or audition step to the talent show prep. The children do not have to demonstrate that they have talent, they only have to sign up for a slot. I worked hard at not snarking at children. There were children who sang wonderfully and there were children who couldn't carry a note in a bucket. There was terrible gymnastics and wonderful gymnastics. The terrible magic tricks were actually charming and blessedly brief. There was a hula hoop bit that had me biting my lip. Bun played a piano piece she had memorized. Near the end she got onto a wrong chord. She played it tentatively a few times, apparently hoping it would resolve itself into something more familiar sounding. Then she hit the correct ending chord with a good firmness. Whatever it takes, go out confidently. Kat played piano accompanying her friend who sang Here Comes The Sun. Both 5th graders who are poised for middle school, they were the last act and ended it with a bang. Another 5th grade girl sang a song with her dad accompanying on guitar. It was sweet and unaffected and I started crying. Kind of embarrassing. I think it was partially the emotional swings of trying not to sneer or wince at the terrible performances and then being hit with something so keen. Nod tells me the dad is a local music legend.

Lordy I think we're going to make it through this week. Kat is hearing lots of chatter about people dressing up for 5th grade recognition. She wasn't intending to but now feels she should make an effort. We went through her closet last night and discovered that she's grown out of all her sundresses. But there is a skirt and top that fit so she's got her outfit ready. Now she wants to get her hair cut in an inverted bob. I'm willing, we'll see what the Great Clips ladies can do.

Dreadnought has a droopy something under the front left quadrant. Nod says he can zip tie it up. I need to remind (nag, chivvy, implore) him.

It's iris time now. Gotta love the Midwest in the springtime. The parade of flowers is fabulous. The trees are all leafed out with that fresh green (except for the plums with burgundy foliage). It's light until 8:45 at night now, super duper twilight time.


Pasting this here, found on Metafilter:  Literature lectures by Dr. Catherine Brown, Oxford University. I hope I get the chance to listen to them later. But do I need to read Atonement and Daniel Deronda first? Maybe so.

Just finished my space war soap opera book last night. Am giving up on the books that are increasing my anxiety rather than relieving it: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand and Here, Home, Hope. The first I really liked but wished the character or the book was more accepting of events. I felt a lot of tension. The second was breezy and funny and not my sort of thing at all. I probably hadn't gotten to the real conflict of the book yet, sorry Ms. Rouda. I feel much less oppressed by my reading list now. Will whip through the last Dr. Siri book and am planning to feel closure about that series. I have the next Ann Cleeves book but will wait to see if it grabs me. And I might try Daniel Deronda... I never had to read it for school.

Iron Man 3, we went to see it last Saturday evening. The 6:05pm showing was as unpopular as I'd hoped so no problem with finding seats. Everyone enjoyed it but I found it a bit dark for the kids. I tend to worry that my mass entertainment choices are going to upset them. Kat was clinging to Nod's arm for part of it because the Extremis people were scary. Perhaps I should try taking less responsibility for their fears. Good ending and talking about it afterwards we realized that it made a neat and tidy end for the trilogy. Ol' Paltrow does a good job. I realized that I really respect her acting in these movies. Her onscreen role is mostly as a listener: she listens to Tony spout, to the bad guys when they're pretending to be good and then when they're exulting in their baditude. And she does it so well that she is actually entertaining and seems like a dynamic character. Impressive.

Another food in the form of pancake recipe:  Okonomiyaki veggie pancakes from SmittenKitchen. (Note: they may  not actually resemble okonomiyaki as prepared in Japan.) I didn't like the sound of her ketchupy sauce suggestion so looked up some sesame soy concoctions. Here's one if you need to make 7 cups of dipping sauce! It actually sounds good so I may try to cut that one down. Or just throw some soy, sesame oil, rice vinegar and sugar together and call it good.

I made a batch of tabouli last night. I failed to find bulgur wheat at the store so I made it with whole wheat couscous instead which was probably much easier. I started with this recipe but just suited myself as far as proportions went. (3 cups of chopped parsley??) Quick and easy. We got flat leaf parsley in our farm basket last week (stars, hearts, happy bunnies). And the mint is booming in the herb patch so we are well supplied herbally. If a store has a bulk section aren't they morally obligated to stock bulgur wheat? I took the tabouli to a potluck we had to say goodbye to one of our neighbors who is moving to Washington state. She's moving for very good reasons but Nod and I are feeling sad that their family won't be around any more. The baked potato bar was a big success and we were worried that there wouldn't be enough spuds to go around so we encouraged the greedy chillen to start with half a potato and go back for more later. I got half a potato and felt very self-denying. Then I ate tabouli and miso soup and a little ice cream and somehow I never got around to more potato. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I did a 'noodle blog' search and found a few treasures. I'm still giggling over the name of Full Noodle Frontity. He also writes about SF area food trucks in Geezericious. Tasty goodness.

Word of the day = winglet. Here's a story about UPS adding winglets (those little upswoops at the end of the wings) to their jets to reduce drag and cut noise. Hooray for winglets!

Staggering through the week. Last night's softball practice started at 7pm at a schoolyard I had never visited before. I was feeling weary and kept hoping Nod would come home so I could pass the softball parent torch. But he didn't get in until we were going to the car. Bun got her hat and her knee socks and sneakers on and grabbed her mitt. I put a grown up face on and drove out to the park. Found some girls playing softball and ambled over. I listened in when the coach was addressing the parents but it wasn't our team. Our team (3rd and 4th grade girls) was just going out to play catch. Bun and her friend went out and had a respectable practice. It looks like it won't take as many practices this year to remind the girls what they're trying to do out on the field. It was toasty until the sun went down and then it was breezy delightful cakes. I read some of my space opera novel and caught up with Bun's friend's mom. Bun's friend La looks like a Chuck Jones cartoon little girl with big round eyes and cuteness and a bit of manic zeal. She is still growing out of her lisp in 3rd grade. Her mom's pregnant and they will have a little boy by early June. I will be happy to take La to most of the softball practices/games.

Oh right, Mother's Day. I was a little creeped out by it this year. Nod was feeling pressure to give me a wonderful day. I hate that kind of pressure. The kids made me cards which was fine. Kat's was sweet. Bun's was perfunctory, did not hurt my feelings but I like the print she brought home from art class better. We picked asparagus on Saturday morning at our favorite farm/store. It was windy but good to be outside under the sky. I stupidly wore sandals and am recording that fact so that I remember never to do that again. I still have a splinter that needs attention. Then poor planning kept us from brunching where we wanted to. Ended up at the loud music build your own burrito place. Tasty and we got a sunny porch table out of the wind. This calls for more brunching later in the month, says I.

Random baby name thought: one could name a girl Ursula and call her Sully. Although now that I've typed it I think I'd have to spell it Sullie to avoid the echo of sully as a verb. And then again maybe not.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Your NPR name
This Atlantic article about the poetry of NPR reporters' names is wonderful. There's even a game, create your own NPR nom de radio:
novelist Liana Maeby suggests sticking your middle initial in your first name, and adding it to the smallest foreign place you've ever visited. 
That makes her NPR name Liarna Kassel. Mine is Jednine Monaco. Happy claps! I have often chanted Ofeibea Quist-Arcton's and Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson's names after hearing their signoffs.

Am wrung out again. I felt this way often during the first few years of Kat starting elementary school. Lots of deadlines during the week, none of them very challenging but piled on top of each other they overwhelm. Yesterday I took Kat to school early so she could give a presentation about the school worm farm to the Breakfast Optimists group. I guess that they give money to the school and so I thought it was important. Kat was grumbling about giving up sleep to go in 30 minutes early but when the principal asked her to come she assented. I remembered to leave my cell phone at home at lunch. That way the girls can call me when they get home and can coordinate with their music teacher as to when lessons start. I took both girls with me to the parents welcome night at Kat's new middle school where she'll start classes in August. This morning I braided hair and worked wire through it so they could have gravity defying braids for Crazy Hair Day. I am ready for a nap. Passport applications will have to wait until next week. I am choosing to go to lunch with the work women instead. The joy of getting the passport applications on their way will wait until next Wednesday when I haul the kids in front of the Post Office official.

Eggplant and Cocktails
I am fantasizing about getting my eggplant sliced oiled and broiled. I may need more excitement in my life. Last night was beautiful weather and a handful of neighbors including Nod sat out on the Common House porch and had cocktails. I joined them after returning from middle school but my tum was roiling so I did not partake. I want to host a cocktail hour and dispense whiskey sours now that I have learned to make them so well. (2T lemon juice, 2T simple syrup, 4T whiskey, ice. I should probably double check these amounts with the orange slip of paper I have in my kitchen drawer.)

A woman writes about her feelings about her belly. Graceless short version: having a saggy belly is better than being dead. It's good and makes me tear up.