Wednesday, November 30, 2016


If you do see Arrival and you like to read about movies afterwards like I do here are two pieces from the New Yorker magazine. Anthony Lane's proper movie review is not his finest work, that is reserved for things he finds ridiculous and can unload his arsenal of snark on. But it communicates how he was captivated and moved by the film and avoids spoilers which is a distinct challenge. Jia Tolentino's article contains what I consider to be plot spoilers and I'm happy I found it after seeing the movie. My own experience of sadness and hope while watching the events in the movie match up with hers.

The pinecone wreath is up. We'll see how long the hot glue holds. I started wiring pinecones to a wire wreath form but it was lumpy and I couldn't get them to lay down in layers as I had envisioned. After starting over a couple of times I had to give it up. Discovery: pinecones have seriously irregular and determinedly three dimensional forms. I don't love hot glue as a medium, I prefer wire or glue or thread but needs must. I'm happy with how it looks so far. I may try to add some evergreen sprigs once we have a tree to snip from. Although, I could sidle over to the neighbor's pine tree and see what I can reach...

I was stumped at how to get the bow formed out of the stiff plasticky ribbon I had in the xmas bag. As a good citizen of the 'net I turned to youtube videos. Here's the winner. Madame Fuschia Nails shows you how it's done and I am grateful to her. I haven't listened to the audio, just enjoyed the sight of those beautifully manicured hands moving masterfully over the work table.

I like John Scalzi's take on a lot of things. He's a liberal who supports himself with his art and lives in the midwest. He can appreciate things about his Republican-voting neighbors without his head exploding. This week's piece on what he expects from the start of the next administration is a good bracing read. Maybe follow it with some Orwell, I plan to.

MIL is home from the hospital and I need to call and check up on her. It was dehydration and what they call acute kidney injury. She had the same thing after returning from Ecuador. She sounded much better once she was in the hospital and IV'd up. I hope she's got a long stretch of wellness ahead.

My own mother has summoned her children to ABQ to celebrate her 75th birthday at the end of this month. I wasn't planning to go until my brother made his plans and I realized that she was telling me (by not telling me) that she would be disappointed if I didn't make it. I'm not exactly sure how we're going to kick up our heels in the dark midwinter in Albuquerque but I'll try and figure it out.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Low tide

Let's see what's washed up on the mind's beach today.

Greek island
Speaking of beaches... I always enjoy pretending to be David Lebovitz while reading his blog. Internationally recognized food writer married to a Frenchman and living in Paris? Why certainly! This blog entry about his vacation in September may be the most vicarious fun of all.

By the pitcher
From David L's mention, Ina's recipe for a pitcher of margs.

Metafilter thread recommending podcasts in French.

I have just walked into the corner of my desk again with my left thigh. This must be the fourth time I've done that since moving to this office. After minor cussing and gasping I am still walking. Very frustrating. (Tho' I suppose not being able to walk would be even more frustrating.)

We went to see Arrival on Sunday. It flattened me. I was crying for lots of reasons by the end of the movie. But what a clever, moving piece of work it is.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


In cars
Sweet gumdrops but I do love Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Margaret Cho teaching Jerry the word 'intersectional'. Jerry telling Kathleen Madigan that they're not really walking down the street, they're in a show. Clips of Will Farrell's SNL audition where he rolled around on the floor playing with cat toys in front of an empty theater. All good stuff. I even enjoy the car geekery although that is not my thing.

No never
Nod sent a message to a friend he hadn't heard from for a while. She responded right away and promptly invited him to an essential oils party she's having at her house this weekend. We both laughed and laughed at the idea of him attending. He's sensitive to strong scents and uninterested in MLM businesses. But it's good to know she's out there and keeping busy.

Sweet dream
Here are lyrics to the song recently featured on One Word. Gentle and ah. Someone compared Eleni Mandell's music to Tom Waits' ballads and that feels right to me. The houses getting undressed is my favorite image.

Eleni Mandell - Moonglow, Lamp Low

Moonglow, lamp low
All I need is a rainbow
And true love
Just like sugar in my coffee

Moonbeam sleeping
All I need is a sweet dream
And true love
Just like honey in my tea

The sky says goodbye
With the wink of an eye
Bright blue yawning to the west
Windows are shining
As the sun goes down fighting
And the houses on the hill
Are getting undressed

Moonshine dreamtime
All I need is a goldmine
And true love
Just like sugar in my coffee

The sky says goodbye
With the wink of an eye
Bright blue yawning to the west
Windows are shining
As the sun goes down fighting
And the houses on the hill
Are getting undressed

Moonglow, lamp low
All I need is a rainbow
And true love
Just like sugar
True love
Just like honey
True love
Just like sugar
In my coffee

Thursday, November 17, 2016


The Bitten Word guys are getting ready to be done with their blog. It will be sad to see it go but they have brought us much good reading and interesting recipes over the years. A toast to Zach and Clay and all the little Bittens!

I eagerly read through this year's readers' pie challenge. Full disclosure: I am a pie dropout, I signed up and received the apple pie with pepper jelly recipe from Southern Living. But my family said they didn't want to eat that pie and I decided I didn't want to either. The Christmas cookie readers' reports have always been big fun. They include a combo of beautiful food pix and some regretsy moments.

Thanksgiving is wafting towards us and I'm ready for some root veggies, roasting and pie! Here are more recipes calling out to me:

Carrot mash with mint and orange zest.

Bon Appetit's Bourbon Maple Brueleed Pumpkin Pie. Will skip the choc crust and the brulee actually.


Microwave caramel? Tell me more... I'm up for using the microwave to cut down on extended stovetop stirring and temp management. Alton Brown's microwave-caramelized onions for example. (Note: do not make caramel and caramalized onions one after the other.Those smells should not be combined - yick.)


Not noms

You may know a child or a larger version of a child who needs an Advent Grab Bag. They even provide a list of treasures if you have the energy and inspiration to DIY and custom assmble your own.

LMM / Maron interview link from David C. on nancynall:

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Fall y'all

I jogged after work last night. We're having mild temps for a few days. The fading light in the western twilight sky was gorgeous with Venus in the south shining strong. The track got harder to see so I ran on the white line instead of in between lines. It was worth doing. I still have a few strains from Monday's yoga. I must have overdone.

Picked up some pinecones. I love the long curving ones dotted with white sap. Maybe Eastern White Pine (photo is from linked page) although we are not very eastern.
I will look for some small round ones to add contrast.

Now that I look at that website I am quite charmed. I need to spend some time learning about the microenvironment of French Hill Pond on Mount Desert Island in Bar Harbour, Maine. But it's on private property so don't attempt to visit without an invitation!

We have not succumbed
The Leslie Knope election reaction I didn't know I needed. I've only seen two Parks and Recreation episodes and don't really get the vibe of the show. Doesn't matter! I also would like my girls to read this.

My husband was talking volubly about the election last night on the phone. He was having a good time and I could tell he was talking with an old friend. I'm glad that he's managing the rage and able to connect. I'm glad we've gotten through a week and are feeling more able to more forward.

Listening that is not political
From BigHank53 at
Podcasts that may help…there’s Backstory, which has three history professors looking at a single topic through the centuries of American history. They did a really good one a couple years ago on the history of Christmas celebrations, for example. Gretchen Rubin has her Happier podcast, which is not woo-woo but mostly practical advice on forming better habits, so you can make space to be a bit more cheerful. If you’re a gardener Margaret Roach has a great podcast.
The historian David Blight recorded his freshman course on the Civil War a couple years ago. He’s a brilliant lecturer, and you don’t need more than high school history to follow it. Search for the Yale Open Course to find them.

Sloth it
Maybe you need an enamel pin showing a sloth with a party hat captioned Coolio.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Crappy sweaters

I was thinking about the gray sweater that I started in November 2015 and stopped work on when spring started. I recently picked it up again and was able to finish joining the front and back with a neckline. I tried it on and it's pretty ugly. The front is longer than the back and the intarsia decoration I put on the chest is too small and too high up. Blocking might help the length issues but it's acrylic yarn (I know - not classy) so won't have wool's ability to morph. I couldn't face fixing it so it's back in the bag and I'm pouting. Hopefully I'll woman up and rip the front back to fix that decoration. Phooey.

Then I thought about a previous sweater I made with some ill advised departures from a pattern I'd never tried before. It was a pattern in a book with pretty pictures from yarn shops all over the country. I saw the danger signs going in! I loved making the cables especially where they joined under the sleeves. The yarn I chose was a pretty color and a wool blend that made me happy. The finished article is heavy and very homely but I will happily wear it (at home) in the coldest weather. It reminds me of a garment that could conceivably be used as padding under armor.

So I started laughing at my ugly sweaters. Then I remembered the huge squirrel hat I knitted. Also worth a chuckle. I have finished a couple of sweaters I like. As a self taught k-nitter I am proud of them. But when a project goes wrong it can really go wrong.

Speaking of projects I have decided to make a pinecone wreath for the door. I love pinecones but fear having them in the house because they're messy and possibly buggy. On the outside of the door I will be able to enjoy them without worrying about things falling out of them. But I don't have time to gather any pinecones on campus today. A piano awaits.

Last night I found a free piano in our local buy/sell page that had been listed that day. I inquired and got quotes for a moving company. It'll cost $235 to move which is the right price for a piano if you ask me. We'll see it tonight and decide if it's the one. If not I also got offered another free piano in the process of my investigating. So pianos are out there, people! I know they are like pets and need more expensive upkeep than most furniture. But that would be a neat answer to Kat's 15th birthday present. Fingers crossed.

As you can tell I am frolicking in the fields of denial today.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Holy shit

From misteraitch on Metafilter, a playlist of string quartet pieces. Quartets for the Morning After. Haydn consolation sounds about right.

I would like to believe that I'm living and working in a country that is addressing climate change, making steps to support the most vulnerable members of our population, and moving away from having the highest prison population in the world. Failing that I would like to believe that I share with the leaders of my government a respect for the rule of law. Neither seems to be true today. The next six months are the great unknown. I expect we losers are overestimating the changes that may happen in the short term. But as far as the long term goes this degrading election process may have been the signal of a great change. I hope I'm wrong and the parallels I see with the late Roman Empire are a histrionic exaggeration.

I am embarrassed, ashamed and insulted by the election result. I still feel queasy when I imagine DJT taking the oath of office. I wonder what else I could have done. I think I need to go to church on Sunday. Sorry to come cry on your shoulder, Episcopalianism, after so much neglect.

Two scenarios for the Trump presidency from a Business Insider piece by Mathias Döpfner who is also CEO for Axel Springer whatever that is, and part owner of the magazine it looks like. The first two thirds of the article seems very well balanced and plausible. The last third reveals that MD thought Bloomberg should have been the Dem candidate for US pres. I am scoffing at that. But I want to read this article again in the fall of 2018.

Monday, November 7, 2016


Trying to decide if I want to walk downtown and drink some beers while I watch election results tomorrow night. Or go to the beer store and just be jittery on my own couch.

I saw someone on twitter refer to F'book as faceboobs and that's what I want to call it forever more.

Wearing my beloved brown ankle boots today. I've worn down the back edges of the heels and have just decided that this pair is worth an out of town shoe repair trip. I will call the shop to be sure they can do it. I loved living in San Francisco and having a shoe repair shop right by the BART stop. In my current small city there is an artisanal leatherworker guy who will do repair but you have to track him down and I get the idea that it's not his main gig. That's too steep for me, I'd rather drive to a place that does this everyday.

Just finished Miss Pym Disposes. I really enjoyed how wrong our protagonist was about multiple things. I liked the description of the women's college activities very much. It reminded me of Gaudy Night. Harriet Vane bathes in the student bathroom much like Miss Pym. The description of the day to day rules and nicknames and quaint shenanigans at the school reminded me of Daddy Longlegs although that one is American and set at the turn of the century.

Realized that this year I've been saying goodbye to my forties. I've mostly gotten over the sulk. Now that my cough is reluctantly taking its leave I want to start the jogging again. In the dark. Boo.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Odds and sods

Bare Naked Ladies song recommended by Swistle as a calming theme: Odds Are. I need more BNL in my life. I know Stunt backwards and forwards but nothing else. Looking up the single I see it is from Grinning Streak which was recorded in 2013 and isn't as goddamned old as I expected. Yay Canadian goof popsters.

From a link in Seanan McGuire's tumblr, I bring you Napoleon in Furs:

File:Napoleon in winter clothing by V.Vereshagin.jpg

Insert Napoleonic version of "Avast ye Russkies!" here.

Recently I took a walk on the wild side and made cheese dip. It was hilariously quick and easy and felt like a magic trick. Voila! I will try to use this new found power carefully.

Running full speed through the last of the Ancillary trilogy by Leckie. I can tell that I will miss Ancillary Mercy most severely when I finish it.

Still coughing. Glad it's the end of the work week. Have had another idea about costumes even though I missed out this year. 2 D raincloud headdress in painted cardboard. Simple enough that I may create one as proof of concept.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A low time

A light cough and a general sense of unwellness turned into chills and fever and aches. By the time baseball came on I was hobbling slowly and very happy to bundle up on the couch with soup and blanket. Two more days of the fevery achey stuff and then those diminished so the cough could take center stage. I went to be seen at doc's office even though I knew it was flu or a similar virus and probably they couldn't cure me. I got strong cough syrup and was tested so I am sure it's not strain A or B of this year's flu, just another virus come to kick my ass. Still coughing but the headache and hatred lifted after four days on Sunday morning.

Being home sick meant that I finished my sexy witch book and big chunks of the second Ancillary novel. Ancillary Sword was too good, I finished it very quickly. (Sheepishly brushes away book crumbs from chest.) Now I'm on the hold list for the Last One in the trilogy. Probably a good thing that I have to wait a bit for it. (I want it now!)
[Edited to add that I've found it's at the university library and tomorrow I will bring it home. Mwa!ha!ha!ha!]

When I felt a little stronger I watched Bendyspoon Cucumber in the BBC series To the Ends of the Earth which I hadn't heard of before. If you have any liking for Napoleonic War era shipboard fiction, or Benedict Cumberbatch's acting, you should try it. There are only three long episodes. It was shot in 2005 when BC was only 29 and looked convincingly a decade younger.

Last night in between and after hween candy deliveries at the door we watched Moonstruck. It was just as good as I remembered. Kat said "Cher is so pretty! Why did she have all that plastic surgery?!" No answer that I know except maybe, "She fears death."