Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Adventures in FFV

My dad used a military (?) acronym FFV on the grocery list for 'fresh fruit and vegetables'. It meant I think that he would pick out whatever looked good that week. And it made my mother laugh. 


-*- I found a new-to-me fruit at the latinx grocery story in K.C. last month: tejocotes. This blog post has a nice description and a recipe for Christmas punch. That's the usual use for these little crab apples. I tried one raw and it was crab apple texture but bland, not sour, nothing exciting. When boiled in spiced syrup however, the texture changes and the full taste is released. They are delightful and I ate them all. I used the Weird Explorer's "recipe" which starts around 4:25. Boil whole for 5-10 minutes in water, drain and cool, then slip off the skins. Make a syrup with 1:1 brown sugar and water, add cinnamon stick and whole cloves (and/or star anise if you like). Simmer the fruit in the syrup for 20 minutes, up to one hour. When cool, eat like little apples, biting around the large seeds at the "core". The leftover syrup is delicious too - could be a cocktail sweetener. I had such a good time finding out about these little fruits. 

-*- This fall I bought a bag of black walnuts at the grocery store with the best variety and local options. Black walnut trees are common here and throughout the midwest. The nuts that fall have a green hull that when opened stain everything black, and then an inner shell that is extremely hard to crack. So even though they're plentiful and easy to pick up, the nuts aren't easy to get at. My dad told a story about an Iowa neighbor who used his car to run back and forth over a burlap bag of black walnuts in order to crack them. This blog post shows how to do it with... a rock. I was happy to be able to buy the shelled nut meats. And they are interesting. Like stinky walnuts pretty much. You could even say gamey. It was fun to finally taste them.  

-*- Persimmon orange is a beautiful color. I have gotten some Fuyu persimmons recently and figured out a way to eat them that I like. These don't have seeds, which I find slightly disappointing. The first time I bought these fruits was in the Bay Area 25 years ago and they often had shiny dark brown seeds in their hearts. I found eating them a bit frustrating - the only way I knew was to remove the stem and scoop the flesh out with a spoon. It was inefficient and a bit awkward. This year I tried peeling the fruit and that was better! By taking off just the thin outside peel I feel like I'm getting more of the fruit. They are mild and sweet and crunchy. Here's a page with info on the two common varieties, Fuyu and Hachiya. Hachiyas are tannic/astringent if they're not fully ripe. My mother learned a way to force them for baking - once they're orange, stick them in the freezer, it finishes the ripening process. If you're using them for baking that works well. 

-*- The best apple varieties change year to year. This year the best ones I've gotten consistently have been Jonathans from Michigan, the bag says Riveredge. Crisp and tart/sweet. 


Have a sweet and calm end of the year. And may we all have wonderful discoveries in the new year. 

Friday, December 9, 2022

Pert Pose



Found in the wonderland of Gods and Foolish Grandeur. A favorite model of the artist Helleu, Marthe Letellier is portrayed here. I love the silly fingers as well as the big eyes/tiny mouth ratio. Her strawberry blonde hair is the focus of the first pastel work in the linked blog post. 


I went to the faculty and staff appreciation holiday party yesterday. This is an annual event that used to be held in the Chancellor's residence, now it's in a fairly generic events space on campus. This was the first time I made it, even though I've worked here soooo loooong (17+ yrs). I'm a little sorry I didn't make the effort to go way back when, just to have a look inside the residence.

The snacks were quality and I was surprised at how few people I recognized in the good-sized throng. Door prizes are always given out, it was fun to see some of those collected. I also learned that there's a new campus welcome center going to open in Feb. We had a potluck on Monday for our office crew. It's been nice, a little exotic, to be able to see people at work events. And of course not everyone attended and Covid is still in mind. Local numbers are low, so far I'm willing to roll the dice.  


I have been watching a lot of Trixie Mattel and Katya Zamolodchikova's video series UNHhhh. A woman friend said that she finds all male drag to be anti feminist. And I understand that position. But I am putty in the hands of a talented drag performer. I think part of it is that a drag persona is a monster woman. It's not necessarily a denigration of the feminine but an exaggeration/dramatization that results in an uncanny clown entity. Thwoorp!  

Thursday, December 1, 2022


The October 2022 full moon rising in NE Kansas. It was chilly.

We drove our little butts off and went to Albuquerque and back again via Las Cruces. Those who flew were on time and the store-bought turkey was even moist and yum. We are a small clan but it was still good to have a get together. I hope to see some nephews next time, maybe at brother's house. 

My mom is in a lot of leg pain unfortunately and it remains to be seen how to help that. 

Of All the Birds, Ravenscroft catch, sung by Maddy Prior with Hannah and Giles from 3 for Joy. I love this song and hadn't heard it before. 'To whit, to who' is the British owl call (that I first encountered in an Asterix comic rendered in BritEngl). This song starts with owl admiration but seems to be emphasizing the night-owl aspect and it is a drinking song. I want to hear the album. Slightly variant lyrics.  

 Rene Quillivic Breton sculptor and woodcut artist. On the Open SeaBlog post with three prints

Two delicious metafilter Thanksgiving recipe recommendation troves: 2017 and 2022. Includes a homemade harissa recipe.  


Edited to add that no one has gotten sick after our get together which makes it a complete success in my book. Mom is doing better after getting more aggressive with her snuggest support hose and wrapped bandages. She is looking forward to a rally dog trial this weekend and was able to do the practice last Sunday. That's medicine for her.  

Friday, November 4, 2022

Not Really There Yet

Have to get the gravestones off the top of the page. 

== :: **** :: ==
The sycamore tree threw down what looked like an entire big tree's worth of leaves on Tuesday. But there are still lots up in the branches! That tree is an overachiever and always has something to throw down. We are wading through the big crunchy surf when we go down the front steps. I didn't think I would need to rake after mowing leaves into the lawn but I have to get the steps clear at least. Which is good because it means my dead leaf hoarding can continue. I use leaves for the compost pile and fear running out of them. I try to tuck several big bags of them into the shed every fall.

== :: **** :: ==

This week I remotely attended (watched many Zoom sessions of) an online education conference. It was alienating. I have had a hard time with in-person professional conferences in the past. I love the anonymous business travel aspect - hotel room all to myself? oh yes! Exploring a new city and running around in a conference center - fun! But aside from attending interesting topics and enjoying good presenters I have a hard time deciding what my goals are. Networking with complete strangers? Oh no, that's difficult. I don't want to be a presenter and have never had a job that required it. I could do it at this point because I see that often it consists of just sharing a description of work methods and data gathered during a defined window. Impersonator syndrome, sometimes called perceived fraudulence - why yes! Feeling like a naughty kid getting away with the hotel and fancy snacks and travel usually balances that out. Not so much when it's all conducted in the box of my computer screen.

I had a crying breakdown during one overview session where attendees were encouraged to download an app for an in-conference game. My phone is old and doesn't have room for more apps and I didn't want to do it and just felt so not into what was happening. Some of my sadness/grief is related to job hunting and not having parenting as my central purpose any more. The online conference stuff threw in some more existential stuff and I just felt like walking away from the laptop and never having to communicate through a screen ever again. What is real? Can there be authentic connection without any in person time? Of course there can but I just want to be able to get a job and go to a place and be helpful to some people. 

Easier said than done so far. <howl of frustration>

== :: **** :: ==

Nod and I talked about picking an arbitrary date to work towards as moving day. I picked the end of March. Maybe this will help embody the amorphous mountain of relocating chores that have to be done. For a picayune example, the hooligan cat knocked over another cactus and spilled dirt on two shelves of books in the upstairs office. Most of these books belong to my daughters and I don't know whether they want any of them. I will take a picture and have tell me if there are keepers. I suppose I'll clean the dirt off first. Freddie gets up there so he can chew on the leaves of the spider plant that hangs down from the top shelf. It's his butt swinging around that knocks things off of the lower shelf. I *think* I have things rearranged so that won't happen again.  

Thanksgiving is shaping up, turkey's ordered and I got the ABQ plan communicated to MIL so we can all discuss it openly. She's been very supportive by email so far. I needed some time to feel ownership of that idea before letting her in on it.    

== :: **** :: ==

The biz that's opening across the street from the high school near where I work turns out to be a donut shop. I find this very cheerful and hope they are a big success. 

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Late October



Message from another gravestone:

    Death is a debt

    To Nature due

    That we have paid

    And so must you

happy halloween

Wednesday, October 19, 2022


In case fall has taken hold of you and you need some soup ideas, right now!  Twitter thread of people recommending their favorite soup recipes.

Looking over my notes I see that I certainly do love a butternut squash soup.  

Easy one from @dansaltzstein: Butternut squash-ginger. Roast a halved butternut squash at 350 degrees until soft throughout. Let it cool., remove skin/seeds and roughly chop. SautĂ© some chopped leeks, garlic and a lot of ginger in butter and olive oil until garlic is just barely golden. Add squash and cover with veggie stock. Add salt and pepper and any spices you like (suggested: Chinese 5-spice and a little cayenne). Let simmer for 15 min. Turn off heat. Using an immersion blender, blend til smooth. Check for seasonings, adjust if necessary.

Another person recommended Butternut Squash Soup with Fresh Sage that sounded so good I made it a week ago. It calls for fresh sage and rosemary, neither of which I usually cook with. I bought a spendy packet of sage leaves but for the rosemary I used the dried that I already had. Soup turned out great! Now I'm drying the rest of the sage to try and use it in the future.  

Later, I remembered this recipe that Kat and I love from Catherine Newman: Thai-style Butternut Squash Soup. So tangy and good!

I wish my spouse was able to appreciate soups but he has texture issues that only welcome stew. 

More from the twitter thread  This from Giada sounds easy and good: Turkey Kale Brown Rice Soup. I need a lentil soup now and then: Turkish Red Lentil Soup. And for your dumpling needs: Vegan veg stew with dumplings. It also reminded me of the existence of simplyrecipes.com. I argue with some of their recipes but have found some good ones as well.


I've been getting through some fiction lately. None of my online book groups have a firm date set up: one group is busy emailing about finding a day/time next week (looks doubtful), one's been pushed to November (that one actually may be the most settled) and one is in hiatus. I haven't read anything that has satisfied all my requirements but I am happy with the variety. Of recent reads, my recommendation is for Unnatural Magic by Waggoner. Surprisingly good! 

Group 1 agreed on a date next week! Yay!! 

Friday, October 7, 2022


 Is the sound of fall coming in. Since we came back from Albuquerque on 9/26 it's been cool and sunny and lovely fallish weather in Lawrence. Too dry since the whole region is in a drought but the sky is blue and the temps are delightful for this mammal. I went along with Nod to a car show last weekend to keep him company while he enjoyed the visual excitement that brightly colored vintage cars bring him. It was such a laid back day with bright sun and slightly cool air. I don't care much about cars but enjoyed being out with the strolling public. There were rockabilly bands and dogs and kids and college football fans (game later that day) and everyone seemed to share the happy, mellow mood.      

Today we have a cold front from the north and it'll be in the high 50s which is startling. But it gets warmer over the next couple of days and is back to high 70s in a few. 

My electric mower's battery has stopped charging. I noticed the charge was getting shorter but didn't pay much attention. Then after cutting just the hellstrip in front, it stopped. I plugged it in and red-green blinking means Defective. I've loved this big toy mower. But the battery ceased to function pretty much right after the 3 year warranty so they know exactly how this works (or doesn't). I am still considering whether a replacement battery (almost half the original price of the entire mower) is gonna happen. I grumpily suppose so since I don't want to hire a service and I don't want to buy another mower. 

Cut my hair and I'm layered with bangs once again. I decided I'd tried the one length long enough and it was never going to be out of my face without clips. I like how much the curl does and that I still have some length.

 I've done some applying and am looking for the next good posting. I feel unsettled and a little resentful at this type of choring. Picture still needed for linkydinkedin. I want to sulk and read books and watch tv. But I'll feel guilty if I only do that. I'm trying to appease both wolves by doing a certain number of applications per week and then having time off after that. 

Nod got a new to him used work truck and we picked it up yesterday. I'm relieved that the old one is on its way out. He'd broken down a few too many times for my comfort over the last year. It didn't seem to bother him much.  

Friday, September 16, 2022


A new what?

I acknowledge some ghoulish interest in an exhumed corpse tried in court, but this is the bit of the wikip article on the Cadaver Synod that really got my attention: 
 Between 872 and 965, two dozen popes were appointed, and between 896 and 904 there was a new pope every year.

That must have been quite a time to be a Roman. And starting about thirty miles outside of that busy city I'd bet that those papal names remained a mystery to most of the rest of Christendom. 

Playing one against the other

I've started both Death In Her Hands and Women Talking. The first is to discuss en book group the first Wed of October. The second one I checked out but never cracked last year. It concerns a lot of I'm trying to read a chapter of one and then of the other. But now I'm making more progress in Death than I expected, it seems to be a brisk one for me. And I've misplaced Women (car? closet? it can't be far). So I'll try to keep some momentum to finish both. 

Edited 10.17.22 to add: Women Talking recounts some horrible, true violence against women and children. And I couldn't get very far this time. I won't be watching the film either. I'll have to content myself with the rest of her books. 

Death... was a surprisingly quick read. Discussing soon with bookies I hope.  

Start with beauty

I keep thinking about a Mole blog post that covers more philosophical ground than I usually have the patience for. I do like the idea of centering meaning on beauty. What could that bring? Making human interactions more beautiful sounds like a perfectly good mission.  



I had two overripe bananas and wanted something chocolatey so tried out this recipe. Homerun! I left out the half cup of water (why?) and frosted with the Hershey's frosting recipe. Delicious. Since it's made with vegetable oil it is moist and keeps well.  

Debriefing myself

Had a job interview online earlier this week. I got to speak with four people. The last person was the supervisor for the position I applied for and I liked her the least. Ha! It was good to learn more about the organization. I'm not sure I'm what they're looking for or vice versa. Very good to get that first-interview-in-a-long-time over with. I tend to feel like I've failed if I don't sense I am everything interviewers hoped for. But I realize that's not a failure, it's feedback and I get to have my own reactions as well.  

I just got my updated bivalent (fancy!) Covid booster shot yesterday. I feel all right at work today, maybe little sorry for myself. When that resolves I'll be reading more job ads.   

Friday, August 26, 2022

A little off the ends

The hair of it all

Time to cut my hair. Appointment is a week from tomorrow. I have a lot of curls which is fun but it feels like the mane is trying to take over lately. I am trying to strike the right balance of making the curls look cute but also having a slightly sophisticated (or at least intentional) gray-headed look. The color at the ends of my hair kind of clashes with the gray. Cutting a few inches off will no doubt bring me closer to silver fox.  

Trying the shampoo bar again and it seems to work for me with a vinegar rinse afterwards and no conditioner. I'll give it a few weeks and consider. Hair stylist Jessica says that shampoos with sulfates are just variations on the same soap that is in Dawn. 


I need a pet crate to try and trap our wild beast of a cat. I intend to start feeding him in the crate with the door wired open. Hope he'll catch on quick. I'm going to try a small dog wire crate to give him some roooom. 

On the page

I keep checking out books from the library. Guess I should read some of them. I started a reread of Pratchett's Lords and Ladies and it is quite restful to the brain. But I don't seem to be progressing so it's time to try something else. I haven't read any Moshfegh before and have got a novella to try. We're going to read her Death In Her Hands for October.

Taking over

I cleaned out youngest's room and rearranged the furniture. I hope she won't be offended. I found that she left behind about sixty t shirts. We'll do some weeding when she's back for xmas. Or I'll pack them up if we move before then. 

Intersection ahead

Eeeeek. I want to be able to plan long term. And I can't since my project is to find a new job in another city and move house in the next few months. I think it could be worthwhile imagining myself in the process. Rather than just hurling myself into the gray misty unknown.      

Eggplant mania continues

https://pickledplum.com/nasu-dengaku-recipe/ [I tried this as written and then with the same cooking technique but a soy/ginger/garlic sauce. It never quite worked for me and I'm going to keep to my broil until smoky good method.]

Monday, August 22, 2022

Find a New Shape

I am working at my job during the busiest time of our year, the start of fall semester. Mitigating that is that we're fully staffed and are using a new system that eliminates some of the questions that were common when using the old system. It'll be busy this week but not crushing. 

I can tell it will be a while before it seems normal to have no teenagers in the house. L is starting her fall classes 897 miles away. K is even further off in Amsterdam at the moment with her boyfriend. She just sent cute pictures of them on a canal tour and picnicking in a park. I'm happy for them and still feeling a little sad and sitting with that. I like them both so much and want good adventures for them. 

It is time for my job hunt to enter the applying stage. An excellent use for my attention and concentration. But before that I'm giving myself permission to be still and listen to my own reactions. I will find my stride. I will assume a new shape as the forces acting on me have changed.   

I feel like tv is getting away from me a little bit. I've been watching Uncoupled which is very NYC elitist in a traditional dram com way which I find enjoyable. Tisha Campbell is so watchable, needs her own series, clearly. I love Brooks Ashmanskas and I swear I remember him from something but the wikip page is not telling me. He was in Good Lord Bird and that's another thing I need to watch! NPH is usually a fun presence but at moments in this show I'm finding him very off-putting. It's a half hour of fairly predictable soapiness that I apparently need. Neither the romance nor the sex is very convincing so far so I guess I'm in it for the repartee, friend chemistry and slapstick. 

Only Murders had the best season 2 ep 1! Such a good cozy mystery conglomeration. I'm almost current on that one. 

Reservation Dogs started up and those girls in peril on the road just about killed me. I hope they get home next episode. We started watching The Bear and I really like it. I'd like to tear through the rest of it but am waiting for my spouse to be in the mood. I may need to just gwan ahead with that.   

Sandman is being just as good as I had hoped. Spoilers follow although I'm not all the way through yet, we just finished episode 7 The Doll's House. Which ended on a very unsettling and threatening moment! I need that to be resolved asap! The Danish reminded me that Tom, of Tom & Lorenzo, has written thoughtful recaps


The Dream character looks like a tough row to hoe as an actor and Tom Sturridge is great. Can't say I liked Cain and Abel but TLo Tom says that they come from some of the horror comics that the original series drew from. I wanted to muss up (Gwendoline Christie) Lucifer's hair. David Thewlis and Sarah Niles should act together again soon, I would watch them do anything together. Kirby Howell-Baptiste is so different in this than anything I've seen her in (Good Place and Hacks is what I can remember). So impressed again with her. The Hob Gadling story was very satisfying. I am scandalized by the serial killers convention and how cozy the coverage of the three coordinators is. 


Updated to stash this for future no-fun reference: Ms Demeanor's guide to handling the administrivia after a loved one's death.  https://ms-demeanor.tumblr.com/post/187765090397/saffronhare-ms-demeanor-hey-you-know-how-i 

The sweary version: DeathSucks.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Through the Unknown

Ordered and installed a bunky board to shore up my poor spouse's side of the bed. I feared that it wouldn't fit or it would be noisy or something. But lo! the bed is better - not as creaky and his side doesn't feel like an imminent collapse. 

Applied for student loan and got it approved and in process with youngest's school. 

Revised resume and got input from people I respect. Contacted my references and updated their contact info. Next is making updates my online profile. Then actually applying for jobs. Which gives me pause. 

I haven't quite figured out how to get from here to working a job in ABQ. Assuming (I know) I was offered one, I could accept, move in temporarily with my mom and start work. Then we'd need to do two enormous things: find a place to rent and start packing up and selling our house. I also fear leaving house packing to my spouse. I suspect this too will need to be tackled with a combination of 1) bulling forward without knowing exactly what will happen and 2) letting my subconscious turn this transition over until it feels more familiar. 

We leave tomorrow to take youngest to her dorm. A hefty14 hours of drive time each way. I have a long to-do list and have checked off some big items. Many more to complete today!

When we get back: buy a pet crate and start feeding the cat inside it. It seems like the best way to get Catastro-Freddie travel ready. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Sea and Art and Words

Salty sea. We drove to the eastern edge of North America and jumped into the ocean. We didn't find our way to the same part of Shackleford Banks but had a beautiful beach day there. Saw some of both kinds of wild horses on the ferry ride over. Got to watch a school of minnows chased onto shore by mackerel. Gulls feasted. For future reference, we want the Atlantic side with a view of the Cape Lookout lighthouse. This time we were at the western (lower) tip of what is a much longer island than my sketch shows.

Took one of youngest's best friends with us which felt adventurous for her and for us. She's a good egg with a dry sense of humor. Not physically strong but very determined. Palest of the bunch of us - she and I were least sunburned after our 5 hours on the beach with little shade. Nod roasted I'm afraid, he was uncomfortable for the next two days. 

I do love the Maritime Museum and its cosy library complete with fireplace, second story ladder (blocked off with nautical ropes) and boat models. I met an older volunteer who was sharing info on shells. He taught me some differences between whelks and conchs. I was correct that conchs are more rounded at the bottom and whelks have long thin 'stems'. But I war charmed to learn that whelks are carnivorous and hunt clams, conchs are herbivorous. I didn't see any live whelks but the girls did. Makes me think of the big moon snails I saw live on a sand bank in Florida lo these many decades ago. I didn't want the other shell hunters to find and kill them. The gray and black color of the shells we found at Atlantic Beach is due to the smothering layer of sand they pour over the natural beach. Grr.    

Two days of driving each way for about 5 beach outings. It's worth it every so often. Glad we drove since the US air travel system is not extremely reliable at the moment.  

Word games. My blog list, slightly scrambled, I love them:

Sundry Catherine 

C'est moi geezer 

diamond Eden 

Six Strong Gods 

Lazy Weblog 

Millard Fillmore's Kitchen  

Slime on the Lake 

nancy Once  

One Pie 

Word Not Included 

Nag On The Steering Wheel 

Last Word TIME MOLD 

Unemployed Nothing 

Woulda Lawyer Mom 

Link me. One to an art and one to a music:

John Pfahl altered landscapes at the L.A. County Museum of Art.  

Early Music Vancouver. Choral and more with period instruments. 

Monday, June 13, 2022

Camera Bamera Book Book Book

Received my Goodwill camera and it came in a box with everything and seems to be in very good shape. Olympus Stylus 1010. I got very frustrated with the crummy camera in my Samsung phone. I am looking forward to taking some better pictures! 

Book comments. I am reading a book that I am enjoying but I do have a bone to pick. One of the main characters sustains injuries and then this has an inadequate amount of consequences in my opinion. This is a character whose thoughts we hear sometimes, the narrator is omniscient and pov moves from character to character within a small group. But there is no treatment described and the character's thoughts go from intense suffering to nothing so quickly. I'm baffled. 

I wonder what caused this lack in the writing. Theories: dislike of violence/injury description? Maybe not since we have a big bad who is busy abusing and terrifying our band of buddies with graphic threats of torture in the section I'm reading. Regarding characters as more abstract entities rather than flesh and blood? I wonder if this could be it. Enough npcs disappearing perhaps dulls the curiosity for what happens after a battle injury? Or too many characters and not enough autorial attention to go around? I can't determine 

Despite this missing bit, the book is providing the fast page-turning romp that I was hoping for when I picked it up. It's contrast to The Historian which is going slower than I expected. I like the mood and the variety of settings and the epistolary pieces. But. It's just not taking off for me and I wonder why. I have decided to trust that it will pick up shortly. The description of the narrator's father's Amsterdam canal house bedroom is pretty great. 

I'm laying down one of the other summer books I started. The historical fiction was including too many modern outlooks for me. Tant pis, lots of other books to taste. 

Oldest kid missed her train from Chicago (Friday afternoon downtown traffic and summer construction) but was able to change her ticket to the next day and is with us now. A knock on effect had her paying a $50 late cancellation fee at the dentist. Young adulting is happening. It's wonderful to have her here and I'll be glad to fling her back to go off to Barcelona shortly.  


Friday, June 3, 2022

Small steps

I washed my hair today and got to work on time. I am congratulating myself on this excellent effort. Being awake in the night made getting going this morning more difficult than usual. I was hot and restless between 3 and 4am. Trying to identify why: I spent time outside (it was a jewel of a day yesterday), I had physical activity (walked to the Union and back plus mowing), I took my B vitamin. Maybe it was the Dr. Pepper at noon? 

Speaking of caffeinated elixirs, I have been making some cold brew coffee and even made with store brand half caff preground - it is mild and nice. I realized halfway through the cup this morning that I could have iced it instead of microwaving. Next time. An additional perk (ha!) is that my coffee breath after is less powerful. 

Our forecast continues cooler than usual for this time of year. I am grateful that climate change (at least this year) is affecting this location in that way. 

I will mow the backyard after work and then I'm going to go downtown and listen to some band at a patio show. 

I'm doing the first week of Liftoff. Trying new things is good for the brain I hear. Pushups are included and I'm using the back of the wooden couch to start. My left upper arm and shoulder are much better after my 25 days with the chatty Canadian.   

 Isn't this gorgeous? Theodore Roosevelt Jr. with a macaw:

Junior grew up to be a hero, links for more info here Kai Ryssdal tweet. From the first citation: 

"56 year-old arthritis stricken, cane using General Theodore Roosevelt Jr. storms the beaches of Normandy with his men(the only general to do so).
Only a week later he would suffer a fatal heart attack while returning from battle. (1944)"

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Late Spring Booking

Discussed No One Is Talking About This yesterday with the Bay Area tribute book group. It was just three of us, one was sick and one hasn't participated for the last three books. I found it more slight than I expected. It's a quick read if you need one. The first half made me laugh several times and made me read bits aloud to my husband. The cat being named Dr. Butthole may be the best for me. She does high/low humor very well. Excerpts:

"A hundred years ago you would have been mining coal and had fourteen children all named Jane," she often marveled, as she watched a man stab a finger at his wife in front of the Keurig display. "Two hundred years ago, you might have been in a coffee shop in Göttingen, shaking the daily paper, hashing out the questions of the day - and I would be shaking out the sheets from the windows, not knowing how to read."


Of course it was always the people who called themselves enlightened who stole the most. Who picked up the slang earliest. To show - what? That they were not like the others? That they knew what was worth stealing?


"You could write it," she had said to the man in Toronto, "someone could write it," but all writing about the portal so far had a strong whiff of old white intellectuals being weird about the blues, with possible boner involvement.


Self-care, she thought, and sprinkled in her tub a large quantity of an essential oil that smelled like a Siberian forest. But when she lowered herself into the trembling water, what she would have referred to in the portal as her b'hole began to burn with such a white-hot medieval fire that she stoodstraight up in the bath and shouted the name of a big naked god she no longer believed in, and as strong rivers flowed off her in every direction she did not remember the conditions of the modern moment at all, she was unaware of anything except the specific address of her own body, which meant either that the hot bath had worked to restore her to herself, or else that she would have sold out her neighbors to the regime in an instant, one or the other. 

We agreed that the two halves of the book make for a pretty simple story. But I'm happy to have read it and have discussed with friends. I may see if I can rope some of my h.s. Zoom friends for the next book. 

I finished The Girl in the Tower, the second book in a medieval Russia fantasy series by Arden. I don't like the title much but gobbled up the book. Like the first one, it is amazingly successful at using the fairy tale infrastructure and weaving human characters and motivations through it. Really good, I picked up the third at the library too. 

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Faulks was nicely done. I've read two authors' homages to the great PGW now and liked them both. The maestro has inspired more art. Faulks also wrote a Bond novel, I'm almost tempted, but...no. 

Currently starting The Widows of Malabar Hill by Massey. It seems like a perfect summer mystery novel - at least judging from the beautiful cover! I have a tall stack of TBR books now including The Historian by Kostova. I'm told it's vampire-iffic and Euro touristy and that also smacks of a good summer read.   


Youngest had her graduation ceremony, bless her. She's committed to the university in Las Cruces and has a plan. We'll need to figure out the financing, which will include student loans, sorry kid. I love her a lot and hope she will find some good stuff in her college experience. 

Oldest gets here on the train a week from tomorrow. Although it may be in the wee hours of the next day, because Amtrak. We get to enjoy her company for a week before she goes back to Chicago and then off to her European study abroad plus more travel after. What luck to parent two people I like so much and who have so much to offer.    


Wednesday, May 25, 2022


Loving kindness meditation

It is bracing to have the latest national violent event kick me off my usual social media diet. I can't face it now and am choosing other ways to spend my attention. Ironically one of them is reading No One Is Talking About This  which so far is about being extremely online. 

SAD. Angrysad. I hesitated before talking about it with my spouse. And I would never bring it up with anyone else for fear of making them so sad. I may have had all the small talk knocked out of me now. There's very little I can imagine talking about with acquaintances. Thank gods for midwest weather, what would we do without it?  

My youngest daughter's graduation party went well! I said that I would go out for drinks afterwards. But instead I went home and took a two hour nap. Ah 55, what a trendsetter you are. I suppose it would be alarming if I flipped and turned into an extrovert partier at this point. 

My husband gave me an unexpected bag of birthday treats from the fancy Euro store downtown. The Bahlsen Choco Wafers Dark are smaller than I expected but they have a big gorgeous flavor. Impressions of the Taylors of Harrogate tea flavors so far:

  • Green Tea with Mint is much more interesting than just peppermint tisane. 
  • Apple & Cinnamon smells wonderful, even through the wrapper. I didn't finish the cup. It's in the sour tea realm and for that I'd rather drink Cherry Berry. 
  • White Tea is pleasant with a subtle perfume. 
  • Mango & Cardamom Green Tea is almost as good as the wrapper copy: "Soft, succulent and sensuous."
My MIL is here visiting and wants to go to the graduation ceremony. It will be at the outdoor football stadium and was rained out yesterday and rescheduled for tomorrow. She changed her return flight. It could get rained out again and that will make us all upset. So come on rain clouds! Have pity and let us get this graduation done on Thursday evening.  


Haha, postponed again to Friday evening. If we get to the 3rd fallback date (Sunday), I'm going to yell Bingo! as loud as I can. 


New British phrase spotted in the wild: "a fair yomp" meaning a good ways or quite a bit. 

Monday, May 9, 2022

Green stuff

Play in the yard
I mowed and then happily sat in the front yard for more than an hour, pulling false strawberry up by the roots. It had rained the whole week and conditions were the best for weed pulling. I even was able to pull out a couple of dandelions with their long tap roots. Sunny low 70s after a week of chilly gray showers - being outside was urgent. I am not sure that pulling is the way to stay on top of this weed. It's rampant in the back. Our backyard is not for public viewing and I mostly don't care what I'm mowing back there. I've failed at no-mow May but I promise that the pollinators have plenty of violets, dandelions, etc. in our neighborhood. The maple key spinners have just started to fall. I'll be pulling up maple sprouts over the next month. 

I put the rest of the Rudbeckia (black eyed susan) seed out in the big front pot. Our purple flowering shrub there overwintered and is leafing out nicely. I limited my seed purchase to cornflowers (blue bachelor buttons) and have some started in a tiny pot inside. I think the seeds in outside pots have sprouted too, where they haven't been manhandled by squirrels. <shakes fist> Stupid squirrels. I've put some chicken wire around some of the pots to discourage their rummaging and need to add more. They never bothered the marigolds - must not like the smell. 

My easily grossed out spouse discovered a big dead opossum under the back deck yesterday evening. And then he dug a hole and buried it. I am thankful because that was the second time in one day that I was spared having to dispose of dead wildlife. There was a small bird who hit the back glass door with a significant whap and lay on the deck long enough that I thought it was dead. But half an hour later it was gone and I hope it revived and flew off. Even if it was the neighbor cat, I appreciate nature taking care of its own.  

I have been reading about using wool to wash dishes - it doesn't sour like sponges do. I was brought up in the way of the nylon-wrapped Dobie but am going to give wool a try. 

I had a physical and it was fine. I am going to have a couple of follow up tests, one of which is actually exciting. (My cholesterol continues to rise, it's inherited from my mom. She had a bad reaction to statins and opted for a super low fat diet to deal. I was so offended in my 40s when my cholesterol was first measured and continued to rise. But I feel like I've worn out my anger about this.) The doctor told me about a scan I can get to measure calcification around my heart. It's noninvasive and costs a whopping $60. If it measures significant calcification that's a warning about possible artery clogging and I would definitely medicate. If not, I will smile and be happy. Medical tech like this makes me happy to live in the future. 



Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Freedom and the absence of pain

Just tried to catch our cat for a vet visit. Nope! I couldn't get him zipped into the canvas bag I've been giving him treats in. And I could not scoop him into a towel. I didn't even get scratched, he just leaped and leaped. I called the vet and cancelled. Guess we'll carry on without professional advice. Freddie lives free! (inside our house).

Last week I got a crown on a tooth with multiple fillings that has been on the dental roadmap for years. I'm glad I got it done before an emergency tooth crack. It's always been a bit sensitive so I hope this will take care of that too. But Damn! was it hard to get numb enough for the drilling. I got topical stuff, then the first shots from a senior hygienist. Then the dentist came in and I wasn't very numb so she gave me shots. Then she started drilling but I could feel pressure right away so - third set of shots. Then the drilling got going and was fine on one half of the tooth but on the other half I got a twinge. So - fourth set of shots. All was fine and dandy after that. I'm glad my dentist is willing and able to stop and start and give me enough dope to make it not hurt. They called me a good patient, although I am still waiting for my sticker. Happy to have a dentist I trust. 

We are plotting for a big move to NM next year. I am doing a little anticipatory grieving over losing functional relationships like dentist, doctors, etc. We will all four change health insurance providers for the first time in 18 years. That's enough to get my heart pounding.  

Youngest is graduating high school in just over a month. She and her dad will visit a university in a few weeks to see if it will suit. The university offers the program of study that she wants, which she originally found in Cardiff, Wales. Nod was able to find a few equivalent undergrad programs in the US. But the setting and the campus aren't inspiring her. I hope the visit will be persuasive. I don't want to be rid of her but I am excited for her to have new experiences. She told us that one of the hardest parts of pandemmie for her was that she was hardly ever alone. Can't argue with that. So I want to help her go forth from my house into a new adventure. Preferably on this continent. 

I finished John Darnielle's Wolf in White Van today. It makes me think of kids I knew in middle school, playing Asteroids in the 7-11, messing around. The book conveys threat and boredom and interiority very well. I didn't enjoy it but it went quickly and I am glad to have read it. That and Hazzard's The Transit of Venus were recommended by a friend. She may have more grown up tastes than I do. I started the Hazzard but haven't gotten very far. 


Thursday, April 14, 2022


Easter is designated in the Occidental Christian church as the Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox (March 21). Calendaring is complicated when you are working with the Julian, Gregorian and lunar years. This wikip page is full of the details - Date of Easter

I like the awkward harnessing of our calendar with the lunar one - love for Luna. The moon is full in two days, and I have a reminder to watch it rise.  

I bought a chocolate bar for each of us in the house on behalf of the Easter Bunny. I sent a small box to K and it might get to her by the weekend. 

The daffodils in our yard are just past their peak. Here is their sweetness a week ago:


Redbuds are indeed budding and will be gorgeous on Sunday. The midwest flower parade continues to bring the beauty.

I thought about revising my resume and starting the job hunt. And felt a familiar sick dread in my gut. I told Nod that I was not accepting this as the objective truth. I am trying out the idea that perhaps this could be a neutral experience, rather than a shame and fear experience. Not sure my gut is going to buy it but when I say it out loud it sounds pretty okay: an adult person with a lot of work experience will update their resume. And then this adult person will send that resume to several employers in response to job openings. I guess it could happen.   



Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Tweedlee Dee

Soak. Did you know about soaking brown rice to reduce the cook time? I just learned about this. Some instructions at the Minimalist Baker page. Worked fine. I will try the pasta boil method for my next brown rice experiment.

Found out there's a spa in north Albuquerque with outdoor salt water hot tubs. I would like to go there.  

Word. Also learned this week - amphigory is a real word. I assumed that Edward Gorey had made up his Amphigorey title from whole cloth. Of course he used a real, obscure word for the mashup, that clever boots. Merriam-Webster says: 

Definition of amphigory: a nonsense verse or composition : a rigmarole with apparent meaning which proves to be meaningless.

Very apt. 

Calling. I was on the wetlands trail yesterday evening and the critters say it's Spring. The red-winged blackbirds and the frogs could be heard all over.   

I've been trying to learn the Tweedle Dee song. I keep having the melody slip out of my head, time to listen to Lavern again. I am grateful to Cathleen Schine's book The Grammarians for introducing me to the song. 

Humpy ump bump bump!

Wednesday, February 23, 2022


KING RANCH CHICKEN without the canned soup. It starts with 'melt a stick of butter' so you know it will taste good. It calls for chile powder, cayenne, black pepper, green chiles, Rotel (tomatoes and green chiles) and 4 cloves of garlic. Flavor will happen despite the butter and cream. I couldn't go all the way to heavy cream, I just used whole milk which seemed plenty. It took me two days (I had to cook the chicken and stock the first day) and was wonderful. My baking dish isn't quite large enough, I added an overflow dish that was mostly just sauce.  

Am reading H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. The book describes her training of a goshawk, her mourning for her father and includes reflection on T.H. White's goshawk book. The back flap informs me that the author is a poet which makes sense. It contains many things that are catnip to me: super British narrative, specialized animal vocabulary, natural history, the revelation that T.H. White was a closeted kinky academic (makes sense), a poetic (wordy!) style used for restrained descriptions of emotion. But I'm having some trouble surrendering to its charms. I'm sorry that THW was so ignorant and mean to his hawk and I don't really want to read about that. I'm not sure I want to read about the author's grief for her father. It is a worthy subject but a land that I can't visit. Also the high anglican poeticisms are getting to me. Parts of the hawk are thrush colored (brown?). The terrified hawk's breath smells of "pepper and musk and burned stone". Brb gonna burn some stone and smell it.  

"That is why the girl who was me when I was small loved watching birds. She made herself disappear, and then in the birds she watched, took flight." No defense against that. Oh god: the hawk "lifts herself into a vast, frothy mop of feathers, holds them there for an instant and shakes them all back into place. A rouse. It is a sign of contentment." Ahhh. "She looks smaller and feels heavier in this mood, as if fear had a weight to it, as if pewter had been poured into her long and airy bones." So much for resistance. I'll just be lying on the ground while this book runs roughshod over me now.  

Freddie the adopted cat is filling out as he should considering all the eating and sleeping. When he came to us he looked like a 2 dimensional long-legged cat body with a round cat head on it - odd. Now he looks like a 3D cat all over and I'm glad that he's been able to relax that much. I've been able to lift him briefly and reposition him on the bed or onto a couch. But I'm still dreading trying to put him in a bag to go to the vet. I've put that off until the end of April, hoping the elapsed time will help. He hasn't had any interest in the cardboard scratching post that Zing liked. Even catnip doesn't interest him! I found a seagrass mat that I put on the couch he likes to perch on while looking out of the window. He hasn't fell to scratching on it but has accepted its presence so we'll see. He seems less destructive with his claws than Zing even though he's bigger. Helpfully, he knows how to retract them which she never could do.  

Tired Person
I got so bored last weekend. I realized that I wanted to interact with people and make art. Community theatre suddenly loomed large in my imagination. But I'm still wary of covid risk. Our team lead and his wife caught it last week from his son who got it at preschool. I chafed at working at home 3 days a week but got more used to it over the month. This week I've added one more day in the office (a majority!). 

At home I'm still working at my tidy-up project. My putting away dishes in the morning score is good. I've started talking with the spouse about when we can do the 5 minute living room attacks. I've looked through three boxes of crystal/stemware and repacked two for the next generation. I've kept the upstairs cat box cleaned - sharing the office with it is a mighty motivator.  

I am winter-discouraged from exercise right now. Indoor stuff doesn't appeal at all. But I still bought myself some giant running shoes to replace the ones where my toes hit the end. I wonder whether I'll be able to jog regularly without knee pain. When we get the next mild stretch I'll try some walk/jogs on the gravel paths at the wetlands.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Stretching the wings

Today is a high ambition day, full of plotting and strategy. Some days are for doing only the immediate. During those times I can't imagine the future. Other days (like now) I feel like a fledging raptor, stretching my wings and looking out at the space I'm going to conquer. 

The first space will be our house. I realized how to put up some pictures on the wall that I've been dithering about. My spouse wanted to put up a new rectangular piece of art next to an existing rectangle. And it wasn't going to sing. But I have a couple of oval things and a small rectangle that I can put up on the other side of the existing piece. And it will be much better balanced and overall good to look at. 

Tidy oop
I just read a book online (How to Manage your Home...) and have decided it's my next guide to a more fun and serene way to tackle housekeeping. It is not to diminish the author's achievements when I say that I love a good mommy blogger who talks about the challenges of maintaining a home and parenting. Someone able to engagingly describe the frustrations and satisfactions of the small stage. This book and her original blog project was a way to grapple with her own strengths and challenges when it came to keeping house. The distractions with what to keep and how to work around it, questions of value and guilt felt very familiar. I liked how constructive and blame-free the strategy is: build the foundational habits and routines that make each cleaning event require less time and effort. Simple, right? Some very tidy people clean as a way to manage anxiety. I don't envy that, I have felt it momentarily.   

Despite the sexism inherent in our current mode of existence, this is a worthy subject for any adult sentient biped. Because we all have to keep house in some sense or another. I find it more natural to read books and talk about them than to keep up a steady rhythm of cleaning. I've improved over the years (parenthood is quite a teacher) but it's still pretty rudimentary at our house. I am going to try this for a week and keep it to myself until I've built up some momentum. I hope the ADHDers I live with will get something out of it eventually. If not, at least I'll have reenergized my nagging. I do run out of the will to nag after a while.  

I learned today that Japan includes free education in their constitution and that all parents are required to send their children to a state approved school. There is no such thing as homeschooling in Japan. I approve entirely. This came up in a conversation with a Japanese coworker about the local district's budget crisis. There is a discussion of closing some of the elementary and middle schools to consolidate and save money. I hope they can find a way forward that avoids closures as much as possible. I worry that we've gotten our kids through American public school right before the roof caves in on that institution. 

We brought home the shy cat from the shelter. He was reallly shy at first and didn't want to interact, very easily startled. After a week, we've seen a lot of progress. He's stomping around our house now and yelling for exercise. He also runs up and down the steps and looks out the windows and yells. Nod thinks he's going to demand to go outside soon. Tough crap, kitty, you're an indoor citizen. He's so different from Zing. I miss her still. We settled on the Honourable Frederick Threepwood as a name after watching a bunch of Blandings. (Oh that second season is a delight!) Freddy weighs 13 pounds (so far) and is a long legged customer. He likes to throw himself down on the wooden floor -- we can hear the thunk of his hip hitting.   

Monday, January 31, 2022


From Slime Mold Time Mold's comparison of the writings of adman Ogilvy and imperial strategist Zhuge Liang

Zhuge goes out of his way to specifically mention fighting injustice. “If your will is not strong,” he says, “if your thought does not oppose injustice, you will fritter away your life stuck in the commonplace, silently submitting to the bonds of emotion, forever cowering before mediocrities, never escaping the downward flow.”

That frittering sounds familiar. I guess if I want to be an imperial strategist I better figure out how to stop submitting to the bonds of emotion and stand up to mediocrities. The Ogilvy autobiog passage about growing up in Lewis Carroll's house and sneaking out to go to church has got me wanting more. 

One More
One last day of January today and of course it's the fifth Monday of the month. Jan. couldn't let us go without just one more. 

Go ahead, storm
Snowstorm hopefully later in the week. I hope for precipitation at least, in whatever form, for all of the western states. 

Substantial is an understatement for this video: Line Goes Up, by Dan Olson. It's a cryptocurrency explainer and I feel much more informed now. I recommend it, even if you only watch the first 20 minutes. My brother is a crypto investor and I wonder how that story will end. He's pretty lucky so maybe he'll take the ride and get out in time. My gut reaction to avoidavoidavoid has been bolstered by the new info. 


Thursday, January 6, 2022


It felt as though we Americans attempted to have a 'normal' Christmas. While also monitoring the wild spread of omicron. And grieving. And still recovering from too many years of that guy. A few friends confirmed that they felt more put upon than excited about the holidays. Of course, even without a plague, many people feel meh or worse at holiday time. But this felt different because even those who loooove xmas were working with a lot of stress and separation and so on.  

To enter into the zeitgeist, we drove to Texas for Christmas with my mother-in-law. We mostly avoided the general public and only interacted with a few people. We're all boosted and it turned out okay. My oldest daughter and I took quick tests later that were negative and no one's had any symptoms. After getting back from Texas I flew to ABQ to celebrate my mom's 80th. I wondered if the flight would be canceled or if public health warnings would intervene but no, it all went okay. 

Today my high school senior is having her first day back school after winter break. The weather is ##%^)&* with a little snow on the ground, temps in the teens and a wicked wind chill. Besides feeling sorry for her having to go out in that, I worry that she's going to spend her day in an Omicron stew. Vaxed and boosted and masked, vaxed and boosted and masked, I repeat to myself. I was heartened to read this post by a public health expert: There Is Good News, linked from the metafilter discussion.

Here's a rad picture of the adoration of the Magi which is identified as a copy of a Bosch original. I recommend zooming in to see the little dragon on the black king's orb/pot. Now *that* is a gift. Philadelphia Museum of Art link to full painting. Love the shadowy donkey too.

The full image also has bagpipers on the roof, a cook (?) peeking around over Mary's left shoulder and some amazing crown/helmets. The more I look at it the more stuff I see: Mary looks like she's got a headache (fair), the wattle and daub stable wall, the half naked king(?) peeking out, the golden sheaves in the hay loft, and the shape of the painted board. I found the picture in this article discussing the black Magus in European art. 

Starting this year, I have hope as well as anxiety. I wish good things for readers and writers, the sick and the well, and all those who are caring for others.