Sunday, March 26, 2006

Tired of work, tired of this city. Tired of the petit train-train de mon existence quotidienne.

Am taking to the hills for a bit.

Will be back in April, bien-sûr.

Friday, March 24, 2006

"Can you dig it?"

she asked rhetorically while snapping her fingers around her head in time with the bongo-like beats of the HVAC machine overhead.

(-via Instapundit)

(Aww, what the heck. T-minus seven days and counting until National Poetry Month. Why not consider submitting something?)
I like what they've done to Assembly Square. For so long that place languished semi abandoned, a halfway point on one of my walks to other places. Now I actually have a shopping center that doesn't require a drive out to sprawl. Yes, the sprawl's come to us.

I'd been putting off getting one of those caller ID boxes, but finally made the trek over to the new Staples to pick one up. Took that occasion to look at other things: a new TJ Maxx, a Christmas Tree Shop, AC Moore. (Never even bothered walking into Bed and Bath: what's the point when you can find a lot of the same stuff at TJ Maxx and Christmas Tree for about 1/2 the price?). Even the KMart, which I'd always found to be kind of depressing when it was alone, seemed a bit cheerier from the company of the new stores and the Martha Stewart stuff.

Spent a celebratory $20 on my trip over: $16 for the caller ID box, then the remaining bit on seeds (Bok choy! Flax! 1/2 off!) and a planter ($2 for a pretty red ceramic thing from, of all places, an EU country. Since there's no way they could produce something so cheaply in Europe, I can only assume that this is an example of dumping. No, I will not report it to the authorities, just like I won't boycott Walmart for improving nascent manufacturing economies by throwing business their way.)

Isn't much, as I'll never be a big spender, but still a nice little foray into stimulating the economy now that the economy's finally been brought within walking distance.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Wow. Two quizzes in as many days.

You Are Emerald Green

Deep and mysterious, it often seems like no one truly gets you.
Inside, you are very emotional and moody - though you don't let it show.
People usually have a strong reaction to you... profound love or deep hate.
But you can even get those who hate you to come around. There's something naturally harmonious about you.

Naturally harmonious? I don't know about that, unless you consider augmented unison pleasing. As for charming people who may hate me: I think that their coming 'round has more to do with my pharoah-moans than anything else.

-via Yog-sothoth, one of my favorite abominations.
People doing stuff in cars.

Boy, oh boy. Hal certainly was right when he said that people don't so much drive here as "do stuff in cars."

I'm used to the folks on the cellphones looking left only while pulling into intersections; nothing I can do about them except wait until they pass by. Idem for the people who don't bother with niceties like signalling what direction they're going to turn, if that's indeed what they're intending to do (you can never tell). Forget about pedestrian lights or the painted lines in the streets: 90% of the drivers ignore them.

I'm okay with all that; have made my peace with these little peculiarities. What really gets to me are the gosh-darned three (or four or five) point and U-turns on busy streets with no warning whatsoever. Absolutely cannot fathom them. People who come to a dead stop in the road and try to wave me across floor me as well. What are you thinking - is this some way to assuage the guilt feelings for having cut someone else off before? This is worse than that, as not only is it illegal, it's dangerous. What's stopping the person behind you from rear ending you? Or a driver coming from the opposite direction from plowing into me because I did decide to take you up on your ill-conceived generosity?

There's a reason why, after 1/2 a life in Boston, I've never bothered getting a MA license: am pretty convinced that it's little more than a Cracker Jack prize. I actually had to pass tests and prove competencies to get my NYS one.

Would be really interesting if the lunch cart from the voc training division were more like this:

Haec ut dixit, ad symphoniam quattuor tripudiantes procurrerunt superioremque partem repositorii abstulerunt. Quo facto, videmus infra altitia et sumina leporemque in medio pinnis subornatum, ut Pegasus videretur. Notavimus etiam circa angulos repositorii Marsyas quattuor, ex quorum utriculis garum piperatum currebat super pisces, qui in euripo natabant. Damus omnes plausum a familia inceptum et res electissimas ridentes aggredimur. Non minus et Trimalchio eiusmodi methodio laetus: "Carpe!", inquit. Processit statim scissor et ad symphoniam gesticulatus ita laceravit obsonium, ut putares essedarium hydraule cantante pugnare. Ingerebat nihilo minus Trimalchio lentissima voce: "Carpe! Carpe!" Ego suspicatus ad aliquam urbanitatem totiens iteratam vocem pertinere, non erubui eum qui supra me accumbebat, hoc ipsum interrogare. At ille, qui saepius eiusmodi ludos spectaverat: "Vides illum, inquit, qui obsonium carpit: Carpus vocatur. Ita quotiescumque dicit 'Carpe', eodem verbo et vocat et imperat".

Satyricon Petronii, XXXVI (Another text that made Latin more than worth learning. Heck, just reading it made me remember that I'd not eaten yet today and I'm actually pretty hungry.)


No wild boar stuffed with live poultry, no sanglier aux cerises. Just a Greek salad, hold the onions. I don't dislike my coworkers that much.
Damn principles.

It's weeks like this that make me wish that, back when I was younger and cuter, I'd have gotten one of those Sugar-Daddy types.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Now's as good a time as any to mention that National Poetry Month starts soon. With that, I like to dust off my other blog: Waiting for April.

Most of what I write (like here) can be taken with a fairly large grain of salt, as I'm neither a writer nor was I educated to be - I just like rhythmic placement of words and diverse means of conjuring images. Sometimes it's fun to think in different ways from my day-to-day and to wax eloquent over something I find particularly compelling.

Would love to hear from any friends and potential friends about poetry that moves, gives pause for thought, thrills. Just drop me a line with a poem and maybe a bit of an explanation as to why it moves you. If you have a site and would like to post there, just send me a link, and I'll put it up at my April site.

Thanks, and until April!
Pavel sent me the link to this little time-waster. He doesn't consider himself much of a student of poetry (or any other literary pursuit for that matter) and wasn't familiar with much of Marianne Moore's work, so was scratching his head a bit at the result.

Always game to waste a few work minutes, I took the quiz:

Which Famous Modern American Poet Are You?

You are Marianne Moore. You are one weird poet who is totally obsessive-compulsive. Thankfully, people think you are harmless and somewhat like you and your work.
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Funny: though I do have a somewhat similar background and share some interests with her, I'm not really a huge fan.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Er ist's

Frühling lässt sein blaues Band
Wieder flattern durch die Lüfte;
Süße wohlbekannte Düfte
Streifen ahnungsvoll das Land.
Veilchen träumen schon
Wollen balde kommen.
- Horch, von fern ein leiser Harfenton!
Frühling, ja du bist's!
Dich hab ich vernommen!

-Eduard Möricke (1832)

(Spring unfurls a blue ribbon to flutter on the wind; a soft, familiar scent promisingly caresses the land. Dreaming violets will soon be roused...Listen, from yonder, a harp's soft music! Yes, Spring, you are here! I've sensed your arrival!)

Harbingers of spring in Ginny's yard. Southern Connecticut, Easter 2005

It doesn't feel like much here in the cold, cold North, but the Vernal Equinox (which arrives at 13:27 EST) is a great psychological milestone. Who can't help but feel cheered at the longer days and subtly strengthening sun?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Happy 15th of March!

Enjoy your day, but don't forget to watch your backs.

...When he saw that he was beset on every side by drawn daggers, he muffled his head in his robe, and at the same time drew down its lap to his feet with his left hand, in order to fall more decently, with the lower part of his body also covered. And in this wise he was stabbed with three and twenty wounds, uttering not a word, but merely a groan at the first stroke, though some have written that when Marcus Brutus rushed at him, he said in Greek, 'You too, my child?"...

-Lives of the Caesars, Divine Julius, LXXXII. Suetonius. A text that made Latin more than worth learning.

-The image? From a local someone whose work I'm going to have to look more into. Wow.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Tuesday Edition of the Monday Morning Flower

Unidentified tropical buds from the South Park Conservatory in Lackawanna, NY were sent to commemorate the balmy weekend out west, no doubt.
Was awakened by the nightmare.

The Dream has visited me 3-4 times a year since I was was about 12, though in recent years, it's changed a bit. I don't feel as helpless as when I was younger. I'm also able to either manipulate the outcome or wake myself outright if I'm too frightened to confront those who would do me and now my loved ones harm. The Dream's also become a less frequent visitor: thought it had gone away for good as I'd not seen it in over a year.

Tonight, Hal and I were harboring an old friend originally from Buffalo, who I met in Boston, and who now lives in Texas. She saw something she shouldn't have seen and was being pursued. I heard mention of drug dealers.

After defusing her initial fear and resentment about being abandoned, Hal sensibly pointed out that it would be best for us to separate and contact one another somehow later. I was to loan her some ID, as we look somewhat similar. As we hurriedly planned and packed, we got warning that They had arrived. Felt the characteristic heavy chill in my chest, then my brain told me to wake up.

I am afraid to go back to sleep, but need to try.
Didn't help matters either that I was reduced to my five year old self last night, alternating between the usually-at-bay fear of the dark and horror at the lightning storm.

Ampersand abandoned me for her safe place under the piano bench, so I ended up crying myself to sleep.

Between the headache from tear-loss dehydration, the clenched jaw and the sleep lost to the nightmare, I'm going to be an absolute bear at work today.

Friday, March 10, 2006

If Walmart's involved, no good can come of it.

Personally, I'd worry more about the Citizens, the BOAs, the Citicorps and the HSBCs and their affects on community banking than I would Walmart. Besides, there seems to be more than one other major corporation owning a bank of this sort already and nobody has a problem with that.

On another, tangentially related note: this doesn't surprise me at all. Will be interesting to see how it plays out in the media, especially if she decides to run for president.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Natural Phenomena in Nautical Art

I am a fan of nautical art; it's a fascinating medium to me. Love looking at different schooners, racing yachts, steamships. Also love the dramatic representations of naval disasters and whale pursuit. I must take after my father for that.

One does not often see representations of tsunamis, however, and I found this one, which hit the western coast of Japan in 1854 to be particularly blood-chilling.

-From the PEM's Maritime Collection.
Unnatural Marine Phenomena

From the same place as above.

Hmm. That sea monster looks awfully familiar to me. Can't quite put my finger on why, though.
Another example of export ceramics from the PEM's awe-inspiring collection:

The brilliant blue of the glaze seduced our intrepid photographer into imitating another work of art in which figures some other exported vases.

Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, John Singer Sargent, 1882. Both the painting and the vases are on display at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
Ceramics manufactured in China for export, 18th-19th Century, from the Peabody Essex Museum.

Though we were really disappointed with the new museum setup, its collection of fantastical Chinese exports still enchants. Especially in this hypermechanized day and age:

Froggie! Looks almost Japanese, doesn't it?


How much more fantastical can you get than a purple-mottled monkey? (Love the glaze.)


This little dog reminds me of a coworker.


I like to think of our intrepid photographer flaring his nostrils back at his subject.


Look at how this fellow is all gussied and hennaed up. He also has the most Mona Lisa-like half-smile.


This brings to mind that conceit of depicting a Buddha or bodhisattva in a sylvan setting accompanied by deer.


The soup tureens are some of my favorites: Among others, PEM has a boar's head, a calf's head, a goose...and this crab. Unfortunately, the photo doesn't do justice to the intricacy of the design fired onto it. (Awfully and understandably low light conditions. Still, was awfully good of them to allow photography at all.)


Custom-made unfired figurines. Apparently one could go to the artisan and they would produce an often striking ceramic likeness of whomever commissioned. Though the PEM didn't have any examples of westerners, they were a target market. The couple here is unidentified.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Ever have one of those days where...

I did.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Happy Birthday, Jo!

For some girls, beefcake is the best birthday cake.

Monday, March 06, 2006

I didn't go to school to be entertained, so why would I go to the movies to be educated?*

I can count on one hand all the recent releases I've gone to the theater to see over the last three years. Have seen absolutely nothing nominated for an Oscar in perhaps the last two years.

Spent last night coming down off my Chabrier high with a knitting project and Benvenuto Cellini on WHRB.

*The Guy thinks that, though the Oscars have devolved into a ceremony to reward mediocrity, it isn't all political. These were the only films that weren't sequels or adaptations, so they were the only ones that ran. It's a thought.
A Day at the Races.

Or so it felt on the way up 95 to Salem. Finally got to see the renovations at the Peabody Essex. Was not particularly impressed, either.

The atrium, which seems to be the centerpiece of the new museum was magnificent, yes, but it seems to have been built at the expense of gallery space. Some rooms would have only a few works mounted on the walls, and then other smaller areas would be crammed with cabinets/objects and very crowded with people. Inexplicable/gratuitous media kiosks blocked the flow of many exhibits. Some of the exhibits lacked explanation/coherence, as well. Not at all like the old museum.

At least the East India Hall wasn't touched.

There were some bright points to the visit: we were always pleased to find favorite, familiar objects. Since they allow people to photograph the permanent collection, someone took advantage of that.

In this case, I don't feel that expansion was an improvement. Sadly, as this was one of my favorite museums, I have no desire to visit again.
A Night at the Opera.

We caught Chabrier's L'Etoile yesterday afternoon at the Majestic. In a word, it was magical.

We weren't familiar with the work, so were very curious to see how it would be treated. Brilliant to work with the structure of the piece (lots of dialogue, recitative, patter-songs) and render it Gilbert and Sullivan-like while still retaining the Frenchness. I particularly loved the deft change of liqueurs for the drunken duo in the last act.

Not everything was rendered into English however, and it was during those sung moments where, embarassingly, the tears would start flowing.

Staging was minimal, but playful and effective. In sum, Opera Boston Got It Right.

There is one more performance, tomorrow night (Tuesday the 7th). I recommend it highly: it's a wonderful diversion, and the company deserves to be supported for their very impressive work.
Beau Bleu a enfin casse la pipe.

Work's busy and my little blue ground score finally kicked the bucket.

Stuff'll be blogged when it gets blogged.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Left work a little bit early last night so I could root around Target a bit before heading home. Found a few nice things and didn't spend too much:

one pair of floppy black pants (cotton/spandex mix with a flat front placket): $4.98
one pair of khaki pants, same style: $5.74
one pair of 'french toast' colored cargo pants: $11.48
one fitted, cropped, tan blazer with 3/4-length sleeves: $13.98

All are slightly funky, but classic enough to last a few years. I like the bit of brass hardware on the cargo pants, and the blazer's got a really nifty retro jacquard pattern.

Also picked up a 'seamless' spandex suit top, but after trying it on again, found it to be too sexy to be comfortable. That'll go back.

I'm amazed at how well-made all these things are, given what they cost. Granted, they were all on the clearance rack, but still. Makes a girl wonder what the cost of inputs was, for crying out loud. Hmm...let's see: two pairs of pants came from Vietnam and another from Hong Kong. The coat was made in the Phillipines.

Well, that answers it. Good for Vietnam, Hong Kong and the Phillipines.
The gift that keeps on giving.

Last night, made curried baked fish for dinner. Surprise, surprise...I can still smell it this morning. Aah, apartment living.
The yogi licorice tea I had last night was also quite good. It had orange peel, cardamom, black pepper and cloves in it. The tag line read, "travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light (insert Buddhist chuckle here*)." I really enjoyed inhaling the steam from this one; felt very soothing.

*A Buddhist chuckles at the cosmos, a Hindu giggles. I know that this is Yogi Tea, but a giggle doesn't feel right.
Yogi Tea

Whole-Foods commercial hippie-crunchiness aside, this stuff's good. I'm currently drinking their cocoa spice tea which is apparently made with ORGANIC cinnamon. There are a lot of other nice things in it as well, including roasted chicory root, ORGANIC cardamom seed, stevia leaf, ORGANIC ginger root, ORGANIC clove buds and ORGANIC black pepper. Not at all like hot cocoa (though it sure smelled that way while brewing), it feels like a warmer, fruitier, lighter chai.

As an added bonus, there's a new-age tag-line (to be read aloud in a Yogi Bear voice):

"To recognize the truth, first recognize that you are the truth."


Friday, March 03, 2006

Other Signs Held Up by Olympic Moguls Skier Toby Dawson's Mom Besides "GOOD LUCK, TOBY DAWSON!"


- - - -









-Lists are up chez McSweeney!
The common cormorant (or shag),
Lays its eggs in a paper bag.
The reason is you see no doubt,
It is to keep the lighting out.
But what these unobservant birds
Never notice is that herds,
Of wandering bears that come with buns
To steal the bags to hold their crumbs.

-Christopher Isherwood

-John James Audubon
Last night, got my quarterly look at what was on the boob. ABC had a movie on: something called Sweet Home Alabama (a Reese Witherspoon and Allman Brothers vehicle). Not tremendous, but not downright awful, either. I was actually surprised at the relatively sympathetic portrait of the people from Witherspoon's character's hometown. Especially interesting was the treatment of the gay male character in her group of old friends; made me think that if Proulx and Lee had relocated their characters to Alabama, they'd not have fared so poorly.

After that, I had the choice between 20/20 reporters baiting members of some religious commune and random lawyer stories on other stations, so went to bed. Given what I'd seen of upcoming programming during the myriad commercial breaks (inventors making fools of themselves in front of judges and Extreme Makeover Surgical Edition), I'm probably not going to be turning on the TV again for quite a while.
What a lucky girl I am!

Someone left a bag of lemons at reception for me (along with some haricots verts)! Looks like we're going to be seeing some lemon marmalade soon.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Wally Versus the Machine.

Two things I love: good adaptations of classic tales and being pleasantly surprised by The Onion.
"They took all the trees
Put 'em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see 'em

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot."

Coming from a place that lost a lot of big trees due to blight, I find this to be incredibly sad.
Nanotechnology: it's not just about Ice Nine anymore.

I'm not what you'd call an early adopter of any sort of technology, but I really could get into this.
Talk of the Town

Then and Now.

To answer one of my favorite culture vulture's queries: Even with all the crud we're bombarded with, I still am happy to be in the Here and Now. I love John Adams and Miles Davis as much as I love Rachmaninoff and Fanny Brice. There's still plenty of good out there; you just have to work a bit harder to get to it.

To take it even further: I like antibiotics, the internet, my mp3s (transferred from old 78s) of my heroes playing the piano, and regulated as opposed to bootleg liquor. Less of a chance of going blind from the former than the latter.
Also got the Spring word from my Constant Gardener, un ami de pas si loin. Am looking forward to another golden, sun-drenched season of talks on mulch, fresh tomatoes, the smell of spring earth on a cold day, and what to do with all that extra zucchini.
Though we're slated to get more snow soon, I'm rearing to go at it in the garden. The seed catalogs have been coming since January. Karen and I have been poring over Seed Savers like a couple kids with the Wish Book before Christmas. The days are getting longer (in less than three weeks, the sun will be setting at seven!), the quality of light is improving as well.

In two weeks' time, I'll be out poking around the frozen ground with a chopstick, making holes for my peas: a Somerville version of Puxatawney Pete.

Was sorting through my seeds from last year, trying to envision what sort of garden I'd like to end up with this year:

Phlox, zinnias, nasturtium

Lots of greens: arugula, buttercrunch lettuce, two kinds of escarole, chard, collards, kale

White radishes, cauliflower, cucumbers

What am I missing? Tomatoes, maybe? Squash? The herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage, tarragon, chives, oregano, mint) will be coming up soon and I've seen some greens from last year peep up at me. Plus have plenty of perennial flowers.

Radishes! Have to get radishes; they're early risers and very good company for the peas.

Any ideas for nice, bright, cheap annual flowers to spruce things up until the warmer weather? Haven't been lucky with bulbs, unfortunately and would like something to cheer up the flower bed in the early season.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

"Well, it wasn't Starry Night*."

I know that this is Detroit, but come on. The kid wadded his gum up in a museum and stuck it on one of the paintings (by Helen Frankenthaler). Defaced someone else's property. "Only 12?" "Didn't understand the ramifications of what he did?" Please. Was he raised by wolves?


The Guy chimed in on this one: Where were the guards? Did the teacher/chaperone talk to the kids beforehand? (I remember field trips when I was a kid - fun times, but on a tight leash.)

* A friend of The Guy's told the tale of his brother's having accidentally hurt a painting in a museum. This was the defense offered after seeing the horror this story elicited.
I'm about as Cafeteria Catholic as they come, so why give anything up for Lent?

Have puzzled over it for years. I had a tumultous growing-up which ended with the two biggest acts of defiance I could muster: quitting the Church two weeks before being confirmed and moving out of state. During and after College, I experimented with religions like some young people do with drugs, sex, vegetarianism. Am not quite sure what I was looking for: a magic mix of tolerance, ceremony and good music, perhaps? Whatever the reasons, I always found myself sneaking off to get my ashes and later palms and I always found myself giving something up for Lent.

There's something about the season which steels the resolve and aids in success. Forty days isn't forever, but it's still a relatively long time. Abstainers band together and edge each other on in subtle ways. Sometimes it just feels good to deny yourself something you really enjoy and giving the proceeds to someone who really needs it.

The ritual (borne of necessity - the Church instituted the period of fasting at the time when the food stores were at their lowest and starvation of parishioners or revenue sources would be the most likely; a public health policy of willing spirit pulling along weak flesh) links me to other practitioners over the millennia. I feel a sense of structure and a deeper network of roots than what the family's put down in this continent.

I am about as Cafeteria as they come, but I am Catholic. Have tried hard to weed it out, but it keeps coming back.

Oh, here we go! Like I said, Catholics of the world unite! (probably not work safe)
Harbingers of Spring:

-Walks home are no longer in the dark.

-The word "cruisewear" is replaced with "spring" on the fashion catalogs I find in the front hallway.

-Affordable strawberries are available in the supermarket (buy one get one at Shaws last week!).

-My boss's sweaters turn from navy and brown to sky blue and melon.

-The third quarter DOL survey makes its way into my office mailbox.
Turning calendar pages

She let go another sigh of relief on seeing the back of the most wretched (and mercifully shortest) month of the year.