Monday, December 24, 2007

Out the door



and off to the land of sugarplums. Given that I have a night flight, I wonder if I'll meet another seasonal Frequent Flyer en route?

In any event, have a Merry Christmas and a safe, happy New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Decided to break my longstanding tradition of not participating in the company potluck (which is mostly catered anyway) and Yankee Swap. Picked my gift for for its packaging, a wine-bottle-shaped basket, as it'd make a great needle caddy. Was so excited about that that I sat down without even thinking to look for anything inside. The crowd hollered for me to get back up and open my gift. I did and found something that I'd always wanted but would never think to buy myself: a Mayflower Poultry tee shirt! I've threatened the Frenchie with wearing it at Eco Fruit next week, as that place seems to have been overrun by Somerville/Cambridge types (I blame Dassault).

Short of time and energy, I wrapped up an amethyst-colored scarf bit from my WIP basket with a promise to have it finished and in the recipient's mailbox by Monday morning. The person who chose it was so pleased with its color and the fact that it was handmade that she found me afterwards and gave me a hug. Certainly went a long way towards improving my day.

Need to send a thank you note to the lady who got the tee shirt. It's so me, gosh darnit.
Blue.

Blue Iris brings together the dependable aspects of blue, underscored by a strong, soul-searching purple cast. Emotionally, it is anchoring and meditative with a touch of magic.”

#18-3943: Pantone's favorite for 2008.

Oh, why not:

Posted From Home (Finally).

I've been a happy RCN customer for about four years now. Love my service, love the techs, love the support folks with whom I will play an occasional game of "let's see if you remember how to manoeuver through Cutesy X version Domestic Shorthair.*" This love has not changed a bit.

However, based on my recent experiences with Comcast, I can honestly say that THEY SUCK. IF THEY WERE THE LAST TELECOM/ISP IN THE US, I'D JURY RIG A SETUP WITH SOUPCANS AND SOME STRING BEFORE I PARTOOK OF THEIR "SERVICE."

B@stards cut all my phone/data lines the other night while setting up my landlord's new service. I hate them. I hate them and I'm not even a customer. Way to go, jerks.

***

* Since I'm still running Hal's old groundscore, there are limits to my upgrade capabilities. Doctor visits, heat and school take priority over new toys right now. It runs, I've got it backed up. Works for me.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I like to walk to work thinking of that scene, humming the music, imagining I'm a roving singer instead of a reporting analyst.
Pansori

The first time I heard this musical form, in Im Kwon-taek's Chungyang, (one of my favorite movies ever) I was blown away. Thanks to the magic of Youtube, I can now gorge myself on it.

Found this recently: a little unusual due to its being a duet instead of a solo piece. It's from another Im Kwon-taek film called Seopyonje.



Yes, it's a little jarring at first. After a bit, it'll get into your blood.
Couldn't think much over the weekend, so knit a fair bit. Wanted to make the Frenchie a stocking, as he'd never had one before. Also didn't want something standard red-green.

While going through my stash, I found four colors of a bulky weight wool-blend that not only worked together, but moved me to the lovely, dark, and deep woods where I would much rather have been.



The stripes: 5-7-3-11-1-5-7-11-13-5-3-1-5. I like primes; they're soothing.

Decided to call this Snowy Evening. I don't care if it sounds pretentious or derivative.
Tired. Old.



Mamasan, Summer 2006.

We've aged a lot over the past few days.

Mamasan's a lot sicker than we originally thought. Was going to have him put to sleep today, but just couldn't. That will need to be dealt with after the holidays, as he's not hurting and I need him so much right now.

Pavel said that he'd take him back to NJ over Christmas, since he had such a blast at Thanksgiving (warm house, plenty of people food, another friendly cat to groom him). P's dad is a deacon and took a liking to Mamasan, so wants to pray over him. Wish I could be there. However, will be elsewhere.

For now, the Old Guy (he's not quite 18) is jumping around a lot (you should see him!), eating whatever he wants (even has a place set at the table, complete with dish and napkin), and enjoying good lap time with me when I'm home and not in a fit of tears. He's also getting a fair bit of reiki (don't laugh!)

Life has to go on. It does, but I'm having difficulty getting it started up again.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Triomphe Pyhrrique de la Pipolitique*?



"Sarkozy's going out with Carla Bruni!"
"You mean he and Khadafi are no longer an item?"
Chappatte, Le Temps de Geneve; reprinted by Courrier International.


A few things to keep in mind when reading news coverage here is that France is a completely different animal from the US, Sarkozy is not the French Bush, and the media there are largely NOT skewed against him (quite to the contrary). Anyway, it's kind of interesting to see the less-than complimentary coverage of the latest photo-op "romance" between Monsieur le President and Mick Jagger's ex. Perhaps it's one nana** too many after the 'heartbreak' of divorce***? Perhaps the pattern of personal life stuff showing up in the news to take the edge off something that puts the President in a bad light is getting too obvious for even the media types there to ignore?

* pipolitique (as in politique de pipotique) is such a cool word and such a great descriptor of the Sarkozy administration's operations to date: pipotique is Powerpoint speech: saying a lot, but meaning nothing. "Big Bang in China," "Cultural Revolution" for the bureaucrats, "Environmental New Deal," are the last three propos that come to mind.

** chickie

*** particularly laughable was the cri du coeur that rose up from the usual suspects over l'affaire 60 Minutes. He pulled a combination Dean/Kerry and all anyone thought to ask was "how dare they pry into his personal life?" How indeed, as it's for him to drag through the tabloids at will.

Friday, December 14, 2007

First Saved Space of the Season.



In front of the nextdoor neighbors' (uphill) house.
I think it's the folks across kittycorner (again, uphill) from me - they have like a half a dozen pickup trucks/SUVs and are the only folks who do this on our street.

Thursday, December 13, 2007



My neck of the woods at about 5:00 pm tonight.

Shoveled twice today since about 3:00 pm and plan to go out once more before bed. It sure seems like a lot more than the eight inches the Weather Service predicted. Since Raphaella's all alone and D across the street's recovering from surgery, I took care of their places, too. It's one of those days where I can honestly say that I earned my dinner (homemade split pea soup with lots of carrots and onions, in case you were wondering).
I have a ton of work/writing to do. The heart is telling me I need to take an hour or two off to do a bit of knitting, though. Maybe I should listen to the heart for a change.
On a more cheerful note - the Frenchie sent me a stained-glass window today.



He sent me a wheat field as well, but the colors were somber shades of brown and gray. I'll save that one for a happier day.
Early Release.

Got the email from HR telling us we could leave at 2:00. That's just as well, since I'm kind of just waiting around for the baton to be passed off to me. Would much rather be elsewhere.

Had an incredibly frustrating morning: was supposed to have a people doctor appointment tomorrow, but it was cancelled. The receptionist I called told me that they had left me a message on my voice mail (certainly didn't receive one on any of my phones). I didn't push the issue, as, well, what's the point? Previous confrontations over the same thing have not won me anything. Sighed, made another appointment for the end of February, then asked for something closer up for my knee. This didn't work out, but I DID learn from her that my care group has walk in clinic that's open weekends. Not great - but it's something.

Took Mamasan to the vet: from the way things look, he's got an over active thyroid and a bum tooth (which would go a long way towards describing the lump called a fatty tumor before and the drastic weightloss). The vet, a nice enough lady I guess, took some blood and pee and said she'd have test results tomorrow evening. Unfortunately, after that, my benefactor/ride person started asking her all sorts of questions which sounded like second-guessing...she certainly seemed to interpret it this way. Between the two of them, couldn't get a word in edgewise. When I did get my question in, was treated to a rather heated lecture from her (she stopped just short of finger pointing, thank heavens) about questioning her diagnosis and methodology. Got a curt "nice to meet you" and a quick exit. Didn't know whether I wanted to start crying or be swallowed up into the Earth, I felt so horrible. Still feel like crying.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Surfacing

Take a deep breath...whew!

Let's see: reinjured knee, payroll-month-quarter end, homestretch for my course, a sick cat.

Things on hold: the blog, knitting, jellymaking, piano-playing, long walks, pleasure-reading.

Class'll be over next Tuesday, doctors' appointments by this Friday, work stuff (hopefully) before I head out to guess where for noël/réveillon. Wouldn't mind fitting in some Christmas stuff before the actual holiday, not to mention writing a bit here. We'll see.

Deep breath again...splash!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Talked to the Frenchie today - he tells me to not worry, that the problems are limited to a small area, and especially, to take the police reports with a very large grain of salt.

Most of the news and commentary I've been seeing in the States has been panicky second French intifadah sort of stuff. Easy enough reaction, I guess, if you're not familiar with how things work over there (I'm not enough, the Frenchie is too much). However, there's a heck of a lot more going on than what's being allowed out to the press there and what's being filtered through here. I have a funny feeling that, like November 2005, a clear picture of what happened to precipitate the latest round of civil unrest will not be coming anytime soon (if ever).

I just hope it ends soon and that as few people are hurt as possible.


"The song that I came to sing remains unsung to this day.
I have spent my days in stringing and in unstringing my instrument.
The time has not come true, the words have not been rightly set; only there is the agony of wishing in my heart.
The blossom has not opened; only the wind is sighing by.
I have not seen his face, nor have I listened to his voice; only I have heard his gentle footsteps from the road before my house.
The livelong day has passed in spreading his seat on the floor; but the lamp has not been lit and I cannot ask him into my house.
I live in the hope of meeting with him; but this meeting is not yet."


Saw this bit of grafitti during one of my rambles around the neighborhood. What a lucky girl to have such a beautiful name.

Monday, November 26, 2007



Yeah, right. This never crossed your mind. I'm sure you never daydreamed about hollering "You sunk my battleship!" during the moment of silence after Communion, either.
Back Again.



Overstuffed turkey Be inflicting the dreaded Genie Dance on overstuffed turkey Antonio...what kitties will submit to for love.

The drive to NJ wasn't bad, though we did hit huge patches of fog the likes of which I've only seen Downeast. Dinner was the traditional one for thirteen, to which I contributed a pecan pie and a pumpkin-raisin-walnut bread. (The pumpkin was this year's jack o lantern. The walnuts came courtesy of a tree in Powderhouse park.) The weather was about as nice as it could get this time of year, so we got some good walks in, as well as the NJ Black Friday Mall Experience.

Saturday saw us at the Princeton Art Gallery, home of a happy Pasta Eater, a black Madonna, about the gayest St. Sebastian I've seen to date and yet another riff on the St. Francis Stigmata theme.

In all, a great weekend. More later, as I've got some other writing to do.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Taking Flight.



A Heron at La Bagatelle. Hidden behind a waterfall in a small grotto, we witnessed a great blue heron land, then graze. The Frenchie tells me that he's never seen a heron in the city, much less at such close range (at about 10 yards from us). How ironic that, after several years of not visiting this garden, my friend finds himself passing through several times in the past week due to the train strikes.

I apologize for my irregular posting; it's certainly not due to a lack of interesting happenings in my life. (Far from it!)

The bulk of my time at the moment is taken up with trying to get myself through a very writing-intensive course unscathed. The rest is tied up in work and doctors' appointments.

Anyway, for Thanksgiving, I'm actually staying on this side of the Atlantic, although not in New England. As was the case last year, I'm heading out to adoptive family in the Garden State. Mamasan's coming along with me, as he's been under the weather and I'm a bit worried about him. Something tells me that this might be my last holiday with him. We'll see.

Hopefully when I get back, I'll have a bit more time to spend in the smaller pursuits. So much has been going on (*so much!*) and I really feel the need to talk about it.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Back again

from a short trip across the Atlantic.



Paris as seen from the train station at Puteaux

My feelings about France will always be ambivalent. The time I spent there in school was pretty intense, and I did get to see the worst of both the government bureaucracy and the medical system. On the other hand, I learned that intrinsically French weirdness syncs well with American (or at least my own) weirdness.

Between the extortionate and ever-rising cost of living, problems with immigration, the EU constitution, and the shenanigans of the current administration, there's a lot to worry about. Being more of a provincial person, I'm not sure that I even like how much time I've been spending in and around the capital, either. However, after years of denying myself, I have to accept that I'm drawn to the place. Don't what causes this. I only know that my vibration, though not in unison with the place's, harmonizes well.

Returning to Boston was really tough this time around.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Business as usual.

The bureaucracy here is running like I try to during recurring nightmares of being chased through thigh-deep mud.

I was kind of hoping that things would be different today as I have a deadline to make and a flight to catch.
Words to note: "Un dialogue est engagé*"

Though I'm not really a betting kind of girl, I get the feeling that I should be putting money on the prospect of Chad's receiving some nifty new toys in the near future.

***

*Dialogue has been established.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Gotta Love Those Quaint Multicultural Traditions.

“Cari Luna is Jewish by heritage and Buddhist by religion. She meditates regularly. Yet when she and her husband put their Brooklyn, N.Y., house on the market this year and offers kept falling through, Ms. Luna turned to an unlikely source for help: St. Joseph.”

---

“Yet most home sellers favor the simpler three- or four- inch replicas -- most of which are made in China and often depict St. Joseph as a carpenter.”


Sounds like it was one Jewish Buddhist helping another.

-Pablo.

***

Actually, that's how my mom sold the house I grew up in. She buried a St. Joseph in the front yard under the magnolia tree. Apparently, the next viewers made an offer.
Surfacing to Breathe.

Got the brain chemistry thing settled (for now), got some good news on another (female) front.

Am now dealing with a writing-intesive course to get back into the swing of things (part of moving forward the life plan, will talk about that later), as well as a number of production deadlines at work.

Allergies! Good Lord, have they hit!

All in all, though, life's not too bad. There just doesn't seem to be enough of me to go around.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

After I went off the stuff* there was a residual weirdness: shakiness when speaking and a fear in the back of my head that somehow I was behaving inappropriately.

Still, it was such a relief to be free. I could laugh, smile, think clearly and express myself again. The feeling of a too tight bike helmet lifted itself from my brow and whatever was pushing my shoulders forward and hunching me went away. On my walk to work Friday morning, I restarted looking people in the eye, smiling and wishing everyone who looked receptive a good morning. Also noticed quite a few male types giving me the look again from their cars, etc**.

Today, I'm back to the tiny dose, the 2.5 mg. Cutting the pills is a pain in the rear, but I can't handle any more than that. There is benefit to be derived from the medicine. I'm sleeping more and better (insomnia's always been a problem), I can concentrate better at work, and upsetting things that I'd normally ruminate over for hours if not days are being given their proper place in the scheme of my life. I don't want to forever be altering my brain chemistry to get by, but in the short term, it seems to be a good tool to help me complete the tasks I've assigned myself.

Of course, there are still side effects (lack of confidence in speech, a slight dreaminess, perhaps a strange tone to my voice when I talk to strangers, too. I also find that I can't fit enough words on a single breath), but they are much slighter than before, and dealable. I'm smart, so am confident that I'll find workarounds for all these.

***

*Citalopram, aka Celexa.

**Always a surprise, as I don't see myself as being particularly worthy of being looked at in that way. A girlfriend noticed it, and was wondering if I had some sort of pheromone thing going on as well.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The emotional component was what upset me the most. It wasn't that things were not bothering me anymore. Rather, all feeling was someplace else very close by, imprisoned behind a wall that looked like the bulletproof glass in a bank. I knew it was there, saw it, felt it struggling like a small child or hurt animal, but couldn't do anything about it.

As I'd spent nearly 10 years and countless thousands of dollars in therapy trying to learn how to feel and express emotion, this chemical deadening didn't seem right or fair. My intellect protested, my body revolted against. I wore a perpetual scowl and started grinding my teeth again. All I could think of in the rare quiet moments was ending this part of the treatment, ending counseling outright and trying to soldier on alone.
Visual: nothing major, save for things in my periphery jumping out to surprise me. (On retrospect, maybe not such a great thing if one is easily startled like I am.)
Touch? Revolting. Forget about it.
Taste: I could taste, but I didn't care. I already have a slow metabolism, so have to remind myself to eat. On the medication, I had to note when I'd eaten last and when I was going to have to do so again so as not to get headachy-stupid-dead faint ready.
I always knew that I was hearing was my strongest sense (with smell running a close second), but this was ridiculous. On the medication, I lost all the filters my brain uses to help me focus on the task of getting from point A to point B without killing myself. As a result, the world around me started feeling like a poorly-mixed soundtrack or a concert where all the members of the orchestra were playing their parts at the same dynamic range.

I have to admit, it was kind of neat. However, it was also very freaky and overwhelming, and did almost put my life in danger a couple times. Also, the oddest thought kept coming to mind: How long do I have to be on this stuff before I learn to focus again?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Those subtle changes in perception became overwhelming and life got very difficult.

The doctor told me absolutely to stop taking the stuff in order to let my system clear out. I feel so much better now.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Am having these subtle changes in perceptions (concentrating on the impulses from feet to ankles to calves &c right on up to the thighs while walking) and reaction times (sometimes taking an extra second or two to understand the impact of stoplight colors or pedestrian walk symbols). I also look slightly flushed and feel a little tired. Am not too worried about it, though. What good would worrying do? Did put a call in to the doctor's office just in case, though.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Three Dollars!

Christmas Whirlgig II

I've always wanted one of these Weihnachts-whirlygig-dingen and now I have one, thanks to the Salvation Army on Broadway. The cashier guy must've thought I was a loon when I thanked him for making my weekend.
Money and health issues aside: I'm actually pretty happy. The trip to the symphony a week and a half ago still has me turning on my toes in my kitchen/dance studio*:



Even a long-gone Dead French Guy'll do that to this girl.

Have to figure out something nice to do for the person who gave me the ticket then even took me out to dinner** that evening. It made me feel as young as I was when I actually lived around the corner from Symphony Hall.

***

*Seriously! It's the biggest room in the house, has a good, slidey linoleum floor and, when I keep the bathroom door open, I can watch myself in a full-length mirror. I do all my stretches/yoga/dance practice here. I'd even do my tae-bo workout in there if I felt like moving the TV in.

**Thai, of course.
All this and, as of September first, my health insurance copays nearly doubled for office visits.

No, I don't blame the insurance company: they're in business to make money. I am more sore at my HR department, as they seem to be more interested in planning cinco de mayo parties &c. than negotiating better rates for us.
It seems as though everywhere I go, I'm barraged by breast cancer awareness publicity. Massachusetts has a pretty high rate comparatively speaking*, but I fail to see how the constant pink-ribbon waving, walk-planning, yogurt-label saving is going to help matters. All I know is that, outside of the media blitz, I'm constantly thinking about my lump and its implications. Would just like a bit of respite from it outside of sleep.

***

*My gyno tells me that new breast cancer cases in MA are something like 1/9 women, compared to the national average of 1/14 (this site claims 1/7 in 2005). He tells me also that there's been an upswing in new cases in women in my age group: the 34-36 year old range.
Haven't really felt like talking about this, but what the heck: over the past year, I've dodged the cancer bullet twice. Both areas are pretty trauma-wracked from past abuse, which has made things especially difficult emotionally.

I'm currently taking what I've gathered to be an experimental treatment (testosterone) to curb cell growth in one place; am worried about how this is going to affect the other area (my lump). All I know is that I hate-hate-hate this stuff and what it's doing to my body: I've acne like a 15 year old. My body (especially breasts) bloats up and feels very uncomfortable. At one point I even stopped menstruating. The blood pressure sky rocketed and I started having panic attacks unlike ever before.

The gyno has since halved the hormone cream, and I alternate it with a steroid cream (never thought I'd feel relief to be reduced to steroid use!). I got my period back (never thought I'd be relieved about that, either!) and the blood pressure is down, though the weight's still up and I am still kind of pimply.

Last week, started taking low-doses of an antidepressant to calm the panics and to help me sleep. The psychiatrist wanted to start me on 5 mg of a common SSRI, but I bargained her down to 2.5 (much to the amusement of my primary care and some friends and colleagues who know more about this stuff than I do) for starters. Hey: it's my brain chemistry we're messing with; can't go too small or too slow on that.

Don't know that this's had any effect except to make me sleepy. Starting tonight, I'll be trying 5 mg; hopefully it won't bliss me out, cause me to dissociate or make me even more panicky as these things can sometimes do. Guess we'll just have to be patient, wait and see.
Tired.

Last week, three appointments. This week, four. Next week, another three. I really should hire myself out as a guinea pig rather than pay people to poke, prod and prescribe a theoretically better life through chemistry.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Excited!

A friend had an extra ticket to the BSO tonight, so offered it to me. I'd been daydreaming about the program for some time, so am thrilled.

Did a quick run to Target to get something acceptable to wear (it is, after all, casual Friday), then managed to get through the rest of the afternoon somehow (hard thing to do when you're all fidgety like a five year old).

I believe the ring has something to do with this. Whenever I find one, other happy things follow in its wake. The symphony's only one of a few treats that've fallen in my lap this week.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Paint Fumes.

I feel as though I've had a two martini breakfast. Geesh.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Not a bad arrangement.

I've been stuck next to people who've only listened to things like rap, talk radio or commercial classical (how many times a week does a girl need to listen to Mozart's Requiem/the Gymnopedies/Selections from the Messiah/Beethoven's xth?). All things considered, hits of the 80s aren't bad at all.



Heavens, some of it makes me feel old, though.
I love opening the front door in the morning and smelling salt on the air. It's one of those few and far-between reminders that, though I'm on the back side of a hill facing inland, I'm still very close to the sea.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Yesterday, the Frenchie set about to sketching his dreamhouse:



I particularly like the espalier to the left of the steps.

If I ever do own property, it's certainly not going to be a chateau, and will most likely be on a very small lot to boot. For this, I'm fascinated with all methods of limited space gardening. Since I have a thing for jellymaking, would love to try training a couple apple or pear trees (reputedly difficult to train) on a fence or wall. Wonder if nut trees would work, too? Then I'd really be set.
This morning I picked up a cup of coffee and, feeling a bit spendthrifty, asked the shopkeeper to pick out a dollar lottery ticket for me. He gave me a blackjack-themed one.

Took a walk around the block to enjoy the now golden-green showers of honey locust leaves, then went back to my cubicle. Puzzled over the ticket for a couple minutes before consulting the innernet to learn whether or not I'd wasted my dollar.

(I did. Serves me right, too.)
All that glitters

Shoulders heavy with the burden of the upcoming day, head down so as to hide my sad-sack face from oncoming pedestrians, I made my way to work. At about a third of the way on, my eye caught a glimmer from the periphery which turned out to be a T token! This cheered me up quite a bit, as my other token had gone missing from the keychain a little while ago.

As my eyes were a bit bleary from ragweed and tears, I didn't notice the other little treat that luck decided toss my way until after I'd picked it up and pocketed with the token: a gold ring. It's just a plain little thing stamped 14k that's too small for my ring finger but too large for the pinky. Though certainly not as spectacular as the diamond ring I found at the end of a rainbow, it's a nice little rebate for all the sadness I'd been feeling lately.

My boss tells me that, with gold at +-$700/ounce, I should sell it. I don't want to, though. Can't see selling a gift like this.*

* and a gift it is, as far as I'm concerned. My lost and found posting's come and gone with no responses.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

French High Art?

I made a comment earlier about the current Grand Master of the French Legion of Honor's being moved to tears by third-rate Altman, but edited it for (less snarky) content. Seriously though, what gives here, as I honestly don't see the appeal of either reconstituted (and dated) reggae or Buñuel.

Friday, September 28, 2007



Et voici le projet en cours actuel: a pair of mittens in a sky blue aran yarn.



Cuddly, isn't it? A little womb-like, maybe, as well? I think it'd be kind of nice to curl up inside to gestate for a bit, anyway. But then again, I'm usually in a curl-up-fetal-like state nowadays.
I think that this might have supplanted Tzu Hsi's tourmaline as the girly thing I most lust after.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007



Done! And out the door. I love how it turned out and am thinking of making one for me (with matching gloves, maybe.)

Next project: Something involving an ice-blue wool from a place called Harmony and double-pointed needles. My fingers have been itching to work this pattern for a couple days, now.

I guess I'm getting over my block.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

No Herodotus last night. Instead, Pablo decided to treat me to a bit of the Book of Ether.

Maybe it's time for another pilgrimage to the Burned Over District, as it's over a year since I've been back.
Plenitude IV



Damsons, Macs, itty bitty Seckels and a couple heirloom tomatoes from the roving Farmers' Market in Harvard Square on Sunday morning. I also came home with two Spaghetti squashes, a cauliflower, and a christmas-tree ful of choux de Bruxelles.

Summer's too hot, too dry, too much for my nordic constitution. I'll take Fall with its crisper evenings, shorter sun angles, second lettuce crops and other good eating over that any day.
Plenitude III

The first day of Fall here is when Raphaella exchanges the hubcap scarecrow for the hot peppers on a hanger:



She's probably got enough of these to make two or three more such strings, but I think a lot are going to end up pickled with the remaining green tomatoes.
Whenever I get stressed out, I dream of quitting and apprenticing myself out to a bakery.

I was a baker once. It paid my way to college. Gosh, how I loved that work.
Perfect Storm.

Let's see: three different versions of the P and L; four different categories of receivables; all the financials for two subsidiaries plus three federal grants. Then there're the operations reports. Quarterly position control. Payroll. All due now.

Sheesh. No wonder I'm waking up in the middle of the night with the heart racing and difficulty breathing. No wonder I'm nauseous in the morning and starting to lose hair again.

Monday, September 24, 2007



For weeks, I'd fretted over schematics for a cabled watch cap. Finally, yesterday, inspiration struck. (Love it when that happens.) With any luck, it should be speeding its way overseas by tomorrow morning.

Friday, September 21, 2007

A Safe and Holy Yom Kippur to all my friends.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Someone overstepped a boundary at work today. I reacted as my conscience dictated, and was called, among other things, an ingrate. I am so unhappy right now that it took all my energy to not burst into tears several times throughout the course of the day.

The lack of professionality happens as a matter of course and I adjust my attitude accordingly as a means of survival. What happened today, though, was personal in nature and totally took me by surprise. God, I hate it here.
An Admonishment from a fellow I'm developing a considerable respect for.

The foreign affairs side of things won't change, so I'm not thinking a lot about that. What worries me considerably is what's going on on the domestic front. On the surface it all sounds like American-style house cleaning (Pension Reform! Employment Choice in the Public Sector! (Sarkozy used the unfortunate term "Cultural Revolution" to describe his plan yesterday.) Judiciary reform! Education Reform!), but I honestly don't think that it's going to play out that way, given the entrenched management culture there.
In fact, I get this cold feeling in the pit of my stomach whenever I think about it.


These booties knitted up quickly. The problem was (is/ever shall be) sewing the buttons and weaving in the ends, which I finally managed to do the other night. Though meant for a newborn, they ended up toddler-sized due to the gauge of the yarn. (I know, I know! My fault entirely!) Still, they're pretty nice, and I'm thinking about tinkering with the pattern to make a grownup-sized pair.
Though so tired that the day felt like a (bad) dream, I managed to not only get home, but get home fast and even run up the stairs of the Prospect Hill monument last night.

Brought in the mail, watered the tomatoes, clicked the radio on. What a nice surprise to find Jessye Norman singing the Four Last Songs as royal blue gradually replaced the band of tomato red to the west:

Im Abendrot (Eichendorff)

Through trouble and joy we have
walked hand in hand;
we can rest from our wanderings
now, above the peaceful country-side.

The valleys fall away around us,
the sky is already darkening,
Only a pair of larks still rise
dreamily into the scented air.

Come here, and let them fly
For soon it will be time to sleep
and we must not lose our way
in this solitude.

O broad, contented peace!
So deep in the sunset glow,
How exhausted we are with our
wanderings—
can this then be death?


Raphaella had left another bowl of soup for me in the back hallway, so that was dinner. Since last night was a break from Herodotus, I picked up my Larousse Gastronomique and read about the cuisine of ancient Greece and Rome.

I was too tired (and a bit demoralized) to tick another project off the knitting to do list. More than anything else, I want to make something nice for me, but there feels like too many other things to complete first.

Opted instead to read a couple essays from Second Person Rural. Mr. Perrin's writing soothes me; I like to imagine him across from me at the kitchen recounting these little stories of country life. This time around, "quaint" covered bridges were my lullabye. After the second or third time of finding myself using the book as a pillow, I forced myself up to turn off the light.

The sleep was so deep that I didn't remember any dreams or wake up until the alarm went off this morning (a rarity).

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Only got about four hours of sleep last night, so am dizzy and weak tired.

How the heck am I going to navigate my way home much less tackle any of the work I'd scheduled for myself tonight? (yawn)
L'Autre Chaussure a la Baisse.

So I see that the five major rail worker unions are planning to strike on October 17th in response to Sarkozy's proposal to cut "special" SNCF employee pensions. It's going to be intesting to see how this plays against the Minimum Service Law voted into effect last month by Parliament.

Also, the teachers' union is crafting a strongly-worded denunciation of the recent budget cuts and suppression of positions. In addition, they are looking to have a "week of action" followed by a strike before the All Saints' Day holiday.

I never envied the French their way of life, and I'm feeling particularly badly for the rail workers and teachers right now. Teachers in particular have had it badly, both under the Socialists and the UMP.
Last night, it was ham steak with fruit sauce (Steak with apples/powdered cloves/a bit of brown sugar and some rum soaked raisins baked at 325 degrees for 1/2 hour), puree of potatoes and broccoli stems, steamed broccoli and apples for dessert.

Book six so far: Ionia falls, Samothrace falls. Histaeus gets his just desserts. Lots of conflict between the Greek states. Bad jokes regarding "entering bodies."

Things are definitely starting to heat up.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Revolutionary.



I loved how the force of the water feeding the turbines feeding the machines above made the building rumble. I loved thinking about two horses worth of power could reduce 10 hours worth of carding work to 10 minutes. Thank you, Mr. Smeaton.

There were three mills at Sturbridge: a sawmill, a carding mill and a grist mill. All had different ways of using the stream that flowed beneath - this one used the speed of the water through a channel to turn a turbine, which in turn powered a series of gears. (Wooden Gears with Leather Belts!) The gristmill had a breast wheel (a large wheel on the side of the mill that harnessed gravity to turn a series of gears within). The sawmill used a somewhat similar setup to that of the carding mill, but I couldn't get close enough to see it working, unfortunately.
Stuff to ponder while walking to work:

If one showed evidence that a bird was smarter than your average Boston pedestrian, would that be saying much?

(Inspired by something I ran into earlier this week.)
Thoughts before heading out to therapy.

My last therapist really knew how to lay down the law: when I got all Good Will Hunting on her, she did the shrink equivalent of go after me with a rolled newspaper. I really needed that. Also, she was very, very smart - way smarter than me - and commanded respect. She helped me start the process of disentangling the past from the present. I'll never be fluid in this, but I am learning.

I'd go back to her if she were still nearby, but she isn't.

I like and respect my current therapist but I don't think she's capable of helping me where I need it. Whenever I'm down or anxious, she suggests going to the psychopharm for another assessment. I'm very smart (way too smart for my own good), but undisciplined and lacking in ambition. I realize this; thus far my life's just been a series of flights, of narrow escapes. No long-range planning.

She's not so organized, and doesn't seem to have it in her to dole out kicks in the pants or help with structure. I often wonder if I'm not better networked in her world than she is. What it gets down to is, though I feel safe with her, I'm starting to feel like I'm stagnating.

I don't feel like looking for another person, though. It's about as appealing to me now as dating or going on a job search. I could just stop going and worry about all this later, I guess. Don't know what to do.
Time marches on


Still Life with apples. The alentejo wasn't too tannic, as Portuguese reds can be sometimes. The cut glass platter under the apples was yet another objet trouve: I rescued it from the trash at work.

as do the Histories. Last night we finished Book Five and started Book Six - the Ionians' revolt and their subsequent takedown by the Persians. Pablo's a bit impatient to get to the Battles of Marathon, Thermopylae and Salamis, but I'm just happy to be along for the ride.

Though it's technically still summer, the cool air and lengthening shadows gave us the taste for more autumnal fare: pork chops broiled with tarragon and thyme, whole wheat kluski, and sweet-and-sour cabbage (sweetened with apples and a teaspoon of brown sugar, sauteed in olive oil instead of bacon grease). This was rounded out with an apple for dessert and some "unpretentious" Portuguese red.

After dinner, we took a walk up to Davis Square and back. Scored a couple of promising-looking end tables that just need a little love (some primer and paint wouldn't hurt, either). Lunches were made, then the bedtime reading commenced. Pablo went home to the Book of Mormon, and I curled up with my new love.

Since I've started getting extra walks in and cutting down on sugar and fat, I've lost 20 lbs and my clothes are fitting much better. Another fifteen to go and I'll be back down to my fighting weight. Maybe there is hope for me yet.
A coworker returned after a bereavement period for a violence that's sadly too common here. I am so happy to see her again, but am afraid to say anything. She's very reserved and I'm extremely shy. Not the best of combinations when one needs to communicate something.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Call me a cynic, but I'm not quite ready to join the squad leading the cheers for Team France.

What concerns me about all this, and I feel it's a pretty justified worry given France's habit of selling dangerous stuff to unsavory regimes, is what prompted Kouchner's announcement, what information is this based on, and what might they have possibly sold the Iranians (either directly or through an intermediary, say like Libya or Syria) that now has the potential to bite them on the ass?

It's just a gut feeling, but it proved surprisingly accurate (much to the Frenchie's chagrin) regarding the both the Libya deal and why the the Ministry of Arm Candy was sent as an envoy last July.

***

Interesting. Kouchner's claiming to have been misinterpreted by the media. Kind of like what happened over the weekend to Greenspan. If wishes were horses, etc.
Not very helpful.

The new roommate asked me where, if one happened to be in the mood for this sort of thing, one would go to meet a man in our general age range.

Took a minute to think about this. Honestly, outside of taking one's lunch to the park next to the local elementary school and being chatted up by fathers looking to score a bit on the side, I'd be damned if I knew.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Damn, I'm tired.

I don't ask for chaos, really I don't. And I don't seek out these situations.

Home - almost-crisis in which figure sleazy real estate agents and now, potential squatters

Work - another monkey slinging sh*t to take distract from his having dropped the ball

At least the love part, though inherently stressful, is relatively stable.

Really, I can't keep limping along with (at least) two out of three major aspects of my life being dysfunctional. I'm old. I don't bounce back like I used to, and I'm still trying to recover from literally being driven crazy by all this BS last year.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I like my new roommate: she's older, has a cat named Mona and is an art historian. The old roommate (the landlord's brother in law) was a positive presence in the house, but we had too much of an age difference and absolutely no common interests. Though I do miss him a bit, I am really happy with how things turned out.

Mona and Mamasan

Detente. That's Mona scrunched up in a corner on my banquette. Escher-esque, says Pablo.
Raphaella caught me on my way out this morning and contributed (again) to my lateness at work. What kept me at her door way after when I should have left was the gorgeous, warm, tomato-ey scent wafting by.

"You're not making sauce, are you? Smells like sauce. Gosh it smells good."

"No. Not sauce. I wanted to make pizza but Rosie said she wanted soup, so I'm making lentil soup. You want some? I'll save you some. You have to come over and get it, though." (She drives a hard bargain.)

"Of course I do, and I'll be over tonight. Promise."

Got home at a bit past six and heard the yell out the window: "Get over here!"

Dropped my bag on the grass, hopped over to her patio and let myself in.

"Sit down. You gonna eat with us tonight? Rosie'll be down in a minute."

"Raphaella, I'm tired. They kicked my ass again today. I just want to go to bed."

"Not before you eat," and she started ladling soup into a tupperware. "I warmed it up for you, so eat it before you go to sleep. You go to sleep, then you wake up too late to eat, and you get a stomach ache."

"No, really, I'm tired. I want to sleep first."

"Sleep first? fa'un culo.* Rosie's here, eat with her." The soup went from tupperware to bowl, cheese and bread (pocket bread and Jew'sh bread - pumpernickel, as she calls it) came out.

After dinner, Rosie asked me, "Did Ma tell you what she asked me this morning?"

"No."

"Didn't you tell her, Ma? Bev, she wanted to buy a new dress and shoes."

"What's wrong with that?"

"I got up in the middle of the night and decided I better get what I want for when I'm buried now. Jesus Christ knows what the kids'll dress me in." (I snorted.)

"Is there something you should be telling us?"

Rosie sighed. "She was getting more tests back from the quack**, and she thought that this time would be it."

Was really hard to keep from choking, but I held it in. "Well, when you gotta go, you gotta go, so that's good planning on her part. Raphaella: I can only assume you're not gonna want to get buried the dress you're wearing right now, right?"

I pointed to her muu muu, a pretty one with a navy blue background and pink and red flowers. If ever I find myself wearing muu muus, I want one like hers.

"No, 'course not."

"Well, then, get yourself something bang-up and some heels like you wore when you were younger. Oh yeah, and be damn sure you will me your housedress. I love that thing. However, I do get the feeling you're going to be around for a while, as the Good Lord isn't through with tormenting you. I know for damn sure that I'm not. That's why I signed another lease with Luc'. To give you another year of hell. You're not going to deny me that, are you? How fair would it be for you to die off on me now when I have a whole 'nother year to go?"

Raphaella laughed; Rosie just shook her head at us like she usually does.

"Bev, you're gonna get all my clothes, you know. I told the kids."

"Well, good. I need a few old lady dresses, as I'm just about an old lady myself. Do you know what a pani is? That's a Polish old lady. It's what I'm going to be. Someone has to keep up the tradition of harassing the neighbors and getting in everybody's business. Might as well be me."

At that point we were both roaring and Rosie even started to chuckle.

After I got up to leave, Raphaella pulled out a tin with six blueberry muffins. "Here, take one. I made them from the blueberries from Maine." She pulled one out of its cup still warm and wrapped it in a napkin. "Eat it hot, it's better."

"Can I save it for breakfast? I really want to go to bed and dream about it."

"Do what you want: it's a free country."

As I headed out the door, Rosie told me that she was actually going to call me last night because her mom was having a hard time breathing. Just as she was trying to decide between yelling for me and calling 911, stuff got better. I told her to call me whenever she needed to, that I was a light sleeper anyway, and that if anything happened, we'd take care of Raphaella. She patted me on the shoulder and thanked me, calling me the younger sister she never had. I slung my bag over my shoulders, took my breakfast with me and got outside just in time to catch last bits of red peeking out from under Royal Blue.

---

* This is Raphaella's stock phrase. It means, literally, "do a butt." Figuratively it has a variety of meanings ranging from 'f#ck you' to 'yeah, right.' The Polish equivalent that I use an awful lot is k'dupjasc (pardon the spelling) - a vulgar term to express something like "my aunt Tilly."

** Her doctor's not very good: in the time I've been here, she's been misdiagnosed as having a bunch of different cancers and endocrine disorders...our goal is to convince her to get a referral from one of her specialists for someone else.
Sniffling away in the bay window with my tissues and chips, I noticed a bit of red reflecting off the floor. Turned around to see the start of another sky by Parrish:



Ran out barefoot to the end of the block to catch things really lighting up:



Went back into the house and felt better.
Okay, it was partly the weather, partly hormones (allayed partly by sour-cream and onion potato chips, a glass of white and a good cry), and mostly this which got me down yesterday:

The Vanity of Power.

Six years have gone by since the September 11th attacks against the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington which burst open the contradiction between America superpower and vulnerability. For the first time since the war with Great Britain in 1812, the United States were attacked on their own soil*. They acted as a "hyperpower," looking to drag their allies, and, beyond that, the entire international community into a total war against terrorism.

They succeeded in forming the "Coalition of the Willing" to fight the Taliban, who'd welcomed and supported Bin Laden. They failed at recreating this alliance when they wanted to take Saddam Hussein down by force. The quasi-spontaneous solidarity of which they were the objects the day after September 11th, 2001 was reduced to, at best, mistrust, at worst hostility. The popularity of the United States and its President was never weaker worldwide.

In increasing surveillance and not hesitating to limit individual liberties (especially those of foreigners on their soil), the Americans have, until present, managed to save themselves from other Al-Qaida attacks. This does not mean that they have become any more invulnerable than other democracies. Six years after September 11th, 2001, they are just barely less vulnerable and are no longer all-powerful. If the United states is still the strongest militarily, their power runs up against, both in Afghanistan and Iraq, the harsh realities of guerrilla warfare. The technological revolutions in military affairs does not appear to be any more adapted to this situation than large battalions.

The political side of things over the past six years have not been particularly stellar, either. The Utopian idea of democratization of the Middle East has gotten stuck in the sands of Mesopotamia. On the other hand, the "Axis of Evil" has been strengthened with the Iran of Ahmadinejad. He looks to profit from the unpopularity of Americans and of the West in general, which he judges to be on the defensive everywhere - from Afghanistan to Palestine. Persuaded that George W. Bush, caught in the morass of Iraq, cannot engage in another conflict, he continues his nuclear program paying no mind to warnings and sanctions.

The American president is convinced that the present difficulties are but passing incidents in the scheme of things, and that History will do him justice. While waiting, he puts other western democracies and his allies in the most uncomfortable position: that between disapproval of a dangerous politic and petitioning the friendship of a great people who are mistaken.


---

La Liberation and Marianne (France's Guardian and Independent) had the tact to lay off, since they probably couldn't say anything remotely nice. I guess I'd have expected better of Le Monde.

Of course, the roles played and methods used to bring us to this point are not aboive debate. What's really getting to me is (aside from the historical innacuracies/rewrites...don't even get me started on France's part in all this since around the late 18th century) the clear relish with which the writer regards the takedown of the great, mistaken hegemony.

Having heard first-hand from practically 9/11/01 that we may well have deserved this from some members of my European contingent**, I can personally attest to there never having been much good will to squander. Reading this brings up the memories of the trauma of that day (as well as other traumas), makes my mind reel and my stomach churn.

(Had to give it a day before I could look at it again to translate, as the anger was giving me a headache.)

* Pretty major error in the second sentence. I wonder if this is a record.

** Really poor taste given the time and place.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Perhaps it's the gray, perhaps it's the date. Maybe even the lack of sleep. Heck, I'm probably premenstrual, too. Whatever the reason(s), I just feel so awful. All day long I've been on the verge of tears.

Hate this.
Last night was another restless one that ended with another one of my dreams of my needing to defend myself.

This time around, it was two women trying to break into the house. Instead of watching them from inside with the feelings of fear and hopelessness, I went out the side door and confronted them. One woman kept trying to hit me with a stick or a baseball bat but I kept up blocking and parrying (like my little brother taught me). After waking myself up, I remember thinking that they weren't terribly bright for not doubling up on me and for not using anything more damaging than the bat.

No more sleep after that.
What a nice, long, calm stretch of rain we're getting today. Hopefully it keeps up for another day or two and gives the yard a good soaking.

(Did it even rain in August? I don't think so.)
I'm glad that today's a gray day. Sunny skies and a summery feel would just be too much.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Rock on.

The youngest and last of the Three Sisters just turned 91. Best wishes, Aunt Jeannette, and here's hoping for many more happy birthdays!
This Summer's Numbers:

3.5 = number of weeks the Frenchie stayed

0 = number of weeks I got to stay in France

22 = number of potential roommates I interviewed in July and August

3 = number of interviewees I even could even remotely see sharing space with

15 = number of pounds I gained while on the new medication for my nagging problem

25 = number of pounds I've lost since getting off said medication, exercising more and cutting out as much sugar as possible

15-20 = number of pounds necessary to lose before I'm back to my "fighting weight."

9 = number of inches my ponytail's grown to

3 = number of inches more it needs to grow before I can lop it off and donate it to the people who make wigs for chemo patients

10 = number of jars of peach jam made/doled out

3 = number of cats in the house as of mid-August
There's been an awful lot of this going on, particularly in the past couple weeks. The relative lack of coverage compared to the fare jumper incident last Spring is kind of interesting. I guess it's not much of an issue as no one's trying to score a free train ride.

This teeny bit I can see for free in Le Monde tells me that for the third time in a week, rival gangs clashed. No injuries were reported, but there were 15 arrests. The fight started in a club in the 10th arrondisement and spilled out on the street. (The club was described as one "frequented by inhabitants of the suburbs to the north of the capital" - read: African.)

This snippet talks about fighting between the Def'Mafia (La Defense) and GDN (Gare du Nord) gangs after R & B night at a club in the 9th Arrondisement. Club patrons are described as being largely Sub-Saharan Africans dressed in American Rap Star (ghetto) style.

Le Figaro has a first person account by someone who participated in some of the recent gang fighting as well as an analysis on why the police are having such a difficult time with this. (I'm sure I'll get around to translating later - have my day job to contend with right now.)

La Liberation:

"In ten years, it'll all be resolved with gunshots. We're only a bit behind the United States."
(Ordinarily I don't bother with the French version of the Guardian's Anti-American fluff. However, given how things have been going in Dorchester and Roxbury lately, it's hard for me to find fault with this line.)

Efforts to coordinate anti-violence measures in Ile-de-France. (Uh oh).

Girls Enter the Fray.

The latest edition of Marianne's cover story questioned why the media in general chose not to cover the ongoing violence until just recently.

My parano self keeps thinking that this all goes against the preferred narrative of the new administration being Tough on Crime and keeping things under control, so folks would like to gloss over it. I hope I'm wrong.

***

Of course (somewhat tangentially related), this doesn't do much to allay these feelings.
In my efforts to spruce the place up a bit during the roommate search, I had a bleach-related accident that left a few spots on the (relatively) new slipcover and a favorite skirt. Nice job, Be.



Though it bothered the heck out of me, I don't think that anyone else noticed (least of all the new roommate).

I'm not a big fan of patching things up, as this requires sewing and I have a block against that. Knitting, however, doesn't bother me. Eventually, decided on some lacy flowers featured on a scarf I knitted up a few months back.



Positioned them over the largest spots, gussied them up a bit with some embroidery, then worked little stars/blossoms over the remaining little bleach pinpoints.



I have to say, I'm really pleased with myself on this.



***

Next project will be to fix the black spandex skirt that bit it on the same bleach puddle. I'm thinking of working some flowers in pastel-colored embroidery floss on size zero (lace) needles.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Plenitude II

Because the front plot is so sunny and on a slope, it's nearly impossible to keep things wet and alive there. I've tried just about everything to remedy this, too, from using a sprinkler to mulching and even levelling it. I always ended up with the same results: dead, dry annuals, wasted water and a gutter full of topsoil.

After about year two of knocking myself out fighting nature, I gave up and started filling the place with more drought-tolerant perennials. Right now, I think I have a couple varieties of stonecrop and some liveforever. Nice, low maintenance (save for the weeding), good for holding in the soil.

This summer, a coworker of mine who's an avid gardener with lots of money and space to devote towards heirloom tomatoes started asking me if I'd take some purslane off her hands. It apparently was growing so out of control that it was choking out her babies. Never one to say no to free, green and organic, I jumped at the offer and found myself with bushels of the stuff. What a treat!

How nice, too, to find out that this green, a succulent tasting a bit like baby spinach and watercress, was growing like gangbusters along side my purchased groundcover! I'd thought it a weed, but kept it there because it looked like a native variety of the expensive perennial I got at the local garden boutique.

Since there was so much of it, I had ample opportunity to share and experiment. (Turns out that my neighbors are crazy about portulacca, as they call it in Eye-talian. They only ate it raw, though. Until now, that is.) I've had it in salads, soups, omelettes, and, my favorite, stir-fries. All this was made even sweeter by my discovery of it selling for roughly $4-$5/lb at the farmers' markets that have cropped up volunteer-like in the gentrified areas of the city.



Edible purslane (Portulaca oleracea) has glossy, plump, green leaves and juicy red stems.



Don't mistake it for spurge (Chamaesyce maculata), which looks kind of like the good eatin' stuff save for flatter leaves with a red spot and spindlier stems, or you're going to get sick.

***

One of my favorite recipes so far:

Sautéed Purslane With Shitake Mushrooms

A couple handsful (4-5 cups) of purslane, rinsed thoroughly and broken up into manageable-sized bits

1/2 cup shitake or other mushrooms - either dried and soaked or fresh.

herbs (I used a couple sprigs of fresh tarragon and thyme, but a half teaspoon of whatever your favorite dried variety will work, too), salt and pepper to taste

A clove or two of garlic, minced

2-3 TBS olive oil

Heat oil in saucepan, then add garlic. When garlic is a bit golden (but not brown! Yuck!), add herbs, then purslane. Sauté until purslane is slightly softened, then add mushrooms and continue until those are tender.

Serves 2-3.

Great with broiled chicken, pork chops, steak, you name it.

Friday, September 07, 2007

My last thoughts before falling asleep are usually about the first stirrings six time zones away.



(Paris S'Eveille - - Paris Awakens, possibly one of the prettiest songs ever. Of course, Dutronc's no slouch. I guess you could sort of call him France's anti-Dylan with his suits and ties and sometime fun-poking at the 68 sensibilities. Nowadays he lives in Corsica with 30 cats. He's still pretty darn gorgeous, too. I'm pretty sure that he's still with Françoise Hardy, his partner since forever. Now, that's sexy.)
Plenitude.



Sweet red and bell peppers were combined with cubanos, fresh garlic and a lone, green tomato to make a Marimekko-like stir fry. Delicious with a melange of beans and some jasmine rice.

After the Summer's excitement, an already anemic bank account was depleted. Current projections indicate a shoestring budget until mid November. For the moment, though, we're not wanting for anything thanks to a growing season that rivals the summer of the thirty jars of vinegar peppers, that of the zucchini "as big as baseball bats", or "the year we couldn't make enough peach pies." Already I've distributed a bushel of peaches between friends and have taken dozens of tomatoes into work. Greens from the side of the house provide twice daily salads and a stirfry of kale and or rocket a few times a week.

Ten jars of peach jam were flown off to the four corners of the Earth this week; apple jelly and butter will soon follow. Wild grape, too, if I'm lucky. (H's aunt, with whom I'd make jelly every fall used to say that I should sell Jam shares - I'd make a killing). The bounty is a bit overwhelming, but it feels good not only to not want, but to share and to see the happy expressions that come of this.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Left Behind.

Happily glowing from the dinner's wine and the excitement of the fireworks I was attempting to photograph, I only half-tuned-in to the speculation going on around me. We'd already heard that Landlord was going to go to NY for a year for business reason, but that wasn't going to happen until Fall. Plenty of time to plan, plenty of time to decide about the future. Let's just enjoy this bubbly little moment now, why don't we.

Suddenly, a van showed up in our driveway and an army of swarthy men descended upon the house. Landlord changed his mind apparently, and was moving right then.

Two days later, my roommate (the boy. I'll talk more about him later.) told me that he was moving back home to save up for college.

All of a sudden, I was alone.
I'd always wondered if my cycles of frenetic activity / drop-dead exhaustion were organic in nature; turns out they're not. The life I lead just seems to be structured into periods of compression followed by decompression.

Spring to Summer was nuts. This was to continue into Fall, but (mercifully), some of what was planned out/thrusted onto my plate ended up not working out. Hopefully maybe there'll be time to catch my breath, regain my strength, and find my lost voice before I take the next plunge this coming Winter.
Four years since I started the blog.
Six since I moved to Winter Hill and started the current job.
19 since I moved to Boston.

Am wondering if maybe I've been staying too long at what were always meant to be temporary situations.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Au Claire de la Lune

Full Moon at Midnight, Aug 28, 2007

Couldn’t sleep last night, so went out back to attempt to snap a few shots of the moon. Was so enthralled at how big and bright she was that I couldn’t bear to stay around and watch her be eclipsed.

What a gorgeous evening. What a gorgeous time of year.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Somerville fireworks iv

Saw something very similar to this when the power line sizzled, then sparked in the rain one dreary winter morning. We ended up without power for half a day.
Somerville fireworks i.jpg

I'm very pleased with how these turned out. Last year's essays resulted in lots of pictures of little more than night sky.
Dazzling, White-Hot, but Ephemeral: Just Like New England Summers.

Somerville fireworks ii.jpg

There's a lot to be said for being able to sit on your front stoop (or in this case, the neighbor's front stoop, as a moving van was blocking our line of sight) to catch the show. Thanks, Mayor Curtatone, for restarting an old tradition!

Last night was the perfect night to gather at my neighbor's place for gossip punctuated by the requisite "oohs" and "aahs." Lots to catch up on, as the landlord and family are vacating the premises for points south. Am still up in the air as to whether or not I'll stay. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Friday, June 01, 2007

Livre Moi.

Please tell me that the French government isn't subsidizing this.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Was in production the past few days, which means that I had to cut spreadsheets into smaller bits to distribute to a bunch of people who won't actually read them. Soulgrinding.

Nine more work hours until the long weekend.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Just got back from the shrink. We talked about the four times I broke my nose, how an ex m'a posé un lapin ce weekend, about an old job I really loved. This week, she told me I should have a television show. (Last week it was that I should be writing a screenplay.) I wouldn't mind, except that it would force me into a public I am very uncomfortable with.

On the way back to the office, I stopped off at a cafe for something cold to drink. How funny and serendipitous to hear this?



I'd forgotten how positive this one was. And how sweet. Wow. Not much like that around anymore.

Anyway - glad to see that he is doing well. Glad to see that he got rid of the fin, too.
Chick has two daddies.

(Sorry. Couldn't resist.)

A homosexual flamingo couple has adopted an abandoned chick, finally realizing their desire to become parents after several attempts, the British Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust announced on Monday.

Carlos and Fernando had so wanted to be parents that they made unsuccesful attempts at chasing other flamingoes out of their nests in order to steal eggs and hatch them, a spokesperson at the WWT bureau in Slimbridge (near Bristol, in the southwest of England) explained.

Thus it was decided that they were ideal candidates for fostering an orphaned chick whose nest was abandoned by its natural parents. The egg was hatched in an incubator.

Carlos and Fernando, a couple for six years, can produce milk in their throats in order to feed their little one.

Homosexuality among flamingoes is a natural occurrence when there is a dearth of females, Jane Waghorn, the WWT's spokesperson explained.

-via AFP, London

Well, I'll be darned.
"Hi, honey, I'm running a bit late. I'll be at base camp in about three days barring any bad traffic, okay?"

Just hang up and climb, will ya?

Seriously: back when I could do more challenging hikes, there was little else that would piss me off more than reaching a summit full of cell-phone yammerers.

***

Next up: a Kripalu franchise in Dharamsala.

Monday, May 21, 2007

"Whether you use Bracken or Ostrich Fern, you will find few vegetables that can top a piece of toast with more grace and goodness than fern fiddleheads. They can be boiled like asparagus, sautéed in butter, served in a cream sauce, or, the best way of all, steamed and served on toast with a wine Hollandaise sauce..."

- from Stalking the Blue-Eyed Scallop, Euell Gibbons

Tonight's dinner kind of set the tone. So much for the Dead Greek-types.
Got a postcard today telling me about solitary walks along riverbanks and tables for one. Told me that the Loire has neither a Lorelei nor a water sprite, and that he's missing his mermaid.

Laugh all you want. Applied right, this stuff works incredibly well.
Pablo has been reading for his supper for as long either of us can remember. I think he likes the sound of his declamatory voice. I like having my mind caught up in a yarn while I'm cutting, stirring, kneading.

We used to read articles from news magazines. Now, it's mainly longer works that he picks up from the library.

Heavens, what did we start with? Was it some Mark Twain? Some Arthur Conan Doyle? Couldn't have been Thomas Pynchon, could it? I don't really remember, we've been through so much. Lots of times, he gets a notion in his head (reading excerpts from "Innocents Abroad" along with bits from "Typee," for example...or doing comparative look-sees at Poe and Lovecraft.) Right now, it's Herodotus (Greece's Twain, or was Twain an American Herodotus? - of course, it's all about the translation, and Aubrey de Selincourt's is a wonderfully conversational sounding one) and Heliodorus (the scene in I think it was the third book where Caliseris takes the piss out of Herodotus and his "roving reporter" style is so darn funny).

We're really eating these stories up, so will be finished soon. I'm hoping that Pablo will in the mood for follwing up with this year's birthday present as it looks like a good time and does sort of relate.
A walk in the sun really did me some good. The cobwebs aren't completely cleared out, but I feel a bit more me, anyway.

Really felt like cooking, so have quite a spread here: marinated pork spareribs, corn and potato chowder, steamed fiddlehead ferns. There are some biscuits and some cream left for a shortcake if dessert is in order.

I'm not averse to eating alone (do it quite a lot, actually). Am sort of hoping for some company, as I'd like to be read to tonight. That's a nice alternative to doing the reading myself when my eyes feel as tired and delicate as they have been all day.
Dumb done well.

No, it wasn't Citizen Kane. Heck, it wasn't even one of Will Ferrell's better movies. Am I a better person for having seen it? Probably not. I did get my money's worth in belly-laughs and snorts, though.
This weekend was much like the previous two in that there was so much interesting going on that I decided to do rather than write. Eventually (hopefully) I'll get to committing some of the adventures on 'paper.'

Generally during times like this, I get really resentful of only having Saturday and Sunday. Last night, however, I didn't even have time to get the blues, as somewhere around 7-8 pm, the awful white-light electric spark started heading up my neck into my head. By about 10:00 pm, it was no longer possible to keep my eyes open between the blinky-light curtain and lead-weights on the lids.

It was only through sheer force of will that I managed to hold down dinner and to drag myself into bed. Once there, managed to arrange the pillows a little in order to support my neck and cradle my head, then attempted to either wall in The Pain or exhaust myself.

I had to forget about anything so complex and tiring as heating my hands or feet up. Instead, I took my time in drawing a curtain to separate me from The Pain. No projecting of numbers, either: I just enunciated (not out loud, hopefully) the numbers as clearly and precisely as I was able to. When I got to about thirty, I think I fell asleep.

It was far from the end of my troubles, though, as The Pain woke me up an hour later, an hour after that, and then two hours later. I took drinks of water and paced a bit, then wondered if it might not be a good idea to try to take any medicine (when my head hurts so badly, the stomach gets upset, too, and I risk throwing up and wasting perfectly good painkillers). Decided against pills, so went back to bed to count myself back to the soft blackness.

I'm lucky that I'm not too tired, as I didn't sleep nearly enough. Also am very surprised to only have felt slightly nauseous. However, my eyes are extremely sensitive right now, and it feels as though I'm separated from the rest of the world, from full consciousness by a shroud of tulle or gauze or something. I see what's going on and can make relatively simple decisions about things, but I'm afraid that my responses to people are slightly off/inappropriate/not jibing. Explained this to my boss (who's dealt with all my brain issues at one point or another) and she just told me to leave when I had to. Hopefully I can manage a full day, as I do have a lot of work to get done and it makes me feel useful to at least be able to make it into the office, anyhow.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The walk home last night was a trip. I got about as far as Union Square (about 1/4 of the way home) when the sky started turning biblical black (wish I had my camera with me!) and the wind started picking up. By the time I'd crossed the intersection, the rain was coming down like from a spigot.

Spent a few minutes under the Reliable awning communing with and feeling like my favorite fish:

Mmm, Fish.

Then, when things let up a bit, continued on my merry way home.

The lightning started in earnest as during my Prospect Hill ascent. As the thunder was still following by quite a margin, I didn't get too worried yet.

Managed to stay fairly dry (save for hot feet) up until about Medford Street where no fewer than five commuters fantasizing about their ski-doos in Winnipesaukee soaked me with their puddle jumpings. It kind of made me wonder how much ruder the drivers in NY or Miami could be.

Did make it home in one piece just before the storm was over head (thank heavens). Saw that the hostas had perked up a bit, so was pleased about that. I'd been worried about them as the ground's been like powder lately and the twice-daily waterings weren't cutting it. They really needed a good, serious, soaking rain and, boy howdy, did they get it. Hopefully they'll get a couple more before the weekend is out.

Changed into dry things, killed a couple centipedes (what is it with centipedes and Somerville/Medford? I think I've killed more of these terrors in my time here than I'd seen in my life previously), baked a potato for dinner, then hunkered down under the covers with a good book.