Thursday, December 31, 2009

Huîtres Stendhaliennes.

Traditionally, for New Year, a lot of French folks do an oyster feast. It's easy to prepare* , a bit luxurious, and delicious with champagne, so what's not to like? Since we tend to eat oysters a couple times a week,** the question was, how to make it a bit different for the reveillon?

Inspiration struck at the market after a visit to the bookstore. I'd just cleaned up on used copies of books by Stendhal, and the Frenchie, who could easily lecture on the guy, found cancales***.

"Oh, we're having cancales for dinner tonight. Absolutely. They're perfect."

Never having heard of these before and not knowing what the heck reference he was making, I asked why.

"They're Stendhalian oysters, of course! In Lucien Leeuwen he references going to Le Rocher de Cancale**** to eat oysters. I absolutely want oysters like Stendhal would have eaten himself in Paris."

So, that's what we're having for dinner tonight: oysters like our favorite writer would have had over on rue Montorgeuil back in the day and a nice, dry Crémant from the Loire Valley to wash them down with.

I can only hope for as good for all my friends; can't imagine better. Happy New Year.


* fishmongers will put together all sorts of plates with everything from oysters to crabs to langoustines and shrimps from all over the world, so no work at all if you want to pay.

** No, we're not high rollers; the Frenchie's Old School. He shucks them himself. I'm not nearly as good as he is, but can hold my own. With a bit more practice, am sure I could get a job somewhere opening oysters.

This in mind, biweekly plates of oysters are much more doable; the ones I like go for roughly 5-6€/dozen.

*** Cancales are like Belons - round and flat with toast colored shells. They are to Paris as Duxburies are to Boston.

**** As of last year, anyway, this restaurant still exists.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pavel's on day three of cleaning out the kitchen; I just completed one of the bedrooms. Really, really strange. I'm not depressed over anything personal, just how the situation devolved so. It appears as though I've got the affairs of not one, but three people to take care of now.

Oh, the rosaries, too. Have found at least two dozen, probably more. Those and lots of mass books, both in Polish and English.

Yesterday, the Zen cleaning wave that I'm pretty sure most Polish females of strong body and sound enough mind can generally catch a ride on when they need to was broken with a sinister laugh from the kitchen:

"Come and Bake with us, Joanie. Come and Bake with us forever...and ever...and ever..."

My Mother was obsessed with him. Why? He was cute, I guess. She had a tee shirt that further explained that he smiled a lot and was "rolling in dough."

The refrigerator was full of packaged cookie dough and dinner rolls; the cupboard had six or seven different cake/baked good mixes. Kept the dry mixes, but had to toss the refrigerated stuff as it was starting to sprout.

Oh, and the collectors items: ornaments, wallpaper borders, kitchen linens, a cookie jar to name a few. I think there's something like three crates full of knicknacks. Most all of it's smoke damaged, so it's not like one could flog any of it on e-Bay, either.

Wish I could just toss it. Doesn't seem like I'm going to be able to, though. The thought of doing that makes me incredibly sad.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

One of my big, long-gone crushes turned 450 today.

(Pictures from my pilgrimage to his home this Summer are here.)


Bonne Anniversaire. (Rock on.)

Friday, December 11, 2009

I'm Getting/I've Got This Year's Hit:

A blast from the past, ca. 2002. Don't think that much of this is happening in Iceland nowadays.

Eg = ich (ego)
kaupi/th/i = kaufe
ploetu = plat/plate/disk
arsins = jahr/year, sins/dieses = this


Neither Pavel nor I speak Icelandic. He seems to think that Kau/pi/thi is the imperative and that the title's exhorting us to buy the record. Have no idea. Fun to lazily conjecture after a good, warm meal on a cold night, though.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

"Knit on with confidence and hope, through all crises."

-Elizabeth Zimmermann
Got plenty to read, too. I want to knit, but if I can't keep track of the stitches or I'm not allowed to bring my needles on board (happened the last trip back from France), I'll read.

Finished the Tuchman book on the 14th Century and Audubon's collected writings. Didn't know which to follow up with first (The Tuchman was a great followup to the Amy Kelly book in Eleanor of Aquitaine - thought I might go back to what I'd read in college to hang onto the framework that both these books gave.). Decided on reading around Audubon, as the first contemporary who came to mind was another Frenchman doing pretty well both as a writer and a bureaucrat under Napoleon's reign: Stendhal. (Why not? It was either going to be him or Tocqueville.) Got my spanking new copy of Le Rouge et le Noir (lost the old one. Have 85 different copies of his treatise on Love, but don't much feel like that right now. Need some drama, some sharp wit, some biting social commentary. When I get tired of Stendhal, I have some Twain short stories to lift my spirits and some essays by Jeanne Kirkpatrick to bring me down (not that I'll be needing any of that this weekend).

Mostly, though, I hope to knit.
Loose Ends.

Weaving in a lot of them lately; guess the end of the year's got me in make-up mode:

Angry Cowl I

That's Pavel, also known as the "Plaid Bomber," modeling a really ingenious little cowl that knitted up quickly, but took forever for me to seam. Got that off in the mail today for my friend with the perpetual air conditioner on the neck problem.

Graduation Present Swing Coat

Since, at about the time when I got my diploma, I had very little in the way of mad grad money, decided to knit myself a present. Unfortunately, in the time it took me to (ahem) finish it, I lost *a lot* of weight (we're talking like 20 lbs). Don't look anywhere near as sophisticated as the model on the pattern does; actually feel kind of frumpy in it. Still, it's warm, very warm, and is kind of growing on me emotionally. Heck, I made it for me! (Also blew 10 balls of Wool Ease out of my stash. Hooray!)


The Frenchie needed a gift for his organisation's annual swap, so decided on a handmade filet with a pot of feral grape jelly. The pattern's called "Grrlfriend," so since mine's green and destined for France, am calling it "Grrenouille." (Really love this pattern; knits up quickly and makes a very sturdy, expansive pouch for whatever. Love the satchel strap styling, too. Really need to make one of these for myself one of these days.)

Dopey Bear II

The pieces for this little guy (comprised mainly of some rope-gauge acrylic that Hal found in/at/around a dumpster years ago) languished in my project bag for *months* before I finally got it together fill him with rags and put him together. Don't think I could ever give away this little misfit; I identify too much with him. (Got the pattern from Debbie Bliss. Love her stuff; don't really like making a lot of these toys, though. Too much fiddling around with a sewing needle. Oh well.)

A friend of mine asked if he was a pickpocket and if he liked oysters and periwinkles. I figured that I wasn't sure on either account. Decided to name him Olivier, just in case.


So that's what's done now. Have a lot more left to finish before the year's out. For the trip to Buffalo, am bringing along two lace projects: Hemlock Ring (am just about finished with the center bloom. Kind of slow going with the three last lace rows before one goes to feather and fan.), and my beautiful stork's nest lace scarf.

If I can get these two things done by the time I get back from Buffalo (leaving tonight, returning on Monday night), will be very happy.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The first memories of my mother, when I heard that she'd passed, were not the best. Have been trying like the devil to find good ones. Thank heavens for a friend who asked the all important question, "yes, but did your mother cook? Was she a good one?"

Have been focusing on that.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Crazy Quilting.

Stuff was at a standstill for a minute, sorry about that. Am just starting to crawl out from under my rock and sniff the air a bit. The house is still standing, I'm still alive and sentient. Family, though still reeling (it's only been a week), are managing.

The best part of this all is that we're trying to come together to find the best way to work everything out. It doesn't feel like salvaging; more like taking bits of beautiful stuff acquired here and there and reconfiguring, stitching, embroidering to make a new something. Maybe I'm being optimistic, but we'll see.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Just got word that my mother passed away tonight at about 9:00. Amazing how she held on as she did. Hopefully she's found her parents up there by now. (Missed them terribly. Though I don't think she'd admit it, I think she missed her sister, too.) Hopefully she's found some peace.
In Flanders Fields.

My love to my dad, my uncle, my brother. To the folks who came Here to avoid fighting horrible wars There.
Difficulty sleeping. Small wonder, I guess.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Just Got Word.

Kidneys shut down, unconscious. It's a matter of hours now. There's no way for me to get back in time for this. Am actually pretty relieved (God strike me down). Will have to go back to sift through stuff, though, but that's not immediate.

God protect her and keep her. I never hated her, though I'm still terribly afraid of her. I wish her the peace she probably never had in this life.
Back Again.

Was actually a good, constructive visit. Will probably be returning around Christmastime. Hopefully by then we'll have some more stuff chipped away at from this side of things.

As for being back stateside, am glad to be back in Boston. Not so pleased at what awaits in the Heimatstadt. Need to play it really careful, as family's involved (large part of the reason why I'm here and not there).

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bags packed, house cleaned, cat cuddled. I'm off. (Tired and jet lagged already.)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tomorrow, leave again for France. Am not feeling particularly excited or happy about it, though. Just feels like I'm trying to run away from life/obligations/the future here. Am not really sure that I'd find a much better life over there, either, with the cost of living, the perpetually depressed society, the problems of government there that make things look like positively rosy here...

We'll see what sort of luck we have looking at schools, sorting out visa and money stuff, etc. Feels kind of daunting.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Monetize Me.

So, I was attempting to put some ads up on my site again (why not, can use the income, small as it is), but found that the simple push-button system wreaks absolute *havoc* on the blog layout and would probably stand to turn the few folks who visit off. So much for that until I get the urge to go spelunking again in the HTML.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The day wasn't a total loss, though: went north to the wilds of Woburn to pick up some more cat medicine and got to visit the Starbucks Drive Thru again. (Love that thing). Took a state route back instead of 93 just to take a look around. Held a spectacular sunset to the right shoulder all the way home.

Ran into the neighbors who were heading out to dinner, so joined them at the Highland Kitchen a little ways away. Dinner was darn good (comfort food), but the real attraction was the company.

Took some valerian and, while waiting for that to kick in, will continue to read about Audubon's adventures in England after he finally convinced his wife to join him.

(Good night.)
Broke the required fruit fast with something completely new and kind of exotic this morning: an Asian pear. Was both tart and rich; reminded me a little bit of apple, somewhat of a pear, and a smidge of the mayhaw jelly that Karen sent from Texas. The texture was slightly grainy, but also smooth. It was very juicy. I think I might have to go get a couple more of them while they're on sale at Star (at $1 apiece). Such a treat; such a way to ring in 'phase II' of the diet.
Had a rough night sleeping last night, followed by a couple panic attacks in the morning. As the chest is killing me and I'm feeling pretty tired and unhappy, I'm thinking that this has to be hormonal. Got all of it written down on the calendar and am going to chart it from here on in, as it seems to be happening fairly regularly.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

To my Little Brother (and Everyone Else Wondering About Me):

This. Love not only the original song, but the added cinematographic layer (among other things).

New Dispatch:

I haven't been putting dispatches down recently, as sometimes stuff gets a bit painful and personal regarding the whole deal. Don't want to hurt anybody else in the family who reads the blog, either. Anyway, had some news on the little brother, and took the time out to write back at fair length. Am going to share it, as it's a pretty good summary of life here to date:

"It's been a while since I'd written you. Sorry about that; no special reason. Guess not much has really happened lately (and I was being lazy.) Hope you're doing okay. Dad mentioned that you were out for a while and that you had a new address as well. How are the teeth?

In September, I got a letter from my university stating that I'd FINALLY graduated. Received my diploma earlier this week. It looks nice, but it's not in Latin. (I was hoping that it'd be in Latin.) Since I'm broke and unemployed (as every new graduate should be...) I didn't celebrate really. Just treated myself to a lot of stuff at library sales. Did you ever go to one of those before? I like them because you can afford to pick up stuff for folks as gifts because everything's so darned inexpensive. Have quite a pile for your library if I can still send stuff. (Figured that, as soon as I hit 20 or so books, I'd send off a big ol' box.) I've got some James Michener (Dad loves him), some classical mythology, some short stories by various writers, a couple of art books so far. I think that there's a bit of something for everybody.

How's the weather by you been? Here, it's been kind of weird. Got very cold mid October - so much so that I had to cover the tomato plants in the garden to protect them from frost...AND...I HAD TO TURN THE HEAT ON. Sunday, we even had a snowstorm! Today, it went up nearly to 70 deg. Great weather for getting sick.

Remember all that beautiful yarn you gave me? Something like 10 skeins of a pretty eggplant or merlot colored stuff? Well, I still have some left and am making myself a little 1/2 sweater out of it. Also am making a neckwarmer for a friend who always has the air conditioner blowing on her all year round. (Cooking - you understand.) Thought you might find that funny.

Jelly-wise, I made a batch of Burgundy (great on ice cream), Chardonnay-herb (really good on pork chops) and am getting ready to make Concord grape jam with some feral grapes I found in the neighborhood. Am particularly psyched about that, as Concords are expensive. I think I harvested something like $10-$12 worth. There are also crabapples and ornamental pears to be picked as well. I also want to try hawthorns, as I'm pretty sure that theye're similar to the Southern mayhaws that the Texans and Louisianniens love so. We'll see.

I wish I could send you some jelly! I wish I could knit you a scarf! Ampersand wishes she could send you a coughed-up furball. (Pavel's cat Trouble wishes he could pee on some of your belongings.)

Can I ask you a question? How is the food by you? better than the Navy, I hope?

How's your friend doing? I've been really bad about writing him, too. (Sorry for being such a flake.) Dad tells me that he likes animals a lot as well as NASCAR? If you get the chance, say "hi" to him from me.

Well, I think that this'll be it for now; don't want to overwhelm you or anything. Write when you get a chance. Hearing from you really brightens up my day!! :-D (Even Pavel's noticed that.) Have some FF miles to use up, so am going to go grad school hunting in France a bit next week. Since I can't send you any stinky cheese (terribly sorry), you'll just have to be content with a postcard or two.

Take care of yourself!
Had my nose to the ground during yesterday's walk. It's the best way to find spare change, not to mention other valuable things. This time around, though, didn't find any gold or diamonds:

Leaves, Pebbles, Fence

Just little tongues of flame.


Had no idea what kind of tree these toothed red blades came from, so did as I always do and asked Pavel. He told me that they were a Japanese variety of elm called Zelkova (or keyaki) that a lot of cities started planting after the native elms were destroyed by blight. Looking up, I noted that, yes, it did look awfully Asian.

Zelkova on Summer Street

Fits in really nicely with the Silver Maples, sugar maples, ornamental pears, crabs, locusts, ginkos, etc. Also reminded me that it's been a while since I've walked around the neighborhood with my Peterson Guide (not that this species would figure within).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Animal, Vegetable or Mineral?

(Not a mineral, which really narrows things down a bit, doesn't it.)
Had a nice, comforting soup for dinner tonight: hacked hunks of a frozen steak into pieces, added an onion, a carrot, a small bunch of celery, a can of black beans and 1/2 a large bag of frozen green beans. Herbs? - a pinch of this, a bit of that, couple bay leaves and some Old Bay seasoning. Let it simmer a few hours.

Now, am settled down with a knitting project for me (for a change), a cup of a new favorite tea and those crazy Dutch playing Messaien's Hymne au Saint Sacrement.

Another orchestra's version; you take what you can get. Don't find him as elegant as Poulenc (my favorite French composer from the last century), but was surprised and happy to hear him. Generally, if someone wants 20th century French music in a program, it's going to be by either Debussy or Ravel. Maybe Satie's Gymnopedies. This was really a treat.

Sometimes life actually "doesn't suck too bad," as an old friend used to say.


Oh: Also decided to cut the hair. Lopped about three inches off. Had to shave the neck, it's so short. Forced Pavel to check that it wasn't *too* uneven. (Curly hair's forgiving, but not that forgiving.) Looks pretty good if I do say so myself.
What's going on with Flickr? Anyone know? Haven't been able to access the site all morning.

Oop - it's back again. Boo.

Cat in the Bag

Pavel's in bed resting. A couple days ago, he started feeling a tickle, then a pain in the throat. Now, he's got this cough that rumbles up from deep in his lungs. We're hoping it's not an early flu. He's hungry, though, and eating a fair bit. Just really tired and sleeping a lot. If he doesn't get better in a couple days, I'm going to force him to go to the clinic across the street.

I've been pretty verschlucht myself, lately, but figured that it had to do more with the weird weather outdoors and the mix of hot-dry forced air from dirty ducts in a house that is perpetually drafty with a cold edge to it*. Also, suffer from allergies and an asthmatic wheeze.

Ampersand's heave has come back, too, though not as badly as when she had to go to the hospital. That'll arrive; just a matter of time. The doctor gave her six months and we're on month four already. Told Pavel that the next visit, if they can't do anything quick and dirty, that she really needs to be put to sleep. It's not fair if she's going to be terrorized and uncomfortable when she's old and not ever going to get better.


* Killer combination, that. Just about every house I've ever lived in here has been like that - old, uninsulated due to the availability of cheap oil for heating. Had a ton of insulation blown in over the past year or so, but still have some missed spots on account of future major projects. Also, the windows are terrible.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Have been following South Beach for a little over two weeks now and have lost 10 lbs so far. That makes the grand total since Spring, when I made a commitment to feeling better, to 20 lbs lost. Interestingly enough, am sleeping better, have more energy and am thinking more clearly. Fitting in clothes that were too tight before also really improves the mood.

Would like to lose another 15 or so pounds; that'd bring me back down to my fighting weight (160 lbs - I'm a big girl with dense bones and the build of a linebacker. Any less than that and the doctor asks if I'm still getting my period). Still a little ways to go; feels doable, though.
Moving On.

The diploma came in the mail today; Pavel found it wedged between the front doors. Brought it in, handed it to me with a grin and said, "Well, I guess that's done with. Maybe you need to get a frame for it."

Eventually maybe. It's awfully nice looking, but I don't know if I could stand having it on a wall staring down at me all the time. On one hand, it's a memento of a hard-won achievement. On the other, I don't much like thinking about that part of the past; it's painful. It doesn't make me physically sick like looking at the transcripts do, but it's not particularly happy, either.

Then there's the future. Goal achieved, a new question looms: what next? I don't see the use of another literature degree. Want to keep up with language but from a more technical point of repair. Translation? Technical documentation? I also want to incorporate new loves that grew from work-work: accounting, statistics. Took a few accounting and finance courses at the local community college to help with work. Am wondering, though, if this is a good thing to continue with given the current witch hunts targeting financial people. Took a statistics course in undergraduate years ago and really enjoyed that. Maybe there's something there for me?

For the moment, am fairly satisfied with the self-study in statistics. Will need to come up with another, more structured action plan, though. Need to think more on graduate/technical certification. Need to think on where and how that's going to take place. Also need to think on supporting myself again. I'm tired of being inactive and would like not to be broke anymore.

Kind of ironic that this is my second time being the unemployed, un-monied new graduate. (Wonder how many more times this is going to happen?)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

I might actually need to go out and shovel and salt tonight. Imagine that.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Auspicious Day.

Looked on my calendar and saw that today is both Diwali and Sweetest Day.

To all my friends who celebrate Diwali: a happy, holy and luminous one to you!

Front Hall Light

This year's diva.

and to all my friends who don't: a virtual box of chocolates for you!

I've been coveting the grapes on the fence by the park nearby for a few seasons now. Each time I'd go to collect some, though, the vines would be clean. Last night, went out and got a shopping bagful of some of those lovely, feral-tasting Concords. Figured I didn't want to be too greedy. Also, it was dark and couldn't see a lot.

Am happy at the windfall, but am wondering if my gain is due to another person's hardship. I hope that whoever used to harvest these grapes either just moved or just found another pastime.

Am pretty sure that a lot of this is going to go into jam. I prefer jam to jelly, as the cooked-down skins add color and texture to the mix (easier to prepare than jelly, too). If I go back for more fruit, though, might make some grape butter - a recipe I found in an old WWII-era cookbook. We'll see.


The apples need to be harvested soon. We had our first frost this week, so I can get started on that anytime. Pavel wants me to try to make hawthorn jelly as well this year. We got hooked on mayhaw jelly when Karen sent some up from Texas last Spring; Hawthorns are the Northern relative of mayhaws (heck, they might even be the same thing for all I know), so thought it might be fun to try something out with them. Then there are the tiny ornamental pears found all over the neighborhood...wonder if they might be good for something?
Read about this last night in the Yahoo headlines* and thought, oh how ironic. Here's a guy caught lying about his copyright violation who has a history of suing other people for the same thing himself.** Guess the chickens are coming home to roost.

As I'd mentioned earlier, I find some of his work amusing and interesting, but think that he's a somewhat unsavory character. As for the AP, well, they have their own problems, too, with creative depiction of current events. Don't find either of them to be particularly sympathetic, so guess will just sit back and enjoy the spectacle of one purveyor of sketchy media eating its young.


*To be read to be believed - funny how they were tying themselves in knots rhetorically to make both Fairey sound like a sort of Robin Hood, but also to make the AP a "legitimate" victim (to those who scan Yahoo news articles) by referring at least three times to the AP as 'the not-for-profit' news agency. Wish I'd have saved it in fact, but it was like 3:00 am and I was not thinking clearly

**Yes, it's Wikipedia, but it's sourced (Take a look at notes 37-40).

Friday, October 16, 2009

Was a good thing we did get to Home Depot when we did. They were having a sale on hardy winter plants, so picked up two kale and several chrysanthemums to replace the early-frost ravaged summer stock.

I opted for two large chrysanthemums to put into the two now vacant hanging baskets because, for some reason, the hanging baskets were $10 more than the ground plants. They're sticking kind of bolt upright, but I think they'll relax a bit with time.

Figure that, when we get sick of looking at the kale, I can always make caldo verde from it.

Brought in the geranium and put it in a bag in the basement to kill off pests. Will check on it in a week or two to see how it's doing. The plan is to hang it somewhere in the house with southern exposure and let it bloom away during the winter. Had a geranium once in college that cheered me up greatly with its bright red winter blossoms.

As for the poor dollar-short-day-late tomato plant: there's one green tomato and about 1/2 a dozen flowers. Am trying to decide whether to keep it outside and continue covering it at night, bring it indoors, or to just let it go. (Poor thing.)
Cash is out, stocks are out. Commodities are in.

Black Gold.


Mentioned to Pavel that this looked like some sort of remake of a scene from Stroheim's Greed. He was all like, "been thinking that all day, myself." Cosmic.

At least, that's what Pavel's telling me (and he ought to know).

Actually, Job Lots had a sale on sunflower seed a couple weeks ago: $19 for a 50 lb bag. Loaded up as much of it as poor Speed Racer could handle (five bags) and ground home. Found that, since Trouble has a territory marking problem, we'd need something more sturdy than paper bags to hold the stuff. Cheap trash bins from Home Depot seem to have done the trick.

At the rate we use this stuff, 250 lbs should last until the end of February.
Musique Trouvee.

* There's been a lot of construction work going on in my neighborhood; I think they're replacing a lot of the guts under Somerville Avenue, mainly. This has been going on since (at least) the Summer. Recently, as in the last two weeks or so, they changed the wonderfully reliable pedestrian walk light at Lowell Street to one that, instead of changing the light right off, tells you to "wait...wait." And wait we do now. The nice thing about it, though, is that when we finally get to walk, we're accompanied by the cowbell from Masekela's Grazing in the Grass:

Yes, we do actually sway a bit when we cross the street now. Can't help it.

* Last night, don't know how I positioned the glassware, pots and pans in the dishwasher, but while it was running, started sounding an awful lot like something by Steve Reich:

There was a copy of Clapping Music at the music store that, when it was slow, we'd occasionally pick up to noodle around with. That was my first experience with Reich, who gradually turned into an obsession for me. When I was younger, my brain would always, infernally, be working. Following individual lines in whatever pieces I could find scores for was a source of meditation, a calmant for me. Now, I don't go at it with a seam ripper; rather, it sort of washes over me, the different parts appearing coming into my field of vision like little fish swimming about in a coral reef.

Just found the manual to Pavel's grandfather clock and found that I could change the chime melodies. Since I'd been sick of the Westminster Abbey chime for sometime now, decided to give something else a try. In honor of August's trip to Normandy, set the lever to "St Michel."

Sorry no melody. The views are pretty impressive, though. Wish I'd have gotten to see the abbey up close like this; was too crowded to bother, though, when I was there.

The new melody is so jarring. Very French, too (hard to describe). Funny to think that that aesthetic has been around for nearly 1,000 years.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sad News.

Pavel's uncle passed away today. (Wasn't unexpected.)

Please think good thoughts for him and his family; they really could use them.
It was so cold last night that I couldn't sleep. So cold this morning that I couldn't concentrate on the resume, the school list, the potential employer list, any of that. The fingers were so stiff and the aluminum needles so cold that knitting was impossible.

Checked the thermometer and found that in the warmest room in the house (kitchen), it was 56 degrees. In my room, it was 52 degrees.

Broke down and turned on the furnace. Not pleased to have to do so before November First, but couldn't function otherwise.
Texas Lynx.

Been to so many library sales recently that the memory of them is somewhat of a blur. Anyhow, at one of them, Pavel picked up a copy of Audubon's Quadrupeds of America, something neither of us knew existed.

What he liked to do, and what set him apart at the time, was to show animals in their natural settings, doing their own thing. In most cases, it ennobles the subject. In others, not so much.

Period Instrument

Kind of leads one to wonder how many examples he caught in the act before shooting. (At least they died doing what they loved, anyway.)


Snort: Pavel's got the cat on his desktop with this running in the background. Great.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pattern Recognition III

House Sparrow mating dance.

Pavel's impression of the House Sparrow mating dance. The hand striking out from the left is my impression of what an uninterested girl sparrow will do to get rid of the unwanted suitor.

Two reasons why Pavel's line would die out if he were a male house sparrow:

1.) He's doing the dance during the wrong season.
2.) He's not persevering enough. I didn't even touch him. Have seen girl sparrows peck the bejeezus out of the males they weren't interested in.

Better luck next year. Or with a different species, perhaps.
Pattern Recognition II

On the last trip to France, got to visit both the ocean and castle country. To keep my hands busy evenings when I didn't feel like reading and in the car, I brought along some yarn for doodling. Since the Frenchie had asked for a new pair of socks, I started messing with a tube in a machine washable medium:


Was going to give up and frog this until I realized that I'd actually incorporated two major elements of our road trip into the pattern: the undulating blue of both the Channel and the Loire and a particularly impressive architectural detail found in the majority of the chateaux we'd visited:

Spiral Staircase


Pattern Recognition I

Raphaella used to call the hydrangea bush in my old front yard "puff ball flower." It was a short, kind of squat bush that, after a couple seasons of serious pruning, produced tons of large, blue flowers. I see a lot of those around this neighborhood, along with what looks like another type of hydrangea:

Mauve Hortensias

Taller bushes with smaller, more loosely-packed flowers, these started out greenish-white or maybe cream-colored with a hint of blush. For Fall, they seem to have turned to anything from mauve to burgundy-colored. They have the same leaf positioning as the other hydrangeas. The Frenchie calls them hortensias.

As part of my "get over yourself, Be" campaign, decided to break out a knitting bible* and crack the code of something that, though very simple, has always given me a tough time: a vintage lace pattern called "feather and fan" or "old shale."

First attempts were met with failure and frustration due to miscounted yarnovers**. In desperation, grabbed a small ball of mauve (a color I normally dislike) and, gosh darnit, it worked:

Old Shale

I'm calling this Old Shale in Old Rose. The swatch is only about 16"-18" long, as I ran out of yarn. Absolutely don't want to frog*** it, though, because I think it's gorgeous and, well, I'm kind of proud of it. Maybe will just sew on a couple buttons and make it into a neckwarmer. Heck, I'd wear it.


* Mary Thomas and Elizabeth Zimmerman are my knitting go-tos, my gurus. Some day I'd like to try out and work a project in all the patterns in the above-mentioned book. Next year, I'm thinking of knitting every project from Zimmerman's Knitting Almanac. I stand to learn a lot from both ventures.

** First a mohair, as I thought that that would be neat. Big mistake. The next was a bit of wool that was smoother than the mohair but didn't show the pattern very well. The third time with the Wool Ease was the charm.

*** unravel

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The meteo today said that temperatures were supposed to dip below freezing tonight. Closed the storm windows and put extra quilts on the beds, though we haven't turned the furnace on yet.

Also brought in some of the more tender plants and covered the lone tomato that still has fruit on it. Herbs are usually pretty hardy, so didn't do anything with them. If the sage and mint manage to make it through the night (and they probably will) am going to make sure to bring a lot in to dry. Can always use both for jelly; found the sage particularly aromatic this time around.
Salt Peanuts.

A little mood music.

The Frenchie's gotten me into the habit of having a little something before dinner, an aperitif. Generally it's something simple like some cucumbers and smoked fish, some pickles and olives. Maybe a nice tomato if they can be found. If oysters weren't so expensive and the housemate wasn't so grossed out by them, I'd happily start each evening with two or three.

Wandered over to the dollar store the other day to take a look around and was pleased to find a newly-stocked favorite - salted, in-the-shell peanuts at a dollar a bag. The same thing costs $3 or $4 a bag at the neighborhood grocery stores. Of course I got a few bags for the larder.

Tonight, enjoyed a handful before dinner with a bit of fizzy water and some Khatchaturian on the radio. Felt for all the world like the old cocktail hour back in Eastie.
The leaves this year are absolutely spectacular. This week, too, the sky's really been pulling out all the stops in its competition with the leaves for our attention.

Tonight it was layers upon layers of different types of clouds shifting and swirling above. The pastels - pink, orange, lavender, gray and periwinkle - made their first appearances of the season.

Frontal Action

Between two houses on the crown of Spring Hill.

Even after the sun slipped from view, we were treated to some startling colors from its last, fading, reflected rays.

Night Sky

Porter Square at about 7:00 pm tonight

Love this time of year. Heck, I love all the seasons for the surprises they bring. Gosh darnit, it's stuff like this that, no matter how tough or weird things get, makes life worth living.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Bit of Perspective.

A rough equivalent would be Wall Street being gerrymandered into a separate political entity and our president pushing the candidature of one of his daughters to head it.

(They've not finished college either. Furthermore, and please correct me if I'm wrong: under the French educational system, I don't believe a baccalaureate or high school diploma is even necessary to matriculate into law, which is an undergraduate university degree.)
So Much for Hope.

So much for Peace. So much for Human Rights (whatever that means nowadays).

Sunday, October 11, 2009


There are at least a couple of this guy's works around my neighborhood - this one around the corner from me and another nearer to Union Square. Am not much into this sort of stuff; it's a bit too hip (sanitized skate punk and situation-ism) and the artist seems like somewhat of an unsympathetic character.

First time I saw the masked 'freedom fighter,' was a fair bit put off. Took a good long look today and decided that this is actually pretty interesting. I like the aesthetic relating of the Muslim with a Marxist; she'd look really good on a tee shirt. Then there's the label "peace." Now, who am I going to believe here - whoever labeled this as such or my lying eyes? The not so subliminal message in the background feeds me the answer.

Pavel says that I'm overthinking this. Maybe I am, who knows? I do have to hand it to Fairey, though, for his making Marxism as palatable as Coca Cola for a great deal more than the usual campus true-believers here. For that, he's a marketing genius and probably deserves to be laughing all the way to the bank.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Berbere goes well in just about everything, it seems. Threw a pinch in last night's hot cocoa and was totally bowled over. Pavel thinks that this requires some more work to get things a point for the holidays as there were a lot of other things involved.

I think I might be up to the challenge.

Sallied forth from the home port for a little serendipitous adventure this afternoon. Picked a route at random and ended up at the geographic center of the state. After dinner, while stargazing, found Sagittarius and from there, Milky Way's center.

Friday, October 09, 2009


Tired of work around the house, a little frustrated from business earlier in the week, Pavel proposed a ride somewhere Out West. Since it was such a weird, windy, rainy day, we weren't really able to go trudging around outside much. Still, was nice to get out of the city.

Started off visiting a picked-over library sale in Waltham, then got the bug to see the Quabbin. It'd been quite a long time since I'd been in that neck of the woods, so was nice to see familiar sights. Also kind of weird.

At a couple points, just opened the window and started shooting pictures without looking at the view finder. Am kind of pleased with the results.


Route 202 at about where Shutesbury and New Salem play the Town Line Hokey Pokey.

Sugar Maples

A surprisingly non-impressionistic view of Nature's Firmament.

Got my camera at about the same time as the breakup, so maybe four years ago. Cost me next to nothing and came with all sorts of nifty accessories like the SD card, a battery charger, etc. Am pretty sure that it's more than paid for itself with all the fun I've been having. (Heck, got so attached, even knitted a sweater for it. It's a Scandinavian-looking cozy done up in mauve, purple and red. The button's a brass one with what looks like a Freemason motif.)

Recently was considering replacing it for a newer model of the same thing. Since I really shouldn't be spending my money on stuff like that right now, decided instead to start rereading the owner's manual. Gosh darnit, it's like I'd been given a whole new camera! Daily am finding new things to play with and more reasons to love my little point-and-shoot.

There's a scratch on the view finder and I'm noting some mechanical difficulties with the lens. Will eventually have to replace the camera, as is probably less expensive to do that than to get it repaired. Will keep on enjoying it for the time remaining, which I hope will be a while. This is actually the first camera I've ever enjoyed using; never was a picture taker before.
Must've been that speech about 'visualizing whirled peas' at the UN the other week that tipped the scales. That's classic Scandinavian fare. They must've been voting on an empty stomach.

Related: Althouse has a riddle. Also wonders if the Dalai Lama's thinking kind thoughts right now.


*(Guess it was. Snort.)

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Small World.

Received a message from someone over at Ravelry asking about my experiences at St. Jean-le-Thomas. Apparently her family hails from that neck of the woods. Further conversation revealed that we'd both grown up in roughly the same area in the States, though we're no where near one another right now.

She mentioned that the next time I visit St. Jean, I should mention to some friends who own a restaurant there that she sends her best wishes. Asked her if she meant the one in town attached to the hotel or the guinguette on the beach. Couldn't have been the guinguette, as that would be too weird.

Le Petit Nice II

Le Petit Nice

Le Petit Nice; St. Jean-le-Thomas. August, 2009.

One evening under the big tent, the waitress asked me where I was from. I did my usual shrugging of the shoulders and answered that I came from les Etat-Unis. Instead of smiling and changing the subject as a lot of folks are wont to do, she asked me where exactly I was from. Answered that I was from the Boston Area. She grinned and told me that that was quite a coincidence as, she'd been there a number of times before. Had a friend in Cambridge who was originally from Granville (a couple towns over) and who, in fact, was due to arrive the next day. Wow, quel coincidence, was all I could think to reply. She went on to mention that he owned a restaurant, perhaps I'd heard of it?

My jaw dropped, as did the Frenchie's. Regained ourselves enough to start laughing like crazy. Calmed down, then explained to her that two of our best friends had worked for her friend: he as bookkeeper, she as chef.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Some good things accomplished lately which are leading to other questions that need to be answered, other problems to be solved. Have sort of been hiding out while deciding what to tackle next.

Over the course of a few recent walks, I noticed the giant orb-weaving spiders out and active again. How is it that I never see these creatures during the Summer, when one would think they'd be up and about, getting fat?

Neighborhood Spider

Saw this one on the way back from the grocery store. Its web spanned the entire front lawn, about 5'x8'. (Small by people standards, but massive for a creature this tiny.)

Disturbed a web on the back upper balcony while filling the bird feeders; felt badly for shredding what must have been a full night's work (if not more). Shooed the spider down the stairs to hopefully more secure surroundings and perhaps less ambitious dreams*.

Downstairs, found in the rhododendron three webs right on top of each other. This being Somerville, can only assume that the spiders were going condo. After a particularly hard rainstorm, found that two of the three webs were knocked out. Of the two evacuated spiders, one was gone without a trace, the other was in hiding between a couple leaves. The third in what I'd considered to be the least secure (was the most exposed) position was still sitting pretty as of a few minutes ago:

House Spider

Just wondering: does anybody know what kind of spiders these are? They frighten me (with reason), but I also find them beautiful. I marvel at their handiwork.


* Lots of pigeons roost up there. Was an awfully big web, so wondered if Charlotte was trying to bag one. Wouldn't be surprised.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fall in the Boston Area means a lot of things for a lot of people. For us, though, it means library sales. Pavel's been doing his research and it looks like we've got at least one library to visit each weekend to the start of December.

Yesterday, only made it to one. This was because, between everyone having "town day" and all the lane closings for construction, we spent an awful lot of time in traffic. Still, at Bedford, found many wonderful things. Today, it looks like we're going to try to visit Wellesley, Acton and Medford. We'll see what happens.
Pavel's back from his annual trip to shores farther north of here, so the household's seeing a fair bit of activity.

Am really really happy he's back; the house is too big and lonely otherwise.

Friday, September 25, 2009


If I'm not a regular consumer of Twitter or Facebook Media, how am I to know what the hell's going on?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Got a really good, concrete something that validated at least one of the struggles over the past couple years. (slow release of breath).

Am relly pleased with myself, but also had an amazing amount of support. Couldn't have achieved what I did without those who'd helped me roll up the sleeves, who'd dealt with my moods, who'd spurred me on. Thank you. Thank you.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Just read that Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary passed away the other day. Remembered hearing this song as a kid and wanting to learn how to sing (and dance, laugh, have fun...all while keeping the beat):


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The problem with goals is that, once one is achieved, another one needs to be set.

Unfortunately, this usually entails a couple things I'm not good at: choosing and committing.

(I know I go on a lot in this vein, but am at a juncture and am struggling a bit.)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Revolutionary Color.

Pavel sent me this link to some Russian color photography from the beginning of the last century, including the only known picture of Leo Tolstoy.

Though these images were made at about the time when my grandparents were born, they look as though they could have been taken yesterday. Amazing.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Made the mistake of talking to my mother tonight. Feel like hell.
There were so many thing in the Eighties that were so wrong; aesthetically and otherwise.

Patrick Swayze was something right.

(click here. Embedding's disabled.)

Rest in Peace.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

In flux.

Took a wander out to Great Meadows today. Decided to leave the camera home for a change so as to really get a good look at things. Noted that the swamps had been drained and some of the greenery had been cleared away. In others areas, it was left to grow beyond what I'd ever seen before.

As always, the area was teeming with birds and other animals. This time around, though, their activity seem almost frenzied. Noted more snowy egrets than we'd ever seen there in all our visits. Saw and heard at least two blue herons. Ducks and geese could be seen in the reeds, nurturing what seemed the last broods before migration. In the newly-drained areas, we could see (and hear) what looked like common snipe chicks and possibly some yellow-legs. Also heard marsh wrens and (I'm pretty sure) the cries of fish hawks, both young and mature.

The main causeway was nearly covered with at least three different types of frogs. Caught one slow one and gave it to Pavel to hold for a while. Marveled at sunfish leaping out of the water to catch gnats.

Oh, and the plant life: tasted some wild grapes. Wished I could get close enough to sample a lotus pod. Were amazed to find what looked like a couple different types of dogwood (?). Decided that maybe, just maybe, a bouquet of loose strife (bad, bad loose strife) and goldenrod might not be such a bad thing. Over all, the setting sun was gradually changing the variegated sky from different shades of gunmetal to golds, purples and pinks, all while drenching the rest of the landscape with gold.

Chatted for a bit with one man on his evening constitutional. He'd noted the draining of the swamps and the decision to cut some areas while leaving others overgrown; was perplexed a bit by this. I mentioned that, though there was always a lot of bird activity, this seemed like the richest I'd ever seen things. Pondered on the politics of managing the wetlands area.

At that point, the sun's rays shifted, both changing the colors of the cloud kaleidoscope above and highlighting a (until that point unnoticed) band of early-changing sugar maples.

"We're in flux," he said. "The seasons are changing and this is a wild time for everyone. It's all happening so fast."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Airplane Knitting.

Stork's Nest Scarf

Storks nests aren't covered in Audubon's survey. Figured the lace pattern inspired by their nests looked good against the book cover art anyway. The scarf's being worked in Green Mountain Spinnery's Sylvan Spirit, color Antique Brass.

When I fly, I generally plan for little if any human interaction. There's so much technology available on planes nowadays for shutting one's neighbor's out. (Doesn't help matters that am pretty painfully shy; shy to the point of looking rude.)

For the last trip, packed two sink-one's-teeth-into lace patterns and a couple of books I've really been savoring lately. Didn't make much headway into anything, as both flights were filled with much more social interaction than I'd have expected.

Was a bit surprised to see a familiar face in the security line at Logan: turned out that an old friend from school was heading out to wherever his company outsources their manoeuvre to nowadays. Since it was a jam-packed 747, about the only place we could go to catch up on things was in one of the emergency exit doorways in front of a toilet. Somehow we managed during our chat to not annoy anyone too much (I hope) and to not get cricks in our backs from standing hunched over for as long as we did.

Returned to my seat to the gentleman next to me rousing from a nap. "You're getting home late. Where were you all this time, Young Lady?" Told him that I ran into someone I'd not seen in like 15 years. He expressed (complimentary) surprise that I'd be old enough to know someone for that length of time. His wife, the graceful, egret-looking French lady next to him, laughed.

Over the course of the rest of the flight, learned an awful lot about them: where they worked, where they lived. How they met,* why they chose Boston for settling down, why they went back to France every year, etc. The lady seemed fascinated with what I was knitting, so showed her the pattern and talked about the yarn I was using, which came from a mill in Vermont. (Later learned that she had more than just a passing interest in Rudolf Steiner's educational theory; knitting's a major component of the curriculum.)

Of course, given that this was an Air France flight, we talked about the two downed planes earlier in the Summer. That led to talk about 9/11: they'd actually flown one of the first AA flights out of Logan after the attacks; said that it was a strange, but generally positive (and surprisingly spiritual) experience. Talked about air rage**, fears of stuff falling from the sky, our worries about the world in general. The news was just coming out about one of the Lockerbie bombers being freed soon, something no one was happy about.

Made it to our destination early, though had a fair wait in immigration due to something like six other planes arriving from different parts of Africa. Got to introduce my new friends to the Frenchie, who offered them a ride to their hotel. Turned out that they were going in exactly the opposite direction from us, so said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.


* The Frenchie, who's a 68er himself in spite of his denials, told me that how they met is a classic scenario for that generation.

** Over the past six flights, have seen three particularly pointed incidents, all with European males losing their tempers. The Frenchie tells me that American airlines have a bad reputation in the French papers for their tough approach to these situations. I don't like to make sweeping generalizations on these sorts of things, but am not so sure that cause-and-effect or an understanding that the world outside one's day-to-day might be different from what one is accustomed to are particularly valued/nurtured in this part of the world.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Am happy for a gray day today, as sunshine still makes me sick.

Here are posts from two folks from the New York side of things. Have to say that I agree with and understand both their points.

Am also thinking about a conversation on my last flights over the Atlantic regarding both the recent Air France mechanical disasters, as well as the terrorist-caused ones.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Underpass Graffiti II

Underpass Grafitti III

Underpass Graffiti IV

Underpass Graffiti I

Took another wander around the Mystic yesterday; saw all manner of interesting things, both man-made and natural. (More pictures here, if you're interested.)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Am a little bit tired out today, as had trouble sleeping last night. When I'm tired I think of food,* so why not share a couple recipes I fiddled around with recently?

Sunday night, was out heeding the Call of Nature, so got home too late to make a proper dinner. Still, we needed something warm and filling. Ended up with a quick and dirty butternut squash "veloute:"

Butternut Soup

1 12 oz package frozen butternut squash
2 tsp chicken bouillion powder
2 c. water
1 onion
2 small (2-3" diameter) potatoes
1 tbl olive oil
curry powder to taste
1 c yogurt

Slice onion, saute in olive oil until transparent. Dice potatoes, add to pot with chicken bouillion, water, squash. Bring to rolling boil; cook until squash is thawed and potato is soft.

Transfer all to blender and puree.

Pour back into pan, add curry powder to taste (and a bit of salt and/pepper, if you'd like), and heat to a simmer. Stir in yogurt.

Makes a really filling meal for two or a more reasonable one for four. Goes well with fresh, crusty bread, cheese and salad.


The crab apples are best harvested after the first frost. We haven't had a frost yet, and I really had an urge to make jelly, so ended up experimenting with something I'd been wanting to try for a while:

Burgundy Jelly

3 1/2 c wine (I used a *very* cheap burgundy)
1/2 c fresh-squeezed lemon juice
4 c sugar
1 pkg sure-jell pectin

Decided to try a 1:1 wine/juice:sugar ratio to see what I'd end up with. Followed the pectin package instructions and let Sure Jell do its magic. I ended up with 5 8 oz jars, one 4 oz jar and a saucerful of leftover jam. Worked like a dream.

Pavel smeared a bit of the stuff over some goat cheese on an ak-mak and told me that it was actually pretty good. I'm wondering if this might be nice over vanilla custard or ice cream. In any event, am thinking of making more to give as gifts, it's so lovely and inattendu.

*We used to call this tired-hungry thing the "hungry horrors" at my last job.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

"...For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)/it's always ourselves we find in the sea."

Ripples in the sand at Sandy Point.

Spent some Quality Time with the Pavel and his sister on Plum Island yesterday. I share the quotidien with Pavel, so often miss the forest through the trees in his case. Anna, though she lives so nearby, is someone I don't spend nearly enough time with. This is hammered home each time I do see her. Idem for the Sea. (More pictures here, if you're interested.)

Paulie and Anna

I was trying for a candid shot of Anna, but Pavel ended up walking on scene. Love it when he does that. Adds interest.

Toured Hellcat Swamp, looked at* birds at Sandy Point, then had dinner at The Grog**. Really, could there be a better way to end Summer?

Anna III

Off into the sunset.


* As opposed to "birdwatching." We see birds and identify them. We do NOT go out to remote places with expensive equipment and identify plastic shopping bags as eagles.

** For an appetizer, we had squash ravioli with a cranberry-apple-apple cider sauce. Anna had the Sole Almondine with a really nice homemade pilaf. I had the Meatloaf special (luscious!), and Pavel had the burgah of the day. Wasn't totally happy with it; said was kind of gilding the lily with the port wine cheese and rosemary ham. Oh well, two outta three ain't bad.)

Monday, September 07, 2009

Sometime this week, my blog turns six and my cranky medicated cat turns 16. Funny how time flies.
There must be, in addition to the lone fledgling from the surprisingly infertile cardinal nest, a brood of late-blooming jays somewhere near the house. They've been loud and vocal, and there's just too many of them squawking around for long periods to make this a territorial dispute. Actually, it's a nice thing to wake up to.

Also nice to wake up to is the relatively healthy cat curling up next to me under the slightly not-enough for this weather quilt. The housemate has my other, too-warm one from Maine. Should probably run the 'just right' one through the wash and throw it on the bed. Am sure that we're going to get some warmer weather again soon. (We have to; it's still Summer.) Still, it's better to be warm all over and to sleep through the night, rather than be waking up from a nightmare caused by chilled toes and a cold-stiffened knee.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Well, I've been back for about a week now, but really wasn't much up for writing. The house was a disaster, for one thing. Also, I always feel a bit blue when I return from a trip Over There. Aussi, il faut admettre that I've been cheating on the blog a bit with Facebook. Facebook's kind of nice in some aspects; am happy to have gotten in touch with some folks I'd lost track with over the years. On the other hand, it's not really made for much beyond quick, off-the-cuff things.

Anyway, if you're interested, here's the latest round of pictures. If you decide to look for me on Facebook, just follow the wherever the little button on the right takes you.

Wedding Leftovers

Left-behind wedding flowers, Granville. August, 2009. Before anyone asks, no: not my wedding. Plan on being single for some time.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Onward! Upward! Ever Forward!
T minus 17 hours and counting.

All packed and ready to go. Tomorrow - just need to get some $ exchanged and to pick out something to knit on the airplane needles. I think I'm going to go read a bit to calm down the brain some and hopefully to forget a bit the miserable heat.

From what I can see - the heatwave's broken over there; should be like here a couple weeks ago. We'll see. (A girl can hope).

Saturday, August 15, 2009

T minus TWO days and counting.
If you get the chance, why not pay a visit to Althouse to wish her and her brand new husband well.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

T minus four days and counting.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

This reminds me:

I haven't talked to Raphaella in a while. Really need to do that.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I'm looking for alum powder to use as a mordant for a couple dye projects I want to try out. Unfortunately, this is turning out to be harder to find than I thought it would be (have tried four grocery stores, including Whole Foods and the local natural foods store so far). Aside from the co-op and maybe a hardware store, where else might I have luck trying?
Just saw something I'd not seen in a while around here - someone exiting via the shipping dock.
Pavel's still healing up from having a wisdom tooth pulled, so, when I've been cooking, have been making more soft stuff. (Is kind of a challenge to make soft appealing, especially during the Summer).

Yesterday, though we wanted soup, there was no way we were going to manage gazpacho - just too spicy. Checked the larder, consulted a few cookbooks, and ended up with something pretty darn good if I do say so myself:

Cucumber Soup

2 large American Cucumbers
1 medium-sized onion
1 large clove garlic

2 T olive oil
3 t chicken bouillon powder
2 c water

2 T flour

Crushed black pepper, thyme, dried parsley to taste

2 c lowfat yogurt (preferably w/out gelatin or pectin)
1 1/2 - 2 c non fat buttermilk

fresh parsley as a garnish.

1.) Peel and chop cucumbers, onion, garlic.

2.) Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until just soft (no further; don't want them to brown).

3.) Add cucumbers, 1 1/2 c water and 2 T of chicken bouillon. Bring to boil; cook until cucumbers are very soft.

4.) Make a white sauce of remaining water and 2T of flour. Add a bit of hot liquid from saucepan. Dump this mix back into pan and stir. Reduce heat; simmer until nicely thickened. Allow to cool a bit.

5.) Take cooled mixture and blend until liquid. Pour back into saucepan, add remaining tsp of bouillion, parsley, pepper and thyme to taste. Blend in yogurt.

6.) Chill until very cold. If you have room in your freezer, this works best.

7.) When ready to serve, blend in 1 1/2 - 2 c buttermilk (depending on how thick you want soup) and sprinkle with fresh parsley.

Makes about 6 cups.


Was surprised to see that the majority of recipes called for cooking the cucumber. Actually does a world of good, as, whenever I've tried to make something like this in the past, it's ended up awfully watery.

Tonight, am trying to decide between an ersatz (ersatz because I don't have any leeks) vichyssoise or a borscht. (We'll see.)
Nominally Decent Citizenship 101

Okay: if you park your bagnole* so as to 1/2 block my driveway, then proceed to a$$ crank bad rap out the windows while the three or four kids in the back seat are screaming away - all at 9:00 am on a weekday, chances are that:

a.) I'm not going to be happy with you
b.) It's not because I'm a racist.

So just cut out the chest-puffing and either shell out the five bucks for parking or find another place in a non-residential area. Granted, it won't be right at the front door of the hospital, but it's still not so far away as to be a hardship.


* French for hoopty.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I don't deny being a klutz. Honestly, am surprised I've managed to survive this long.
Remember that scene between Orson Welles and Marlene Dietrich in "A Touch of Evil," where they see one another for the first time in years?

"You're a mess, honey. (7:55)"

Last night while making dinner, managed to cut my finger pretty badly on a tin, then drop said tin on my big toe. Am really lucky I didn't break anything.

Tossing and turning in bed, as I was was pretty uncomfortable, wrenched my neck.

Kind of feel like Orson Welles's character (or Ampersand) looks right now. (Cuss.)
Cooking For Ampersand.

Don't let the scrawny, bedraggled look fool you; she's hell on wheels. Since coming back from the vet, she's regained some of her weight and all of her attitude.

Girl Cat

Have found that the shaved spots are great for giving raspberries. She really hates that.

Though medicine time is awful, it's not nearly as bad as it was at first. This compound is kind of messy but much harder to spit back than pills.

Anchovy Surprise

What ever pills need to be taken at that particular time (Usually - morning, 1 vetmedin, 1/2 benazapril, 1/2 lazik; evening, 1 vetmedin, 1/2 lazik, sometimes 1/4 children's aspirin.)

1/8 t. olive oil (am thinking of getting some cod liver oil to mix things up a bit)

1 dot (scant 1/16 t.) as low salt as possible anchovy paste

1.) grind pills with mortar and pestle, transfer powder to saucer
2.) stir in olive oil until a paste is made
3.) mix in anchovy paste; form into a small ball.

To serve: wrap cat in towel, put her on back between knees, turn head up and gently coax jaws open. Toss a bit of paste into maw and cover with hand. When this is swallowed, try to get another bit of paste in. Repeat until medicine is finished.
Cat may try to drool medicine (mine does, she's very stubborn), so expect to catch it to put back into play.

(Yes, this is the flower of my recipe development to date.)

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Canaries in the Coal Mine.

When they give up, we're all gone.


It's amazing how much more I'm starting to resemble my paternal Grandmother as I get older. (This isn't a bad thing.)
The Frenchie was here for nearly a month, and for nearly a month, we were almost constantly on the go. Only just started to take a look at the pictures from our rambles.

City Hall

Lunch with the Mayor in Keene, NH. Reminds me a bit of the town hall on my Alp - small, functional, not taking up a lot of space or taxpayer money.

Little Liver Pills

My mom used to always talk about "little liver pills." Thought they were a purgative; guess not. Brattleboro, VT.

The View from Florida

The view from The Other Florida.

View from the Bridge of Flowers

View from the Bridge of Flowers.

Shelburne Falls at Night

Nightfall, Shelburne Falls.

Lots more photo documentation here. More narrative as I make my way through the pictures.
Surfaces to catch breath, then will be off again. Am looking forward to the week of quiet.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dispatch #16:

"Happy (Belated) Birthday! I'm glad you got the books. Am trying to see how to get more out to you. Apparently there are groups who donate them, so am contacting a couple. Next time I have more $$, will, of course send more. More Twain, maybe. Maybe Thucydides. Have you ever read Moby Dick? I think you'd *love* that. Or Plutarch, even. There's so much out there. Wow.

Rough week this week because the girl cat was very sick. Dealing w/it, though. (More later...please take care!)"

Friday, July 17, 2009

Girl cat's last wish may well be to outlive me. Two can play at that, though. Got some pill pockets, a love glove and some catnip today. Am going to kill the brat with kindness.


Didn't take long for her to figure out how to suck off pocket and spit the pill out. We're doomed.
Girl cat is very sick. Through some (in my opinion, extreme) heroics, she's been given another few months. This comes with a price, though: four different medications administered first three times, then twice daily. Girl cat does not like me much. She dislikes me even more when I'm trying to administer pills. She is very stubborn as well, often holding the pills in her mouth and pretending to swallow as many times as she thinks necessary to convince me to let her go. When free, she scuttles across the room and, looking at me all the while, spits the medicine out.

Since she's a serious fighter, I'm scared to death of either breaking her jaw or her neck during these wrestling matches. However, she's no compunction against biting me or scratching me up (even under a towel). I feel seriously out manned here. My hands are poked full of holes where the claws have dug in.


A dead French guy once said that, to better understand human nature in action, all one had to do was to observe a couple cats under close quarters. I agree, and will even go so far as to say that one can experience a lot with just one cat under close enough quarters. My struggles with girl cat are, in essence, the distillation of most of my interpersonal relations.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Sorry for the lack of attention lately. Have been really tired and sick; moreso than usual.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Faits Divers:

1.) Another batch of baby floofs showed up with the first sun. The racket!

2.) Paris is due in Boston early next week for the annual Summer exchange.

3.) Foss Park Pool is open! Really want to try it out this year.

On leaving the doctor's office this afternoon, decided to turn in the opposite direction, partly for the sake of adventure, partly to lay up a stock of vitamin D for the upcoming days.

Shell Station Sign

Always loved this sign; am glad that it didn't get torn down as was threatened some time ago. Does it still light up?

Orange Milkweed

Orange Milkweed! The stuff that grows in my yard is a much more staid shade of mauve.

Okay, I'll Bite.

Okay, I'll bite: what the heck is "Educational Fairness?"


His Latin name is Mimus polyglottus, and what a polyglottal mime he was! We heard his impression of a robin, a titmouse, a cardinal, a couple bluejay calls, a catbird, a gull, a red winged blackbird and a flicker. (Those where the calls we could identify, anyway.)


Trash Day tomorrow (Somerville): Found Pavel standing over it, musing. "You know who'd really like this." "Do you want to carry it? If you'd like, I'll carry your groceries. Won't touch that. Oh, and you can't bring it into the house. Has bedbugs or fleas or God knows what written all over it." "Oh, I don't want to touch it. Why don't you just take a picture of it?"