Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Christmas Pudding.

I promised the Frenchie a pudding for Christmas, but can't seem to find my pudding mold. (Hope springs eternal - I've only gotten through five of the 10 boxes that contain what used to be my kitchen.) If, on the off chance, I can't find my pudding mold, what would be an acceptable substitute?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Surprise!

Had a rather unexpected visitor at the Awesome Yew Diner this afternoon:



Apologies for the poor image quality. The kitchen window works well for Kitty TV, but it's an awful place for photography. Shot this through a dirty window and screen. This time of day, whatever I want to photograph is generally pretty badly backlit. Buddy didn't want to wait around for me to open the screen and position my camera better, either.

Springtime, there's normally a peregrine nest in the Norway Maple a couple yards over. We've picked up the remains of pigeons all over the place here and have even seen blue jays mob these guys out of our yard. This is the closest, though, that I've been to one in a while. He looked like an immature male.

***

Update: Scared him/her away when I opened the screen, but noted that s/he was still keeping watch from a safe distance.



Keeping an eye out from the Norway Maple in our backyard.

S/he swooped down about a half an hour later, clearing the sparrows out of the yew and allowing us a better look. The topside was so gray as to be almost blue, the beak was hooked and we noted bold stripes on the tail. The lack of "mutton chops" on the face and the smaller size than what one normally sees in Peregrines around here led us to change our minds on what exactly the bird was. Perhaps our visitor was a wayward Sharp-shinned hawk.

Hopefully they'll come back again today so that we can get another look. (I'm thinking that they might be around, actually, as the seed and suet I put out yesterday haven't been touched. Normally the sparrows, finches and chickadees would have gone through at least half of it by now.)

Sunday, December 05, 2010

A belated Happy Hannukah to my friends out there who celebrate.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Musical Interlude.

Funny, but I've been running around a lot lately. A friend who is a big karaoke fan got me to slow down, to take a breather, to reflect on nicer things.



Shiver-Up-Spine trills. Amazing guitar. Paroles pour Le Pacha ici.

Sexist? Paff. This lady's a pistol (or a chop-buster, depending on your point of view, I guess).

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Chocolate.

The vast majority of my dreams are nightmares. Usually, I don't remember them; I just wake up feeling miserable and I can't quite put my finger on why. Sometimes, though, something indescribably horrible that's passed through my brain wakes me up and I lie there, shivering, wheezing, afraid to move.*

Am thankful for the nights when the dreams aren't panic-inducing. In the sleep world, I walk around and observe the differences between what my brain's processing and the real world. Sometimes I find myself referencing other dreams and wondering how they influenced what I'm dreaming now.

I know I dream in color. What's also interesting is that I experience other sensations: taste and touch are the most intense, memorable. Have also heard music and when I was a better transcriber of sound, would sometimes try to catch the melodies on paper. Scent happens, but not that often.

Another interesting note is that, with maybe one exception, these not-nightmares are incredibly prosaic. The last one I had a few nights ago was just me walking around during a work break looking for a snack.

***

East Cambridge, like Somerville and lots of other urban neighborhoods in the West is "in transition." Since I quit the job at the Human Services agency, I don't get out there as often as I used to. Every time I do return, I'm surprised at how different things look.

In my dream, I was wandering up Cambridge street marveling at the spruced-up facades of the bistros and artsy boutiques replacing the dusty old guard bodegas and bakeries. When I got to the courthouse, I turned down a side street to look at new paint jobs on old triples, signs of sand-blasting on the row houses. That afternoon in my dream, it was as unseasonably warm and humid as it had been in Real Life a little while ago. Feeling a bit hungry (really thirst; I mistake the two a lot. Am getting better at recognizing the difference.), I figured I'd head back up to the main drag to find a little bit** of something to eat before heading home. Two blocks before Cambridge Street, I was surprised to find a former common but now all-but-extinct fixture: a corner store on the first floor of an apartment building in a residential neighborhood***.

Had to take a look. Heard the jingle of small bells above the door that announced new customers; noted the brightness of the interior (thanks to both a new paint job on the walls and the clean to sparkling white octagonal tiles on the floor). Further back, a man at the register, waved to me. I waved back. The small group surrounding him, silent for a few seconds, resumed their conversation.

Though the fellow and his friends didn't look like the usual Portuguese shopkeepers (I think they were Indian, actually. Maybe North African. Wasn't really paying attention.), they certainly kept the full complement of Portuguese items in stock. Found the jarred fava beans, the hardtack, the sardines in oil and the dried cod. Noted as well the several different varieties of sausage and the fresh cheeses. All this, plus a wonderful candy rack - which was exactly what I was looking for. Oh dear! What to choose? I wasn't in the mood for any of the normal European stuff - too sugary. Weighed a Necco bar (the one with the four fillings) against something English and plain block of Hershey's. Decided on the Necco one. Grabbed a banana to complement it nutritionally. Noting that I still had $2 left, decided to get a soda to round things out. (Diet Coke goes best with junk chocolate, by the way).

On my trip back to the register, found myself in a small ice cream parlor, all varnished wood and marble ****. "Tiens," I thought to myself, "how'd this get here? These fellows must have bought up the entire ground floor. How nice, too, to keep the original soda fountain. Karen and Aimee have just got to see this." Picked up a menu to look at, wished the waitress a good day, then continued on to the next area, even bigger and more surprising than the last. The only way that my mind could make sense of the fifties-styled lunch counter, all shiny chrome and oxblood naugahyde, was that I was dreaming. There was no way that this alone could fit within the floor plan of the building, much less attached to a soda fountain and grocery. My dreaming brain flipped back through its card catalog and found the reference: one night a few months back, was descending an endless stairway in a brick building in the old Double-Vey neighborhood (Main and Winspear, in fact - right by Parkside). Didn't see her, but knew that my Grandma was with me again. We were communicating about the apple-cinnamon doughnuts we smelled being made on the first floor.

Happy to have this figured out, I hurried back to the register, paid for my snack and found myself outside again.

I don't remember much beyond that; must have been about then that I woke. Strange: on waking up, my mouth had that feeling that one gets when one's eaten a sort of stale, cheap chocolate bar on a hot day.

***

* It's been this way since I was about 10-11 years old. Lots of moderately bad dreams that I don't remember and, until recently, a truly horrible dream 3-4 times a year. I used to write these down in an attempt to come to grips with them, but just don't bother any more.

** $3.50 worth - I knew that that was exactly what I had in my wallet. Like I said: Prosaic. But Detailed.

*** The actual building is on Cambridge and Trowbridge; cleaned up nicely, went condo. The first floor occupants, though, are actually a hat shop and a beauty salon.

**** I had to have been thinking about Parkside Candy back in Buffalo. Though it's seen better days, is one of the few old school soda fountains out there with the original fixtures.

Monday, November 08, 2010

It was a weekend of trying to get stuff done while coping with migraines and the sadness that usually settles in from the bureaucratic shortening of the days. Put away a manifesto of sorts* and cast-off in frustration some gratuitously French academic writing** that annoyed the hell out of me in both the source and my native tongue.

Still, needed a bit of something to settle down with at bedtime, so started rooting around the horribly disorganized bookshelves that recently went up in my room. The something ended up being nothing I'd normally choose: a mystery.



Found these at the Acton Library sale a few weeks ago. Since it was the last few hours of the sale, they were selling brown bags at a fixed price. Took them more for the cover art than anything else.

My mom and dad were big mystery readers and remember these stories around the house when I was a little kid. Since I could read at a very young age - two? three? I remember specifically picking up the books (Book of the Month Club editions, so hardbound with gold lettering) thinking that they were about a rabbit and just not understanding anything about what was going on between the covers. When I mentioned not understanding the Rabbit story, my mother got the biggest kick out of it; told me that it was a Rabbi, or Jewish Priest and not a rabbit. So much for that.

More recently, found an omnibus edition of the Rabbi Small works translated in French for the Frenchie. He, another big mystery fan, found them entertaining. (Never got around to looking at them because I was reading something depressing either by Henning Mankell or Didier Daeninckx. Both are good writers; not always good choices, though, if you are looking to go to bed in a good mood and not have nightmares.)

Anyway, finished the first story in two nights (probably would have pulled an all-nighter if I didn't have so much running around and headache fighting to do the next day). Enjoyed the novel means of problem-solving, the development of (glad to see) recurring characters, the slice-of-life (it takes place very near to home before I was born - so the issues of how the different communities in this little North Shore town are also very interesting.) aspect. Best of all, though the author (subtly) gave me a few clues, he did some good baffling as well; didn't know who done it until the last page. Bravo!

I don't read a lot of stuff like this, so am really glad to have hit upon something that was such a joy to read. Am looking forward to the next adventure which starts with the the Rabbi's wife trying to get him fed before the big fasting for Atonement Time.

***

* This is her first longer work for general consumption, I think. Though I generally enjoy her writing, found this to be a bit too repetitive and trying to persuade. Still, there was a lot of good in it - most notably in its nod to the discipline of complexity (something I'm starting to take an interest in). I love also how positive she is. In fact, that's the reason why I picked the book up. Needed something a bit uplifting.

**There's a reason why I did Literature; feel that the form is about as important as the content. Generally this filters out anyone with a Paris-[pick a with a Social-Sciences division Roman numeral] after their name. A friend suggested it to me more to see after how long I'd take to stop reading than anything else, I think.



Friday, November 05, 2010

Caldo Verde

(or an ersatz version thereof:)

chicken sausage instead of chorizo
pintos instead of white beans
rice instead of potatoes
collards instead of kale

Still, seems like it'll keep us warm enough tonight, which is the main goal.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

W(h)ine.

Does anyone know of any good, not overpriced, *low* (meaning under 12%) alcohol wines aside from vinho verde? It used to be that good, (sometimes local) wine could be found meeting the above criteria.
Cheese.

Since I've had the knife-stabs in the stomach, I've been on a kind of restrictive diet. No dairy, no soy. Blood tests for wheat protein allergies, parasites, weird bacteria, etc, have shown up negative so far.

Was a voluntary vegan for years in the past. Doing this stuff involuntarily isn't nearly as easy or fun as that all. (Actually, it kind of sucks.)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Well, it looks like two of the three ballot questions we got to vote on were rejected.

1.) Proposed getting rid of the 6.25% sales tax charged in addition to the excise tax we pay on alcoholic beverages. This just squeaked through.

2.) Proposed abolishing a holdover from the days of rent control - that is, fast-tracking the permit process for housing developers who promised to include a proportion of 'affordable housing' in their plans. I'm actually not surprised that was rejected, as it was kind of confusing (took several read-throughs and discussions to come to a conclusion as to how to vote on this). I wonder, too, if more than a few folks thought they were voting against the law itself, rather than against its appeal. (You never know.)*

3.) Proposed rolling back the sales tax from 6.25% to 3%. Honestly didn't think it would pass. If they'd just have proposed rolling it back to the good old 5% of a year ago, it might have had more of a chance.

***

* Listened in on the most awesome conversation between two kids regarding this.

"Umm, so, how did you vote on question two? Sorry to change the subject."

"Well, I wasn't sure when I went in. I knew a couple of guys do the opposite of what they meant because they got mixed up. Didn't want to do that."

"I think most Somerville-ites will vote against it. You know, it's affordable housing."

"Yeah, I was thinking I was against it, but it's all about affordable housing, and it's all about making the world a better place."

"Yeah. Yeah."
Mass-Acre.

I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't disappointed in last night's election results. While the rest of the country was cleaning house, we kept the horrible man who was one of the authors of the housing crisis, one of the more incompetent governors we've had in a long time (and the test run for the last presidential election), an attorney general whose major claim to fame is keeping a man wrongfully imprisoned for a manufactured crime, and a tax cheat for treasurer.

Would love to have seen some change somewhere. Some sign that MA wasn't owned by special interests, some sign of sentience among voters.

Normally I'd shrug it off and say that, well, folks get the leadership they deserve. AM not pleased to have to pay even more now for the poor judgement of my co-citizens, and can only hope that the wave that swept through congress will provide enough resistance against what we ended up with here.

As for the local offices? Heaven help us (again).
Elections are over. Thank Heavens!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Election Day.



(The 80s kid in me couldn't resist.)

For what it's worth, I voted for all that's considered "bigoted, racist, homophobe, etc, etc" by the self-appointed "sanity crowd." I don't have many illusions about how stuff's going to turn out, but might be happily surprised. (Who knows?)
All Souls' Day.

First Duino Elegy

Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels'
hierarchies? and even if one of them pressed me
suddenly against his heart: I would be consumed
in that overwhelming existence. For beauty is nothing
but the beginning of terror, which we still are just able to
endure...



My little brother and me in happier times. I really miss him. Miss a lot of people. What a horrible couple years we've all had.
All Saints' Day.

The new tradition has been to visit the Frenchie's parents out in the neighborhood of Gien and to give them either chrysanthemums or heather.

Am feeling kind of weird to not be there, but kind of had to follow The Market's Dictation.
Halloween.

Wasn't really in the mood for carving a jack o'lantern. This was just as well since Ampersand decided to pay a visit:



We had eight kids come for treats: not as many as I've had in past homes, but more than expected given last year's dismal numbers (just two). We still had boxes of raisins left over from last year and Pavel wanted to give them away. I wasn't about to let that happen, so (thank heavens), there was good candy (york patties and necco wafers).

Happy thing, too: a few friends came over for dinner. Nothing spectacular: just some (sadly overcooked) pork chops, a bit of squash soup, stuffing, cabbage and traditional baked beans:

Be's Maple Country Baked Beans

1 lb dried beans (I used 1/2 kidney, 1/2 navy)
1/2 lb salt pork (cut into strips and scored)
1/4 c maple syrup (I used grade B. Love the lower grades for their dark richness. This particular one was Trader Joe's brand. Very surprised to see that, to be honest.)
1/4 c brown sugar
1 t salt
4-5 t (depending on taste) dry mustard
a couple of squirts of ketchup (again: depends on taste.)

Soak beans overnight; boil until tender (skins split when you blow on them). In the cooking water, I normally like to add a couple bouillon cubes and 3-4 bay leaves. When the beans are ready, do not drain. Just mix the syrup, mustard, salt, brown sugar and ketchup in and transfer to a bean pot or oven-safe (covered) ceramic bowl. Press pork score-side-up and put everything in the oven at a low temp (I did 275 degrees) for 6-8 hours. Check every hour or so and add water if stuff starts looking dried out.

Serves 8+ as a nice little side dish.

***

It was really nice to catch up with folks, to cook, to be chatting in the kitchen. It brought to mind earlier Halloweens. I think I need to do this more often, if folks are willing to schlep out.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Days like what we are experiencing right now are gifts. I'm off to take advantage while I can. Enjoy your Saturday!

DSCN4889

Fresh Pond, Cambridge looking surprisingly like a Hudson River School painting.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The weather's been glorious lately, so I've been taking in as much sun as possible. Really does wonders for the mood, the muscles, the joints. Am looking forward to a weekend of being outside, if possible.

Anyway, can try to catch up in one area of the life.

Bird Log:

Thursday, 21 October - Fresh Pond, Cambridge.

3-4 coots
+20 ring-necked ducks



A Flotilla. I'd say that this was probably 1/2 mallards, 1/2 ringnecks with a few coots thrown in for good measure.

3 nuthatches (heard)
1 downy woodpecker (heard)

Roughly two dozen cormorants perched in trees near the shore.



Just one guy. Branches made it hard to take a picture to the gaggle of these birds in the trees, too. Some had orange beaks, others had black ones. They were also vocalizing quite a bit, too. Pavel read later that they talked a lot when they were roosting. Funny, never saw these birds in trees before. Only on lower perches like rocks, buoys and rafts.

Saturday, 23 October - Plum Island, MA

Large quantities of three types of birds:

-Gulls (black-backed, herring, ring-billed, common terns)
-Sea-Ducks (mainly common eiders, but I think I saw a juvenile scoter.)
-Waders (Plovers: 1 black-bellied in Winter colors, several semipalmated. Two types of sandpipers.)



Sandpipers! Lots of em!

Monday, 25 October - Lexington, MA

Another trip out to Great Meadows. This was kind of a spur of the moment thing at the end of the day. We were grocery shopping in Arlington, so decided to get a quick walk in before sunset. When we got there, started chatting with an older gentleman who visited daily. Talked about birds and favorite places to look at birds of course; learned a fair bit as well (namely what the little black and yellow birds were that we saw darting around in proliferation. I thought they were winter-colored goldfinches or yellow warblers. He said that those had gone away since about September and that those we were seeing were actually yellow rumped warblers).

Anyway:

+-10 yellow rumps
1 great blue heron
1 hawk - smaller than a redtail, but not a harrier.
3-4 dozen swamp sparrows
Lots of mallards, lots of canadas.



Quite a few canada rumps, too.

3 red-winged blackbirds (males)
2-3 nuthatches (heard)
2+ downy woodpeckers (heard)

The fellow we were talking to mentioned that he saw a couple bluebirds that day. Sadly, we missed them.

Tuesday, 26 October - Somerville/Medford, MA


Wandered around the Mystic. Did not see much aside from a couple chickadees, several song sparrows and a whole lot of starlings. Was disappointed to see that my crabapple trees didn't bear fruit this year.

Wednesday, 27 October - Medford, MA


Visited another part of the Mystic. Paul was hoping to see the mergansers, but I think it was a bit too hot out for their liking.

Thursday, 28 October - Revere, MA

Large quantities of three types of gulls (black-backed, herring, ring-billed)
Two large trans-Atlantic migratory types (Think both were Airbus types? That's the Frenchie's department, not mine. One was an Alitalia bird, the other was British Airways.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Apologies.

Every day, something new happens. Not necessarily exciting, but *spark* providing. That isn't a bad thing.

For various reasons though, have been kind of able to write.

Will attempt to get the engine revved up again. Really like it here. Think that its feeling like a stressor and a weight on the back is a temporary thing. (Hope that, anyway.)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wanted to post some pictures from a recent Urban Expedition. Also wanted to talk about another added bit of fuel to my neurotic fire about returning to France in the near future. All this is getting put on the back burner, because Harry's back from Africa, safe and sound, and that trumps all.

a IMG_4919

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mind Over Matter.

I'm very happy to report that I've gotten past being Peed Off at knitting socks.

First Pair of Toe Up Socks

Turkish toe-up socks! Aren't they pretty? The color of the yarn, a worsted-weight acrylic, kind of reminds me of beach glass. For that and my change in attitude, am thinking of calling them "sea change."

With a bit of determination and a lot of help from some friends over at Ravelry, figured out how to do the Eastern style toe-up technique*, rather than work from the cuff down. Made all the difference in the world and I absolutely flew through these.

Don't know if I'm necessarily hooked on sock knitting like I've heard so many others to be. Will have to knit a few more pairs and get back to folks on this.

***

* I've heard it said that socks and (I think) mittens are knitted from tip to cuff, as the knitter always wants to be knitting towards the heart. I don't know if that's true, but it is awfully poetic.
I'm feeling a bit down today because, probably due to the strikes in France, a round trip flight is averaging something like three times what it would normally cost around this time. Spring break was messed up because of the volcano in Iceland. It's kind of a rough year, travel-wise.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pattern Recognition.

Heavens, don't know why, but there's just got to be a relation between this:



and this:

Musical Interlude.

Aww, Dad: I'm so sorry.



(Lyrics are here.)

***

Is funny to think that this song was conceived just between my and my little brother's conceptions.
I'm not even sure where I could begin on the Anchoress's piece on the tension between those she calls the Credentialed Gentry and the "Unwashed." Speaks volumes to my experiences here where I'm currently resting.

My Dad's a big fan of hers and he's a pretty sensible person. Don't know why I don't read her work more regularly.
It might be the ingrained Rust Belt Frugality, might also be that I grew up during the period characterized by what is known as Stagflation*; don't know. In any event, I've always been fascinated by the reduced meat/produce/bakery offerings in the littler grocery stores around here.

Anyway, the other day, while perusing the day old baked good bin**, I managed to find a reduced priced loaf of foofy bread, that is, bread so precious that it wasn't even called bread anymore, but pane mediterraneo. To go with the upmarket name, it was priced kind of fancily (or fancifully) at originally $6 a loaf.

By the time I got to it, was $2. Heck, for croutons, crostini and chapelure,*** that works. I think that's even less than a loaf of Wonder at this point.

On the walk back home, I gave some thought as to what to do with my happy little windfall. I certainly didn't need the several cups of breadcrumbs or croutons this would net me (have decent reserves of both in the freezer). I'm not much of a sandwich or morning toast person; the bread would be green before I got 1/2 through with it that way.

At home, checked out what I had in the larder and made my decision. Since we were just having soup that night, figured I could round things out with a slightly heavier than normal dessert:

Windfall Pudding

1 c. stale bread, cut into small bits and with the crusts on, gosh darnit.
1 c. milk
2 t sugar
1 egg (I used medium-sized)
1/4 c. raisins
1 t. extract (at this point, I've used both rum and vanilla.)
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
finely grated peel of 1/2 a small orange****

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a glass pan (or, in my case, a ceramic cereal bowl.)

2.) Beat egg; add milk, sugar, spices, extract. Mix until well-blended.

3.) Add bread, raisins, peel. Mix well. Let sit for 15 minutes or so to allow the bread to soak up the milk, the raisins to soften and the flavors to blend.

4.) Take this mixture, toss it into the greased bowl, then let bake for 35-45 minutes; until liquid is evaporated and a nice, toasty crust forms on top.

Serve with your favorite accompaniments. Most folks like this with ice or whipped cream and maybe a bit more of something sweet on top (like rum sauce, chocolate, etc). I've been serving it in a pool of buttermilk with a drizzle of maple syrup on top.

Serves 2 (protein-rich meal completing portions) to 4 (smaller, more dessert-like ones).

***

* Usually joke about growing up during The Depression. Heck, I feel old, but I'm not *that* old.

** Someplace I normally try to steer clear of. 1/2 dozen cheap cream horns only look good in the package. Unless you can cut them in halves or thirds and serve them at tea to a bunch of friends, they actually end up being pretty vile. Idem for the tub o' rugalach, etc.

*** Said with a wry smile and pronounced in what I'm told is a charming regional accent.

**** Regarding the last five ingredients: Mentioned already the extracts I've tried. I'd also like to tinker with the fruit, the citrus peel and the spices. I'm thinking that apples, cloves and / or cardamom might be good if I don't put any peel in. Taking things even further, I'm wondering how a 50:50 coconut milk:cow's milk blend with lemon extract, shredded coconut, ginger and lime peel would work out. Heaven knows I've got enough bread to try it. Also have a can of coconut milk that's just dying to be used before its fast-approaching expiration date. We'll see.
Speaking of books: we decided on Cabeza de Vaca's adventures, which are sort of turning out to be like the Keystone Kops or something (that's what it seems like right now at the beginning of things, anyway).

Monday, October 18, 2010

We hit a couple library sales as well: one in Belmont, the other in Burlington. Both were bag sales, which usually occur at the end of the weekend. Most notable for me were the first three from the series of Rabbi Small mysteries, some armed services editions of James Thurber stories and a couple cookbooks. Pavel got some books on programming and mathematics, and favorite book by someone he's a huge fan of.

Nothing really spectacular like what I found a couple weeks ago in Acton, but still nice.
Great Meadows.

This is becoming the default walk when we're slightly west of here and exercise time is limited. Like with the Mystic Preserve and the reservoir over near Alewife, it's always worth it to visit often, all year round.

Now's the time for greater contrasts and longer shadows due to the obliqueness of the sun's rays.

Cattails

Local vegetation, already going out in a blaze of glory, seems further warmed by that gold light that one only sees this time of year.*

Canal

Saw a few birds: some coots, mallards and Canadas on the water. A crow, some swallows and (it was hard to tell) either yellow warblers or goldfinches with winter coloring in flight. We heard a downy woodpecker laughing at a joke that was clearly offending a mallard somewhere. Also, an odd call from what I thought to be a nuthatch**. Oh, saw a heron in the distance as well as some marsh wrens scritching around in the reeds.

Geese Overhead

Funny, but whenever I see a pair of geese in flight, I can't help but think of this poem.

***

* Here, it's gold in the Fall. Winter and Spring are pastels. Summer's primaries.

** Pavel said that it was too high pitched. Pitch aside, I think that it was the right cadence for a nuthatch.


DSCN4841

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Instead of turning on the TV and zoning out, the housemate and I like to either play a game of cribbage or scrabble, then read aloud to one another*.

We've gotten through quite a few books this way - mainly adventure/travel literature. For whatever reasons, this genre lends itself well to Pavel's delivery.

Anyway, last night, we finished a favorite story of mine: Joshua Slocum's Sailing Alone Around the World. Pavel was a little surprised** at how much he ended up enjoying*** the old salt's accounts of the people he met and the things he saw during his three year voyage on the little boat he acquired and was required to rebuild down in Fairhaven, MA.

The tough thing about finishing a book is having to choose another. Since we've got our sea legs now, should we go back in time and read some of Marco Polo's accounts of his voyages in the same areas as Slocum's? Should we move up in time and cross the Atlantic with Thor Heyerdahl? Or maybe, should we put ourselves back on Terra Firma and follow Cabeza de Vaca across Texas on foot?

***

* It usually ends up that Pavel does the reading while I listen and knit. He does this very well, and I think he should consider volunteering to record books for the sight-impaired.

** Part of Pavel's surprise had to do that this was a Shambhala book. Generally stuff published by them tends to be a bit on the esoteric side, and I think he believed that I was forcing some sort of Book of the Dead like thing on him.

*** He's actually sort of researching a trip to Mauritius based on what he read. Slocum really liked the people there.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Unsustainable.

I'm guessing that an awful lot of 'true believers' in the neighborhood who hired landscapers to put food gardens in their lawns just couldn't keep up with the actual work it takes to grow food, given the number of such dilapidated beds I see on my daily walks. What kills me is, not so much the wasted work, but the wasted produce. Would consider gleaning the knocked-down unripe tomatoes for pickles, the squash, the haricots périmés, but I live in HLS territory and I don't want to have trespassing problems on my record*. Also don't know what the hired folks used as fertilizer. Then there's the problem of stuff being bitten into by potentially sick animals.

Such a waste.

***

* Made my voting choices public when I was younger and stupider. Was swiftly and loudly denounced as a "Republican" by a career Leftist in Europe in a country where the label "Republican" can deny you entry (interestingly enough, is one European country where I actually do business, to add insult to injury). Now, sorry for the TMI, but I'm what's known as an Independent in the US - no such thing in Europe - I vote as I see fit, based on actually looking at the particulars (In financial/technology terms, it's called "drilling down"- essentially, you question the 'global,' then research the details that compose that view.) Not based on Party Loyalty or If It Feels Good. Unfortunately, an awful lot of Credentialed, but maybe not so emotionally mature folks think that this is threatening. I have to be careful of this now. This strikes me as paranoia and I really don't like this. Have enough hormone problems as it stands.

Friday, October 15, 2010

While I was away, the kitchen and bathroom were slated to be renovated. For whatever reasons, those two jobs didn't happen. (Bathroom may start in a month or so; Kitchen's been put until next Spring.) Instead, some more work on the top floor of the house was done and a new roof was put on. Though this all was pretty painful to live through, the results are spectacular.

View of Medford from the new balcony

This is the view to the north of us from the new balcony that replaced the poorly-designed, rotten and dangerous spare room that was out my bedroom door. Dreams of conservatories and pergolas gave way to a nice, un-roofed space suitable for container gardening and basking. I think we'll be putting up a couple more bird feeders and some flower baskets as well.

New roof, Shingles, Door, Window...

New roof, new shingles, a new door and window. Take a look at that roof: isn't it beautiful? It's aluminum. Don't think that there are many of those in my neighborhood. Some informal testing with an infrared thermometer has shown that, under the midday sun, the aluminum is around 40 degrees cooler than the neighbors' asphalt one...let's hear it for early adoption of neat technologies!

Since the wall was going to be exposed again, it was going to need new shingles. I love the cedar and wish they weren't so expensive/labor intensive to pose. A whole house covered in these would be pretty impressive. As it stands, Pavel wants to paint the house blue. (Personally, I think Falu Red would be really nice with the white roof.)

The door and window got switched around in all this. Take a look at the window. It's important. (Here's a better view:)

There's That New Window.

When I first saw a new window go in, it was clear and fixed. This kind of made me sad, as I was hoping for another opportunity for a cross breeze. Little did I know that, hiding under a pile of old shingles and masonite, was this new take on the old stained glass that you find in lots of these late-Victorian era houses.

Window from Indoors

(View from inside - I put my bed right under it.)

Pavel likes stained glass a lot, and often, we'll take evening walks around the neighborhood just to admire the backlit windows often seen here. He particularly liked this window because it reminded him both of a rose and sunrise, both equally important as this is an east window.

Bit by bit, the house is starting to take on the personality of its owner. I'm hoping that he's starting to appreciate it; it's got a lot of potential just waiting to be released.
Well, one part of the house chaos came to a close, anyway. I've been kind of living in a nightmare lately, as my room was a construction site for the past 3+ weeks. Wouldn't be surprised if I'd breathed in enough plaster dust for a case of brown lung. Also, as the construction crew was coming around early (sometimes before 8:00 am and often on weekends), had problems getting over jet lag. Then there're the stomach problems that have been hounding me since a couple days before leaving Suresnes. I'm kind of worried about that last thing, though a recent doctor visit didn't show much of concern.

Now, am starting to clean up, a major task. Got about 1/2 the space worked over yesterday. Hopefully will get the rest done today. Then I can do a normal cleaning/rearranging sometime over the weekend.

Will be good to be settled again, if only for a little while. More rooms will need to be torn apart and I'll have more traveling to do. For a moment, though, there's a bit of calm.
Yesterday evening, my internal barometer felt the front coming in like gangbusters. Sure as anything, we had an entire night of fairly heavy rain. Today, it's dark, windy, cool and damp. Am wondering if we'll be getting more rain? Though I did manage some good sleep last night, am still tired and the brain still feels a bit flippy (as though some connections are wet). Don't like this feeling and I wish it'd go away.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

This has to be about the best English language explanation I've seen on what's going on in France right now.

I can't claim to speak for All the French, but the few that I do know know that pensions, health care, education, etc need desperately to be reformed. Like here in the States, things are pretty complex and messy. I often wonder, too, if the French kind of got into the same mess that we did here, meaning that they hired people who turned out to not be up to the task of governing, much less reforming. It seems that way when conversations eventually turn to politics.

For what it's worth (and it's not worth much), I don't find this sort of commentary to be very helpful. Calling people leeches and telling them to grow up when there are legitimate issues at hand seems kind of like calling the Tea Party movement racist, radical, violent, whathaveyou.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

You know, I just can't get worked up over this. I'm willing to believe that there are enough people in the community who celebrate this particular lunar holiday to justify it as a day off. Cambridge is pretty big and pretty diverse. A look at the school calendar shows that the other two of the Big Three are pretty well represented, so it doesn't seem like special treatment or anything.

The only thing I'd wonder about is, what about accommodations for other religious groups? Are there so few Hindus or Buddhists (or maybe neither celebrate in the same way?) that time off for Diwali or Tet aren't represented? This is one of the pains in the rear of being a religious pluralism in a devolved government system*. It can get messy.

Then there's this all. It's not like Campbell is forcing people to eat halal meat in their products. They're just marketing the vegetarian option differently (vive le capitalisme!).**

***

*This last point I think is lost on a lot of folks here who think that we should be more "European" in our approach to both education and dealing with religion. First, it's a big country - a continent. Can't see a Central System (like the Frenchie calls it - L'Etat) working here at all. Doesn't seem to work very well, even in smaller settings. Secondly, what's called "Secularism" in a lot of places is just preference for one faith/view over others - in the case of England, a lot of former Christian holidays are papered over with the term "Bank Holiday." In France, they don't even bother with that.

**I do think the problem of the British grocery chains not labeling meat as halal is problematic, though. Certainly, there is an 'ick' factor involved if you believe that this is torturing an animal to death. What bothers me about it is the potential level of adrenaline that secreted/diffused due to this method of slaughter. Adrenaline is a hormone, after all, and last time I noted, folks were pretty anti-hormone treated meat in that general territory.

Monday, October 11, 2010

By the way, just noticed that if my blog were a child, it'd be in second grade now. Maybe, to celebrate, I'll take it to Topsfield today for a cider doughnut and a ride on the ferris wheel.
O Fortuna.

I don't think I (or anyone else, for that matter) could have foreseen any of the turns life took the past few years. Heck, when I started the blog, I was embarking on a new career, in what I thought to be the relationship of my life. Family seemed to be doing well, too.

Now? Well, complicated. New loves. Illness, death, something awful and unexpected. The prospect of a long move, of graduate school maybe, of a new start. (Not from Point Zero, but with all my history trailing behind me).

Honestly, it scares the heck out of me.

***

By the way: I made a sort of daube for dinner; it ended up more like a cross between boeuf bourgignon and boeuf aux carrottes. Really good. Was really in the mood for mussels, too, but the ones at the grocery store were terrible. Steamed myself some littlenecks instead.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Guess it's been a while since I've been 'round these parts. Have an excuse: was in France for a hair shy of three months and you can do things like that* there.

Came back to Boston and attendant mayhem. Am still trying to get out from under the (literal) rubble; loose-end tying-off is proceeding very slowly. Also have some major decision-making to do. The decision-making part is not a strong point. I like to generally let myself be pushed along The Way. Outside sources indicate, though, that that isn't always the best way to deal with life/treat myself.

Anyway - first major life-affecting decision for a Sunday afternoon: stuffed acorn squash or daube? I have a free evening and want to make myself something autumnal and a little special, I guess. Will be taking the walk in the direction of the grocery store and will probably be picking up the items necessary for both.

***

* "That," meaning, disappear for several months and say, "oh, I was away on vacation! What's your problem?" Yes, this is still possible.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Sesame Street, Math Help, Helpful Bugs.



What more could one ask for this Summer?

Words, maybe:

One two three
Four five six
Seven eight nine
Ten eleven twelve
Ladybugs
Came to the ladybugs' picnic

One two three
Four five six
Seven eight nine
Ten eleven twelve
And they all played games
At the ladybugs' picnic

They had twelve sacks so they ran sack races
They fell on their backs and they fell on their faces
The ladybugs 12
At the ladybugs' picnic

They played jump rope but the rope it broke
So they just sat around telling knock-knock jokes
The ladybugs 12
At the ladybugs' picnic

One two three
Four five six
Seven eight nine
Ten eleven twelve
And they chatted away
At the ladybugs' picnic

They talked about the high price of furniture and rugs
And fire insurance for ladybugs
The ladybugs 12
At the ladybugs' picnic
12!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Some Dead Guy once said that, while America was always sliding into Fascism, Europe generally ended there.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Hypnotic.

Love how the internet can sometimes be like those Matryoshka dolls - you open one up to find another little treat within, &c, &c. Anyway, came upon this little video of some Arab IDF soldiers engaging in a traditional sort of poetry 'slam' and was really taken in by it:



Found it via Solomon, who linked to this site, an interesting one in its own right - and not just for the "explicit sexual language or innuendo found in most posts," either! Definitely take a look at Nizo's post on the subject - he gives an explanation of what the guys are doing along with a bit of a translation. (Honestly have to agree with him - the Druze guy is *awfully* cute. Love his voice, too.)


***

Sweet that the Bedouin guy calls himself 'Bulbul,' a kind of songbird found all over Africa and in the Middle East.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Day is Done,

Day is Done

gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills,
From the sky.
All is well, safely rest,
God is nigh.

***

Happy Memorial Day from Spring Hill.
Salade Russe.*

Planned to use an already-written-out recipe for a ring-bearer's pillow for a friend, but scrapped after having started and frogged all knitted elements involved. Was just miserable, miserable stuff. Find myself sort of winging it now:

Lace Edging

For the edging, I'm using that old standby, Aunt Lydia's crochet cotton on this pattern. Have no idea as to what I'm going to do for a medallion - either I'll do something modular on two needles or I'll suck it up and do a traditional doily on double pointed needles. We'll see.

Also - am *not* using satin like described in the original pattern. Can't stand satin. I've got some gorgeous white linen that I think'll be perfect for this. Again, we'll see.

***

Salade Russe literally means just that: Russian Salad, as opposed to the normal French conceit of composed salads. Idiomatically, it means 'crazy, mixed-up thing.' Also, I think that it might be old-fashioned language, as nowadays I hear 'bordel' to mean roughly the same thing. Oh well, I like the term, so will keep using it. (Part of the luxury of being a foreigner and cute.)
Il faut cultiver son jardin.

Got out for a bit to tend to the gardens around the Somerville Estates. Though not as manic about this as I used to be on Winter Hill (partly because I don't have Raphaella around to guilt trip me anymore), am still managing to spruce things up a bit.

Out back, rounded up and transplanted the nasturtiums in pots up front. Thinned out the chives, radishes and dill. Decided to leave the greens to grow a bit more.*

Staked the peas.

Staked Peas

Looks a bit like the camera had a hard time focusing in the low light. Sorry about that. Still, you get the idea.

Up front, dead-headed** everyone who needed it and where I found mature seeds, sprinkled them in blank spots. Worked on shoring up the little rock borders I'm making around plantings with ballast I find under the porch. Planted some more cheap annuals picked up on sale at K-mart.***

Also, moved outside and pruned the poor, half-eaten tropical thing an ex-coworker gave me when the office had a plant purge. Hopefully, the time outdoors in the sun, along with some plant food and a bit of respite from the cats will revive it a bit. I'm really fond of the thing (and of the person who unloaded it on me).

Around the ash tree this year, I planted marigolds.

Marigolds Around Ash

Generally plant either them or alyssum, as both are pretty hardy and tend to lushness. Also like the smell. My main reason for planting here is to dissuade hospital clientele from using our (and the neighbors') yard as a trash receptacle. So far, so good; have only had to collect up remains from one lunch and a couple butts. No medical waste yet, anyway.

Marigolds and Morning Glories

Inspired by the work of a friend in the old neighborhood, I decided to try planting morning glories around the tree. Started them from seed in Mid-April, and believe that, with luck, the little clumps of heart-shaped leaves will climb up the trunk and give us some purple flowers. We'll see.

Am pleased, as have already gotten positive feedback on the yard work from some hospital staff, a couple patients and neighbors a couple doors down I'd not met before. Pavel actually told me that another neighbor who puts a lot of work into her yard stopped him in the local garden store to talk plants and landcaping.

Tiny effort, small results that do grow with time. Kind of like what another dead European**** came up with the title once said - 'Se prendre du mal pour les petites choses est parvenir aux choses plus grandes.' (Taking pains with the small things leads to success with larger ones)*****

***

* This year it's going to be rocket, sorrel, kale, collards and mustard. I wanted tougher than lettuce and bitter/sour so the animals would leave some for us.

** Or, as Pavel put it - continued the plants' states of reproductive frustration. Kind of reminds me of what another guy friend once said about having the boy cats 'snipped.'

*** $1.89 for a package of six plants! This time around, we got some cute little fuzzy buttons in purple.

**** Not the guy who came up with the title to the post.

***** Just a rough citation from memory, so please pardon my inexactitude along with my French. Also, positive, but am pretty sure it was Samuel Beckett who said that.
Well, I'll be darned.

Woke up this morning to a smoky, sweet scent that reminded me of burning incense. Now, I have been reading a lot about the Byzantine Empire but am not generally subject to olfactory hallucinations (crazier than a bedbug though I might be), so was a bit curious. Wandered around the house, then went outdoors to sniff around. Yes, the smell was everywhere.

A short time later, Pavel came downstairs. First thing he mentioned was the pretty but strange smell in the air. Wondered aloud on what was causing it. Nobody does leaf fires in the neighborhood - too dangerous with all the wood houses stacked on each other. Certainly wasn't a house (or more likely a series of houses - when one goes up here, the neighbors get hurt as well), as we didn't hear any fire engines overnight.

Found out later that we were smelling (and still are smelling, though a bit less now) is ash from forest fires in Quebec brought down on the wind. Apparently, too, here in Southeast Middlesex, there's an air quality alert in effect until tonight.

***

Update - early afternoon (about 13:15 ish) - smell's gotten stronger and one can really see the haze. Any outdoor work that needs to get done will be done out back under the trees, I think.

(18:30) - air quality has improved slightly, but is still pretty hazy out. Took a walk around the neighborhood for a couple hours and didn't have any trouble breathing. Eyes are kind of bothering me, though.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunset on Spring Hill

Sunset on Spring Hill

The view from the front porch isn't the prettiest but sometimes it can be surprising.
Pavel tells me that the hamburglers are out again by the Mystic. He heard the high-pitched calling, approached a blueberry bush and scared a half dozen or so out.

Hooray!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

"If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, and - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!"




Dennis Hopper on Johnny Cash's show in 1970. There are other recordings of him reciting Kipling's poem during different stages of his life; all are interesting to watch. One can tell that he really took it to heart.

Rest in Peace.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Afternoon Feeding.



A male housefinch feeding a baby. It's a pity my camera doesn't have sound; the babies' squeaks are so incredibly high-pitched and loud that, really, only hearing is believing. Also, note the little one flapping just one wing: it knows full well how to feed itself, but if it can scam a free meal, it will.
Oh Dear.



Don't know if I should be laughing or be crouched in a corner rocking myself calm after this.
This week's Weekly Standard just arrived and I see that the cover story is about the notorious Barnes Affair. This is something I'd been looking at for some time because the Barnes Foundation (much like its Brahmin Sister, the Gardnner Museum) was one of my favorite art collections (heck, or even places in the world).

The precedent that this case (followed by a similar challenge by Princeton against an endowment specifically to its Wilson school) set regarding charitable giving is a pretty frightening one, even to a non-lawyer type like me.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Arrowhead.

Finished my first arrowhead lace shawl - turned out to be more of a scarf, as the Noro ran out and I didn't have anything complementary to finish the shawl off with. Kind of reminds me of a First Communion veil or maybe even a mantilla.

Little Arrowhead

Thought I might give this to Karen, but now am not so sure. Don't think it's in her colors.

Was such a joy to knit, that almost immediately after binding off the first, I cast on for a second one:

Jewel Tones

I'm cannibalizing a kit a friend gave me; plan even on incorporating the included beads.

The yarn's a bit more difficult to deal with than the Noro; sticks a bit to the needles. Love those jewel tones!
Too Hot.

End of May in New England, the temperature should not be in the 90s!

Poor cats are dealing as well as they can:

Pauvre Trouble

Le Pauvre Trouble.

Misery Loves Company.

Langour.

Even noted that the fledglings are doing an awful lot of mouth-breathing. Do they not have sweat glands either? We put some ice cubes in the bird bath in the hopes that that would help some.

Weather breaks by the end of the week (hopefully!).

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sea Legs.

Couldn't concentrate on lace for a while. Or knitting. Or putting one foot in front of the other, exhaling after inhaling, etc. Had to put aside the pretty but kind of complex 12 row repeat pattern I was working, as was tinking back more rows than was knitting forward.

Glasgow Lace Detail

Here's the start of my Glasgow Lace pullover, anyway. Can't tell from the rather old picture, but I'm about 1/2 way through with the back panel. Am planning on making the body longer, giving it some shape and shortening the sleeves. The yarn's some seriously vintage wool (possibly as old as me) I picked up at the Salvation Army in Leominster not quite 10 years ago.

At some point a few weeks back, maybe when the Frenchie was here, got seriously tired of not knitting. Needed to do get the hands moving and it needed to be simple. Since I'd gotten enough grief about the state of my worn-out but much-loved quilt, so decided on a new bedcover.

Sediment Blanket

Here's the start of my "Sediment Scraps" blanket/throw thing. The working name for it is Puddingstone.

Puddingstone Again

A close-up view of the latest rows added. I'm just a little short of 1/2 way done with what looks like either a 60" square coverlet or even rug, it's so heavy.

There's no rhyme or reason to the color scheme; am just picking the colors as I go along. Don't know that the transition from greens to purples in the early stages is very successful, but am not too worried about it. It's kind of fun to see how this progresses. Also, a bit weird: each time I grab a new bit of yarn to tie onto a knitted end, I feel like that guy who got transported to his childhood home during teatime. (Sometimes pleasant, sometimes not.) If I had the gift of putting as inneresting a spin on my memories as he could his, I'd knock off a volume or two myself. Think I should just stick to knitting for now, though.

Anyway, while rooting around for another something to add to the above yarn stew, happened on a lovely, forgotten bit of silky stuff I'd received in a gift package some time ago. Now, I have the hardest time using yarn that friends give me because I don't think I can do justice to the gift (strange, I know). This, though, was kind of calling out to my hands to play with it, it's so soft. Seemed, too, to want to be something lacy, in spite of the fact that I don't normally like to use variegated yarns for that (often distracts from the stitch work).

Little Arrowhead Lace Shawl

Pam Allen's Little Arrowhead Lace Shawl, available here for free. Why not give it a try? Seriously, it's a good beginning exercise in chart-reading. The yarn's Noro's Silk Garden in a beautiful scale of sandy tones.

Since Karen's birthday was a couple days ago (same as Grandma Double-Vey's), figured I would send this out to her. She normally likes really bold colors, but I think that this could hold its own against her. For some reason, too, she was the first person who came to mind when I started the project.

***

Don't know if I'm regaining the Sea Legs; hope so. I really do hate it when I lose the taste for doing stuff that normally makes me so happy.
Still feeling off but hungry, decided to make a bit of soup for breakfast. Not bad:



Gratuitous soup shot. Am growing to like playing with the camera again. Couldn't be bothered with it for a while.

Nothing really exciting: just some chicken broth, a handful of fresh spinach, 1/2 an onion, a couple mushrooms a clove of garlic and four or five cubes of frozen cilantro (the smell from that alone calmed the upset stomach down right away). Simmered it all for about five minutes, then poached a couple eggs in it.

This felt about as good going down as a bowl of miso soup. Come to think of it, maybe I should revive the practice of having a bowl of that for breakfast.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Anyway, Safe Mode. Had to put aside the History books and Stendhal for a bit, as the brain is so cloudy right now. Started reading another from the growing pile of Time Life cookbooks in the pantry. Tonight, got interested in a brief summary ancient Romans' tastes, their love for sweet/sour blends and what I guess could be their equivalent to Worcestershire sauce, Garum.
Chemistry.

Am sort of operating in "safe mode" as the hormones start cresting. Though all my life I've been on a 21-24 day cycle (save for the year or so when I was training for the Tour de France. Then, it was a roughly six-week cycle), am still neither used to or happy with it. Wish it didn't have to be as physically painful as it's always been. Wish I didn't have the 2-3 days of utter hopelessness that show up before the bleeding.

The Change can't come soon enough.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tentative Takeoff.



The first sparrow fledgling of the season paid a visit to the yew yesterday. This morning, we saw at least three perched on branches taking in data and begging. Early evening, one little dope flew smack into the kitchen window, bounced off and managed to gain a foothold on one of the dead branches. Shook the kinks out of its head, then immediately started flapping its wings and begging from a house finch.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sorry to take so long to get back. Family's being Family as per usual, and am responding to that as though I'd never learned my lessons with them. So - am putting something up to divert thoughts and to leave people with a happy feeling. (Hug! Help!)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day.



Should go without saying, but will repeat it anyway: NSFW.

(21st anniversary of Gaia busting my nose, too, by the way.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

And now, the Frenchie's Tuesday ticket has magically transformed into one for Sunday next week. Amazing how that happens.

For him, it's been fairly easy, though disappointing: he's just been cooling his heels at home. I feel terrible for all the other folks trapped Heaven Knows Where depleting their bank accounts in Limbo.

Makes this news seem all the more Onion-esque.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Frenchie's got a ticket for Tuesday, but is looking desperately for alternative airports. Taking a train to Madrid is actually starting to sound good, actually.

(sigh)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Well, no flights out of northern Europe until probably tomorrow now. The Frenchie, who was supposed arrive here this afternoon, managed to get a flight for next Tuesday. Given how the cloud's moving and how, organizationally speaking, stuff is in chaos, I have serious doubts on his getting here next week (or at all).

Given that things could be much, much worse*, I really shouldn't be so sad or disappointed. Still, am.

Hopefully he'll get a nice sunset or two out of this all.

***

* We were actually talking about the last time volcano ash affected an airplane, maybe 20 some odd years ago. The Frenchie said that, at least he's home and not 12 km in the air with all engines failing.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Someone isn't a very happy camper right now.

Roissy's officially closed until 14:00 tomorrow. The Frenchie's flight was due to take off at 13:50. (We're prepared for the worst, but 're also hoping for the best.)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Last FM

Wow.



Was totally unaware of their existence. (Appears to be the audio equivalent to Youtube.) Enjoy.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Malcolm McLaren has died.

Guess he was best known for managing the Sex Pistols and Bow Wow Wow (one of Boy George's early efforts).

I'll always remember him for bringing Elitist Music to the Masses, though:



Gerome meets Cinemax after the kids have been put to bed.

Not to mention fusing The Urban Culture with the Cowboy Way.

Say what one wants, will maintain that he was one heck of a Bridge Builder.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Was kind of waiting around to see what the aftermath of the original story's publication would be. Surprised me, given defamation/libel law out there and the involved parties' normal speed at invoking it, that a suit wasn't immediately filed. Guess this is why not.
Speaking of Green - Speaking of Magic

Isn't it amazing how what comes off the needles looking like this

Flower Basket Detail

Ends up like this after a good soaking and pinning?

Green Tea Flower Basket

Gosh, I love knitting lace; it manages to calm me down when nothing else seems able to (of course, am also happy to have something to show for my work; that's always nice). Love blocking lace, too, as it effects such a transformation.

Green Tea FB II

Really, really enjoyed this project. Heck, was such a joy to work, it practically knitted itself. The pattern is Evelyn Clark's Flower Basket Shawl, and I knit it with Knit Pick's Palette in green tea heather.
Today was a bit grayer than the past few days, which really set off the colors of burgeoning life. This was just around the house today:

Norway Maple Buds

Norway Maples are sort of viewed around here as pale cousins to the red or sugar varieties. Granted, both the blooms and the foliage of the latter two are spectacular. Still, this isn't too shabby. (My favorite green, in fact.)

Last Year's Primroses

Last year's primroses! Am so happy to see them! I'm terribly jealous of the Frenchie, as these have naturalized in his garden. Normally, I treat them as annuals, as the Winters usually freeze them out here. Thanks to the wonderfully mild one we had this year, though, at least half of last year's transplants have come back.

Cherry Buds

The neighbors' fence been needing repair or replacement for some time, just as their cherry tree's been needing a pruning. Still, there are sometimes advantages to stuff going rank. Am trying to decide whether to leave these untouched or to bring a few branches in to force.

Love this perspective from the back steps.
Thought I was on the road to recovery back-wise; guess I was wrong. Woke up with much difficulty this morning and limped along as best as I could for a while. Round mid afternoon, a spasm so strong that I nearly lost my lunch completely broadsided me. Lie on the floor for a bit until things calmed down and could see something other than blinky-lights. Got a couple stretches in, then dragged myself to the medicine cabinet.

Since there's a lot of keyboard work to be done, am managing by keeping the back stock straight (Thank heavens for old-fashioned hard-backed chairs! Thank heavens for ground score!) and propping myself up on a number of overstuffed cushions. Will be sleeping on the floor tonight, I think.

***

Though I've been therapized out the wazoo, still am a bit slow when it comes to recognizing the triggers. Two such spasms so close after the gut problems that almost caused me to hit the emergency room can really only mean one thing: my brain's eating me alive. Granted, I have a whole hell of a lot to be stressed out over. Still, I'm more good to me alive than dead or seriously debilitated. Really need to stop this.

Monday, April 05, 2010



Funny how predictable the thugs are, in spite of what Conventional Wisdom says about their nature.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Weird Use of Race.

Interesting juxtaposition of race and class among leftists in power. Bless Althouse for Having Done Due Diligence Here. (Thank you!)

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Are You Experienced?

This is a little list of knitting techniques making its way around the webs. In bold are the things I've already tried/made. In italics are the things I plan on trying/making.

Afghan
I-cord
Garter stitch
Knitting with metal wire
Shawl
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down

Socks: toe-up
Knitting with camel yarn (kind of pricey)
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
Hat
Knitting with silk

Moebius band knitting (have done this inadvertently, actually, by twisting the cast on stitches on a circular needle. Liked the effect, so kept with it.)
Participating in a KAL
Sweater
Drop stitch patterns
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Slip stitch patterns

Knitting with bananafiber yarn
Domino knitting (=modular knitting)
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Two end knitting
Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn
Cardigan
Toy/doll clothing

Knitting with circular needles
Baby items
Knitting with your own handspun yarn
Slippers

Graffiti knitting: knitting items on, or to be left on the street (Find this actually kind of annoying.)
Continental knitting
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns
Lace patterns

Publishing a knitting book
Scarf

Teaching a child to knit
Knitting to make money
Button holes
Knitting with alpaca
Fair Isle knitting

Norwegian knitting
Household items: dishcloths, washcloths, tea cosies…
knitting socks- or other small tubular items- on two circulars
Dying with plant colours

Knitting items for a wedding (currently working on something, in fact.)
Olympic knitting (Knitting would be ruined by competition.)
Knitting with someone else’s handspun yarn
Knitting with dpns
Holiday related knitting
Teaching a male how to knit (Want to teach the Frenchie how to knit. He's kind of resisting, though.)
Bobbles

Knitting for a living (Heck no!)
Knitting with cotton
Knitting smocking
Dying yarn
Steeks

Knitting art
Fulling/felting
Knitting with wool
Textured knitting
Kitchener BO
Purses/bags

Knitting with beads
Swatching
Long Tail CO
Entrelac Knitting and purling backwards
(Don't actually enjoy this.)
Machine knitting (Have a machine; haven't broken it out of the box yet, though.)
Knitting with selfpatterning/selfstriping/variegating yarn
Stuffed toys
Knitting with cashmere
Darning

JewelryKnitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern
Gloves
Intarsia
Knitting with linen
Knitting for preemies
Tubular CO
Freeform knitting
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mitts/armwarmers
Pillows
Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine

Rug
Knitting on a loom (a tricotin? Have done that.)
Thrummed knitting
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets

Shrug/bolero/poncho
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Win first place at the fair (Can't be bothered; did win an honorable mention once on something that I made for a friend's daughter. Friend was so impressed, she entered the item into the local fair's needlework judging. Was kind of pleasantly surprised by that.)
Hair accessories (Head bands count?)
Knitting in public
(Back when I took the train, was always knitting.)

I think that I'm more interested in learning new techniques than trying out novelties or drawing attention to myself. To each his or her own, right?