Sunday, January 31, 2010

snow

Snow day means baking oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, at least to L:




Reminds me of Narnia:




Sentries:



video

Saturday, January 30, 2010

cozy

snow day. We are lucky we didn't lose power.

I haven't seen the snow come in so fast since living here; it was almost like New England. I had been spending a leisurely morning with a friend, prowling a yarn shop, out to lunch, and looking at L. Baskin prints in a gallery. When we were loitering at our cars, we noticed a few docile flakes drifting down. Ten minutes later, I was headed into the onslaught of the blowing snow! L was driving the front wheel drive van, useless on anything but a sunny summer day, really. She got home just in time.

Now enjoying oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and wondering why I just cannot pick up stitches correctly on this mitten thumb. Disturbing, really. You'd think I'd know better.

Snow pix tomorrow.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday

Awaiting a STORM! Meaning: panicked citizenry on the loose in search of bread, milk, and beer.

My tooth is not as bad as I first thought; although it has sheared off, and I'll still need the crown. (Or do I? Wish I knew more about what would happen if I didn't. Dentists can be cagey.)

Off to yoga before we are iced in. Or not. Depending.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Theme Thursday: Felt

Felt: past tense, or present tense, or a noun. Sort of an all-purpose word.

I remember having a little box imported from England, the Fuzzy Felt Hospital. (I still have it somewhere). It consisted of a little board topped with a felt-ish material, and little beds, pillows, nurse uniforms, heads, and other appendages that you could manipulate into sick bay scenarios.

Felt is satisfying to work with; it never frays or unravels, unlike nerves. It's actually fun to cut with pinking shears. I remember making many needle case covers with my grandmother. I have one of hers.

I'm made several felted bags (although I've read that felted is not the correct word in this case), which are enormous after you knit them. Shepherding them through their stint in the washing machine is a bit tense. You don't want them to get too small, but you want the fibers to shrink and mesh so that they are sturdy enough to take everyday abuse. L has one I made, not bad looking!



This bag is from the Amazon site for Pursenalities, by Eva Wiechmann, but is done in the pattern I knit for L


Here is a YouTube instructional video from the Crunchy Parent on how to make a felted wool ball. Notice cats in background:


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

energy

I'm editing a series of activities/tests for middle school science students, and the section I'm working on now has to do with the planets.

And then my tooth cracked apart.

Wait; there is a connection between the energy in the universe and my thought energy and this tooth event, but I'm slowly working my way toward it. My dreams lately have been wrapped up in animals, very concrete. argh. I'll just leave you with a picture while I try to muddle through.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

cello and case

rather fuzzy, but here are two pictures of the result of Saturday's excursion:



case used by an ACTUAL MUSICIAN!




Jacqueline du Pre (Squirrel reminded me of the movie Hilary and Jackie; worth a viewing)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Music Monday!

A contemplative start for this week, from Trio Mediaeval:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sundry, and various

This is what emerged from the extruding pasta maker:



a gloppy mess. D smooshed it up and kneaded it. I was able to use my usual pasta roller to salvage the dough and turn it into satiny sheets, that are drying now so I can cut them.



I will not be vanquished!

Just a little shot of our return trip from our visit to the luthier:

video

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Will It Work This Time?

The other night I made a rather upmarket version of tuna noodle casserole, from (what else?) Everyday Food. I used that extremely expensive organic pasta you can buy at the whole foods store, direct from Italy and extruded through ancient brass dies (really! it says so on the box).

Anyway, it suddenly occurred to me that I might be able to make extruded organic pasta RIGHT IN MY OWN KITCHEN!




Waaaaay back in the 1980s in a mall in Natick (THE mall?), I made D buy this because it was on sale. I already had my Robot Coupe, which I had bought at the Eastfield Mall (where are all these specifics coming from?!) after receiving a rather large raise at work.




I believe I used it exactly once, after which it has sat on one shelf or another in its box wherever I happen to find myself. As I recall, the pasta I made was gluey and just plain no good. Since then, I've learned to make pasta by hand, with the well in the flour and the eggs and a rolling pin. But nothing tubular can come of this method, or at least not those that can hold their shape.

So . . . watch out, pasta attachment. Because I'm about to tame you, you rascal.


Friday, January 22, 2010

cello



I have never had the occasion to consider buying an expensive stringed instrument, but L has some cash stashed, so tomorrow we are taking a trip here to see what we shall see.

I worry that with college looming, priorities may change. I still believe rental is the way to go for many reasons, but I expect to receive a persistent sales pitch rendered in soothing, dulcet tones.

Then it's on to Macy's to see if it carries a suitable dress for May Day (shudder; had I known this was such an important event at school, I may have thought twice about that decision).

Looking forward to getting out into the wider world, however. Can I possibly sneak in a visit here? I got two resounding nooooooos, but you never know.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Theme Thursday: Bread

Poetry is an act of peace. Peace goes into the making of a poet as flour goes into the making of bread.
—Pablo Neruda

No poet I. Not even bread baker on any regular basis. That has been D's role for almost 20 years. He actually makes the bread we eat every week, or when we've eaten more than our usual fill, whichever comes first. Oh sure, we pick up a baguette or Niedlov's multiseed/grain now and again, but the bread that L has grown up on is the bread her father bakes.

I find that quietly amazing. There is a connection between baking, poetry, and peace. A space in the day for contemplation in the kneading. The small miracle of the rising. Oven spring! Exciting. Final nourishment after the baking. No bread tastes just right as his does.

L's bread is pictured at right. A lifetime of seeing her father create something on a regular basis for family consumption has spurred her interest the same.

While I make the popovers and the biscuits on a whim, his baking continues assuredly. Ahh.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tuesday

L drove herself to school. I no longer panic, but then she is a better driver after two years. Who, though, thinks it is a good idea to put 16-year-olds, in this state WITHOUT driver's ed (at least that's SOMETHING; the phrase "get the BIG picture" from my own high school days still dances in my head), behind the wheel of a car? Chilling. To say the least.

Though not as chilling as a texting mother with tots belted in behind her. At least that's what I believe the women in front of me yesterday was doing. Otherwise, she needs some instruction herself in the meaning of a green light and speed limits.

I've been cleaning the baseboards to put off opening my e-mail to find notification that confusing files of text to edit in ADOBE READER(?*!!F**K) are now posted to the ftp site!!! Pub trying to save $$ by giving the lowly c/e the responsibilities of a production editor for crap hourly wages.

Glad I know how to cook. Everyday Food a godsend, really . . .

Finances, finances, finances. Sometimes I lie and bed and think about how much it's costing me to lie in bed.

Just some random thoughts, an idea cribbed from Cinnamon; although hers are more thoughtful

Monday, January 18, 2010

Music Monday!

Jordi Savall and Rolf Lislevand



I hope this gets you moving!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

full-body ache

Yesterday was quite a busy one for L; master class; then a gig for a local charity; and finally a dance. She had the car that we actually own, it was raining (which here means, watch out, because most of us citizens don't know how to drive in inclement weather!) so I was on high alert.

Having her out at night is very stressful for me. I really like having all the chickens in the coop. I remember my 8th-grade French teacher saying much the same thing about her twin teenage sons (who had tennis-player legs, as I recall). Until you hear that car pull in, all is tension. Even though she is considerate and trustworthy, you never know who is hurtling toward her from another direction. Visions of crumpled autos dance in my head.

My entire being was tense, and that led to muscle aches. Plus worry about my workload doesn't help.

But she returned, having had a great time. Introverted me doesn't quite understand having fun at a dance . . .

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Work

I've come to the conclusion that I wouldn't know what to do out in the workforce. My skills at office interrelations, if I ever had them, are now null and void. Though it would be nice to be ahead of the curve on software issues. Without management "seminars" or "webinars," I'm always catching up on any project the uses the unfamiliar. Like Adobe Reader to edit many-layered, dense material. The program quits on me time and time again. Frustrating. Argh.

But getting up early has its perks. By 9 or 10, I've put in 4 or 5 hours, in theory leaving time for all my other activities. So, that's my next hurdle. Practice what I complain about not doing.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Incredible String Band

I took a little break the other day to watch



on the computer, and the last piece of music reminded me of Cat Stevens. Those (me, and L, and D, always are the last to leave the theater) who sit through movie credits are rewarded: it was the Incredible String Band's Little Cloud. I pawed through my CDs, and found it: The Chelsea Sessions 1967. But where, oh where, is The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter?! It's around here, somewhere (I hope). Roy, do you remember/know this group? A little research showed they were at Woodstock, which I hadn't known.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

TT: Surface

Surface: a very wide ranging topic. Verb, noun, adjective. Rising up from the depths, the top, superficial.

I find it difficult to dig deeply on a topic here. Always have. Easier to stay on top, to float on the surface, and look down occasionally through the clear water into the murk. But not very often.

The first thing I thought of when I saw this week's theme was a swimmer rising out of a body of water: a lake. That muffled world before breaking the surface.

The second was of course surface design, especially of fabric. In fact, I turned to The Surface Designer's Handbook, which has so many ways to manipulate the surface. Dyeing and printing and creating resists. And the inspirational The Art of Embroidery, by Françoise Tellier-Loumagne, with its beguiling nature photographs and corresponding interpretations of rocks, plants, shore in stitches.

It was embroidery and knitting. And sewing. I look forward to all these. During high school I seemed to have had all the time in the world for all of it, but time is slipping away, dropping me down inch by inch below the surface of what it is I'd really like to be doing. hmm.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

today

Feeling in decidedly better spirits today. My Christmas tree is still up, I'm listening to BBC3 through my widget thing on the computer, and I'm planning an escape down the mountain, for at least a little while. I've determined that life as I experience it is not so terribly tragic after all.



Yesterday, I took a break from woefulness to make a quick version of beef bourguignon, and settled down to peel 2 lb pearl (although these are rather more robust than pearls) onions. Came together rather nicely, too. But then, I'm a major fan of my own cooking. Plus I love my green Le Creuset pot. I believe I use it almost every day for something or other.





And I made Busy Day Chocolate Cake (see Mad Hungry, but this is the recipe that you mix up right in the cake pan, a recipe that you probably have stashed away somewhere; it's vegan, too, as LSQ points out).

So, off to pilates, and then to buy eggs. What could be more grounding than that?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Good morning!

I'm frustrated; many of the files I've been expected to work on and thus turn around in 24 hours are locked. This means I must send an e-mail detailing the problem, wait, download them from the ftp site, etc. etc. Imagine my frustration upon hearing of the bonuses of bailed-out bankers. I'm not laughing all the way to the bank, let me tell you. I'm practically in tears, frankly.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pet Sounds

L's absurdist little movie of Soul eating a cracker.



Plus, Music Monday returns!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday

Generally working, reading, trying to keep up in Scrabble. I've abandoned my NY Times crossword for the computer screen Scrabble games, D pointed out. Missing the puns, so I think I may settle down later with brilliant Will Shortz's editing.

Other than that, questioning my relationship with organized religion, based on shakiness of my belief in god. Jesus, yes. "God," however to me is more a belief in the scientific underpinnings of consistencies in nature rather than a biblical God. Just thinking a bit, is all. Not very coherently, I'm afraid

Also thinking about here:

Friday, January 08, 2010

pop goes . . .



Back in the olden days when I had extra dough hanging around to waste on such kitchen frippery as mini-popover pans, I bought one. To further the movement to rekindle interest in home baking (subset, small breads), I hauled it out to make the mighty, almost fallen but not quite Martha Stewart Living's current version of popovers. Which you can see below, cunningly (if slightly out of focus) photographed against a beautiful vintage towel.




Anyway, the popover pan is behaving as usual: refusing to give up popovers. I'm not sure whether it's the mini-ness of the pan (I have to rethink baking times, as popovers require a hot oven on entry, and a drop in temp about halfway through baking) that is the problem or the material the pan is made of. Or what.

Once out, however, these reheat like a charm. Better second time round, actually.

Next up: making jam with all the strawberries crowding the freezer. When I can find the time. The canning pot and jars are in the middle of the gateway to the garage, so if that isn't incentive, I don't know what is. Now, to get rid of pesky work issues (but that means getting rid of welcome income, so there's that aspect).

Onward, Betty C!!

Marlboro

Morris Ale. That little picture of me and L yesterday made me think about what we subjected her to as a tiny child. We used to go to the massing of the Morris dancers in VT every May. One year, it was so cold that L had to wear her winter coat—almost June, too!

Although we didn't attend this one from 2006, here is Brattleboro, and some unusual dancers:

Thursday, January 07, 2010

looking glass

When L was just a tiny baby, people would often tell me how much alike we looked. A baby?! ME? Please.

Since I've been on FB, some college friends have "found" me, and subsequently her page (or whatever it's called) with all her many photos. I was startled to read a comment from two of them that she looks exactly like I did in college (better teeth, I had to add; not a cavity in her head and all that lovely, expensive orthodontics). I really can't see this physical connection. Funny thing, genes. But I don't think I would put the two of us together, really.

a decidedly tired me, carrying L in the hiking backpack, on Mt. Greylock. L now wears that green coat I have on.


Theme Thursday: Polka (dots)

A new year, and I aim to be more of a blogger; I've been reading that this is opposite to the trend. Although I had to maneuver through two blogs to get to the link. Meaning?

Now, polka or polka dots or both. Remember dotted swiss ? That's what first came to mind, after polka music. I had a Sunday/Easter dress made from it, and I can still remember the nubby feel of the little flocked circles. White circles on blue background. full skirt and black patent leather shoes.

ah, more footwear.

Polka music? scratchy AM station on the car radio out of Chicopee in the white car with the shifter on the steering column. and no seat belts. it's always foggy or dusk or raining. i'm 14 or 10 or 16. it never varies.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Cold?

I spent the better part of my 20s and a fair amount of my 30s stamping around with cold feet in a cold New England winter in my old Maine Hunting Boots from LL Bean (bought back when LL Bean was a stop for hunters/fisherpersons, and not the grotesquery it has become; but I digress). Until I found, at Averys Store, nirvana: Sorel boots (fabriqué au Canada; at least mine are). Good to –27°F. Averys also has the best owners on Earth and the best meat counter, too. Plus any kind of hardware you may require and the most helpful proprietor to help you find just the right bolt. But I digress again.

my boots . . .


Around here, what passes for brrr weather is usually laughable (ha! you hat- and mitten-wearers out on a 45°F sunny day; pansies). But I've got to say, it is frigid out right now. I don't know if it is because the buildings and houses just aren't made for any kind of lengthy period of temps well below freezing, but I'm chilled. As a matter of fact, I can feel a breeze right now, in the room we call the office, as I type this.

But my feet will be warm when I venture out tomorrow . . . Now I just need to locate my mittens.

L's OTHER new boots . . .

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Not sure

but personal, internal crises seem to be a monthly occurrence the past few years. Questioning focus, finances, future. All the F's, really. Even the f-stop on the camera is giving me pause.

• • • • •

Anyway, what I meant to write about was new footwear, as L's two pairs of boots arrived in a gigantic box this morning. Pristine. Thrilling. There is something so transporting about new shoes; the workmanship, the stitching. Their new-leather heady aroma. You breathe in the possibility of where you will go in them. And who will admire your grace and style as you purpose your way down the sidewalk (always a sidewalk in a big city, always late fall).



Not to be confused with the shoes your mother had reheeled for you and that squeeeeked squeeeeked squeeeeked down the reflecting unforgiving hallways of middle school.

Think instead of the discreet taps of the Italian high heels, subtle blue, of your 20s. Or the espadrilles that laced up your shin. hmmm.

Threw out good money on decorated Birkenstocks just last month. Can hardly wait to wear them . . .

The good grey guardians of art
Patrol the halls on spongy shoes,
Impartially protective, though
Perhaps suspicious of Toulouse.
-R. Wilbur

We shall walk in velvet shoes:
Wherever we go
Silence will fall like dew
On white silence below.
We shall walk in the snow.

-E. Wylie



Monday, January 04, 2010

always follow the directions

Bagels did NOT turn out quite right. But then, because of me, we did NOT follow the directions, as one would think we had, looking at D assiduously studying them here.



He decided to start this rather lengthy process just before my dinner preparations were to commence. I intervened, I'm sorry to say, before the bagels could be formed and subsequently placed into the refrigerator to gently rise overnight. Instead, I put the whole dough business in a plastic bag and shoved it in the ice box (where did that phrase come from? hello, Grandma . . .), thinking it was the dough, not the bagels themselves, that needed resting.



Anyway, they came out rather . . . odd.


boiling for 2 min a side, before



going into a 500°F oven


The best of the bunch, pictured below. I understand they don't taste too bad, and certainly better than what passes for same around this latitude.



••• Lone bird, in 10°F weather . . . The beginning of a new week in a new decade. 2010, twenty-ten, I can't wait to begin again.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Music to drive by

Off to Target etc. with the complex and mournful Radiohead coming through the speakers. L's teacher has a theory about what this one's about, so . . . I'm not sure I do, though.

But while inside the big box, pushing through the sad Xmas remainders, I noticed Someone had placed a copy of the Beatles' A Hard Day's Night in my basket. Well.

We put it on during the drive back. What bright, shiny, pure music that is. Not unlike a January day.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Lone Pilgrim

he
My New Year's Day attempt at English muffins, using a recipe from the old King Arthur cookbook. Looks as tho it's bathed in a holy light, doesn't it? But they came out rather rather chewy. Rather dense. I'm going back to the drawing board, so to say.

And, we are sticking our hand into the bagel batter. Yes, we have no bagels here in this part of the world, unless you count Lender's frozen, which I certainly don't. I went over to a recipe that Smitten Kitchen has (behold the beautiful photography; you won't see that here), and D stirred up the starter yesterday. He reached into the cupboard and pulled out a bag of high gluten bread flour AND barley malt syrup. Always at the ready . . . We shall see.

I never realized what a different culinary landscape the South is, until I moved here. Dearth of some things, only to be confronted with what I define as a conundrum, at least ten or so years ago: pulled pork, banana pudding, okra . . . who knew? Not me, that's for sure.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year

I am setting myself up today for some busy work, listening to WKSU (Sylvia Docking rocks), or maybe WJFF; L is on the way back from a New Year's Eve sleep over. I wonder when (if) she got to bed . . .

Contemplating New Year's dinner. Roasted lamb, and scalloped potatoes sliced with my mandoline-ish thing from France (yes, I've been warned), but we might have all of it tomorrow.



Frankly, that prosecco is calling my name. I might abandon all of this in a minute and watch the birds, glass in hand.